[Runequest] Hard versus soft armor.

strobus at sympatico.ca strobus at sympatico.ca
Thu Jan 14 01:43:06 EST 2010


I can fill in some of Bjorn's gaps a little, but I'll repeat his warning:

WARNING: (Disclaimer; I'm an amateur, I would like you to not take my reply as "the truth hammered in granite"; I might be wrong on several details in this reply)

 

>From my understanding, Lamellar and Scale are very similar armours. Both armours consisted of small metal platelets which could vary in size from a little larger than a thumbnail to something that was several inches long and maybe 2" wide. The smaller the platelet, the more of them were needed and the more labour was required to make the armour (making it more expensive) and also the more flexible it was.

 

Now, I'm only familiar with pre-500 armours - so what I am about to say doesn't apply to anything the Roman invented. But my unsterstanding of the difference between Scale armour and Lamellar armour in the ancient context is that with scale armour the platelets were sewn deirectly to a cloth or leather backing. They were sewn at the top and hung down, so that each layer overlapped the one below, somewhat like fish scales. 

 

With Lamellar, on the other hand, the scales were sewn to one another in such a fasion that they overlapped both to the side and above. Lamellar was sewn in such a way that the cordage used was completely covered by the overlapping metal, and this made it stronger. It required more skill to make, and probably more metal, and was therefore more expensive. Since it didn't have the leather backing, it was lighter weight. These two factors are borne up by the RQ3 rules.

 

One thing that made scale weaker was that it was possible to slide a point (dagger, rapier, even spear) up between the scales much more easily than with lamellar (which was also fastened side to side). This made Scale easier to damage. 

 

Now, if I recall, in the rules both armours have a value of 6AP. In my game (which is technologically Bronze Age) I allow the wearing of soft leather under lamellar, but not under scale. Lamellar can therefore be bumped up to 7 AP with a separate soft leather beneath. We have no chainmail or bringandine in our game, so that's the only way to get 7AP. The next armour step up is plate, which is represented in the bronze age by the Dendra Panoply - which is made of plate but bears little resemblance to Medieval plate - and by solid bronze cuirasses, greaves, and helms made famous by the Greeks. 

 

There probably were armours like Bezainted in existence in the late bronze/early iron age. These would have consisted of small (say, 1" wide by 3" long) metal plates sewn directly to the outside of a leather backing at the top and bottom. They didn't overlap, so there were small gaps between them, and the thread used to tie the plates in place was exposed and so could be damaged. There are some nice colour plates showing this kind of armour in my Osprey book on Assyria. I don't consider Osprey books to be the final word on any subject, though, and I haven't found an independant confirmation of this yet - but it would make sense that such an armour would exist - it's the logical step up to scale and would be less costly to make, if it provided less protection.

 

I agree that cloth and other armours are under-represented in most games, including RQ. In our campaign we have various cloth and quilted armours, wicker armour, lacquered paper armour, and various armours made from sliced bone. We also have scale armour made from hardened leather platelets, bone platelets, and small hard shells. The two characters in my game that started with wicker armour both scoffed at me because it was relatively low AP - but they soon discovered that it's actually well adapted to marshy terrain, and when a few PCs fell in the water and those in metal sank but those in wicker didn't, well - they never wanted to give up their suits after that!

 

Chris
 


From: stolenbjorn at hotmail.com
To: runequest at rpgreview.net
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 09:31:11 +0000
Subject: Re: [Runequest] Hard versus soft armor.



WARNING: VERY LONG REPLY!
(Disclaimer; I'm an amateur, I would like you to not take my reply as "the truth hammered in granite"; I might be wrong on several details in this reply)
 
I don't know much about armor from before 500 ad, as I personally consentrate on re-enactment from migration-age, viking-age and late medieval (early 15th century). I agree to the one who suggests that RQ armour rules was made more to reflect ancient armor than medieval armor.
 
What I find most lacking on RQ -armor is the absence of textile-armor. The "gamberson", "panser", arming-doublet, etc-etc. is by far the most common armor in the medieval times, and it's completely absent in the rules. (In addition, the greec used glued textile armor called linothorax, but as I said; I don't really know much about that period.
 
So, I'll leave rule-technicalities to the ones that know far more about the rq-mechanics than me, and rather write a bit about how armor works in my experience:
 
"Plate" 
-Surprisingly "flexible"/mobile when worn without mail and/or padding beneath. Manuals showing ground fighting with pollaxes (the most efficient armour-defeating weapon of the medieval times; basically a warhammer attached to a 2 meter pole); shows people fighting in plate with chainmail beneath, but the most normal is to have textile cloting only beneath plate. There is allso illustrations of textile padding with chainmail sown to the areas that the plated do not cover(http://wkneedle.bayrose.org/Articles/images/arming_sm.jpg). Plate is impossible to cut through, at least in medieval times. (There are pictures showing swords beeing able to cut through early plate-helmets in the 11th and 12th century, but no re-creation of such event has ever proved successfull. The closest thing to success is some japaneese weirdo managing to make a 10 cm cut in an antique samurai plate helmet with a modernly made katana, and if that cut had been done with a person innside, the padding in the helmet would prevent the edge from even reaching the scull.) Therefore, IMHO; RQ should rule that swords take more damage than give damage when swung against a plate armor, and the damage dealt to the target should be translated to "concussion-damage", or somthing like that.
Wether plate is possible to pierce, is a huge discussion. Personally I lean towards that powerful bows and crossbows, pollaxes, daneaxes, cleacing-axes, warhammers and full-iron-maces can compromise plate armor if one attempts to do that. The discussion is on wether arrows break or pierce on impact. There is mentioning of "bodkin" arrrowheads (that are shaped a bit like a small rpg-7 grenade), that was made to pierce armor, but most bodkins found are made of very soft iron. Plate armor was often painted, and was allso sometimes covered in expensive textiles.
 
"Chainmail" 
-riveted, interlinking rings. Very flexible (not so flexible when worn beneath plate, as the plate straps and plates themselves "clam" the mail to the body, reducing it's ability to slide). Extremely effective versus cutting, not quite as effective against thrusts, arrows and blunt attacks (I've heard others in my community mentioning the find of a human bone on Iceland with imprints of mail...) Probably never worn without padded textile under. In the crusader/norman-medieval period, the padding beneath was quite thick, but when they started adding plate on top of the chainmail in the 14th century, they gradually started to reduce the thickness of the textile padding. Here is a link to one of many "armor vs arrow" tests that have been done:  www.cotasdemalla.es/
Wonderful historical painting of 13th century knight and his hooded chainmail-shirt with mittens + chainmail hose (only plate would be a helmet worn on top of the plate coif. I would rule this dude as having 1+7 AP in all locations except head where he would have 1+7+8 AP): http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images/armour/sliced/image_2/armour_13th_century2a_r3_c2

"Brigantine/coat-of-plates" 
-the poor man's platearmor. Allmost the same as lamellar, but the metal plates are often smaller than on lamellar armor, and sandwiched between layers of textile, not riveted on top of a leather harness which i do believe is the case with lamellar. It's often distributed to soldiers, and one often see archers wearing brigantine. Brigantine is allmost exclusively fielded as a vest that covers (in RQ mode) torso and abdomen. There are effigys of knights in the 14th century wearing leg-armor that could be defined as brigantine, but it could equally be defined as "lamellar". There are several "brigantine" vests found in the battlesite of "Visby", and on the painitng of the battle of Crecy, you see several examples of brigantine (depictured as bright colloured "vests" with rivets on). I believe that they have roughly the same characteristics as plate, perhaps a little easier to pierce, as there is a possebility to hit in a weak spot. I would allso let brigantine cost more encumbrance.
Original visby brigantine-plates: http://www.djurfeldt.com/patrik/bilder/korsb_p1.jpg
Plausible reconstruction of visby-brigantine: http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/2/5/2/5/4/8/webimg/176599626_tp.jpg
Later brigantine (as often worn by guards and archers in late 14th century -15th century: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7b/Brigfront.jpg
 
"textile armor" (panser, gamberson, jupon, arming doublet, padded hose, etc, etc)
Several layers (4-17) of (usually) linen sown together, or two layers of linen stuffed with hair. Difference in thickness varies greatly. The earlies evidence is from 11th century. In the "Maciovsky-bible" and other 13th century sources, many "ordinary soldiers" have tunika-shaped textile armor as the only  body-protection. It is allso shown worn beneath chainmail, and it is even shown worn outside chainmail(http://wkneedle.bayrose.org/Articles/images/jackman_sm.jpg). As chainmail became more common, and later plate, the textile armor gradually got thinner, and allso shorter, and was reshaped as a "jacket". Towards the end of it's use, it was sometimes worn as a "doublet", called an "arming doublet", combining the function as padding with the function of holding up the hose/plate legs. I would say that thick, stand-alone-textile-armor is surprisingly effective against cutting and "bashing" attacks, and allso offers quite a lot of protection against piercing attacks. The biggest drawback with this protection, is that it hinders heat-dissipation, and is allso quite movement-restrictive (more than mail and plate; at least the heavier, thicker, earlier ones). 
To the left in this painting, you see example of thick, early stand-alone-textile armor: http://home.tiscali.nl/~t401243/mac/mac10rA.jpg
To types "Stand-alone-tectile-armor" Theese two examples probably illustrates the sort of civilian armor worn by people outside the battlefield in 14th/35th century; several layers of textile (silt/linen/wool). It's garnments like this, that forces dagger-techniques in medieval times to resort to 90% stabbing-techniques instead of cutting, and who led to daggers like the rondell-dagger. Kali/silat-knifefighting would be harmless against someone wearing this short of garnment: http://www.gazetarycerska.pl/forum/attachments/jupon%5B6%5D.jpg
http://www.forest.gen.nz/Medieval/articles/garments/Charles_blois/pourpoint.jpg

Finally, I show you a video of the re-enactment-group I'm in, doing a tourist show in Oslo (captial of Norway) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0Kf7a1GFEo I'm the ground-fighter fielding a pollaxe and the yellow "houpullande"(jacket with the flapping arms),at about 3min 20 seconds. 
I'm wearing:
*Arming-doublet; 3 layers of thick cotton (If ruled as "soft leather", = 1AP)
*Reinforced hose (3 layers of wool/leather) (If ruled as "soft leather", = 1 AP
*Chainmail hose (7AP)
*Plate legs -minus lower leg and foot (8AP)
*Chaimail "sweater" (7 AP)
*Breastplate (8AP)
*Plate arms (8AP)
*Chainmail trousers (7AP)
*Plate helmet (8AP)
*padded coif (if ruled as "soft leather", = 1AP)
*Plate gauntlets (8 AP; actually I would rule plate hands as an impossebility, as the fingers in it's design is scale)
I've never weighed myself in full armor, but the weight is really not a problem, it's the movement-restrictions that is the most tireing; I guess I weigh somewhere between 20 and 30 kilos extra when wearing this.
With following total AP-stats:
Head: 9 AP (face 0 ap)
Torso-front: 16 AP
Torso-back: 8AP
Arms: 16 ap (hands 6 AP, inside of arms 8 AP outside-arms/elbow 16 ap, shoulders 8 ap)
Legs: 16 ap (groin, back of legs, lower leg and foot =8AP, front tighs, knee= 16 ap)
Abdomen: 8AP



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