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Author Topic: Project Arsenal  (Read 129 times)

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Offline Kingfisher

Project Arsenal
« on: December 29, 2017, 08:17:54 PM »
    Welcome to Project Arsenal, an ever evolving compilation weapons.  Here, I will collect information regarding historical (and sometimes otherwise) weapons, such as design, purpose and role.  Those interested in the subject can come here and maybe learn a little about the fascinating history of human warfare.

    If while skimming through the lists you cannot find a certain weapon OR you find something you do not agree with, leave a comment and spark a discussion.

Personal Defense Weapons
Also called sidearms, these weapons were convenient to carry, as they can generally be tucked or strapped to a belt and retrieved in an emergancy.
Spoiler: Dagger • show
While today used to refer retroactively to all double edged fighting knives, daggers actually originate in the Late Middle Ages as a weapon specially designed to deal with armor.  While significantly more compact than a sword, daggers combined exceptionally acute blades with a powerful icepick grip to let the weapon slip into the gaps in a full harness, while its light, inexpensive construction made it affordable to most Europeans.  Paired with grappling techniques, it was one of the most reliable ways of dealing with heavily armored soldiers on the late Medieval and Renaissance battlefield.

Daggers varied in form.  While some daggers featured long, single edged blades, many daggers lacked an edge entirely.  Blades were often as long as the wielder's forearm, designed parry in the aforementioned icepick grip.  Hilt designes varied, from cruciform, to phallic (lit. Bollock dagger), to H-shaped.  The most popular was the Rondel, designed specifically with two disks at either end of the hilt.
Spoiler: Sword (in general) • show
Swords are an evolution of knives and daggers.  They are composed of two parts: the blade and the hilt.  Used as far back as the bronze age, they were often carried onto the battlefield as a secondary weapon, or a backup to an otherwise superior weapon.  Wood or leather scabbards make it easy and safe to carry.

Much of a sword's mass is focused near the weilder's hand.  This reduces the blade's torque and momentum, granting this family of weapon incredible agility regardless of the individual weapon's overall size.  An average sword is still razor sharp though, allowing the sword to deal tremendous damage with a single, well placed cut.
Spoiler: Gladius • show
A short Iron Age sword famously used by Roman Legionaries after the Marian Reforms.  The most popular variant was the gladius hispaniensis, based on style of sword popular among Iberian Celts before the 3rd century B.C.E.

The gladius is an unusual sword because it was the first time swords were used as a primary weapon on the battlefield.  Worn on the right hip, Legionaries would march into formation carrying large, semi-cylindrical shields called scuta.  After forming a wall, heavily armored Legionaries could press in close to their enemies and draw their swords.  The weapon's small size meant it could be quickly thrust past the wall, disembowelling largely unarmored enemies in one blow.

Roman's were not known for their dueling culture.  That, combined with the blades thrust focused usage, meant that guards were largely unnecessary.
Spoiler: Spatha • show
An alternative iron age sword developed in the 1st Century C.E.  It was developed based on swords used by Celtic mercenaries and was the prefered weapon of Romes cavalry, thanks to its superior reach.

In the 3rd Century, it began to replace the Gladius in Rome's infantry.  Changes in both Roman and enemy tactics meant that the gigantic Scuta accompanied by a short sword was no longer viable.  Thus a smaller, more nimble shield became the norm, accompanied by a weapon with superior reach.
Spoiler: Migration Period Sword • show
An evolution of the spatha after the Roman blade came into widespread use in Germania.  What distinguishes the weapon in form from its predecessor is its ornate, I-shaped hilt composed of two robust guards.  The upper (pommel) and lower guards were approximately the same size and it is suggested that the hilt was made this way so that a swordsman could press his weapon to support his shield.

The Migration Period, which lasted from the 6th to 8th centuries, is held by anthropologist to be the end of Europe's Iron Age.  Many common metal workers by this time did not know how to make steel blades and as a result, swords were rare and expensive, reserved for the wealthy.
Spoiler: Viking Sword • show
Likely an independent evolution of sword design based on Scandinavian blades of the Iron Age, Viking Age swords came into widespread use in Europe through trade with Danish seafarers.  Their blades largely bore a spatulated tip, making them poor thrusting weapons, however, their unnusually heavy blades made them devastating cutting weapons.  For this reason, a number of examples of single edged blades exist.

One possible reason that Scandanavians did not favor thrusting swords as much as their German counterparts is their extensive culture of dueling.  Thrusting swords were largely used against armor, which was not worn off of the battlefield.  In this regard, a heavy hewing blade proved more reliable in one-on-one combat.  This could also explain why Viking swords began to develop much more pronounced cruciform guards, protecting the wielder's hand during a bind.
Spoiler: Arming Sword • show
Also called a knightly sword, this one-handed sword bears many similarities to the preceding Viking sword, at least in its early stages.  It bore the long quillons of the guard and spatulated blade, indicating its role as a secondary weapon, however, 11th Century weapons began to feature deeper fullers, giving the weapon a lighter blade.  This made the weapon more agile, ideal for the highly trained soldiers that were using it.

As armor improved, the weapon would continue to evolve.  Increased prevalence of mail and padded armor in the 12th and 13th centuries would see the resurgence of acutely pointed tips, making the weapon viable against changing styles of armor.  As the Middle Ages came to a close at the end of the 15th century, the development of complex swept and basket hilts would lead to the rise of the Sidesword and the Broadsword.
Spoiler: Longsword • show
Longswords, also called bastard swords or hand-and-a-half swords, are a visible evolution of the knightly sword.  With the development of true plate armor, shields rapidly fell out of favor as they were largely a redundant and useless defense.  Instead, knights began to commission larger swords that fit the offhand onto the grip.  Since they were designed in the age of plate, Longswords were generally optimized for thrusting rather than cutting, though they performed admirably in the latter.

The major advantage of fighing with a two-handed sword had little to doe with increasing the weapons weight or reach as Longswords were normally only one pound heavier (though there are outsized examples like the Scottish 'Claymore').  The main advantage of a second hand is their ability to provide leverage to a sword's hilt.  Compared to one-handed swords, longsword had superior agility and acceleration.  They could hit their targets harder, parry quicker, reposition easily, leading the longsword to appear throughout Europe.

Another advantage was the flexibility of the grip.  Swordsmen were generally able to reposition their hands independently, allowing for more specialized grips that could modify the swords' performance.

The longsword would eventually decline in its role as a battlefield sidearm, supplanted by the dagger as plate grew commonplace.  However, longswords remained a staple as personal defense and duelling weapons until the late 16th century, especially in what is now Germany, where it acted as the backbone of much of their martial tradition.
Spoiler: Half Sword • show
Also called "Short Sword," Half Sword was a fencing technique involving the act of gripping the blade of a sword half-way down its length.  This made the blade 'short' while also increasing the length of the lever.  This improved both the weapons power in a thrust while also increasing point control.  The technique was a mainstay of armored combat and would later be integrated into the use of the poleaxe.

A related maneuver is the Murder Strike, the act of holding a sword entirely by the blade and striking an armored target with the quillons and pommel.  This effectively turned a sword into a makeshift warhammer, leaving armored targets potentially disoriented, allowing a fighter to look for openings.

Half-Sword and the Murder Strike can also be performed with other types of swords.
Spoiler: Falchion • show
Generally, 'falchion' refers to any cruciform sword with a single-edged blade, likely inspired by knife and seax design.  In the 13th Century, falchions were short, razor-thin swords used largely against enemies in heavy padding.  Their slender, lightweight blades were uniquely useless against mail and designers began to give the weapon a more acuted tip, though this would eventually lead to falchions featuring longer, thicker blades.

The development of complex hilts would later lead to the rise of cavalry sabers and backswords, which were dedicated cutting weapons and continued to be used until the invention of repeating firearms.  The blades remained virtually unchanged from the medieval designs.
Spoiler: Battle Axe (1-Handed) • show
Unlike woodcutting axes, Battle axes have nearly razor thin blades.  This reduced the weight of the weapon, allowing it to move more nimbly while also granting it a more potent cutting edge.  Rather than splitting a target with mass alone, battle axes were used to slice, much like a sword.

Unlike a sword, much of an axe's construction was solid wood rather than metal.  This made axes both lighter and cheaper than their full metal counterpart.  However, this also placed most of the weapon's mass near the head, increasing the weapons torque.  Axe handles had to be kept shorter in order to maintain decent agility with one hand.  These short hafts could be tucked into a belt, allowing the axe to become the poor man's sidearm.
Spoiler: Mace (1-Handed) • show
Clubs go back as far as the stone age and examples of metallic maces have even been cast in bronze and favored for their simplicity.  By the Middle Ages, however, maces were being reinvented to serve a very new purpose: beating mail armor.  Weighing as much as a sword, maces carried much of their weight in their head.  This granted the mace momentum, allowing it to carry force through mail shirts and leggings, shattering the underlying bone.  Even as mail was fazed out of use in favor of plate, maces remained viable, abled to shock and disorient armored soldiers and knights.

This design was not without drawbacks.  They tended to be wild and unruly and were shortened to maintain control, much as in he case of the battle axe.  They were also, almost universally carried with shields to compensate for the weapon's poor defensive capabilities.  Also like an axe, the short handle could slip into a belt, freeing a hand for other tasks, though this was largely unnecessary on the battlefield.
Spoiler: War Hammer (1-Handed) • show
Like maces, war hammers go as far back as the stone and bronze ages and like maces, they began to resurface in the middle ages as an answer to the increasing prevalence and coverage of metal armor.  The war hammer's differed from the mace by integrating a fluke, a moderately long spike protruding from the head on the opposite side from the hammer face.  This fluke, sometimes called a crow's beak or falcon's beak, could puncture mail and poor quality iron plates.  However, its main funtion was largely to slip into gaps in armor, hooking and controlling an enemy.

Like axes, warhammers bore a metal head affixed to a wood haft, making the 2+ pound weapon top heavy.  Foot soldiers using the weapon often used short handles, a way to maintain control.  Longer hafted cavalry hammers were favored by knights because their heads could strike harder.  The weapon was not seen as practical outside battle, but could be carried if one expected to fight an armored assailant.

Battlefield Weapons
Sacrifices the convenience of a sidearm for an objectively superior weapon.  Such large weapons often have to be carried by hand.
Spoiler: Spear • show
For much of history, spears have been the great equalizer.  Cheap and easy to make, they were the weapon of choice for peasant militias and professional soldiers alike with remarkably few exceptions.  They could be quite long, used in one or both hands, and under the right conditions, pierce light armor.  For much of history, spears were used alongside shields.  Used in formation, they could be lifted over a shield wall and driven down toward enemies.

Though this particular style of combat would decline in popularity after the 11th Century, spears would remain a staple on the battlefield until the invention of the bayonet in the 17th century.
Spoiler: Bill • show
A polearm popularized by infantrymen during the late middle ages.  It was designed as a cross between a simple spear and a farmers billhook, a tool not unlike a modern sling blade.  Bill heads were designed similar to glaives, with a long, single edged blade.  However, the eponymous hook that protruded from the blade could be used to slip into the gaps in armor, or slipped behind extremities, tripping enemies and leaving them vulnerable.

A similar weapon, often called a guisarme features several shape protrusions.  However, in the UK, the words are often treated as interchangable.
Spoiler: Guisarme • show
Fundamentally tied to the same lineage of weapons as the bill, guisarmes are often marked as distinct by the presence of sharp protrusions from the top and pack of the weapon.  A long leading spike made the guisarme viable as a thrusting weapon, allowing it to be used in tight formations while additional protrusions allowed it to hook armored targets, much like the bill.

However, the guisarme is actually a fairly peculiar case as, frequently, guisarme is used to refer to weapons with hooked protrusions that had no direct relation to the bill.  Most comically though is the "bill-guisarme," a weapon that is visually and funtionally identical to a guisarme.  Depending on sources, Guisarme and Bill are used interchangably, as in the case of the 16th century English Billmen.
Spoiler: War Scythe • show
Not to be confused with fantasy battle scythes, historical war scythes were built with the blade in line with the haft, akin to a spear.  Believed by some to be built from a cannibalized or otherwise modified scythe blade, the polearm was an affordable, lightweight weapon that proved effective against unarmored targets.  The edge was inside the curve of the blade, supporting its ability to cut, but without a clear point, or the weight of the vaguely similar bill, scythes were unreliable against armored knights.

A similar, if somewhat distinct weapon was the fauchard.  Named for the french word for scythe (faux), fauchards differed from the war scythe by the addition of a forking spike projecting from the spine of the blade.  The fork allowed the weapon to catch and trap incoming blades during a melee.
Spoiler: Glaive • show
Originating in France and possibly evolving from the fauchard, glaives were the prefered polearm of the French infantry and the direct rival to the English bill during the Hundred Years War.  Also called 'pole-swords,' they bore a long single edged blade similar to the falchion.  This blade was equally effective as a cut and thrust weapon and often featured forked spikes for trapping blades and hooks for catching armored targets.  Such modified weapons are commonly called 'glaive-guisarmes.'
Spoiler: Voulge • show
A type of European polearm similar to a glaive, voulges were unique by the design of the head.  Where most spears bore socket heads atached to one end of the half, voulges were more like axes, the blade affixed parallel to the grip.  They often had a distinct shape, with a robust cleaving blade and a long spike.  Like most late medieval pole weapons, this made them viable as both a thrusting and hacking weapon, used both in tight formations, and as a stand-alone close quarters weapon.

One unique advantage of the voulge is that the lack of a socket allowed other components to be attached behind the blade.  As always, with the rise of armor, voulge-guisarmes could be fashioned by the simple addition of a hooked barb.
Spoiler: Halberd • show
Potentially born from the design of the voulge-guisarme, halberds feature all the same components: a potent axe-like blade for hacking, a long spike for thrusting and a hooked barb for dragging armored enemies to the ground.  They differed from the voulge in that all these aspects were combined to a single head, improving the durability of the weapon overall.  Halberds tended to be more expensive than other infantry polearms and are sometimes considered impractical for conscripted soldiers.

Halberds were largely prefered in the German speaking world, and fulfilled the same battlefield role as the glaive and the bill.  Even while Swiss and German mercenaries were coming to rely almost exclusively on pikes, the halberd remained a necessary supplement for hand-to-hand combat.
Spoiler: Great Axe • show
When you think of an iconic Viking weapon, you likely think of this two-handed axe.  Standing between 3-4 feet tall, these weapons were desceptively light.  They were also quite expensive, due in large part to their exacting construction.  For this reason, they were largely used by only professional soldiers, such as Scandanavian housekarls and early knights.

Because of its two-handed design, the great axe (sometimes called Dane axe) could not be used with a shield.  This meant the weapon almost required the owner wear armor (such as mail), further increasing its cost.  It could be used to hook targets, usually behind the knee or ankle to trip them up, creating easily exploitable openings.  This technique would remain vital in the accelerating arms race between weapon and armor development.

Ranged Weapons
Weapons that sacrifice the precision of a close quarters weapon for the advantage of range.  Often compensate with their own brute strength.
Spoiler: Bows (in general) • show
Developed during the stone age, bows have been a part of warfare nearly as long as humans have.  Bows are a rare example of a 'brute strength' weapon, designed to translate a person's physical might into the power of a shot.  Bows and archery techniques are developed with 3 main properties in mind: penetration, precision and launch rate.  Oftentimes, an attempt to improve one property will negatively effect the other properties.

Crossbows fundamentally follow the same principals, but are often designed to require less strength to operate effectively.  This is usually done by integrating additional mechanisms to the design, though this often meant that the weapon took longer to reload.  Designs for bows and crossbows are as diverse as the cultures that used them.
Spoiler: Warbow (Longbow) • show
For much of European history, bows in warfare fell out of favor as armor became more ubiquitous.  Many of the simple hunting bows lacked the power to pierce such sturdy protection except in rare cases where certain archers trained themselves to use overpowered variations of the simple bow design.  Sufficiently powerful bows could pierce mail but their fielding was too sporadic and uncertain to be reliable.

European warbows did not see large scale deployment in feudal militaries except in England, where royal decrees demanded that many commoners train in the handling of the powerful weapon.  This culture of archers meant that English forces often had access to a large number of well trained soldiers for use one the battlefield.

Use of the warbow was unique to England, however.  The rest of Europe would come to favor crossbows, which required less strength to operate.  The warbow would only become obsolete with the invention and adoption of the flintlock musket, which proved viable against plate armor.

NOTE: There is no hard limit on how powerful a warbow could be.  Bows are only limited by the strength of their wielder.
Spoiler: Recurve Bow • show
A more sophisticated bow design than was traditionally used in Europe, recurve bows were promonent in Asia and the Middle East.  Their stave was made with a forward curl that, when strung, led the weapon to have unusually high draw wights for its size.  This compactness made recurves ideal for use on horsback, as was the case of Mongolian, Chinese and Turkish warriors.

Recurve warbows were unique to societies that viewed bows as aristocratic.  The complexity of their design, while not uniquely expensive, meant the weapon cost more than an average self bow.  For this reason, it never caught on in Europe, where hand-to-hand combat was held in higher regard.
Spoiler: Yumi • show
An adaptation of the Mongolian bow, Japanese bows, called yumi, were an unnusually variation of recurve that rapidly became the signature weapon of the bushi, Japan's ruling warrior caste.  As with the mainland counterpart, yumi were used on horseback, but were often quite tall, 5 feet being the norm.  Such large bows were called daikyu.  They maintained maneuverability by having the grip placed a third of the bows length from the bottom.  This also helped reduce hand shock, which was chanelled to the center of the bow.

Japanese bows historically had a focus on speed rather than brute strength.  While stronger samurai normally wielded heavier bows than their weaker peers, the draw weights were still less than their English counterparts.  This meant the weapon would have suffered against full armor.
Spoiler: Crossbow • show
Crossbows were developed for use by soldiers untrained in the use of bows and saw forms in China, Greece, Rome and medieval Europe.  Their core physics were roughly the same as traditional bows, but could be spanned and locked before aiming, meaning they did not necessarily need to be pulled back by one hand.  Early Qin dynasty bows, for example, are believed to have been spanned by soldiers lying on their backs and using their entire bodies to power the weapon.

In Europe, crossbows originated from Bronze and Iron age artillery pieces.  With their invention, Crossbows in Europe largely fazed out warbows from most militaries as it was often easier to amass a force that could use them compared attempting to employ more conventional archers.  Compared conventinal bows, its only weakness was its slower speed, though this was often negligible.
Spoiler: Arbalest • show
Named after ancient Greek and Roman artillery weapons, Arbalests are distinct from other crossbows by their use of steel prods.  This allowed most bows to store more power than similar wooden crossbows.  Weak arbalests had a draw weight as low as 300lbs while heavy arbalests, such as those used by Genoese mercenaries during the Hundred Years War, could excede 1000lbs of draw.  However, limitations on the quality of steel made during the Middle Ages meant that crossbows could only be drawn six inches; otherwise, excessive strain could lead to the prod snapping, injuring or killing the Arbalist in combat.

As mentioned above, Crossbows were developed as a way to standardize training for soldiers using projectile weapons.  Real world examples are generally seen as being of similar quallity and funtionality to the warbow.  However, the extremely high draw weight of such weapons is universally more than what a real human could exert.  Thus, specialized spanning devices were necessary.  For weaker bows, a simple lever, called a goat's foot, was enough.  However, 1000lbs battlefield crossbows often relied on a pully rig know as a windlass; such spanners were exclusively used by infantry.  Reloading a windlass crossbow could often take 20 seconds or more, leading to their unpopularity in England, where longbows were the norm.

In Europe, bows would actually outlive crossbows on the battlefield.  Due to long load times and the crossbows ineffectiveness against many types of armor, practical firearms almost immediately replaced them amid most armies.

Armors & Defense
Tools and implements designed to improve an individual's chances of survival by stopping incoming attacks.
Spoiler: Shield (in General) • show
Shields were and still are a tool of defense.  While specific designs have varied, that all had the same first purpose: to be place between the user and the enemies weapon.  Generally, they were made of wood.  This not only kept the weapon cheap and light, fibrous would could also trap the blades of spears and swords.

Shields began to decline in popularity on the battlefield in the Late Middle Ages.  Improvements in armor and the rise of plate harnesses made the shield reduntant and soldiers began to trade their shields for two handed weapons.
Spoiler: Buckler • show
Popular throughout the middle ages, Bucklers were an extremely small type of centergrip shield gripped in the fist during duels.  What made them unique is that they were so small, they were virtually unusable as body coverage.  Instead, when held in the off-hand, they could be used to cover the hand that held a weapon, normally a sword.  Their small size meant they could also be worn at the hip without causing inconvenience.

Contrary to many video game depictions, bucklers were too small to be worn via enarmas or straps.  Attempting to do so would have rendered the shield unusable.  The shield's name actually refers to being almost entirely composed of a boss (boucle in French), a domed section of a shield meant to seat a bar grip flush with the rest of a shield.

Bucklers declined in popularity with the rise of basket guards, which provided the same protection to the sword hand while freeing the off-hand for other uses.
Spoiler: Gambeson • show
No one truly knows when quilted or gamboised was invented but the design goes at least as far back as the early Iron Age.  This padded armor was popular among wealthy Celts and Rome's Legions because it allowed fighters to wear mail comfortably, providing a cushion against the metal's weight.  With the fall of Rome, mail and the underlying padding found its way throughout Europe, favored as both armor and insulation in extreme climates.  Even with the advent of plate armor, arming garments remained in use, required as a base layer for a soldier's harness, both as an attachment point for individual components and "doubling" protection against blunt force weapons such as the increasingly favored warhammers and maces of a Late Medieval knight.

Gambesons were made largely of common textiles, such as cotton, linen, wool and horsehair and could be anywhere between 8 and 16 layers thick.  Though this made them incredibly thick, gambesons remained highly flexible and light.  And since the material's used in the construction were so incredibly common, owning and repairing a gambison was remarkably easy.  This meant that quilted padding was nearly universal, even among non-professional soldiers such as peasant militiaman.
Spoiler: Padded Jack • show
A variation of gambeson developed during the late Middle Ages, these were the standard armor of peasant levies, who had no source of full time income.  Unlike earlier and contemporary under-armor, padded jacks were often much thicker, sometimes even layered with canvas or leather and could not be worn with plate.  It came about as a counter to the rising popularity of the Arbelist, a crossbow that offered the same mail penetrating capabilities of the warbow.  The extra-layers increased the probability of stopping projectiles outright.

The many layers of material could also prove effective against blades and blunted weapons.  In fact, very few weapons were truely effective against such heavy duty padding.  The design lead knights and men-at-arms to adopt razor fine blades such as the falchion and battle axe, as well as high impact puncturing weapons such as the raven's beak (bec de corbin).

Note: The modern term, "Jacket" originates as the diminutive form of Jack.
Spoiler: Doublet • show
A non-military variant form of gambeson that came about around the same time as the heavy Padded Jack.  In fact the term 'doublet,' originates from the afformentioned term, 'Doubling.'  Under armor was long known for its close fitting design, meant to support the harness and maximize mobility.  This close, streamlined aesthetic led to the adoption of this close fitting garment in everyday life.  Loose fitting tunics gradually fell out of favor, increasingly viewed as underwear.

While arming doublets had to be laced up the breast so that a solid cuirass could be put on over it, public doublets were designed to be more convenient, leading to the widespread adoption of buttons in everyday attire.

Another consequent of the doublet it a change in traditional martial arts.  The thick garments resilience lead to an increasing interest in piercing weapons as sidearms.  The doublet is largely credited with the birth of the rapier and various forms of late Medieval dagger.
Spoiler: Buff Leather • show
Officially, buff leather came into use as a wealthy man's gambeson during the 17th century.  Like padded armor, buff coats were often worn under plate, but also as stand alone armor in situations where plate was considered unsuitable.  Like its cheaper counterpart, it was quite thick, allowing it to turn away sword blades and in some cases, even pistol shots.

Unlike a gambeson, buff leather was significantly more expensive, made from rawhide harvested from cattle, which were scarce.  For this reason, buff coats were almost exclusive to knights and other nobles, who could afford to waste such an expensive tool.  Also, any damage to the coat was impossible to adequately repair, meaning that when it worked, it had to be replaced.  Leather, in general, also requires regular oiling as most flesh based materials (such as vellum and parchment) crack as they dry out.
Spoiler: Lamellar Leather • show
Historically, lamellar armor was quite prevalent in Asia and originally, it was made of numerous little plates of rawhide or leather.  It was largely just as effective as full buff leather, but was worn more like heavy armor, with components such as breastplates and spaulders.  It was largly used as a poor man's alternative to metal, especially in iron poor regions such as Mongolia and Japan.

Like with buff coats, the cost of the leather or hide was based on the availability of cattle.  However, since the armor was composed of little pieces of material, the tiny squares could be removed individually and replaced much more cheaply than an entire unit.  It still saw drastic declines in popularity, phased out with iron armor whenever feasible.
Spoiler: Boiled Leather • show
Cuir bouilli or boiled leather was a piece of leather boiled(usually in wax) until it is rigid and inflexible.  It was mostly used for containers, hard book covers and scabbards but on occasion, one could wear hard leather as armor.  While it was cheaper than good steel armor, it bore a number of steel's shortcomings.  It was rigid, having no flexibility meant it could not cover any area of the body meant to move such as the upper shoulders, elbows, waist, etc.

Cuir bouilli was still expensive, almost exclusively worn by knights and men-at-arms.  This remained the case until the gradual reinvention of plate armor, which proved both more effective and more versatile in the long term.  Still, it was sometimes used as a more affordable alternative to plate, though this was remarkably rare.

Boiled leather's rigidity makes it unusually resistant to blunt weapons.  Today, it is sometimes used in sword training thanks to its ability to resist the impact of blunted wasters.
Spoiler: Scale Armor • show
A peculiar armor that may have been the evolutionary stage between ancient leather and mail.  Composed of a fabric base covered in small scales of hard material.  It has been known to be made of leather but most known today are made of metal, such as the Roman lorica squimata which was an iron age armor used by the Empire's legions until it was replaced by mail.

As with all forms of metal armor, scale is cut proof, making many bladed weapons useless except in certain cases.  However, since the backing is generally made of lighter fabric, thrusts can be angled along the plain of the scales, rendering the armor useless.  It was for this shortcoming that scale armors died out in the iron age, replaced almost univerally by mail.
Spoiler: Mail • show
Mail (or Maille), sometimes called chain armor, is a suit of flexible, interlocking metal rings.  Patterns vary from culture to culture but by and large, the mesh is composed of alternating solid and riveted metal washers, often in a 4-in-1 assembly.  Mail hauberks go back as far as the iron age and were widely used by Celtic warriors.  The design was quickly adopted by the Romans, becoming the standard armor of the Legions.  During the Crusades, European knights wore mail across their entire bodies, similar to samurai who developed Kusari Gusoku independently of their European counterparts.

As with scale, Mail offered full range of motion to its wearers and proved functionally cut proof.  And, thanks to its solid interlocked design, punturing weapons proved unreliable, taking multiple thrusts to the same rings to break through.  As plate armor entered the picture, mail remained a supplement, fitting underneath and covering what plate could not.
Spoiler: Lamellar Armor • show
Originally based on its leather or rawhide counterpart, cultures that had developed lamellar armor began experimenting during the iron age by replaceing some of the small pieces, or lamellae, with iron.  Over time more and more of the armor became metallic as the needs for an armor that could resist most weapons increased.  As with its leather counterparts, it seems to have originated in East Asia, spreading west as far as the Middle East, where it eventually evolved into Mirror Armor, the harness used by much of the Ottoman Empire.

It shares many of the strengths of mail, being cut and mostly thrust proof.  However, being made of solid metal plates, it lacks some of the flexibility of mail.  This forces sections of the armor, such as highly articulated joints to receive less coverage, making them vulnerable.  On the plus side, armor with less give is more resistant to blunt weapons, protecting the wearer from some of a mace's impact
Spoiler: Laminar Armor • show
Famously used by Roman Legionaries as lorica segmentata as well as manica, laminar armor is a type of armor composed of bands of material.  When made of metal, the individual bands could slide, offering the wearer a high degree flexibility.  It was this property that armorists looked to during the development of modern plate armor.  While immobile portions of a body could be covered by solid plate, joints such as knees, shoulders, waists and feet could be covered in a series of lames, held together by sliding rivets or strips of leather, meaning that a fully armored knight could be completely covered in steal.

While solid cuirasses would be the norm, laminar breastplates such as Italian Anima and Japanese tosei-gusoku did exist.  These variations in armor were contemporary to firearms and were often specially designed to be bullet proof.
Spoiler: Plate Armor • show
Plate armor technically goes as fare back as the bronze age.  At that time, cuirasses could be cast of the material and was widely worn in Egypt and Greece, though this was nearly exclusive to the extremely wealthy.  Iron plates were much more difficult to work with as its melting point was much higher than bronze.  Practical steel harnesses would not become prevalent until the mid-14th century when southern German and northern Italian armorist developed a technique for shapping and tempering large, wearable plates.  The invention of plate armor led to a rapid decline of mail, then only used to supplement and fill joints between plates.  It would later be sold in Japan, proving ideal during the Sengoku Jidai against the increasingly popular use of rifles.

In fantasy, plate armor is often undervalued.  Being made of steel, plate armor is cut proof while also being highly puncture resistant.  Its rigidity also allows the weapon to repel blunt force weapons as well, though the shock of a blow that did not glance away could still dissorient the wearer, potentially offering an opening to an attacker.  While low quality armor, accessible by many commoners, was at least arrow and crossbow resistant, well made tempered steel was bullet proof*

A full plate harness normally weighed between 50 and 60 pounds and was tailored to fit the wearer perfectly.  For this reason, the myth that armor hindered the wearer's mobility is largely recognised as pure fiction.  Contrary to popular culture, knights in armor were expected to be able to do all of the things they could while fighting out of it.  This included, but was not limited to: running, jumping, climbing and tumbling.  What hinderences did occur were negligible at best.

Combining high mobility with a near absolute defense meant that it was not simply a matter of overwhelming an armored opponent.  Specialized techniques and weapons came into widespread use among knights who expected to fight other knights.  Warhammers and daggers grew in popularity on the battlefield as they were among the only viable weapons for use against such heavily protected soldiers.  Grappling techniques such a ringen and Japanese jujutsu were also ideal for pinning armored soldiers and creating opportunities to kill or capture them.

Spoiler: Catapult • show
Catapult, as a term, generally refers to any heavy projectile weapon that relies on stored potential energy to generate mechanical power.  Traditionally, the term was exclusive to artillery that did not rely on explosives.

This hyper general nature makes it difficult to establish a satisfactory definition of what makes a catapult a catapult; however, catapults in all forms fell out of favor, largely as a result of the invention of cannons, which was the first weapon to be viable against the walls of stone fortification.
Spoiler: Ballista • show
Based on the bow, Ballistae are an ancient form of catapult that relies on the tension of a pair of flexed arms to hurl a large javalin at distant soldiers.  At the time of its use, it was the most powerful projectile weapon and versions of the weapon also appeared in ancient China.  The weapon was later adopted by Rome and was used during the Middle Ages.

Unlike other forms of stone throwing artillery, could only shoot in a flat trajector, much like bows and crossbows.  Also, because of the nature of the projectile, ballistae were innective against massed enemies.  Instead, they were often used as precision sniping weapons, allowing soldiers to shoot as long distance with surprising accuracy.
Spoiler: Onager • show
Onagers were a Roman Era torsion catapult powered by a mass of twisted ropes.  When the arm was released, the ropes would attempt to relax, throwing the arm forward against a wooden beam.  When the arm stopped, a stone was realeased, carried on by its own momentu.  It was an effective weapon, used to break up enemy formations.

For all their advantages, Onagers also had some clear drawbacks.  There were limits to how much power coiled rope could store, meaning that making the weapon more powerful or granting it superior range was impossible.  Also, rope tended to grow weak when it was wet, making the weapon unreliable when it rained.

Elements of warfare that do not belong elsewhere end up here.
Spoiler: English Army Pay During the Hundred Years War • show
In a society as stratified as medieval Europe, it is difficult to imagine that the armies of the day were not also built on their own sort of hierarchy.  As a result, different soldiers tended to have different incomes based on the value of their training and equipment.

One thing to note; this is based specifically on averages from the early 1300s and the period's £sd system.  For reference, this was a monetary system favored by Rome and later the Kingdoms of Europe.  In the case of England, the units were the Pound(£), the shilling(s), and penny(p).  This money was generally backed in silver - a Pound literally represented the value of a troy pound of silver - and was safer to transport than the actual silver.  There were 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a Pound.

Commoners: Part-time soldiers taken from among Rural Peasants or Urban Commoners.  Listed income is daily
[li]Spearman (2p) - Common soldiers armed with a polearm.  They generally wore padded armor and an Iron Helm.  They might have also carried a shield, though such defenses were in decline on the battlefield.[/li]
[li]Archer (3p) - Highly trained soldiers able to use heavy longbows.  Often able to afford mail and an iron helmet, they carried swords and bucklers as their given sidearms[/li]
[li]Mounted Archer (6p) - Archer that owned a horse, allowing them to get into position quickly.  It is generally believed they dismounted before using their bows.  Almost universally owned mail, iron helmets, swords and bucklers.
[/li][/list][li]Hobelar (6p) - Light cavalry, usually mounted on a Hobby.  They often had full armor and carried lances and swords.[/li][/list]

Men-At-Arms: Full time soldiers in the employ of a noble.  Their training varied but they were universally owned horses and plate armor, meaning they could act as both heavy infantry and cavalry.  Listed income is daily
[li]Sergeant (1s) - The basic rank associated with a professional soldier.  Very young poor sergeants would be outfitted with full body mail and a full helm; most also had some amount of plate armor.[/li]
[li]Knight Bachelor (2s) - Officially, the lowest rank of knighthood in the English Military.  Their high pay meant they could afford the best equipment and resources of their time.  By the end of the middle ages, they universally wore plate armor and could fight on foot or horseback[/li]
[li]Knight Banneret (4s) - A knight qualified to lead other knights in battle.  Much like their subordinates, they owned the highest quality equipment.[/li]

*It is important to note that these amounts were an aproximation of a soldier's cost of living.  Commoners, who were payed often only enough to keep themselves, and their horses, fed, generally fought for their opportunity to loot the battlefield afterward.

**Men-at-arms were generally retained by a lord, even during peace time.  This tied a retainer's livelyhood to the success of his employer and their campaigns.
Spoiler: Feudalism • show
When one hears the word "Medieval," it evokes many images and ideas.  From fashion to weapons, architecture to hygiene, there are many assumptions about what makes the medieval, medieval.  However, nothing is a central to look and culture of the period as feudalism.  For those who do not know, Feudalism was the system of government established in Europe in the 11th Century, though it was also prevalent elsewhere.  Under feudalism, a king entrusted land to those who served him.  This land was a form of payment, or fief, used to buy these nobles' loyalty.

Feudalism, at its core, rose in answer to the fact that kings did not have the resources to control a significant amount of territory.  This was especially relevant during the Viking age, when raiders began to exploit the lack of defense throughout much of Europe.  When land was entrusted to a vassal, that Entitled lord became responsible for maintaining both the productivity and security of the area.  While feudalism led to a highly stratified society, it was necessary in a world where Kings had little centralized authority.

Central to feudalism was the rise of Manorialism.  In concept, a Manor was the smallest territory that could be administrated over from a single location.  At the center of any given Manor was the manor house, a structure or compound at which a reeve, bailiff or noble lived.  During the Middle Ages, these Houses took the form of fortified castles, a result of the conflict heavy nature of the period.  Going hand in hand with castle building was the birth of the Knight, mounted skirmishers who could attack a force of invaders before retreating to the safety of their aforementioned castle.

Sinces its inseption, Feudalism had always been heavily hierarchical.  By basing political authority one ownership of land, this would have been unavoidable.  However, such public hierarchies are born of the cultures they represent, they are naturally, quite varied.  Normally, though, one's strata is based on a full time profession.  Changing class was often a matter of finding an alternative carreer.

Offline Aeytrious

Re: Project Arsenal
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2018, 11:12:48 AM »
This is a nice resource for people to have. A sort of one stop shop for many of the weapons available in the Dark Ages. Of course, we’re ahead of that in some areas of technology, having things that might be found in the Age of Discovery. For instance Serendipity and Connlaoth both have guns. Though they are not widely available to the public, and Connlaoth has more advanced guns than Serendipity. I like this though. I have a very extensive knowledge of weaponry ranging from Classical Antiquity to the Age of Enlightenment. I especially enjoy siege weapons. I read a treatise on the trebuchets dismissal from use and then comeback. It’s all quite fascinating. Players should keep in mind though, that while maintaining realism to a degree doesn’t negate the ability to use the rule of cool, and that magic can do things technology hasn’t reached yet.
The Soot Wolves


8etty 8otter 8ought a 8it of 8utter.
"8ut," said she, "this 8utter's 8itter.
If I put it in my 8atter,
It will make my 8atter 8itter.
8ut a 8it of 8etter 8utter
That would make my 8atter 8etter."
So 8etty 8otter 8ought a 8it of 8etter 8utter
(8etter than her 8itter 8utter)
And she put it in her 8itter 8atter
And made her 8itter 8atter a 8it 8etter.

Yes. I know I'm sexy.
You don't need to keep pointing it out.