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Thread: Fantasy Arms & Armour Scrutinized

  1. #1
    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    Fantasy Arms & Armour Scrutinized

    Do you have observations of your own or links to videos or articles dealing with fantasy armament or armour seen through a realistic utility lense rather than stylistic? Share here!

    A metalworker's look on fantasy armour suits

    Quote Originally Posted by On Arthas' Armour
    The statement this armor makes: You really, really like death. As in, you alone rule over legions of the undead, all from the comfort of the Frozen Throne. Also, you have no qualms wearing metal plating in sub-zero temperatures, and your helmet doubles as a radio antenna or tuning fork in a pinch.

    Should you wear it in a fight? No, unless you want your neck snapped. "Any time you put structures up on the helmet, that gives me a good handhold to grab it and twist your head right off your neck," says Johnson. "It's just leverage; if there's any way to hit that, grab it, push it, your head isn't strong enough to stop that from happening."
    Now, what does this say of big hat Chaos Dwarfs? Suicidally stylish or too thick-necked to break?

    Helmet crests are not such a huge disadvantage in and of themselves, though. If you're within reach of grabbing your opponent's helmet, they're likely down or dead already.

    Lethal breast armour

  2. #2

    Re: Fantasy Arms & Armour Scrutinized

    Well, "realistically" is kind of a difficult concept when dealing with fantasy. For example, Dwarf Armor likely wouldn't work for humans but it apparently works on Dwarves because they're supposed to have a different build. In that sense it is realistic; however the very idea of Dwarves is not. That means a designer can pretty much give the armor any design he wants and still has it count as "realistic", in the confines of the setting. Also many of the more exotic types of armor, like Elf armor, are usually supposedly made with materials and/or enchantments unknown to us, making it difficult to measure their realism. This is just a conundrum I want to point out.

    It has been pointed out often that GW weapons are grossly oversized for stylistic purposes. While Chaos Warriors and Orcs might get away with wielding weapons their own size, most Empire euipment might actually be pretty impractical under realistic conditions, down to their humongous helm/hat feathers.

    There is one point of interest that has always fascinated me, which is the evolution of armor. Armor has constantly changed shape during the centuries, presumably to adjust for different purposes. Sadly I have next to no knowledge in the field, so I'm kind of useless in this discussion. However it has often been noted that there seems to be a rather big technological gap between the Empire and Bretonnia. This is also reflected and in fact most obvious in the different styles of armor they wear. Bretonnians wear kind of an old-fashioned, medieval type of armor, while Empire Knights wear a more modern type. That, however, probably ultimately means that Bretonnians wear a style of armor that has long fallen out of use in the more advanced Empire. This leaves several questions that I am unfortunately unable to answer, like

    a) Why are Bretonnians wearing outdated armor? (aside from stylistic/traditional reasons)
    b) Why did they not evolve or adopt the more advanced style of armor, which is not in contradiction with their chivalry?
    c) Are there maybe advantages that the medieval armor might have over the modern armor? Like, for example, that it is more useful against the kinds of danger one would face in the Warhammer world as opposed to the real world? For example Bretonnians have a long history of making war against Greenskins and perhaps against the types of weapons employed by these foes the medieval style offers more protection?

    These are just a few thoughts I had.
    Last edited by Ultimate Life Form; 19-03-2017 at 15:51.

  3. #3
    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    Re: Fantasy Arms & Armour Scrutinized

    Enchantments, magic and Daemonforging do indeed level the field of believability if one was to scrutinize things this way, just like advanced high technology would do for seemingly improbable science fiction armour suits. Starcraft runs with this according to a friend of my, by explaining that humans are locked down and unable to move in Terran Marine armour when the armour's motor systems are inactive.

    The concept of a fantasy Dwarf or Elf or Orc isn't much unrealistic, though, and neither are their armour in and of itself (the form the armour take is another thing). By and large they're subject to the same physical laws as real creatures and even sport the comfortably familiar antropomorphic forms, so the leap of imagination is minimal. There's also been some historical armour suits and especially helmet crests and large decorations which wasn't much of a disadvantage.

    As for Bretonnia, outside the background itself it is just down to a willingness to mix various historical periods into a neat fantasy experience (in fact I think GW should have gone farther, with more ancient and Dark Ages stuff). Most fantasy worlds also tend to contain quite unchanging cultures adhering strictly to some iconic set of institutions, beliefs, military doctrines, technology and aesthetics. In the real world, you tend to become more alike those you constantly encounter in the long run, picking up some of their ideas, words, styles, technologies and most certainly their better military ways (because competition in war is vicious, and abstaining from mimicking a succesful foe can get you eradicated from the map of powerplayers). Fantasy cultures are as a rule much more monolithic with tight walls between each other, than is the case in reality.

    Had it been otherwise, then Bretonnia would have picked up much of the Empire's superior equipment and tactics a long time ago. Disastrous defeats in war tend to have that effect, if nothing else. Now, the Lady and her blessing play a huge role and Bretonnian tactics must generally be sufficient to tackle all likely foes (massed archery do work well against lightly armoured or unarmoured handgunners, given the latter's slow reload time and shorter range), and one would suppose Bretonnia and its priestly types and nobility to consciously reject the degenerate impious merchant and mercenary types so prevalent in the Empire, Tilea and Estalia which surrounds Bretonnia. There's probably religious and legal bans on gunpowder weaponry (akin to the Pope's completely impotent ban on crossbows in the Middle Ages) and one would expect Warhammer roleplay and suchlike to feature smuggling operations in Bretonnian harbour cities revolving around this rejection of the outside world and its newfangled technologies. Amish style countrywide?

    Earlier Medieval armour have its strengths, but generally later Medieval armour suits are superior in every regard. See the evolution of armour through the Middle Ages. However, the later suits are much more expensive and requires large-scale manufactories to produce plate and lots of masterful armoursmiths to make the excessively mobile and fully protecting armour suits. No better fully-protecting yet agile armour suits have ever been made in human history than the highly expensive full plate knight suits forged in western Europe during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Moderns cannot truly replicate the full finesse of the old masters' finer works.

    Earlier medieval armour isn't completely chanceless against later armour (and obviously you'd see something of a hodgepodge mix on the battlefield, with armour suits and parts being handed down the generations between the costly new purchases), and anyway the one who can ambush, flank or topple his opponent will always be at a huge advantage no matter the equipment of the one at a disadvantage. Warhammer deals in iconic styles to make each faction unique and memorable. Had it even been a little less so, then you would expect to see some more advanced plate armour suits in the chivalric hosts of Bretonnia, even if only in a small minority of rich nobles importing their suits from outside or buying from the very best native armoursmiths.

    Of course, I don't wish to disenchant the magic with fictive settings by starting this thread. Everyone loves their favourite styles and races, how unlikely they might seem. This is just to point out some practicalities on the sideline, for lightehearted educational reasons and provide a little more grounding in real history in a time when modern fantasy settings have moved away from the historical inspiration basis more and more.

  4. #4

    Re: Fantasy Arms & Armour Scrutinized

    I used to love Starcraft because it was very realistic, for a science fiction setting at least. In the first game, great pains were taken to design the units and their background in a way to make them seem plausible. The only grain of "magic" in the mix was the psionic abilities of both Zerg and Protoss, and surprisingly Terrans, which was attributed to a very recent change in the human genome.

    Unfortunately, this is no longer true as Blizzard and Chris Metzen decided to crank silliness up to eleven in their games in order to appeal to mobile game audiences, leading to Terran "Transformers" technology, Zerg being "evolved" (= forced into a random new shape) instantaneously over a span of multiple lightyears without any interaction whatsoever, hitherto isolated Primal Zerg apparently speaking flawless English with their monstrous muzzles, and Protoss conveniently being able to do whatever the mission requires.

    Just compare Diablo III armor to Diablo II armor and you get the picture. The designers even said they deliberately made the Barabarian armor so that he could accidentally impale himself on it. That's some great protection there folks.

    The less said about Blizzard the better.

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