• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

The 'Jack' - Linen Armour for Historical and Fantasy Role Playing

DavetheLost

Registered User
Validated User
Leather also creaks and squeaks. Leather thick and tough enough to actually be armour would not be my first choice for sneaking around in. A good linen jack though...
 

Bilharzia

Registered User
Validated User
Mythras/RuneQuest 6 divides armours into Rigid & Flexible depending on material, with limits to how protective flexible armours can get - for example the toughest standard flexible armour gives you 4 armour points, with a maximum enhanced value of 6 AP if made by a master crafter. For comparison a standard shortsword does 1d6 damage. The different materials have different encumbrance multipliers, for example it's possible to make armour from stone but it has three times the weight of standard metal making it impracticable to wear a full suit for most people. Conversely silk can be used to make flexible armours with a weight multiplier of 0.75 compared to standard.
 

Stupid Made Up Name

David
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The "bridge fight" illustration is what springs to my mind, though of course this could be an example of heavy padded garments going *over* mail. Some of these pictures are discussed here:

http://myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.8426.html
The commentariat seem to think these are "jupons" covering early plate armour, although the guy with all the armour and a bow gives pause for thought. Do we know what scene is being depicted? You can get some anachronistic oddities if an illustrator is using contemporary fashions in a Biblical scene.
 

Stupid Made Up Name

David
RPGnet Member
Validated User
If we're talking about the same source, then the 30 layers of linen comes from the equipment mandated for the French militia archers. Who didn't have to pay for their own equipment, it had to be provided by their communities. And let's just say that was only one reason why they generally were despised. Not the most effective and famous bunch of soldiers ever to walk the earth.
The francs-archers were France's attempt to copy English archers, by whom it had often been invaded, having run out of Scottish mercenary archers to do the job for them. I imagine they were able to see what the state-of-the-art was in terms of protective gear for the common soldiery. Their English oppo's were mostly self supplied and highly in demand.

What other good (non-speculative) sources do we have for the construction of medieval cloth armour? An enquiring mind wants to know.
 

Gussick

Registered User
Validated User
Cost is another issue that seems to get overlooked in the RPGs (though that happens all the time anyway). Prior to industrialized agriculture, leather was not at all cheap and was in demand for lots of things. I remember hearing that buff coats of the 17th century cost a ton. Whereas linen was quite common and produced all over Europe and the near east.
 

Rupert

Active member
Validated User
Those buff coats replaced linen jacks, though. Mind you, in the age when they were common if you expected to be in a fight you were a steel cuirass instead or as well, so the buff cost may have been a replacement for light jacks, with the cuirass (with or without extra limb protection, etc., depending on time, situation, and the wearer's wealth) replacing everything else for serious protection.
 

DarkMoc

Registered User
Validated User
Cost is another issue that seems to get overlooked in the RPGs (though that happens all the time anyway). Prior to industrialized agriculture, leather was not at all cheap and was in demand for lots of things. I remember hearing that buff coats of the 17th century cost a ton. Whereas linen was quite common and produced all over Europe and the near east.
During the ECW, a buff coat with 3 pair of detachable sleeves and gold and silver decoration cost 2 pounds, 14 shillings, and sixpence; a plainer one without the fanciest set of sleeves (but retaining two pair of detachable sleeves) could probably be had for 1/17/6. Harquebusier armor (breastplate, backplate, and helmet) cost 1/10/-, pikeman's armor cost 1/2/-, a pair of flintlock pistols were 3 pounds, a dragoon's horse was 4 pounds and a cuirassier's 7/10/-, while the cuirassier's armor ran to 4/10/-. So buff coats were pricey, but not ludicrously so.
 

Sosthenes

Oiled Greek Wrestler
Validated User
On the other hand, I've yet to see a decent descriptions of the type of jacks/coats an NMA infantryman was wearing, it's often described as a "buff coat", too, but I doubt that it would have much in common with the posh cavalry pieces. Maybe more the usual leather jerkin to prevent chafing and thus not armor per se.
Note that by this time we're almost exclusively in 17th century England, which is a bit outside of my area of interest (and not applicable to most fantasy settings, too).

But leather and linen was mixed before, too. The aforementioned King's ordinance recommended "stag skin", if I remember correctly.
 

WistfulD

Registered User
Validated User
I don't want to sound too Dan Howard, but "light" armour is a bit of a weird concept in itself. It descends to RPGs from their roots in ancients wargaming, where soldiers en masse get classified as light, medium or heavy (and perhaps extra heavy, super heavy) formations and given varying move rates and protection against casualties to match. This arrives in D&D as leather armour giving a 12" move rate and chainmail(*) a 9" move rate. Obviously a thief needs his high move rate amiright?
Hard to say. Each non-D&D uses its' own method, but with D&D, the general trend was that -- during the era where D&D was trying to capture a wargame's feel -- heavier armor was pretty much just-plain-better (if you could wing it). Armor was mostly a matter of cost and what you could carry (and what each class was allowed). Thieves were a notable exception, but it wasn't movement... they literally couldn't use heavier armor (and with the advent of AD&D, got some penalties on their thieving roles for progressively heavier armors within their range). Overall I think it emulated the idea that lighter armor was what less wealthy, possibly more expendable troops wore and your goal was to get to the point of being able to afford and carry as full a plate as a version of the game had.

However, I think relatively quickly (and later editions of D&D which were more self-referenced than trying to copy wargames) there also became an issue of genre emulation. Sure, some people imagine being a knight in shining, all-covering armor. However, there's also a lot of people who wanted to play Erol Flynn and later Harrison Ford or Viggo Mortensen. There's a desire for there to be a light armor that is actually a good idea, so that you could actually play a lightly armored character (and it not be because your class mandates it or the like).

A pair of brigandines would certainly weight more than a back and breast, because overlapping is wasteful - is brigandine a "lighter" armour than steel plate?
Brigandine in particular I think D&D and the like gets just plain wrong. In reality, it is something you might wear over padded and chain, not as a replacement, and it certainly was a form of heavy armor. Same with cuir bouilli leather. These are non-light armor pushed into the light armor role because that's what gamers want to have.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
RPGs tend to have "light armor" as something like leather or cloth: full body, but soft and thin, giving only a bit of protection. That's very different from "light armor" as in wearing only a metal helmet and breastplate but foregoing limb armor, say. Some do both: 3e D&D offers "leather armor" but also a chain shirt vs. a full chainmail suit.

Wikipedia says some soldiers chose brigandine over more solid plate armor, for the flexibility. That's sort of "less heavy vs. heavy".

I think someone already noted that it's not obvious having thin armor is actually worth the encumbrance, unless you're worrying about shrapnel and glancing blows in a modern context. Which suggests wearing the strongest armor you can, but maybe not on all your body parts. Like, if you can afford the classic thief's leather armor of something like motorcycle leather, maybe you'd be better off taking the limb leather and layering it over your chest so it's thick enough that it might actually stop something.
 
Top Bottom