log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Why do guns do so much damage?


log in or register to remove this ad


Coroc

Hero
If guns were so overwhelmingly powerful, we wouldn't have had hundreds of years of overlap. Yet we did. In addition, there are several proponents of the idea that the reason we didn't continue to see armor used was because of the changing nature of war and armies. The idea is that basically wars were once fought in large part by nobles and expensive mercenaries. That changed when nations started having standing armies; it's easier to train someone to use a gun and lives were cheaper than armor that was high quality enough to withstand firearms.
Which mainly is owed to the fact most guns were single shot for a long period, as soon as that changed the main disadvantage the "loading property" was gone and so was the use of swords (mostly). Still WW1 had widespread use of melee weapons and the sword / sabre for military use i nthe field came out of fashion approx end of WW2.
But if you look at Ghurka they still value their Kukri knifes and excel at its use.


But we're also not talking about ranks of soldiers duking it out on a battlefield here. Were talking about (generally) individuals facing combat on a regular basis against what are oftentimes monstrous enemies.

Personally I think of a rapier as an arming sword - it can only be used 1 handed. In D&D parlance they got rid of the bastard/hand and a half sword and it became the longsword. After all a longsword was just a sword that was a bit longer than a "typical" sword of the era and region.

A rapier is a different thing than an arming sword. A rapier has reach, real long reach. I house rule D&D Longsword = Bastard sword (versatile) and have a arming sword (1handed slashing 1d8 damage) in addition. A great sword is what most people in history would call Longsword and it is two handed use only and came up pretty late (15th century or so)

The other thing being ignored that you frequently don't just "punch a hole" in someone with a sword. Depending on the weapon you're slashing, or even while stabbing move the blade around a bit to increase the size of the wound. Well, in real life you were probably slashing, stabbing, using the pommel and the guard to punch, wrestling, parrying and a bunch of other things with many weapons.

The main thing ignored here is that you simply will NOT punch a hole with a sword at least through most types of metal armor, be it chain or plate. The other fact is that you will NOT slash with a sword through about any kind of armor and certainly not when hitthing metal armor (not even with a great sword).

Decent metal armor gave you a high percentage of invulnerability to slash or pierce damage of many kinds of weapons on the battle field. The weapon wounding you did hit someunprotected area most of the time, so maybe D&D armor class = hit chance, instead of reducing damage is not so wrong at all, at least for swords.

But it's all D&D oversimplification, getting proficiency in a firearm means that you can handle accurately aiming while under pressure. I don't think anybody is arguing that it's not easier to use a gun, but D&D doesn't go into enough detail for it to matter.

Well i guarantee you that your aiming might even be better under pressure, i compare it with driving a car in a stressful near accident situation, pumped up with adrenaline your reaction becaomes much faster,than while being relaxed. If you ever experienced a slow motion effect in a stressful / dangerous situation in your RL you know what i am talking about.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Which mainly is owed to the fact most guns were single shot for a long period, as soon as that changed the main disadvantage the "loading property" was gone and so was the use of swords (mostly). Still WW1 had widespread use of melee weapons and the sword / sabre for military use i nthe field came out of fashion approx end of WW2.
But if you look at Ghurka they still value their Kukri knifes and excel at its use.
I do agree on this; which is part of the balance and why I think it's important that you keep the loading property to balance out guns.

Unless of course you just don't care and have people that run into melee to beat up guys with guns like we constantly see on TV/movies.

A rapier is a different thing than an arming sword. A rapier has reach, real long reach. I house rule D&D Longsword = Bastard sword (versatile) and have a arming sword (1handed slashing 1d8 damage) in addition. A great sword is what most people in history would call Longsword and it is two handed use only and came up pretty late (15th century or so)
I was only talking about my campaign. There really isn't a weapon that represents an arming sword in D&D IMHO. So, in my campaign, rapiers are closer to arming swords than true rapiers. A better term would probably be a side sword but it's mostly cosmetic differences as far as the game is concerned.

The main thing ignored here is that you simply will NOT punch a hole with a sword at least through most types of metal armor, be it chain or plate. The other fact is that you will NOT slash with a sword through about any kind of armor and certainly not when hitthing metal armor (not even with a great sword).

Decent metal armor gave you a high percentage of invulnerability to slash or pierce damage of many kinds of weapons on the battle field. The weapon wounding you did hit someunprotected area most of the time, so maybe D&D armor class = hit chance, instead of reducing damage is not so wrong at all, at least for swords.

D&D does a pretty crap job of handling armor in general, heavy armor in particular. On the other hand, many opponents PCs face aren't wearing armor.

Well i guarantee you that your aiming might even be better under pressure, i compare it with driving a car in a stressful near accident situation, pumped up with adrenaline your reaction becaomes much faster,than while being relaxed. If you ever experienced a slow motion effect in a stressful / dangerous situation in your RL you know what i am talking about.

Actual accounts of warfare and gunfights disagree. It kind of depends on who you believe, but at the low end it's 18% of bullets hit during a firefight. With enough training it can probably get up to 50% [1]. Estimates of number of hits per shot fired by soldiers in combat are similarly difficult to determine, but most put it at around 25-35% with modern iron sight weapons. It was much lower with early firearms. It's why soldiers fired in volleys, throw enough lead downfield and you're bound to hit something.

But it doesn't really matter. What's fun for the players? What's reasonably balanced with the other options?
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
This is very messy. To start, the units don't work. You took seconds divided by meters per second, which ends up as seconds squared per meter, and then multiplied by meters for seconds squared.

What you wanted to do was assume constant acceleration (reasonable here) and look at d=1/2at^2, and v=at, so subbing you get d =1/2vt. Time will be t=2d/v, or 2(.4m)/271m/s (for arguments sake, I'm taking this number, although there's strong evidence to the different). This is 3ms, or 0.003seconds. Going back through, that's an acceleration of 90.3km/s or so.

Plugging that into F=ma and you get 0.013kg(90,300m/s^2)= 1174N.

Thing is that's a tiny bullet. 13 grams is a bullet almost a 1/3 the size of the musket. This isn't born out by visuals, or the record, where pistols fired shot about the same size as the muskets, until the advent of the revolver, at least.

Not really. Look at the formulas and see what mass and velocity and acceleration do. Mass is the same in both -- double it and you double both. Velocity and acceleration are very different beasts, though, and you've seen in the calculations that to get a velocity of X, the acceleration for a bullet to get there is orders of magnitude higher. So, on that alone, it makes a lot of sense that a bullet's momentum is low but it's force is high -- the difference between v and a is large. For a sword, though, v and a are closer, so the momentum and force are closer -- same order of magnitude at least.

I'm not sure you can read those graphs that way -- it doesn't label either, and their gel does an odd thing in how it sustains visible damage much wider than the permanent wound track. Normal ballistic gel doesn't do this because it's highly elastic and so you can only see the scope of the temporary expansion in slow mo. So, I'm not exactly convinced their graph (which closely matches the visible damage done) is actually the scope of the temporary cavity rather than where a poorly mixed ballistic gel sustained damage due to tearing. It's not at all clear from that video (and the second one you link has properly mixed gel and doesn't sustain damage outside the permanent wound track).

I cited the actual ballistic data for a .44 magnum, which your cited article said was a high cavity weapon, and it is in the ballpark of the numbers being calculated for flintlock pistols here. The number I calculated, and which was the same using your cited calculators (because I was using the same formulas), are nearly identical for a musket. This makes a musket a very deadly weapon, doing massively more damage than you expected. The pistol, even accounting for the lower velocity you want, is still very dangerous, with numbers close. The only cite in thread that showed pistol data lists a flintlock at very near that same number for the .44 (and this makes sense once you account for an actual larger caliber rather than the odd very low bullet size you calculated). Flintlocks were very dangerous weapons, and not far behind or on par with some modern weapons in power (if not accuracy or reliability). It's only when you get to the high-power stuff that modern firearms (and we're talking rifles here) really get away from them. The size of the shot and the power of the weapon meant that it was very, very damaging.

And, again, this has nothing at all to do with how you represent firearms in game.
I am... very confused, here. I'll be honest. I never went into higher physics levels than high school so I didn't actually realize there was an important difference between constant acceleration and whatever kind of acceleration isn't constant that you're referring to, here. (I'm not being snarky, I just literally do not have that definition in my vocabulary to put the word to it. Linear acceleration? Exponential acceleration?).

As to the weight of the pistol ball, it's based on a British standard. 34 pistol balls to the pound broken down and put to the right weight. Going by an online lead distributor's pricing method a sphere of lead weighing 13grams is .51inches. So it's not actually much smaller in diameter, it's just the square cube law coming into effect. It's also worth noting that the .69 musket ball was on the larger side of a musket. The Spanish Musket which was super popular in the 1500s and 1600s had a .54. So really similar to the size of that pistol ball at 15grams.

As to the Magnum: You provided Joules, didn't you? Not Newtons, which you're presenting here. The Joules of the 271m/s .51 caliber pistol would be 447J. About half what you showed for the Magnum.

Could you correct my Magnum Math with the appropriate acceleration to show it's Newtons of Force compared to the 1174 you got for the Pistol?
 
Last edited:

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I went ahead and followed your method for the Magnum. 2(.25)/434 to get a time interval of 0.0011. Threw that in the acceleration calculator. Got 394,545m/s squared. Tossed that into the force calculator with the 22 gram weight of the listed magnum bullet and it comes out at 8,679N.

As it should be (Since we're using a 2 instead of a 1) it is about half the 16,000+N I previously presented. But that's still 8 times as many Newtons of force as the pistol.

Going back to the Musket with this acceleration method it comes out to 0.0048. For 86,250m/s squared which becomes a force of 2760N. Double the Newtons of the Pistol, still only 1/3 of the Magnum...

Is this... right? Every value is halved, per your d =1/2vt.
 

In addition, there are several proponents of the idea that the reason we didn't continue to see armor used was because of the changing nature of war and armies. The idea is that basically wars were once fought in large part by nobles and expensive mercenaries. That changed when nations started having standing armies; it's easier to train someone to use a gun and lives were cheaper than armor that was high quality enough to withstand firearms.
I thought I'd step in here because I'm sceptical of this argument. Plate armour had been ordered from the manufactories of Milan in the thousands of sets as early as the 13th Century and the Milanese manufactories kept thousands of sets of parts in stock (literally; they produced 6000 sets on about a week's notice before I think the Battle of Maclodio in 1427).

And standing armies should increase not reduce the prevalence of armour if armour is being mass produced - if anything the reverse. The key cost for a standing army is in the upkeep while the cost for plate armour is a one-shot cost per person in your force with comparatively minimal upkeep. If you're willing to pay for your army in peacetime it's much more cost effective to pay for fewer troops but to armour them than the greater numbers with higher upkeep and less combat power.

On the other hand the decline of armour shortly follows changes like corned gunpowder and the musket (and cannon) barrel length increasing in the 15th Century. This meant that the necessary thickness of armour needed to resist or stop musket fire increased (which is when bullet proof breastplates became really needed). At that point armouring the limbs becomes less practical because thicker armour is heavier and the further from your core the more exhausting the armour is to wear. So they took the armour off the limbs and thickened the breastplate.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I thought I'd step in here because I'm sceptical of this argument. Plate armour had been ordered from the manufactories of Milan in the thousands of sets as early as the 13th Century and the Milanese manufactories kept thousands of sets of parts in stock (literally; they produced 6000 sets on about a week's notice before I think the Battle of Maclodio in 1427).

And standing armies should increase not reduce the prevalence of armour if armour is being mass produced - if anything the reverse. The key cost for a standing army is in the upkeep while the cost for plate armour is a one-shot cost per person in your force with comparatively minimal upkeep. If you're willing to pay for your army in peacetime it's much more cost effective to pay for fewer troops but to armour them than the greater numbers with higher upkeep and less combat power.

On the other hand the decline of armour shortly follows changes like corned gunpowder and the musket (and cannon) barrel length increasing in the 15th Century. This meant that the necessary thickness of armour needed to resist or stop musket fire increased (which is when bullet proof breastplates became really needed). At that point armouring the limbs becomes less practical because thicker armour is heavier and the further from your core the more exhausting the armour is to wear. So they took the armour off the limbs and thickened the breastplate.
But that also doesn't really bear out.

Breastplates were common armor through the 1620s, but the costs of them were rising with the population of people who needed them. Equipment for a single Cuirassier in the 1620s cost 4 pounds and 10 shillings. That's with the breastplate, helmet, gorget, pauldrons, armguards, and vambraces as well as a gusset and half-greaves that covered the front of the legs. Before the decimalization in the 1700s, of course. To go back that far I had to look into the value of a pound in 1997 compared to 1600, then go per pound to modern day.


A 1600s pound in 1997 was worth 114 pounds. In 2021, a 1997 pound is worth 1.87 pounds. That Cuirassier costs 959 pound to equip. That's $1,350.

The entire Kit of a Harquebusier only cost 1 pound and 6. That's 277 pounds with inflation, or $390. They -just- wore the breastplate. With the same $100,000 you could put a hell of a lot more men on the field with a hell of a lot more guns aimed at a better protected but smaller army... And simply overwhelm them with numbers.

And as armies grew ever larger, and more men needed protection, less protection was provided because the men weren't worth the armor, which had to be -fitted- to the body, not just randomly passed out and re-used by others. "Check in the back I think we've got another box of XL Breastplates." "Where?" "I don't know! Check behind the shields we stopped using!"

And once you're at Napoleon's freaking 700,000 man armies in the 1700s, spending $1,350 per dude is just outrageous. Heck, even $390 is a bit much. Just let him die and hand his gun to another soldier because guns don't require fitting sessions.

They're one size fits all.

Mod Edit: Language! ~Umbran
 
Last edited by a moderator:


But that also doesn't really bear out.

Breastplates were common armor through the 1620s, but the costs of them were rising with the population of people who needed them. Equipment for a single Cuirassier in the 1620s cost 4 pounds and 10 shillings. That's with the breastplate, helmet, gorget, pauldrons, armguards, and vambraces as well as a gusset and half-greaves that covered the front of the legs. Before the decimalization in the 1700s, of course. To go back that far I had to look into the value of a pound in 1997 compared to 1600, then go per pound to modern day.


A 1600s pound in 1997 was worth 114 pounds. In 2021, a 1997 pound is worth 1.87 pounds. That Cuirassier costs 959 pound to equip. That's $1,350.

The entire Kit of a Harquebusier only cost 1 pound and 6. That's 277 pounds with inflation, or $390. They -just- wore the breastplate. With the same $100,000 you could put a hell of a lot more men on the field with a hell of a lot more guns aimed at a better protected but smaller army... And simply overwhelm them with numbers.

And as armies grew ever larger, and more men needed protection, less protection was provided because the men weren't worth the armor, which had to be -fitted- to the body, not just randomly passed out and re-used by others. "Check in the back I think we've got another box of XL Breastplates." "Where?" "I don't know! Check behind the shields we stopped using!"

And once you're at Napoleon's naughty word 700,000 man armies in the 1700s, spending $1,350 per dude is just outrageous. Heck, even $390 is a bit much. Just let him die and hand his gun to another soldier because guns don't require fitting sessions.

They're one size fits all.
The problem you're not taking into account is that it's not just demand that increased - it's that as gunpowder tech improved the amount of thickness required to protect the wearer increased and the practicality of e.g. marching wearing it. And with it the difference between the effectiveness of heavily armoured, lightly armoured, and unarmoured troops decreased. To pick a famous example the armour below was worn at the battle of Waterloo. It clearly didn't do enough.
View attachment 138178

You joke about "Check in the back I think we've got another box of XL Breastplates" - but suits of armour were literally ordered from the manufactories of Milan in the thousands between the 1300s and 1500s. That's a thousand suits of armour (or several thousand) in a single order. These soldiers didn't all go to Milan to be custom-fitted. Instead you might order enough armour from the factory to outfit an entire batallion or even regiment. And if you look at the Italian White Armour below from 1450 it will fit a range of people and is not form-fitting. There are straps to adjust, the shoulder pieces can fit a range of body types and the rondels and elbow guards are flamboyantly large, enabling them to cover a range of arm lengths. I don't know why the people in your question wouldn't know where the large breastplates were.
1623515942352.png

But what changed a lot was the effectiveness of armour. In 1450 a man at arms in the white plate above would have been more than a match for multiple armed but unarmoured men to the point that their best approach might be to try to get past his pollaxe (or whatever weapon) and start wrestling him four on one to pin him down and hold him still long enough to slide a dagger between his gorget and breastplate and cut his throat. Everywhere on his body is protected by metal - but any slash he makes onto his opponents is going to make them bleed. Give him a few allies and wrestling becomes a lot harder because the unarmoured wrestlers are easy prey.

You talk about arquebusiers. The first thing to point out about arquebusiers is that every shot costs money and the earlier you go the more it costs per shot. That cost for the arquebusier you mention will get him a breastplate - and an unloaded gun. And an unloaded gun is frankly pretty pointless. Which is why by 1500 only about 10% of European soldiers carried muskets despite the trail blazed by Hungary's Black Army with one soldier in four carrying guns.

It's not that the men weren't worth the armour. It's that the armour was worth a lot less. And the things that could break the armour (like gunpowder weapons) became a lot cheaper and better at it so armour became less effective. Spending $1350 per dude upfront would have made sense for Napoleon if it had made that dude worth two dudes on the other side. It wouldn't for 1.05 dudes on the other side.
 

Attachments

  • 1623515170972.png
    1623515170972.png
    12.2 MB · Views: 8

Doug McCrae

Legend
And standing armies should increase not reduce the prevalence of armour if armour is being mass produced - if anything the reverse. The key cost for a standing army is in the upkeep while the cost for plate armour is a one-shot cost per person in your force with comparatively minimal upkeep. If you're willing to pay for your army in peacetime it's much more cost effective to pay for fewer troops but to armour them than the greater numbers with higher upkeep and less combat power.
Alan Williams offers an explanation for this in The Knight and the Blast Furnace (2003) -- As armies increased in size in the early modern period, less fit and able troops had to be employed, and they didn't have the stamina to wear the cheap-but-heavy armour necessary to provide protection from firearms.

Firearms offer a greater order of magnitude of energy, and very soon offer a real possibility of defeating armour. There are two courses then open to the armourer: make the armour of better metal, or thicker.

The difficulties of heat-treating steel meant that this first solution, although desirable, was expensive.

While a few individual centres of metallurgical excellence continued to make princely armour of great elegance as well as metallurgical ingenuity, the great bulk of production had to be made down to a price, and be effective simply through its thickness.

The second solution, although crude, was effective. As armies got larger and firepower increased, the demand for armour (even for the infantry) increased; the likelihood of princes paying for large quantities of armour—unless the cheapest solution had been adopted— was very small.

Increasing the thickness from 2 to 3.1mm will double the resistance, and have a similar effect to the use of hardened steel, at a fraction of the cost.

The problem then was the stamina of the wearers, and indeed as handgunners replaced archers, less skilful troops were needed and wages fell. But if recruits were drawn from the poorer and less well-nourished strata of society then they were even less capable of marching and fighting in bulletproof armour.

So the situation arose of leaders with wearable protective armour, while their armies of thousands could no longer wear what might protect them, and armour dropped out of use, despite the well thought-out arguments of military commentators like Maurice de Saxe. The craftsmen turned to other industries like gunmaking or clockmaking, and the centres of armour production became the centres of the Industrial Revolution.​
 
Last edited:

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
The problem you're not taking into account is that it's not just demand that increased - it's that as gunpowder tech improved the amount of thickness required to protect the wearer increased and the practicality of e.g. marching wearing it. And with it the difference between the effectiveness of heavily armoured, lightly armoured, and unarmoured troops decreased. To pick a famous example the armour below was worn at the battle of Waterloo. It clearly didn't do enough.
View attachment 138178

You joke about "Check in the back I think we've got another box of XL Breastplates" - but suits of armour were literally ordered from the manufactories of Milan in the thousands between the 1300s and 1500s. That's a thousand suits of armour (or several thousand) in a single order. These soldiers didn't all go to Milan to be custom-fitted. Instead you might order enough armour from the factory to outfit an entire batallion or even regiment. And if you look at the Italian White Armour below from 1450 it will fit a range of people and is not form-fitting. There are straps to adjust, the shoulder pieces can fit a range of body types and the rondels and elbow guards are flamboyantly large, enabling them to cover a range of arm lengths. I don't know why the people in your question wouldn't know where the large breastplates were.
View attachment 138179
But what changed a lot was the effectiveness of armour. In 1450 a man at arms in the white plate above would have been more than a match for multiple armed but unarmoured men to the point that their best approach might be to try to get past his pollaxe (or whatever weapon) and start wrestling him four on one to pin him down and hold him still long enough to slide a dagger between his gorget and breastplate and cut his throat. Everywhere on his body is protected by metal - but any slash he makes onto his opponents is going to make them bleed. Give him a few allies and wrestling becomes a lot harder because the unarmoured wrestlers are easy prey.

You talk about arquebusiers. The first thing to point out about arquebusiers is that every shot costs money and the earlier you go the more it costs per shot. That cost for the arquebusier you mention will get him a breastplate - and an unloaded gun. And an unloaded gun is frankly pretty pointless. Which is why by 1500 only about 10% of European soldiers carried muskets despite the trail blazed by Hungary's Black Army with one soldier in four carrying guns.

It's not that the men weren't worth the armour. It's that the armour was worth a lot less. And the things that could break the armour (like gunpowder weapons) became a lot cheaper and better at it so armour became less effective. Spending $1350 per dude upfront would have made sense for Napoleon if it had made that dude worth two dudes on the other side. It wouldn't for 1.05 dudes on the other side.
You're not -entirely- wrong. But that Curassier was ALSO wielding guns. Two Wheellock Pistols and a saber. And I guess his $1,350 didn't include bullets, either.

Also they were both Cavalry Units. Essentially "Heavy" and "Light" cavalry that were contemporaries.

Though I am a little curious about the "Armor" that you keep referencing. I can't find access to the Pfaffenbichler, Matthias, Medieval Craftsmen, Armourers, 1992, Toronto book on short notice, but I did look at a review of some of the contents. Including a specific mention of the kind of armor sales you're referencing which took place in 1321 under the auspices of Frederick the Lombard.

He managed to pull off 6,000 shields, 3,000 helmets, and 4,000 maille shirts to entirely equip a fleet! That's a lot. Very impressive! But.

It's not a full suit of plate armor like the one you show above. Which includes the Maille Shirt that Lombard sold, as well as the helmets. See, with a maille shirt one size kinda -does- fit all, you just make it in the big size and everyone else rolls up their overly long sleeves and ties them down with belts at the wrist to keep the chainmail from rolling down over their hands. Or you can just rivet them into place. Or use a piece of rope looped through the rings. Or any number of other options.

Now that's not to say that sheet-plate wasn't a thing. It -absolutely- was. But it was lower-quality by -far-. And as the quantity and quality of metal required to stop a musketball went up compared to the quantity and quality required to stop an arrow things declined quickly. Not the quantity so much, but the quality.

As production rates went up, the amount of time required to make a given amount of iron into steel didn't really change. So the armorers started "Fining" armor. That is making a naughty word iron breastplate very quickly through a Blast Furnace, then attempting to refine it into steel. That mostly resulted in low-quality steel or moderate quality wrought iron. Both of which require even more thickness to stop a bullet because they lack the hardness of a mid or high quality steel. Which was more expensive.

And so yo-oh... Hey... I got McCrae'd.

The mass produced plate-armors of the early 1500s were naughty word, naughty word, heavy metal to get the same protection as a high quality lighter armor, which was too expensive, especially for big armies. So they gave up on it.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I think it might be most accurate to say:

Armor fell into disuse with the rise of firearms due to a series of factors including, but perhaps not limited to, the quality and/or thickness of the armor required, the fitness level of the soldiers who would be wearing it, the cost to get good quality armor which functions against firearms, and the quantities of quality armored required to equip larger and larger scale armies over time.
 

You're not -entirely- wrong. But that Curassier was ALSO wielding guns. Two Wheellock Pistols and a saber. And I guess his $1,350 didn't include bullets, either.

Also they were both Cavalry Units. Essentially "Heavy" and "Light" cavalry that were contemporaries.
But they had very different jobs. And probably social classes.
Including a specific mention of the kind of armor sales you're referencing which took place in 1321 under the auspices of Frederick the Lombard.

He managed to pull off 6,000 shields, 3,000 helmets, and 4,000 maille shirts to entirely equip a fleet! That's a lot. Very impressive! But.

It's not a full suit of plate armor like the one you show above.
Indeed. It's 1321. The full suit of plate armour I show was 1450 and was just about from the high point of Milanese armour making. And chain armour both came into style and fell out of style because of economics. Chain armour is extremely labour intensive to make because you need to hand rivet the links. It's cheap for individuals to make because the hand riveting is not time consuming and if you've nothing better to do in those long winter nights the labour costs for someone to make their own from essentially iron wrapped round a bar and cut, and some wire for the rivets, is trivial if you're doing it for yourself rather than as part of a large order.

However things changed. The Black Death (1346-1353) ballooned labour costs and technological innovation came in making plate armour much easier to make. To use a web source that's screwed up its https:
Other factors that need to be considered include technological innovations in mass production, namely the water-powered trip hammer and the blast furnace. These technologies enabled iron plate to be manufactured in much larger quantities and much more cheaply than previously. In addition, labour costs dramatically increased after the Black Death (14th century), and the technologies previously mentioned meant that mail actually cost more to produce than all but the finest of plate armour. Williams compares the cost of 12 oxen for a 9th century helmet, mail and leggings with the cost of only 2 oxen for horseman's plate armour at the end of the 16th century.111 At Iserlohn in the 15th century, a mail haubergeon cost 4.6 gulden while plate armour only cost 4.3 gulden.112 Kassa's archives (Hungary 1633) record a mail shirt costing six times that of a "double breastplate." These records also indicate the huge difference in labour involved. The mail required 2 months to be completed while the breastplate, only 2 days.
With circa fifteenth century plate armour we really are talking things produced using industrial techniques and in industrial quantities. And yes it did get worse quality later.

And sheet plate was more than good enough to stop muscle powered weapons - and even handheld gunpowder weapons of 1350. But they got better.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
But they had very different jobs. And probably social classes.

Indeed. It's 1321. The full suit of plate armour I show was 1450 and was just about from the high point of Milanese armour making. And chain armour both came into style and fell out of style because of economics. Chain armour is extremely labour intensive to make because you need to hand rivet the links. It's cheap for individuals to make because the hand riveting is not time consuming and if you've nothing better to do in those long winter nights the labour costs for someone to make their own from essentially iron wrapped round a bar and cut, and some wire for the rivets, is trivial if you're doing it for yourself rather than as part of a large order.

However things changed. The Black Death (1346-1353) ballooned labour costs and technological innovation came in making plate armour much easier to make. To use a web source that's screwed up its https:
Other factors that need to be considered include technological innovations in mass production, namely the water-powered trip hammer and the blast furnace. These technologies enabled iron plate to be manufactured in much larger quantities and much more cheaply than previously. In addition, labour costs dramatically increased after the Black Death (14th century), and the technologies previously mentioned meant that mail actually cost more to produce than all but the finest of plate armour. Williams compares the cost of 12 oxen for a 9th century helmet, mail and leggings with the cost of only 2 oxen for horseman's plate armour at the end of the 16th century.111 At Iserlohn in the 15th century, a mail haubergeon cost 4.6 gulden while plate armour only cost 4.3 gulden.112 Kassa's archives (Hungary 1633) record a mail shirt costing six times that of a "double breastplate." These records also indicate the huge difference in labour involved. The mail required 2 months to be completed while the breastplate, only 2 days.
With circa fifteenth century plate armour we really are talking things produced using industrial techniques and in industrial quantities. And yes it did get worse quality later.

And sheet plate was more than good enough to stop muscle powered weapons - and even handheld gunpowder weapons of 1350. But they got better.
But by the end of the 16th century, that Horseman's Plate Armor was -naughty word-. It was the blast-furnaced wrought iron fined into low-grade steel. Yes it was less expensive, yes it was faster, it was also much lower in quality.

So while the sheet-plate was less expensive you had to get it thicker to make it work, which the larger armies of conscripted soldiers couldn't wear for any length of time, and actual good armor that -would- be able to be worn by the conscripted was too expensive, particularly when you consider the quantity of soldiers that were conscripted.

It's funny how mass-produced lower quality products helped to doom the industry. That feels relevant for some reason...
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
There's a whole series of events and factors that largely ended the use of armor for a few centuries until the invention of modern body armor. There were advances in chemistry that dramatically reduced the cost of saltpeter that made gunpowder more affordable. Advances in gun manufacturing technology which made them more reliable. There were changes to the way wars were waged, and the cheap armor soldiers were given.

Even towards the end of the "armor" era, high quality armor did stop most bullets (not much you can do versus a cannonball) but most armor was not high quality. That high quality armor was incredibly expensive, only a few could afford it.

All of which is to say is that if you change some of these factors, armor which had already coexisted with guns for centuries may have lasted even longer. In a world with magic, maybe someone starts cranking out golems that can hammer out higher quality steel effectively. Maybe someone figures out how to make an alloy of iron and a small amount of adamantine that makes a cheap steel or that better at absorbing the energy of a bullet. Maybe the chemistry to bring down the cost of gunpowder is never discovered. Maybe high quality plate is still around because it's still the best thing around when fighting dragons and melee weapons are still in use because there are a whole slew of monsters out there that don't give a fig about cavitation damage.

We can only take history in the real world as it applies to a fantasy world so far.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
There's a whole series of events and factors that largely ended the use of armor for a few centuries until the invention of modern body armor. There were advances in chemistry that dramatically reduced the cost of saltpeter that made gunpowder more affordable. Advances in gun manufacturing technology which made them more reliable. There were changes to the way wars were waged, and the cheap armor soldiers were given.

Even towards the end of the "armor" era, high quality armor did stop most bullets (not much you can do versus a cannonball) but most armor was not high quality. That high quality armor was incredibly expensive, only a few could afford it.

All of which is to say is that if you change some of these factors, armor which had already coexisted with guns for centuries may have lasted even longer. In a world with magic, maybe someone starts cranking out golems that can hammer out higher quality steel effectively. Maybe someone figures out how to make an alloy of iron and a small amount of adamantine that makes a cheap steel or that better at absorbing the energy of a bullet. Maybe the chemistry to bring down the cost of gunpowder is never discovered. Maybe high quality plate is still around because it's still the best thing around when fighting dragons and melee weapons are still in use because there are a whole slew of monsters out there that don't give a fig about cavitation damage.

We can only take history in the real world as it applies to a fantasy world so far.
It doesn’t even take much to get better armor than IRL more consistently. A lot of RL materials create stronger steel when mixed into iron before smelting, it just wasn’t until the modern era that metallurgy was precise enough, and detailed enough, to reliably make stuff like Damascus steel (not Damascus welding, but the actual steel).

No reason that metallurgical knowledge couldn’t be more advanced in D&D, not to mention Transmutation magic and the like.

Though in my own TTRPG, swords and such are useful for a few reasons:

They’re less restricted than guns. A sword in your cars trunk raises few questions. People collect medieval weapons.

They are easier to channel magic through, because you are holding them. All magic in my world is harder at a distance than close up touching the thing. Missile weapons like bows are in between, because you’re touching the missile upon release, but not upon impact. Armor is also much easier to channel magic through than projectiles.

There are multiple magic schools that have ways to deflect ranged attacks, and others with ways to speed up a persons movements, allowing a melee fighter to get in close more easily and safely, from a greater distance, than is the case IRL.

Some of that can translate to D&D, but not all of it.
 



jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Have only skimmed the thread, but I'll just toss my suggestion from the "modern settings" discussion here:

"Spitballing, but would exploding dice make guns sufficiently more dangerous than other weapons, yet still not instakills every time? (Exploding dice: if you roll the maximum on a damage die, you roll again and add that amount to the damage. If the second roll is also maximum, you keep doing it until you get a non-maximum roll.)"
 
Last edited:

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top