Armor quality and magic

We have a lot of knights and warriors, and alot of mundane relations in our campaign. Therefore, armor plays a big role, especially for the knights. I'm curious about how the Expanded Armor Table in Lords of Men works with the rules for better quality items in City and Guild. If a tailor made a Superior Gambeson, and a smith made a Superior Helm, would the bonuses add to the total protection? So would the lucky knight get +3 extra points in Protection if he wore a Superior Full Mail, Superior Helm and Superior Gambeson? Or does only the one from the armor count?

Also, the Gambeson, as I understand it, is a quilted piece that is wore underneath other armor, most often some sort of mail. Could this be enchanted with Doublet om Impenetrable Silk, and be worn under a mail armor for extra protection? :slight_smile:


If you are paying for superior-everything, I would say that the +3 is not impossible. A superior sword can get the +3 all by herself IIRC.

The gambeson could surely be enchanted with the doublet. Only that it would be a Doublet of impenetrable Wool, most likely :slight_smile:.

AFAIK, basically armor works this way: the gambeson protects you against crushing damage, while mail protects you against cutting/stabbing damage. The combo of the 2 is what makes the armor effective. To wear only a mail shirt is quite unheard of, since it does not protect against most damage (remember that swords were basically edged bashing weapons in this period). Gambesson-only armor was relatively common, though, specially with the second line infantry (archers and the like).

I am no expert in period armor, so take this with a grain of salt :slight_smile:


As far as I've understood the Gambeson, it would protect against cutting and piercing, to a small degree, and against crushing, to a lesser degree, as it's flexible wool. But those details are not a part of most Ars Magica campaigns. You have one Soak score. Of course, you could have several Soak scores against various types of damage if you want that amount of detail.

So, a Superior Gambeson with Doublet of Impenetrable Silk would add 5 to the Soak score of the armor it's worn under. Magic is magic, after all. :slight_smile:
Add this to a Superior Plate & Mail (very rare armor in the 1200s, I know) and a Superior Helm, and you'd have... uhm.. +19 Soak. A Tough warrior with +2 Stamina would have +24 Soak.
Of course, in medieval time, a fully armored knight was almost invulnerable. :slight_smile:


The most common system to kill a knight was to dismount him, immobilize him and slit a dagger through one of the visors in the helm or the weak spot under the shoulder. Or some other gruesome method like that. However, most often they were simply captured and kept for ransom since it was WAY more profitable to do that. And yup, they were quite invulnerable. IIRC, in the battle of Lincoln, for example, only 3 knights died, and there were quite a few of them around. One of the knights to die was William Marshall's cousin (leading the rebel forces). Mr Marshall was quite upset to discover that his cousin had been killed, even if it was on the opposing army :slight_smile:

BTW: doesn't the Doublet grant a flat +3 bonus to soak? I thought so.


Is that the one where one of his junior knights basically said

"Um, are you forgetting something boss?"
" What it is?"
Taps helm under arm.
"Ah, yes, that woukld have been quite a bad mistake."

Thereby demonstrating how rare pitched battles were in the Middle Ages. Even guys like the Marshal, who'd had all the fun and jolity of living through Stephen and Maud and being on Henry II's side when he fought each of his sons and his wife in a sort of interminable game of tag, and had the fun of beating Richard in solo cambat and cutting his horse from under him, then leaving him to shame and to the Devil, wore full armor so rarely that he could forget that the metal bit that obstructs your vision is required wear.

The Doublet gives a flat +3 on Animal-based materials, so if you add a Superior Gambeson (Superior gives a +1 bonus) with this spell on it to an otherwise Superior set of armor, the total Soak will be very, very high. Of course, a plain Perdo Terram-spell will end the fun quite quickly. But if the wearer of the armor was, say, a Flambeau Knight, you have yourself quite the "tank". :slight_smile:


Yup Timothy, that is the one. The Marshall was really old at the time, though (72 years old or something like that?) so it might be something more than normal forgetfulness. :slight_smile: The Marshall won his fame in the tournament circuit, more than in pitched battles. IIRC he took part in 5-6 pitched battles in all his life. So yes, Timothy got it 100% right.

Indeed about the bloody high soak. Make sure you do not fight on foot and have to MOVE around, though, or you are gonna accumulate fatigue levels like there is no tomorrow. :slight_smile: But yes, a knight was a feared "rtank" in the middle ages for a reason :slight_smile:


It wasn't old age: the Marshal is one of those kickass octogenarians who has a loving wife fifty years younger then him, and leads kingdoms to war, and does tricky things to people who think he's just a fogy.

He's basically The Guy in Lords of Men.

(And through sheer chance, I'm listening to "The Conquering Family" now in audiobook, which is the book before "The Magnificent Century", which was, from my perspective, The Big Book of Ars Goodnes, for about a year. I've just met William, as he enters the historical record, striking down the horse of the guy who is going to be Richard I, and telling him he's left him alive because he's leaving him for the Devil. I really need to hit up the last two books in the series.)

Well, about the Soak and the Encumbrance... that armor, for a knight with Str +2, will only give about 2 in Encumbrance, and then I'm counting the long sword and heater shield too. Unless I've done the math wrong :slight_smile:


Assuming a stamina of +2, that means that he will fail half the fatigue rolls you make him do (6+). Good luck in long engagements :wink: But yeah., he is quite The Beast.


Ah, yes. Since Encumbrance counts in Fatigue checks. :stuck_out_tongue:

But there are virtues that can counter that, and of course, this character, being a Flambeau, could use magic to counter Load.


If I have a helmet+3, two leg grieves+3 each, a piece of underwear+3 and a chainshirt +3, I get like +15 soak.

Oh, I forgot the hand protection!

Seriously, I think only one soak bonus at the time should be used!

The whole weapons and armor rules could be streamlined quite a lot*. As per the RAW, that is how it works though. Yup.


*IMS we have done that. Weapons only have a damage characteristic and a load characteristic, and all are the same. So you use the weapon you prefer aesthetically, but a mace and an axe and a sword all work the same in combat. Same for armor, we only have light medium and heavy armor. In our opinion it does better at preventing number crunching and gets the feeling of the stuff better.

My gut feeling is that the bonuses for better craftsmanship works on the armor as a whole. If you prefer the Expanded Armor Table, as we do, only count it on the actual armor. But an "official word" on this would be nice. What was the intetion of the expanded armor rules when it comes to craftmanship?

I would count Doublet of Impenetrable Silk on the Gambeson, though. :slight_smile:


Well, if you go by the description of the spell, it "changes an item [...] so it cannot be cut or penetrated by weapons. [...] The magic does not make the armor better at absorbing shock."

Since absorbing shock is the whole point of wearing a gambeson under mail (the mail deals with the "cannot be cut or penetrated" part), I would say that enchanting it with Doublet of Impenetrable Silk adds nothing in this case. But I'm sure your players can come up with a different spell to get that Soak bonus if they really try.

That's a good point. :slight_smile:


Now that you mention it, casting Doublet of Impenetrable Silk on a gambesson should make it the same protection as gambesson + chainmail. So adding a chainmail to the mix should only increase the Load, but not the Soak.

One interesting thing I read about the Mongols is that they wore a silk shirt beneath their armor. Since arrows could not penetrate the silk shirt, it made it much easier to extract the arrow from the wound, and prevented a lot of infections.

Makes for a cool story about spirits of disease travelling in the tips of the arrows. I can see a quiver be an item with a weak infernal smell while on campaign.


Back to the stacking of bonuses, here's the problem:

ArM5 - full suit vs. partial suit (one item so one bonus)
LoM - full and partial suits are made of components (several items)

If the ArM5 full suit is +3, then all of the components are +3. So the results from LoM should be the same if all the components are +3. I would take that to mean we should average the quality/excellent bonuses of the pieces to get the overall bonus (probably rounding up since that's nearly always the case in ArM5). This also seems reasonable in that a really, really well-crafted helmet shouldn't add lots of protection to your entire body; but using LoM rules with the stacking of bonuses would mean wearing nothing but an Excellent+6 helmet would protect your body as well as most any full suit of armor.

Opening the door to stacking bonuses also opens you to arguments like: I'm not crafting an excellent pair of gauntlets, I'm crafting two separate excellent gauntlets, so I get twice the excellent bonus. (This is a 100% reasonable argument if you're using the stacking of bonuses.)


In p.136 LoM it is stated that quality armor only protects against attacks against that part. So a +3 helmet does not give you +3 rto the whole armor, only to attacks to the head. That means that the bonuses are not cumulative. A +1 helmet, +1 body armor and +1 arms do not give you a +3 to the whole armor protection, but +1 against hits that impact those areas. Your legs would still be protected with no bonuses.


How often would you have to roll for Fatigue now? Any changed rules in Lord of Men?