Pedants will rightly point out that a longsword commonly refers to the two-handed variant, but in the context of the game, let’s focus on what it represents - the knightly sword, which, in tandem with a brightly-daubed kite or heater shield, has long since become part of the iconic twinset of the medieval era.
An evolution of the Viking spatha, the common sword wasn’t so much the dominant weapon of the high medieval age as it was a popular backup. Where most other weapons had to be carried, a sword could be a conveniently sheathed until needed - such as when a spear had become lost or broken. And because swords were almost always stowed away, it became acceptable for them to be carried in everyday life, in much the same way that some societies accept handguns to be worn today. Indeed, in the process of swords becoming known as arming swords (secondary to the increasingly-popular bastard or long-sword), the term “sidearm” had effectively been primed for future use.
What made the sword so successful was its partnership with shields, of which, like swords, there were a huge variety to consider. They were, regardless of their size or shape, important pieces of armour used to deflect and parry incoming attacks. The bigger and thicker they were, the more protection they offered at a cost to how easily they could be maneuvered to reduce with any subsequent damage. Some shields, like the buckler or targe, were so small as to be practically useless on the battlefield, though when angled quickly and correctly they could withstand withering dueling blows better than even a strong hilted blade.
The main shield of the Longsword & Shield class is the heater shield, so named by the Victorians because its shape resembles that of a flat iron. Offering a good balance between protection and freedom of movement, the heater shield was a popular pairing with the common sword as their relative weights were comparable and allowed for an even centre of gravity. In-game this means that while the Longsword & Shield class is among the most defensive and is able to use their shield to soak up incoming damage, knowing when to press home an attack will often be the best form of defence.
- Sally Forth: We don’t traditionally think of the shield of an offensive weapon, but it’s actually a pretty good way to push forward - essentially using it as a battering ram to make some room and advance your lines. In a finely poised encounter, this ability can make all the difference.
- Mercy of Heaven: Hunker down behind your shield and take some time to gather your thoughts. Hopefully in the process you can pick up a few health points. Think of it as divine healing.
- Martial Prowess: It’s all very well to sit there and take it, but sometimes you’ve just got to hit out and confront your attackers. With this skill you can burst out from behind your shield and let your enemy know just what you think of their unfriendly attitude.