The Netbook of Armor

Contents

Introduction

Glossary of Terms

Armor Table

Explanations of Armor

Armor Manufacture

Extras


Introduction

This netbook is a 3rd Edition conversion of the original "Netbook of Armour" © 1998 Hugo Chesshire.  The original netbook was created for 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  I do not intend to infringe on Hugo Chesshire's copywrite but instead I wish to update his netbook for use with the Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition.  I have also included some extra information for updated campaigns as well as removed some entries that may not be suitable for 3rd Edition.  You may use my conversion freely in your campaigns but please be aware the Hugo Chesshire's original copywrite still applies.  Reference material can bee seen on the original netbook.

Glossary of Terms

Barding: armor made for a mount, commonly a horse.
Besagew: circular plate protecting the lance-side shoulder.
Bevor: a plate for face and neck protection on a helmet.
Breath: holes or slits in the visor of a helmet to allow the wearer to breathe.
Brim: a flange around the edge of the skull-piece of a helmet.
Buffe: an open-fronted visor with vertical metal strips. It gave improved visibility.
Cannon: the upper cannon was the upper arm armor, the lower cannon (also known as a vambrace) was the armor of the forearm.
Cheek-guards: metal plating or mail designed to protect the cheeks. Sometimes removable or hinged.
Codpiece: a triangular-shaped piece of material worn over the groin.
Coif: a headpiece made like a balaclava, usually made of mail.
Comb: a decorative crest or ridge of varying height mounted on a helmet, running from front to back or from side to side.
Couter: bent plate protecting the inside of the elbow.
Crest: see 'Comb' above.
Cuisse: thigh-plate.
Cuirass: a breastplate.
Cuirassier: a cavalryman, especially one in the gunpowder era.
Fauld: a codpiece made of plate or mail.
Gorget: a curved plate or plates of metal encircling and protecting the throat.
Grandguard: a metal plate resembling a shield built into the arm of a suit of armor and extending across the chest and shoulder.
Greaves: shin-plates.
Hauberk: any garment resembling a jerkin or shirt.
Heaume: a great helm used for jousting and ceremony, often fitted with lavish decorations and headpiece.
Helm: a helmet, particularly a large, grandiose or heavy one (great helm or close-helmet, for example). Lighter helms (kettle hats and morions) were known as helmets.
Lames: laminated plates designed to protect as well as plate, while still conferring good mobility.
Mail: a form of armor made of interlocking rings of metal.
Pauldron: shoulder-plate, also known as spaulder.
Poleyn: kneecap-guards.
Rondel: a circular plate of metal designed to protect the straps on a wrapper.
Peak: an attachment to a helmet, taking the form of a plate over the eyes like the peak of a baseball cap.
Sabaton: metal-armored footwear.
Sight: slit or holes in the visor of the helmet to allow the wearer to see.
Skull-Piece: the rounded top of a helmet, designed to protect the upper half of the skull.
Surcoat: a fabric garment worn over the top of armor, typically by European knights. It was sleeveless and hung down to the knees, and usually carried the wearer's coat-of-arms, or the design of his order (Knights Hospitalers or Templars, for example).
Tassets: leg-protection consisting of lames or plate worn over the thighs. Usually, it only protected the front.
Tonlet: a flared, laminated plate skirt for extra leg protection.
Wrapper: a metal plate designed to protect a buckle or join in armor, especially on the helmet.


Armor Table

Armor
Cost
Armor
Bonus
Maximum
Dex Bonus
Armor
Check
Penalty
Arcane
Spell
Failure
-----Speed-----
Weight§
(30 ft.)
(20 ft.)
Light Armor
Padded
5 gp
+1
+8
0
5%
30 ft.
20 ft.
10 lb.
Hide, nomadic
10 gp
+2
+7
0
10%
30 ft.
20 ft.
15 lb.
Leather
10 gp
+2
+6
0
10%
30 ft.
20 ft.
15 lb.
Hide, nordic
20 gp
+3
+6
-1
15%
30 ft.
20 ft
25 lb.
Leather, norman
15 gp
+3
+5
-1
15%
30 ft.
20 ft.
25 lb.
Studded leather
25 gp
+3
+5
-1
15%
30 ft.
20 ft.
20 lb.
Brigandine, wood/horn
80 gp
+3
+4
-3
15%
30 ft.
20 ft.
20 lb.
Chain shirt
100 gp
+4
+4
-2
20%
30 ft.
20 ft.
25 lb.
Medium Armor
Hide
15 gp
+3
+4
-3
20%
20 ft.
15 ft.
25 lb.
Scale mail, wood or horn
40 gp
+3
+3
-3
20 %
20 ft.
15 ft.
20 lb.
Scale mail
50 gp
+4
+3
-4
25%
20 ft.
15 ft.
30 lb.
Brigandine
100 gp
+4
+4
-4
20%
20 ft.
15 ft.
30 lb.
Chainmail
150 gp
+5
+2
-5
30%
20 ft.
15 ft.
40 lb.
Breastplate
200 gp
+5
+3
-4
25%
20 ft.
15 ft.
30 lb.
Heavy Armor
Splint mail
200 gp
+6
+0
-7
40%
20 ft.*
15 ft.*
45 lb.
Banded mail
250 gp
+6
+1
-6
35%
20 ft.*
15 ft.*
35 lb.
Half-plate
600 gp
+7
+0
-7
40%
20 ft.*
15 ft.*
50 lb.
Field plate
1,000 gp
+8
+0
-7
40%
20 ft.*
15 ft.*
50 lb.
Full plate
1,500 gp
+8
+1
-6
35%
20 ft.*
15 ft.*
50 lb.
Shields
Buckler
15 gp
+1
-
-1
5%
-
-
5 lb.
Shield, small, wooden
3 gp
+1
-
-1
5%
-
-
5 lb.
Shield, small, steel
9 gp
+1
-
-1
5%
-
-
6 lb.
Shield, large, wooden
7 gp
+2
-
-2
15%
-
-
10 lb.
Shield, large, steel
20 gp
+2
-
-2
15%
-
-
15 lb.
Shield, tower
30 gp
**
-
-10
50%
-
-
45 lb.
Extras
Armor spikes
+50 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
+10 lb.
Gauntlet, locked¥
8 gp
-
-
Special
-
-
-
+5 lb.
Shield spikes
+10 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
+5 lb.
Barding
Medium-sized creature
x2
-
-
-
-
-
-
x1
Large creature
x4
-
-
-
-
-
-
x2
Huge creature
x8
-
-
-
-
-
-
x4
Gauntlets
Leather
2 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
2 lb.
Chain
5 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
3 lb.
Plate
15 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
5 lb.
Helmets
Cap
2 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
1 lb.
Coif
8 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
1 lb.
Open faced helm
14 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
2 lb.
Closed faced helm
20 gp
-
-
-
-
-
-
3 lb.
Great helm
30 gp
+1
-
-1
-
-
-
8 lb.
Special Armor
Gnomish Flying armor
N/A
+5
+1
-7
40%
20 ft.*
15 ft.*
75 lb.
Gnomish Water-cooled armor
N/A
+7
+0
-6
40%
20 ft.*
15 ft.*
80 lb.
Jade burial armor
50,000 gp
+3
+1
-6
20%
20 ft*
15 ft*
50 lb.
* When running in heavy armor, you move only triple your speed, not quadruple.
** The tower shield grants you cover.
¥ Cannot cast spells with somatic compnents while worn.
§ Armor fitted for small characters weighs half as much.



Explanations of armor

Banded Mail

Banded mail consisted of small, overlapping flat metal rings sewn on to leather, linen or velvet. One row would be overlapped on the right edge, the next on the left, the one after on the right again and so on. The material that they were sewn on was gathered into a roll or tuck in between the rows which separated them and made sure the rings stayed flat, it is these bands of material that give rise to the name. Despite the description given in the Player's Handbook, this armor was not backed by mail as it would have added too much to the weight for too little gain.

Barding

The mounted warrior would want to protect his expensive mount wherever possible. To this end, it seemed logical to armor the mount as well as it's rider. Chain barding took the form of a coat the horse would wear, fitting around the base of the neck and hanging down to the horse's hips. An extended coif-like garment protected the neck and head. Padding was usually worn underneath, as was the practice with the rider. Chain barding dates from the availability of chain mail. Most barding followed this pattern, the horse's legs were usually left exposed, although doubtless some horses wore a form of greave on their shins. Plate barding enclosed the horse's body in plates, and had an articulated extension for the neck. The horse's head would often be guarded, but protection did not extend to the jaw and underside of the head, these areas being hard to attack anyway. Scale barding was available in partial or full form, the partial form protecting the head, neck, chest, and front quarters of the beast; and the full version also covering the hindquarters and flanks. It is manufactured in the same way as the scale mail worn by men, and was available from the same time period. Brigandine armor was similar to scale, as was the soldier's version, but generally was available only in half versions. By the time full barding came to be introduced, most cavalry used chain or scale. It was available from the time of brigandine for soldiers. Padded and leather armors also were made in the same way as for men, and were available in half or full versions. The principle advantage of these armors was their low weight, making them more suitable for the lighter war-horse.

Brigandine

This armor is made from small metal plates sewn on to leather backing, much like fish scales. It is similar to scale mail, but this armor was worn from about AD 400, and generally took the form of a sleeveless overcoat. It was found to be superior to mail, especially against missiles, whose growing power it was designed to overcome. The plates were usually made of iron, or sometimes bronze (barbarian tribes did not always have the technology to smelt iron). The main difference between this type and scale mail is that this armor usually took the form of a surcoat, whereas scale mail often included sleeves and leggings as well (and, for ease of movement, the plates were often smaller on scale mail).

Brigandine, Wood/Horn

This is the same armor as normal (metal) brigandine, but instead of having plates of metal it uses wood or animal horn to save weight and cost. It is not historically accurate. It would have been used in areas where metal was rare or the technology to work it was not available (this armor can be made by very primitive peoples).

Chain mail

This armor evolved through many stages, from the mail shirt with elbow-length sleeves worn by the typical Saxon warrior through to the full mail suit enclosing all of a knight bar the face that survived up until the eventual supremacy of plate. For those unsure as to the construction and nature of chain mail, it is made of interwoven metal rings. Each link was made by twisting metal wire around a dowel, and then it was cut using a chisel to form a series of open-ended rings. They were made to overlap and once they were interlinked, the ends were hammered closed and sealed with a punch. Each ring in a suit of mail generally is linked to four others. An undergarment is always worn as mail is chafing to wear, but it does not require a backing, unlike banded mail. Later on, the undergarment would be heavily padded to cushion bludgeoning blows.

Firstly, we have the chain mail armor used at about the time of the Norman Conquest. This, in the case of the Saxons, was a mail shirt, of about the same proportions as a modern T-shirt. It was worn over a heavy woollen shirt that reached down to the knees, and this would have been more to prevent chafing than to cushion blows. The Saxon warrior usually combined it with a round shield. The Norman soldiers wore a more advanced costume, consisting of a mail hauberk with short sleeves open to the elbow, reaching down to knee level at front and back. This hauberk would not be made of interlinked rings, but of separate rings sewn on to a linen or leather backing, a hybrid of banded and chain mail. At the centre of the front and back it was slit by vents reaching up to the waist, for ease of use while on horseback. It was combined with a helmet (at this point, basically an upturned metal bowl with a nasal protecting bar) and a kite shield. The helmet would often be worn over a chain coif.

This equipment went basically unchanged until the 12th Century AD. Until then, it merely expanded to cover other areas of the body. The sleeves were extended to the wrist, and mittens added. These were made like child's mittens, with a bag for the thumb and a larger one for the fingers. Obviously, manual dexterity was greatly hindered, but the ability to hold and use a sword remained unhindered. The palm would be made of cloth or leather rather than mail so that it would flex more easily, and the mittens were designed so that they could be detached and hung from the wrists when not in use. Leg protection would take the form of either mail hose or mail greaves strapped on round the calf. By this point, the hood, shirt and arm protection was integrated into one piece, and a surcoat would be worn over the whole.

Field Plate

Field plate is the battlefield version of full plate armor. It was used in the late middle ages, and by the time of it's adoption mail had become obsolescent, being used in this armor only for the mail fauld or codpiece. Some designs covered every inch of the wearer in metal plate, while others paid attention to the front of the body, leaving the backs of the legs exposed or sheathed in mail. The neck was fully protected, and the gorget locked with the bascinet in such a way as to fully protect the throat and prevent the visor from accidentally opening. Many suits of this type did not enclose the entire torso with a breastplate, often using two or three plates to achieve the same purpose. From the 15th Century onwards, this often was not the case.

Armor of this type was made for it's wearer alone. It was not as hard to move in as many suspect, and a trained man could move quite normally.

Full Plate

This armor is the very impressive and ornate armor used after the 15th Century. Designers now often paid more attention to aesthetics than to efficient design, and this is when fluting and spiky, elongated detailing became popular. The rounded, fluted Maximilian design is particularly famous, perhaps less so than the even more ornate Italian armors of the 16th Century, covered as they were with embossed figures and designs.

Tournament armor is also included in this type. In the 15th and 16th Centuries, the wearing of armor was increasingly for ritual and the joust than for combat, and the designs reflect this. The shoulder plate of the left arm was extended to cover most of the chest, and the elbow was locked in position. The gauntlet included a mount for a shield. These extra pieces were often designed so they could be added to existing armor, thus adapting a "battlefield" suit for the joust. Also popular in tournament was foot combat, and new types of armor evolved for this as well. They often afforded more mobility than armor for mounted warriors, as in many tournaments grappling and wrestling were allowed (and often proved fatal to those who engaged in it, later tournaments erected barriers between opponents). The bascinet was made to be screwed on to the gorget as it was found that the conventional straps had a tendency to snap. A globular visor with heavy ribbing was popular. Some German designs incorporated a metal skirt, conical in shape, reaching almost to the knees.

In the 17th Century, this type of armor fell into decline and ceased to be used on the battlefield. Gunpowder weapons could penetrate more thickness of armor than a man could carry, and armor was used more and more for ceremony and parades. Armor of this period is even more baroque, but much less effective than it's predecessors.

Gauntlets

Gauntlets are long gloves that extend over the wrist and up to the lower third of the forearm. Chain mail gauntlets take the form of mittens, extending to the wrist and being made of a large bag for the fingers and a smaller one for the thumb. They are commonly hung by a leather thong to a mail shirt, so that the wearer can use his hands unencumbered without losing them. Leather gauntlets are similar to those worn by falconers, being made of thick leather (but not hardened as with the armor, as this would hamper dexterity). They may be made in mitten or glove form, and extend the full length of the normal gauntlet. Plate mail gauntlets cover the back of the hand and tops of the fingers with plates, leaving the undersides to conventional leather.  It also has a conical piece of metal to protect the wrist.

Gnomish Flying Armor

The gnomish flying armor is a product of the ingenious gnomish inventors. The wearer of this armor is able to achieve flight using a complex system of wings and a jet propulsion arrangement, which uses an arcane blend of volatile substances.

The armor is like a suit of field plate, but is very thin in order to keep the weight down. This is the reason for it's comparatively poor armor class. On the back are a pair of wings which can be extended by means of a lever. When extended, each wing is approximately 5 feet long (the exact dimensions vary according to the individual suit). The back carries a complex arrangement of pipes, tanks and nozzles which burn a strange chemical mixture to provide the thrust for flight. The direction of the nozzles and attitude of the wings control the trajectory, and are operated by more levers.

Flying in this device is largely down to dumb luck, not skill. The flyer can only remain airborne for about three rounds before the nozzles of the suit melt from the heat. If this happens, the suit is unmaneuverable and plummets to the ground. For each round spent flying, 3 rounds are required to cool the nozzles (unless they are immersed in water, or have cooling spells cast on them or some such).

To fly this suit with any degree of skill, the 'Pilot Gnomish Flying Armor' skill is required (a new skill that is cannot be used unskilled and must be taught). Each time the character wishes to perform an action while in the air (accelerate, decelerate, maneuver, attack, land, take off etc), a check must be made. Success means the action can be performed as normal. A failure indicated that the attempt has been botched in some way (not difficult in this suit), usually meaning the character does not perform the action the way he would have liked. When trying to dive, he might find himself unable to do so, or he might drop a hundred feet further than he intended. At the DM's discretion, a really bad failure might have catastrophic consequences (the diving character might end up hitting the ground head-first at great speed). A failure on landing usually means the character hasn't landed where he wanted to (use a D12 to determine the direction of scatter, where 12 is 12 o'clock and so on, scattering 1d3 feet for every point that the roll was missed by). A failure on takeoff either means that the character was either unable to take off, period, or took off only to land again a few seconds later somewhere nearby.

The armor can fly with up to 250 lbs. of weight attached (including it's own weight and that of it's wearer). With this load, the suit can travel at a movement rate of 36. When laden to between 251 and 350 lbs., it may travel at a movement rate of 24. If the armor carries more than 351 lbs., it may not take off. If it is already airborne and the weight goes over this limit (perhaps by magic or weighted nets dropped from above), it will drop like a stone.

The tanks on the back of the armor contain the fuel. They contain enough fuel for 15 rounds of flying. This fuel, being made of highly volatile compounds, is highly flammable. The fuel tanks have 5 hp, and may only be attacked from behind and are hard to hit (the DM may impose a suitable penalty based on range and angle of attack). If penetrated, most of the fuel is likely to be lost. Roll 1D6+4 and multiply by 10 to determine the percentage of remaining fuel that is lost (e.g. a roll of 3 translates into a loss of 70% of the remaining fuel. If 10 rounds worth remained, that would leave enough for 3 rounds of flight). Note that the suit may ascend at it's current movement rate, and may descend at twice this. If the character is at a great height, he may not be able to reach the ground before his fuel runs out. A suit without fuel drops like a stone, just as if the character had fallen from whatever height he was at. The wings are for maneuvering only, the character cannot glide with them.

In addition, there is the risk of explosion. If penetrated by normal means (arrows, swords etc) the chance of explosion is 1 in 6. The explosion will do 1d10 damage for every round of flight that the fuel was sufficient for (e.g. 5 rounds of fuel remaining will give a 5d10 explosion). Calculate this explosion damage before you calculate any fuel spillage (not that there'll be much fuel left to spill, mind). If penetrated by something hot (a flaming arrow, a fireball or whatever) then explosion is automatic. Any explosion will damage the armor before it damages it's wearer, and automatically hits. Also, the explosion has a radius of 15 feet, within which any other creature will also take half damage.

The gnomes jealously guard the secret of this armor (rather like the elves and their suits of elven chain), and only gnomish characters may have access to it. No price is given as a suit is never found for sale on the open market. If a captured suit of armor was made available the price would be astronomical. In addition, the armor is impossible to duplicate except by a very skilled team of armorers and metalworkers who have access to blueprints or an actual suit to copy from. Any suits found or given as payment for a great service are almost certain to be gnome-sized, suits for other races must be custom-made.

The jet and wing assembly makes it impossible to wear a backpack or to wear a shield slung on the back with this armor. Temporary removal of the jets and wings is not possible. Repair of this armor is extremely difficult and requires circumstances similar to those described above for it's manufacture. In addition, the fuel for the armor is extremely rare. It may be possible for an alchemist or chemist to attempt the duplicate the fuel from a sample, but this is left entirely up to the DM. Greek fire can be used as a substitute (if it exists in your campaign), however, it makes an inferior fuel. If using greek fire, reduce the amount of weight bearable by 100 lbs.

Gnomish Water-cooled Armor

This armor is made by the infinitely resourceful and inventive gnomes. Attempting to combat the problem of overheating while wearing heavy metal armor, they came up with the water-cooled suit of plate. It is basically a suit of field plate armor, whose inside is laced with a network of fine pipes. Between plates, the pipes are linked with leather joints to prevent leakage. Over the shoulder blades is mounted a great radiator, made of a series of about 20 metal flanges, about 8" high, which protude from the back. The walls of these flanges are tin, beaten to extreme thinness, and inside each is a mass of pipes, linked to those in the suit, forming a radiator. As the flanges are so thin and might be ruptured by a blow, the outer edges of the flanges are rimmed with a thick piece of iron, and the radiating surfaces are reinforced with iron strips to prevent the flange collapsing. Sometimes, to increase the refrigeration power of the suit, the gnomes will pack the spaces between the flanges with ice, holding it in with netting. In cold climates, this often proves unnecessary.  The effect of the refrigeration system is to halve penalties from wearing heavy armor in hot climates.

The gnomes jealously guard the secret of this armor (rather like the elves and their suits of elven chain), and only gnomish characters may have access to it. No price is given as a suit is never found for sale on the open market. If a captured suit of armor was made available the price would be astronomical. In addition, the armor is impossible to duplicate except by a very skilled team of armorers and metalworkers who have access to blueprints or an actual suit to copy from. Any suits found or given as payment for a great service are almost certain to be gnome-sized, suits for other races must be custom-made.

The radiator assembly makes it impossible to wear a backpack or to wear a shield slung on the back with this armor. Temporary removal of the radiator is not possible. Repair of this armor is extremely difficult and requires circumstances similar to those described above for it's manufacture.

Helmets

The Roman helmet was made of metal, and included a brim, cheek guards, and a neck guard. The earlier Greek design was an elongated bronze dome with a 'T' in the front, with two 'o' shapes replacing the bars of the 'T'. Saxons merely wore a leather cap, but the Normans wore an upturned metal bowl with nose guard. Viking warriors used a similar design, but with metal encircling the eye sockets and often with mail hanging from the front to enclose the mouth and nose. This latter cannot have been very effective, as it was not backed by the body but hung in space.

With the full mail suit came other helmets. The flat-topped great helm was a metal cylinder with a flat top (hence the name), with a slit for the eyes and strengthening bars to protect the nose and eye areas from caving in. The round-topped kettle hat, a hemisphere with a brim, was also used in this period, as was the round helmet or skull cap (simply an upturned metal bowl) and the flat-topped helm, looking like an inverted saucepan minus handle. These were available with and without nasal bar.

The classic great helm continued into the 14th Century before it's replacement. It was heavy and rested upon the shoulders. It did not change functionality from it's first days, merely adding features such as ventilation holes and different shapes. In the second half of the 14th Century a new type of helmet emerged, the bascinet (for that is how it is spelt). Initially, it was worn over a mail coif, but this soon evolved into mail attached to the rim of the helmet. It was at first similar to the Norman design, but extended over the ears and the back of the head. The only exposed area was the face, and this was remedied with the development of the visor. Initially, these were merely slightly rounded plates with eye slits, but the evolved into rounded shapes with ventilation holes, and pointed, beaked variants as well. At first, in the days of the visorless bascinet, the great helm would be worn over the top but when the bascinet developed it's own visor this practice was abandoned. Early visors were hinged at the top, but later designs hinged on both sides, complete with pivot and removable hinge pin so that the bascinet could be worn open without the visor falling shut. Helmets of good quality remained this way until the 16th Century.

In the 15th Century, the popular bascinet came to lose the mail extensions and these were replaced with plate. At the back, the helmet now came down further and extended over the back armor, offering complete protection for the back of the neck. It was now attached to the breast and back plates by means of straps and buckles. The barbut was another type of helmet developed in this century, looking very much like early Greek designs. It covered the head, the back of the neck and the cheeks, leaving an opening for the face. As this style developed, the holes got smaller and smaller, and more fitted to the shape of the mouth and eyes they exposed. By 1500, this type was no longer in use, having been replaced by the sallet. Early models of this helmet were similar to the barbut but were more rounded and fitted much closer around the neck. Later sallets consisted of a rounded skull-piece, roughly hemispherical, that tapered towards the back to form a neck guard, which could be simple or laminated in construction. The sallet covered the face to just below the nose, and included an eye-slit. Some sallets were fitted with visors, failing that, a bevor was fitted to protect the lower face. German designs had more pointed neck guards, but Italian sallets were more similar to the barbut in design and appearance. In the last part of the 15th Century the armet appeared as well as these types. It had a skull-piece and a long vertical ridge at the rear to protect the neck. Hinged cheek pieces could be strapped together when the helmet was worn, much like the Roman helmet save that the Roman hinges were located between the tops of the ears and the eyes, and the hinges of the armet were placed below and behind the earlobes. A raiseable visor was fitted to protect the joins and straps at the front. For additional protection a metal wrapper was sometimes attached as well, and to protect the straps of the wrapper itself a circular plate, the rondel, was also fitted.

The 16th Century saw the emergence of the close-helmet, a design similar to the armet but lacking the hinged cheek-guards. A gorget plate at the base of the helmet was attached to the gorget of the breastplate. Initially this design had a low comb or crest, which grew in size until it reached the heights of the Italian combed morion in use about 1590. After this, the comb shrank again, along with the visor which became less exaggerated. Another design of helmet in this period was the burgonet, with an open face and a central comb. The face would be guarded by bars, but most of the face would be visible, as opposed to earlier designs in which there were only eye-slits. Developed from this design was the morion, the distinctive helmet of the Spanish Conquistador. Italian morions usually featured a comb, Spanish designs were plainer and had a simple domed top. This design would be continued until the 17th Century, with simple helmets covering only the top of the head and the back of the neck, sometimes incorporating cheek-guards.
 

Hide

This armor is prepared by stiffening the hide of a thick-skinned animal, such as an elephant. It was experimented with as an alternative to chain mail, but was much stiffer and thus was rarely used. It was made into plates, rather like plate mail, but with hide replacing the metal. These plates would be sewn together to make a whole or partial suit. Hide armor was invented in the Dark Ages and has been ever since.

Hide, Nomadic

This form of armor was simply the cured hides of tough-skinned animals, such as elephants, rhinoceroses or bears (depending on the creatures that lived in the area). As the name implies, it was made by nomadic tribes who had neither time nor facilities nor inclination to make any more sophisticated armor. It could also be manufactured from multiple layers of the hides of less tough-skinned animals (such as deer or cows).

(Thanks to StarWolf <misterc@bc1.com> for submitting the idea for this armor)

Hide, Nordic

The Nordic form of hide armor was tanned and lacquered (not boiled) to give a hard outer shell with a softer inner layer. This made it easier to move in than normal hide (albeit not as easy as with nomadic hide).

(Thanks to StarWolf <misterc@bc1.com> for submitting the idea for this armor)

Jade Burial Armor

This armor, historically, has been encountered only once. An ancient Chinese prince and his consort were buried in suits of this armor, which was made of 1-inch-square pieces of jade held together with gold thread. As jade and gold do not decay, the Chinese believed such a suit of armor would give immortality to it's wearer. As the jade was quite thin, the armor confers little AC bonus, and is hard to move in at all, never mind when in combat. However, the armor has more novel uses than as mere protection...

This armor would make a very suitable protection for powerful undead, such as zombies or lichs, especially in an Oriental setting (bearing in mind it's origins). It is also an excellent candidate for some sort of magical enchantment, especially magic that would confer youthfulness or longevity. The armor could have the ability to affect it's wearer as if casting one or more of the following suggested spells: Restore Youth, Resurrection or similar; once a day or whatever. Bearing in mind it's rarity and mystique, it could even be turned into a powerful artefact or relic...

Leather

This armor was invented in the Dark Ages also, by those looking to improved chain mail. It was boiled first to soften it for moulding, and when it cooled it set hard. It was commonly worn over chain mail to provide protection against the piercing weapons against which chain mail was inefficient. It is made of plates, like hide armor, but it is not hard enough to make sophisticated joints as are found in field plate, so it is sewn together. Mail often guards the joints.

Leather, Norman

Norman men-at-arms wore an untreated leather hauberk, covered with bands of leather at right-angles (forming a chequered pattern) with metal studs protecting the junctions of the leather bands. Sometimes a linen hauberk would be worn instead of a leather one. It was generally worn by norman soldiers who could not afford metal armor.

Padded

This is a very simple type of armor, consisting simply of thick, quilted garments that were next to useless against an arrow but could deflect a glancing sword blow. It was said to have had most of the advantages of mail but little of it's weight. It was, however, the equivalent of wearing about ten thermal undergarments at once and it was stiflingly hot to wear. A thinner form evolved to become the backing for mail and plate suits, providing cushioning from the shock of blows. It was invented during the Dark Ages, but it is simple to make and there is no reason why a fantasy society with Ancient technology could not conceive of and manufacture it. Quilted armor was often used as leg and horse protection while a mail hauberk was worn.

Plate Mail

This is not the all-enclosing field or full plate armor, but rather the plate-mail hybrids that started to emerge in the early 14th Century. In the beginning, this armor merely consisted of plates on the knees, elbows and shoulders over a mail suit, then it evolved to consist of a full mail suit with additional plates to protect the shins (and later the thighs), arms and sometimes a breastplate in addition. A surcoat would be worn over the top. Overlapping plates would be fitted to the top of the chainmail socks. Generally, this armor only faced the front and the back of the knight's legs and body were trusted to mail, as were the insides of the arms. Plate came to cover more and more of the body, until the mail underneath began to disappear, eventually covering only the groin. After a while that too disappeared.

Scale Mail (metal)

This is brigandine armor (see above), extended down to the knees and worn with additional leggings. It thusly affords more protection. It was introduced in the Dark Ages, in fact, it was a favourite with the barbarian horsemen who attacked the Roman Empire in the 4th Century. The scales were small in size, and sewn on to a leather or padded backing. It was more efficient than chain mail, particularly at stopping missiles.

Scale mail (wood or horn)

This is simply scale mail made out of wooden or animal horn scales rather than metal. It would have been used in areas where metal was very rare or the technology was not possessed to mine or work it, and so would have predated metal versions (had it actually been used extensively).

Shields

The buckler or daraq was a simple, small shield that was held in the hand (the reference to being strapped on to the forearm in the PHB is an error). It could only defend against one attack per round, and the hand could not hold a weapon. This design has, like most shields, been available since Ancient times, but was used mostly as a footman's shield. Archers and mounted warriors had other types available to them.

Small shields were often circular, made of metal or hide over wood. These too have been available since the Ancient period. Some designs backed the shield with padding, and suits of jousting armor in the later middle ages incorporated mounts for them into the left arm, some suits going so far as to actually build the shield into the arm itself. Other, later, designs merely expanded the shoulder plate until it covered most of the chest, forming a shield in it's own right.

An example of the medium shield was the kite-shaped shield used by Norman cavalry. This shield was the most typical type for cavalry of the Dark and Middle Ages, and could be circular, kite-shaped (popular with horsemen as it's tapered base meant that it could be held closer to the centreline of the body without snagging on the saddle), or lozenge-shaped. Padding was often incorporated into the backing of the shield to absorb the shock of blows and prevent fractures to the arm holding it. Oblong shields, curved in cross-section, were used by infantrymen (the most famous example being the Roman legionary), and gave more protection when used correctly in formation. Roman legionaries would form a "tortoise", with the soldiers forming a square and the men on the perimeter holding shields at the front and sides (depending on where they were in the formation) and those in the centre holding their shields over their heads, in order to present an impenetrable shield frontage to the enemy.

The body shield, also called a door shield (after it's similar proportions), tower shield, or pavise, was generally not carried by the individual. It was carried instead by a shield-bearer, whose task it was to protect his companion archer from enemy fire. It would generally be made of thick wood, with metal strips and studs for reinforcement. The bulk of material required to make it entirely out of metal would be far too expensive and heavy, and the absorbent properties of wood meant that it could be used without padded backing. If the user crouched behind it, it would completely obscure him from view. The surface of the door shield was often tarred and/or pitched to protect the bearer from boiling oil, hot ashes and other such things thrown by a besieged enemy on to their besiegers below.

Shields for the battlefield often had designs worked into them, or could be painted with their owner's coat-of-arms (if he had one). Parade-ground shields were much more ornate, covered with embossed figurines and carving. Such lavish decoration would not survive the rigours of the battlefield and so such shields were rarely used in combat.

Splint Mail

This is another armor that may well be merely another flight of fantasy. If it did exist, it was made of vertical metal strips riveted to a leather or padded undergarment. It is inflexible and alternative protection had to be found for the joints, apparently chain mail being the popular choice. I have been unable to find much information on this armor, as (strangely) it is absent from the history books I researched.

Studded Leather

This armor consisted of leather (not hardened as with plain leather armor), closely set with rivets. A decent amount of protection was thus gained, without the heat and weight premium of mail and the inflexibility of plate. In some cases, the armor developed until it was almost like scale or brigandine. Mail neck protection was generally worn as well. This armor has been used since the Middle Ages.
 

Armor Manufacture

The manufacture of armor required skill, and was an extension of the art of the blacksmith. Armor was made to be lightweight and flexible, stories of knights being lowered into the saddle by crane and being immobilised by the weight of their armor are greatly exaggerated. Even in the late medieval period, when knights wore heavy full plate, a trained man could vault into the saddle fully armored and could move on foot almost as easily as the footman in his chain hauberk.

Leather, padded and hide armors were more the province of the leatherworker or tailor than the armorer. For details of the manufacture of these armors, see the descriptions of the armors themselves. To manufacture such armors, tailoring and/or tanning facilities were needed.

Mail links were made by wrapping a metal wire around a dowel to form a coil spring. This coil would be severed in places with a chisel to form a series of open rings. The rings would be interwoven and then hammered shut and sealed with a punch.

Metal plate armor was the most difficult to make. The preparatory stage involved detailed measurements of the intended wearer and trying on the raw parts to ensure a perfect fit. This is why it is so difficult to find plate armor that fits your character, especially as metal, unlike cloth, doesn't stretch! A towering 6'5 warrior would never find armor to fit him (bearing in mind the average height of the medieval man, about 5'8) and would have to have it tailor-made.

Having done this, the smith would take iron ingots (known as 'pigs', hence 'pig iron') and hammer them into roughly-shaped thick plates. These plates would then be finely shaped. The armorer had a bewildering array of anvils (known as 'stakes', small anvils set in wood or on trestles) and shaped hammers to do this. The anvils and hammers would be complete with ridges and depressions to form any decorative parts. For a customised suit of armor, special anvils would have to be made, which goes some way to explaining the cost of parade armors. To prevent cracking at this stage, the iron would be annealed (heated to soften it). While doing this, the armorer also had to ensure that the armor was of the right thickness, especially in the often-targeted areas of the face, chest and left side (when swinging at an opponent with your right arm, you tend to hit his left side... which is also where his shield is, annoyingly enough).

After the sheets were finished, the edges were cropped with shears and often rolled over a wire to prevent an opponent's weapon glancing into a vital area. The armor was now almost serviceable, although black from the forge and covered in the marks of hammer blows. In the late middle ages and the renaissance, the common foot-soldier's armor would be shipped out in this condition, but the gentry deserved and got better. Any gilding to be done on the armor was added at this point. Straps and buckles would be attached, and then the armor would be lined with quilting in the breast and backplates, cuisses, tassets and helm. Any decoration, such as etching or engraving, was added last.

Extras

In addition to the normal leather and steel armors, a character can use fantastic and unusual materials to manufacture armors.  See the Unusual Weapon and Armor materials for information on what is availible.

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