Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cold as Ice

It's been damn cold in NYC these past few days (although much of the country has been having cold AND ice AND snow) and it gotten me thinking. I know I'm constantly underdressed, being that I wear short sleeve shirts though out the year, and I'm still wearing a fall jacket on top of that.

My thoughts have been straying to those that would wear heavy metal armor in these temperatures or worse. The metal wouldn't keep one warm, if anything it would leech the heat right out of you. If it got cold enough, your skin could freeze to your breastplate.

Leather armor would probably be a better choice, as it would be more likely to insulate one's own body warmth.

How many adventures or settings actually make reference to extreme weather and it's effects on the PCs, and civilization in general? Or is it just easier to gloss it over, and assume most adventuring takes place when the weather is more suitable for the PCs?

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  1. I'm not sure about that. Yes, the metal would conduct heat away from your body, but you wouldn't be wearing the plate directly on top of your birthday suit. Underneath it you would have thick layers of clothing, padding, and perhaps even mail. I would think that the metal would act as a sealing layer, while the underlying layers would act as insulation. Probably not as good as fur, but not too bad...

    I would think that desert warfare would be a lot worse, what with the kiln-effect and all. But my experience with plate armour in either climate is somewhat thin.

  2. Harald's homework assignment is to LARP in metal armor, then get back to us. Photos would also be nice!

  3. I've worn a metal breastplate during a long day of LARP adventuring and can attest the metal is a sealing layer, but not in a good way. This was in the spring in New England. As night came on and it started getting cooler I started to get wet and then really cold because I was getting condensation, inside my armor because of my body heat and the cool night air. In a survival situation an effect like that would be lethal.

  4. I have had the same with my bullet resistant vest. The moment I come in for meal I need to change to a dry undershirt, as I am drenched under the vest. I assume the layering used under a breastplate would have a similar effect

  5. I'll back up Harald on this one; medieval armor consisted of layers with a thick padded gambeson under the metal. The padding would have acted as insulation and an absorber of sweat and condensation. It's only the Mediterranean and desert climes that you see a preference for leather over metal. (Those gambesons turned out to be a real bitch for the Crusaders!)

    Keep in mind that classic medieval armor was developed as much (if not more) in the northern parts of Europe as the south--I doubt they would've designed and worn armor that might have compromised their ability to fight effectively.

    Then again, it's not like most medieval armies were tripping over themselves to campaign during the winter. Engagements like the Battle of the Ice are famous as much for their unusual seasonal timing as anything.

  6. LOL! Coulda, woulda, shoulda, but the rustmonster ate my platemail :D

    The build-up of humidity is a good point, though. I guess it would be ok as long as you were moving, but after a fight you would probably be drenched. And I can see that getting unpleasant really fast if it's a few below freezing.

    By the way, that's why we use chain-mail up here ;)


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