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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Let me note, yes, there's a real-world arms and armor thread already, but I skimmed it and it seems to be more about how they work than where they're from. That, and it's rather long already, I didn't want to add too much to it. If a mod would prefer I posted there, I will of course gladly do so and ditch this thread.

    So. On to the actual OP.

    I'm working on some world-building and at first, my PC's were in a Britain-influenced place. Easy enough to figure out which arms and armor fit there. But I've got a few other areas in the works based on real-world areas: India, Poland, France and Africa (some of the desert, some of the savannah, some of the rainforest). And, especially for the first two, I have NO IDEA what's culturally appropriate. When I think India, I keep coming up Scimitar, but I don't really know anything else. Especially for armor. Poland I'm guessing would be similar to Russia, not that I'm an expert on Russian arms either (they were good with horses, right?). France I pretty much know "yay crossbows!" and for the African-themed place I figure the savannah types use spears and heavy shields, slings, hide armor... not too sure what the jungle or desert warriors used.

    Anyway, hence this thread. A place to discussion of real-world arms and armor not by function, but by culture. Who was using what, and when were they using it? Also, to a lesser degree, what's the closest equivalent in terms of gaming stats? If the people of X used Y, what's Y close to? Is it basically a longsword, you'd just have to describe its visual appearance differently, or is it more like a scimitar with the extra ability that you can use it to trip? Does that Mongolian polearm really need its own stats, or can we just statistically use a lance and make sure its described as looking differently? Things like that.

    Thanks, folks.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    This is among things that get covered in the Real-world Weapons-and-Armour thread. You'd do best to re-post these questions there.
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim4488 View Post

    So. On to the actual OP.

    I'm working on some world-building and at first, my PC's were in a Britain-influenced place. Easy enough to figure out which arms and armor fit there. But I've got a few other areas in the works based on real-world areas: India, Poland, France and Africa (some of the desert, some of the savannah, some of the rainforest). And, especially for the first two, I have NO IDEA what's culturally appropriate. When I think India, I keep coming up Scimitar, but I don't really know anything else. Especially for armor. Poland I'm guessing would be similar to Russia, not that I'm an expert on Russian arms either (they were good with horses, right?). France I pretty much know "yay crossbows!" and for the African-themed place I figure the savannah types use spears and heavy shields, slings, hide armor... not too sure what the jungle or desert warriors used.

    Anyway, hence this thread. A place to discussion of real-world arms and armor not by function, but by culture. Who was using what, and when were they using it? Also, to a lesser degree, what's the closest equivalent in terms of gaming stats? If the people of X used Y, what's Y close to? Is it basically a longsword, you'd just have to describe its visual appearance differently, or is it more like a scimitar with the extra ability that you can use it to trip? Does that Mongolian polearm really need its own stats, or can we just statistically use a lance and make sure its described as looking differently? Things like that.

    Thanks, folks.
    For a russian / east slavian world:
    longswords and axes as weapons (like the norse vikings)
    Chainmails (made chainmails when western europe still used rings sevn on leather. Later campaigns (1300 - 1500) might include chainmail reinforsed with plates, but not platemail.

    The heavy chivalery (drushina) was armed with longswords and either axe, pick or mace, a light lance, maybee a shortbow (used from horseback), chaimail or reinforced chain
    The main army consisted of men at arms armed with no armour to leather or even chain armour (depending on the individual soliders wealth)
    - spearmen: long spears, axe, dagger, large shields.
    - bowmen: shortbow, axe, dagger
    - irregulars: no armour, tools converted into weapons, axe, maybee shortbows

    Cityguards would normally be armed with spears and axes, but might have leather armour or chain (if in a large town or in time of war)

    Swordsmen ether castle guars or lifeguads of nobles or rich merchants: chain or leather armour, pole axe and sword or sword and round or large shield

    Special troops:
    Nomadic tribes (light chivalery):
    Leather armour, shortbows, sabres, daggers

    Viking merchants:
    leather or chain armour, axe or sword, round shield

    Viking merchenaries or lifeguard (the high kniaz of russia had often a lifeguard of vikings since he was himself descended from a swedish jarl):
    Chainmail, sword and either axe or mace, round shield

    Border monks. (monasteries was built like fortresses, and because of that the slavian translation of the 10 commandments said "do not raise your sword on your fellow man" the monks could use axes, mases and spears and defend the land against foreign invaders)
    No armour to chainmail armour, axe or mace, spear, large shield. The monks could be mounted on warhorses just like the heavy chivalery

    In poland, a catholic state, you would not find border monks, but you have the knightly ordrers and knights armed as knights in stead of the "drushina"
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Also note: Don't mind some home-brewing on this.

    If you want to give your Vikings Leather & Hides with some Axes swinging around, don't stick with the Core stuff.

    A special viking axe might go 2d4, 18-20/*2, whale armour gets you +6 AC or Frost worm armour goes +8.

    It boils down to this:

    Don't limit yourself mechanically by adding fluff. Yes, your average low-AC, big axe viking is most common, but you'll like keeping your options open (High AC, Good crits) without interfering with your fluff.

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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    I know the Bardiche was popular among the Russians and the Poles. Russia was noted for its' horseman, such as the famous Cossacks. There were many more tribes that people forget about, but everyone one remembers the Cossacks.
    Last edited by Neon Knight; 2007-05-08 at 06:36 AM.

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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasrkin View Post
    I know the Bardiche was popular among the Russians and the Poles. Russia was noted for its' horseman, such as the famous Cossacks. There were many more tribes that people forget about, but everyone one remembers the Cossacks.
    Cossaks are mostly later. In medieval russia, it would be their precursors, nomadic tribes of pechenegs and hozars. They were later joined by russians that fled from oppressive rule by thei tsars, but that was in the 16th and 17th century. Ukrainian cossaks, or zaporozci, could be used in a 1400-1600 campaign. They would be armed with sabre, light lance and either shortbow or some primitive gun.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    From the players handbook;

    Dagger - Everywhere
    Dagger, Punching - India
    Mace, light - Europe
    Club - Everywhere
    Mace, Heavy - Europe
    Sickle - Not really real, otherwise Egypt
    Morningstar - Europe
    Shortspear - Everywhere
    Longspear - Everywhere
    Quarterstaff - France, England, China, Japan
    Spear - Everywhere
    Crossbow - Most of Europe except England, China
    Dart - Not sure
    Javalin - Everywhere but more of an Iron Age thing
    Sling - Everywhere, appears most notibly in the Bible so possibly middle east
    Axe, throwing - France according to Age of Empires but you don't have to trust that game
    hammer. light - I'm not sure anyone used this
    Handaxe - everywhere in theory but less popular in central europe
    Kukri - Nepal
    Pick, light - not really a real weapon, Cornwall maybe
    Sap - any city
    shield, light - Everywhere but mostly in Europe
    Spiked Armour - rediculous fantasyism
    Sword, short - Rome if it's a Gladius but since the Romans conquored practically everything you can find derivitives anywhere
    Battle-axe - same as handaxe, used by Huskarls
    Flail - More of an Egyptian thing.
    Longsword - Central Europe, China
    Pick, heavy - not real
    Rapier - Central Europe
    Scimitar - China or middle east
    shield, heavy - everywhere
    Trident - Rome as a gladiator weapon, mainly these are used to indentify a statue as Neptune
    Warhammer - Europe
    Falchion - Not real, a real weapon with the same name would be English
    Glaive - Europe, also could be used for Japanese Naginata and various Chinese polearms
    Greataxe - Viking
    Greatclub - everywhere in theory
    Greatsword - Switzerland, Germany, Scotland
    Guisarme - Europe
    Halberd - Europe
    Lance - Europe
    Ranseur - Europe
    Scythe - Europe, except real ones would be adapted as to be identical to a glaive if used in a battle
    Longbow - England archetypally kept them for longer, most of europe
    Longbow, composite - Japan
    Shortbow - not sure
    Shortbow, composite - Mongolia
    Repeating Crossbow - China
    sword, bastard - Europe
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    India, Poland, France and Africa
    a quick, rough, ready and possibly wrong guide


    India:

    arms: generic longswords, tulwars (Scimitar), Katars (punching daggers), kuris, generic spears and composite bows. tend to the ornate.

    armour: chainmail, scale mail and leathers, even too quite late (still in use by the cav in the 1790's or later), often reinforced with solid plates over the chest or outer shoulders. plate armour never really took off, or at least i've never heard of it being made thier.

    Poland:

    arms: spears, lances, western style longswords or eastern sytle Scimitars depending on area, generic bows.

    armour: mixed eastern and western styles, depending on which group you look at. germanic groups (like the teutonic order) fought in the western armour of the day, be it full chainmail, partial plate or full plate. slavic/russian groups perffered the mail, scale, and lamimar of the east.

    France:

    arms: standard western lineup for period. The continental powers favoured the crossbow to the bow, and never used the longbow except when they hired english mercs.

    armour: standard western styles for period. orginally full chain was the best armour, then more and more plate was added to the armour as time wound on.

    Africa:

    tough to say, it's a BIG place with a lot of different climes and needs. going by the plains/desert/jungle themes you asked, i'd go for:

    Plains: throwing spears were popular over most of africa long after europeans switched to thrusting spears and pikes. most were sturdy enough for hand to hand, but some might be classed as javalins. Bows tended to the short bow side of things. no concept of cav, at least in south africa

    A lot of the tribal areas seemed to settle for toughened hides and shields, in some cases (e.g. zulus) tower shields of leather. they appeared unable to create better armour or be inclined to wear it.

    Desert: most of the northen deserts were arab lands, so they preffered heavy, concealing robes, Scimitars, shortbows, all-metal shields, and full chain with plate chest reinforcements for the nobles.

    jungle: not a clue. sorry. what i could find quickly shows a lack of armour, use of bows and spears like the plains tribes, but nothing more.

    if you have the arms and equipment guide, it lists the local variant names of the standard PHB weapons.
    Last edited by Storm Bringer; 2007-05-08 at 12:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Storm Bringer View Post
    jungle: not a clue. sorry. what i could find quickly shows a lack of armour, use of bows and spears like the plains tribes, but nothing more.
    I suppose poisoned darts and javalins would be the cliche jungle weapons.

    Also Machete. Or at least pseudo-machete.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Wikipedia, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

    India.
    I was unable to find lists for the other countries you specified.

    Looks like swords are popular, along with some more exotic weapons.

    Something to remember, though, is polearms are going to be found in any country. They're cheap, cheap, easy to use, and cheap. Did I mention that they were cheap? Polearms are going to be found in the foot-soldiers of virtually every country, everywhere, although different polearms are popular in different places.

    Swords are also going to be popular anywhere you have metal-forgers.

    Axes aren't really that great of a weapon, but you'll see them commonly around forested areas. Vikings, Russians, Polish, all used them to some degree or another. A conscript laborer from a heavily forested nation (i.e. Poland) has a high chance of bringing an axe with him.

    I can't get too specific, since my knowledge of these things is mostly limited to Medieval Total War, but I hope this helps.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    I'm not sure if this is true but I've heard that every Polish and Russian family had an axe back then.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Thanks all for the quick responses.

    Zebra - you're better at wiki than I. I tried to look and didn't have a lot of luck.

    Really, though, that looks amazing. Thanks everyone. Narmoth, Skeleton, Storm those lists look amazing (and of course, 100% accuracy isn't necessary, 70-80% is good for D+D. Heck, I'm the only one likely to notice, my players certainly don't know this stuff.)

    Falrin, good point. Albeit I'm laying off the vikings for a handful of reasons, the only islands of note nearby are more of a Celtic theme and icy cold islands of this place are... inhospitable to human life for reasons other than the clime (I might mix in some Viking themes with a semi-tropical archipelago in the southeast, though. Just a thought). Still, your point is a good and universal one.

    Again, thanks to everyone for their help. This'll definitely be useful. (Chances are as this world goes on, I'll end up with more questions - I'm doing a bottom-up approach, so I've only developed the handful of regions most important for immediate usage so far, which isn't even 100% of a continent yet).

    I wonder if anyone else has questions on this topic, since we obviously have some experts or expert googlers? (Man, I had a hard time finding Indian weapons on google. It kept giving me Native American stuff.)
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thiel View Post
    I'm not sure if this is true but I've heard that every Polish and Russian family had an axe back then.
    Guess every nation where the people lived far away from their overlords would have an axe.
    The reason for having polearms and such in Europe was that it was illegal for peasants to own weapons (including large axes, only hand axes here) because the noble class was afraid of the peasants revolting, so they had to make new weapons for every war (of course, in the end of the 100 year war in France everyone had weapons).
    In Russia, and maybee Poland, there was a lot of villages where there was no nobles, and people had to defend themselves for the most. Also, contrary to the western european armies of knights with their proffesional guards, the slavian armies consisted mostly of common folk on foot. Of course, there was chivalery also, but they wasn't the main part of the army. Therefore chainmail was the preffered armour even for the king (or kniaz, as hes title was in russian). Consequently, owning of weapons was indirectly encouraged in Russia. Also, everyone had a spear in the village for hunting, while in western Europe, it was illegal for the commoners to hunt.
    The reason for large axes to be much more common than swords, was that it took less iron to make than a longsword, and was therefore cheaper. Also, it could be used in common work to cut wood or to build houses.
    Norse settlements would also have a lot of weapons, since they was free men opposed to boundsmen like in Europe. Hide armour, bows and axes, both equipment that could be made in the village would be common. Spears was in use when fighting wars, but not used in smaler scirmishes, which was carried out from longships.

    Also, in russia money would be scarse, and barter with common goods and fur, or with gold and silver jewelry would be common. In Scandinavia, particulary in Norway, which was the poorest of the Norse kingdoms, gold would be given as gifts from the king or jarl to his allies and vassals.
    Both in Norway (I think also in Sweden) and in Russia, land wasn't given to vassals, only inherited. That means that any littlechief in any smal town is related to the king or chosen! Particulary in Novgorod and the more decentralised towns in Russia the chief would be chosen by the people.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Closet_Skeleton View Post
    Sickle - Not really real, otherwise Egypt
    Based off of the khopesh, maybe? Egypt is on the mark there...
    Quote Originally Posted by Closet_Skeleton View Post
    Sling - Everywhere, appears most notibly in the Bible so possibly middle east
    The Greeks and Romans used slings as well. The Rhodians particularly were known for their slinging abilities (judging from Xenophon)
    Quote Originally Posted by Closet_Skeleton View Post
    Axe, throwing - France according to Age of Empires but you don't have to trust that game
    Don't forget the tomahawk (Native Americans) I think some Vikings and African tribes used it as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Closet_Skeleton View Post
    Pick, light - not really a real weapon, Cornwall maybe
    ...
    Pick, heavy - not real
    I think it's a reference to the backs of certain warhammers. I think they were used by the British, but I'm not sure....
    Quote Originally Posted by Closet_Skeleton View Post
    Falchion - Not real, a real weapon with the same name would be English
    The description of the falchion in the PHB is that of a large, single-bladed, curved sword. That fits the description of the real falchion and I think its French.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Chainmails (made chainmails when western europe still used rings sevn on leather. Later campaigns (1300 - 1500) might include chainmail reinforsed with plates, but not platemail.
    Celtic chain was contemporaneous (and preceded by as well) Greek bronze breast plates, as well as various forms of scale. I would say chances are pretty good that it existed in the western parts of Europe as well, as it was present when the Romans first dealt with the Gauls in northern Italy.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Just about the pick: it was used to hack open plate armour, attacking the joints. The pick was made with a long sharp hook on one end that you could stick through joints in the armour and kill with, a pointed tip to trust in any unprotected part of the opponent, and alittle hammerhead on the other end of the head, that was used more to defend one self than actually damaging someone. The weapon was more used to kill of wounded knights after a battle than in a fight.
    I know for sertain that it was popular in russian chivalery as 3rd of 4th weapon (after the sword or schimitar, the bow and the mace, morning star or axe) in the 13th to 16th century.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Narmoth View Post
    Just about the pick: it was used to hack open plate armour, attacking the joints. The pick was made with a long sharp hook on one end that you could stick through joints in the armour and kill with, a pointed tip to trust in any unprotected part of the opponent, and alittle hammerhead on the other end of the head, that was used more to defend one self than actually damaging someone. The weapon was more used to kill of wounded knights after a battle than in a fight.
    I know for sertain that it was popular in russian chivalery as 3rd of 4th weapon (after the sword or schimitar, the bow and the mace, morning star or axe) in the 13th to 16th century.
    That's not a pick, that's a warhammer. The pick end may have been more useful but the weapon is still a hammer. The hammer was probably useful for stunning opponents but could do serious damage.

    Also it isn't really about striking through joints, it's more of the fact that joints tended to have thiner steel around them. You'd have to be being very careful to literally slide a point between joints. It's thin because of the basic laws of pressure.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseman%27s_pick

    So obviously, the pick was never a weapon on its own, but was used as a weapon. A type of warhammer, yes, but the pick end mattered too.

    Thus, the principle of a war pick that is just a pick has been proven to work, whether or not the current incarnation's form is fantasy or not, its function is just fine.

    That said, it'd be easy enough to make a weapon that was a Warhammer and a Light Pick, but only one end could be used in a given round. I think I'll add that in somewhere.

    Back to the original idea, still nobody having a clue about jungle tribes and weaponry? I figure they probably wouldn't wear anything heavier than Light armor, so perhaps a form of "hide" that functionally works like leather would be the most likely armor.
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    Default Re: Weapons and Armor by Culture?

    There was a video on arma.org (I think) that shows a guy putting the "pick" (bec de corbine) of a warhammer through a steel helmet. It was pretty cool, and kind of scary at the same time, since it went through handily, and made a big hole.

    Jungle tribes' armor depends on where they are. The Aztecs used leather, hide, and cloth to make light armors. Thin shields (probably light no matter how large) and spears and clubs with obsidian or animal teeth for cutting.

    The Zulus post Shaka used no body armor for the most part, prefering just a large leather shield and short stabbing spear. They also used bows sometimes, and a club called a knobkerri, which was a popular design that looked like a comma used pretty much everywhere. I believe the Zulu used iron or steel for their spear heads, but I don't know where they got it exactly.
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