The Alienage
All Things Relating to Trade, Shipping, and Commodities

Armor Profiles

Armor Profiles


armor, apparatus for defense of persons, horses, and such objects as vehicles, naval vessels, and aircraft. Body armor developed early as protective suits made of such materials as leather, shells, wood, and basketwork, later supplemented by metal. Armor was made specifically for war, was often very costly, and could be an index of social status. A Greek hoplite's armor confirmed that he was a citizen, the Japanese warrior's armor and weapons revealed him as a samurai, and the full suit of armor worn by the European nobleman made him a knight. Around the world many of the same basic elements of armor developed, especially the shield, the helmet, the cuirass (or other chest protection), and shin guards. Some armor was flexible, with metal attached to cloth or even woven in mail. Other armor was made in plates or large pieces worn as a garment. The evolution of warfare, with increased mobility, diminished the importance of personal armor even before firearms speeded its disappearance from battle (17th cent.). In the wars of the 20th cent., steel helmets were reintroduced, and there were some experiments with various types of protective clothing. With the development of new composite materials, such as kevlar, the number of soldiers, police, and even civilians wearing body protection is increasing. Armor has also been used to protect vehicles for hundreds of years, a use that became much more important with the invention of the tank. Ships were sometimes armored against ramming even in ancient times; they are still armored, as are many military aircraft.

Chain Mail:

Form of body armour worn by European knights and other medieval warriors. An early form, made by sewing iron rings to fabric or leather, was worn in late Roman times and may have originated in Asia. Medieval armorers interlaced the rings, which were closed by welding or riveting. In the 8th century, mail was a short coat with a separate sleeve for the sword arm. By the Norman Conquest (1066), the coat was long and fully sleeved; a hood, usually fitting under a helmet, covered the head and neck. By the 12th century, mail was fitted to hands, feet, and legs. The addition of plates to increase chest and back protection gradually evolved in the 14th century into complete plate armour, displacing mail.


The gambeson was used both as a complete armour unto itself and underneath mail and plate in order to cushion the body and prevent chafing. It was very insulatory and thus uncomfortable, but its protection was vital for the soldier.

Although they are thought to have been used in Europe much earlier, gambesons underwent a revolution from their first proven use in the late 11th and early 12th centuries as an item of armour that simply facilitated the wearing of maille to an item of independent armour popular amongst infantry. Although quilted armour survived into the English Civil War in England as a poor man's cuirass, and as an item to be worn beneath the few remaining suits of full plate, it was increasingly replaced by the 'buff coat'- a leather jacket of rough suede. There are two distinctive designs of gambeson; those designed to be worn beneath another armour, and those designed to be worn as independent armour. The latter tend to be thicker and higher in the collar, and faced with more resilient materials, such as leather, or heavy canvas.

For common soldiers who could not afford mail or plate armour, the gambeson, combined with a helmet as the only additional protection, remained a common sight on European battlefields during the entire Middle Ages, and its decline - paralleling that of plate armour - came only with the Renaissance, as the use of firearms became more widespread, until by the 18th century it was no longer in military use.

The following pages are armor profiles I have illustrated using Profantasy's Character Artist program.

The first set of profiles I obtained from the tables at the back of the HMG Player's Guide.

The second set are profiles I put together based on what 12th century European people may have been wearing. This is a period in time that many players of the Hârnic system envision as being the model for many of its aspects, not all, but many.