Historical Armor Descriptions for Fantasy Roleplaying
A summary of the materials and forms of armor through the ages; for the
curious, for roleplayers and gamers who are interested in some degree of
accuracy in their games, and for fantasy writers.
Part of the fun of a fantasy role-playing game is that it isn't based
entirely in reality. However, there are some things that are not physically
possible without the aid of magic - a soft leather garment of one or two
layers stopping the thrust of an edged weapon, for example. I am also just
plain tired of gamers assuming that because they read something about armor
in an rpg sourcebook, it must be based exactly off of period (historical)
I started doing research online a few years ago, and discovered that the
armor information in most fantasy role-playing books is either based on old
erronous texts or made up entirely. Currently, this document does not have
complete references. I'll add them when I get around to it. I got a lot of
my info from the Arador Armor Library forums - this is a
scholarly forum in which people cite references for the information they
Update: The Arador Armor Library forums have been hacked and destroyed.
The loss of that information is horrible, but it has motivated me to start
acquiring a library of armor texts so I can do my own research.
A fine glossary of European armor terms can be found at Arador: The European Armor Glossary.
I have tried to put as much factual information and as little of my own
interpolation as possible in this document. If you see a glaring factual
error, feel free to contact me, but make sure you include
references. Email: dragonscalestore (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Website (I sell custom mail armor, among other things): Dragonscale Chainmail and Leatherworks.
Information on time periods and cultures associated with various armors is
beyond the scope of this page, though occasionally some cultures are
mentioned in passing.
Also, I don't know anything about the relative defensive value of
shields. I do know they were made from a variety of materials or
combinations thereof: boiled leather, wood, bronze/brass, iron, and
The biggest error propigated by the gaming industry is terminology-related.
Some folks (Gary Gygax) did their armor research solely in books by Ashdown
or Meyrick (who was used as a primary reference by Ashdown), and these
authors picked up the nasty habit of using the word mail (derived from the
French maile or maille, meaning 'mesh' or 'net') to mean 'armor'. Hence,
when these guys wrote things like 'scale mail', 'plate mail', and 'chain
mail', they really meant 'scale armor', 'plate armor', and 'chain
armor' (chain armor is actually another misnomer; it's mail or maille or
I can assure you that archaeologists, historians, museum curators,
armorers, and other scholars use the proper nomenclature, so if you ever
want to communicate with these people, I encourage you to learn the
terminology (if you don't you'll immediately brand yourself as a noob).
Better yet, pass it on to your gamer friends and stop the spread of what
amounts to an urban legend.
Here's a good reference: Demystifying Chainmail and
This is not a big problem in role-playing sourcebooks, but I figured I'd
mention it nonetheless. Copper is too weak to be used as funcitonal armor.
A nice thick work-hardened plate, say about 1/16" thick, might turn a stone
weapon, but that's about it. To my knowledge, no functional copper armor
has ever been found. Stronger alloys of copper, such as brass and bronze,
are also so easy to make that the use of unalloyed copper would have been
The properties of wood do not lend itself to body armor. It was used in
shields, however. Any rumors you've heard of the early Japanese using
wooden or bamboo armor are unsubstantiated.
A Discussion of the
Effectiveness of Padded Armor - former Arador forum link, now placeholder
until I find something similar.
This was one of the earliest forms of armor developed. Almost every culture
that ever practiced the art of war had their own version of it, and some had
several. This armor continued to be used by itself or as a foundation layer
for other types of armor. There are several terms for this type of armor:
aketon, gambeson, jack, padded jack, arming doublet, and simply coat
Cloth armor was comprised of multiple layers of whatever fibre was suitable
for the climate. Linen was very popular, because it trapped little moisture
and was relatively cool (even in cold climates, fighting in a battle could
overheat you). Sometimes it was stitched/quilted into long rows, and the
resulting tubes stuffed with scraps of cloth to make a nice padding;
sometimes it was just quilted in a square or diamond pattern.
The outer layer could be soft leather (term: cotun), or the piece made
entirely from one or a few layers of soft leather (term: buff coat). Given
enough layers of fabric (20-30, and probably linen), or a combination of
layers and padding/stuffing, a gambeson could mostly or completely stop a
slash or thrust, and severly limit the penetration depth of an arrow.
Afterwords, it would obviously have a big rent in it, but if it saves your
As a foundation layer, cloth/padded armor served at least two purposes - it
provided arming points, which are convenient places to attach the primary
armor; it also prevented the wearer from being injured by impacts on his
primary armor. Depending on the material and the depth of the padding, it
would also be a last line of defense against an opponent's weapon in the
case of primary armor failure (straps get cut, mail gets pierced, opponent
finds a gap, etc). Sometimes cloth/padded armor was worn on the outside of the
primary armor - I've heard of this with mail.
Some Mongol warriors wore silk shirts under their regular armor - the silk
wasn't armor per se, it was just a single layer, but an arrow that would
pierce armor and skin would sometimes not pierce the silk, instead carrying
it into the wound. This kept the wound cleaner and made extraction of the
projectile much easier.
Jacks and similar items range from vests to long-sleeved knee-length coats.
I haven't seen anything on pants yet, but if I was wearing heavy leg armor
I'd want padding there too. A helmet or 'arming cap' of padded cloth was
also used extensively.
Cloth/padded armor is relatively easy and cheap to make. It was
probably the least expensive form of armor, and it is mentioned extensively
in European period literature. It varies widely from culture to culture,
and was tailored to the current clothing styles if feasable.
- Materials: Cotton, linen, other fibers (silk for ease of projectile
extraction only). Sometimes soft leather.
- Construction: multiple layers sewn together (up to 30), padding optional (fabric,
- Form: Vest or coat, helmet, maybe pants. Used under other armor or alone.
- Cost and difficulty: Cheap and easy.
This is really more of a material than an armor type, but it bears
discussing on its own.
To my knowledge, the only type of leather that can be water or wax hardened
is vegetable-tanned or vegtan leather, a fairly common tanning method.
Large animals like cattle and buffalo are the only ones with thick enough
skin to serve as armor. Deer is way too thin, and elk as well.
Hardening by immersion in very hot water is thought to be much more
common than wax hardening, historically speaking. The problem with
wax-hardened leather is that if it gets hot, it might soften; also wax in
quantity is harder to come by than water. Water-hardened leather can be
sealed with wax or oil, which proofs it against sweat and rain. The temper
(hardness and flexibility) of the leather can be controlled somewhat with
the temperature of the water and the time of the soak. Before it dries, the
leather can be stretched and shaped.
I think there are at least a few written references to a hardened leather
cuirass (breast and backplate), and also to greaves. I believe one vambrace
(full bracer) has been found, but that's about it - leather is organic, it
decays, so the rarity or extensiveness of its use is hard to determine.
There are, to my knowledge, no finds of hardened leather scale armor (though
this would have been feasable), but there is evidence for hardened leather
lamellar. Hardened leather was also used in helmets and in shields, in
whole or part.
So, you have cuirbouili being used for armor pieces that use simple,
non-articulated plates. Like cloth armor, this would be fairly easy to
make technology-wise. In helms and shields, pieces of cuirbouili were often
set in or on a frame of wood (shields) or iron (shields or helms). Hardened
leather also served as a foundation for splint armor.
Thick, stiff-but-flexible unhardened leather - was this ever used as
armor? I haven't seen any evidence that it was. It would provide a bit of
padding and take some work to cut through, maybe equivalent to padded armor.
I don't know if this could be used as an effective foundation for splint
Studded leather - there is no such thing. No evidence, zilch. This likely
came from a misinterpretation of an artist's rendering of brigandine, a coat
of plates, or a jack of plates. Putting widely-spaced small metal studs
onto a coat of soft leather isn't going to increase its defensive
capabilities, it's only going to make it heavier. Same still goes for
narrowly-spaced small studs. It just isn't going to work!
- Material: 1/8"- to 1/4"-thick vegetable-tanned leather.
- Construction: leather is soaked in near-boiling or boiling water, shaped
while it is still flexible, allowed to dry and harden, and then sealed with
wax or oil.
- Form: simple plates - greaves, vambraces, cuisses, lamellar, shields,
hemlets, breastplates. Foundation for splint armor.
- Cost and difficulty: cheap and easy.
Scale armor consists of small (less than an inch length and width to an
inch or two in length and width) plates of rigid material attached to a single-layer
backing of cloth or soft leather, in such a manner that they 1) overlap
vertically, 2) sometimes overlap horizontally as well, and 3) usually
overlap downwards, like roof shingles. There was usually offset
from row to row, so that each scale overlapped half of each of the two below
Scales were most often made of iron or steel, but there are also at least
two finds of brass/bronze scales (or some sort of copper alloy). There are
no finds of hardened leather scale armor, and I don't know about horn off
the top of my head. Occasionally, the scales are attached to a backing of
mail, as in the case of the Roman Lorica Plumata. No, this doesn't make it
"scale mail", it's lorica plumata. If you want a generic term, call it
scale with a backing of mail; better to be precise and avoid confusion.
Scale armor generally takes the form of a cuirass, a haubergon (coat down to
mid-thigh) with short sleeves, a fauld and/or tassets, and maybe cuisses. I've
heard of a scale coif, but don't know if it's a sound reference or not.
Scale was sometimes worn over mail as a more rigid outer layer.
Scale takes a lot of time, because each scale has to be cut out and have
holes drilled or punched into it, so it can then be laced or riveted
to the backing, and possibly to bordering scales. It has the advantage of
being a semi-rigid armor without the skill necessary to shape large plates
(or make the sheet metal for those large plates in the first place). If
your society can smelt ore and turn out little pieces of metal, you can make
One of its drawbacks is that if someone can work a pointed weapon up under
your scales, they've suddenly bypassed your outer shell of defense. This is
why scales were very securely attached to their backing and had significant
overlap - they wouldn't flop around as much nor be as easy to pry up,
compared to fewer attachment points and a looser overlap.
- Material: steel, iron, or copper alloy (bronze or brass) scales,
single-layer cloth or leather backing; rarely a mail backing. Hardened
leather or horn scales might be possible, but there is a lack of evidence.
- Construction: scales are laced, riveted, wired, or attached with small
rings to a backing and sometimes to neighboring scales, so that they overlap
vertically and sometimes horizontally.
- Form: cuirass, haubergon, fauld, tassets, cuisses.
- Cost and difficulty: moderate cost, moderately easy but time-comsuming.
Horn Lamellar Cuirass: in German, use Babel Fish for a
Japanese Kozane (Lamellar). The author of this site
calls the individual Kozane "scales", but they're laced together like Asian
and European lamellar, so I'm including this link under Lamellar. This site
has frame-only navigation; to get the frames go here.
Lamellar is made from small plates (singluar: lamae) about the size of
scales that are laced to each other, rather than to a backing, to make
larger semi-rigid plates. The lamae overlap and are laced to each other
horizontally and vertically, though the vertical overlap is usually the
reverse of scale. Lamae are usually longer than they are wide. There is
sometimes offset between rows, like scale.
Lamae were made from hardened leather, horn, bone, iron, and steel. I
haven't heard of any brass or bronze lamellar, though I suppose it's
physically possible. This was a very popular armor, and it was used in
whole or in part throughout a large portion of history. The laces varied
from leather to twine to silk.
Something that always bothered me about lamellar is that the laces are
exposed. If someone got a good cut across your lamellar, it seems to me
that it would start slowly falling apart. Given, you could repair it easily
after a battle, but it's the time in the battle between the time a lace gets
cut and the conclusion of hostilities that worries me.
Lamellar could be used for simple plates. It wasn't used for
articulations, so it could not really cover joints (you won't find examples
or illustrations of lamellar elbow cops). It did, however, lend itself to
making lames, or the short wide plates/bands that were used in series.
Lamellar was sometimes integrated into maile, thus making a form of
- Material: steel, iron, hardened leather, horn, bone; brass or bronze
possible, but lack of evidence. Leather, plant fiber, or silk lacing.
- Construction: plates had multiple holes for lacing to each other,
horizontally and vertically, to make semi-rigid plates.
- Form: largish plates such as cuirass and tassets, sometimes unarticulated
spaulders. Not good for articulated joints.
- Cost and difficulty: moderate cost, moderately easy construction, probably
as time-consuming as scale.
Japanese Kikko (Brigandine), click
on the "Before Beginning" link on the left and scroll
down to the Kikko section.
Brigandine consists of small metal plates riveted inside a
garment of cloth or leather. The plates are about the size of lamae or
scales, maybe smaller, but are wider than they are long. The plates overlap
vertically - I'm not clear which direction the overlap usually runs, nor if
there is also horizontal overlap. There is a similar type of armor called
jack of plates, which is more like inside-out scale. Japanese brigandine,
called kikko, is made of tiny non-overlapping hexagonal plates that are
laced instead of riveted.
The arrangement and shape of the plates in European brigandine, and the
number and placement of the rivets, made the plates harder to separate than
scale; at least this is the impression that I got. Check the picture.
The only brig I know of was made from steel. The outer cloth was
sometimes something as fancy as velvet, and the rivet heads showed.
Brigandine is probably the source of the erronous idea of 'studded leather
armor' - period illustrations of brig show a garment of unknown material
with regular patterns of studs (these would be the rivets). There is debate
as to whether brigandine was lined, or just worn over a gambeson. Japanese
brigandine was lined.
The similarity of this armor's name to the word 'brigand' is not a
coincidence - unless you know what to look for, it isn't going to be obvious
that a person is wearing it, especially if they've covered the brig with yet
another garment. Sometimes people made a false brigandine, that was just a
cloth garment with rivets but no plates. Kind of like the modern costume
leather armor that isn't hardened - it looks like armor, but doesn't really
funciton like armor.
Brigandine, as far as I know, was only ever used in the form of a cuirass,
possibly with an attached fauld/tassets. The technology and skill needed to make it
is about the same as scale, though from patterns I've seen, the construction
takes a little more thought. Brig was invented late enough that using brass
or bronze for the plates was far less feasable than iron or steel.
You might think the stuff in the movie Braveheart was brigandine - I'm
pretty sure it wasn't, and that there is no historical basis for such armor.
It consisted of non-overlapping rectangular plates riveted inside a
- Material: steel or iorn. Fabric, possibly soft leather, outer foundation.
- Construction: small plates a few inches wide and an inch or so long,
riveted to the inside of a cloth or leather garment, overlapping vertically
and perhaps horizontally.
- Form: cuirass, possibly with attached fauld/tassets.
- Cost and difficulty: moderate cost, especially if using velvet; moderately
easy construction, maybe more complex than scale, definately as
Splint armor was used to protect the long bones - arms and legs. It was
made from metal strips attached to a hardened leather backing. The strips
ran parallel to the bones, and could vary in width and spacing. This could
be made with unhardened leather, but I don't know if it ever was.
The splints were made from steel usually, I found one mention of brass
but I'm not certain about it. They were riveted onto the leather in
European and Asian armor, and joined by mail and backed by cloth in Japanese
armor (no, that doesn't make it "splint mail" - it's a type of mail and
plates, and has its own terms in Japanese). Splint armor was fairly easy to
- Material: steel splints, possibly brass; hardened leather foundation.
- Construction: the splints were riveted parallel to the long bones on the
leather backing. Sometimes they overlapped, sometimes not.
- Form: protection for long bones only - vambrace, greaves, rerbrace, cuisses.
- Cost and difficulty - moderate to low cost (not as much metal involved as
scale or lamellar), moderately easy construction.
Mail is a mesh of small interlocking metal rings. Because it is so hard to
represent in artwork, artists' renditions of maille have caused much
confusion over the years. At least two other different types of imaginary
armor have been spawned: banded mail and ring mail or ring armor.
Banded mail is supposed to be mail with some kind of narrow bands of
metal going horizontally through a row of rings it at intervals. 1) Nothing
like this has ever been found, 2) nothing like this has ever been written
about, and 3) all attempts to re-create what people thought it was supposed
to be have failed. Again, I urge you to consult Demystifying Chainmail and
Ringmail on this subject.
Some people use the term 'banded mail' to mean mail-and-plates with wide
overlapping plates or lames, aka banded armor. 'Mail-and-plates' or 'mail
with bands' will suffice without potentially creating confusion.
Also, that particular form has its own cultural names, much like the Roman
"Ring mail" / ring armor is supposed to consist of large (1"-2" dia.)
non-interlocking metal rings sewn to a backing of leather or cloth. Rings,
with open centers, not discs. Some people use either or both of these terms
to mean regular old mail but with a larger (greater than 3/8" ID, I guess)
rings. This is silly, mail is mail, regardless of the size of the
Regarding the large rings sewn to a backing, well, this is even more
silly. The tip of a sword, spear, or arrow is going to slip off the metal
of the ring and either go through the center of the ring or between a group
of rings, right through the backing. About the only thing I can think the
rings would be good for is a slashing attack. If you overlapped them
considerably, it would spread out the force from an impact. But...
Combine the base infeasability of the design with the facts that 1) you
could take similar amounts of metal and make much more effective scale,
lamellar, or maille armor, and 2) only one piece like this has ever been
found that I can tell, and you have pretty strong arguments against any sort
of widespread use of ring armor.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can look at real mail. Mail is
made from steel or copper alloy wire (brass and bronze mail finds are
extraordinarily rare) ranging in gauges from 20 to 12. The wire is wound
around a rod, ranging in diameter from 1/8" to 3/8", the resulting coil is
cut into individual rings, and the rings are assembled into a piece of
armor. In the most common pattern, each ring goes through four others.
Real European and Asian mail was riveted (the ends of the ring overlap, are
flattened, have a hole pierced in them, and a rivet set to hold the ring
shut), or the rings were punched solid out of a sheet. There are no finds
of all-butted mail (the ends are just pushed together and the strength of
the metal holds the ring closed). I've heard rumors of battlefield repairs
being found that have been done in butted mail, but that's it.
If you want to debate this, the good folks at the Arador Armor Library
will be happy to discuss it with you. You'll have to email them since the
forums don't exist at the moment. Once I get my library started, I can cite
references. The Wallace Collection link above has a good quote:
"Tests have shown that 'butted' mail is a very poor performer in battle,
so it is to be presumed that butted-mail armour was intended more for show
and as an indicator of status. Armour made entirely of butt-jointed mail can
be found in Europe as early as the 16th century, but only very very rarely,
and then principally as elements of rich ceremonial 'parade' armour."
Mail is wonderful flexible stuff, and in Europe and Asia, it was used to
cover any and all parts of the body, and was great protection for those
hard-to-armor areas like the armpits, groin, and insides of the elbows. It
was sometimes worn underneath or directly combined with other types of
armor. Sometimes it was double- or even triple-layered. Usually it was
worn over a gambeson. Mail would significantly hinder (single layer), if
not outright stop (multiple layers), the penetration of an arrow.
Mail is not that great for distributing the force of an impact, however.
I get the impression from SCA folks (people who fight with blunt weapons and
hit hard) that if you wear mail, you still have to have plates of some kind
protecting your soft spots (kidneys, throat, head, etc). I for one would
rather be wearing a hardened leather helm than a mail coif.
Mail in Japan is a different story. The Japanese used solid and riveted
rings, but they also used multiple-turn rings (not unlike a keyring) and
butted rings (the latter bringing the usefulness of the mail to question).
Japanese rings were smaller than their European counterparts, their weaves
are different, and their mail was always combined with plates - never used
alone. From what I can tell, it was always backed with cloth.
Mail takes an incredibly long time to make, but you get excellent protection
relative to the amount of metal that goes into it. It does lack for
- Material: steel, iron, brass or bronze (the latter two are rare)
- Construction: small rings of varying form linked together to create a
- Form: virtually any.
- Cost and difficulty: moderate cost, really time consuming.
This is probably one of the most interesting types of armor. Plates of
steel or iron (hardened leather would work too, but I've seen no evidence of
this) are integrated directly into the mail, ie, they take the place of
sections of mail. The plates vary in size from large chestplates to tiny 1"
plates. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they're discreet. They range from
square to elongated rectangular bands. Lamellar can be used as plates,
Mail and plates can take any shape and cover any part of the body. Over
the long bones (arms and legs), the plates were often in the shape of
splints - very long and narrow. The Japanese made vambraces like this.
Please don't call it splint mail. Mail and plates was an efficient solution
to the drawbacks of mail alone - it put mostly-flat plates over areas that
needed a lot of protection, and let the mail do the job of allowing the
plates to conform to a curve or articulate.
Mail and plates can take about the same amount of time as plain mail to
make, or possibly less - depends on how much the person is involved in the
manufacture of the sheet metal to make the plates.
- Material: steel or iron (no evidence for hardened leather plates, but would
be feasable). No evidence for the use of bronze in either the mail or the
- Construction: maille linked directly to plates of varying shapes and sizes.
- Form: virtually any.
- Cost and difficulty: about like regular maille, though the technology to
manufacture medium to large-sized plates may be necessary.
Plate armor can range from something as simple as a pair of bronze greaves
to something as complex as a head-to-toe fully articulated steel harness. A
variety of connections are used in the full harness - pivoting and sliding
rivets, leather straps riveted to plates in a series, and even more complex
joinings. The plates ranged in gauges from 16 to 20, and while a full
harness might weigh around 60 pounds, the wearer had enough mobility to do
some rolls (somersaults) if he so pleased.
Full harnesses were worn over something, often a gambeson or mail and a
gambeson, either of which could supply arming points - places to attach the
plates to the wearer. Mail protected the insides of joints - elbows,
armpits, backs of knees, and the groin.
The plates in any style of plate armor must be shaped to fit the body. If
articulations are present, the plates must articulate smoothly with each
other, minimizing gaps. The Romans had a simple form of plate armor, Lorica
Segmentata, in which all the plates were roughly the same wide band shape,
but slightly different sizes. The overlapping bands of Lorica Segmentata
covered the chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. In general this is
called banded armor or armor of bands, and was used on the arms and legs as
well in other cultures. A lot of Japanese banded armor was laced together
rather than riveted to leather straps - some of it was even riveted to form
one large rigid single plate in the case of the cuirass.
A pair of vambraces, a pair of greaves, a cuirass, and a helm, all of steel
plate, would supplement any kind of armor. These were some of the least
complex pieces, and were made of bronze or perhaps brass early on. Later
versions with some overlapping plates and simple articulations include the
coat of plates, which had medium to large-sized plates riveted inside a
garment to form a cuirass; and also the aforementioned banded armor.
Adding on articulations, like those at the elbows, knees, neck, shoulders,
hips, wrists, and ankles, contributed significantly to the cost. As it is,
any piece of plate armor requires the technology to produce large sheets of
- Material: steel, iron, or bronze/brass (use of the copper alloys was
limited). You could conceivably make a full harness of hardened leather,
but the problem is that the articulations would end up way too bulky because
of the required thickness of the leather. Cuir Bouili could be used for
simple non-articulated plates.
- Construction: varied from single unarticulated plates to a complex fully
articulated head-to-toe harness.
- Form: virtually any.
- Cost and difficulty: forming copper alloys into plates was much easier than
doing it with steel or iron. The more complex the armor, the more skill and
time it took to make.
This is likely to spark arguments, but keep in mind the following:
replicating a realistic situation in which to test a variety of weapons on a
variety of armor is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible.
First, we'd have to get alloys of the exact same kind that were used in both
the armor and weapons, complete with the proper historical heat-treating,
which varied widely. Second, we'd have to put that armor on an anatomically
correct dummy that can effectively show internal and external damage.
Thirdly, and most difficult of all, we'd have to test the weapons against
the armor in such a way as to replicate they way they were designed to be
used. This means that the dummy has to be able to move the way a human would
move with a blow to reduce its effectiveness.
Some comments on that third point - how often do you think armor deflected
glancing blows? How frequently do you think someone caught a blow that was
perfectly perpindicular to the plane of their armor? How frequently did
armor failure - cut straps or whatever - contribute to battlefield injuries?
How often do you think a person was flat-footed and couldn't move with an
Hopefully this will elucidate the complexity involved in deciding whether
one type of armor is flat-out better than another similar type. That being
said, let's see what we can do to rank the various kinds of armor with
regards to effectiveness.
There are a couple of factors to take into account. One is the material - a
cuirass of bronze is going to be less effective than a cuirass of steel,
and one of hardened leather possibly less effective than one of bronze.
Another is coverage: assuming equal coverage, brigandine would probably be
a little more effective than scale, but if your entire torso and legs are
covered in scale, then suddenly the equation gets a lot more
In order of increasing effectiveness, I suggest the following:
- Multiple layers of cloth, some layers of cloth with padding, or a few layers
of soft leather.
- Hardened leather (cuir bouili), hardened rawhide (like the thick stuff
the Japanese used), or horn; possibly antler or tough bone.
- Copper alloys, such as bronze and brass.
If you want to add in the hides, scales, horns, etc. of fantasy realm
creatures, or magically-enhanced mundane materials, feel free. It's worth
noting that with pre-industrial technology, the quality of steel varies
widely - it is, after all, an alloy, and can contain far more than just iron
and carbon. A smith might run across a lump of some mysterious metal and
create a completely new steel alloy that no one has ever encountered before.
Also, the quality of the heat treating varied widely. Some steels may be as
effective as iron, and some may be better than whatever the 'average' steel
Cloth / padded armor worn alone is at the bottom of the food chain. It
is not to be shrugged off, though, as it was quite affordable, could mean
the difference between death and serious injury, and was worn as a base
layer underneath other types of armor.
Assuming the same type of material, in order of increasing
- Scale, Lamellar, and Jack of Plates
- Brigandine, Splint, and Mail
- Mail and Plates
- Coat of Plates and Banded Armor
This is the third and most annoying variable for those who want to be
able to calculate some kind of armor rating for a character who is wearing
different bits of several armor types/materials. Assigning different values
to each particular piece of armor for each type and material is the easiest
way I can think of to do this. How refined you get in differentiating your
armor pieces is up to you:
Here are some suggested sets of armor pieces.
- Simple: body, shield, head.
- Moderate 1: torso+arms, legs, shield, head.
- Moderate 2: arms, legs, torso, shield, head.
- Complex: wrists/hands, forearms+elbows, shoulders+upper arms, torso+upper legs,
neck, shins+knees, feet/ankles, shield, head.
- Hackmaster-esque: as Complex above, but make the combined stuff discreet.
So for each piece or set of pieces, you take the different armor types
and materials, and assign some value to each. Make a grid, it helps. A
single vambrace of the same material and armor type as a cuirass is going to
give a smaller value than the cuirass, because it covers less. In the
example I have included all feasable combinations, not just the ones for
which there is historical precedent:
| Cuirass (Breastplate and Backplate), or Torso, or
Torso + Upper Legs|
Jack of Plates
|Mail and Plates
|Coat of Plates,
Armor of Bands
Again, this is just what I happened to throw out as a suggestion. In
order to make this work with your ruleset, you may have to take the total
armor value of a character's armor kit and divide it by some number.