The AD&D Experience, Part 5: And What is Splint Mail Anyways?

Half-plate armor from AgincourtI decided that enough was enough and had some mercy on the mage. Since he had a INT of 17, I gave him the same bonus that the clerics had, giving him 2 extra 1st level spells. After fighting a few more Trogs than the party would have wanted, including the near TPK where Thor, reduced to 1 hp, finally defeated the last of their foes, the party headed back to civilization. Their take was still very small, much more xp than gp, but they earned enough to upgrade their armor from studded leather and scale to chainmail. With a base AC of 5 for all the warriors, they are prepared to re-enter the caverns.

In AD&D, scale mail is AC 6, and splint or banded mail is AC4. “Plate” is AC2, but is really the half-plate of about 1450. “Full plate” is the 16th century fully articulated armor. I never really understood the difference between scale and splint. As it turns out, Splint mail (or Plated Mail) was a transitional moment between chain and plate, being small plates either linked together, or connected by chain mail. To me it seems a lot like a coat-of-plates, which is metal plates sewn into a leather jacket. Scale mail was metal pieces sewn onto leather or cloth armor, and for my money is also the equivalent to a coat-of-plates. The steel stops thrusts and spreads out the impact, the leather softens the impact, and the chain does the same. Leather is good against blunt weapons, while chain will help stop a blade (sword or axe). Chain is not very good against a pick though, as it rips right through the links. In fact, I think the pick or crow’s beak has the best penetration of any weapon, but has the downside of sticking in the wound and slowing down the attacker during the retrieval process. Banded mail seems to have been a literary fiction.

For my Journeyman game, I use leather, studded leather, jacke (coat of plates), half-plate and full-plate, as it gives some period consistency. The armor can be improved by a master craftsman, by the use of mithril instead of steel, and by the binding of various spirits (earth elementals, demons, faeries, etc.) into the armor.

By the way, I was a bit surprised at how much my dad still likes the game. I think for him it has the advantage of being a social activity, unlike the MMO computer games that aim at repetitive quests and also unlike the first person shooters like TF2, where one kills scores of foes each day. He was a big RISK player back in the 1970s, and AD&D retains that feel of the family gathered at the kitchen table. I’ve got to say that I like it too, for the same reason.

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About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
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