I had long been frustrated by the lack of good quality, ‘battle ready’ fantasy swords in the replica sword market.
While I love historical swords, especially Japanese and Viking swords, like many sword enthusiasts my first exposure to the world of swords was via fiction. First reading ‘Fighting Fantasy’ books in my early teens and playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, I became more interested in researching the vague descriptions of the various types of swords described there in. And a lifelong journey into the world of swords began in earnest..
In the early years of my website, Sword Buyers Guide.com – there were quite a few decent battle ready fantasy sword replicas, inspired by the wild success of the Lord of the Rings movies. But over time, the market for fantasy swords began to dry up and return to what it had always been – cheap and over the top wallhangers and high end custom pieces by famous sword makers..
It was at this time that I started to think about what I could do to revitalize the fantasy sword market. I knew many other sword collectors had a soft spot for fantasy swords too, especially if they were practical and based on historical designs rather than implausible ones with embellishments that made no sense..
And by this time I already had a few years of experience making some exclusive sword lines of my own and working with sword forges all around the world. But the biggest barrier to getting a line of fantasy swords made was usually the high cost of molds for the fittings, and large minimum order quantities on a line that may or may not pan out..
ENTER BLADE CULTURE INTERNATIONAL & THE SWORD THAT STARTED IT ALL
It was during a trip to visit the smiths at Blade Culture International in the Philippines that the penny dropped and everything started to rapidly come together..
While being shown their showcase swords, and the wide variety of sword types these talented guys could make, one sword in particular jumped out at me..
It was supposedly based on a Celtic sword, and while kind of historically plausible, it screamed at me ‘Dwarven Sword’ – and reminded me that Blade Cultures neighbor, who makes swords for Generation 2/Legacy Arms, had made some really nice battle ready fantasy swords back in the day such as the Excalibur sword and quite a few others that were now pretty much out of production..
It was only a seed of an idea at the time, but Blade Culture revealed that they were happy to work with me to create any type of sword I wanted, with no minimum orders.. True enough, they were much more expensive than if the swords were mass produced in China. But this was going to be different – hand made – truly great quality blades in almost any design I wanted..
But there were still some missing piece of the puzzle..
A COMPETITION AND A ‘BIG IDEA’
The plausibility of starting a line of cool battle ready fantasy swords had been established. What was missing, were two things.. Designs and a backstory..
Now I had seen on the Sword Buyers Guide Forum that we had quite a few creative types and budding sword designers. And I thought back to the early days of Sword Buyers Guide when, for a brief period, Clyde Hollis – the owner of Generation 2 swords at the time – ran a design competition that resulted in two members designs being brought to life – the Flame of the Angels and the Torino Sword..
So some 10 years later or thereabouts, I decided to try the same thing. Invite members and subscribers to the monthly newsletter, to submit original fantasy sword designs and stories to a thread on the forum or via email..
We got the ball rolling, with my good friend and senior editor over at Sword Buyers Guide, Daniel Dacombe creating the designs and concepts of the Flame of the Host and the Brand of the Fallen as an example of what we were looking for – and rolled the dice..
The response was overwhelming. 272 designs, narrowed down to a ‘shortlist’ of 26 exceptional designs – so clearly there were a lot of people who had great ideas for a fantasy sword, but no way to have it made for them.
But the concept ran deeper than just a collection of fantasy swords existing in a vacuum. It started at a vague concept, but became clearer as the designs and short stories kept coming in..
Find a way to weave all the stories and all basic design concepts into a single unified overarching story..
Inspired in part by the works of master fantasy sword designer Kit Rae and his website, where he combined artwork on paper with artwork in steel (stainless steel as it may be, but still awesome designs) – and gave the swords an intertwined backstory, I drew on my considerable experience as a Gamesmaster for pen and pencil role playing games and categorized all the sword designs submitted into a single world..
And with the feedback and ideas from a core group of SBG forum members, we began to flesh it all out – and Eletrues was born..
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE WE GO..
With all the elements finally in place, the project rapidly took on a life of its own.
I began talking about the project with other sword makers, and many were quite excited by the idea and keen to come on board.. At the same time, some of my friends and contacts in and around the industry also had contacts with senior members of the pen and pencil RPG and LARPing communities.
Digital artists were contacted to bring the concepts to life, and I spent countless hours messing around with Photoshop and free or purchased royalty free images to illustrate and inspire the backstories..
The stories and histories of the world we were creating got richer and more vibrant. And it was clear that this world could be, and due to its depth, SHOULD be more than just a collection of backstories for our real world fantasy designs.
It could be a resource for role playing games, books, and maybe even video games.. It could be showcase for fantasy sword makers and designers. It could be all these things and more, so with no firm plan in mind, started to and continues to evolve into a Project with almost limitless options and potential.
JUST GETTING STARTED
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes, we are drawing even more factions of the Swords and Sorcery genre together and taking new and unexpected directions.
What you see is just the bare bones foundations being laid. This is a site that will never truly be finished. For some people, it will just add flavor to a cool looking battle ready sword – flavor that was often missing with Fantasy swords in general, many which had no real rhyme or reason to exist. And they can go as lightly or as deeply as they want to – exploring for hours on end the heroes that have owned the sword, the history of the lands where it was made – making for a great talking point.
Others may just appreciate the vast collection of original fantasy artwork galleries taking shape. Some may even want to set their pen and pencil role playing campaigns in this world, as it is a free resource and has more adventure idea stubs than you can poke a stick at (plus is developing its own simple free RPG system!). And others still will enjoy seeing behind the scenes as the swords are made and checking out the Fantasy sword designer showcases and portfolios..
And yet this is just the beginning..
To be honest, I have many, many more ideas and directions for this site in the works, and will continue to follow the natural course of its development, exploring new ideas as they come up. So there may well be even more unexpected twists and turns along the way as it matures and finds new ways to grow and evolve.
But no matter which way it goes, it is going to be fun – fun for the storytellers, fun for the sword makers, and fun, I hope, for you the visitor..
So check in frequently and watch us grow. Because as the saying goes, ‘you ain’t seen nothin’ yet’..
- Paul Southren, 24th August 2017