Friday, April 1, 2011

A to Z Blogging Challenge: A is for Armor

Visually, armor is a huge aspect of the image and feeling behind your game.  The film version of Excalibur used anachronistic armor designs (as I understand it) to convey a certain vibe.  So, being a visual person when I plan my games, I wanted to think about how armor would work in my Greatholm game.  I tried to shy away from cost/weight/protection analysis to instead look at the armor and what goes into making it to determine what status it confers upon its wearer.  Wearing armor when you make your first impression can have a strong effect on that impression.

Most of the armor (with the exception of mail and the plate family) can be produced anywhere, although some of the more time/resource intensive models (steel scale, for example) might not be readily available in the villages of Greatholm, requiring a commissioning of the armor (and a hefty down payment).

Cuirass, Leather (3 g.p., AC 8, 15 lbs., Full Movement) - A breastplate made of leather.
Lamellar, Leather (15 g.p., AC 8, 20 lbs., 75% Movement) - A series of leather scales connected to one another to form a shirt.
From a game mechanics standpoint, I'm not sure why anyone would purchase Lamellar over the Cuirass.  The Lamellar is five times the cost, 33% heavier, and limits your movement.  That's just game mechanics, though.  Looking at pictures of Cuirasses and Lamellar, one thing that looks very interesting to me is the comfort factor.  The rigidity of the Cuirass, while providing better and cheaper pound-for-pound protection, looks like it wouldn't be fun to wear over a long period of time.  While the Lamellar slows you down, it looks like it's got better weight distribution.  So who uses one over the other?  I'd say your typical militiaman might be more likely to have a Cuirass.  When you are only occasionally called upon to wear armor, you want cheaper.  However, those who tend to wear the armor more often (guards and the like) would probably choose Lamellar.

Furs (2 g.p., AC 8, 8 lbs., Full Movement) - Heavy, thick furs that provide protection against both cold and weapons.
The social connotations of wearing Furs will exclude you from most polite company.  Only Northmen and the more "rustic" of the Western Forest Folk (culture to be named later) wear Fur Armor.  Fur as a style and status symbol, however, is in favor among the upper class.

Gambeson (4 g.p., AC 8, 10 lbs., 75% Movement) - A quilted jacket stuffed with padding.
Gambesons are included in the mail and various plate armors, which give the wearer an air of status.  Rough types who want to look "legitimate" will often wear a gambeson.  However, if one of lower status wears a gambeson around the upper class, they will certainly be looked even more down upon as "pretenders" than someone of their class already would be.

Brigandine (30 g.p., AC 7, 20 lbs., 75% Movement) - Leather or cloth with steel plates riveted or sewn to the inside.
The favored armor of city watches and household guards, due to the relative lightness, mobility, and ability to dye the leather or cloth into heraldic colors.  Some of the more affluent members of the criminal underworld will also choose brigandine.

Lamellar, Steel (35 g.p., AC 7, 30 lbs., 50% Movement) - A series of steel scales connected to one another to form a shirt.
Not a popular new choice for armor by anyone with the advent of Ring Armor, you can find steel lamellar in the hands of the militias who were once well equipped, but can no longer afford to upgrade.

Ring Armor (30 g.p., AC 7, 25 lbs., 75% Movement) - Rings of metal sewn onto a leather backing.
A little bit heaver, but the same price and mobility as Brigandine.  I'm thinking this would be favored by mercenaries and the like, since it looks more like "armor" than "clothing."

Scale Armor, Leather (25 g.p., AC 7, 30 lbs., 50% Movement) - Small leather scales mounted on an inner layer of cloth.
As long as you don't have to move much, this is the most affordable option for AC 7, but it's lack of mobility limits it to static guards.

Cuirass, Steel (60 g.p., AC 6, 25 lbs., 60% Movement) - A breastplate made of steel.
It can be prohibitive in price, but the lighter weight and better movement rate within the AC 6 range is an advantage.  Some of the wealthier noble guards will wear this.
Scale Armor, Steel (45 g.p., AC 6, 40 lbs., 50% Movement) - Small steel scales mounted on an inner layer of leather.
It's not much more expensive than some of the AC 7 armors, so it can often be found in mercenary hands, as well as in some of the more affluent middle class guard forces.

Mail (75 g.p., AC 5, 30 lbs., 75% Movement) - Interconnected rings of steel forming a mesh.
Now we are getting into the elite forms of armor, those only found in the hands of adventurers and noble forces.  The cost of mail makes it prohibitive for large forces, so only household guards of the peerage and higher nobility.  Individuals with mail are looked on with considerable respect (and could very well be targeted by nefarious individuals keen on stripping them of their wealth).  You'll probably have to go to a full blown town to get this as well.  Any Small Town or larger with an Armorer will be able to provide mail.

Plated Mail (90 g.p., AC 4, 35 lbs., 75% Movement) - Mail with small steel plates embedded within it to reinforce it.
Plated Mail, requiring more resources and skill to make, can only be made in towns with two or more Armorers (and only one can make it).  In rare cases, noble houses will have an Armorer who can make it, but it will be for the house itself.  This is a rare type of armor outside of Cavaliers.  Adventurers and mercenaries with Plated Mail are rare bordering on unique.

Plate Armor (400 g.p., AC 3, 45 lbs., 50% Movement) - A full suit of armored plates covering most of the body, worn over mail.
Plate Armor is even more rare than Plated Mail.  Outside of the larger noble houses, you would need to go to one of the cities (Ballykin, Beckby or Whitehaven) to find an Armorer who can make this for you.  The price alone makes it virtually exclusive to cavaliers.  A commoner with Plate Armor would be legendary.

Jousting Plate (4,000 g.p., AC 1, 100 lbs., 25% Movement) - Similar to plate armor, but the metal plates are extremely thick and heavy, providing superior protection but at a severe cost in mobility.
I'm not even sure why an adventurer would want this.  Pretty much just high-status cavaliers are in possession of it.  One Armorer in Whitehaven can produce this for those not of the great landowning families of the kingdom (the Royal Family, the Church, Avonlea, and Aberfirth).