Durkon Thundershield: “That’s na leather armor! Leather armor be stiff an’ boiled ta deflect blows.”
NPC Armor Merchant: “Of course, men’s leather armor. Women’s leather armor pretty much amounts to any attractive outfit that has one or more leather items in it.”
—From Order of the Stick, by Rich Burlew
I don’t fully agree with the armor rating for the leather armors in Dungeons and Dragons. I feel like our buddy Gary underestimated the protectiveness of leather when he gave basic leathers an AC of 2 and studded leather an AC of 3 and classified these as “light” armor. My assumption is that he was thinking strictly of simple leather jerkins designed more against the bite of rapiers or cutlasses, while with studded leather he was thinking more your basic brigantines. While these provide fair to decent protection without limiting movement, there are also heavier, hardened leather armors with excellent absorption and deflection properties. Leather armor has been in use since well before the age of bronze smelting and was used to great effect by both Greek hoplites and Roman legionaries, as well as Celts, Goths, Samurai, Mongols, and pretty much everyone else until well into the age of musketry.
This being said, the lovely Elwene wears her hardened leather plating competently and professionally. Her posture and expression suggest a fighter skilled in her training and confident in her abilities. Our heroine could fit in easily as a bodyguard for a wealthy client or as a damage-dealer for a dungeon-delving adventuring party. (Not so much as a front-line soldier, I think—infantry combat tends to allow for less room to move about than is required for dual-weapon combat.) Regardless, it seems our half-elven heroine has been successful in her ventures, based on her excellent quality in arms and armor.
I love the segmented plates on Elwene’s leathers. Firstly, the design allows our heroine more flexibility than solid plating. Secondly, the plates reinforce each other where they overlap and can give way to blows where a solid plate will dent or rend. Additionally, the force of impacts is distributed over a single, smaller plate, rather than a larger area. Lastly, as far as armor maintenance goes, when a single plate breaks or wears out, it should be easier to repair or replace than a solid cuirass. All in all, it’s a smart, well-designed armor.
While the leather plating would offer outstanding layered protection over a padded gambeson or chain mail, I like that our lovely half-elf straps hers on over a simple arming shirt. Where a claymore, great axe, or sword-and-shield fighter will want the stability and staying-power provided by heavier armor, a dual-weapon fighter needs to be in constant motion—one movement leading into the next for effective parrying and counterattacks. Thus it makes sense for our lovely heroine to minimize the weight of her outfit for the sake of improved mobility. I also like that Elwene has forgone armor to her legs for loose pants and light leather boots for improved footwork in combat.
I’m impressed with the quality of our heroine’s blades. A matched (masterwork?) sword and dagger or other short blade, they should prove excellent for a dual attack or parry and counterattack. All in all, an excellent ensemble for a competent fighter. Nicely done, Elif.
Many thanks to Elif for letting me borrow her lovely half-elf. Feel free to peruse her art blog as well. Take care, folks, and stay awesome!