17 thoughts on “What about the Clumsy tag ?”

  1. Two thoughts strike me in that regard.  One: Modern alloys.  I have no clue but I presume the armor here is made of modern alloys that are lighter and stronger than anything available in a historical context.  Two:  Take these guys and have them try to do the Ninja Warrior obstacle course in the armor.  Guessing it would hold them back.

  2. You can’t really beat steel for armour. People have tried. Today’s harnesses aren’t much different from those used in period. 

    I think most people would have issues doing a Ninja Warrior obstacle course either way but I take your point.

    Rigid or semi-rigid armour like plate and coats of plates etc is far less cumbersome than you might think. Maille on the other hand is pretty awful. Even with a tight belt on to carry as much on your hips as possible, it’s alot of dead weight on your shoulders.


  3. So, this happens to be a current interest of mine, so I apologize for the nerdy wall of text…

    I don’t know what kind of alloy the people in the video are wearing but I was at a lecture by a researcher from a Swiss university a few weeks ago (I can dig up his name if you want to look at his work yourself) and he’s currently writing his PhD on medieval european plate armour (aka “harness armour”). He built a replica, of the appropriate weight, from the appropriate materials, of suit of plate from the 15th century. He brought it with him, so we could actually try it on, and he also showed various slides, video clips and stats from his research. My observations were that:

    #1: Plate is heavy, yes, obviously. A full suit weighs 30-40 kg. But that’s only slightly more than the amount a firefighter wears and carries when he’s in full gear. You’re going to be clumsier than when unarmored of course, but honestly, the amount of protection your receive is well worth it. You can take a full hit with a longsword in the chest and shrug it off like it’s nothing.

    #2: Plate is also incredibly, ingeniously, mind-blowingly articulate and adaptive for its weight. According to the guy’s measurements (done with motion tracking etc) the restriction of movement is less than 4% in most cases, except where lifting arms over your head is concerned (and the researcher’s theory is that’s and intentional part of armour design, since the armpit is the weakest, most vulnerable point of a suit of armor). I was able to test various pieces myself as well as see them in action on other people.

    #3: From the videos as well as from trying the plate on ourselves, it’s clear that it’s entirely possible to run, climb ladders, jump, do squats and even roll on the ground without much effort. And this is/was done by people who haven’t been breed, reared up and trained as knights from the age of 7.

    The idea that full plate armour is slow and clumsy is an idea that is slowly being discredited by serious research. It mostly comes from romantic/victorian notions, and doesn’t hold up in practice. Yes, of course you’re going to be clumsier with an extra 35kg on your body, but it’s so ingeniously distributed and leveraged that it’s really far less clumsy than people think. I was aware of the “full plate = slow and awkward” fallacy before, but the presentation blew my mind. The image of the knight being hoisted up in his horse with the help of a crane is purely a Hollywood invention as far as I’m aware and the only historical evidence as to the clumsy weight of armour, where reports speak of “knights falling and not being able to stand up again” is from Crecy and the primary armour during that time was plate fittings over a mail hauberk, a much clumsier and heavier combo (not to mention the muddy field covered with hundreds of dead crossbowmen). The actual suit of plate was developed only several decades later.

    So clumsi-er, yes, definitely. But not by that much.

  4. The clumsier part of armor to me seems to be:

    1 – Situational awareness. With an open helmet this is not much of an issue, but with more armored helms I could certainly imagine perception taking every bit as much of a penalty as mobility

    2 – Fatigue. As said above, WELL CRAFTED [and this might be another point of variance — masterwork versus low-quality armor] armor restricts mobility very little and the weight, while substantial, isn’t too onerous; however, it WOULD take quite a toll over time, either a day’s worth of adventuring or even a particularly long fight.

    3 – Reflex/reaction: Again, the total weight isn’t as much as you might have been lead to believe, but you do lose a fair bit of speed having to get an extra 40kg of metal moving real quick.

    In general, I’d imagine the effects of heavy/plate armor are much less dramatic, but much more nuanced than simply calling it “clumsy”.

  5. “where reports speak of “knights falling and not being able to stand up again” is from Crecy and the primary armour during that time was plate fittings over a mail hauberk, a much clumsier and heavier combo (not to mention the muddy field covered with hundreds of dead crossbowmen). The actual suit of plate was developed only several decades later.”

    While this is a good point, it brings up a separate, but related issue — fantasy technology isn’t real world technology. Obviously there’s a lot of appeal to making things in fantasy work like the real world concepts they’re based on; however, a lot of fantasy universes are mis-mashes of arms and armor that were developed and obsolesced over centuries of medieval history, which we’ve decided to mish-mash together now all due to the time compressing nature of hindsight. I think you could very easily argue that certain combinations of weapons and armor, and their associated game mechanics, have no place in the same fantasy universe any more than a Glock 9mm does.

    At the same time, there’s nothing that says that the plate armor in your fantasy universe is the same as “real” plate armor. Perhaps steel production is not widely understood or craftsmanship weak due to a dearth of skilled labor, and the best you can do for large pieces of armor are rough iron. Who knows?

  6. Clumsy is for people who don’t know how to wear armour properly. Fighters — which those people are — ignore the clumsy tag. Non-Fighter classes can take the right move if they can multiclass. So yeah.

  7. Nathan Hoobler Excellent points! Especially about situational awareness. Wearing a helm was possibly the most uncomfortable/disorienting part of trying on the full plate for me. It restricts your field of vision (and range of hearing, I assume) quite dramatically. Overall speed (and the “startup time”) is definitely decreased as well because of the weight.

    Exhaustion is also an obvious factor, when the armour is worn and exercised in over a period of time although games very rarely bother with that.

    Overall I think the penalties to movement speed, stealth/spatial awareness and reflexes/reaction time that most games assign to armour are justified (although perhaps a bit high in some cases).

  8. I had a smith friend who was making chaimails for reenactements, and I tried a 17kg chainmail. Even with a strong belt it’s quickly tiring, and heavy on the shoulders.

  9. I just enjoyed that video immensely 🙂 But keep in mind that DW is less about simulating historical accuracy (you can of course house-rule this in your game) and more about simulating the D&D look and feel (which definitely brings the clumsy tag to the table).

  10. I just think it’s awesome that people are talking about this stuff.

    It pains me to see so many westerners studying Asian martial arts when we have both living traditions that are hanging on by a thread and fantastic period manuals to reconstruct dead arts from.

    Some of the D&D weapon and armour “tropes” are simply the result of misconception and misinformation that has been perpetuated over the last 40 years. Sure this is a fantasy thing but if we are going to use real world weapons, why not stat them out realistically if this causes no problems in game?

    In real life, pole arms (including quarter staves) are awesome and do much more damage than most weapons, longswords are two handed, short swords have 35 inch blades etc.

  11. Yep, as Stras Acimovic notes, we definitely have a few nods to D&D that may not be up with the most recent research. Awesome video, but unlikely to make me houserule away Clumsy.

  12. Those separate videos really make me want to try fooling around in armor. It was remarkable to see how violence manifested in those two videos.

    Hooking shields and legs, punching people in the face with a shield or gauntlet, body tackles… If you look for some other plate mobility videos on the net, you can see that the weight of the plate overcomes some more slightly built individuals. When those individuals are forced to make rapid corrections or are forced to get off of the ground, their speed and explosiveness are largely taken away by the need to manage and accelerate the mass of the plate. Watching this is really going to affect my narration and style of play, I loved it. Thanks very much for the video.

  13. My wife and I were watching something (don’t remember what it was) that did a great job of portraying a full-on skirmish with medieval weapons.  Regardless of historical accuracy, one thing really stood out to me: the visceral nature of the weaponry and their delivery made the whole event seem less “cool” and much more “terrifying.”  Guys back then who lived through multiple battles and stood their ground in the fray were really something special.

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