I’ve been polishing up and filling out the equipment chapter of SotE, which has turned out to be one of my favorite things to do. Mostly because the setting itself has turned out to give me lots of ideas of where I want to take things. Funny, how it occasionally works like that.
For one thing, I wanted to avoid the traditional cribbed from D&D arms and armor lists, for various reasons. First off, Gygax wasn’t really all that when it came to history, the lists are boring and generic by now and I want to stick a whole lot of flavor into that. SotE being an Early Modern setting where some parts of the world are still catching up gives me a ton of opportunity to do so.
Lots of games have the approach where armor is balanced between protection and being able to move, and that’s kind of not true. Munitions plate (cheaper proto-mass produced plate) and plate armor is a lot more handy than mail and has the upside of actually protecting against firearms, which mail doesn’t do. Mail’s common in areas where firearms haven’t yet caught on, of course. The downside to plate is that it’s really expensive and there’s limits to availability, a lot of soldiers wear jacks or buff coats instead: heavy cloth and leather jackets, essentially.
For specialty armor, you need to go to the dwarves and pay a lot of money. If (to compare) a suit of plate costs at least as much as a new car, dwarven-made harness will cost as much as a new house. And a fairly nice house at that. And then there’s the almost-mythical dwarven mail that weighs almost nothing, can be worn under a set of clothes without anyone noticing and even protects against bullets. And that will probably cost as much as an entire city. The Hessians do one better and wear dwarven plate made out of black gold.
Also, a decent hat gives you one point worth of armor because every stylish character should wear a hat.
Regarding weapons, since everyone likes bows and crossbows I kept them in. Firearms are better on a shot-for-shot basis but historically, crossbows were used for hunting at least up until the 18th century here in Northern Europe. And you really can’t have elves without longbows, can you?
Firearms didn’t go through the same development cycle as in our history and matchlocks didn’t get popular ever. Most firearm-equipped troops are wielding snaphaunce-type muskets which are still quite expensive. The cavalry rolls with cavalry pistols which are about two feet long and serve double duty as clubs. The best gunsmiths of the age is a group of elves who call themselves the Lords of War. Someone might say they’ve adjusted way to well to human society. Their superior technology and spells allows them to make the first pistol-sized pistols which are a luxury item.
One other thing I wanted to do away with, even if it’s not strictly historical, was the generic longsword. Instead, there’s rapiers, basket-hilted swords, katzbalgers, shaskhas and shortswords. Rapiers are mostly a civilian weapon, while most armies use a basket-hilted sword as their primary sidearm, they occasionally vary in length and style but they’re all rapiers. The German landsknechts use katzbalgers, a straight sword that’s used when the going gets too up close and personal for pikes. Shashkas are used by Novgorodians who adopted the curved cavalry sword from various nomads from the south. Shortswords are an anomaly and sort of obsolete but they are a traditional weapon for bards and skalds.
Then there’s the local oddities, such as bearded axes used by Karelians, Curlew’s Beak hammers to punch holes into armor, halberds are popular with some groups, the Doppelsoldat elite of the Landsknechts use enormous Zweihänder swords and the Highlander mercenary companies have their claymores. The Danes haven’t yet adopted the proper pike so they use a spear instead.
And there’s of course powerful ancient blades too to be found. The Elves made some pretty damn good swords back in the day, there’s still some Old Empire swords kicking around somewhere and of course, there’s the dwarves.