Articles By Author - Todd Gdula

Real Steel: Shadow Bane, A Benefit Roll Off

Once in a while, I get asked to make a piece for a benefit raffle or auction. A few months ago, I was contacted about doing a piece to benefit Ernie Gygax, the eldest child of Gary Gygax. Ernie has had some medical issues, and the bills have been piling up. Ernie and I conspired, and we decided on a short sword, with the design left mostly up to me. Shadow Bane: A Work in Progress There are fewer pictures as when I did the Cthulhu cutlass to...

Real Steel: Kerambit

Gamers are fairly well versed on the wide variety of real life weapons that have made their way into our campaigns. It’s pretty unusual that I feel like I can show you something that there’s even a small chance you haven’t seen before. I’ll bet that for some of you, this is one of those rare gems. Blade-Rich Archipelagos The region that includes the Malay and Indonesian archipelagos has a long and rich history of martial arts that include...

Real Steel: Cthulhu Cutlass—A Work in Progress

I make some fairly unusual blades and metalwork, but it’s not often that I get commissioned to make a pure fantasy piece. When I got the initial call on this one, I knew it was going to be fun. I did a fairly comprehensive WIP (work in progress) that I’m very excited to share with the kobolds. Better yet, it’s time for a Real Steel contest! (Take a peek at the contest rules to learn details about this contest.) Step by Step Let’s take a look at...

Real Steel: Short Sword

The many types of short swords have origins from almost everywhere in the old world. Indonesia has an amazing variety of big knives and short swords. The Indian region and Africa offer some of the more unusual types. Asia has a number of entries into the category, while Europe offers the small sword and the gladius, among others. I think the gladius is probably the closest thing to what we, as gamers, think of as a short sword: the classic...

Real Steel: Falchion

Historically, falchion come in two basic varieties: heavy and light. The heavier type arrived earlier and is a somewhat crudely made, heavy, cleaver-like sword. The lighter type is a longer and more finely made sword. They appeared in the eleventh century and persisted into the sixteenth century. Very few originals have survived to the present day. The heavier type was likely used by peasants and served as a chopping tool as well as a weapon....

Real Steel: ABS Journeyman Smith Performance Test

The American Bladesmith Society was founded to promote the art and science of the forged blade. It provides resources for bladesmithing students, as well as a rating system for smiths and standardized testing for the achievement of those ratings. The earned ratings are Journeyman Smith and Master Smith. There is also an Apprentice Smith rating, but it serves as a starting point and is not earned. The test for each rating is divided into two...

Real Steel: Fantasy Metals

Recently, Wolfgang and I were exchanging emails, chasing down a few ideas for some Real Steel. One of the things we discussed was fantasy metals, and then he said this: “Or maybe elven chain is really titanium?” This is something I’ve often thought about, so I knew right away fantasy metals were going to find their way into Real Steel. Could Mithril be Titanium? Let’s start by talking about titanium. A question that is often asked at...

Real Steel: Coins of the Southlands

Coins. Gold, silver, bronze, and copper. Throughout history, they’ve been struck, cast, engraved, and cut. Their style and artwork are a reflection of the culture that created them. It’s no surprise that coins are being used in gaming. They can help build the flavor of a world and give insight into the religions and art of the culture. When Wolfgang asked me if I could make custom, handmade coins for the Southlands Kickstarter project, I had to...

Real Steel: Throwing Knives

Daggers, darts, and staffs. That was your choice of weapons when you rolled that level 1 mage with 1 hit point and one sleep spell way back when. Many of us chose the dagger or darts (more on darts and spikes another time) because they can be thrown and keep that single hit point out of melee. The Bad News Unfortunately, in the real world, throwing knives aren’t very effective. It’s hard to get enough force behind the point to get any real...

Real Steel: Spiked Targe

Whether called target, targa, targo, or targe, it’s a round shield ranging from approximately 18”–21” in diameter, used by infantry forces in various European armies from the 13th through the 16th centuries. Constructed of wood and usually wrapped with leather or rawhide, it was designed for close quarters combat and offered good protection for its size. Scottish, and Spiked The Scots developed a unique style of this type of shield, and the...

Real Steel: Cutlass

The cutlass is a short sword in the saber family, usually having a broad, curved blade. It was commonly seen in naval service, most likely due to its ability to cut, thrust, and brawl in close quarters. It was also no doubt used to cut rope, canvas, and even brush when carried as a side arm by landing parties. This One Is a Hybrid This is a custom piece that evolved over time as my client and I discussed what he was looking for. We talked about...

Real Steel: Mammen Axe

The Mammen axe is known from a single example found in a grave at Mammen, Denmark, and it dates from about 970-971 CE. The axe is very well made and inlaid with silver, and it was probably ceremonial and purpose-made to be buried with its rich and powerful owner, likely a Viking Jarl. OK, Not Exactly… The client for this commission wanted a Mammen-like axe, but wanted to be able to use it for camp chores. Inlay is easily torn out and is usually...

Real Steel: Mjolnir

Mjolnir. The name conjures images of godly strife, powerful storms, and supernatural battles. This is something my brother, David, and I had wanted to do for a long time. Some of you followed or backed our Kickstarter. Thank you! For those that didn’t, this is how I made Mjolnir. The Process For this project, David did all the graphic art, which helped guide me in the metalwork. We wanted the project to make backers feel like they were in...

Real Steel: Kobold’s Choice—Building the Mace

In the recent past, we talked about the options for my next project. Then I asked for input from the kobolds, who made their choice here, and who also gave generously here and here. The mace is done—ready to ship to its proud new owner. As promised, I did my best to document the build in the video below. I also did my best to incorporate as many of your suggestions as possible. Sorry about the blur in the beginning; my autofocus went a little...

Real Steel: Kobold’s Choice Benefit Raffle Update

Our little benefit raffle to help out a fellow gamer in a time of need is done, and one thing is very clear: Kobolds care . . . a lot. All told we raised $580 to help Ernie get back on his feet. I’m in contact with his brother, Luke, who has set up a fund to handle donations, and that’s where the contributions from the warrens are headed. What a great community this is! I’m proud to be a part of it. You guys rock hard. The next order of...

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