[Runequest] Questions about armor

Simon Phipp soltakss at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 6 03:59:26 EST 2010

Asher Royce:

>    I was wondering if  others might share their practical experiences in
> using armor.  My  campaign is set in 12th century England (around 1140),
> so the armor of that  setting is my focus -- in other words, before
> platemail.

My RQ (and soon to be BRP) supplement Merrie England covers roughly that period 
(or at least the next three kings).

>    My  understanding is that knights would wear a knee length chainmail
> hauberk,  with a steel helmet.  Were these usually the bucket-style
> helmets?   Did the chainmail require straps to stay properly affixed, or
> did it wear  well like clothes?  Was padding the norm under chainmail? 
> If so, then  how practical was it to wear chainmail without a layer of
> padding?  What  other important details are there to consider?

My knights would wear a chainmail hauberk, with sleeves, that is worn as a 
single piece of clothing. Is that accurate? I don't know, but it is definitely 
easier. Everyone wears padding of some sort under chainmail, there are accounts 
of people from this forum who haven't and can attest to how much it hurts that 
way. Whether the padding has an armour value, that depends on the padding. A 
woollen undervest wouldn't give any APs but would protect the skin against any 
impact of chain on flesh. Mongols wore silk undergarments for much the same 
reason and also to protect against infection.

I'd go with RQ3-style rules for multiple layers, so chainmail could be worn over 
soft padding (leather and cloth, 1-2 points).

>    Who had chainmail, and  who didn't?  For soldiers without chain, what
> armor did they  have?

Knights and paid men-at-arms would have had chainmail. Other soldiers would have 
had ringmail or cuirboilli with padding beneath. Very few people had good leg 
armour - medieval archers often fired at legs as they would penetrate better. I 
would say that stiff leather over padded leather (total 3 points) would be about 
right. Knights could wear chainmail on their legs, if they can afford it, but 
other soldiers wouldn't. PCs, of course, would get the best armour that they can 

> P.S.  Anything on Viking armor &  shields would be interesting, as well. 
> Their glory days were past by the  1130's, but I'm comfortable with
> anachronisms.   :-)

Avalon Hill's Vikings and Mongoose's Vikings supplements have a lot of 
information about Viking armour and weaponry.

See Ya


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