In a Game Informer podcast, Bethesda's Todd Howard discussed Skyrim's reduced weapon skill set, explaining that individual weapon types have their own skill trees within broader categories.
"Each skill has its own perk tree," Howard said. "So take one handed for instance. The idea is, you have a one-handed skill, and then you can perk that - there's like a skill tree, underneath one-handed.
"Within that there are separate perk areas for maces and then axes and then swords. So opposed to having, say, an axe skill, that is a part of the perk tree within one-handed.
"We think that … gives us a better balance. You can start like 'I like one-handed stuff' and then you start specialising as you raise that skill."
The producer explained Bethesda's motivation as a quest for gameplay.
"We tend to each time start over, and we want to find weapon types with this game that really yield gameplay," he said. "So those skills are separate. There's a two-handed weapon skill, there's a one-handed weapon-skill, there's an archery skill. … Because those really are play styles.
"Within each of those trees there are different weapon types that you can then get better at. Without saying what they all are, so they actually have a gameplay difference," he concluded.
Howard's general comments led on from a very specific query as to whether Skyrim's weapon types would include spears.
"There are not spears in the classic spear sense. I'm sorry," he said, before coyly adding, "There are currently not."
Later, he elaborated, not ruling spears out entirely but certainly not making promises either.
"Something like spears is really cool, it's just something with where we're putting our time with the other weapons. It just didn't make the cut right now."
The director made a very gentle gibe at the extreme reactions of fans to the series's habit of dropping weapon types.
"I see a lot of those comments, and they go back to we had X weapon types in Daggerfall, then X weapon types in Morrowind. Oblivion has its own and Skyrim has its own. And anytime there's anything that we stop doing…"