Let’s say that you are a merchant of death. Your job is to sell people machines of death; machines meant to main, squish, and generally make peoples’ day very unpleasant. How would you sell such machines? If you were in the Middle Ages you would emphasize your products special features, features like…

Tension, torsion, and counterpoise. Yup, the three main death-dealing methods most enjoyed by medieval despots.

As a merchant you need to know your audience, so let’s say that you meet a king who is being laid siege to by his rival for the throne. Does it not sound like a prime opportunity to sell him a new set of ballistae? You know, those large wooden cross-bows with enough force to impale several men at once! With the ballista given its strength by winding up the arrow via a large handle, it may take several men to operate, but hey, when it comes to impaling power, just remark to your customer that he can be the second Vlad the Impaler (or first, depending on your specific temporality). Defending a castle is tough work and would be aided well if he was able to skewer his opponent.

But maybe your client is trying to lay siege to a castle (maybe you are playing both sides of the conflict, like the asshat you are) and need to sell him something a little different. If so, then you need to emphasize the torsion weapon of choice par excellance—the catapult! (Alternatively titled ‘mangon’ or ‘mangonel’) Sell your customer-king some wooden beams and a cup (you know, to throw the big rocks with) and be on your way!

Then again, if your customer-king likes hurling large hard objects at imposing walls, you would be remiss if you didn’t try and hawk the other ‘big throwing machine’ at him; the trebuchet, the counterpoise death engine of choice! Consisting of a long beam pivoted between a wooden structure to each side, ropes were used to attach to attach the sling to the wooden structure. Great! Just fire away and enjoy the destruction; and there would be destruction, as this incarnation of a death-machine has been used the world over for many years, so you know it is of quality material—just don’t to sell him the wood as well: such machines took huge sums of timber, so cut busy cutting!

If you, as a merchant of death, stick to those big sellers, then I have no doubt that you will be rolling in those dead bodies in no time; as an aid to the Reaper, that is, of course, your currency—the sacrificial offerings of the economically disadvantaged damned to the altar of the socio-economic elite! Play your cards right and you could even be a billionaire! Of course, being stuck as you are in the Middle Ages, this may take a little while in an age before the atom was split. Even so, trust me, in an age defined by religious and territorial conflict, you will still be swimming in the death-dough.

Trust me.

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