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. 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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