View Full Version : Yet another armor thread :)

06-23-2010, 06:59 PM
I'm writing a pre-industrial fantasy world with a lot of violence, so I feel I need to broaden my understanding of primitive armor.

Oh, and my characters haven't invented plate armor yet. It's all leather, chain, lamellar and padded clothing.

On of my concerns now is what kind of armor a person can wear all day every day without getting severely fatigued or chafed. I have this particular main character who lives in an extremely violent city where he can't predict when he'll need protection. He's far from wealthy and often needs to move about quietly, but I feel I should give him at least SOME armor. I'm thinking of giving him big arm-and leg guards of hardened leather. Do those chafe badly?

Also, I have a sort of ninja/commando type character who relies on stealth and striking by surprise. Does the kind of leather used for armor creak loudly? Should I just have her running around in dark wool clothing to blend in with the darkness, or can I give her some level of protection?

06-24-2010, 07:38 PM
Certain kinds of plate armor have been around a very long time. The ancients (Greeks, Isralites, Egyptians, etc) had greaves (shin gaurds), breastplates, helmets, and a few other form fitting plate armors (usually made of bronze, but the Chinese/Mongols used laquer).

The iron age set this technology back a bit, because iron is very hard for "primatives" to fabricate. Making a sword was hard enough, forget form fitting breastplates.

One kind of armor in between leather and chainmail is scale, which is small plates sewn onto leather. Both kinds are quite heavy and noisy, hot and possibly chafing.

If he needs to move quietly, but still wants armor, he needs leather armor to offer some protection for his chest and back from dagger thrusts, or a lesser sword stroke.

Most films such as Robin Hood, 300, etc have done a huge disservice to the understanding of how armor works (although I notice it actually clinked in Robin Hood!). You see someone swing a sword and it sort of glances off the chest and the person falls down dead.

06-24-2010, 09:05 PM
I I'm thinking of giving him big arm-and leg guards of hardened leather. Do those chafe badly?

You could use Cuir Bouilli which is leather soaked in and then hardened by wax. As far as chaffing goes I am sure that your character would be wearing a padded gambeson underneath, so it might only be an issue for pressure points, like on the shoulders. Of course if your character does not have a great deal of money, who is to say how the armor fits. My biggest concern would be the heat. Cloth, padding, cloth and wax soaked leather- after a few days in the city you won't have to worry about the noise, you'll be able to smell your guy from a block away.
If you are just going for arm and leg guards, then he might want a shield and he would still need padding underneath, or yes it will chafe and it will still be hot. And sweat soaked leather isn't great for the skin.
Hope that helps!

06-24-2010, 09:21 PM
In all the books I've read that included characters who wear armour on a regular basis, it never crossed my mind that they might get fatigued or chafed. If readers are worrying about that, I think you've got bigger problems.

Drachen Jager
06-24-2010, 09:29 PM
I'm with hammer k on this one, plate came waaay before chain.

As for 'sneaky' armour you could just go with a stiff leather, not boiled or waxed but just a solid leather jerkin. It wouldn't stop swords or arrows but it would slow them down a little. It would be more effective against knives. Or if you wanted something a little more effective a brigandine is essentially the same but with metal plates sewn in, it would guard against most attacks while being relatively quiet and easy to move in.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Components_of_medieval_armour for some suggestions of what armour they could be wearing (and the correct terminology).

Also see http://www.eithni.com/ASEncyclopedia/chainmail.pdf for more information on chain mail.