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The Flurb's Perspective on Armor
[07/05/2004] [Arminius]

Normally, my articles are more anecdotes than anything else. That’s because it takes either something really stupid or a lot of time for the problem to ferment inside me to set me off. Well, it’s that time again.

Amtgard needs to take a look at how it handles armor. We have a good basic guideline to build on; now we need people to be willing to be flexible on it. The policy should be “build it, and then we will give it a rating,” not “that is not period, it is out.” If the SCA, the organization that gets uptight when you use a modern tent can allow modern materials like plastic, then I think we should give modern materials a chance.

Something that disgusts me to no end is the concept of “Inauthentic Materials.” We penalize people for trying to us something lighter than steel, even though we constantly search for lighter weapon materials. Technically, we shouldn’t even allow armor if we are going to throw items out for “Inauthentic Materials.” We would have to eliminate anything made with nylon thread, cotton cloth, factory-tanned leather, and even modern steel. None of these were around in the time period we replicate. Yes, leather and steel existed, but processes have change to the degree they aren’t even the same animal as their ancestors. I personally see no problem with allowing someone to use aluminum, titanium, and even plastic in armor construction. All of these can be justified in decent fantasy role-play terms. Aluminum is mithril; titanium is adamantium; plastic could be dragon scales or the hide off of another tough-skinned fantasy creature. Hell, even period styles of armor, such as coin brig, are marked down. If I had the period materials for coin brig, namely medieval or renaissance coins, I would sell it to a museum, not put it in armor!

Now, I am not saying we should pass off anything and everything as armor either. I don’t think that crushed coke cans held together with duct tape is good enough to count as armor, but not because it isn’t period. I think appearance and construction are major factors in armor standards. We want these items to be durable and good looking. But if someone can make good looking plate out of a couple of trash cans, then let them. Furthermore, if the person is using a material that is not in the armor standards, they should be able to justify it, for example “I am an Elf; I was given a set of Mithril Plate by my parents before leaving home for adventure.” Finally, I think a person’s armor should be re-evaluated every time the monarchy changes. This is to check for major wear, and it helps strike a balance between the uber-flurb’s evaluation and the stick-jock’s. That is part of the point of having three people to evaluate armor.

Amtgard is supposed to be a fantasy-based system. We use weapons that weigh as much as the handgrip off a real sword. We make up persona names based off old D&D characters we played and run around casting spells at each other. Yet when it comes to armor and its construction, most of Amtgarders becomes historians and enforce incredibly limited definitions of armor. We penalized for “Inauthentic Materials.” We bash anyone who wants to make something remotely unique or based from a novel they read. Why is it the common practice is to use half pound swords and wear thirty pounds of armor? What happened to that fantasy aspect?

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