Full Plate warriors on foot


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Historically, I don't know if full plate wearers ever fought off horse back. That's why recently the thought of a warrior waddling around all turtles up in his armor has been making less and less sense to me. Is anyone else bothered by the lack of "realism" in walking around covered in full plate?


Not really. There are a lot of things that don't make sense. Each person just has to decide what they can or can not accept. There was a thread compiling a list of such things not to long ago.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Really? That's where the game logic breaks down for you? How about the ability to alter reality with a few phrases and some hand-waving? How about the existence of dragons. How do they fly, anyway?

Nah, don't worry about it. Play the game and have fun.


DeathMetal4tw wrote:
Is anyone else bothered by the lack of "realism" in walking around covered in full plate?

There were plenty of full plate wearing knights that fought off horse back. They were not waddling at all.


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DeathMetal4tw wrote:
Historically, I don't know if full plate wearers ever fought off horse back. That's why recently the thought of a warrior waddling around all turtles up in his armor has been making less and less sense to me. Is anyone else bothered by the lack of "realism" in walking around covered in full plate?

You are confusing Jousting Armor and Full plate. They are 100% different.

Jousting armor is what everyone confuses with full plate and when knocked on your back treats you like a Turtle.

Full plate is very maneuverable and people can tumble in it in real life.

In fact most people selling you full plate in real life and tricking you and substituting Jousting Armor.


Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.


I tend to think of it as, in fantasy settings, it's typical for armor usage to be much, much longer than we used it on earth. People of fantasy settings have had sometimes hundreds, even thousands of years set in that technological stage to refine and perfect movement in armor.

I rarely envision armors in TTRPG's as being picture-identical to armors we had on earth for this reason, I just sort of imagine it somewhat resembling more modern body armors, more form-fitting, with more flexible pieces.

But that's just me, YMMV of course.


Starbuck_II wrote:
DeathMetal4tw wrote:
Historically, I don't know if full plate wearers ever fought off horse back. That's why recently the thought of a warrior waddling around all turtles up in his armor has been making less and less sense to me. Is anyone else bothered by the lack of "realism" in walking around covered in full plate?

You are confusing Jousting Armor and Full plate. They are 100% different.

Jousting armor is what everyone confuses with full plate and when knocked on your back treats you like a Turtle.

Full plate is very maneuverable and people can tumble in it in real life.

In fact most people selling you full plate in real life and tricking you and substituting Jousting Armor.

And even that is probably a subset of the armor worn for jousting, since many lists didn't necessarily end w/ an unhorsing.


Well tell that to the soldiers of the Great Turk fighting the Knights Hospitaller at Malta. if you read accounts of the general ability of those knights to take damage and keep fighting in full-plate your worries will be laid to rest! The knights, for example, kept troughs of water near the walls they were fighting on so that if hit by a flaming 'bomb' they could jump into the trough to douse the fire and then back to the fray! Full Plate ability methinks!


Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.

That first set had quite the codpiece on it.

The most interesting part for me was that the armor stood 6'1" tall. Granted, Henry himself was probably a little bit shorter since there had to be some difference between the top of his head and the top of the helm, but it belies the whole people were universally shorter than they are now thing.


Kalshane wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.

That first set had quite the codpiece on it.

The most interesting part for me was that the armor stood 6'1" tall. Granted, Henry himself was probably a little bit shorter since there had to be some difference between the top of his head and the top of the helm, but it belies the whole people were universally shorter than they are now thing.

People are taller now because they get their full nutrition. Hungry people dont grow to their full height. Chances are Henry didnt want for food in his day.


Kalshane wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.

That first set had quite the codpiece on it.

Yeah...I'm thinking that's wishful thinking combined with the whole "it's good to be the king" vibe going on. I once heard it said that it was due to the priapism Henry suffered due to syphilis, but apparently those in the know don't think it was true that he had the disease.

What's interesting is that at least one of those sets of armor weighed in at 94lbs. Which is a lot heavier than you'd think, but no heavier than modern combat gear our own soldiers have to lug around the battlefield.


Kalshane wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.

That first set had quite the codpiece on it.

The most interesting part for me was that the armor stood 6'1" tall. Granted, Henry himself was probably a little bit shorter since there had to be some difference between the top of his head and the top of the helm, but it belies the whole people were universally shorter than they are now thing.

Not necessarily...maybe he "would have been" 6'5".


funny thing about height. Napoleon is widely considered to be the poster boy for 'small man's syndrome' when he was actually estimated to be 5'6", slightly taller than the average Frenchman of the day.


Heavy infantry in 1500-1600 included several units with full plate armor, including armored savoyeds, swiss pikemens, gendarmes, and others.

The reason you don't see much more of them is economic. Plate were expensive as hell. So only he wealthy and rich could pay for it (that means knights). When it started to be mass produced and became cheap, it was used by more units, including infantry. It lasted a couple of decades though, as the musket also replaced arquebois aa the standard ranged weapon. It's much cheaper to buy a musket than to buy a plate armor, and muskets decimated plate at short range. There's no point to have 1000 soldiers with plate, when you can have 5.000 muskets for the same price and beat the crap out of them.

Armor lasted a bit more ij cavalry (curassiers) but it became obsolet over time. In XVIII-XIX centuries, some cavalry used breast plate. By 1850, no european soldier used it.


a breastplate made of modern metals works to deflect bullets nearly as well as kevlar, weight being the negative to it


This is the picture of a reconstuction of a Doblesueldo (spanish word for "double wage"), elite frontliner that earned twice the salary (or "soldada"). He wears a halfplate

doblesueldo de Tercio

And here you have a XV century drawing, an officer wearing full plate (except helmet)

German Landskenetch


Fizzle wrote:

a breastplate made of modern metals works to deflect bullets nearly as well as kevlar, weight being the negative to it

heavy swat armor is plate, actually. XV century steel wasnt as good, and they didnt use ceramic or carbon fiber either :P

cuirass actually stop bullets at moderate range. Short range volleys were another issue. Also, muskets, while unaccurate and low velocity, used very heavy bullets. The smallest pistols were cal .61 f I recall correctly.

Compared to, say, crossbow bolts or arrows, that made plate armor inefficient. For a while, heavy cavalry combined both, though. The earlier dragoons, gendarmes and curassiers combined full plate knightly armor, but substituted lances for pistols. That, among other things, made pikemen strategies obsolet.
.


The Landeszeughaus, in Graz, Austria, is the largest existing original armoury in the whole world. It holds approximately 32,000 pieces of weaponry, tools, suits of armour for battle and ones for parades.

The Landeszeughaus .

The Landeszeughaus had an arms and armour exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in the late 90's they had many examples of footmen equipped in full plate.

Also there are many accounts of knights dismounting and fighting on foot as the battle had bogged down.

Liberty's Edge

Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.

Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?


Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.
Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?

Those aren't swords. They look like hammers, with a spike on the other end of the handle. As to the accuracy of the fighting style, I couldn't say. However, since it was an official exhibition put on by historic societies, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.


Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.
Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?

Yeah, there are historical texts and illustrations depicting swordfighting techniques in the age of heavy armor. Slashing with the blade basically became completely ineffective against heavily armored opponents, so the style favored precision two-handed thrusts into gaps in the armor or alternately applying sheer blunt force. Gripping the sword with one hand halfway along the blade allowed for more precise placement of the tip. Wielding the sword completely by the blade and swinging the hilt like a hammer is actually a late medieval German technique known as the mordhau.

EDIT: And of course, Wikipedia has an illustration showing both.

Liberty's Edge

Shadowborn wrote:
Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.
Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?
Those aren't swords. They look like hammers, with a spike on the other end of the handle. As to the accuracy of the fighting style, I couldn't say. However, since it was an official exhibition put on by historic societies, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Really? Look again, particularly right before / when they first start fighting, they pretty clearly appear to be swords. Once they get into the ‘swing’ (ha!) of things, they do look kind of like hammers, the way they are holding onto the blades and hitting each other with the hilts.

Liberty's Edge

MacGurcules wrote:
Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.
Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?

Yeah, there are historical texts and illustrations depicting swordfighting techniques in the age of heavy armor. Slashing with the blade basically became completely ineffective against heavily armored opponents, so the style favored precision two-handed thrusts into gaps in the armor or alternately applying sheer blunt force. Gripping the sword by the blade and swinging the hilt like a hammer is actually a late medieval German technique known as the mordhau.

EDIT: And of course, Wikipedia has an illustration showing both.

Wow, thanks MacGurcules. Good illustration.


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A trained, athletic knight could easily do cartwheels in full plate.

Don't let modern misconceptions fool you. :)


Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.
Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?
Those aren't swords. They look like hammers, with a spike on the other end of the handle. As to the accuracy of the fighting style, I couldn't say. However, since it was an official exhibition put on by historic societies, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Really? Look again, particularly right before / when they first start fighting, they pretty clearly appear to be swords. Once they get into the ‘swing’ (ha!) of things, they do look kind of like hammers, the way they are holding onto the blades and hitting each other with the hilts.

Actually, we're both right. They start with swords, but switch to the hammers at about 3:15. I just skipped too far ahead to look at the fighting.

Liberty's Edge

Ah! I didn't realise they swapped weapons.


Mothman wrote:
Ah! I didn't realise they swapped weapons.

At the arms and armour exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, they had a demonstrator with a zwie hander (sp?) he had copies of medeival manuals. The stuff he could do in full plate with a two handed sword made your average samurai with a katana look like Mr Bean.


I've seen re-enactors do somersaults in plate armour. Probably what we would describe as half-plate, but nonetheless... The English men-at-arms generally fought on foot through the hundred years war, and the Wars of the Roses were almost entirely infantry clashes. Moving around in armour wasn't the problem, the physical exertion involved in fighting (whether heavily armoured or not) trumps it by far. I've seen documentaries which have led me to believe that after every melee I should have characters make a Fort save or become fatigued (exhausted), but I decided that this would add realism while reducing fun.

Keep an eye on the history channel (especially the one in the UK) if this kind of thing interests you because there's always documentaries about weapons and armour, how they were made and used, why they died out... The firearm didn't win out because it was better, it won out because you could teach any monkey to fire it.

Liberty's Edge

Elinor Knutsdottir wrote:
Keep an eye on the history channel (especially the one in the UK) if this kind of thing interests you because there's always documentaries about weapons and armour, how they were made and used, why they died out... The firearm didn't win out because it was better, it won out because you could teach any monkey to fire it.

And not just that, you could do it in a couple of weeks, max. A truly good archer isn't trained, they're born. Specifically, they're born to a bow using culture, then trained rigorously from the age they can hold a bow, and that's on top of quite possibly making a good part of their living hunting with it. By the time they're an adult they're a passable archer for purposes of combat. So, over a decade of training in a specific culture where they could afford to take the time vs. a few weeks and anybody can do it. Yeah, that gives guns a pretty big advantage.

Of course, guns did eventually vastly surpass the bow in range and accuracy, but not for centuries after their use became widespread.


wraithstrike wrote:
Not really. There are a lot of things that don't make sense. Each person just has to decide what they can or can not accept. There was a thread compiling a list of such things not to long ago.

Link?


As a recurve archer (barebow) and a black powder firearm enthusiast I can tell you that bows require ALOT of training compared to muskets. (Man my back hurts after shooting my bow for an hour.) However, I can also state that a traditional bow's accuracy is vastly superior (in trained hands) to that of early muskets. Note: accuracy is irrelevant when you have thousands of balls being fired downfield. The early firearms outranged the bows considerably but were inaccurate for most of that distance.

- Gauss

P.S. Thanks, now I know what my avatar should be. A photo of my dead on bullseye at 30yards. Been debating what avatar I should have. Now to just get the photo off my phone.

Edit: DOH, cannot upload photos to the website. They dont have that feature. Ahhh well.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Starbuck_II wrote:
DeathMetal4tw wrote:
Historically, I don't know if full plate wearers ever fought off horse back. That's why recently the thought of a warrior waddling around all turtles up in his armor has been making less and less sense to me. Is anyone else bothered by the lack of "realism" in walking around covered in full plate?

You are confusing Jousting Armor and Full plate. They are 100% different.

Jousting armor is what everyone confuses with full plate and when knocked on your back treats you like a Turtle.

Full plate is very maneuverable and people can tumble in it in real life.

In fact most people selling you full plate in real life and tricking you and substituting Jousting Armor.

Full Plate was essentially Jousting armor and never used outside of that. It was essentially optmised that in jousting you essentially sat in place on your mount and your task was essentially guiding a big log forward.

Field Plate was a more maneuvarable variant, named because it was plate armor designed to operate "in the field".

But really as it was said before carping about the "realism" of minor armor variants is kind of silly when you are in a game where wizards bend worlds, dragons fly and breathe fire, and Gods walk the earth.

In perspective, the realism cry only echoes so far.


The 8th Dwarf wrote:

The Landeszeughaus, in Graz, Austria, is the largest existing original armoury in the whole world. It holds approximately 32,000 pieces of weaponry, tools, suits of armour for battle and ones for parades.

The Landeszeughaus .

The Landeszeughaus had an arms and armour exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in the late 90's they had many examples of footmen equipped in full plate.

Also there are many accounts of knights dismounting and fighting on foot as the battle had bogged down.

Wow, thanks for the pointer. Will definitely visit (I will be in Graz for business in two weeks).


gustavo iglesias wrote:


And here you have a XV century drawing, an officer wearing full plate (except helmet)

German Landskenetch

Thts not a Landsknecht, but a Margrave. The town he is from (Durlach) is 3 km from where I live...


I stand corrected :)

Sovereign Court

Getting up and putting on your full plate to run out for groceries is a lot different than gearing up for a battle that morning. Plate would be assembled by the squire as he helped his master dress for either guard duty or riding/marching out to a battle.

If a character wants to wear his armor everywhere he can, but I think he'd suffer some weariness. i.e. 8+ hours of march w/o endurance feat, or sleeping in the armor, etc.

It would make sense to travel longer distances with the armor packed up on a horse or something like that, and then don it when he got near his destination, but I don't think PCs or DMs really bother with handling the mechanics of wandering about in FP all day. I think it can be assumed that when the fighter is not in immediate danger or on duty, he would opt to not be fully clad in armor, and that mechanic is just assumed when he travels about.


Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.
Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?
Those aren't swords. They look like hammers, with a spike on the other end of the handle. As to the accuracy of the fighting style, I couldn't say. However, since it was an official exhibition put on by historic societies, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Really? Look again, particularly right before / when they first start fighting, they pretty clearly appear to be swords. Once they get into the ‘swing’ (ha!) of things, they do look kind of like hammers, the way they are holding onto the blades and hitting each other with the hilts.

The reason for such techniques is that generally speaking the steel in the armour and the blade is if roughly equal quality, so to pierce the ~2mm thick plate you would suffer equal deformation if the sword edge. And even if the blow would pierce the bland would be blunt and quite unlikely to pierce the padding beneath the steel, so any serious injury is highly unlikely.

In effect, using the edge of a sword against someone in plate armour would most likely leave you with a damaged or broken sword without ding any harm to you opponent.


Korpen wrote:


The reason for such techniques is that generally speaking the steel in the armour and the blade is if roughly equal quality, so to pierce the ~2mm thick plate you would suffer equal deformation if the sword edge. And even if the blow would pierce the bland would be blunt and quite unlikely to pierce the padding beneath the steel, so any serious injury is highly unlikely.
In effect, using the edge of a sword against someone in plate armour would most likely leave you with a damaged or broken sword without ding any harm to you opponent.

Pretty much. I took some Medieval Longsword (closer to a D&D bastard sword in reality) classes (mostly based on Fiore, but with a dash of other stuff thrown in) awhile back and the instructors explained that for armored opponents, you changed to the half sword style with one hand about halfway up the blade because hammering away on their full plate with your sword wasn't going to accomplish much.

Half-swording allows for some really cool stuff. Your range is cut severely, but there's lots of nifty trips, grapples, disarms you can do, above and beyond trying to shove the point through a gap in their armor.

Of course, if the other guy is in plate, and you're not, you're in a lot of trouble since he can use the massive range of his sword to swing at you, while you need to try to get in close to do anything to him.


Mothman wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Henry VIII had two suits of full plate armor specifically designed for fighting on foot. Video.
Interesting sword fighting style at the end there. Does anyone know if there is any historical accuracy to fighting with swords held / used in that fashion, or is it a case of the people in the video either not knowing how to use them properly or not wanting to hurt each other?

That is a real technique known as Half-Swording. It gave some advantages vs heavy armor.


Elinor Knutsdottir wrote:


I've seen re-enactors do somersaults in plate armour. Probably what we would describe as half-plate, but nonetheless... The English men-at-arms generally fought on foot through the hundred years war, and the Wars of the Roses were almost entirely infantry clashes. Moving around in armour wasn't the problem, the physical exertion involved in fighting (whether heavily armoured or not) trumps it by far. I've seen documentaries which have led me to believe that after every melee I should have characters make a Fort save or become fatigued (exhausted), but I decided that this would add realism while reducing fun.

Having fought competitively (full-contact Tae Kwon Do at the national collegiate level) and backpacked extensively throughout the Sierras, I can confirm that a short fight (three 3-minute rounds) takes a heck of a lot more out of you than hiking for several hours with a 65-pound pack.

I'd fight three fights over the course of a tournament (4-6 hours) and be pretty much done for the day AND the next day. On the other hand, I'd carry a 65-pound pack for 18 miles, set up camp, gather firewood, and then happily get up the next day and do it all again.

Ah, youth! When doing stupid things comes easily (and naturally)!

Dark Archive

And that's why boxing is insane. 3 minute rounds, for 12 rounds in championship fights. It used to be 15 rounds, but fights like Thrilla in Manilla forced boxing to cut down on length because people DIED or suffered terrible brain injuries later on.

Kind of like how football is getting nerfed in hitting and contact because we've learned these athletes suffered horribly in their later years.


Yeah, I don't want to hijack the thread into "fighting is HARD", but I don't know how boxers do it.

Some people argue that martial arts fighting involves a lot more kicking (true) and therefore takes a lot more out of you (probably true), but have you ever been hit by a boxer? They hit HARD! That's got to take a lot of energy, even without all the kicking.

So going back to the thread, I really don't see hiking for 8-10 hours in armor as being too much of a problem; I, a small (5'6", 155 lb) man, carried a 65-pound pack plus around 10 pounds of clothing for 12 hours a day with no problem in my youth. Trained soldiers carry a total of 95+ pounds for 30 miles/day. Even on extremely hot days, if you have a steady supply of water, it's not too bad.

If you want to look into fatigue issues, I would look at:
- More than 1 fight in a day
- Hot days with no water
- Hiking through mud, sand, snow, or other 'mushy' terrain

THOSE will exhaust you fast! Those same years I was doing 18 miles/day? One year we went cross-country over a series of ridges and were lucky to get in 1.5 miles/day because of the treacherous terrain and footing, and we were DONE at the end of each day.


Nezthalak wrote:

Getting up and putting on your full plate to run out for groceries is a lot different than gearing up for a battle that morning. Plate would be assembled by the squire as he helped his master dress for either guard duty or riding/marching out to a battle.

If a character wants to wear his armor everywhere he can, but I think he'd suffer some weariness. i.e. 8+ hours of march w/o endurance feat, or sleeping in the armor, etc.

It would make sense to travel longer distances with the armor packed up on a horse or something like that, and then don it when he got near his destination, but I don't think PCs or DMs really bother with handling the mechanics of wandering about in FP all day. I think it can be assumed that when the fighter is not in immediate danger or on duty, he would opt to not be fully clad in armor, and that mechanic is just assumed when he travels about.

Articulated plate is self supporting so the wearer isn't carrying the full weight unless climbing, running, or jumping. It's certainly going to be easier than marching in linked mail. Possibly easier than marching in even a chain shirt in cooler weather.

Realistic articulated plate would edge out magic armor at low levels with the max dexterity, ACP, and possibly ASF of medium armor. The stuff is mechanically advanced. It's the pinnacle of centuries of advancement, farther from the heavy armors of the classical and early medieval age than Spaceship One is from the Wright Flyer.

Sovereign Court

pocket generated force fields > Plate armor.

true, the articulate mail sets were a great advancement over sewing up a dude in a roll of sheet metal.


Hyla wrote:
The 8th Dwarf wrote:

The Landeszeughaus, in Graz, Austria, is the largest existing original armoury in the whole world. It holds approximately 32,000 pieces of weaponry, tools, suits of armour for battle and ones for parades.

The Landeszeughaus .

The Landeszeughaus had an arms and armour exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in the late 90's they had many examples of footmen equipped in full plate.

Also there are many accounts of knights dismounting and fighting on foot as the battle had bogged down.

Wow, thanks for the pointer. Will definitely visit (I will be in Graz for business in two weeks).

Cool take lots of pictures if you can... The exhibition in Sydney Australia was spectacular but small.


A very nice lecture about a whole lot of things that has been discussed in this thread.
How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems
"Dirk H. Breiding, Assitant Curator, Department of Arms and Armor, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museum curators and conservators explore a fascinating topic—Misconceptions. Talks highlight the permanent collection and address misunderstandings commonly held by the public and, occasionally, even by specialists in the field."


The 8th Dwarf wrote:


Cool take lots of pictures if you can... The exhibition in Sydney Australia was spectacular but small.

Yeah, I will definitively take my camera!

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