Lord Bassel rode alone through the forest of Tar-Jal. His chain armor rattled with the stomp of hooves. The sheath of his mighty sword slapped the flank of the roan steed. He peered through the slits of the enclosed helmet he wore.
This was his first trip out of his isolated kingdom. His swordplay was unmatched. He drilled daily practicing maneuvers over and over with other armed men. There was no one who could stand up to him.
He was a week out from home and his supplies were almost exhausted. He saw no reason to forage as he sighted the smoke of a small village. The peasants would no doubt be honored to feed a distinguished warrior like himself. Hell, if we were a peasant he would scrape at his feet.
He slowed his horse as he reached a home at the edge of town. “I am Lord Bassel of the Badlands! Bring me supplies and I shall spare you!” he smiled as he waited for the terrified peasants to grovel before him.
Long moments passed with no response. The peasants do not come the thought rumbled in his mind. He scowled and put a hand to his pommel. He rose his hand to slap the steed when a man came out and stared at him. “You’re not my Lord. If you are willing to pay I’ll happily spare some food for you.”
Lord Bassel threw his head back, roaring in mirth. The man wore a thick, padded shirt. In one hand he held the crudest of spears, and he wore a large, rough wooden shield on the other. On his belt was a simple ball of metal on a stick. “You don’t understand what you face, peasant! You have no chance against a warrior of my caliber!” he pulled forth his sword. The two-handed blade was long and thick with serrations along each cutting edge. He had the sword designed exactly to cause maximum harm.
Lord Bassel pointed the huge sword at the man and grinned, his canines glinting in the sunlight. The peasant hacked and green spittle splashed on the powerful horse. The Lord’s face went scarlet and he kicked his sword into a charge.
The peasant smiled, sidestepped and thrust the spear at the charging horse. The weapon dug deep into the horse, who went down screaming, eyes rolling back in fear. The peasant pulled his bloodied spear out and stood, shield at ready.
Lord Bassel rolled from his horse with a practiced motion. He held his sword in sideward stance. He growled, staring at the peasant in disgust. The peasant shrugged and waited. This man must be insane, thought the Lord. Dishonorable as well, killing a man’s horse.
After long moments he moved into a simple overhand strike. He will sidestep and I shall kick him to give me time for an upward strike. I will win as always. The bored peasant slapped the blow aside with his shield and thrust his spear into Bassel’s chest. The Lord grunted as the air blew from his lungs. The peasant wasted no time in thrusting again, striking a small tear in his suit. Bassel roared as the blade pierced his side. Before the spear could pull free, the mighty Lord grasped the handle and yanked with all his strength. The weapon was ripped out the smaller man’s grip. Without pause the peasant pulled out the primitive mace from his belt, standing at ready.
The Lord yanked the spear free, tossing it aside with a roar. Blood fountained from the wound, but he stood firm. I am mighty, a glancing blow will not stop me! Even as he had the thought he felt a wave of dizziness overcome him, and he felt cold. His thoughts ran wild in his head, the only coherent one remaining was to attack.
Lord Bassel swung his blade crossways, only to have it deflected aside with a slap. The peasant hooked his arm as he passed and twisted, sending Bassel tumbling to the dirt. He rolled away, but he was too slow. The heavy metal ball of the peasant’s weapon slammed his helmet. The pounding in his head became a roar and his already cluttered mind went hazy. He heaved himself to his feet and spat a tooth, which hit the helmet with a clang.
Desperate he swung at random and smiled as his heavy serrated blade his the man in the chest. The peasant grunted and dropped to a knee. Surely my blade tore through his tunic to his heart. The peasant rose, the heavy blade entangled in the thick layers of the man’s padded shirt.
Bassel’s fingers became numb, and the blade slid from his grip. He dropped onto the hard ground with a grunt. His helmet was yanked from his head, and a foot kicked him to the side. The peasant stood over him, mace raised high “Now we will discuss the fee for food and sparing your fool life.. M’Lord.”
Bassel could only lay there, wondering how he could lose to such a pathetic man.
A short explanation as to why our Lord Bassel lost. First, his weapon was awful. The serrations make the cutting edge worse and proper long blades were thin, weighing only a little more than an arming sword(a long sword in D&D terms).
Even with a proper sword, a spear is a more effective battlefield weapon. You can hold your enemy out of reach, stop charges dead and strike precisely at weak points.
You might be wondering how the peasant avoided being hewn in half. The padded tunic he wore is a simple version of gambeson armor. Made of layers of cloth it was more than able to stop sword strikes, especially poorly delivered ones. The armor was especially effective against this particular sword. Serrated blades will become entangled in cloth, making it perform badly against gambeson. In fact, most knights wore gambeson underneath their heavier armor as protection against maces and clubs.
The other factor was actually the Lord’s training. Only doing routines makes one only know how to handle the routine. Since he did no live combat he was unprepared for it.
His final mistake was thinking a peasant couldn’t fight. Many peasants went to war under their Lord as footmen. They know how to fight heavily armored men and horses. He was most likely more experienced than the young, arrogant Lord.
In short(as if this is short) the D&D style swordsman is woefully underarmed and unprepared for real combat. A true knight carried a sword for self-defense and as a backup weapon. Most battlefield weapons like spears are actually significantly better in wartime scenarios. There are a lot of channels like skallgrim and shadversity on YouTube that go into a great deal of depth as to why the classic action knight makes no sense.