Tag Archives: armor

Do the characteristics of full-plate armor change in colder climates?

Probably. Fair warning: I’m going to be guessing here, and thinking through it, so I could be missing something important, or just flat out wrong.

Normal full plate isn’t just a slab of metal between you and the outside world, if it was it wouldn’t be very effective against blunt weapons; like maces, flails, mauls, warhammers, and morningstars.

Those were all weapons designed to transfer a lot of kinetic force through plate or chain armor, breaking the recipient. Plate works fantastically against swords, some axes, and polearms in certain circumstances, but, ultimately, if you’re a giant bell and someone else has a hammer, I can completely botch a metaphor.

The solution was to wear a layer of heavy padding underneath the plate. This would be flax or any other easily available fabric, that could then provide some kinetic protection, in addition to the plate’s protection from weapons like axes and swords.

Okay, so that’s the part I can say with confidence, here’s the part where I’m guessing.

The padding would probably provide some insulation against cold weather on it’s own. By design it’s basically just a thick coat under the plate anyway. If that’s sufficient to keep a soldier warm enough to fight, then that’s all it takes.

But, if it’s not, then you’d need to supplement the padding with something that would keep your combatants warm, and furs are an obvious choice. Now, I don’t know that furs would actually absorb as much kinetic force as the padded armor, and you can’t just add extra stuff under the armor without heavily reworking the plate. So you’d probably need to either sacrifice some of the padding for more warmth.

Depending on how the plate is articulated this might not actually be an issue. If you can slap a fur cloak over the armor, or even just attach fur over the plate itself, you might be able to keep your soldier warm when they’re not fighting without substantially increasing the weight they’re carrying and without accidentally freezing them.

I’m kind of preferential to the cloak because it’s slightly more likely to survive combat, and this gets to another issue. During combat, the issue wouldn’t be keeping your soldiers warm, it would be keeping them from overheating.

Anyone who’s ever worked strenuously in a cold climate should be familiar with this phenomena, but, while you’re engaged in heavy physical activity, including combat, you’re body will generate enough heat to compensate for the environment. You’ll feel the cold, but it won’t impair you. This can create a weird situation where while being active, you’ll actually feel too hot in your snow gear. You’ll perspire into it, and then you’ll end up with it drenched when you stop working. If you’re wet, your body temperature is dropping, and if your environment is cold enough, this can spiral into hypothermia.

For someone experiencing this today, the easiest solution is to wear layers, and toss off outer layers while working, so they remain dry, preventing excessive perspiration, and then put them back on when you’ve finished. But when you’re wearing full plate and in combat, that’s not an option.

In the case of your soldiers, this can create a situation where they’d actually sweat into their gear and face more of a threat from the cold after combat, assuming they had no place to make camp, and warm up.

It’s probably also worth pointing out that winter campaigns in northern climates have been a very bad idea through most of human history.

I hope this is useful, even if it is a little more speculative than I’d like.


How and what does leather protect against?

If we’re just talking about a leather jacket, then mostly minor cuts and scrapes. The lining provides a little protection from impacts, it won’t save you from a baseball bat, but it does make blocking unarmed strikes a lot less unpleasant.

Some motorcycle gear has fiberglass plates, this stuff will take a baseball bat, tire-iron, or hitting the pavement at low speeds. It’s not fun, but it will save a lot of damage. I don’t think the fiberglass will protect against being stabbed, and (probably) won’t do anything about a gunshot. That said, fiberglass was the basis of some early flack vests, and some motorcycle gear is reinforced with kevlar so, your character could get lucky.

If you’re talking about historically, leather armor is a little different. Leather would be boiled in water, and then formed into the desired shape before it hardened. Once hardened, it would function as a low quality slab of stuff between you and anyone trying to kill you, or a substitute for scale. So, again, impacts, cuts, scrapes, and minor penetration. But, I’m not sure how well it would hold up against someone trying to stab through it, (that probably depends on how thick the slabs of leather are, and what’s trying to run through them.)







wat rings u got bitch?

Thus the myth of the knight lumbering around like Frankenstein is busted

This myth bugs me to no end, so let me clear it up here and now:

A made-to-measure suit of full plate armour is (and ergo was) less cumbersome to wear than, say, an ill-fitting all-weather coat. It was expensive as heck, but the movement it afforded was surprisingly non-restrictive. Also remember that the men who wore these suits were usually quite physically fit (medieval knights – who were among the few who could afford the armour – were trained to fight from around 6 years-old), and were accustomed to training while wearing them.

Plate armour was moderately heavy, granted, but the weight was optimally distributed over the body, meaning the mostly costly aspect of wearing it was increased fatigue. It’s not heavy in the same way a hiking backpack is heavy. Any accounts of a knight being unable to rise after being knocked down were most likely because he was injured, dehydrated, or just plain exhausted – all of which being common in battle anyway. Regardless, it’s unlikely that it’s because his armour prevented him from moving… and the fallacy of knights requiring cranes to get onto their horses is just stupid.

The idea that full plate was sooo impractical is ludicrous; if it were, people wouldn’t have bothered with it.

“But plate armor is increadibly heavyyyy! Only giant musclemen can even move in iiiit! It’s completely useless against agile unarmored foooooes! Women can’t even put it oooon, its sole weight will nail them in one placeeee!”

If it’s not “the distraction factor“ that people use to try to justify ridiculous female armor, it’s "agility”.

We’ve featured another video that dispelled many myths about field plate armor, but the performers weren’t as agile as the noble knight above.

Partially this myth survives I think because like Dungeons and Dragons always insist on selling up the idea that heavier armors come with heavier agility penalties.  And to a certain extent, there are certain activities I wouldn’t expect to be able to do while wearing plate armor.

  • Rock climbing without tools or ropes
  • High diving and synchronized swimming
  • Aerial gymnastics 
  • Dancing en pointe

Okay I don’t do any of those things but you get the point.

Practical armor is made to allow at least a fair amount of agility for it’s wearer for a simple reason: The best defense is not to be in the way of the attack, that way you don’t suffer any of the impact.

Or to put it a simpler way:  Lots of safety gear is uncomfortable and encumbering, but was the last time you heard someone propose that workers should just go without – that way if there’s an accident they’ll be able to get out of the way quicker?

– wincenworks

I wanted to know about armor, like which kind of armor would be appropriate for a female fighter? She’s in a war and her weapons are daggers and a sword.

I’m sorry, we really can’t answer this question, (or any of the four or five like it we’ve gotten.) This doesn’t give us enough information to make that call.

What your character’s doing will have a role on what kind of armor they’ll wear. Heavy infantry would field full plate, but for scouts, that’s just going to work against them.

I hate the “light armor = mobility” crap, when it comes to fantasy armor, but that’s because it’s usually applied incorrectly. Mobility is about getting in, seeing what’s going on, and getting out, without dying horribly, not bouncing around in combat.

Chain is usually what would be available for front line combat, because slabs of iron or steel were expensive, but if your character’s a mercenary, they’ll probably go with whatever they can afford.

The other issue is “when”, or more specifically, what’s in your setting. Armor isn’t some monolithic technology. Even games like D&D have a bad habit of including armor that’s anachronistic to the setting. If you have fantasy materials to work with, that will open new avenues of armor technology. If you don’t, it’s important to remember that armor has constantly been evolving from the beginning of human history to today.

I mean, the Kevlar armor we field today is substantially stronger than the Kevlar produced ten years ago. So, asking, “what’s the best armor for my character,” is a product of that exact moment in history, combined with when and where your character exists.


Advice/Resources: Winged Armor and General Armor

Advice/Resources: Winged Armor and General Armor


A reminder that “male” armour usually works just as well with female bodies. If you’re trying to design something practical, useful and historical looking (or even just something the follows the laws of physics), never ever put in boob cups. Aside from the fact they give the armour a sort of “focus point” for swords, falling down on them would send the shock right into the sternum. Regular plate armour leaves enough space between the chest for small to medium sized boobs anyway. But say the girl underneath is a buxom lass, you can still avoid that cleavage, boob cup shape while leaving enough space for her melons.

But aside from plate, things like the top picture, chainmail and all sorts of leather armour are unisex. I know you might be thinking that the feminine thing to do when designing a female warrior is to show off a bit of thigh or neck or cleavage or something, but really, understand that if the goal of that armour is to protect completely, putting an obvious gap in it is a terrible idea and she’ll surely get stabbed very quickly.

And don’t feed me the “it’s magic, I don’t got to explain shit” line. Bollox. Magic armour and forcefields need to make some sense too. Show me something that LOOKS like it’s generating a barrier over the character instead of just saying “Oh the G-string of Invulnerability is just as good as wearing full plate anyway”. If that’s the case, everyone would wear it. And why can’t they just tie it around their belt? Make me believe that your magic armour and spells have logic to them. If not, please don’t play your world straight. I’m all for super stylised designs as long as they’re sold as such, but if you’re trying to make a world that feels real enough for people to believe and get immersed in, think this stuff out. If you’ve designed someone with sparse, gapped armour that shows skin, give your character a reason to wear it.

This showed up on my crawl while I was packing up (and getting ready to carry) another load of comic books. Figured some of you might like it. We need more recognition for women warriors and a better focus on practical gear for them in fiction. If there’s one thing that really hurts a female character’s believability, its the lack of appropriate dress sense and gear. It’s nice to want to have it all, but sometimes we’ve got to make sacrifices for common sense.