Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    Registered User SilentDan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    A house on a hill somewhere in Australia.
    Posts
    185
    Blog Entries
    3

    Sword verse leather armour

    What's the (standard longsword) sword's chance of going through, or tearing, leather-type armour? (think post-apocalypse gear) What types of leather armour are there? Do different melee weapons have better leather-tearing capabilities?

    For that matter, how good is leather against bullets, anyway? I imagine tougher materials as plating over vital areas would be better, although there's obviously the issue of weight.

    How lucky would you have to get to hit someone covered in leather-based armour, and could you put tougher stuff into the suit?

    The opponents have leather + scrap metal, the heroes have I'm thinking leather + kevlar for obvious reasons when you realise the leader has lightning-producing capabilities.

  2. #2
    Shadowkin PeteMC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,613
    Quote Originally Posted by SilentDan View Post
    What's the (standard longsword) sword's chance of going through, or tearing, leather-type armour? (think post-apocalypse gear) What types of leather armour are there? Do different melee weapons have better leather-tearing capabilities?
    A decent longsword is a very sharp weapon - have a look at this http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.9194.html

    Leather on its own doesn't make great armour, pretty much any weapon with a decent edge on it will cut leather. Also remember that unless you're wearing a ton of padding underneath, the leather doesn't even need to be cut or torn. A mace will quite happily stave your ribs in through a few layers of leather.

    For that matter, how good is leather against bullets, anyway? I imagine tougher materials as plating over vital areas would be better, although there's obviously the issue of weight.
    It isn't. Even metal plate that's light enough to wear doesn't stop the right sort of arrow, never mind a bullet.

    How lucky would you have to get to hit someone covered in leather-based armour, and could you put tougher stuff into the suit?

    The opponents have leather + scrap metal, the heroes have I'm thinking leather + kevlar for obvious reasons when you realise the leader has lightning-producing capabilities.
    Leather armour isn't much more than thick clothes, to be honest. If you can rivet bits of metal to it it'll help, especially against glancing cuts, but it's not going to be great without mail as well (you don't mention if your chars have mail or not. Mail over leather over padding is decent armour).

    If you have kevlar then obviously you're in a much better place against firearms, but don't forget that real-word kevlar bodyarmour is ridiculously thick and heavy (much, much worse to wear than steel plate armour is).
    Last edited by PeteMC; October 23rd, 2012 at 05:27 AM.

  3. #3
    KMTolan kmtolan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Near Austin TX
    Posts
    1,285
    Ex-SCA person here (Society for Creative Anachronism). I wore leather armor. Much easier to tolerate the heat and far less cumbersome than plate. To be effective against a sword (all but a direct blow) you need to treat the leather in wax (they used bee's wax I think back in the day). This protects you against the slashing and piercing type of attack, however a chopping attack (as with a broad sword) will still get through though with less effect (probably not lose your arm in one blow...probably). You are still highly vulnerable to impacts that can break bones - especially if your opponent decides on a crushing weapon instead.

    A combination of both leather and wrapped linen can also mitigate attacks more effectively, though at the cost of mobility and tolerance to heat. Don't forget that weather conditions, mainly heat, play a HUGE factor in any such fight. The sun and high humidity can sap your strength as readily as any opponent - it's highly unlikely even a fit fighter can keep going full tilt for more than fifteen to thirty minutes or so under such conditions. Much less if they are using plate.

    Kerry

  4. #4
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    In the Sea of Tranquility
    Posts
    12,014
    Pretty much any weapon can go through leather armor. The idea was that it means cutting you or bludgeoning you went just a tiny bit slower, which meant that you had slightly more time to move away from your attacker in a fight and reduce your injury or strike before you die. But against arrows, it was largely useless and against bullets, completely useless. That's why they had wooden or metal shields. A breastplate, even if it's scrap metal, is obviously going to be more effective, but against a projectile weapon, it's more iffy, especially something the speed of a bullet. And of course, metal conducts electricity really well. Kevlar is stronger than steel and lighter, but it's not a feather. To wear it a lot, while traveling long hours would be very difficult. What might work better, if they can manage it, is cutting a smaller plate of Kevlar from say a vest and attaching it under clothing with some kind of straps. That way, you'd have a small amount of protection that's easier to wear. However, if you get shot with a bullet that hits the Kevlar, it still has an impact. You're going to have bruises and you could end up with broken ribs. You may be incapacitated temporarily when you get hit while wearing Kevlar. If they are using any sort of motorized vehicle for transport, strapping Kevlar to protect the gas tank, engine, etc. (i.e. like steel plating,) might be more important than strapping it to humans. Kevlar is reasonably good at dealing with electricity, being non-conductive and it insulates.

  5. #5
    it could be worse Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    4,854
    Blog Entries
    18
    Quote Originally Posted by PeteMC View Post
    Is this in the writer's resource thread? It should be...

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by SilentDan View Post
    What's the (standard longsword) sword's chance of going through, or tearing, leather-type armour? (think post-apocalypse gear) What types of leather armour are there? Do different melee weapons have better leather-tearing capabilities?

    For that matter, how good is leather against bullets, anyway? I imagine tougher materials as plating over vital areas would be better, although there's obviously the issue of weight.

    How lucky would you have to get to hit someone covered in leather-based armour, and could you put tougher stuff into the suit?

    The opponents have leather + scrap metal, the heroes have I'm thinking leather + kevlar for obvious reasons when you realise the leader has lightning-producing capabilities.
    Leather armour is particularly effective against slashing weapons like curved knives and swords. Most hard leather armour can stop or mitigate a slash from a straight sword (ie. longsword). Note however that highly curved swords like the Japanese katana or the Arabic Scimitar will go straight through leather armour like butter. This is why you don't see leather armour being employed in feudal Japan or by middle eastern pirates in the middle ages.

    Leather armour is particularly weak against piercing weapons (bullets, straight knives, spears, fence pickets, straight swords [when stabbing]), crushing weapons (clubs, hammers), and hacking weapons (axes).

    Bullets will go straight through leather. Hard leather or multiple layers of leather are semi-rigid and don't have the same force spreading qualities as multiple layers of cloth, ceramics, or spiders silk.

    Kevlar will stop bullets from penetrating, but damage will still spread into the body breaking bones and causing internal damage.

    No armour is perfect and most will save your life, but not your body. If you take a hit say from a bullet with kevlar, or from an axe in plate, you will still go down.

  7. #7
    e-author MrBF1V3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    norte nueve mejico
    Posts
    2,245
    So, after the apocalypse leather becomes easier to get? Maybe if I raid the mall, but most of that is soft.
    If I need armor I don't think I can do better than tires. A good four ply steel belted might not stop a bullet, but there is a reason why they slash your tires on the side walls. Material is readily available. On the other hand, without electricity my grinder wouldn't work, and it would take a week and half a dozen hack saw blades to make the panels the way I want them. And there is the issue of weight, and you'd smell like old tires.
    B5

  8. #8
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    In the Sea of Tranquility
    Posts
    12,014
    Hmm, floor mats wouldn't have the steel, but they are easier to turn into armor and you could layer them.

  9. #9
    it could be worse Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    4,854
    Blog Entries
    18
    I'm trying to think of materials readily available, and I remember an episode of Mythbusters where they set off explosions to see what household furniture would save your butt. I think a table did keep folks safe from a variety of explosions along with the accompanying projectiles. I suppose you could fashion a wooden shield from a table top relatively easily? Of course, that's assuming the table is made of real wood, and that you'd be strong enough to carry it around.

    Maybe you could fashion a leather harness to hold thick, wooden pieces around your vital parts?

  10. #10
    With explosions, there are several factors to consider.

    There's the chemical/heat effect in the proximity of the blast.
    There's debris, and this depends on the layout of the terrain.
    There's air pressure shock wave, and this one is also quite critical.

    In fact, the air wave, and how it's forms - and how it collapses, determines, among other things, the damage.
    In theory, you could hide under a table and weather the debris and heat, but the collapsing shock wave could rupture your internal organs.

    Igor

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Vancouver
    Posts
    1
    I've been a leather armor smith for five years now and some of the answers here are spot on, while others are pretty wildly inaccurate. This is because leather varies greatly. Metal also varies greatly.

    Most leather armor you buy online is 8-10oz and might be water hardened or at least molded. Knives will cut through it, especially if they are very sharp or pokey. Moderately soft, even water hardened, this leather retains some flexibility. It bends a little. It offers some protection against blunt force, softening blows. With a single layer of this armor, you’re going to get hurt if someone hits you. As it is cheap, this is the typical kind of leather that weapon demonstrators like to cut up.

    If you wax harden this leather properly, it will become very hard and considerably harder to cut. Being hard offers much more protection against bludgeoning blows as well.

    Layering leather (or any armor) creates some interesting effects. As a weapon penetrates the first layer it pushes the two layers apart as it tries to cut into the second. This creates more resistance on the weapon in the hole of the first layer. Layers also offer a springboard effect in the way of resistance to blows. Properly layered leather armor can take a considerable hit.

    Now if you go down to the garment leathers, 2oz-6oz, you’re going to get something that is warm and resistant to scrapes. It is virtually useless against blunt force and might stop a slashing or piercing injury if it happens to slip off the leather.

    On the other end, you’ve got 16oz leather which is pretty much the heaviest commercial leather. If you do nothing at all to this leather, it is difficult to cut. If you get into some rawhide material, it’s bloody hard to cut. If you water harden this leather properly it becomes very hard. If you wax harden this properly, it becomes rock hard. While you’d be lucky to stop a low caliber bullet, the much revered Katana is going to have trouble with it. Properly hardened leather is like wood or worse to cut through. But you pay for it with weight.

    Properly layered and constructed you can make a suit of leather armor with the same level of protection as platemail, but it’s going to be very thick and heavy. I have such a suit three feet from my computer. It takes two straps, total, to put everything on but the legs, which are by design complicated to protect, and require three straps per leg.

    In RPG’s Platemail is always the best armor, usually by a wide margin. Weight and fatigue are basically ignored. Sleep in your armor? Heck with that. You just try wearing 30-60 pounds of armor for more than a few hours. Remember it now takes you half and hour to go the bathroom, you can’t see or hear properly and it’s bloody hot. Invariably something is chaffing you somewhere, unless that armor was custom made or modified and after a while it becomes torture as your skin is rubbed raw.

    The metal for platemail is the critical difference. Today the metals are much better, stronger and more consistent, resulting in much lighter and more functional armor. It’s many times easier to manufacture metal armor today with power tools, prefabricated sheets of metal and rivets. Even today though, any kind of cheap platemail can be punctured with a knife, while your high end titanium armors offer a great deal of protection.

    Padding and proper strapping is hugely important for all kinds of armor. Without padding, metal armors will increase the injuries from blunt attacks, especially the head. Weakspots are also a big deal with most suits of armor using a chain shirt to cover the exposed elbow, arm pit and upper thigh.

    RPG’s are going for game balance and fun, not realism. There are a lot of different kinds of armor out there. Hollywood has romanticized certain weapons and armor and downplayed others to the point of setting unrealistic opinions about them. For example, armor in Lord of the Rings was pretty much useless and never stopped any attacks. By the time Aragorn gets his hands on Anduril, the main characters are killing the bad guys so easily, there is very little they can do to show that Anduril is a cool weapon. I love those movies, but the armor thing frustrates me.

    In all kinds of fantasy movies, the cliché is people in chainmail getting stabbed in the stomach with a knife and dying pretty much instantly. A friend of mine wore his chain shirt to work at a convenience store, to get used to the weight, and was stabbed during a graveyard shift. The knife broke. The attacker ran away.

    Leather wears out faster than metal. More care is required. Water hardened leather eventually becomes soft. Wax hardened leather can weaken in heat. Leather that gets dried out can crack. But properly treated, usually by applying wax, leather is waterproof and warm. Metal is darned cold to wear.

    There’s my 2 cents, but I’m biased towards the armor.

    Mark Charke

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Trumann
    Posts
    1
    Plate armor is actually heavier than kevlar. Plate weighed up to 50 pounds were as Kevlar is 15 to 20 pounds. If u want light but sturdy find modern day dragon scale armor. It will stop most short of a .50 cal. andnit would be hell to even jab or hack through unless its vorpal.

  13. #13
    G.L. Lathian G.L. Lathian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Western Australia
    Posts
    238
    Quote Originally Posted by Charke View Post
    I've been a leather armor smith for five years now and some of the answers here are spot on, while others are pretty wildly inaccurate. This is because leather varies greatly. Metal also varies greatly.

    Most leather armor you buy online is 8-10oz and might be water hardened or at least molded. Knives will cut through it, especially if they are very sharp or pokey. Moderately soft, even water hardened, this leather retains some flexibility. It bends a little. It offers some protection against blunt force, softening blows. With a single layer of this armor, you’re going to get hurt if someone hits you. As it is cheap, this is the typical kind of leather that weapon demonstrators like to cut up.

    If you wax harden this leather properly, it will become very hard and considerably harder to cut. Being hard offers much more protection against bludgeoning blows as well.

    Layering leather (or any armor) creates some interesting effects. As a weapon penetrates the first layer it pushes the two layers apart as it tries to cut into the second. This creates more resistance on the weapon in the hole of the first layer. Layers also offer a springboard effect in the way of resistance to blows. Properly layered leather armor can take a considerable hit.

    Now if you go down to the garment leathers, 2oz-6oz, you’re going to get something that is warm and resistant to scrapes. It is virtually useless against blunt force and might stop a slashing or piercing injury if it happens to slip off the leather.

    On the other end, you’ve got 16oz leather which is pretty much the heaviest commercial leather. If you do nothing at all to this leather, it is difficult to cut. If you get into some rawhide material, it’s bloody hard to cut. If you water harden this leather properly it becomes very hard. If you wax harden this properly, it becomes rock hard. While you’d be lucky to stop a low caliber bullet, the much revered Katana is going to have trouble with it. Properly hardened leather is like wood or worse to cut through. But you pay for it with weight.

    Properly layered and constructed you can make a suit of leather armor with the same level of protection as platemail, but it’s going to be very thick and heavy. I have such a suit three feet from my computer. It takes two straps, total, to put everything on but the legs, which are by design complicated to protect, and require three straps per leg.

    In RPG’s Platemail is always the best armor, usually by a wide margin. Weight and fatigue are basically ignored. Sleep in your armor? Heck with that. You just try wearing 30-60 pounds of armor for more than a few hours. Remember it now takes you half and hour to go the bathroom, you can’t see or hear properly and it’s bloody hot. Invariably something is chaffing you somewhere, unless that armor was custom made or modified and after a while it becomes torture as your skin is rubbed raw.

    The metal for platemail is the critical difference. Today the metals are much better, stronger and more consistent, resulting in much lighter and more functional armor. It’s many times easier to manufacture metal armor today with power tools, prefabricated sheets of metal and rivets. Even today though, any kind of cheap platemail can be punctured with a knife, while your high end titanium armors offer a great deal of protection.

    Padding and proper strapping is hugely important for all kinds of armor. Without padding, metal armors will increase the injuries from blunt attacks, especially the head. Weakspots are also a big deal with most suits of armor using a chain shirt to cover the exposed elbow, arm pit and upper thigh.

    RPG’s are going for game balance and fun, not realism. There are a lot of different kinds of armor out there. Hollywood has romanticized certain weapons and armor and downplayed others to the point of setting unrealistic opinions about them. For example, armor in Lord of the Rings was pretty much useless and never stopped any attacks. By the time Aragorn gets his hands on Anduril, the main characters are killing the bad guys so easily, there is very little they can do to show that Anduril is a cool weapon. I love those movies, but the armor thing frustrates me.

    In all kinds of fantasy movies, the cliché is people in chainmail getting stabbed in the stomach with a knife and dying pretty much instantly. A friend of mine wore his chain shirt to work at a convenience store, to get used to the weight, and was stabbed during a graveyard shift. The knife broke. The attacker ran away.

    Leather wears out faster than metal. More care is required. Water hardened leather eventually becomes soft. Wax hardened leather can weaken in heat. Leather that gets dried out can crack. But properly treated, usually by applying wax, leather is waterproof and warm. Metal is darned cold to wear.

    There’s my 2 cents, but I’m biased towards the armor.

    Mark Charke
    Missed this earlier. But thank you! Great info.

  14. #14
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ottawa
    Posts
    873
    Hey Mark Charke,
    That is fantastic information, incredibly useful. Do you have a blog or any other place where you talk of this stuff? I'd love to know even more.
    Thanks a lot,

    Taramoc

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •