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

DarkMoc

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#41
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.
Yeah, unfortunately my main source (Haythornthwaite) doesn't mention infantry buff coat prices in his section on equipment, and most of the plates with infantry depict them in what appears to be a buff coat and breast-and-back, which means the coat doesn't get described on its own.
 

Sosthenes

Oiled Greek Wrestler
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#42
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.
I've always wondered how proper armor would look like when you're assuming that a dungeon delving context was really a thing. I mean, historically you've got singular prolonged battles and a lot of marching. Both shape armor.
Now "adventurers" have some interesting properties that real-life warriors didn't have. They're usually rather wealthy so they could afford almost anything. And if you're OSR-y enough, retainers to help you carry and don heavy armor are a possibility, too. So theoretically, you could keep up with real world knights, so dressing like cataphract, crusader or "London lobster" is possible. Sure, you're on foot while those were on horse, but they probably didn't have half-orc/dwarven genetics, Gauntlets of Ogre Power or min/maxed properly. So it's not hard to excuse fighters running around 10' x 10' rooms with Maximilian plate.

But sticking a bit closer to verisimilitude, what other options would such persons prefer? For once, you might not just want to dress up once you hear the bugbears behind the door, ambushes and traps are everywhere, and hirelings have the lifespans of Heavy Metal drummers. And let's not even talk about dangerous hexcrawls.
Given the constant danger, you might be closer to a mix of extreme sports enthusiasts and modern battlefield soldiers than old-fashioned knights and hoplites.

Cloth and leather armor seems quite appropriate in that context. Both some really lightweight stuff that's closer to the aforementioned motorcycle leathers, making dungeon parkour possible and protecting against trap shrapnel and the ubiquitious claws, and more heavyweight stuff reinforced with tactical plates and mail for the frontline fighters. A lot easier to march in (cf. Conquistadors switching to native cloth or rich Dutch infantry donning buff coats). And fewer gaps, which looks awfully enticing if you visit some parts of the bestiary...

Having said that, magic might trump that. No matter how awesome your gleaming glaive-guisarme-voulge-earspoon is, if all magical weaponry is inherently superior and tends to come as swords, better learn that. And if it's the same with armour (half/no weight, no rust etc.), it's magical mithral elven mail for anyone who can find/afford it (so posh 36-layer jacks are too expensive for first-levellers and ridiculous for those in the "I got magic" tier).

As a final note: Few systems tend to give much thought about fatigue and comfort, so the "realistic" tradeoffs I've mentioned are often just present in the narrative.
 

Rupert

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#43
The if the armour is to be worn fairly constantly whilst moving through the wilderness or relatively natural caves, I think the first things to be lightened would be the lower leg armour (so it'll be boots and light shin guards, not plate greaves), because weight on the lower legs really adds to the energy you have to spend on walking, especially on rough ground. The next would be plate hand protection, because as soon as there's any climbing you need the hand mobility and sensitivity. At most you'd have leather gloves that could be slipped on and off easily with metal reinforcing in the backs. Take them off for the climb, then put them on again. More likely, I think, would be light leather 'fencing' gloves or fingerless ones like many outdoors people wear today. Use a sword with a good guard. When not planning on a battle, your helmet would want to be open-faced and not cover the ears (perception being more important for avoiding ambushes than a bit more protection), so probably a wide-brimmed metal helmet (to stop crap falling into your eyes, etc.).

Overall I think a practical suit would be a jack or buff coat to about the knee with long sleeves, high boots or shin guards, knee guards, leather gloves, possibly some extra hand and arm protection in the form of light metal inserts or strapped on links, etc., and a nice metal helmet. If the threat level is higher, add a good plate breast-and-back (with or without arm protection, depending on preference). Heavy linen or leather (and buff coats were pretty thick and quite heavy - the AD&D 'leather' is much lighter) with plate where it really matters.

The above is about what a well-equipped ACW/30-Years War soldier, or a conquisador might wear, with variations for time and place, so it presumably worked reasonably well for its cost and weight.
 

Knaight

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#44
This is one of those things that really depends on era - but it's worth noting that mail can be really good stuff, particularly if you don't wear too much of it. Being flexible and generally pretty quiet is helpful for adventurers, mail byrnies are generally pretty light, and even lots of sunlight is fine if you cover it. Then you just basically always want a helmet.
 

Sosthenes

Oiled Greek Wrestler
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#45
Given that helmets were often tailored to their specific use (and fashion), it's quite likely that we'd see "delver helmets". Whether they'd have brims or not would probably depend on what scares you more, debris falling on you or monsters sticking on the ceiling. Some neck/chin protection would be a good option, too, given the prevalence of both beasts and undead. That's another place where you can spend a pretty dime, as articulated neck protection is quite high tech, and having to decide between a stiff neck and getting your throat ripped out by ghasts is a choice for poor 0-level suckers

I would include greaves, though. They're not that cumbersome and easy enough to put on by yourself, so putting them away for travel is a good option (more so than e.g. a front and back corselet). And dungeons are just full of tripwires, low scythes and friggin' goblins, kobolds and norkers (which reminds me: codpieces).
 

Rupert

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#46
Given that helmets were often tailored to their specific use (and fashion), it's quite likely that we'd see "delver helmets". Whether they'd have brims or not would probably depend on what scares you more, debris falling on you or monsters sticking on the ceiling. Some neck/chin protection would be a good option, too, given the prevalence of both beasts and undead. That's another place where you can spend a pretty dime, as articulated neck protection is quite high tech, and having to decide between a stiff neck and getting your throat ripped out by ghasts is a choice for poor 0-level suckers.
I'm a great fan of a gorget, sallet and bevor for this reason - the neck protection is rigid, but the weight is carried by the shoulders and chest, and protection for the sides of the head comes from the helmet. There's even some room for air to circulate if you remove (or drop down on the better models) the bevor for those times when you think you can get away with a bit less protection. It's not perfect, but for a technically simple design it's pretty decent.

A delver's helmet quite possibly also has some kind of headlamp (magical as soon as it can be afforded, of course), and/or darkvision enchant.

I would include greaves, though. They're not that cumbersome and easy enough to put on by yourself, so putting them away for travel is a good option (more so than e.g. a front and back corselet). And dungeons are just full of tripwires, low scythes and friggin' goblins, kobolds and norkers (which reminds me: codpieces).
That's why I mentioned light shin guards or high boots. They are reasonable protection vs wires, bumping into rocks, etc., but weight a lot less than greaves. The greaves would go in the box with the rest of your full harness, if you're bringing one along. Of course, if you're a rich pro, you'll be able to wear your harness all the time because it'll be enchanted to be light, to have air-conditioning with heating and cooling, and probably to be rust-proof and maybe water-tight as well, on top of the usual armour enhancing enchants, strength boosts, and so on (a pro's full armour set in D&D and similar games is basically a low-tech, high-magic powered armour suit, in my opinion).
 

WistfulD

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#47
I've always wondered how proper armor would look like when you're assuming that a dungeon delving context was really a thing. I mean, historically you've got singular prolonged battles and a lot of marching. Both shape armor.
Now "adventurers" have some interesting properties that real-life warriors didn't have.
I think the issue of constant travel, plus monsters popping up at a moment's notice (plus, unlike armies, you don't have, or more likely are, the scouting team). One of the huge advantages of fortifications is that you chose when to armor up and ride out to meet your enemies, and could unarmored the rest of the time. That was a huge advantage the defenders have versus a sieging army. Adventurers would be like the sieging army--except the threat of danger was also rather prevalent while on the road, as well (depending on whether the universe models the DM-driven issue of multiple wandering encounters per day of overland travel being boring :p). I can imagine that some very modular armor (lighter for foot travel, heavier on horse, and heaviest when you get to the dungeon) would be highly regarded. Not that we don't see similar in real life, but I bet the concept would get more pronounced.
 

Sosthenes

Oiled Greek Wrestler
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#48
As I've said, once magic comes into play everything's off and also depends on whether you're e.g. doing quasi-tech custom-ordering or have to cope with Golden Age designs. I had some fun in the past with trade-offs, where e.g. the state of the art was hardened fluted plate, superior to even most magical armor, but the latter didn't rust, protected against magic etc, so you had to cope with running around in the Dendra panoply...

Speaking of fantasy specials, all the various beasts and plants might have some interesting impact on leather/cloth armor. And no, you don't even have to go full dragonhide with it, maybe buff coats made from the wings of dire bats are especially nice. Special leather might be a lot more accessible than special ore and proper magic, and thus change the armor landscape (especially the elite/specialist one). For a change, maybe the campaign's Drow don't look like they just escaped from the BDSM convention, but like dapper gentlemen with their flying lizard buff coats and spidersilk jacks.

I can imagine that some very modular armor (lighter for foot travel, heavier on horse, and heaviest when you get to the dungeon) would be highly regarded. Not that we don't see similar in real life, but I bet the concept would get more pronounced.
And probably some more inventive ways of putting them on or folding them up. In a stereotypical multi-leveled dungeon, relying on others to carry your stuff isn't always a wise choice, and even if you're a buff paladin of Smashtor, the sheer volume of additional parts might be prohibitive (again, disregarding more powerful magic). Options would be grommets on your always-on-armor where you can quickly attach smaller pieces of chain, or smaller pieces of metal that are somewhat protective on their own, but also serve as mounting points for plate pieces (greaves, *braces). And screw-on spikes once you enter the halls of the Froghemoths.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
#49
Mail does seem to squish up more than other armors.

Cloth and leather armor seems quite appropriate in that context. Both some really lightweight stuff that's closer to the aforementioned motorcycle leathers, making dungeon parkour possible and protecting against trap shrapnel and the ubiquitious claws, and more heavyweight stuff reinforced with tactical plates and mail for the frontline fighters.
This seems a case where DR would work better than AC, or maybe a hybrid system would: leathers give you a point or 2 of DR, giving some protection, but if you want real protection you go to thick armors that improve AC by making body parts nigh-untouchable.
 
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