Tag Archives: armor

D&D Armor and Weapon Weights

7 May

Like I said in my earlier post on my ship dungeon, I’m new to this whole table-top gaming thing, so forgive any ignorance. (My DM girlfriend loves lecturing me about roleplaying at the drop of a hat  ~_^)

When I first flipped through her game books well over a year ago, one of the things that drove me crazy was the armor and weapons section. Having done medieval living history for almost a decade, studied Western martial arts for 5 years in ARMA, and owning a full suit of armor (the real stuff, not bullshit leather, plastic, or stainless steel) I think I can pretty well say that I know weapon and armor weights, and what you can do with both.

For example, the buckler is a small shield that can be used defensively and offensively. It has a small hand grip and is in no way “strapped” to your arm.

The hypertext 3E SRD describes a buckler as: This small metal shield is worn strapped to your forearm.” Another thing that drove me crazy was the idea of a “locked gauntlet.” Again, the SRD describes this as: “This armored gauntlet has small chains and braces that allow the wearer to attach a weapon to the gauntlet so that it cannot be dropped easily. It provides a +10 bonus on any roll made to keep from being disarmed in combat.”

Small chains? You know why real knights never wore horns on their armor? Because horns, just like chains, give the enemy something perfect to grab at and hook you on to let them pull you down. That’s why real armor is always smooth and flowing, so there is nothing that can be caught. Chains defeats the whole point. But that’s not my biggest objection. My biggest problem with this idea is that very often in real combat you want to be able to drop your weapon.

Look at this video, at around 1:30 they start to do some techniques that are part of what is called “half-swording.” Many times, when your opponent starts to “wind” his blade the only thing you can do if you can’t out wind him is to drop your blade and grapple him.

Lastly, the other thing that drove me up the wall was the weights. Let me start with shield weights.  Again, the buckler, the 3E SRD says a buckler weighs 5lbs. I’m holding mine in my hand right now and it only weighs about a pound. Here’s a picture of me with my buckler:

mewithbucklerBut perhaps the most ridiculous shield weight has to be that of a tower shield. 3E SRD says it is 45lbs. Now something like that would unpractical to carry into battle. Even these huge judicial shields weren’t that heavy, the guys can still swing them around easily.

I also know Roman re-enactors and their tower Shields aren’t that heavy either, and they have to sometimes form a testudo:

testudo

Now on to armor:

I must say, the 3E SRD does a good job when it comes to armor weights. They have padded armor at 10lbs, which is accurate.  A padded jack like this one:

is pretty darn heavy for just a bunch of cloth. Mine has 25 layer of linen and weighs about that much dry. I don’t ever want to see how heavy it is if wet.

3E SRD has full plate at 50lbs,  Swords and Wizardry core rules has it at 70, 4E player’s handbook has it also at 50. I must say that I am surprised how close to accurate they came.  The true weights are somewhere between 60lbs and 80lbs. It depends on the time period really. Here, look at this picture:

steve and me

My friend is the guy on the left, I’m the guy on the right. My suit of armor is 1370’s ish, his is 1470’s ish. His weighs about 60lbs, mine weighs about 75lbs. The difference is the chainmaile. As you can see, I have a LOT more maile than him. As the armor got better and stronger, the knights started to ditch the maile, hence why his is lighter.

Weapons:

This is the part of roleplaying that I think is most egregious and epitomised by this clip from the 13th Warrior:

Lets take my favorite weapon, the longsword:

This particular sword happens to be called “The Agincourt“, made by Albion Swords (one of the finest places to buy a real sword, period) and weighs 3lbs 7oz. Swords and Wizardry has the longsword at 10lbs! 4E is closer with a weight of 4lbs, but then gives a greatsword a weight of 8lbs!

Ask any re-enactors in Das TeufelsAlpdrücken Fähnlein how heavy their two-handers are, and they’ll tell you not more than 4-5lbs.

All these horrible weights make me think D&D is trying to tell you all swords handle like this:

D&D Glaive weight: 10lbs, real weight, 3-4lbs, D&D Halberd weight 12lbs, real weight 5lbs. D&D dagger weight 1lbs, real weight .7 (Ok, so now I’m getting picky :-p)

My DM girlfriend tries to tell me that these weights are an attempt to signify weight + volume, or how difficult it is to carry something. I don’t know if I buy that. Maybe. But it then leaves people with this horrible idea that the real weapons weigh that much, which as a re-enactor, is my duty to dispel.

Archetypes

11 Feb

This post will differ completely from the normal topic of my blog. This post is about game/sci-fi/fantasy archetypes. Now I’m not a hardcore gamer, nor do I play World of Warcraft, or Dungeons and Dragons, so forgive me if I over simplify your favorite race/whatever.

It seems to me that there are usually in fantasy three main classes, with lots of differentiations flowing from those classes. I’m talking about elves, wizards/mages, and fighters. Elves usually are all about stealth, speed, agility, and ranged attack. Wizards/mages usually just have ridiculous colorful spells that defy the laws of nature (it is magic after all), and fighters usually beat the shit out of things. Here are some typical representations:

legolas_logo2mage2the-blessed-paladin

You see variations of these three archetypes everywhere. I personally LOVE the third. I love a fighter, covered head to toe in armor, charging into the center of the fight causing as much damage as possible, and just soaking up the damage in return. It’s manly and a force to be reckoned with.

Elves and mages piss me off, and so do their variants. To me they’re just a bunch of wimps.  I’m not a real man so I’m going to dance around over here with my tights and my bow, hiding in the bushes shooting arrows at you! Or the mage who is the over educated nerd that can’t build muscle to save his life. All he has is a cloak and if you hit him with a stick you’d probably break his arm. Instead he just waves his staff and does something messed up with pretty, colorful magic. He has to rely on that to fight his battles for him.

Two games that have sort of these dynamics are Starcraft and Warhammer 40k. (regular Warhammer would fit better, but I haven’t played those yet)

As for Starcraft, we have Protoss, Terran, and Zerg. Protoss are basically advanced space elves. Along with the Eldar in Warhammer 40k:

protoss1eldar2

The Zerg bring up another archetype that I hate, the gooey, spikey, organ like thing. It’s just a disgusting bug covered in spikes.

zerglingYes, it might be a bad ass bug, but it doesn’t fit my personal tastes. Along the same vain (pun intended) as the spike theme are things like Chaos from Warhammer 40k:

chaos-marineThese guys bug me too. I’m just not into the whole dirty, demonic, spikey horde thing. This includes Orks! The idiots in haphazard armor with shit that’s practically duct-taped together. Sorry. It’s just barbaric spikes, blood, and more spikes. Yet luckily for me, in both games there are human like bad asses covered in armor.

40k_011terran2

These guys are well armored, carry a shitload of firepower, and are clean. (well, clean in the sense that they don’t have spikes and shit) I just love the imperial/knight aspect to them.

I guess this bias towards this type of archetype is the combination of me growing up doing 100 years war living history, where I was building a suit of plate armor, and watching Gundam Wing Zero as a kid. I just love Gundam. The mech suits just seemed to exemplify the archetype that I love.

wingzero1The Armored Core serries is also kick ass for this reason.

armored-coreIt’s just something about the raw power behind these things. It’s extremely hard to explain. If you ever get to wear a full suit of plate armor, and I’m talking real armor, not wussy plastic, leather, or rubber, you just get this feeling that you can take on anything. You’re a juggernaut. I guess that’s the word I’ve been looking for, juggernaut.

There are a few things in real life that I think this archetype draws its inspiration from:

knightsbattleshipfiring2

tank22f-22

The downside to being accurate

14 Jan

When does being as historically accurate as possible become a negative in living history? I think it’s a grey area between not having fun, and hampering your interactions with the public.

I love the middle ages, and I love being in a late medieval living history group, but the big downside to doing the middle ages is the social structure. When the group members are hanging out, not doing an event, we’re all equal, tax paying adults, yet the situation changes when we’re at an event.

As it is in most living history groups (I’d guess) the people with the most money and stuff are at the top of the group, and everyone else falls down below to make up the pyramid.  (Reenacting wise, not talking about group politics) This pyramid then comprises the rigid medieval social structure.

I’m a jobless college student, who can barely afford the gas it costs to get to an event, so needless to say I’m towards the bottom of this social structure. I have an ok archer kit, but it’s not the $10,000 + suits of armor 3 other guys in the group have. As such, they’re the “gentlemen” and I’m a mere yeoman. I have to serve them at the table. They get to wear nice clothes, eat fancy food, and tell me what to do around camp.

While it’s ok, it’s not nearly as much fun as it would to be one of those gentlemen, dressed head to toe in steel, the stars of the show. The sad thing is, I know how much fun it is, I did 100 years war living history with another group for 6 years before my current one where I had my own suit of armor. I got to dress up and be the badass one, running around doing demonstrations, pretending to be a statue just to scare little kids, etc… It was amazing! But now I’m just an archer. My lower standing in the camp is historically accurate. I can afford less stuff, and so the people who have more stuff order me around.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still really fun to dress up and stand around in camp. My favorite part is acting as camp sentry, that way I get to put on some armor, wield a big pole ax, and look intimidating.

As for hampering your ability to talk to the public, I think there is some point when being perfectly accurate is ridiculous. If I wanted to really show how a yeoman plucked from the 15th century would act if suddenly dropped in a 21st century event I’d be running around freaking out and killing people because he wouldn’t know what was going on.

But that’s an extreme example. How about this one, I can’t see shit. I wear glasses normally, I can read things up close fine, but get more than 6 feet away and you become blurry. (Not much of an archer am I? ~_^) I just recently got contact lenses. For the first time in 9 years I will actually be able to see at an event! But then, contact lenses aren’t historically accurate. Should I not wear them despite the fact that nobody can tell and I’d be having trouble getting around camp?

What about deodorant? This is one I’ve often thought about. Should I not wear deodorant? Even if it’s unscented? Am I trying to replicate an authentic smell of a lower class medieval yeomen archer, who’s in the field on campaign? How do I even explain that to the public? “Hi,….. don’t walk away! I smell like shit for a reason!” Erm…yeah….

Should I stay in character, try to fake an accent? Speak in middle English or Latin? How will the public understand me then? They won’t learn anything. I also can’t scream at the women in camp, or hit them, even though a male in the middle ages probably would have gotten away with that no sweat. (Not that I’d want to)

While I do think trying to being as historically accurate as possible is a good thing, there are limits. Lets face it. Life back then sucked. People got sick, died, were underfed and over worked. You were trapped in an extremely rigid social class while the people at the top milked you for all your worth. History is often romanticised by the movies and in books, when in reality it was hell.

Reenactors are in the wonderful position of being able to dress up, go play, and come home to a hot shower, tv, Nyquil, and the Bill of Rights. I guess that’s what makes the past fun. The fact that you can go and experience it, but in the back of your mind you know that if anything goes wrong, you have the safety net of modern society to catch you.

Living history vs farb…..

13 Jan

First off, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with people who commit farb crimes, as long as they are not at an event that is trying to show the general public “how it was back then.”

For non living history/ reeanctor readers, jargon definition:

Farb: a derogatory term used in the hobby of historical reenacting in reference to participants who exhibit indifference to historical authenticity, either from a material-cultural standpoint or in action.

I know this post is going to sound arrogant and condesending, but that’s not how I mean to come across. I’m sure doing LARP and SCA* stuff is really fun, I know people who have a great time doing it, I have nothing against that. What I do have something against is those same people coming to living history / reenacting events that are open to the public and bringing their farb ways with them. (*I am aware not all SCA is the same, and that some groups try very hard to be accurate.)

The point at those events is to educate the public, and to have fun doing it. If you’re not interested in properly educating the people by presenting as accurate depictions as possible, then go have your own group event. Just don’t come to a educational one with your drink coolers, pop up tents, plastic armor, and stainless steel swords. Again, there is nothing wrong with having that stuff, using it, and enjoying yourself, but just not at these events.

Some people think it’s just too much work to get the real thing, and put an expert kit together, but the quality shows. Let me give you some examples.

In camp: farb with coolers, pop up tents, bamboo mats, and obviously no period cloth for clothing:

farb1farb2Ok now here is an example of a non farb campcamp1camp2

Can you spot the difference? How about a compare/contrast with armor and fighting?

Farb:

armorfarb1armorfarb2

Ok, now for the non farb guys:

non farb 1non farb 2

Can you tell a quality difference? One group looks like a renfaire and the other looks like a movie set?

I must admit, when I first started doing living history at age 12, I was a farby. Here is the proof:

It takes time, a long time to put together an expert kit, but the effort you put in it really shows.

The two living history groups used as good examples in this post are Lord Grey’s Retinue and The Guild of Saint Olaus.

No, anime swordsmanship stuff is bull….

10 Jan

After watching some anime stuff with my friends, I just couldn’t stand listening to all the Japanese swordsmanship bull that gets spewed….Allow me to let of some medieval European steam…All this “well I use (insert obscure important sounding fighting style here)!” and “This sword has special powers!” crap is driving me nuts. People are absolutely crazy for samurai stuff. This brings up the age old geek debate “Which is better? A knight or a Samurai?” Let me preface this by saying that this debate is fundamentally absurd; a knight of the 15th century would never run into a Samurai of the 14th. And then there is the fact that in hand to hand combat, it’s not the weapons or the armor, it’s the skill of the fighter.

That noted, assume in some nonexistent plane a knight at the peak of medieval weapon and armor development (right before gunpowder made them obsolete) meet at samurai at their peak, and that they were both equally good fighters. Contrary to what many of my Japanese obsessed friends think, the knight would totally kick the Samurai’s ass.

Look at the equipment. The knight, in full plate armor, would be covered head to toe in steel, with chainmaile covering any gaps, and then an arming doublet of some kind under it. The samurai would have on his bamboo and cloth armor with little bits of metal here and there. Bamboo and cloth…. Many people who have no experience with plate armor try to make the claim “well, the knight is slower and can’t move as well as the samurai.” Bullshit. You can move very well in full plate. I KNOW. And yes, if you get pushed over you can hop right back up. (Well, maybe not some of my older living history friends ~_^)

As for the swords, the longsword is far superior to the katana. The knight has a better striking range than the samurai, and the big advantage of TWO edges to the sword. The katana only has one edge. With the two edges, the knight has a whole range of cuts he can preform that the samurai cannot. After a swing in one direction, to cut back the same way, the samurai must rotate his sword around and swing again, the knight can just cut straight back, no rotating required.

The katana also doesn’t have a substantial guard (the cross piece where the blade meets the hilt). There is almost nothing to keep the knight’s sword from sliding down the blade onto the samurai’s hands. The knight however has a nice big guard which he can use to catch and block the samurai’s cuts. The samurai also doesn’t have a pommel with witch to utilize the back of the sword, the knight does, which means he can whip the sword around and bash the samurai in the face if they closed.

The katana also has no chance of cutting through the knight’s armor. I don’t care how sharp it is, in real life it can’t cut through steel. The thrusting point is also inferior to that of a longsword’s, which could easily pierce through bamboo and cloth. Again, this whole debate is absurd however since the two developed in different cultures and the samurai’s weapons were not designed to come up against something like a knight in full plate.

Furthermore, it drives me nuts how they practically worship the sword. It’s a piece of steel. Hunks of atoms assembled (assembled masterfully albeit) , and there is nothing “magical” about it. There is also no magical ancient spirit that protects the fighters or enhances their attacks. (WWII proved that)  It just drives me nuts how my friends just gobbled down this BS. Maybe they are just better at suspending disbelief….