These are the first type of Basic Gear. Every character has a single slot for a Melee Weapon and can have a single melee weapon equipped at any time. Characters will (very probably) never earn a second melee weapon gear slot. The weapon your character can equip depends on their personal Arms Rating and the Arms Rating of the item. Each item has it's own rating. Each of the 6 sub-types have a range of Arms Rating 1 - 2 levels wide.
Knives - Knives are, in general, the weakest melee weapons in the game. Knives ranked 1 - 8 all require an Arms Rating of E or higher, meaning that all characters can equip them. A ranked 13 knife requires the Arms Rating of D, making it better than the lowest quality staff and as good as the lowest quality club. Knives based on rank add a wide range of physical damage to your melee attacks. Each knife also increases a character's Guile and Might attributes. Like many melee weapons, knives require Iron Ingots and Boards to craft.
Staves - Staffs are the second weakest melee weapon type. Their Arms Ratings range from E at the lowest to C at the highest, making a ranked 13 staff better than a ranked 5 spear. Staffs per rank do more damage than equally ranked knives and slightly less than equally ranked clubs. Wielders of staffs stand to enhance their Acumen and Celerity. To craft these simple weapons, weapon-crafting buildings will require Leather and Boards.
Clubs - Clubs are in the exact center of melee-weapon quality. They are better than the Knife and Staff, and not as good as the Axe and Sword. In almost all ways they compare similarly to the Spear per same-ranked items. Each quality level of club provides more Might but taxes more Guile from it's wielder. This is because the club is a clumsy weapon that makes a statement but does not lend itself to subtlety. Clubs require Canvas and Boards to craft.
Spears - Spears are almost equal to clubs, but not as clumsy. They are a completely different stile of mid-level damage dealing. Spears and Clubs both range from Arms Ratings D to B with D+, C and B- in the middle. Unlike clubs, spears provide two attribute bonuses, increasing the wielder's Might and Toughness more with each quality rank of weapon. Spears are made from Iron Ingots and Boards
Axes - Axes are powerful weapons held in high tradition by some cultures and regions. They are big, intimidating and can in many cases be quite flashy. On the other hand, fighting with an axe requires a certain amount of care. This extra attention not to slice your own ears/feet off taxes a player's Celerity even while the Axe raises their effective Might score. Axes range in Arms Ratings from C to A, making the highest ranking axes equal to most swords. Crafting axes requires Iron Ingots and Boards.
Swords - Swords, also made from Iron Ingots and Boards, are the highest rated melee weapon type. To equip even the lowest level of sword, a character must have an Arms Rating of B or higher. Likewise these high-quality weapons do more damage per rank than any other variety of melee weapon and increase the wielder's Might and Guile for as long as the sword is equipped.