PDA

View Full Version : Dressing for stealth



efreysson
07-08-2008, 02:15 AM
I started a thread similar to this one a while ago, but my writing went on a several month hiatus after that, and I thought maybe I should get some fresh opinions now that I'm getting back to it.

One of the major supporting characters in my fantasy is an assassin. And I don't mean that she uses disguises and infiltration to get close to a mark over a long period of time; I mean she's more about sneaking into an enemy camp at night, stab the leaders in their sleep, and sneak back out. So I need her to be dressed and equipped for skulking around in the darkness, and would like to know if I've gotten it right.
Here's what I got so far:

She wears a dark-blue shirt and pants to blend into the darkness, and a hooded cloak of the same color, in order to both make her human shape less noticeable, and for the hood to hide her face and make identification less likely if she is spotted. Also, she has pale skin so she rubs soot in her face and wraps a sash around her head like a balaclava to further blend into the shadows. Depending on circumstances she generally discards her boots before going into dangerous territory, and walks around with thick wrappings on her feet to both dampen sound and keep warm. As a final touch she rubs tallow and soot on her blades to so they don't reflect light.

So, can you knowledgeable people tell me if I missed anything. I was going to make her outfit tight-fitting to make it less likely to snag on something at inopportune moments, but it occurred to me that maybe billowy clothing further obscures her figure. Which makes more sense?

I'll greatly appreciate any tips or advice.

Aragon
07-08-2008, 05:39 AM
tight and dark
soles of the shoes should not be hard, be more like climbing shoes

chowmein
07-08-2008, 08:15 AM
black one peice jump suit.
and cloth sandals.

FinbarReilly
07-08-2008, 10:09 AM
Don't know the tech level, but don't use starch in the clothes (some starches can be seen in IR). Also, try to do it around 4am; the guards are sleepy and it's usually well before false dawn (sleep+darkness=maximum effectiveness). You can also use soft-soled shoes to cancel out most noise.

Also, since it is fantasy, keep in mind sleep spells and potions; they would presumably be commonplace, and would be highly effective if used correctly. In fact, sleep is one of the most devastating spells in D&D...at least, when dealing with low-level characters, like guards. Also, you can use shadows to effect, such as wrapping them into your cloak or clothing, as well as cancelling out noise.

I would also advise carrying some sort of spoiler for any dogs to nail their sense of smell (helping to get away), as well as flashbangs to help in an emergency escape (she should be able to sneak past the guards, but just in case...).

If it helps...

FR

Linda Adams
07-08-2008, 02:40 PM
Clothes should be loose and comfortable, so she can move around easily. Tight or loose, it'll still snag on the brush.

Avoid unnatural silhouettes that can be spotted easily from a distance. For example, a rounded helmet would really stand out because the rouded shape isn't natural to the environment.

Maybe no on the sash--it seems like something that if she were attacked someone could use to subdue her, or it's something that could fall off and be found by the bad guys.

Also think leaving the boots off might not be a good idea. Being an assassin, she might need to stop someone by kicking them--boots would help in doing more damage. If she's sneaking around the woods, there are things that might hurt her feet badly--rocks, brambles, snakes. What if she gets in sight of the building and discovers a field of brambles that she has to cross? If she has to escape in a hurry, she's not going to be able to run as well through the woods like that without hurting herself.

JimmyB27
07-08-2008, 03:04 PM
Black is actually not the best colour. Ever seen a soldier, with that dappled look on their combats? That's called DPM, or Disruptive Patterned Material. The human shape is actually quite noticeable and any difference between your black outfit and the background you are against will make you vulnerable. What DPM does is break up your outline, making you much harder to spot. This can also be seen in nature in tiger stripes and the like. She could also make something like a ghillie suit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghillie_suit).
Same goes for the face, only now you have another thing to think about - shine. Your skin will reflect any light remarkably well. I always cringe when I see action films with our heroes faces daubed with a couple of stripes of camo paint. Not enough. Ideally, the entire face should be covered with a lighter base layer, and then the disruptive patterns in a darker colour over the top.

FinbarReilly
07-08-2008, 03:23 PM
Definite no on any sash; it may snag on something and serves no useful function. However, I would suggest doing some research on taliths; it's a gypsy scarf with weighted ends and hooks hidden in the frayed ends. Besides an excellent weapon, it can also act as a sap from a yard or so away. Also, because it looks like an item of clothing, there is a possibility that it would remain with the assassin if she gets caught.


Also, in order to avoid to clothes snagging on underbrush, they should be made out of reasonably tough yet comfortable fabric; silk is a definite no-no, but cotton or linen is fine. They can also be dyed an appropriate color. I would, of course, suggest a color appropriate to the surrounding environment.

Breaking up the outline is of debatable use; it's great if you're watching the group from a distance, but it makes the assassin obvious once she is in camp. The other issue is that she's an assassin, not a ranger; breaking up the outline is a trick you would use more to sneak up on prey rather than sneak up on a target. Obviously a disguise would do the assassin well; I would suggest that of a domestic or a low-ranking soldier (both tend to be invisible simply because they are ordered to go places and take advantage of shortcuts (so an assassin dressed as a private would not cause the same suspicion that an assassin dressed as even a lieutenant would cause going towards a captain's office), and, because it's a given that they may have been given contradictory orders, "mistakes" are easy to cover).

[Note: If you want some tips about how to sneak up on a camp outside, I suggest checking out The Wandering Ones (http://www.wanderingones.com/) webcomic, especially towards the beginning; there are some very interesting ideas, and a lot of them are used by real-life people.]

FR

dirtsider
07-08-2008, 04:52 PM
Another thing on the boots - going bootless would be noticed unless it's commonplace to have people barefooted or wrap their feet in cloth. Then there's the risk of the MC literally running into things that will cut up her feet (broken glass or pottery, thorns, rocks, etc) which will both slow her down and leave a blood trail.

Sarpedon
07-08-2008, 05:25 PM
Keep in mind camoflage patterns were not invented until the 20th Century. According to some, it was due to the influence of the cubists.

Hell, the British army wore red until the Boer war, and it took World War 1 to make the French give up their red pants.

One of the commentaries on Sun Tzu's 'art of war' talks about camoflage in terms of wearing false animal feet and putting stuffed birds on their hats.

So I guess my point is that even though mottled colors are the most effective camoflage, it probably hasn't entered the mindset of a medieval society. Camoflage is a more recent invention than firearms and automobiles. So a solid gray or black are probably her best bet.

JimmyB27
07-08-2008, 11:08 PM
Keep in mind camoflage patterns were not invented until the 20th Century. According to some, it was due to the influence of the cubists.

Hell, the British army wore red until the Boer war, and it took World War 1 to make the French give up their red pants.

One of the commentaries on Sun Tzu's 'art of war' talks about camoflage in terms of wearing false animal feet and putting stuffed birds on their hats.

So I guess my point is that even though mottled colors are the most effective camoflage, it probably hasn't entered the mindset of a medieval society. Camoflage is a more recent invention than firearms and automobiles. So a solid gray or black are probably her best bet.

You mean it didn't enter the mind of our medieval society. If this is a fantasy, there's no reason they can't do it. It's not a massive leap, when you consider the natural camoflage of animals.

Sarpedon
07-08-2008, 11:22 PM
Sure, and there's no reason that your medieval people might have discovered penicillin. Considering how much other crap they used to try to treat wounds, why not mold?

Nevertheless, its anachronistic. As I pointed out, motorcars were invented before camoflage, but if she put a motorcar into her fantasy books, people would have a fit.

It seems obvious to you, but 'obviously' it wasn't obvious to people for thousands of years. Something had to happen to trigger it. Perhaps it was the deconstructing of traditional art forms associated with the cubists, post impressionists, and so forth. Perhaps (and more probably) it was the introduction of accurate, long range, rapid-fire firearms. Its an invention, like anything else, and it doesn't come from a vacuum.

JimmyB27
07-09-2008, 02:59 PM
Sure, and there's no reason that your medieval people might have discovered penicillin. Considering how much other crap they used to try to treat wounds, why not mold?

Nevertheless, its anachronistic. As I pointed out, motorcars were invented before camoflage, but if she put a motorcar into her fantasy books, people would have a fit.

It seems obvious to you, but 'obviously' it wasn't obvious to people for thousands of years. Something had to happen to trigger it. Perhaps it was the deconstructing of traditional art forms associated with the cubists, post impressionists, and so forth. Perhaps (and more probably) it was the introduction of accurate, long range, rapid-fire firearms. Its an invention, like anything else, and it doesn't come from a vacuum.
You're comparing a clothing pattern to a motor car? Hmm. I think this calls for a new thread. (ETA - http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2532954)

Willowmound
07-09-2008, 03:11 PM
Check it:

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42716000/jpg/_42716213_stripey_iwm_416_152.jpg

Plus article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6476647.stm).