Lightweight metal armor?

Hello again! I have another question for the community. As I have said in another thread, I am designing my own gaming system. One problem I've been having a particularly hard time trying to solve lately is in developing a society for a race which will appear in the game (the race is unique for a few reasons; it is not the race discussed in my previous thread, in case you're wondering). While I've got a lot of the functional aspects of this society down, I'm having an extremely hard time deciding on aesthetics. In particular, I have an unfinished drawing of an "individual" of the race (individual is in quotes because they're a two-headed race, and as such each body is actually two people), and I have no idea how their armor and clothing should look.

As already stated, the race is two-headed, so that will have some impact on the look of the armor, but not much. The race itself isn't particularly strong, though also not particularly weak; a lot of their advantages in combat would come from their instinctive abilities. So the obvious type of armor would be leather or something similar right? Wrong. Long ago, this race had been forced to live underground. I'm no zoologist or botanist, but I don't imagine there'd be a lot of animals or plants useful for making clothing underground. Being underground would, however, give them a lot of access to metal deposits; thus, their clothing and armor would consist mostly of metal.

I'm no armorer, but I've always thought of metal armor as cumbersome and heavy, and thus not as good for a warrior who relies on reflexes and such. So I'm wondering: what type of mostly or entirely metal armor, if any, is considered "lightweight" while still providing protection?

And yes, I do realize that some form of padding would be needed underneath the armor. It would probably be made from something along the lines of bat hides or the hides of any animals that would have found their way into the caves. There wouldn't be much to go around, though, so the padding would probably be less than what was used in real life.
 
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Derren

Adventurer
That metal armor is heavy and sluggish is a urban myth. A well made plate mail is likely more flexible than hardened leather.

Some videos about that:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqC_squo6X4]How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems - YouTube[/ame]
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S_Q3CGqZmg&feature=related]Gladiatoria : Part 1/6 : Swordfight in Armour : Hammaborg - YouTube[/ame]

The most flexible metal armor would probably be (chain) mail. As it is a mesh of interwoven metal rings it is very flexible (more flexible than any leather armor). And it makes quite good armor (not so much clothing though) against axes and swords. It is rather bad against arrows and spears though.
 
I see... Thanks for the correction regarding the restrictiveness on metal armor. Before I thought to ask the EN World community, I was actually thinking of giving them primarily lamellar-style armor (I know you didn't mention it in your post, but I thought I'd ask about it anyway), which I've heard is basically an improvement on scale. I noticed in most pictures that there's a type of string keeping the lamellar scales together. Given the race's relative supplies of metal versus softer material, would it theoretically be effective to replace the string with metal links?
 

Ed_Laprade

Adventurer
I see... Thanks for the correction regarding the restrictiveness on metal armor. Before I thought to ask the EN World community, I was actually thinking of giving them primarily lamellar-style armor (I know you didn't mention it in your post, but I thought I'd ask about it anyway), which I've heard is basically an improvement on scale. I noticed in most pictures that there's a type of string keeping the lamellar scales together. Given the race's relative supplies of metal versus softer material, would it theoretically be effective to replace the string with metal links?
Lamellar with links was used (pretty much anything that could be used for armor was, including things like sharkskin). It wouldn't be quite as good as tightly threaded types, probably, but pretty good. Not a bad choice for what you have in mind, I think.

Have you considered that they would be making thread and clothing from mushrooms and such? After all, they have to eat something, and you can make thread/string/rope out of any fibrous material. (Even duct tape, as the Mythbusters have shown!)
 
Have you considered that they would be making thread and clothing from mushrooms and such? After all, they have to eat something, and you can make thread/string/rope out of any fibrous material. (Even duct tape, as the Mythbusters have shown!)
Though I didn't say it before, yes, they do primarily eat fungus. I hardly know much of anything about fungus, though; I've always just assumed that materials taken from fungus would be too weak and wouldn't last long enough to be of much use in armor. Searching on Yahoo! Search for information regarding "fungus fibers" isn't really helpful, as I just fund out while taking a break from typing this post to do exactly that. Perhaps you or someone else could enlighten me?
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
There are a few things to remember about armor:
  • It is the best defense to the weapons beginning used - in game terms, this means it will try to nullify damage. If it does, that means the race has advantage over their foes.
  • It is going to be limited by the tech level available - having access to all the metal in the world does not help if you can not smelt and craft it. Getting a fire and furnace hot enough: Cast Iron is 2200 degrees, Wrought Iron is 2700, Steel is 2500, Tungsten is 6150, Bass & Bronze at 1700. Then you have to have a way to mass produce things like links.
  • It is going to be limited by the cost -

I say Splinted Mail - plates on leather or cloth to protect areas of the body. Another choice is laminated armor, which can be made of plant fibers.
 
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That metal armor is heavy and sluggish is a urban myth. A well made plate mail is likely more flexible than hardened leather.

Some videos about that:
How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems - YouTube
Gladiatoria : Part 1/6 : Swordfight in Armour : Hammaborg - YouTube

The most flexible metal armor would probably be (chain) mail. As it is a mesh of interwoven metal rings it is very flexible (more flexible than any leather armor). And it makes quite good armor (not so much clothing though) against axes and swords. It is rather bad against arrows and spears though.
A couple of items to think about, though are that the well crafted custom armor shown is constructed with modern steel, which is both lighter and stronger than the metal of the time in which that kind of armor was designed, and the expense and thus rarity of that kind of armor wouldn't make it a very plausible choice for an entire society to wear all the time.
 

Derren

Adventurer
A couple of items to think about, though are that the well crafted custom armor shown is constructed with modern steel
The armor shown at the end of the first clip (40 minutes in) with its focus on flexibility is an original armor. So no, its not because of "modern made lightweight steel" that plate armor is flecible but because they were designed to be so.

wouldn't make it a very plausible choice for an entire society to wear all the time
No society would wear armor all the time no matter from what it is made.
 
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The armor shown at the end of the first clip (40 minutes in) with its focus on flexibility is an original armor. So no, its not because of "modern made lightweight steel" that plate armor is flecible but because they were designed to be so.
The flexibility is certainly ruled largely by design, but the materials available matter a whole lot when it comes to protective value to weight ratios.


No society would wear armor all the time.
Not at all, but what kind of economy would be required to support entire armies wearing armor that took that kind of effort and skill to make?
 

Derren

Adventurer
Not at all, but what kind of economy would be required to support entire armies wearing armor that took that kind of effort and skill to make?
The kind of economy which existed dozens of times in the real world medieval period where you had your unarmored levies and various degrees of metal armor depending on the wealth of the owner.
 
So, given the what I'm interpreting as the general idea that armor would be expensive and uncommon even if a society had a lot of metal to make it from, I guess the next question would be about what sort of other materials would be available in caves to make clothing from. There was mention of fungus as a source of fibrous material, though there was no elaboration on that. Chitin was also mentioned, though I'm not sure how good that would be for clothing. Hides of small mammals that live underground might be good, but only in quantities large enough to make up for their small size.
 

Derren

Adventurer
So, given the what I'm interpreting as the general idea that armor would be expensive and uncommon even if a society had a lot of metal to make it from
That only depends on the industrial capabilities. Metal armor can be and indeed was mass produced.
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
So, given the what I'm interpreting as the general idea that armor would be expensive and uncommon even if a society had a lot of metal to make it from, I guess the next question would be about what sort of other materials would be available in caves to make clothing from. There was mention of fungus as a source of fibrous material, though there was no elaboration on that. Chitin was also mentioned, though I'm not sure how good that would be for clothing. Hides of small mammals that live underground might be good, but only in quantities large enough to make up for their small size.
A lot of plant fiber is just extracted by pealing it off the plant skin in strips. Those strips are then woven into a design, to harden it you can use the sap of another plant (note: old tanners use brains and pee to tan hides). So, if I just created a number of two by two squares and then linked them together, I could have a very flexable outfit. China once had armor of folded paper that was laminated, used by the common troops, it only lasted for so many battles but it was good enough to stop one to five attacks from arrows and swords.

You also have bone - wear the dead! There is a way, soaking them in something that then allows them to be shaped, it then hardens them. Add to this another laminate and you could have a good armor base.

As far as Chitin goes, hollow out and wear. You can also add a laminate to it. One of those "how to make it in the wild" shows have the guy strip the skin from a dead seal and put it on like a wet suit! :eek: Same theory applies with Chitin, not too flexable but can be done. What I see being done is the Chitin makes the plates of the armor. Gaint spider and cave crabs can be the supply source and also a food source.
 
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A lot of plant fiber is just extracted by pealing it off the plant skin in strips. Those strips are then woven into a design, to harden it you can use the sap of another plant (note: old tanners use brains and pee to tan hides). So, if I just created a number of two by two squares and then linked them together, I could have a very flexable outfit. China once had armor of folded paper that was laminated, used by the common troops, it only lasted for so many battles but it was good enough to stop one to five attacks from arrows and swords.

You also have bone - wear the dead! There is a way, soaking them in something that then allows them to be shaped, it then hardens them. Add to this another laminate and you could have a good armor base.

As far as Chitin goes, hollow out and wear. You can also add a laminate to it. One of those "how to make it in the wild" shows have the guy strip the skin from a dead seal and put it on like a wet suit! :eek: Same theory applies with Chitin, not too flexable but can be done. What I see being done is the Chitin makes the plates of the armor. Gaint spider and cave crabs can be the supply source and also a food source.
Somehow, I don't think you (or the others, for that matter) get why I posted what you quoted in the first place, or why this thread exists at all. The original problem which warranted this thread was that this race, being forced underground long ago, has little access to any material other than metal and minerals, so they'd be forced to wear mostly metal not only for their armor, but for their clothing as well, using what little they had for softer materials as padding to prevent discomfort. They'd have adequate smelting technology from before the time they were forced underground for that purpose, as implied by the fact that they'd be using metal at all. I was originally asking how they'd be able to make metal armor and clothing light enough for anything other than use by the "heavy knight" type of character, or even by non-combat characters. After some learning on my part, the purpose of this thread has changed a little since the first post.

The reason I posted the post that you quoted was to ask for elaboration on what sort of softer material would be available in caves, and specifically in caves, in amounts big enough to allow for softer clothing. Granted, two of the three materials you mentioned would be easily available in caves, but I asked specifically for clothing-type materials, not armor-type materials.

I'm sorry for any confusion I may have caused by being inarticulate in any way.
 

Derren

Adventurer
Why do they wear clothes at all?

Modesty? Protection from elements? Depending on the reason the clothes would look different.
 
Why do they wear clothes at all?

Modesty? Protection from elements? Depending on the reason the clothes would look different.
They wear clothes so I can eventually sell my game to the general public, and not as an "adults only" game. So, modesty.

Granted, there are some slightly "taboo" things I've already discussed about certain aspects of my game in another thread on EN world, but it's not like I'd actually be including nude images in the final product.
 

Derren

Adventurer
They wear clothes so I can eventually sell my game to the general public, and not as an "adults only" game. So, modesty.

Granted, there are some slightly "taboo" things I've already discussed about certain aspects of my game in another thread on EN world, but it's not like I'd actually be including nude images in the final product.
So just go with chainmail bikinis then.
 
So just go with chainmail bikinis then.
As far as clothing goes, wouldn't that be extremely uncomfortable? I mean, they'd have fur and all, but I doubt that would be enough protection to stop the discomfort from the rough texture of a bunch of metal chain links constantly rubbing against their bodies (and at that, very sensitive parts of their bodies). And at that, their fur could get caught in between links, and I'd imagine that would hurt.

...

Ah, I ended up going away from the computer in the middle of typing this post, and while I was away, I realized something: this fantasy setting, what happens in it, what exists and is possible in it, it's my world! I could just say there's a specie of fibrous plant that lives in caves! I mean, I've already decided that there would be glowing fungus to provide light in the deeper parts of the caves... I guess that fixes this problem, unless anyone has anything else to say?
 

tomBitonti

Explorer
Not sure what technology would be needed, but how hard is obtaining carbon (for carbon fibers) or usable ceramic?

Also, looking over the armor videos, there *is* a bit of constraint, even though it is not as bad as what may be imagined. The weight distribution is enough to cause problems ("don't lean forward"), and joints don't seem to have full mobility. Of course, that is a problem too for other armors, so I don't know if there is a particular problem by comparison. But definitely there is a loss compared to minimal attire.

In the videos, there seems to be a lack of underpadding, which would seem to be necessary. I'm picturing, by comparison, the cloth (?) armor worn for fencing.

Also, armor can cause overheating. This was evidently a huge problem, from the little reading that I've done.

A practical question relative to the cost of manufacturing metal armor is what resources are required to produce the refined metal. For a pound of steel, you would also need coal or charcoal. If you *only* had access to raw ore, that doesn't seem to be enough to produce the refined metal. Turning that around, if you presume that the society has access to metal, then they also must have access to the necessary ingredients for making the metal.

Thx!

TomB
 

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