Forget the swordplay. Get armor right instead.

Subtitle: If I see a katana slice through armor like it wasn’t even there, I’m going to reach through the screen and punch you.

I can’t even tell you how many movies I’ve seen that do this. (Not reach into fictional dimensions and punch people in the face…the katana thing.) No matter what kind of sword, a generalized slashing motion always fells the opponent. It’s like armor doesn’t exist…even though they’re clearly wearing it. It bugs the hell out of me, and has done for a very long time.

Fantasy novels sometimes fall into the same trap, although usually not as badly. It’s easy to forget that armor really works — to the extent that most of the developments in weaponry throughout history (before firearms) were a direct response to variations and improvements in armor.

If you want to know what all the movies and video games are getting wrong — or maybe take a quick, informative look at what you need to get right if you’re a writer or game maker — check out this excellent post at The Emperor’s Notepad: The pursuit of realism and armor made of butter in fictional fights.

Oh yeah, before I sign off, full disclosure: I stole the line about invincible katanas from the Emperor. May his benevolence forgive me.

3 thoughts on “Forget the swordplay. Get armor right instead.

Add yours

  1. Perhaps that why I like Rolemaster – although I have to admit the random crit can lead to the beheading and fountains of blood referred to by the emperor even if you are wearing plate. Still, that’s entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed on Rolemaster. I like how its hit & crit tables model armor. Better armor is usually more rigid and therefore more difficult to move in, so you get pinged for minor damage more often than a lightly armored fighter, but you’re also *much* less likely to take mortal wounds.

      And if you ever do get an insta-kill on a foe wearing full plate, you’ve defeated some long odds to put those attack and crit rolls together, and it’s an event worth celebrating.

      I love the sheer, gory violence of combat in that system. 🙂 I’m aiming for a similar effect (though systematically different) with FAR Western.

      Liked by 1 person

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