A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #421
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Whee, finally got through the other versions of this thread (except the one that wasn't archived).

    Couple questions. I don't think either one was asked before, but I'm not doublechecking.

    What exactly do you get out of looking at Talhoffer plates? I can get a sense of what weapons were used but the stances all look awkward to me. I realize that they're designed to remind you of a combat form you once learned, as opposed to teaching you the form from scratch. I just haven't been able to glean any useful information off of them. It would be amazing if someone could post a link to one or two and guide me through the information I should be seeing.

    The morte strike seems awkward to me. I've gathered that the blade of a sword isn't that sharp (especially the ricasso) and against an armored foe you need something with concussion force. What I don't get is how you would switch to this kind of grip. Was it just for one strike, or did you continue holding the sword that way after switching? I feel like if I tried to go from a standard grip to a morte strike capable one, I'd be cut down while switching. If I tried to do it quickly, I'd gut myself. I haven't actually tried this one yet (mainly because I read this thread at work and I don't bring my swords there, but also due to an aforementioned fear of gutting myself) so I'm just looking for some hints on how to make it work. The best I've been able to come up with is that you'd switch to this grip while evaluating your foe - ie you see that he's wearing plate, your sword probably won't cut through it, so you switch up your grip, cursing yourself for leaving your mace and lucerne hammer at home. Then the fight happens.

    Also, I'm interested in writing a homebrew RPG. Where possible I'd like to be accurate. I've gotten a ton of information here and would like to apply it to the game (at the moment I'm wondering if it's a good idea to have different stats for each weapon depending on where you are with respect to your opponent's reach). I realize this is not the thread for game mechanics so I'm wondering if you guys also post in the homebrew forums with the same enthusiasm and ability to cite your sources as you do here.
    If you like what I have to say, please check out my GMing Blog where I discuss writing and roleplaying in greater depth.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Just a quick basic reply about switching to the half-sword grip for the murder stroke: in blossfechten (unarmored fighting) it is relatively quick and safe to switch to half-swording from the bind (basically, when your sword is in contact with your opponents sword-like many of the plays you see in Talhoffer where their swords are crossed in front of them), depending, of course, on your own and your opponents position in said bind. This would mostly happen when you are too close to perform some of the other actions/strikes from the bind, and when you didn't want to wrestle instead. It is also trivially easy to switch to a half-sword grip from the various Ochs and Pflug guards and derivations thereof.

    As for armored combat, you would likely be half-swording from the word go, or using a more appropriate weapon. If your opponent is armored and you are not, the correct action is: run away.
    Last edited by Hades; 2009-12-03 at 12:37 PM. Reason: I can spell gud.
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  3. - Top - End - #423
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    What exactly do you get out of looking at Talhoffer plates? I can get a sense of what weapons were used but the stances all look awkward to me. I realize that they're designed to remind you of a combat form you once learned, as opposed to teaching you the form from scratch. I just haven't been able to glean any useful information off of them. It would be amazing if someone could post a link to one or two and guide me through the information I should be seeing.
    Don't feel bad, Talhoffer is one of the most notoriously tricky to interpret if you don't already know the Lichtenauer system at least somewhat. Talhoffer has some of the most widely accessable and most clearly rendered drawings of the earlier masters, and he was very prolific writing several books, one of which was releasd in an inexpensive print edition very early on in the 'HEMA revival'. A lot of re-enactor groups you meet with a tentative interest in HEMA say they are 'studying Talhoffer', which usually means they look at the plates with bewilderment as you have. Talhoffer is intentionally cryptic, he doesn't explain much. To understand him, study an overview of HEMA or directly read Ringeck, Dobringer, Leukunker, and also later masters such as Joachim Meyer and Paulus Hector Mair. They are the key to the system. Ringeck spells the whole thing out in (written) detail, 16th Century guys like Joachim Meyer go into much more detail combined with technically precise wood-cuts and drawings.

    That said there are many Talhoffer interpretations online, for example these messer plays from MEMAG are very clearly spelled out in this vid. Their interpretation isn't perfect but I've done these disarms in sparring they work very well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWISs...eature=related

    The morte strike seems awkward to me. I've gathered that the blade of a sword isn't that sharp (especially the ricasso) and against an armored foe you need something with concussion force.
    That is I think something of a Ren-Faire myth. Very generally speaking, swords were sharp, sharper than you think. It's just counterintuive but true that you can grab a sharp sword without hurting yourself if you know what you are doing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E4aSlLyBTo

    What I don't get is how you would switch to this kind of grip. Was it just for one strike, or did you continue holding the sword that way after switching?
    It's again, kind of counter-intuitive but it can definitely be done, as Hades said from the bind (which I've done many times in sparring), but also at onset. Like Hades said, half-swording in general and Mortschlag in particular are techniques seen much more frequently in Harnichfechten (fighting in full plate armor) but they do also show up in Blossfechten (fighting unarmored or in light armor)

    Good example of transitioning to halfsword from the bind
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Pnw-9A8qQ&feature=fvw

    Some videos of Talhoffer mortschlag plays:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFTKfw1dum0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGA-Q0hlZxw&NR=1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4W9B...eature=related

    There is also a bunch of good halfswording stuff in Reclaiming the Blade if you haven't seen that, the Wallers do a great segment on Mortschlag in particular where you can see what the transition would look like in a real fight.

    Also, I'm interested in writing a homebrew RPG. Where possible I'd like to be accurate. I've gotten a ton of information here and would like to apply it to the game (at the moment I'm wondering if it's a good idea to have different stats for each weapon depending on where you are with respect to your opponent's reach). I realize this is not the thread for game mechanics so I'm wondering if you guys also post in the homebrew forums with the same enthusiasm and ability to cite your sources as you do here.
    I have done something like this commercially, I asked repeatedly on this thread if I can discuss it (or put a link in my sig), and gotten no answer, but if you PM me I have some commercially available resources which are directly applicable to your question.

    G.
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2009-12-04 at 11:07 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #424
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I have done something like this commercially, I asked repeatedly on this thread if I can discuss it (or put a link in my sig), and gotten no answer, but if you PM me I have some commercially available resources which are directly applicable to your question.
    I seem to recall that I pointed you towards the moderators, few of which visit this thread on a regular basis. If you want to know if you can discuss it on GitP or put a link in your signature, you are best served by asking Roland or the Giant for an answer. It is unlikely that it can be discussed in this thread, because the rules established for it preclude discussion of RPG mechanics for the most part.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    That is I think something of a Ren-Faire myth. Very generally speaking, swords were sharp, sharper than you think. It's just counterintuive but true that you can grab a sharp sword without hurting yourself if you know what you are doing.
    Where does that myth come from? I've heard similar claims about later cavalry sabers being "blunt", but I've heard that historically they sharpened them. Although, sticking them in metal scabbards may have dulled them more quickly (at least that's what I was told).

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Where does that myth come from? I've heard similar claims about later cavalry sabers being "blunt", but I've heard that historically they sharpened them. Although, sticking them in metal scabbards may have dulled them more quickly (at least that's what I was told).
    I'd say it arises from a couple places. First, I'd posit it comes (like most other medieval weapon myths) from "educated" Victorian museum curators who were all about crapping on anything not "modern" to make themselves seem better/higher on the evolutionary scale. Kind of a "look how stupid they were they didn't even make their swords sharp". Or even passing off 600 year old swords (unsurprisingly dulled by the passage of time) as "sharp as the day they were made".

    Second, I know it's been reinforced by Japanophiles who compare European weapons unfavorably to the katana - which is a superb cutting implement in its own right. "Oh, those swords aren't sharp at all compared to my 440 stainless samurai sword!"

    Finally, I'd posit that Ren Faire types don't help their own cause by selling deliberately blunted-down stage weapons and advertising them as "real swords". Starfire Swords used to do this, for example.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag
    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin
    Thus, knowing none of us are Sun Tzu or Napoleon or Julius Caesar...
    No, but Swordguy appears to have studied people who are. And took notes.
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  7. - Top - End - #427
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordguy View Post
    Second, I know it's been reinforced by Japanophiles who compare European weapons unfavorably to the katana - which is a superb cutting implement in its own right. "Oh, those swords aren't sharp at all compared to my 440 stainless samurai sword!"

    Finally, I'd posit that Ren Faire types don't help their own cause by selling deliberately blunted-down stage weapons and advertising them as "real swords". Starfire Swords used to do this, for example.
    I fit into both of these groups although I really only focus on the combat portion of the "Ren Faire types".

    First off, the stainless steel katana is a wallhanger at best, not even good for cutting through jello. 60% of katanas today are stamped out of sheet metal, given a false edge, and have a brushed on hamon.

    As for a side-by-side comparison of a katana to bastard sword for example, it really depends on your question. Frankly, as far as the European weapons are concerned, the spear and axe were the true workhorses of the battlefield.

    Seeing a sword in the hands of someone other than a knight or other wealthy combatant was very uncommon. It comes down to cost. A blacksmith could turn out spearheads and axeheads much faster and cheaper than he could make swords. The same goes for metal armor vs. leather or no armor.

    The japanese used spears as well, but when it came to close-quarters or combat with loose or no formation, the katana and naginata we're preferable.

    Regarding the dulled-down "real swords" Its mainly for safety and legal reasons. In some places, you arent allowed to sell sharp swords like that without a liscense. Another reason is that groups like the one I'm in will actually fight with them, and the insurance companies dont really like people fighting with real weapons. I purchased a sword like this once and when I questioned the seller about the dullness of the blade; what he told me was this. "I'm not allowed to sell shape stuff without a liscense but you could get a good edge on that by running it under a grinder."
    Last edited by BizzaroStormy; 2009-12-05 at 06:09 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    "Oh, those swords aren't sharp at all compared to my 440 stainless samurai sword!"
    Sorry, that was supposed to be biting sarcasm. Those sort of people who claim that sort of thing annoy the piss out of me. Forgot that sarcasm doesn't transfer well over a TCP/IP connection.

    I'm not condemning the Rennies, by the way. They aren't bad for doing that (I direct onstage fights for a living; I know all about dull swords being necessary for stage use), but it's also foolish to ignore their inadvertent contribution to the "European swords are dull" myth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag
    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin
    Thus, knowing none of us are Sun Tzu or Napoleon or Julius Caesar...
    No, but Swordguy appears to have studied people who are. And took notes.
    "I'd complain about killing catgirls, but they're dead already. You killed them with your 685 quadrillion damage." - Mikeejimbo, in reference to this

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Add in that to the average person 'sharp' is a binary value. Sharp/Dull. If you say a sword is sharp, they think you mean like a razor blade or a kitchen fillet knife (which are also two different levels of sharpness). Anything less than that is dull and dull means it might as well be a club.

    I ran into this problem a lot when I was a kid. I grew up in Ontario, where ice skating is reasonably popular during the winter. A lot of people, when they were told to 'sharpen' their skate blades, took grindstones to them and tried to make them single-edge razors... which failed *horribly* as ice skates. (Ice skates blades actually have two edges, with a groove between them. They're like mini-hydrofoils if you want to think of them that way.)
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by PirateJesus View Post
    As for a side-by-side comparison of a katana to bastard sword for example, it really depends on your question. Frankly, as far as the European weapons are concerned, the spear and axe were the true workhorses of the battlefield.
    That is no different than anywhere else in the world. Swords were sidearms, including in Japan.

    As for comparing European with Japanese swords, that is kind of opening a huge can of worms, but I will say this, we now know that European swords were at least as good. There were many more different types of European swords, but if you are comparing a bastard sword specifically, they were plenty sharp. For example this one.



    http://www.myarmoury.com/review_alb_brescia.html

    Was the basis of a replica that Albion Armorers made. It was arguably the most accurate replica they ever did, they sent the famous Swedish swordsmith Peter Johnsson who did inch by inch measurements to make their replica. Not surprisingly (to me anyway) this replica out-cuts every other replica they or anybody else made that I know of. The interesting thing is, for all their considerable skill, they were not quite able to match the quality of the original weapon which is actually a few ounces lighter.

    Quality (i.e. accurate) European replicas which have emerged in the last few years have debunked many myths related to sharpness. One example was cutting tatami, something which used to be believed that only a Katana or a Tachi could do efficiently. I've even seen this myth repeated as recently as a couple of years ago on a National Geographic TV show.

    There was a period for a few years where people were putting tons of videos like this on Youtube to debunk that myth

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vleC...B4D693&index=0

    Seeing a sword in the hands of someone other than a knight or other wealthy combatant was very uncommon. It comes down to cost. A blacksmith could turn out spearheads and axeheads much faster and cheaper than he could make swords. The same goes for metal armor vs. leather or no armor.
    I'm sorry but those are also Ren Faire / RPG myths. Swords were quite rare during the very early Medieval or "Dark Ages", but by the 11th Century they were being mass-produced. By the end of the Viking Age tens of thousands of common soldiers were armed with swords, so were almost the entire armies of the 1st Crusade.

    Also, there is almost zero evidence of leather armor being used in Europe. 'Poor mans' armor varied by the period and region but was most commonly quilted / padded type. Which is more effective than RPG's tend to lead us to think.

    The japanese used spears as well, but when it came to close-quarters or combat with loose or no formation, the katana and naginata we're preferable.
    Naginata are essentially spears. No real difference from the European glaive family, and used the same way on both sides of the world. Just like swords ;).

    G.
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2009-12-05 at 12:42 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Where does that myth come from? I've heard similar claims about later cavalry sabers being "blunt", but I've heard that historically they sharpened them. Although, sticking them in metal scabbards may have dulled them more quickly (at least that's what I was told).
    The origins of the myth, re Western Medieval and Renaissance blades, was well covered by Messrs Swordguy, Fhaolan, and Galloglaich, but as far as 19th century cavalry swords go, most were indeed issued with no more edge than a butterknife.

    They were still dangerous weapons in that state, but the understanding was that the trooper would put his own edge on his own sword, to his preferences.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Norsesmithy View Post
    The origins of the myth, re Western Medieval and Renaissance blades, was well covered by Messrs Swordguy, Fhaolan, and Galloglaich, but as far as 19th century cavalry swords go, most were indeed issued with no more edge than a butterknife.

    They were still dangerous weapons in that state, but the understanding was that the trooper would put his own edge on his own sword, to his preferences.
    With the tradeoff being that a sharper sword would cut better but be more likely to break ... such as when used to parry. These being industrially mass-produced 'munitions grade' swords something to think about.

    And I think this is typical of the origin of a lot of these myths. To understand the Baroque / Enlightenment period, the Renaissance, the Middle Ages, the Migration / Dark Age, etc., we tend to look at the 19th Century and project backward. This is a grave error.

    G.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    I kinda view this thread as 'real-world weapons and armor - and actual science stuff' ... mainly because I don't know where else to post this.

    I was wondering about ... implosion. Lets say a space the size and shape of a human body was suddenly empty. Air would rush in and all that - but how much force would that have?

    Anyone know that?

    Naturally, this is really a question about teleportation. But while teleportation is far from real-world, the physics of air pressure must be known to someone :)

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Acromos View Post
    Anyone know that?

    ...the physics of air pressure must be known to someone :)
    Google is your friend.

    "Volume of a human body" turned up pages of results.
    "Surface area of a human body" will help too.
    Then take the air pressure and... Ah, you can figure out the rest.

    It won't come to much more than someone saying "Bamf!" loudly and a mild gust of wind.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Also, there is almost zero evidence of leather armor being used in Europe. 'Poor mans' armor varied by the period and region but was most commonly quilted / padded type. Which is more effective than RPG's tend to lead us to think.
    Another question: when was leather armor (re)introduced into Europe? Perhaps the Renaissance? Certainly by the time that I portray (ca. 1600) it seems fairly prevalent, and things like buff coats are starting to appear.

    I would agree that quilted armor is much overlooked/underrated. The Spanish readily adopted it in the Americas (apparently based off meso-american examples), as it was generally sufficient to deal with most indigenous weaponry, easier to maintain, and not as heavy as steel.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Another question: when was leather armor (re)introduced into Europe? Perhaps the Renaissance? Certainly by the time that I portray (ca. 1600) it seems fairly prevalent, and things like buff coats are starting to appear.

    I would agree that quilted armor is much overlooked/underrated. The Spanish readily adopted it in the Americas (apparently based off meso-american examples), as it was generally sufficient to deal with most indigenous weaponry, easier to maintain, and not as heavy as steel.
    The buff coat is more like D&D padded/quilted armour than it is like the D&D leather armour. In the exact same way heavy leather jackets, like those used by old-time pilots, biker's, etc., would count as padded/quilted armour.

    D&D leather armour is supposedly a very specific type of hardened leather armour, sometimes called Cuirbouille. Hardening leather can be done via several different methods, with varying levels of effectiveness. While it did occur as individual peices of armour as well as other functional items, it was rarely used for full-body stand-alone armour as depicted in D&D.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fhaolan View Post
    The buff coat is more like D&D padded/quilted armour than it is like the D&D leather armour. In the exact same way heavy leather jackets, like those used by old-time pilots, biker's, etc., would count as padded/quilted armour.

    D&D leather armour is supposedly a very specific type of hardened leather armour, sometimes called Cuirbouille. Hardening leather can be done via several different methods, with varying levels of effectiveness. While it did occur as individual peices of armour as well as other functional items, it was rarely used for full-body stand-alone armour as depicted in D&D.
    Ah. I've seen what you are talking about, admittedly very little of it though. I think I've seen an Italian morion made out of such leather. If that's what D&D calls leather armor, then it must have been very rare. I've also seen leather shields that must have been similar. They were popular in Spanish America, but are believed to have their roots in North Africa (it's called an "adarga" I think).

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fhaolan View Post
    The buff coat is more like D&D padded/quilted armour than it is like the D&D leather armour. In the exact same way heavy leather jackets, like those used by old-time pilots, biker's, etc., would count as padded/quilted armour.

    D&D leather armour is supposedly a very specific type of hardened leather armour, sometimes called Cuirbouille. Hardening leather can be done via several different methods, with varying levels of effectiveness. While it did occur as individual peices of armour as well as other functional items, it was rarely used for full-body stand-alone armour as depicted in D&D.
    Yeah, what he said. There is very little evidence of cuir bouille actually being used as armor in Europe, but there is some. This leg, shoulder and arm armor



    .... is from Italy around the 16th Century. There is some debate if it was actual battlefield armor or just used for tournaments.

    The padded armor the Conquistadors used was not, at least originally, of Native American origin. They showed up in the region wearing that type of armor, it was common in Western Europe dating back to at least the 11th Century, we can see it in Byzantine art back to the 4th or 5th Century AD, and the ancient Greeks used linen armor of a slightly different type called a linothorax.

    This type of armor which could be called a gambeson or jupon or aketon, was


    There were two basic versions, relatively thin (5-10 layers of linen with or without some padding) for wearing under mail or plate armor, and thicker (15-30 layers) intended for use as stand alone armor, like the guy in the painting above.

    There is more evidence of leather armor being used in Central and East Asia. The Mongols apparently used cuir boulli lamellar, sometimes reinforced with horn.



    The Japanese and Koreans used laquered leather lamellar.

    The problem with leather and cuir boullli is that in modern tests it doesn't hold up very well as armor, far worse than the padded type, and considerably worse than iron lamellar, let alone plate or mail armor. Unlike in DnD and nearly every other RPG combat system, leather thick and / or hard enough to provide any significant protection is also extremely bulky. (One advantage of cuir boulli though is it floats!) The lamellar construction makes it effectively stronger and also more flexible. Leather was also expensive in period, particularly in the West. (the Mongols being cattle herders had more)

    The Indians made some armor out of elephant and rhino hide.

    G.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The Indians made some armor out of elephant and rhino hide.
    There is also some crocodile hide armour on display in the British Museum (or there was about ten years ago), but I doubt it dates from anywhere near medieval, and was probably more decorative than effective.

    Still, it is interesting to note that (apparently) many Viking-type reenactors insist on the historicity and defensive value of leather scale or lamellar type armour. Almost as prevalent as the tendency for television shows to equip their Romans with leather faux lorica segmentata. Even HBO's Rome, with its mail clad legionaries opts to armour the cavalry in leather "musculata". Without getting into the whole musculata debate, it is still surprising, but repetition is the means of myth building.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    There is also some crocodile hide armour on display in the British Museum (or there was about ten years ago), but I doubt it dates from anywhere near medieval, and was probably more decorative than effective.

    Still, it is interesting to note that (apparently) many Viking-type reenactors insist on the historicity and defensive value of leather scale or lamellar type armour. Almost as prevalent as the tendency for television shows to equip their Romans with leather faux lorica segmentata. Even HBO's Rome, with its mail clad legionaries opts to armour the cavalry in leather "musculata". Without getting into the whole musculata debate, it is still surprising, but repetition is the means of myth building.
    Yeah I agree with you. The lamellar armor among the Vikings is a big debate in the Historical community. There is some evidence they did have lamellar armor, some iron lames (individual pieces) have been found at Birka and I think one or two other Viking sites. But it is unlikely it was very common. The only direct evidence of anything like leather armor among the Vikings is a hotly debated reference to some "Reindeer hide" armor in one of the Sagas, which I suspect was probably more like padded armor (due to similarity with some padded armor used in the Hebrides during the early medieval period, which had tarred deer hide as an outer layer for rain protection). I argued as Devils-advocate that given the widely travelled nature of the Vikings through Central Asia etc., they probably would have picked up lamellar and probably even scale armor, both of which were common there. But the idea of entire armies of Vikings wearing it, let alone of leather, seems very far fetched. I guess re-enactors have their own realities they have to deal with, nobody wants to fight without armor and not everybody can afford mail...

    The leather armor with the Romans is even more problematic. This was apparently started in the 30's during the original heydey of sword and sandals films, as a more cost effective solution for the prop department. I loved HBO's Rome series (which reminds me I need to buy the DvDs) but the fighting warfare scenes were a little off... and I was shocked to see that leather armor trope re-introduced. Sigh. If it was perfect I would have been even more depressed when the series ended I guess....

    G.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    I've also seen leather shields that must have been similar. They were popular in Spanish America, but are believed to have their roots in North Africa (it's called an "adarga" I think).
    Leather and cow-hide shields were common in Europe and Africa going back to antiquity. The minoans had giant figure 8 shaped cow-hide shields as early as 1600 BC, you see leather targe shields in Scotland considerably later than 1600 AD.

    Shields generally speaking tended to be very light, especially in their heydey.

    A typical Viking shield for example was around 3/8" thick, of fairly light (but strong and fibrous) wood like linden or poplar, usually the only metal part was the boss. They were relatively disposable, typically three would be used for a duel for example. Roman Scutum were not much thicker, only the Greek Aspis was a formidable metal shield anything like the type you see in DnD, and that was designed for a very specific type of formation fighting.

    I've never seen any historical evidence for the thick, picnic bench type shields you see in the SCA let laone the iron manhole covers you see in almost all fantasy art.

    From the decline of the Greek Hoplite until around the 15th Century AD metal shields were all but unheard of. By then shields had become far less common on the battlefield, they were stilll almost universal going into the 12th Century but by the 13th had substantially faded away as better armor and more higher energy missile weapons (longbows, primitive firearms, and very heavy crossbows) began to appear, though still used by some cavalry and sappers, skirmishers and etc., while archers begin to use the pavise which is more of a portable wall which stood on it's own than a shield This is when you start to see all the two-handed weapons. For a while shields got smaller and harder, the iron buckler replaced the big roundshield or kite. The buckler became common for personal protection, and popular with thugs ... your 'swash and buckler' men complained about in Medieval English legal documents.

    But then shields made a comeback in the Renaissance as armor started to gradually decline. The Spanish finally cracked the 200 year invincibility of the Swiss pike squares using lightly armored "rotella men" who carried small iron shields (rotella) and swords. There are some techniques for using these weapons in some of the 16th Century fencing manuals. This from Marozzo for example:



    G.
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2009-12-09 at 10:12 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I argued as Devils-advocate that given the widely travelled nature of the Vikings through Central Asia etc., they probably would have picked up lamellar and probably even scale armor, both of which were common there.
    It depends a lot on what is being defined as 'Viking'. The Tagma ton Varangion, or Varangian Guard, who were employed by Basil II of the Byzantine Empire, picked up a lot of fancy equipment in Constantinople. Mostly splint-style arm and leg guards but I swear I've saw a tapestry once with the a guard leader-type in some kind of fine scale when the others in the picture were in maille.... although now that I think on it, I may have been assuming that one was a leader-type when it may just be an indication that that individual *wasn't* Varangian... Shoot. Now I'll have to try to remember where I saw that tapestry...
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    when people say viking they usually mean 'Norse'. since a viking was a man going on a viking, a journey of trade and raid and generally road(or rather Sea) trippin around
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    As long as we're on armor, I'd like to cross-post this over from Homebrew. No, I don't care about the "rules" part - I'd just like a once-over on the fluff part justifying each major armor choice. It was all off the top of my head, so I'd like a double-check that I didn't say anything stupid, especially since I'm being too lazy to cite sources.

    Well, stupider than usual, at any rate.

    Anyway, here's the post. The whole idea behind this is somebody wanting more "realistic" armor terminology and classifications. These are all the types I can think of where there's actually some evidence of their existence (which is why you aren't seeing Ring or Banded Mail in there).

    ............................................

    What the hey, I've been meaning to do this for a LONG time...Naturally, this assumes you aren't using Armor as DR. It OUGHT to provide both AC (how well armor deflects blows away from you) and DR (how well it absorbs the blow it doesn't deflect)...but people think that's too powerful for some reason. I shrug and point at Time Stop, but what can ya do?

    (There is an argument that Medium Armor, as a category, shouldn't exist. Not one that's founded in game mechanics, mind you. The Medium Armor category seems to be delimited only by a narrow band of AC values and, most importantly, by the speed decrease the category brings. Heck, their total AC potential (AC bonus + Max Dex) is lower, on average, than any other group.)


    Frankly, I'd simply delete the medium armor category entirely. The table would end up looking a whole lot like this:

    Light Armor

    Soft Leather+1 AC, Max Dex +8, ACP 0, Speed 30/20

    Padded Jack +3 AC, Max Dex +7, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

    Hide +3 AC, Max Dex +6, ACP -3, Speed 30/20

    Hardened Leather +2 AC, Max Dex +7, ACP 0, Speed 30/20

    Mail Shirt +5 AC, Max Dex +5, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

    Scale and leather +4 AC, Max Dex +6, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

    Brigandine +5 AC, Max Dex +4, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

    Breastplate +6 AC, Max Dex +5, ACP -2, Speed 30/20


    Heavy Armor

    Lamellar +5 AC, Max Dex +5, ACP -3, Speed 20/15

    Mail Hauberk w/leggings +6 AC, Max Dex +3, ACP -5, Speed 20/15

    Plate & Mail +8 AC, Max Dex +2, ACP -4, Speed 20/15

    Splint Plate +7 AC, Max Dex +3, ACP -3, Speed 20/15

    Full Plate +10 AC, Max Dex +3, ACP -3, Speed 20/15


    *Leather Armor: Unhardened saddle leather used as armor. Very rare as its own defense, soft leather was mainly used as a supplement to other, effective armors. "Fantasy" armors get made out of this a lot, because it's so easy (read: cheap) to work with.
    Spoiler
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    *Padded Jack: Also called gambeson, aketon. 15-30 layers of quilted linen worn as its own defense, has a tendency to clump up at the joints. Has the advantage of being quite cheap and easy to make. Take an additional -2 ACP if wetted (such as being swum in, dropping in a lake, or more than 10 minutes of heavy rain). If not dried out within 12 hours, irrepairable rot will set in, losing 1 point of AC per week until useless.
    Spoiler
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    *Hide: Layers of heavy animal hide, much thicker and/or more resilient than common saddle leather normally used for armor.
    Spoiler
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    *Hardened Leather: Wax or water-hardened leather. Very rare to find full suits; these mainly serve as supplementary joint protection combined with other armor types.
    Spoiler
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    *Mail Shirt: Riveted (NOT butted together) flattened metal rings by the thousands. The most common armor for well over a thousand years.
    Spoiler
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    *Scale and Leather: Small fish scale-like pieces of metal sewn to a heavy linen or leather backing. Common for Byzantines, not so for any other Western civilizations. Arms and legs were generally protected by soft or hard leather, depending on the wealth of the wearer.
    Spoiler
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    *Brigandine: A compromise between mail and more advanced large plate armors, brigandine consists of moderately-sized thin metal plates sandwiched between layers of thin soft leather, often faced with rich material. In practice, blows tend to slip off the plates and bury themselves in the gaps, and the plate hinders movement just enough that both large-plate armors and mail are superior. Limbs are covered with whatever is available, usually leather, and practically never mail, as there is no good way to attach the mail to the brigandine.
    Spoiler
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    *Breastplate: The central component in Full Plate armor worn independently, usually over a padded jack and with little leg protection at all. This armor has the benefit of protecting the vitals well while scarcely hindering movement or weighing down the wearer at all. Was very rarely worn until the very late Middle Ages, and this fashion was truly popularized by the Spanish.
    Spoiler
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    *Lamellar: Dozens of small plates laced directly together with no backing, this armor has the advantage of being easy to make and repair, but tends to be heavy for its coverage and makes it impossible to bend forward at the waist, limiting movement and reaction speed. Relatively rare in Western Europe, this is more of a Russian/Central Asian/East Asian-themed armor. This included most forms of Japanese armor. Most lamellar wearers were horsemen, and for good reason.
    Spoiler
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    *Mail Hauberk w/Leggings: A full-body armor including long-sleeve mail arms (and often mittens) and full mail "pants" with foot covers. Very heavy and hot, largely due to the padded garment necessary to wear beneath the armor. In addition, the mail tends to bunch up at the joints, badly limiting movement.
    Spoiler
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    *Plate & Mail: A mail hauberk with plate reinforcements attached over top of the mail. Lighter and more protective than a Mail Hauberk w/Leggings, this was a transition to the clearly superior Full Plate. This can come in one of two styles, Eastern (with several smaller plates attached to the mail via rings) or Western (larger plates strapped over the mail hauberk). Some late-period Japanese armor falls under this category as well, though they used a 6-in-1 mail weave rather than the commonly known 4-in-1.
    Eastern
    Spoiler
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    Western
    Spoiler
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    *Splint Plate: Another type of transitional armor, this seems to have been exceedingly rare (rare enough that "splint plate" isn't the proper term, since there isn't a proper term at all). Essentially, it takes the plate bits from Western Plate & Mail and trades the mail for brigandine arm and leg protection. Easier and lighter to move in than Plate & Mail, it is slightly less protective, mainly due to the gaps left on the insides of joints that would otherwise be mail-covered.
    Spoiler
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    *Full Plate: The culmination of the armorer's art, full plate is made almost entirely of linked plates of metal laced to a tight-fitting arming doublet underneath. Very little mail is used at all - only under the armpits and in a small skirt around the groin. This armor is surprisingly light, and, as long as it is fitted to the wearer, quite easy to move in (if not fitted to the wearer, add an additional -2 ACP). It mainly came in two styles, the minimalistic Milanese style, and the decorative Gothic style. Both offer effectively identical protection.
    Milanese
    Spoiler
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    Gothic
    Spoiler
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    Last edited by Swordguy; 2009-12-09 at 01:36 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin
    Thus, knowing none of us are Sun Tzu or Napoleon or Julius Caesar...
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    ...only the Greek Aspis was a formidable metal shield anything like the type you see in DnD, and that was designed for a very specific type of formation fighting.
    As I understand it, the Greek Aspis was not an entirely metal shield, but constructed of wood and faced with bronze: Matthew Amt's Greek Hoplon Construction Page and Chris B's Aspis.

    In the near east, though, round metal cavalry shields lined with leather seem to have been possibly quite common in the medieval period. The history of the western metal buckler has always been somewhat elusive to me, but they are geerally thought to have been in use from at least the thirteenth century, though I am unclear if they were typically entirely metal.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    In the near east, though, round metal cavalry shields lined with leather seem to have been possibly quite common in the medieval period. The history of the western metal buckler has always been somewhat elusive to me, but they are geerally thought to have been in use from at least the thirteenth century, though I am unclear if they were typically entirely metal.
    The MS I.33 ones sure look fully metal to me. The side-on drawing show them with a curve that would be exceedingly annoying to reproduce in wood. Plates 1 & 2 are pretty blatant in this regard.

    Maybe wooden handles, but I don't think that counts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag
    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin
    Thus, knowing none of us are Sun Tzu or Napoleon or Julius Caesar...
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordguy View Post
    The MS I.33 ones sure look fully metal to me. The side-on drawing show them with a curve that would be exceedingly annoying to reproduce in wood. Plates 1 & 2 are pretty blatant in this regard.

    Maybe wooden handles, but I don't think that counts.
    It has been a while since I studied Ancient Greek history, but I would be reluctant to doubt Matthew Amt's expertise on the subject. The guys at RomanArmyTalk really know their stuff, but it is certainly possible they are wrong. That said, an all bronze aspis sounds to me as though it would either be impossibly heavy or uselessly thin.

    [edit] Oh, right, the bucklers. Duh. My head is elsewhere this evening... yeah, they look metal, but then appearances, deception, and all that.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2009-12-09 at 02:09 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The padded armor the Conquistadors used was not, at least originally, of Native American origin. They showed up in the region wearing that type of armor, it was common in Western Europe dating back to at least the 11th Century, we can see it in Byzantine art back to the 4th or 5th Century AD, and the ancient Greeks used linen armor of a slightly different type called a linothorax.
    Yes, I didn't mean to imply that they had no padded armor themselves when they arrived. The Spanish did, however, adopt essentially indigenous padded cotton armor once they were established in Mexico, probably for simple reasons of logistics, and there already being a production base.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    So, I don't know much about leather armor or modern tests of it, but I would like to put forward some thoughts I had, some things I've heard and maybe get some feed-back.

    While this is a bit later, the Soldados de Cuera were mounted troops on the frontiers of New Spain that wore long heavy leather coats. These were flexible but made out of as many as seven layers of leather. They were generally considered arrow-proof, although I've also heard that they (or perhaps similar leather armor) might not stop an arrow completely, but would take enough energy out of it that the arrow would only penetrate maybe an inch into the flesh. I've also seen padded and quilted leather armor dating from earlier periods -- and I've worn replica of it.

    The Comanches would make leather shields out of many layers of leather, stuffed with all sorts of things (settlers were often amazed that Comanches wanted to trade for books, and paper), and were reported to be very strong and even able to stop a spent musket ball. I don't believe "spent" is a technical term, but I think it usually refers to a musket ball that was fired at long range, or has ricocheted and therefore "spent" some of it's energy.

    Hardening leather, I imagine would help prevent a sword from gaining purchase and make it more likely to deflect the blow. Not all sword strikes will be perpendicular to the surface, and I would think that a hard surface would be more likely to turn the blow than a soft one that is easily cut into.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    So, I don't know much about leather armor or modern tests of it, but I would like to put forward some thoughts I had, some things I've heard and maybe get some feed-back.
    Search youtube, you'll find all kinds of weapon tests of medieval weapon x VS medieval armor y.

    Hardening leather, I imagine would help prevent a sword from gaining purchase and make it more likely to deflect the blow. Not all sword strikes will be perpendicular to the surface, and I would think that a hard surface would be more likely to turn the blow than a soft one that is easily cut into.
    As someone who has crafted and worn this form of armor, hardening the leather (either by water boil or wax boil) works pretty much as you describe. Some cultures would further augment this effect by coating their leather armor in grease before combat. I can't say if greasing the armor really made any major differences as I never greased my armor, but someone obviously did to try it and even wear it into battle.
    Also, don't forget that the semi-supple nature of leather can interfere with the cutting surface of the blade, as the armor bends and flexes away from the blow. Leather also has a nasty habit of catching a blade too, in my experience.

    Leather + chain is a lightweight combo, covers you remarkably well, and it's cheap.
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