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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jul, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject: Need advice for a story         Reply with quote

I'm writing a fantasy book and it's extremely gory and brutal. There are various races and civilizations it's set about 630-1199 AD Real Life and there are lots of armoured lancers and such, the predominant armour type is riveted maille and padding, although some use Lamellar and Scale in conjunction. I want this book to be realistic and believable with believable fight scenes and battles.

Sooo, I need

Advice on realistic fighting with a flanged mace (mounted and afoot)

How the types of armour listed react to: flanged maces, arrows, blades, etc.

How a horse reacts to maille/lamellar barding

How a formation of spears would react to a frontal charge of armoured lancers on armoured horses (Not sure if they would react like a pike formation or not seeing as how the spears are a lot shorter)

What would a Cataphract Cavalryman need? In terms of horses, weapons, gear, etc.

What do light field Ballistae do to a tight formation of men?

How to make a realistic fight scene and what techniques would they use in that era ( (un)armoured, mounted, afoot)

Feel free to give me advice on anything else that needs covering.

Thanks and I apologize of this is in the wrong spot.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jul, 2009 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Advice on realistic fighting with a flanged mace (mounted and afoot)


There's not much surviving on mace combat. One example would be this section of a Mamluk military manual. In a nutshell, you hit the other in the head or try to break his arms. The mace can also break opposing weapons such as swords and lances.

Quote:
How the types of armour listed react to: flanged maces, arrows, blades, etc.


Mail armor tends to do reasonably against most weapons short of a couched lance. A combination of modern testing and textual evidence suggests that it'd take tremendous strength and skill to cut through good mail. Thrusting performance depends on the narrowness and rigidity of the weapon's point. As mentioned in the Mamluk manual, strong mace blows could likely break bones through armor. In account of the Battle of Fornovo, Alessandro Beneditti mentioned a hammer shattering a helmet and sending the victim to the ground.

Quote:
How a horse reacts to maille/lamellar barding


In general, barding slows down the horse and causes it to fatigue more quickly.

Quote:
How a formation of spears would react to a frontal charge of armoured lancers on armoured horses (Not sure if they would react like a pike formation or not seeing as how the spears are a lot shorter)


Depends completely on the quality of the two forces in question. Good infantry tends to resist heavy cavalry charges, but good cavalry can penetrate even the toughest formations.
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Nate C.




Location: Palo Alto, CA
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jul, 2009 11:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings,

Someone more knowledgeable may correct me but I'm not sure the armour and weapons you mention are contemporary (at least in Europe). For instance, I usually think of flanged maces as a high gothic weapon. I have also not seen any maille barding that I can recall. I know of cloth being used and I also seem to remember someone positing that leather barding might have existed however. Does anyone know of examples of these?

Cheers,

Nate C.

Sapere Aude
"If you are going to kill the man, at least give him a decent salute." - A. Blansitt

If they ever come up with a Swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, then Jumping Off Something. --Jack Handy
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Tue 07 Jul, 2009 12:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Flanged maces are brutal weapons. We did a test on a tatami mat with wooden core covered in 16 gauge chain with a layer of 16 gauge brig over it...the wood core bits blow out the other side of the mat. Oddly enough, not too much damage to the armor beyond a dent in 2 plates and scuff damage to the leather. Course some padding might have helped the damage be a bit less then turning an arm into bone soup...but I have no doubt that a good hit from a flanged mace will have no problems breaking bones through just mail and padding. That said...I don't think flanged maces were contemporary of the era you have in mind. They were more popular starting around the start of the 100 year war and later eras(I think...).

Spears are not so good against charging calvary...hence why the pike was made. IF the enemy calvary isn't very good and your spearmen were good soldiers, it is possible for the infantry to win out...depending on quite a few other factors (like numbers, terrain and what not).

Cutting through mail unless one is on horseback isn't really going to happen very regularly. Even a two handed stab with a spear through mail on foot isn't an easy feat...but once again, a horse fixes that issue quite nicely. Don't underestimate the effectiveness of armor...it had to be, or they wouldn't have bothered.

As for personal fighting of that era...well we don't know. Nothing about that subject has survived that we know off. We can infer and make some educated guesses...but that's about it. I would say give the local SCA a whirl and make some (possible a lot) of adjustments from there. Actually the SCA around here has help quite a few authors with fighting in fantasy writings (a few published...most not). Just keep in mind that SCA combat has limitations on realism due to safety rules and the sport attitude that many practictioners take.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jul, 2009 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay so flanged maces are out then, (sorry I was thinking of the six sided byzantine mace)
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jul, 2009 11:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
Okay so flanged maces are out then, (sorry I was thinking of the six sided byzantine mace)


How about the " Iberian mace " by A & A or a pyramidal spiky mace might be a more generic name for this type:
http://www.arms-n-armor.com/pole147.html

Closer to the period and probably as effective on maille as a flanged type mace ? Doubt if the target would appreciate the difference as far as seriousness of injury is concerned. Wink

A bronze headed version was an even earlier type but the geometry of the head would be similar in principle.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have no flanged maces, but there are other designs, incorporating a bronze/brass head and a wooden handle.
However, the where not that popular. In short, while it is often tought that maces where used to fight mail, but the did not become realy popular until the introduction of plate.
In short, mace combat would involve grabbing someone, and hitting them in the head and neck untill he passes out.

In the early medevial period, however, you might as well do this with your sword, since neck armour was usually scarce.

Spears where the main infantry weapon of the era, and will pass through flesh with almost no resistance. However, they are not that well suited for single combat, so in a one on one faceoff you throw it, and go for the sword.

Unarmoured flesh have very little resistance to cutting, and even a quick wrist flick will cut to the bone of the arm, or sever the neck arteries. A typical fight could be over after one or two blows.

Unarmored fighting would be a combination of quick snipes against the hands or head around the edges of the shield, and close action. In the later case, you present a strong defence, enter into a favouable bind, and slice or strike as you can without opening yourself to counterattack (though this there are a lot of blunders made here... many a fighter have left a bind to strike, and found a enemy blade in his thigh.)

(quality) Mail will stop more or less all cuts, up to and including broadaxes. The percussive effect goes through, but can be shrugged of in most cases. Spears, however, go straight through mail without padding on a full on hit. With padding, they are slowed down enough to be surviable. Also, mail wil stopp all the glancing hits that would otherwise cause small injuries. (A strike or slice with a spear would also cause a significant cut against an unarmoured foe)
Lammellar has better thrust resistance, but has less coverage.

Helmets are also very efficient, and especially vital in a shield based combat enviroment. When fighting with shields, almost all blows will be towards the head, and the helmet is a real lifesaver.

Armour also gives huge offensive benefits. For instance, just having a helmet wil let you keep your eyes on the target and strike, while a fighter without a helmet will quickly have to raise his shield to cover his head, putting him on the defensive and blocking his own vision.
As such, a heavy infantryman (varangian guard, dismounted catapract, or similar) could push back and kill light troops very efficiently (which is why there are almost no light infantry in the late middle ages, when armour is readily available)

Dark age spearmen faced with heavy cavalry would either break and run, or try to present a tight shield wall. Over all, they lacked the drill and discipline that would let later (and classical) infantry defeat mounted charges. (with the posible exception of the byzantines, before their military system colapsed a bit after 1000)
However, heavy cavalry was mostly found in the east during this period.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 6:18 am    Post subject: Re: Need advice for a story         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
How a horse reacts to maille/lamellar barding


Since mail and lamellar barding tended to be made hanging rather fitted close to the body like plate barding, they might make the horse fatigue a bit faster due to the uneven stresses placed on the horse's anatomy. Other than that, I don't think they'd slow the horse down all that much, at least not before the horse starts tiring from the heat and the extra burden of the armor.


Quote:
How a formation of spears would react to a frontal charge of armoured lancers on armoured horses (Not sure if they would react like a pike formation or not seeing as how the spears are a lot shorter)


Apparently, the best way to use a spear formation against a cavalry charge was to deliver a sudden countercharge from very close range, like what Mark Antony did against the Parthians. Of course, not everyone had the training to do this, but with enough morale and cohesion it was possible to turn back a cavalry charge with a hedge of spears, like what the English did to the initial Norman charges at Hastings or the Rus against Byzantine cavalry. Morale and tight formation mattered more than length of weapon.

Alternatively, the spearmen could form the first (and last) rank(s) of a formation that mostly consisted of archers in the manner of 10th-century Byzantine skoutatoi. The spearmen's shields provided protection from the enemy's arrows and a last-ditch defense for instances where the formation was assaulted in hand-to-hand combat.


Quote:
What would a Cataphract Cavalryman need? In terms of horses, weapons, gear, etc.


Whose cataphracts? Your timeframe is quite broad, and during that time there were several different kinds of horsemen that could be construed as cataphracts, from Muslim asawira (basically Sassanid defectors/survivors), Khazar and Gokturk heavy cavalry of the Steppes, and the Leonian/Nikephorian Byzantine revival of cataphracts to Western European milites, the richest of whom were already beginning to adopt horse armor on a significant scale by the 1150s at the latest.


Quote:
What do light field Ballistae do to a tight formation of men?


Well, with luck, they could skewer two or three people together or nail an unlucky victim onto a tree, like what apparently happened during Belisarius's defense of Rome against the Ostrogoths. However, this was done by a ballista mounted on a fortification wall, and indeed in the timeframe you have in mind there seems to have been very few examples of mechanical artillery being brought to (led alone used on) a battlefield. I'm not saying that it was impossible--just uncommon, perhaps because not many armies at the time had the ability to handle the logistical demands of field artillery.


Quote:
How to make a realistic fight scene and what techniques would they use in that era ( (un)armoured, mounted, afoot)


You can get advice on combat mechanics and techniques here. It'd also be a very good idea to join a writers' critique circle in order to get feedback on narrative skill and the like, because in fictional fight scene it's often more important to get the mood right (i.e. accurate emotions) than to write a detailed blow-by-blow account of the combat.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay thank you Layfayette (You guys are wonderful/invaluable Big Grin ) As for Cataphracts I was thinking of something along the lines of Leonian/Nikephoran Klibanophoros. And I have several writer friends and talk to them regularly and I will definitley join a group so I can get the emotions right (I'm thinking it would a lot of fear, hate, and exhilaration in one package)

BTW Do you have any links/info on the Milites horse armour?
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