Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Emperor Ponders: Armor

 The Emperor ponders armor, and why it never seems to work in fantasy fiction:
Every prospective writer goes through that investigative phase when he attempts to cram as much “real” data about the subject he is going to write as he can. For people in the adventure/fantasy genre, that usually means weapons, fencing, that sort of stuff. “The story must have realistic sword fightings!” and all that. Well, I’m here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t bother. Both in books as well as visual mediums, there’s a tool way more abused than weapons: armor. 
Even in the unlikely event that whoever is reading this is the director or writer behind a big-budget movie, weapons may not be the thing you want to focus the most if you want to be “realistic.” Besides, that’s why you have your choreographers and historical consultants (to ignore them because what they deem realistic is also boring.) And while realistic swordsmanship can be ignored as long as nobody dies anything so stupid it puts their lives in danger, there is something that cannot be ignored, and that’s material sciences.

I don’t care if your characters are funky ninjas flying through the air; I expect armor to behave like it should, for the same reason I expect wood or stone walls to behave like they do in real life. Fantasy is fantasy because characters can punch through walls thanks to magic, not because walls cease to work like they should. So the same happens with armor.
It’s honestly a waste of time for a writer to spend hundreds of hours reading manuals of historical fencing, trying to get the movements right (something that isn’t even possible to convey in words) just to get someone die of a sword cut… through chain mail or plate armor, which is both impossible and absurd. So, without any attempt at being exhaustive, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind if you are into writing stories in a pre-modern setting with lots of people hitting each other. 
He tackles the rogue's leather armor, archery, blood geysers, and more...

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