Yes, we’re calling it a Trisaber now.
The Force has awakened, and by now we’ve all seen the trailer enough times to cover the running length of the movie coming out next December. Now the dissections have begun. Rolling droids aside, the one piece of tech that has our midi-chlorians tingling is what looks like the Sith’s new three-beam lightsaber. What are the pros and cons of such a civilized weapon?
First, the cons. According to a weapons expert interviewed by The Washington Post, the trisaber design — though it is seemingly emulating the “crossguards” of a large sword, which protect hands from sliding blades — is likely to do more harm than good. Large crossguards snag the user as often as they protect hands from Skywalkerification. “That hilt would just take you apart if you started to do a lot of complex spinning,” he told the Post.
Furthermore, if hand protection is the real advantage of the trisaber, it’s not implemented very well. Look closely at the featured image above. If an opponent’s lightsaber slid down the beam, it would go right through the part of the trisaber that is projecting the crossguard beams. We know that lightsaber material can indeed be cut by another lightsaber (e.g., when Obi-Wan cut Darth Maul’s lightsaber in half), so maybe the Sith is using a very inefficient, if elegant, weapon.
What about the pros? Given that the lightsaber is a close-range weapon, consider what getting up close and personal with a trisaber means. One precise shove from the user will drive a hot plasma crossguard into the chest of an opponent. And since the classic blades-crossed position happens in nearly every duel we’ve ever seen in Star Wars, having an extra offensive implement isn’t that terrible of an idea.
Another article from the Post suggests that maybe J.J. Abrams really did his homework, and that the trisaber is made of a material resistant to the beams of energy that lightsabers are made of — like “phrik.” Then slicing right through the crossguards becomes less of a problem and the offensive capabilities could make a real difference.
Of course, the trisaber design could just be something flashy to entice audiences (which is exactly what it did) and move the lightsaber into a new trilogy. That’s the easy answer, but let’s go for another possible advantage: If you threw a trisaber it would be much more dangerous than the traditional one-beam design.
When you throw anything, it tends to move in a parabolic arc and rotate around its center of gravity — the point where you can assume all the Earth’s gravitational force acts through in calculations. So when you throw a hammer, for example, it looks like a wild wiggle through the air, but if you imparted any spin to it, it would rotate around an imaginary point an inch or so below the hammer’s head. Adding extra material to the bottom of a lightsaber (the extra beams and outlets) then would effectively move the trisaber’s center of gravity closer to the user’s hand. If a Sith threw it, there would be much more of a chance for one of those beams to cut through a Jedi than a spinning single-beam lightsaber.
Or maybe the trisaber really is just for show. Or maybe it needs more beams! Pentasaber! Can you think of more pros and cons? Let the battle rage below.
UPDATE: Maybe we can all agree that going full-on anime might be the best possible version of this: