D&D 5E Traditional or Historial Arms and Armor

If the equipment list were being written for me alone...

  • I would prefer it stuck with D&D traditions.

    Votes: 57 57.6%
  • I would prefer greater historical accuracy.

    Votes: 42 42.4%

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
This sort of thing comes up a lot in discussions. Conversations about armor always lead to someone pointing out that studded leather doesn't make sense, or that it should be brigandine armor. Weapons and armor from a very wide range of historical time periods all share the same equipment chart as if they're all in regular use.

These things have been with us for a long time. My question is, should we finally do something about it? So I pose this question: If D&D Next were being written only for you, would you lean toward a more traditional equipment list, or a more historically influenced equipment list?
 

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Grydan

First Post
I choose option 3: Meh, whatever.

Look, D&D's armour list has always been a hodgepodge of anachronisms, linguistic redundancies, inaccuracies and outright nonsense. But given that it's always been trying to incorporate tropes from a variety of largely incompatible material, that was pretty much an inevitability.

Could they clean it up, remove the nonsense and linguistic redundancies? Absolutely.

Removing the anachronistic melange probably wouldn't go over too well, though. So what if it doesn't make sense for my swashbuckler in light or no armour to be going into combat alongside your full-plate wearing knight? That's D&D.

D&D is not, nor has it ever been, an attempt to model a specific period in time in the real world. Therefore, any historical armour list is going to be a poor fit.

At the same time, I don't really care what they call the armours. They could even stop bothering to spell out exactly what each type was, and group them as vague categories (light, medium, heavy; quiet vs. noisy; comfortable vs. uncomfortable; whatever).
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
Some WotC person mentioned at a recent con that D&D's armor table is so full of armor from different time periods that an equivalent weapon table would include rocks, bows, firearms, and laser guns.

If it were just for me? Not necessarily historical accuracy, but just a great deal of sense-making. For example, it makes sense that ring armor is useless when you can have plate armor, but plate is way more expensive, so village militia might wear ring armor because they can't afford plate. Also, it doesn't make sense that anyone wearing less advanced or lighter armor (however nimble) should have better protection than anyone wearing more advanced or heavier armor (however clumsy).

These are both reflected well in the current packet, so I'm pretty happy with it. As for more accurate terminology, studded leather makes druids frown, and brigandine is a really cool word, so sure!
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
I prefer both. I prefer that the hodge-podge be mostly kept for tradition, but that there be notes about which ones typically go together and/or are simply other names for what is already there. The same applies to weapons.

I don't care if the stats are all that historically accurate, since the D&D system hardlly supports that kind of accuracy in any case--and also wants to support some fantasy arms and armor as well. I do want notes putting this D&D hodge-podge into a context to be "accurate"--meaning that it's appropriately citing the correct inspirations as well as noting when the inspiration is more fanciful.

I don't dislike ceremonial plate used as the real stuff in the game. I do dislike ceremonial plate that was custom-fitted portrayed as if it were the normal plate and chain of some lowly knight with barely a manor to support him. Merely because the game needs to make compromises for fun and playability is no reason to get lazy in the reference material. ;)
 


ComradeGnull

First Post
In general, 'realism' and 'historical accuracy' are rabbit holes I would prefer for D&D to avoid disappearing down. I have read thousands of debates about 'accuracy' where weapons and armor are concerned over the years, but I've yet to read one that was a) interesting or b) provided something that would be fun to use at the gaming table.

Some WotC person mentioned at a recent con that D&D's armor table is so full of armor from different time periods that an equivalent weapon table would include rocks, bows, firearms, and laser guns

That's a strength in my eyes, rather than a weakness. That gives DMs and players lots of tools to tailor a campaign to a particular era by selectively and excluding things from the lists. I would be kind of annoyed if it was squashed down to '14th Century period-accurate only' and I needed another book if I wanted (say) Orcs who were stone-age primitives or an Elven culture that was at a Renaissance level of technology.

It would, however, be nice to have some guidance in the descriptions as to why certain items were used in some eras and not others.

Let's forget about spiked chains.

That's the one 'realism' that I would tolerate- remove the pretend weapon proliferation like spiked chains and axes with another axe on the butt end and double-headed Gnomish Reverse Vampire Hammer/Crossbows. It's fine to have weapons that are more or less effective than their historical antecedents, it's fine to have weapons that are more or less common than they would have been in a real economy or in a particular time period. I don't need stats for pretend weapons, because typically either a) brokenly unbalanced in order to satisfy fanboy desires for 'cool' weapons with cool abilities or b) useless because they are just heavy or silly versions of real weapons, and provide no advantage to using them over the real weapon.

For Squidbillies viewers: No truck-boat-trucks in the core rules. They are fine as Dragonlance Gnome/Kender comic relief, but can easily be re-fluffed from a real weapon if someone really wants them.
 

With D&D being used for a wide range of settings, from traditional medieval 'gritty' low fantasy, to antediluvian S&S, to metal-scared Athas and quasi-renaissance Ebberon, anachronistic weapons & armors do make some sense. Add to that the plane-hopping that can happen, whatever the state of the multi-verse.

With magic items being such a big deal, it also makes some sense that 'antique' weapons and armor, at least the enchanted ones, would remain in circulation a long time. D&D magic items are traditionally nigh-indestructible, immune to corrosion and wear, and quite potent so while a gladius or spatha may not seem the idea weapon for a high-medieval warrior, if it's a +4 Defender from the height of some ancient empire, it's probably still a pretty good thing to have.
 


slobo777

First Post
For example, it makes sense that ring armor is useless when you can have plate armor, but plate is way more expensive, so village militia might wear ring armor because they can't afford plate. Also, it doesn't make sense that anyone wearing less advanced or lighter armor (however nimble) should have better protection than anyone wearing more advanced or heavier armor (however clumsy).

It may or may not make sense, but full plate, especially earlier versions, was not necessarily "the best" in all situations.

A lot of weapons exist in the real world as specific counters to certain armour types.

I'm not an arms-and-armour expert, but for instance I believe many types of hammer and pick (and complex polearm) were less effective against agile lightly armoured people, and were designed to puncture heavy armour, break bones through the armour and/or take advantage of lower mobility.

Light armour also gets a bad press. It was often highly effective e.g. simple quilted/padded armour versus crossbow bolts. Edit: though technically that's not "light", but it was cheap :)
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I go with D&D traditions.

I think that some realism is good, but too much historical realism is pointless unless you want to run a historically accurate campaign, in which case of course it becomes important.

But the following two assumptions:

- that technology progresses and spreads in the same way that it did on historical earth

- that economies work in the same way that they do on historical earth

are simply ridiculous in a fantasy settings where magic is everywhere, multiple intelligent races share the world but some of them live 100x times longer and have been around for a much longer time, different worlds on different planes of existence following different rules (even the rules of life & death vary completely) interact, and the Gods keep messing up directly with mortal affairs.

And you think that with all this going on, studded leather makes no sense? ;)
 

S'mon

Legend
Either historically accurate, or very abstracted - light/medium/heavy armour would be fine.

4e dropping of studded leather, bandmail and splintmail was initially disconcerting, but I now quite appreciate that it omitted these do-not-actually-exist armours. When I run 1e etc I have to go into some convoluted contortions to make bandmail or studded leather into something resembling historical brigandine, lamellar etc.

Edit: What I really want varies by setting. In my Yggsburgh game I want historically accurate armours. For my Wilderlands Swords & Sorcery Meets Sword & Planet game I want "Battle Harness". :)
 

Yora

Legend
I wouldn't miss studded leather armor and splint armor. And I really prefer not to have spiked chains and anvils on a stick, and have fighting scythes with the blade in the correct position on the correct type of pole.
 

Mattachine

Adventurer
I'm just waiting for someone to chime in with, "I own my own set of realistic, reproduction-quality full plate armour, AND I am able to do cartwheels and backflips while wearing it."

How about this one: "Even simple leather armor is FAR more difficult to move around in than plain clothes. Why aren't there armor penalties for wearing leather?"


D&D armor isn't realistic, and never has been. Why start now?
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
I'd be happier if they published a list of armour types, un-named, with their relevant game statistics. And then in the descriptions, suggested types of real-world armour that these might represent. So the lightest armour might be described as "a leather jack, thick furs, mesoamerican cotton armour, chinese paper armour, small breastplates covering only part of the chest or other armour that only covers part of the body, and similar armours." Apart from anything else this would be more relevant for campaigns that don't operate as "medieval Europe with magic".
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
I think its a false choice: its not like they will come up with a list that is more historically accurate. They will (have?) come up with the armor equivalent of spiked chains.
 

Stick with traditions.

D&D isn't a historical simulation; there are other games for that. D&D is designed to simulate D&D.

TerraDave said:
They will (have?) come up with the armor equivalent of spiked chains.

Drow spidersilk chainmail bikini.
 
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Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
I lean moderately to the historic side. Were it me, I'd remove the non-sensible items, such as studded leather and spiked chains, and provide description of the economic and technological factors behind particular types of arms and armor.

I think I'd have a fairly traditional baseline list, but I might separate out some pieces into antiquated and advanced categories as an aid to campaign building.
 

timASW

Banned
Banned
I dont need much in the way of historical accuracy but I would like them to have several lists of different item types.

One European style armors and weapons names
one asian style armors and weapons
one "primitive" style lighter armors and weapons.

They dont all need radically different stats but I would like lists to be able to quickly draw from for different cultures or monster types at a glance.
 



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