Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ADP: The Armour Decision Point guide

Armour Decision Point - The Guide

(Part of the ADP: Armour Decision Point series)

This article is aimed as a guide to help you work your way through the decisions regarding acquiring a new kit of armour.

Making the decisions regarding a new or upgraded kit of armour requires due diligence. You will need to make irreversible promises to commit large amounts of time and/or considerable amounts of money.  You will need to study a considerable amount of material, gain an understanding of multiple concepts, communicate these concepts to other people, and make decisions based on limited information. It is almost inevitable you will need to make compromises, and you will need to understand that you are doing them in order to minimize issues.

Once this guide has succeeded, you will be able to fill out the worksheet. This can be used to help you focus on your creation if you are a maker, or help you communicate your desires if you are project managing the creation of your kit with other collaborators.

Below the guide is a series of fast explanations of each of the points in the worksheet, which also has a link off to a more complete article on that topic.

At the bottom are links to examples where this ADP method has been used to describe a specific kit of armour. Each example has a filled out worksheet, and a expanded version of the My Compromises section.

Armour Decision Point Worksheet

  • Silhouette ___________________________________________________
  • Time Period _________________________________________________
  • Geographical Area  ___________________________________________
  • Historical Example  ___________________________________________
  • Social Status  ________________________________________________
  • Leg Suspension  ______________________________________________
  • Correct Layers V Your Layers  ___________________________________
  • Weapon Fitout  ________________________________________________
  • My Compromises  _____________________________________________


The first decision point is to decide on your silhouette. When you are seen across the field, what will people think? The most common silhouettes are Migration period("viking"); Transition (1350); Age of plate (1450); and Sports Armour (Ahistorical hodgepodge). Less common silhouettes are Greek, Roman, Rus, Middle Eastern, and Japanese. 

My article helps you understand the concept, and gives examples of the change of silhouettes using the rough examples 1250, 1350, 1450 and 1550. 

LINK:Gambeson-ackerton-hackbutt and resulting silhouettes

Time period

The next decision point is to pick a specific time period. This can narrow down to a rough period like a silhouette (Transition); a time range (1340-1360), or a specific year or event (1350 Combat of the Thirty).

LINK: Choosing a time period 

Geographical Area

Italians of the same year looked significantly different from Germans who looked unlike the English for most of our time periods. Hone in on a specific Geographic area and you will be able to make better armour decisions. 

LINK: Choosing a geographical area 

Historical Example

Narrowing again to help you make clearer decisions regarding your armour. Effigies, tombstone tracings, and carefully chosen paintings are good sources. 

Social Status

Choosing the armour of the king, the knight or the commoner is another branch of decisions that will have a significant impact on your armour.

Leg suspension

The leg armour is generally a heavy part of your kit, and keeping them suspended, on your legs, safe and comfortable is a reasonable feat of fabric engineering.

LINK: Choosing a leg suspension.
EXTRA LINK: Leg pressure bands

Correct layers V your layers

Really this is a subset of compromises, but  needs stating. Each kit of armour likely need a skilled worker in steel, cloth and leather. This can be difficult to co-ordinate, and often you will use the skills of one of these people to make up for the lack of another. Maybe you will choose commercial ready made armour and cover failings with a tailors hand. Maybe you  work wonders with a needle and so hiding armour inside your garments is the way forward. Decisions can be made to move different skills to the fore in your kit.

Weapon Fitout

As much time could be spent on weapon selection as armour, but I will limit the decisions to bare hands, gloves, gauntlets or 'one job' hand protection.

My Compromises

Dr Tobias Capwell finished his PHD on it and spent five years and spent tens of thousands of dollars and learnt multiple skills to make his kit. I suspect you will not have that amount of time or those resources for your kit, so compromises will need to be made.
Where will you make yours? Money, time, skills, materials, heat, safety of the hands, kidneys, throat or skull? Do you need to conform to a rule set such as those or  SCA or BOTTN? Gauntlets instead of bare hands? Are you too large or too small to get the silhouette? Are you not strong enough to wear all the mail? Do you have a bust and want a man's kit? Do you not care about historical aims and just want to sports fight? Do you fight in  an antipodean sweat box of a country rather than cooler Europe? Understanding what 'right' should be, then own the compromises you are making.

Examples of kits described/ planned using this method

(to be written)
Bart's Tranisitiony/ Norman really dodgy kit

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