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janusmaxwell
2014-07-06, 02:22 PM
A general question for any system or setting. Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man and the only way to process diamonds is by using diamonds, but does this mean in a non-magical setting that using diamonds for armor and weapons would actually work?

I ask because it seems to crop up in many many scifi or fantasy settings and I had the thought that in a more realistic setting diamond armor or weapons wouldn't be as effective. The idea that keeps jumping at me is that harder objects can't absorb impacts the way softer materials can and a diamond weapon would snap in half too easily and Diamond armor wouldn't absorb the kinetic energy from a blow well enough to protect as well as steel or some other derivative.

Am I on the right path? Or would diamond armor and weapon in a semi-real setting be just as "Super Effective!" As could be assumed?

JusticeZero
2014-07-06, 02:36 PM
Glass is also extremely hard, much harder than wood. Introduce a baseball bat to a window and see which one wins.
A major reason why they use steel for swords and armor is because steel is bendy without snapping. Bronze can be very hard, but when it bends, it stays bent. A material which shatters the moment it has to deal with too much force isn't going to be very useful.

Glimbur
2014-07-06, 02:38 PM
So, there's a couple things to consider for armor. Hardness is nice, because it means your armor resists scratching/deformation (depending on your definition of hardness). Armor made of cheese would be scratched by a sword so much that it would not help much. But there is also toughness, which is a measure of how much work it takes to break something. Diamonds have bad toughness (or they are brittle), so they can be broken by force like, say, a war hammer to the chest. So, if your enemy will attack you with abrasion (blasts of sand, for example) where hardness is the main requirement then diamond would be fine. But if your enemy is going to use conventional weapons, your diamond armor will break. Rapidly.

Incidentally, there are lots of ways to process diamonds. Jewelers typically break them by hand with non-diamond tools. Just another consequence of the difference between hardness and toughness.

Spiryt
2014-07-06, 02:41 PM
In the first place, forming anything resembling wearable armor from diamond is a major achievement.


What are the biggest pieces of diamond people can synthesize, and how any thousands of $$$ does it cost?


And if some super-technology can do it reliably and afford-ably, then, like you've mentioned, it's also way beyond point where it can also simply shatter pieces of diamonds with good ol' high KE bullets.

Studoku
2014-07-06, 02:42 PM
Google "Carbon Nanotube Armor". It's like diamond armor, right?

Kazyan
2014-07-06, 02:43 PM
The larger an object gets, the easier it is to fracture it if the force is on the same relative scale. You can drop a glass marble from a few feet and it will probably survive, but the optical glass in Hubble-size telescopes needs to be cooled down to operating temperature over a period of, like, a year to avoid the thermal expansion differential fracturing it. The same applies to diamond. If you make a breastplate out of solid diamond somehow, you could probably break it with a fist-sized rock. It would not be very effective.

janusmaxwell
2014-07-06, 03:21 PM
Google "Carbon Nanotube Armor". It's like diamond armor, right?

That was actually the way my brain was heading on the matter. Some type of super armor, except my visualization was the Diamond armor would be superior...until I got my question answered here and realized diamond armor is wildly impractical.

sktarq
2014-07-06, 04:21 PM
Google "Carbon Nanotube Armor". It's like diamond armor, right?

Far closer to graphite armour.

also. People forget that steel is made up of a bunch of steel (carbon strengthened iron crystals) suspended in basically iron glass. Diamonds fused like that (a massively gletzed crystal) wouldn't absorb energy the same way and just shatter like a just like a solid crystal. I suppose diamond coatings could be useful for increased hardness.
The whole concept of "diamond" armor is almost always a good sign of fantasy/sci-fi gamers/authors who don't know enough about basic science to be able to be taken very seriously.

Ravens_cry
2014-07-06, 04:40 PM
It's not really either, as graphite is thin (atom thick I believe) horizontal latices of carbon atoms held together by relatively weak vertical bonds, while carbon nanotubes are lattices of carbon atoms rolled into, well, a tube.
Diamond's structure is different again.

veti
2014-07-06, 05:30 PM
Making anything useful-sized out of diamond has never been a practical possibility. If you could devise some magic that could create diamond, as a single flawless crystal, in any arbitrary shape you wanted - then you could make armour out of it, and it'd be very, very good armour. However, if you took a strong enough blow to the armoured region, you'd still suffer severe trauma because the whole force would immediately be transferred to whichever parts of your body the armour was fitted to - there's no elasticity to absorb the impact.

What you can do (and I think this has been done, historically, though I'm not sure) is to encrust a regular metal piece of armour with small diamonds. How much this improves your defence is debatable, but it would have some effect: light blows (i.e. most of them, in practice), if they happened to hit a diamond stud, would not scratch or dent, and they would tend to blunt the attacker's weapon.

As with any crystal, there are two aspects to a diamond's strength. There's the raw hardness (which is unbeatable) - and then there's the flaws. The flaws are what makes the diamond brittle, and make it possible to cut and shape it. The bigger the diamond, the more flaws it's likely to have. So the "perfect unbeatable hardness" thing only applies to a flawless diamond, and the largest one of those in existence (as far as I know) is the De Beers Centenary Diamond, which weighs in at a massive 55g (about 2 oz). So it's hard to imagine using it for armour, for anything larger than a very small baby pixie.

Using diamond for weapons is - only marginally more feasible. There are such things as diamond saws and knives - the saws are hard-wearing, but not particularly sharp, and the knives are extremely sharp, but very brittle. Neither one would be particularly useful as a sword. If you want to know how that might work in practice, take a look at the Aztecs - the obsidian they used for weaponry was not unlike diamond, in that it was very hard and formed a very sharp edge. It worked extremely well for their purposes, but proved completely useless against European metal armour. (And, significantly I think, even the Aztecs never tried to make armour out of obsidian.)

warty goblin
2014-07-06, 05:55 PM
Diamond saws for cutting rock etc are a hard steel disk with very small diamonds embedded in the edge. They aren't even sharp in a conventional sense; since it doesn't have macroscopic teeth like a regular saw. It would be an effective weapon in the sense that it would cut flesh apart effectively, but so would just about any other big coarse steel disk spinning at a couple thousand RPM. It would also be a terrible weapon because they're monstrous heavy, and extremely difficult to maneuver thanks to the gyroscopic effects of that big spinning steel disk.

janusmaxwell
2014-07-06, 06:55 PM
Picturing something now...regarding the diamond weapon...What if you had a sword that was made of some durable metal to absorb impacts, but the cutting edge was an almost micro thin line of diamond, shaped into a razors edge so the blade could still absorb impact but could cut through freaking anything?

veti
2014-07-06, 07:03 PM
Picturing something now...regarding the diamond weapon...What if you had a sword that was made of some durable metal to absorb impacts, but the cutting edge was an almost micro thin line of diamond, shaped into a razors edge so the blade could still absorb impact but could cut through freaking anything?

That's theoretically possible. It would be phenomenally expensive to make, even with modern technology, never mind pseudo-medieval smithing techniques. My gut instinct is that it would still chip with wear (because of the flaws in the crystal), and having chipped, it would be impossible to sharpen it by any normal means - you'd basically have to go through the whole making process all over again.

It would be very, very sharp, and it would be a thing of intimidating beauty to look at.

Glimbur
2014-07-06, 07:15 PM
Far closer to graphite armour.

also. People forget that steel is made up of a bunch of steel (carbon strengthened iron crystals) suspended in basically iron glass. Diamonds fused like that (a massively gletzed crystal) wouldn't absorb energy the same way and just shatter like a just like a solid crystal. I suppose diamond coatings could be useful for increased hardness.
The whole concept of "diamond" armor is almost always a good sign of fantasy/sci-fi gamers/authors who don't know enough about basic science to be able to be taken very seriously.

How pedantic do we want to get here? A 'glass' is an amorphous solid; but steel is made up of many tiny crystals. A crystal is a particular arrangement of atoms which repeats; the iron atoms make the crystal lattice and the carbon atoms hang out in it and distort things. Or they form carbides, depending. The advantage to steel is that it can deform, which takes up a bunch of energy. Unless it's too hard, of course, but there's a lot of 'unless' in materials.


Picturing something now...regarding the diamond weapon...What if you had a sword that was made of some durable metal to absorb impacts, but the cutting edge was an almost micro thin line of diamond, shaped into a razors edge so the blade could still absorb impact but could cut through freaking anything?

Historical people in the New World did this, sort of, with obsidian shards stuck into a wood club. It works alright, the problem is that your shards can chip and break. Now that I read more of the thread, I see that these were already mentioned. So it goes.

Mark Hall
2014-07-06, 07:39 PM
Picturing something now...regarding the diamond weapon...What if you had a sword that was made of some durable metal to absorb impacts, but the cutting edge was an almost micro thin line of diamond, shaped into a razors edge so the blade could still absorb impact but could cut through freaking anything?

More or less the idea behind Shadowrun's monofilament swords.

Shadowrun also had Dikote, which put a thin layer of diamond over conventional melee weapons, letting the weapon cut through harder substances.

warty goblin
2014-07-06, 08:56 PM
Picturing something now...regarding the diamond weapon...What if you had a sword that was made of some durable metal to absorb impacts, but the cutting edge was an almost micro thin line of diamond, shaped into a razors edge so the blade could still absorb impact but could cut through freaking anything?

Somebody whacks the flat of your expensive sword with a couple bucks of rebar. The resultant vibrations and flexing in your blade cause your edge to shatter. Now you have the world's most expensive butterknife.

You could mitigate this problem to some extent by using a microlith sort of construction, where instead of a single continuous edge, you used shorter blades socketed into the blade one after the other. So long as the individual blades were short enough to survive routine blade flexing without breaking, your weapon won't completely disintegrate the first time some uncooperative person whacks it with a baseball bat.Then your weapon survives until you hit something a couple times with it, after which you're still stuck holding a high-tech butterknife.

And you still won't be able to cut through freaking anything. You'll be able to cut the materials you could already cut, marginally better. For cutting freaking anything you just plain need more power on the edge than a human arm can deliver. To deliver this sort of force in a combat setting, you really need power armor or something similar. In which case you basically want a bigass grinding blade of some sort. Diamond carbide or diamond impregnated steel are popular choices here. You may also have luck with hydraulic sheers, but in that case you're limited to severing things you can get the sheers around.

Gildedragon
2014-07-06, 09:01 PM
Yeah as people have pointed out:

Hardness != Durability/Sturdyness != Sharpness

Take obsidian: sharpest thing before industrial materials, a freshly knapped flake is atoms thick at the edge. Thing cuts like nobody's business (better than surgical steel to the point obsidian knives are used for eye surgery)
but you only get a handful of cuts from how quick it loses its edge.

Diamond would be something mixed into the steel to have it keep its edge, but you want something sturdier to be doing the cutting, otherwise it will break.

Broken Crown
2014-07-06, 11:21 PM
The idea that keeps jumping at me is that harder objects can't absorb impacts the way softer materials can
This is essentially correct. Hardness and brittleness tend to go hand in hand. In materials engineering, there's normally a trade-off between strength (how much force it takes to break something) and toughness (how much energy it takes to break something); different materials are suitable for different tasks. Diamond (high strength and hardness, but low toughness) is most definitely not suitable for armour.

Diamond would probably work nicely as the outermost layer of a composite armour, presuming you could make diamond plates of a suitable size and shape (which is getting within the reach of current technology; synthetic diamonds have improved immensely in recent years), and bond them to the underlying layer in such a way that they wouldn't fall off when hit.

Brother Oni
2014-07-07, 01:42 AM
Using diamond for weapons is - only marginally more feasible. There are such things as diamond saws and knives - the saws are hard-wearing, but not particularly sharp, and the knives are extremely sharp, but very brittle. Neither one would be particularly useful as a sword. If you want to know how that might work in practice, take a look at the Aztecs - the obsidian they used for weaponry was not unlike diamond, in that it was very hard and formed a very sharp edge. It worked extremely well for their purposes, but proved completely useless against European metal armour. (And, significantly I think, even the Aztecs never tried to make armour out of obsidian.)

The Aztecs also had obsidian arrow heads which were reported to cause really nasty wounds due to that habit of shattering and fragmenting.

While they wouldn't have been any good for penetrating armour, the Conquistadors didn't go in with full plate harness, so there would have been enough vulnerabilities (or soldiers not in armour), for the arrows to have some use.

Pie Guy
2014-07-07, 01:48 PM
The real advantage the conquistadors had was that near everyone hated the Aztecs.

Gildedragon
2014-07-07, 02:19 PM
The real advantage the conquistadors had was that near everyone hated the Aztecs.

That and you know... disease.

Alex12
2014-07-07, 06:01 PM
If you're looking to make diamond weapons, something like a chainsword from Warhammer 40k might be an option too. If the saw teeth can be removed and replaced, you could make diamond-tipped teeth and it seems like it would be reasonably effective, albeit almost certainly not very practical and phenomenally expensive.

veti
2014-07-07, 06:24 PM
The real advantage the conquistadors had was that near everyone hated the Aztecs.

While that's definitely true (and the disease thing, too) - the technological advantage was also important, and armour was the largest single part of that advantage. It's hard to imagine the Aztecs' enemies rallying so strongly behind Cortez, if he and his men had been using technology no better than they themselves already had.

Jeff the Green
2014-07-07, 06:35 PM
That and you know... disease.

And the fact that a mounted soldier—let alone a cavalry charge—is freaking terrifying if the closest thing you have to horses is deer (or llamas in South America).

But yeah, like everything else in history, the European conquest of the Americas and the accompanying genocide was really complex and not amenable to either grade-school education or the internet.

JusticeZero
2014-07-07, 07:13 PM
Just because it might be overlooked in the talk of macahuitl, it's really easy to get an obsidian blade in daily life. Pick up a glass bottle and break it, presto! Obsidian blades! Obsidian is just naturally occurring glass. You can knap arrowheads from broken glass pretty easily with a bit of patience if you want to, but the properties don't really change much from the base item of "a broken bottle". Glass is very hard stuff, and has a better behavior for making sharp things than other crystals.

Gildedragon
2014-07-07, 08:13 PM
Just because it might be overlooked in the talk of macahuitl, it's really easy to get an obsidian blade in daily life. Pick up a glass bottle and break it, presto! Obsidian blades! Obsidian is just naturally occurring glass. You can knap arrowheads from broken glass pretty easily with a bit of patience if you want to, but the properties don't really change much from the base item of "a broken bottle". Glass is very hard stuff, and has a better behavior for making sharp things than other crystals.

All silicates are pretty hard. The nice thing of glass is its amorphousnes, which ties into its lack of strength.
Breaks nicely and along the lines of force, but doesn't have crystal structures to make it sturdy.

A similar thing happens with large crystals, like quartzes (or in this case, diamonds) where a sufficiently large crystal, acts like an amorphous rock when subjected to force (because it doesn't have crystals inside to disperse the forces)

Thus any whack at the rightish sort of angles will pop a crack in your crystal blade.

Another_Poet
2014-07-07, 10:21 PM
Jut for kicks, I'll add that when I picture "diamond armor" it isn't a solid piece of armor made out one big diamond. It's like 5,000 diamonds individually placed to overlap like scale mail. Much prettier, much easier to make.

Note that this does not fix any of the breakability problems. Your diamond armor is soon going to be nothing more than Resurrection material components... which you'll be needing anyway.

Angelalex242
2014-07-07, 10:32 PM
Of course, a setting like D&D is going to have 'improved' diamonds that don't have all those pesky bitterness problems.

I'm sure there's something on the elemental plane of Earth that functions like diamonds, but isn't brittle in the slightest.

veti
2014-07-07, 11:51 PM
Of course, a setting like D&D is going to have 'improved' diamonds that don't have all those pesky bitterness problems.

I'm sure there's something on the elemental plane of Earth that functions like diamonds, but isn't brittle in the slightest.

Ah yes, that would be the king of the plane.

You want to try making him into armour, you're going to have a fight on your hands. Suffice it to say, by the time you're high enough level to do that, you no longer care about the armour anyway.

JusticeZero
2014-07-08, 11:08 AM
Of course, a setting like D&D is going to have 'improved' diamonds that don't have all those pesky bitterness problems.You mean.. steel? Brittle is an inescapable consequence of hard.
Hard isn't even a property that is worth selecting for for the purpose of the items being discussed, at least not as a primary property. You don't want armor to be "hard", you want it to absorb and punishment instead of passing it through to the wearer. Hardness means no absorption, by its very definition. This is why cars are designed with great care to crumple instead of just rigidly holding their shape.

Sartharina
2014-07-08, 11:32 AM
You mean.. steel? Brittle is an inescapable consequence of hard.
Hard isn't even a property that is worth selecting for for the purpose of the items being discussed, at least not as a primary property. You don't want armor to be "hard", you want it to absorb and punishment instead of passing it through to the wearer. Hardness means no absorption, by its very definition. This is why cars are designed with great care to crumple instead of just rigidly holding their shape.No. People see "Diamond is the hardest substance in the world", latch on to that, think that means it's the "best", then take their fantasies and make it so the diamond IS the best.

Some vehicles are designed to rigidly hold their shape - their crumple zones are "The other car". However, then, the purpose is for reduced maintenance.

A suit of diamond-scale armor might actually be effective if it weren't for the ludicrous weight and cost - the backing (Either leather or scale) provides the protection, while the scales are small enough to flex and bend with the armor and transfer the force to that protective backing, while protecting it from from cuts and punctures. But diamond plate armor would be terrible.

Spiryt
2014-07-08, 11:45 AM
You mean.. steel? Brittle is an inescapable consequence of hard.
Hard isn't even a property that is worth selecting for for the purpose of the items being discussed, at least not as a primary property. You don't want armor to be "hard", you want it to absorb and punishment instead of passing it through to the wearer. Hardness means no absorption, by its very definition. This is why cars are designed with great care to crumple instead of just rigidly holding their shape.

Well, most armors doesn't have to crumple though, an they DO pass 'punishment' to the wearer, just in significantly less harmful way.

JusticeZero
2014-07-08, 11:53 AM
Well, plated armor works by making it so that instead of being hit with a spearpoint, you get hit by a piece of armor with a spearpoint on the other end. But hardness doesn't actually hep much with that either. the danger isn't so much that the sparpoint will bend its way through that plate as it is that the spearpoint will slide off into the bits in between those plates. That's definitely not something that making the armor harder will help; making the armor harder will make it even more likely that the spearpoint will slide around and find somewhere it shouldn't.

Spiryt
2014-07-08, 12:02 PM
Well, plated armor works by making it so that instead of being hit with a spearpoint, you get hit by a piece of armor with a spearpoint on the other end. But hardness doesn't actually hep much with that either. the danger isn't so much that the sparpoint will bend its way through that plate as it is that the spearpoint will slide off into the bits in between those plates. That's definitely not something that making the armor harder will help; making the armor harder will make it even more likely that the spearpoint will slide around and find somewhere it shouldn't.

Hardness (to some extent) will absolutely help in ensuring that point won't actually puncture plate.

Potential vulnerability is debated thing, but even prying the scale open can be harder (hur) with more hardness.

Provided it's not tying/riveting that fail of course.


Well, plated armor works by making it so that instead of being hit with a spearpoint, you get hit by a piece of armor with a spearpoint on the other end.

Mail works by 'hitting' one with lots of tiy, moving and bouncing rings etc.

Gildedragon
2014-07-08, 12:52 PM
Of course, a setting like D&D is going to have 'improved' diamonds that don't have all those pesky bitterness problems.

Whoa easy there gourmand. One isn't supposed to add enough diamonds to food to make it bitter. It is an expensive spice!

or brittle?
Well adamantine is linguistically related to diamond. So it might as well be a diamond-based metal of some sort...

Fouredged Sword
2014-07-09, 09:24 AM
In the real world, carbon composites work by coating tons of small carbon fibers (basically diamonds in a different configuration, very close to the same carbon bond) with a very tough, but relatively soft material (normally ether an epoxy resin or a tough plastic material). The hard carbon fibers prevent the material from being pierced, while the tough material absorbs the energy of the hit by deforming slightly.

These materials are great from a strength to weight standpoint, but they wear out quickly and do not have the high impact performance of metal armors. The fibers slowly break into smaller and smaller pieces with each hit, and loose their performance quickly.

It is why Kevlar armor is great so long as your opponent doesn't bring a rifle or even a large enough pistol. It has low weight for the amount of damage it can stop for you. There is a limit though, and military grade armor has to be reinforced with ether metal or ceramic plates to really stop a high powered weapon.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-07-09, 11:34 AM
In composites, the fibres provide strength along their longitudinal axis (which is why kevlar in armour is a 2D weave, otherwise bullets would just push the fibres out of the way), and the matrix keeps the fibres together (especially under compression), absorbs some of the load, and protects the fibres from environmental effects.

The matrix doesn't necessarily have to be a "soft" material - you can have Carbon-Carbon composites, Silicon Carbide-Silicon Carbide, SiC-Silicon Nitride and so on - the limits are really what properties you require, your ability to control the manufacture of the item, and the cost (if you needed, say, alumina reinforced with a web of titanium wires or carbon filaments, you could do it, but you'll need very specialised manufacturing facilities and it'll cost you).

Heck, reinforced concrete is a composite material, and I wouldn't call concrete "soft".

However, carbon fibres (and especially carbon nanotubes) are essentially graphite (three C-C bonds in a plane plus a disocciated electron cloud), not diamond (4 C-C bonds in a tetrahedron) - graphite longitudinally is actually quite strong, but the material is soft and weak because there's only electron bonding between the planes.

Diamond armour? You're looking at absolutely perfect, flawless single macro-crystals made from pure carbon atoms, and nothing else, otherwise it will shatter. Even then, you probably need magic to maintain that crystalline structure (there's something recently that carbon nanotubes will self heal by slotting loose carbon atoms into empty slots in the lattice, but that's unlikely to happen deep within a macro-crystal). And you've still got all the straps and joints as weak points.

Jay R
2014-07-09, 12:26 PM
Hardness means it's hard to erode it, not hard to break it.

Cleaving a diamond is done by hammer and chisel. It has to be done carefully to cleave along a plane and not just shatter the diamond.

In short, unless somebody hits your diamond armor just right, it shatters.

(On the other hand, somebody has created a diamond ring. Not a gold ring with diamond on it; a diamond ring.)

http://www.ohgizmo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/diamond3-740x493.jpg

So what magic ring should look like this?

Gildedragon
2014-07-09, 01:16 PM
Well rings of wizardry, elemental command (earth), shooting stars, adamant law, or epic psionics (cause they sure love their shiny rocks in psionics)

Alberic Strein
2014-07-09, 01:24 PM
Glass is also extremely hard, much harder than wood. Introduce a baseball bat to a window and see which one wins.
A major reason why they use steel for swords and armor is because steel is bendy without snapping. Bronze can be very hard, but when it bends, it stays bent. A material which shatters the moment it has to deal with too much force isn't going to be very useful.

Wait what?!

I have litterally seen a bronze sword getting bent, the guy weilding it changing his grip and bending it the other way to strenghten it again.

Isn't it actually steel that once bent stays bent?

The Glyphstone
2014-07-09, 01:27 PM
Wait what?!

I have litterally seen a bronze sword getting bent, the guy weilding it changing his grip and bending it the other way to strenghten it again.

Isn't it actually steel that once bent stays bent?

I think he means in the short term. If bronze bends, it stays bent until someone unbends it. Steel can flex - i.e., bend, then return to its original shape, as long as it's not overstressed.

Sartharina
2014-07-09, 01:35 PM
Wait what?!

I have litterally seen a bronze sword getting bent, the guy weilding it changing his grip and bending it the other way to strenghten it again.

Isn't it actually steel that once bent stays bent?When you whack a bronze sword hard, it bends to accommodate the blow and stays bent until you straighten it again.

When you whack an iron sword hard, it bends to accommodate the blow, then snaps back to its original shape. You can't make springs out of bronze, but you can out of steel.

Alberic Strein
2014-07-09, 01:48 PM
I see! I hadn't considered things from that standpoint.

Well, I learnt something today. Meaning it was a good day.

Broken Crown
2014-07-09, 07:51 PM
Wait what?!

I have litterally seen a bronze sword getting bent, the guy weilding it changing his grip and bending it the other way to strenghten it again.

Isn't it actually steel that once bent stays bent?

Any solid material will spring back into shape unless it is deformed beyond its yield point (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yield_(engineering)); beyond that point the material will stay deformed. For brittle materials (like diamond), the yield strength is also the ultimate tensile strength (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_tensile_strength), so the material will break before it undergoes any permanent deformation.

Note that once the bronze sword was bent, the wielder had to bend it back: It didn't return to its original shape on its own. Even bent back into shape, the bronze would have undergone changes to its crystal structure at the molecular level, in a process called work hardening (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_hardening). (You work a metal, and it gets harder – a process commonly used in the manufacture of plate armour, though obviously useless for diamonds.) To truly return the sword to its original state, you'd have to reforge it.

All the above is also true of steel; steel is just stronger than bronze, so the force required to deform it permanently is higher.

Angelalex242
2014-07-09, 10:06 PM
Well...

In theory, Diamond Armor should be comparable to Adamant Armor.

Perhaps (D&D) Diamond Armor has double the DR of Adamant Armor, but the AC is 1 or 2 point less. Assume it's enchanted to not have the shatter problem. (If all else fails in D&D, a wizard did it.) Does that sound fair?

Jay R
2014-07-09, 11:02 PM
Well...

In theory, Diamond Armor should be comparable to Adamant Armor.

Perhaps (D&D) Diamond Armor has double the DR of Adamant Armor, but the AC is 1 or 2 point less. Assume it's enchanted to not have the shatter problem. (If all else fails in D&D, a wizard did it.) Does that sound fair?

It's a good point. If I wanted to introduce diamond armor, it would be unique, probably an artifact, and have additional properties based on the crystalline structure. Possible any beam attack, like lightning or even light, would be routed around the person inside. It might even reflect it. Somebody in diamond armor can probably walk safely through a Prismatic Cube (in a 2E game, that's what it would had been made for)

da_chicken
2014-07-09, 11:16 PM
Wait what?!

I have litterally seen a bronze sword getting bent, the guy weilding it changing his grip and bending it the other way to strenghten it again.

Isn't it actually steel that once bent stays bent?

I believe he's referring to elasticity or tensile elasticity. Steel is at once hard but not brittle, flexible but still fairly elastic. Steel is more elastic than bronze.

Gamgee
2014-07-10, 02:04 AM
Just use obsidian for a more effective cutting tool and exotic choice. It's brittle though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl

Daishain
2014-07-23, 09:23 AM
A general question for any system or setting. Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man and the only way to process diamonds is by using diamonds, but does this mean in a non-magical setting that using diamonds for armor and weapons would actually work?

I ask because it seems to crop up in many many scifi or fantasy settings and I had the thought that in a more realistic setting diamond armor or weapons wouldn't be as effective. The idea that keeps jumping at me is that harder objects can't absorb impacts the way softer materials can and a diamond weapon would snap in half too easily and Diamond armor wouldn't absorb the kinetic energy from a blow well enough to protect as well as steel or some other derivative.

Am I on the right path? Or would diamond armor and weapon in a semi-real setting be just as "Super Effective!" As could be assumed?
Actually, no it isn't.

There are a dozen or so manmade materials that beat it, some of which make diamond look like pig iron.

It even recently lost its position of hardest naturally occuring material to wurtzite boron nitride (same chemical bond pattern, just boron and nitrogen rather than carbon) and mineral lonsdaleite (also pure carbon, but the chemical bonds are hexagonal rather than cubed) To be fair though, these materials are rare in nature, and not likely to be known to a low tech society.

Also, working with diamonds can indeed be accomplished without using diamonds. It can be tricky, but can be done with simple metal tools of the type found in standard D&D settings. It just takes some precision, and knowledge of how sheer planes lie.

And you are correct about diamond being a poor material for use in arms and armor, barring some specific cases. It is indeed hard, but not particularly strong. If unable to flex and absorb stress, the hardest sword in the universe will still snap under a heavy blow. Likewise, a plate of diamond would have similar issues, and largely fail to absorb kinetic energy, which is the entire point of wearing armor.

Now, where it can come in handy is in combination with other materials and techniques. Instead of making a weapon out of the stuff, line cutting or piercing edges with it. Instead of making a suit of diamond, have small plates, bumbs, bands, rings, etc. of the stuff interspersed with other materials to allow it some give and ability to absorb a blow.

Thing is, there isn't much actual advantage to doing this. There technically is an advantage in terms of how long things last, but the cost of simply replacing/repairing/reforging with standard materials is much less. Edges are are not that much sharper, and due to the limitations, armor not much more protective.

This wouldn't work for fantasy settings, but a weave of carbon nanotubes (diamond's manmade and MUCH stronger cousin) would make incredibly effective armor, among other things. It really is too bad we can't make much of it at a time right now, so many useful applications... But it would make for appropriate near or far future tech material.

Edit: Just thought of something. Bit of interesting history here. Arguably the strongest metal ever produced prior to the industrial age would be damascus or wootz steel (same material, conflicting origin stories). It turns out that the makers somehow caused filaments of carbon nanotubes to form inside the metal. We're still not sure how, given that the means of making the stuff has been lost, and never reproduced. It would not be too far outside the realm of feasibility for this material to be produced as part of a fantasy world.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-07-23, 09:43 AM
I feel like you're all ignoring the most essential attribute of diamond armor.

IT MAKES YOU BLINDINGLY FABULOUS.

I walk out on the battlefield in a suit of diamond armor, I'm gonna be so stunningly stylish that all my enemies will fall down and grovel, immediately apprehensive of their inferiority.

:smallbiggrin:

oxybe
2014-07-23, 10:33 AM
minecraft diamond armor: more expensive then you'd hope, worse defense then you'd think. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KuH0-994Hk)

Mark Hall
2014-07-23, 10:56 AM
I'm disappointed none of you have linked to Schlock Mercenary yet...

http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2000-11-12

Alex12
2014-07-23, 04:35 PM
At least in a magic-using society, you could posit that diamonds are somehow more magically-special than metals, and so are better able to take enchantments. If the other guy has steel armor which can only get a max of a +3 enchantment on it before it explodes violently, and I've got diamond armor which can take a +6 enchantment before blowing up, well, that's a definite advantage. And crystals are much more traditionally magical than iron (which is traditionally very much Not Magical)

Cronocke
2014-07-23, 04:52 PM
To Hell with diamond armor, give me superlatex armor. Give me armor where weapons bounce off of it harmlessly, and anything that would pierce it gets gummed up in it partway through. That's the future armor I'm looking for!

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-07-25, 10:02 AM
I'm disappointed none of you have linked to Schlock Mercenary yet...

http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2000-11-12
:smalleek:

How could I forget?

I am so disappointed in myself.

Jay R
2014-07-26, 02:13 PM
I feel like you're all ignoring the most essential attribute of diamond armor.

IT MAKES YOU BLINDINGLY FABULOUS.

I walk out on the battlefield in a suit of diamond armor, I'm gonna be so stunningly stylish that all my enemies will fall down and grovel, immediately apprehensive of their inferiority.

:smallbiggrin:

Either that, or they all, including your allies, aim directly at the person with the most expensive armor, ignoring any other targets.

Knaight
2014-07-26, 02:35 PM
At least in a magic-using society, you could posit that diamonds are somehow more magically-special than metals, and so are better able to take enchantments. If the other guy has steel armor which can only get a max of a +3 enchantment on it before it explodes violently, and I've got diamond armor which can take a +6 enchantment before blowing up, well, that's a definite advantage. And crystals are much more traditionally magical than iron (which is traditionally very much Not Magical)

That would be a decent way to go about it, though it absolutely depends on one of the effects of the magic being protecting the armor itself in some way - as has been detailed upthread, diamond is extremely brittle.

Coming back to the actual properties - steel is actually an extremely good material for arms and armor, particularly pre-modern equipment. This varies some by alloy - chromium steel would be pretty terrible, the iron-carbon-trace impurities alloy that saw heavy historical use is really quite effective, something like tungsten steel could probably work well for armor, etc. How the steel is treated is also a very major factor, with air cooled equipment generally being vastly inferior, but even with the variability of these taken into account, steel has proven itself effective. There's the flexibility, the hardness, the minimal brittleness, so on and so forth, and it tends to just work well.

In short - steel is still a modern material, it still sees a lot of use, and in this particular field it is still highly competitive. It could easily still be the best option. Other materials that got used in armor could stand replacement - there are a number of modern options for padding under armor that are better than historical materials, particularly regarding breathability, not getting waterlogged, etc - some of the higher density foams in conjunction with highly breathable synthetic fabrics could potentially work really well, and that's just one option - but they'd probably still end up under steel.

Cronocke
2014-07-26, 02:52 PM
That would be a decent way to go about it, though it absolutely depends on one of the effects of the magic being protecting the armor itself in some way - as has been detailed upthread, diamond is extremely brittle.

Coming back to the actual properties - steel is actually an extremely good material for arms and armor, particularly pre-modern equipment. This varies some by alloy - chromium steel would be pretty terrible, the iron-carbon-trace impurities alloy that saw heavy historical use is really quite effective, something like tungsten steel could probably work well for armor, etc. How the steel is treated is also a very major factor, with air cooled equipment generally being vastly inferior, but even with the variability of these taken into account, steel has proven itself effective. There's the flexibility, the hardness, the minimal brittleness, so on and so forth, and it tends to just work well.

In short - steel is still a modern material, it still sees a lot of use, and in this particular field it is still highly competitive. It could easily still be the best option. Other materials that got used in armor could stand replacement - there are a number of modern options for padding under armor that are better than historical materials, particularly regarding breathability, not getting waterlogged, etc - some of the higher density foams in conjunction with highly breathable synthetic fabrics could potentially work really well, and that's just one option - but they'd probably still end up under steel.

The thought has occurred to me in the past - what if "mithral" is just the setting-equivalent term for what we would call some alloy of titanium, aluminium, and the like?

Spiryt
2014-07-26, 03:05 PM
- chromium steel would be pretty terrible, the iron-carbon-trace impurities alloy that saw heavy historical use is really quite effective, something like tungsten steel could probably work well for armor, etc..

Actually, it seems that while most 'basic' chromium based stainless alloys are indeed pretty terrible, there are some really impressive, expensive ones being made, that are pretty tough.

It seems that polish wz.34 saber was being made mainly from chromium-silicone steel, and they were famous for passing some rigorous impact/mechanical tests.

Knaight
2014-07-26, 07:19 PM
The thought has occurred to me in the past - what if "mithral" is just the setting-equivalent term for what we would call some alloy of titanium, aluminium, and the like?

Steel is a flat out better material than titanium or aluminum for pre-modern weapons and armor, with the notable exception of the use of aluminum (or titanium) as a wood substitute, such as in arrows. Titanium is significantly weaker than steel by volume, and even stronger titanium alloys would make sub-par armor, though still quite effective.

Also, to Spiryt - I should have clarified better that I was referring specifically to the more basic ones, though chromium-silicon and just chromium are pretty distinct.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-07-28, 12:11 PM
Either that, or they all, including your allies, aim directly at the person with the most expensive armor, ignoring any other targets.
Don't rain on my fabulousness. :smalltongue:

Fouredged Sword
2014-07-30, 10:58 AM
Titanium alloys also have the nasty side problem that they powder when they break, and in doing so cause a cloud of oxidizing metal and gas, IE a fireball. It's not a major problem with most applications because it takes a high energy hit to set off, but you don't see titanium plates in body armor for a reason.

Leviting
2014-07-30, 07:41 PM
Titanium alloys also have the nasty side problem that they powder when they break, and in doing so cause a cloud of oxidizing metal and gas, IE a fireball. It's not a major problem with most applications because it takes a high energy hit to set off, but you don't see titanium plates in body armor for a reason.

No worse than Osmium, which, when reduced to a powder, forms Osmium Tetroxide, a highly toxic gas. Also, I'm pretty sure that Osmium is the hardest non-alloyed metal, though I haven't checked in a while.

Anachronity
2014-07-30, 09:41 PM
I would say that Diamond armor would give very high damage reduction against slashing and piercing, but that it wouldn't against bludgeoning and, furthermore, that it would take the same damage from bludgeoning attacks that the wearer suffers.

If you want more exotic rules that are more in line with what other armor does, maybe give it a high AC but only against slashing and piercing damage?

Either way I wouldn't let it stack with other armor bonuses.

Knaight
2014-07-31, 12:58 AM
I would say that Diamond armor would give very high damage reduction against slashing and piercing, but that it wouldn't against bludgeoning and, furthermore, that it would take the same damage from bludgeoning attacks that the wearer suffers.

While diamond armor would protect against a draw cut, plenty of "slashing" involves a decent impact. With something as brittle as diamond, that would likely shatter it.

Cronocke
2014-07-31, 01:19 AM
While diamond armor would protect against a draw cut, plenty of "slashing" involves a decent impact. With something as brittle as diamond, that would likely shatter it.

Yeah, if anything (non-magical) diamond would be more useful for its other properties besides hardness - such as how well it resists acid compared to other materials, or how well it insulates against heat or cold. None of which I know off hand.

Fouredged Sword
2014-07-31, 11:31 AM
It wouldn't resist heat or cold well. In fact, it would have a tendency to ignite and burn when hit by high intensity flames. Then you are basically wrapped in a burning tomb of coal.

Alex12
2014-07-31, 12:13 PM
It wouldn't resist heat or cold well. In fact, it would have a tendency to ignite and burn when hit by high intensity flames. Then you are basically wrapped in a burning tomb of coal.

Furthermore, it's crystal, so using standard D&D logic, it probably wouldn't do well against sonic attacks.

On to the positives. Obviously, it's not metal, so effects keyed to metal (Heat Metal for example) wouldn't work on it, and certain effects that gain bonuses against metal wouldn't gain those bonuses. A kineticist firing an Electrical Energy Ray at the diamond armor-wearing BSF wouldn't get the +3 bonus.
You might also be able to argue that it could have some kind of ray deflection abilities.

Sartharina
2014-07-31, 12:45 PM
I never understood how Electrical/lightning damage was supposed to be effective against someone encased in an insulating suit from a grounded metal shell.