An exotic weapon is a weapon that acts, looks, or simply is strange. It might simply be a regular weapon with extraordinary properties, or a completely unique weapon to the setting it is in. There are many examples in numerous canons of exotic weapons: some cool, some strange, and some just ridiculous.
- 1 What Counts as an Exotic Weapon?
- 2 Who Holds Exotic Weapons?
- 3 Exotic Weapons as a Charge
- 4 Evaluating Exotic Weapons
- 5 Examples
- 5.1 Blade-like/Sword-like
- 5.2 Piercing/Nonblade
- 5.3 Club-like/Bludgeoning
- 5.4 Whips/Rope-like
- 5.5 Projectile/Firearms/Ballistics
- 5.6 Mundane/'Improvised'/Weird
- 5.7 Unique
- 5.8 Accidental Exotic Weapons
What Counts as an Exotic Weapon?
Something important about an exotic weapon is that it isn't special because of its meaning or history, it's special because of its physical appearance or usage. Thus, Andúril would not be an exotic weapon—for all intents and purposes, it is an ordinary (if legendary) sword and is used as a normal sword would be used.
A very simple example of an exotic weapon would be Kenshin Himura's reverse-blade sword. A slightly more dramatic example would be Eragon's special-colored dragon rider sword, and even more exotic than that would be the whip-blade that Soul Calibur's Ivy owns. And even more exotic than that would be a lightwhip from certain Star Wars expanded universe novels.
Magic weapons or technologically improved mundane weapons, although they are of normal (if improved) utility, often count as exotic weapons. This holds stronger for, say, swords that shoot lasers or glow in the dark than swords that are enchanted to never break. Their utility has to be the changed or improved aspect in this case. For a veritable cornucopia of absurdly exotic magical weapons, look no further than the Bleach continuum: each Soul Reaper character owns a Zanpakutō, which is a blade that can transform into several unique forms and grants its wielder supernatural powers to go with them.
Who Holds Exotic Weapons?
If it is canon, an exotic weapon is usually owned by a specific character (usually to prove something about them) or is a plot device. They are almost never in wide usage or distribution (RWBY is an obvious exception). Usually, they are around to showcase a character with very specific combat specializations or just somebody who is really cool.
An exotic weapon in the hands of a Mary Sue often becomes a Sword of Sueness. If it is an already existing exotic weapon, in the hands of a Sue it may become stronger or gain additional powers because the Sue is speshul and can just do all of those things without trying. If a Sue creates the exotic weapon, it is almost always a Sword of Sueness by definition—Exotic weapons are special by nature, so in the hands of a Sue they instantly become speshul rather than generic.
Many exotic weapons are recovered from badfic because Mary Sues are so fond of them—thus many agents have recovered them and occasionally use them—within reason. However, because many agents lack training to use things like chain-scythes or sword-chucks, simpler exotic weapons are favored. A popular choice is needle-like weapons such as weaponized knitting needles or chopsticks.
Exotic Weapons as a Charge
Exotic weapons where they don't belong are charges just much as generic weapons and Swords of Sueness are. Putting an exotic weapon in a canon other than its origin when it's unique to a particular canon is also a charge (Keyblades in Devil May Cry or chainsaw-nunchucks in Legend of Zelda, for instance). An exception is if the fic itself is a designated crossover.
Some weapons are so special in their home continuum that another person besides the canonical wielder even owning one is against the universe and a strong sign of Mary Sue.
When someone attacks with an exotic weapon, they are either A) an unskilled person trying to look cool or speshul with it, or B) an extremely skilled person who can fight using it as well as any other weapon—maybe even better. Although Mary Sues try to look the latter with their exotic weapons, they often fall into the former category.
Evaluating Exotic Weapons
- Does the character have a reason to use an exotic weapon? If not, they may be displaying Sue traits.
- Does the character have access to the training that would make wielding an exotic weapon possible, if they're good at it? If not, they may be displaying Sue traits.
- Could the character plausibly obtain an exotic weapon? If not, they may be displaying Sue traits.
- Is this exotic weapon allowed by the canon's physics or set precedent? If not, this exotic weapon may be a Sword of Sueness.
- Is this weapon a copy of another one from the same canon? From a different canon? And if yes to either of them, is it blatant rip-off? If so, this weapon and the wielder may be displaying Sue-ish properties. An exception is if the exotic weapon really exists/existed in real life, or if it is common to more than one continuum.
- If the character carries this weapon, is it hidden or blatant? And if it's blatant, do other characters exhibit a realistic reaction (shock, surprise, avoidance, confusion) to an obvious weapon? If they do not, this character may be displaying Sue traits.
- Is this exotic weapon really stupid?
Though a complete list of exotic weapons would be too big to list, here are a few prominent ones.
- Main article: Sharp Object
The 'gunblade' is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of a sword and a gun. This is a pretty cool idea and has been featured in several anime continua, the Soul Calibur fighting game series, the sci-fi series Farscape, and most famously in Final Fantasy. Fictional gunblades vary in appearance, but the most common configuration integrates the gun's barrel at the hilt of the sword, with a trigger built into the sword's grip.
The function of the Final Fantasy variety of gunblade has varied over the years: from the trigger merely sending a shock wave down the sword for increased cutting ability, to firing actual bullets.
Gunblades are so cool, people thought they were a great idea and made them in real life. Weapons such as the 'pistol saber' were used from the 1500s up until around the American Civil War. In practice, they tended to be too difficult to wield effectively—the pistol mechanism unbalanced the sword toward the hilt, while the sword's blade made the gun part too heavy for a person to aim it correctly, making both the gun and the sword nearly useless. A smaller version, the knife-gun, was an assassin's weapon used with some success in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and consisted of a short knife with a hilt that had incorporated into it a single-shot pistol.
People also tried to combine guns with various other weapons, including axes, maces, spears, and even shields; most of them suffered from the same drawbacks as the pistol saber. The most famous of these combination weapons is "Henry VIII's Walking Staff"- a morningstar combined with a three-barreled pistol that the king carried with him when he went out at night to ensure that the constables were doing their job. It can now be seen at the Tower of London. Such combination weapons are nearly nonexistent in fanfic, as most fanfic writers are unaware of their existence.
Appearing in Kingdom Hearts exclusively, they are, as their name implies, a giant key the size of a blade. While this may seem goofy, the Keyblade in-canon is actually a competent weapon, functioning much like a sword even without a cutting edge. A Keyblade can be used to lock or unlock any lock, as well as the paths to other worlds in the KHverse. As a bonus, they have the ability to banish Heartless and other nasties. It should also be noted that the only way to be able to acquire or even use a Keyblade is by being chosen. Disregarding this is a charge. Should someone attempt to take a Keyblade away from a chosen wielder, it will always magically vanish and return to the owner (not that this stops Sues).
Caution: If an agent acquires a Keyblade from a Sue, they will be able to keep and use it, due to the Keyblade being non-canon. However, using it in the KHverse is ill advised, as the Heartless can home in on Keyblades, and will relentlessly attack its owner. Owning one in the first place is a bit Suelike and puts responsibility on the owner, so it's advised agents stay away from touching Keyblades in general.
Really Big Swords
Exactly as the title proclaims: a really big sword, most likely too big for actual use in real life. A character who uses one may be the only one able to wield this weapon (it is light only to them) or possess augmented strength in order to use it at all. There are a slew of massive swords from many continua, a great many of which are improbable weapons. Examples are:
- Cloud's Buster Sword, which is approximately six feet long and approximately a foot wide, with a single cutting edge. One could assume it weighs in excess of 200 pounds, and is nigh unusable, yet Cloud uses it to deadly effect. Another example in the same game would be Sephiroth's Masamune, which is an extremely long (somewhere around 8 feet long) narrow nodachi-looking sword. It, along with the Buster Sword, are some of the most recognized symbols in Final Fantasy.
- Ichigo's Zanpakutou, called the Zangetsu (Cutting Moon) is a special supernatural sword used by a Shinigami and is supposed to be a representation of his spiritual power.
- Inuyasha's Tessaiga, which grows from a beat-up old normal-looking katana when sheathed to a huge blade fashioned from a giant fang. Also its brother, Tenseiga.
- Yōtō-hime from Onmyōji wields a sword as long as she is tall and can be considered an ōdachi (see below). However, she isn't realistically affected by the sword's size and supposed weight and can run and swing it effortlessly.
- Sagara Sanosuke's zanbatō. It was broken in-canon.
- The Sword of Riva, from the Belgariad/Mallorean series of books by David Eddings, is a mammoth broadsword. If the pommel stone wasn't a magical artifact that likes to be "helpful," Garion couldn't even carry the thing, much less use it one-handed in combat.
- The ōdachi, a class of Japanese swords, which is usually around one meter in length, with one notorious case, the Tarōtachi, being longer than 2m. Due to their size and the work it takes to forge them, they're rarely meant for battle and more often used for religious purposes. Of course, the corresponding character class in Touken Ranbu uses this by definition.
Incredibly Sharp Swords
Usually made out of a metal or material which is very rare and/or hard to work with, and can cut through most other weapons with ease. One of these should not be mistaken for a Lightsaber—these are actual blades rather than energy beams. Canon examples are:
- Sokka's Space Sword, which is made from an unknown metal from a fallen meteor.
- Wolverine's claws, which are made from adamantium, a nigh-indestructible metal. This also holds true for the adamantium hardware sported by other Marvel-verse characters, but those are very few, and an original character using adamantium enhancements is exhibiting signs of Sueness.
- Death's scythe and sword, which are so sharp they have a permanent blue glow on the edges due to the air molecules around them being cut all the time. They can also be sharpened with abstract concepts and have an aura of impossible sharpness, which extends several inches from the blade.
Axes are not commonly modified to be exotic, as they are deemed simple, unromantic and not very heroic weapons. Only a handful of canonical heroes wield axes, and not many use axes that function differently from a normal axe.
- One example of an exotic axe would be the Power Axe, personal weapon of the Black Ranger from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Its styling is meant to evoke a mastodon head seen from the side. It can be converted into a cannon mode by sliding part of the upper section down the haft to join with the pommel to make the cannon's muzzle.
The scythe is not typically a weapon, but a blade attached perpendicularly to a long handle of wood. It is used primarily for cutting the stalks of grain in pre-industrial time periods. There is no combat training one can take to learn to fight with a scythe, and there have been no persons of note that have ever become great warriors primarily wielding a scythe. In fact, historically, it was a weapon of the poor: farmers were easily able to modify the blades of their scythes such that they stuck out like a spear if they could not afford more expensive weaponry. This is because it makes a very poor weapon; its blade curves inward, which makes trying to slash a person with it very awkward, and even if you hit someone with it, the blade is likely to wind up broken. Farmers only used it because they couldn't use anything better.
Despite this, many canonical characters love wielding scythes. A possible cause could be that the Grim Reaper is often pictured with a scythe, meant to be a metaphor: the Grim Reaper harvests a crop of the dead in the same way as a farmer harvests a crop of wheat. However, this has pinned the scythe as a 'cool' weapon for anybody who wants to be dark and grim like death or deadly. Mary Sues love the scythe, despite its near-uselessness as a martial weapon.
The scythe's smaller cousin, the sickle, is a feasible martial weapon, with a place in martial arts and historical precedence. Ninjas sometimes use a variation of the sickle called a kusarigama, which has a weighted chain attached to the sickle's shaft and used in the offhand. When swung, the chain acts as a flail, entangling and disarming opponents from a distance and leaving them vulnerable to the sickle. Feudal Japanese records show that its use was highly popular from the 12th to 17th centuries, and some modern martial arts schools specialize in the use of the kusarigama.
Any canon character using a scythe as a weapon should be taken with a grain of salt, for many of them are almost as bad as Mary Sues for believing the scythe is a dignified weapon when in fact it's just as exotic as wielding a chainsaw in combat. Examples include:
- Death Scythes are the most powerful weapons in the anime Soul Eater—though they may or may not be actual scythes.
- RWBY has at least two characters, Ruby Rose and her Uncle/tutor Qrow Branwen, who wield scythes (though it should be stated that scythes were said to be dangerous weapons to wield early in the canon).
- There is a giant mecha with a scythe (appropriately named Deathscythe) in Gundam Wing.
- Discworld's Death has a scythe, which also counts as an Absurdly Sharp Weapon.
- Osamu Dazai, belonging to the blade class, is the only scythe user in Bungo to Alchemist.
- The scythe is a usable weapon in some Final Fantasy games, Dungeons & Dragons, and other RPGs.
Lightsabers are not commonly classified as exotic weapons due to appearing in so many continua (Star Wars, Gundam, Super Smash Bros., etc. etc. where anybody has a 'sword of light'), but they are impossible in most modern-Earth-like settings and out of the question in any medieval-era-like settings. Usually these weapons ARE individual, however—only certain characters can wield them (only Jedi, only heroes, only etc.), and despite their ease of inclusion in some canons, their appearance is often a red light for Sueishness. In short, if a lightsaber becomes a Sword of Sueness, then it is a problem.
- Main article: Pointy Object
Long needles or other spikes are sometimes used as exotic weapons. These are not as common as swords and blades, but are still around. Sometimes Ninja-type characters use them, and they are a favorite of some assassins. Examples include:
- Haku from Naruto is a known needle user.
Weird Spears and Javelins
Once again not as common as swords and blades, but spears that can extend, or are on fire, or have unusual uses and designs appear in canon from time to time.
- Main article: Blunt Object
Magic or Special Staves
Staffs and rods are a favorite of magic-users and may have special properties such as throwing fire or lightning—and are also able to be used as a bludgeoning tool. Others, such as martial artists, may favor special exotic staffs that extend and contract, or get really big and wide, like logs. Things like batons, canes, and shillelaghs may count if they are used in a manner a person would not normally think to use them in.
Although usually played for humor, Hammerspace hammers probably count as exotic weapons.
Really Huge Blunt Objects
Sledgehammers as large as the wielder, giant iron anchors, Sauron's mace, huge troll clubs . . . these are also exotic weapons and can't be used under normal circumstances. Clue by Oar may also count.
The whip is not usually used as a lethal weapon: its main role is to keep others at a distance, for controlling animals, or for outright torture. However, because whips are cool, various canon characters use them as deadly weapons—often thanks to a modified utility.
Other sorts of string are used in various ways, from lassos to steel floss.
- Bungo to Alchemist has an entire whip class; writers who wrote popular fiction belong to this class. They attack all enemies in one hit, but have lower damage than other classes at the same level, miss more often, and have the most satisfying attack sound effect.
- There are 'lightwhips' in the Star Wars continuum. This is exactly what it sounds like: a lightsaber beam that works like a whip.
- Ivy from Soul Calibur has a sword that can transform into a bladed whip.
- Indiana Jones famously carries around a whip and a pistol.
- Wonder Woman has a lasso that forces people to tell the truth.
- Kongōman Bosatsu a.k.a. Leader from Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA-, representing the offering of Garland to the Five Wisdom Buddhas in the Diamond Realm in Vajrayāna Buddhism, wields his very long namesake garland as if it's a whip.
- Jiang Cheng from Mo Dao Zu Shi/The Untamed has a ring that becomes a whip of spiritual energy, called Zidian (紫电, lit. purple lightning). It was passed down to him from his mother. He is able to control the severity of the lashing, as well as perform exorcisms with it.
- Various characters from anime . . . and secret agents in real life . . . have used wire as a garrotte.
Guns and other firearms that are not merely nonexistent models but weird count as exotic weapons. They may shoot some kind of outlandish ammo (mini black holes? Human souls? Bees?) or have a unique appearance or usage.
In settings more in line with real life, guns that are considered rare, uncommon, or that only existed as prototypes (for instance, the Pancor Jackhammer automatic shotgun) and were never mass-produced, or guns considered impractical for the situation they are placed in but look cool, also count as exotic weapons.
Bombs that do weird things are exotic weapons. They may explode in psychic waves, or maybe just flowers. But they are exotic and weird.
Special Bows and Arrows
Unique bows and arrows are common in history and fiction. Some examples include:
- The bow class of Bungo to Alchemist, comprised of writers in the Japanese Naturalism movement. They are unique in that they, like pretty much any other weapon in this game, have cogwheels built into them.
- The Bow of Odysseus was unable to be strung by anybody but Odysseus. It was so powerful it could blow a man clean to bits.
- Green Arrow (DC Comics) and Hawkeye (Marvel Comics) shoot odd arrows, from flaming arrows, to net arrows, to boxing glove arrows.
- Detritus's Piecemaker started off as a Ballista-like siege weapon firing huge metal bolts. He later modified it to fire large bundles of smaller bolts (several dozen or so). When fired, the bolts, which are under a great amount of stress, expand into a cloud of high-speed burning wooden shrapnel, with highly destructive force (read: excessive).
- Pit's bow in both Kid Icarus and the Super Smash Bros. series shoots arrows of light which, at least in SSB, can change direction depending on the control of the player. Kid Icarus: Uprising also introduced the Bow weapon class, which includes both his original bow and others with a wide variety of ammo, ranging from hearts to crystals to lightning bolts and other weirder stuff.
Magic wands that are not also bludgeoning weapons, but rather just sticks or rods that shoot beams or spells, count as exotic weapons. Harry Potter's wand is an exotic weapon, for example.
Things like shuriken and throwing needles are considered exotic weapons and shouldn't be in canons that don't include them. They can be made even more exotic by making them in unique shapes, or giving them abilities to do things like explode or cut through metal.
There are some characters that have special powers that turn non-weapon objects into weapons. Yo-yos, for example, or kites, or pogo sticks, or most anything you can imagine. A rule of thumb here is that they can't just be picked-up weapons, the user has to be a master in fighting with this weird thing.
D&D has rules that allow characters to become masters at picking up and using anything as a weapon. Additionally, in Chinese wuxia and xianxia, people who have mastered wielding spiritual energy can use said energy to turn anything into a weapon.
Some weapons, in canon or otherwise, are unique. These are common among heroes of a canon. They should not be seen in the hands of anybody who does not own them in canon. Sometimes these are normal weapons with extra-ordinary properties, sometimes these are things that would not normally be considered weapons, and sometimes they are so ridiculous or difficult to wield that anybody but the usual user would be hard pressed to do it at all. All of the weapons of Organization XIII are unique (except for Keyblades, which are restricted anyway and no characters but chosen wielders should be able to touch them in the first place) as is Bayonetta's hair, or Frodo/Bilbo's Sting.
Even a passing use of any of these weapons by someone other then the original owner can be a charge, especially if the weapon cannot be wielded by a normal person (due to being too big or too unwieldy, for example) or will not consent to use (weapons that choose their owners, or can only be held by certain individuals).
Accidental Exotic Weapons
As a Suethor's badly phrased writing can cause ridiculous (or sometimes disturbing) things to happen, so they can sometimes create unique weapons which function as a result of bad wording. An example is Hammerspace knives (also Absurdly Sharp), which were created by a Sue somehow summoning them out of nowhere, with no description.