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    Default Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Comrade Gorby: This thread is a resource for getting information about real life weapons and armor. Normally this thread would be in Friendly Banter, but the concept has always been that the information is for RPG players and DMs so they can use it to make their games better.

    The original thread was started by Eric the Mad, and included contributions from many posters for both questions and answers. Once that thread hit critical mass, Version II began, followed by Version III, and naturally Version IV and Version V. Welcome to Mk. VI.

    A few rules for this thread:
    • This thread is for asking questions about how weapons and armor really work. As such, it's not going to include game rule statistics. If you have such a question, especially if it stems from an answer or question in this thread, feel free to start a new thread and include a link back to here. If you do ask a rule question here, you'll be asked to move it elsewhere, and then we'll be happy to help out with it.
    • Any weapon or time period is open for questions. Medieval and ancient warfare questions seem to predominate, but since there are many games set in other periods as well, feel free to ask about any weapon. This includes futuristic ones - but be aware that these will be likely assessed according to their real life feasibility. Thus, phasers, for example, will be talked about in real-world science and physics terms rather than the Star Trek canon. If you want to discuss a fictional weapon from a particular source according to the canonical explanation, please start a new thread for it.
    • Please try to cite your claims if possible. If you know of a citation for a particular piece of information, please include it. However, everyone should be aware that sometimes even the experts don't agree, so it's quite possible to have two conflicting answers to the same question. This isn't a problem; the asker of the question can examine the information and decide which side to go with. The purpose of the thread is to provide as much information as possible. Debates are fine, but be sure to keep it a friendly debate (even if the experts can't!).
    • No modern real-world political discussion. As the great Carl von Clausevitz once said, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means," so poltics and war are heavily intertwined. However, politics are a big hot-button issue and one banned on these boards, so avoid political analysis if at all possible (this thread is primarily about military hardware). There's more leeway on this for anything prior to about 1800, but be very careful with all of it, and anything past 1900 is surely not open for analysis. (I know these are arbitrary dates, but any dates would be, and I feel these ones are reasonable.)
    • No graphic descriptions. War is violent, dirty, and horrific, and anyone discussing it should be keenly aware of that. However, on this board graphic descriptions of violence (or sexuality) are not allowed, so please avoid them.


    With that done, have at, and enjoy yourselves!


    The first six posts that follow were copied over from Mk IV.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    I can't see amy posts from the previous thread.

    Stephen E

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Heh; that will be because the text indicating that there are some refers to Thread IV, and we would want posts from Thread V.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    To start this one off, I am aware that in medieval combat, taking enemy knights captive was a big part of the fight. I usually see references to people being pulled from their horses. So I am curious how one would force somebody in a suit of plate armor to surrender, and how pulling them from their horse would be so helpful (I assume that such prevents them from escaping).
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Shouldn't be to hard to force an armored knight to surrender. They aren't tanks afterall. They are likely to be quite beat up after a fight, and if their horse is dead they'll be on foot. Knights are far more mobile than typically portrayed in fiction, but they do have problems.

    First is a limited field of vision, unless they take of the helmet. This means they can either be blindsided and knocked down, then you can sit on them (as well as you can anybody really). Or they take the helmet off and you can brain them. Or you find one wounded and weak and pin him that way.

    The advantage the footman has is numbers usually, which is mitigated by the knight being mounted and mobile..remove that, and they're still dangerous, but can be overwhelmed.

    As for unhorsing them, that was one of the main purposes of many infantry pole arms IIRC, along with being can openers on the end of a ten foot pole :) so the typical footman could actually do something to them.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    I read somewhere that when Cromwell started equipping his troops with weapons paid for by the Government this was a major advance. But didn't the Romans and Eygptions others do this before?

    Also how were Seljuk armies organized.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    The roman empire was about as advanced as people in the 19th century, except that they didn't have steam power.
    But I'd say in society and politics, they were on an equal level.
    Though there are lots of problems with the term, it's called "Dark Ages" for a reason.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    I read somewhere that when Cromwell started equipping his troops with weapons paid for by the Government this was a major advance. But didn't the Romans and Eygptions others do this before?
    Yes, but like democracy, concrete and so many other things, it wasn't applied in Europe again untill more modern times. Heck, regularly paying a standing army was only re-invented not to long before that.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by SaiphSDC View Post

    First is a limited field of vision, unless they take of the helmet. This means they can either be blindsided and knocked down, then you can sit on them (as well as you can anybody really). Or they take the helmet off and you can brain them. Or you find one wounded and weak and pin him that way.
    One should remember, that knights really often were wearing perfectly open helmets from IX to XV century EDIT: XVI century too, I guess. Maciejowski Bible shows us a lot of knight in open normans, or even mail hoods.

    In earlier ages there weren't any closed options really. And from about half of the XIV century, neat bascinets with visors begin to appear, which allow you to "switch" between open and fully protecting helmet with hand motion.

    Later closed helmets are usually well adjusted (particullary armets) and one have nice static visor to look trough.

    Barrel helmets would be probably worst, since they're a bit "loose" on the head, but some better adjusted examples weren't probably so bad either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thane of Fife View Post
    To start this one off, I am aware that in medieval combat, taking enemy knights captive was a big part of the fight. I usually see references to people being pulled from their horses. So I am curious how one would force somebody in a suit of plate armor to surrender, and how pulling them from their horse would be so helpful (I assume that such prevents them from escaping).
    If someone's laying on the ground, dropped violently from horse, and you stand above him with something "convincing", he would better surrender, armor or not.

    Or your man at arms just grab him, tie him and take him. People are always wonder about strikes etc, forgetting that armor doesn't help THAT much, when few people want to just drop you and immobilize you.

    I would certainly assume that taking prisoner was NOT happening in the middle of biggest bashing.
    Last edited by Spiryt; 2009-09-12 at 10:49 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    The idea of troops equipped by the country is very old: for example, Sparta's soldiers were equipped by the city.

    But, during the middle ages, the factories that once produced weapons for the Roman soldiers were lost and closed.

    Actually, even in the late middle agese there were Italian troops equipped by the city.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    I read somewhere that when Cromwell started equipping his troops with weapons paid for by the Government this was a major advance. But didn't the Romans and Eygptions others do this before?

    Also how were Seljuk armies organized.
    Depends what do you meean about "paid by goverment".

    Roman soldiers in "classic" times ( I BC ~ 3 AD) were buying their equipment from their own money (though of course, most of this money came from their their pay, at least until some loot wasn't involved). So goverment wasn't really paying for arms itself.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Depends what do you meean about "paid by goverment".

    Roman soldiers in "classic" times ( I BC ~ 3 AD) were buying their equipment from their own money (though of course, most of this money came from their their pay, at least until some loot wasn't involved). So goverment wasn't really paying for arms itself.
    But the late empire did. ;)

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by FeAnPi View Post
    But the late empire did. ;)
    Well, I don't really know, all I heard is that there are rather few cluess about scale of production " in mass fabricae".
    Last edited by Spiryt; 2009-09-12 at 10:19 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    It'd be like saying that the world government supplied all PC owners with microsoft software. ;)
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    Also how were Seljuk armies organized.
    Perhaps take a look at this?
    Last edited by Thane of Fife; 2009-09-12 at 10:37 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Well, I don't really know, all I heard is that there are rather few cluess about scale of production " in mass fabricae".
    Well, I've just finished two books about the subject and belive me, there are clues, and the production lasted -according to some sources- till the early Ostrogoths years.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    The roman empire was about as advanced as people in the 19th century, except that they didn't have steam power.
    But I'd say in society and politics, they were on an equal level.
    Though there are lots of problems with the term, it's called "Dark Ages" for a reason.
    Hmm. Me, I disagree, I'd say 18th century. By the middle of the 19th century, I'd say that people had come up with some social and political innovations that genuinely worked better than their Roman counterparts, at least for certain specialized purposes. The Roman system left a lot to be desired in some ways; among other things it stank at civilian control of the military.

    Also, even if you remove steam engines, by the 19th century things like water power had advanced to the point where mechanical technology and manufacturing were beyond what the Romans had...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    I read somewhere that when Cromwell started equipping his troops with weapons paid for by the Government this was a major advance. But didn't the Romans and Eygptions others do this before?
    ...but yeah, Cromwell's establishment of a national arsenal with government-funded weapons was a major advance by the standards of England at the time, not by global standards. And England was relatively backwards at the time- not by a large margin, but enough that they were less organized than, say, France or Sweden. This was before the English became the prosperous powerhouse they were in the 1700s.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Nitpick: Steam power was already known at roman times - they just didn't put much effort in developing it, because they had lots of slaves doing their work. Besides, they probably didn't have the skill in metallurgy and precision manufacturing to build industrialisation-style engines anyway.
    If you just look at it in terms of "good ideas", very little happened after the end of the ancient greek up until industrialisation. But they got a lot better in doing the stuff they already knew, allowing all those good ideas to be useful.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    me and a friend is arguing about sword sizes.

    What is the biggest sword a big, strong and healthy soldier can effectively use in different combat situations?
    (think REALLY big here)

    prove me right here, guys. ;P

    Right, and now we apparently need PROOF to whatever claim you make.
    Last edited by Shademan; 2009-09-12 at 03:36 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    I read somewhere that when Cromwell started equipping his troops with weapons paid for by the Government this was a major advance. But didn't the Romans and Egyptians others do this before?
    It is a matter of scale, really. Even in decentralised polities war leaders tend to supply their troops with equipment, and on a varying scale. What happened in Cromwell's England is that the New Model Army was being entirely equipped by a central authority, which says more about the changing power and character of government than it really does about military reform.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Though there are lots of problems with the term, it's called "Dark Ages" for a reason.
    Mainly because of a distinct lack of historical written sources describing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shademan View Post
    me and a friend is arguing about sword sizes.

    What is the biggest sword a big, strong and healthy soldier can effectively use in different combat situations?
    (think REALLY big here)

    prove me right here, guys. ;P

    Right, and now we apparently need PROOF to whatever claim you make.
    if you have not already, see The Weighty Issue of Two-Handed Great Swords.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2009-09-12 at 04:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    thank you, matthew. I think this will be sufficient.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    For reference, I really think this thread should be stickied.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rasilak View Post
    Nitpick: Steam power was already known at roman times - they just didn't put much effort in developing it, because they had lots of slaves doing their work. Besides, they probably didn't have the skill in metallurgy and precision manufacturing to build industrialisation-style engines anyway.
    I'd hesitate to call an aeolipile a 'real' steam engine, because "engine" implies a machine that can do and does useful work. Aeolipiles are difficult to harness. However, this may be a No True Scotsman thing.

    In any event the key point is that the kind of steam power that made the nineteenth century so weird by historical standards was not known in classical times, even if devices that employed steam for power existed. There's a difference between a locomotive and an aeolipile, and I think it's big enough to be a difference in kind and not of degree.
    ________

    If you just look at it in terms of "good ideas", very little happened after the end of the ancient greek up until industrialisation. But they got a lot better in doing the stuff they already knew, allowing all those good ideas to be useful.
    I feel that in many cases, getting better at stuff you already know requires good ideas. Inventing the camshaft or tool steel good enough to be used to turn metal on a lathe is as much a good idea as "Hey, what if I stick a couple of nozzles on a boiler to show how powerful wind can be?"
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gorbash Kazdar View Post

    The original thread was started by Eric the Mad, and included contributions from many posters for both questions and answers. Once that thread hit critical mass, Version II began, followed by Version III, and naturally Version IV and Version V. Welcome to Mk. VI.
    The links for versions I - IV aren't working for me. It looks like the first three are linking to the old board (YaBB.pl) and the fourth has a blank url. Are these available anymore, or have they been lost to the ages?
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    The links for versions I - IV aren't working for me. It looks like the first three are linking to the old board (YaBB.pl) and the fourth has a blank url. Are these available anymore, or have they been lost to the ages?
    Most are available, one fell victim to the thread purge, but an html copy was saved. Thread V contains links to threads I-IV somewhere... [edit] Ah, try here.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2009-09-14 at 11:06 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Hi, I have a sword question. Now, I like to think that I'm pretty good on swords, and I know my falchions from my tulwars, but this has forever puzzled me. Can anyone help?

    Note: It's longer than it looks in that pic; definitely not a shortsword.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Can you give diemensions.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    On another forum I'm roleplaying as the wãli (viceroi) of Egypt around 1840. I'm looking to improve my navy but I'm rather ignorant on the matter in real life and my limited research hasn't been very succesful.

    What were the most important naval advancements in the mid 19th century?

    Thanks in advance
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBibliophile View Post
    Hi, I have a sword question. Now, I like to think that I'm pretty good on swords, and I know my falchions from my tulwars, but this has forever puzzled me. Can anyone help?

    Note: It's longer than it looks in that pic; definitely not a shortsword.
    Never have seen anything like, that, especially fuller like that or such "guard".

    However, from what I can see, it's from Zelda, so it's most certainly not based on anything.

    If character wields it in one hand, just call it "sword", if in two,longsword or bastard sword can be pretty OK too.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI

    English Longbow vs. French armor during the Hundred years war.

    Terrain and longbow were hideously effective for the English of course. However given the three most known battles where it played a big factor: Crecy, Poiters, and Agincort, what kinds of armor were the French using, and how effective was it vs. the Longbow.

    The knights obviously had some different armor than the footmen. As of Agincort the French were able to make to the English lines but were pretty much useless due to terrain and pounding by arrows. Accounts say they got there pretty much intact whereas from my understanding from Crecy accounts it was pretty much wholesale pincushioning.

    Even with well made plate armor, the sheer amount of arrows is going to likely put some in the mail areas or even the visor. Also, at what range if any could a longbow punch through the plate providing it landed square enough to not be deflected?

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