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Author Topic: [KICKSTARTER] MEDIEVAL - Real Medieval Life for RPGs  (Read 411 times)

aspqrz

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[KICKSTARTER] MEDIEVAL - Real Medieval Life for RPGs
« on: December 04, 2020, 06:07:46 PM »
Following the successful completion of the 2017 Kickstarter for Orbis Mundi2 last year (471 Backers, four books, 1300+ pages, two Best Silver and two Best Copper Sellers on DTRPG) work on a new project is currently running on Kickstarter ...

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1009649146/medieval-0/description

... and is currently fully funded and has passed the first Stretch Goal and is closing in on the second!

This new project is for a four issue 'Magazine style' run of two Special Editions (80+ pages each) and two regular Issues (40+ pages each) of MEDIEVAL: Real Medieval Life for RPGs which will look at aspects of real medieval Europe (and peripheries) as it relates to Fantasy or Historical RPGs ... expanding on or adding to the material already covered in or alluded to in the books of the previous Campaign (OM2, The Marketplace, Ithura & Porthaven, Fantasy Europe). These will be made available at the rate of one per quarter in 2021, Special Edition #1 during the first Quarter, Regular Issue #1 in the second Quarter, Special Edition #2 in the third Quarter and Regular Issue #2 in the fourth Quarter.

The intent is to offer gamers and GMs interested in a greater degree of historical realism for their campaigns than any existing FRPG has offered to date a view into the reality of the medieval world ... with in depth historical and practical material on a wide variety of matters, including suggested (experimental) rules for implementing them in D100 and D20 based game systems.

The two Special Editions and the first Regular Issues are mostly blocked out ...

The First Special Edition covers Arms, Armour and Combat realities, 'historical' magic weapons and armour as well as reviews of recent(ish) FRPGs.

The Second Special Edition will cover Medieval Travellers, Inns & Taverns, The Cursus Publicus and its Imitators, and Caravanserais and will also include detailed floorplans on at least two Inns/Taverns based on actual historical ones as well as reviews and other materials.

The First Regular Issue will cover a Wilderness region ready to be dropped into any campaign, with extensive information on a Monastic Hold/Waystation on a moderately heavily travelled Royal Highway, an isolated Manor and other material including Reviews.

The Second Regular Issue's contents are in a state of flux for the moment ... and may include material on Medieval Clothing, the Medieval Farmer's Year (and Medieval Farming in general) and important medieval historical events such as The Great Famine and The Black Death.

It is hoped that, depending on the success of the Kickstarter, that some outside contributions can be paid for, hopefully on geographical areas outside of the usual Anglo-Norman and NW French versions of Chivalry that are presented as all encompassing in all FRPGs based on medieval Europe ... but which, in reality, were anything but!

aspqrz

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Re: [KICKSTARTER] MEDIEVAL - Real Medieval Life for RPGs
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2020, 06:10:29 PM »
A Knight walks into the Village Smithy ...

... and orders a new set of Full Plate Armour ...

Bzzzt!
Wrong!


Making Armour was a specialised trade, especially something as complex and technological demanding (for the time and place) as Plate Armour ... which was, incidentally so complex and so technologically demanding that it doesn't appear until the very end of the Medieval Period (in the 15th Century, in fact, which is probably best referred to as the Early Modern period).

Village Blacksmiths had neither the skill nor the tools, and almost certainly not the materials, to make anything more complex than agricultural tools ... if they did, they wouldn't have been mere Village Blacksmiths!

So, a Knight walks into a Smithy in a local town and orders a full set of Plate Armour ...

Bzzzt!
Wrong!


Again, Armour making is too complex, especially Plate Armour ... so, let's try again ...

a Knight walks into an Armourer's in a local town and orders a full set of Plate Armour off the rack ...

Bzzzt!
Wrong!

Plate Armour had to be individually fitted, piece by piece, in the early days and, in any case, it was expensive and time consuming to make ... and medieval craftsmen of any sort simply didn't make much of anything on spec. You had to order it and then wait ...

Which brings us to the point of this Update ...

How common was armour?​

Not nearly as common as most RPGs would imply.

The records available suggest that, even in a wealthy Town, no more than one third of households would have had any armour at all ... and of that third, two thirds will have Mail, Jacks or Brigandines. Even in the 15th century only one sixth of the total had even Breastplates. Exactly none had Full Plate.

And, how much was available for sale? An amount equivalent to about 10% of that total ... and close to 100% were Jacks, Brigandines or Mail.

A historical perspective​

Putting this in perspective, in 1066 the Population of England was ~2-2.5 million. As a result of the Norman Conquest, William I divided this land into 5-6000 Knight's Fees, not all of which were given to Knights or Nobles (a significant chunk were given to the Church, for example).
(The Norman Army at Hastings had 1500-2000 Knights)

Assuming each of those Knights Fees could provide a Knight, Squire and 3 Mounted Men at Arms, that's around 25-30000 total who would have likely had some sort of body armour (actually less, as some of those Fees were held by the Church and provided no soldiers at all and others were not enough to provide more than a poorly Armoured Knight and even more poorly Armoured Squire). Even so, that's a maximum of around 1% of the population.

And England was a notably wealthy country.

How Long to Make Armour?​

Partial Plate (i.e. a Plate Breastplate over a full Mail suit, the best available at the very end of the 14th century) ... 60-90 days.

Mail Shirt ... 15-20 days

3/4 Mail ... 20-25 days

Full Mail ... 30-40 days

But none of the above allows for the almost inevitable waiting period ... for the Armourer to slot you into his current schedule. It's incredibly unlikely your Knight will walk off the street and find the Armourer at loose ends and ready to start work immediately.

Summary​

So, not only can't you walk into a Smithy and order a set of armour, and you certainly can't buy one off the rack, even in a Town. You're going to have order it and join a queue.

Fortunately, most of the populace don't have any armour either.

aspqrz

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Re: [KICKSTARTER] MEDIEVAL - Real Medieval Life for RPGs
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2020, 12:35:13 AM »
Wrong, Misleading, or Both

Over the years since I launched OM2 (and also during this campaign) backers have suggested that I look at this, that or the other YouTube (or other) Video which shows how medieval weapons and armour really worked.


The problem is that they really don't ...


Most are either wrong, or they're misleading ... or, more often than not, they're both wrong and misleading.Which is not to say that the creators of said videos have made them with the deliberate intent of being such ... it's just that they are.


Why?


There are a number of reasons. Some of the most common include ...

Ahistorical Materials
A huge chunk of them use weapons or armour that are made from modernmaterials, rather than period ones. The most common mistake here, and it's a huge one, is that they use weapons or armour made from various grades of steel.


Bzzzt!
Wrong!



Metalworkers in the 10th-14th centuries were just barely able to make a reasonably quality iron -- and they could, to a degree, case harden that or steel the surface - and doing that was bloody expensive. The edges of better quality, but not run of the mill, Swords were steeled ... the core was iron. Other bladed weapons which were basically disposable or single use, even if they might have been a soldier's Primary Weapon (Swords were sidearms - even for Knights), were made of iron because of the expense.


That's Spearheads and Arrows especially.


Virtually all of these supposedly 'realistic' tests that I've seen have been done using steel ... especially with Bows and Crossbows ... which don't get steeled or steel arrow or bolt heads routinely until the mid to late 15th century.


Tests done with actual period authentic iron arrow and bolt heads (Royal Armouries, Leeds, for example) ... well, if they're also done with period authentic arrowheads and quarrel tips, they are much less likely to penetrate period authentic armour. Indeed, they often shatter, especially against period authentic plate.


Some, again, supposedly authentic, tests are done against steel armour - which is bad enough in and of itself - but most often, if not always, of 1-1.5 mm thick armour when, historically, it was usually 3-4 mm thick iron.


Shield tests are almost always just as misleading - from those done with faux-Viking Round Shields made of a single layer of thin softwood butted/glued together to usually faced or backed with nothing (where its actually surprising that they actually last as long as 3-4 blows) han 4+ layers of cross-laid overlapping strips of wood glued together as something like modern plywood and faced with parchment (leather) and, probably, with a parchment (leather) backing on the inside, and rimmed with either rawhide or metal edging and which are noted as having been able to withstand 32-33 arrow hits, minimum (and, in some cases, in excess of 100) yet remain intact.

Ahistorical Weapons

Weapons and Armour through the ages - even down to the 21st century - have been in a constant dance of technological one-upmanship. Armour gets better (always first) so Weapons have to improve to deal with that ... rinse and repeat, ad nauseam.


Think is, you don't get weapons developing before there is a need for them ... that is, until after improvements in armour technology make it imperative there be improvements.


The earliest weapons kit in the medieval period (say the 10th century) was Spear, Axe (including Throwing Axe), Long Knife, Long Sword and Bow (previous classifications and attempts to differentiate between Short and Long Self Bows, and between Composite and Self Bows, are now generally thought to have over egged the minimal differences). There wasn't much difference between those weapons of the 10th century AD and the 3rd-4th century (and, really, earlier) BC ... and the differences that follow on from then are responses to armour technology as it gradually improves.


There's really not a great deal of difference between those early weapon types and the later ones right through to the late 13th century and, even then, the improvements (so called) are often cosmetic as much as practical.


It's only with the gradual introduction of Partial Plate in the last half of the 14th century that the pool of weapon types expands to include weapons that can handle the fact that cutting and piercing weapons can rarely do cut or pierce Plate ... which means weapons which can bludgeon and do impact damage through the armour even if the armour remains intact.


Either that, or weapons which can be aimed at vulnerable spots ... not Fencing weapons (Rapiers and the like) per se as they remain useless as long as armour is common, but aimable weapons, even aimable swords (and period Fechtbuch show how to use these more pointy weapons most effectively against armoured, armoured and shield carrying, shield carrying and even unarmoured foes) ... aiming for the face as often as not (until armoured visors and full face helmets come into use), or trying for bits that are unarmoured or simply less well armoured.


Virtually all of the myriad of weird and wonderful Polearm types lovingly detailed in practically every RPG since White Box D&D, for example, simply don't exist at all in the period to the end of the 14th century or were so unwieldy as to be completely, totally, and utterly useless and pointless outside of massed infantry formations in specific battlefield conditions.

Testing Bows

Tests of Longbows tend to fall in this category (ahistorical weapons) ... done using arrows with steel arrowheads, and with arrowheads of types which simply didn't exist before the 15th (so-called Needle Bodkins) or 16th (so called Armour Cutters) centuries ... worse, using modern 180 lb (or higher) pull Longbows (period Longbows are estimated to have had a pull of 90-140 lbs and it was widely noted that English Archers lost 20% of their Pull strength after 10 days on campaign).


Tests done with period, iron, arrowheads against period, 3mm, Plate armour show that the Short Bodkin Point (which were cheap target practise arrows of iron) and the Broadheads (the warshots, more expensive, yet still iron) tended to shatter against plate and, at best, tended to either just dent the armour or barely penetrate (not the entire arrowhead, usually less than a centimeter).


Then there's the complete misunderstanding of how Bows were used, at least by the English, on the Battlefield. Some time in the late 13th and early 14th centuries the English armies went from individual (or massed) aimed fire to massed area fire. There was a good tactical reason for this - to have a good chance of hitting an armoured target where it wasn't armoured you had to let it get relatively close ... and, if said target happens to be an armoured Knight on a charging horse or, more accurately, a whole bunch of armoured Knights on charging horses ... well, if they get that close, you're toast (incidentally, a number of supposedly accurate Bow tests are done at 30 meters or less, and many are done at 10 meters or less ... which makes the real life archer mincemeat). Especially since Archers didn't carry more than 48 arrows ... and armies, maybe, another 48 arrows in supply waggons.


Massed Area Fire, however, can be done at ranges in excess of 100 yards and is devastating -- since the horses those Knights are riding are almost certainly less armoured (or even unarmoured) than their riders. That's what won Crecy and Agincourt ... not individual aimed fire.
As for Crossbows - not much better in range or damage than Bows or Composite Bows), their main advantage is that, once cocked, they can be aimed more or less indefinitely and, of course, the fact they need almost no training to be effective with. Longbows and Composite Bows, well, its noted above how much Pull strength Archers lost and how quickly when on campaign ... this didn't stop them from drawing their Bow, it meant they couldn't aim for as long and, therefore, not as accurately.


(Oh, and as for Composite vs Longbows, period ones, there was much of a muchness between them as well and, really, they rarely met each other on the Battlefield for the simple reason that the period materials used in period Composite Bows confined them pretty much exclusively to arid and semi-arid areas as moisture quickly damaged them, potentially fatally ... range and damage capacity were maybe, generously, 5% different and a point more ... and only sometimes).

Summary

There's a lot more like the above ... but, in short, be very wary, no matter how professionally done the video might be.
Phil McGregor

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Re: [KICKSTARTER] MEDIEVAL - Real Medieval Life for RPGs
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2020, 07:39:51 PM »
Two Stretch Goals (+8 pages [to 48 pages] to Regular and +16 pages [to 96 pages] to Special Issues -- minimum)  achieved and under A$500 to the third ... +8 (to 56 pages, minimum) to Regular issues.


Currently, work on the first Special Issue (projected March 2021 release) is well underway and there has been significant progress on the second (Regular) issue (projected June 2021 release) as well. Some preliminary work has also been done on the second Special Issue (projected release September 2021) as well.


Phil McGregor

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Re: [KICKSTARTER] MEDIEVAL - Real Medieval Life for RPGs
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2020, 07:33:45 PM »
Every rpg or rpg supplement I am aware of mishandles medieval Inns and Taverns ... grossly mishandles them.

They universally treat them as (often barely) modified versions of modern day Pub(lic Houses), Bars or Hotels. A very few may treat them as unmodified Coaching Inns.

All of this is, of course, entirely wrong and totally misleading.

(Note: What follows applies to the British Isles ... as this is where almost all of the evidence available in English applies to. The limited evidence from other localities in English seems to support these conclusions, however)

Taverns

These were never the equivalent of a Pub or Bar during the period covered by OM2 (11th-14th centuries) - not in the modern sense of a place to go and buy wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages -- they were largely, in a modern sense, restaurants, places where you could get a sit down meal, often (but not always) with beer or, less frequently (at least in the British Isles), with wine.

If you wanted a place to get a drink, you went to the local Alewife who sold homemade Beer by the tankard ... and these establishments rarely had any sort of indoor seating or tables as they basically operated out of what were private homes. They might not even have more than a couple of tankards.

The patron(s) usually sat (on a bench) or stood outside. Moreover, it was common for these establishments, being craft level, to run out of beer ... though they were common enough that there was a high likelihood there would be another nearby which had just finished brewing a new batch.
Taverns were, in fact, quite rare in the early part of the period covered. Alewives provided Beer and Cookshops provided food (these were similar to Alewife establishments - basically operating out of what was mostly a private home and with limited facilities). They only start to become common towards the end of the period.

Note that, again, for most of the period, what Taverns that existed did not provide accommodation for travellers or anyone else (except, probably, the owner's family and some staff) ... in fact, in the British Isles they were often legally prohibited from doing so (at least on an organised, regular, basis).

Internally, they mostly consisted of one main room where there were trestle tables and benches (possibly some stools), but no chairs (the latter were expensive luxuries) and might even do the cooking (such as it was) in that space. There would probably be a separate storeroom or storerooms (Pantry, Buttery etc.) and, also probably, a small private room for the owner. It would have been almost unheard of for there to be anything like a 'private function room' though, since Taverns were not always purpose built but often repurposed from private dwellings, there might be more than one 'main' hall for patrons.

Nope. There's no evidence of anything like a 'Bar' for patrons to stand or sit at and drink. Patrons sat at the trestle tables and were served by the staff.

(Why trestle tables [probably the simplest sort, square or oblong rather than round, as the latter would have taken up more space for less seating and would have been more expensive to make] and benches? Even though it didn't provide public accommodation, the staff would often sleep on site ... so the tables and benches needed to be able to be stored away so they could sleep on the rush covered floor [most likely] or, possibly, on bedstraw filled paliasses on the floor)

Lighting? Despite lots of artwork (all inaccurate) available from modern sources, it is unlikely in the extreme that they were substantially lit by wax candles. And (in northern Europe) never by oil lamps (which burned olive oil not a petrochemical oil). The most likely source of illumination would have been the fireplace (chimneyless until very late), even in summer, or tallow candles (preferably beef tallow) or, possibly, pitch soaked torches or flambeaux. Lighting inside would have been extremely dim by modern standards (but so were private homes, even of the wealthy).

So, Tavern Brawls are most unlikely, and PCs aren't likely to be sleeping on the premises. Even drinking onsite is not certain.

Inns

These were places which provided accommodation and meals - but not certainly alcoholic beverages. By law, at least right through to close to the end of the period, they were legally only able to serve or provide services to travellers - the local authorities wanted all foreigners (which meant anyone not from this town) in the one spot where they could easily be controlled, if needed.

The interior layout was very similar to that of a Tavern - a large Hall (possibly more than one, but none of which were private function rooms in the modern sense) with trestle tables (square or oblong again) and benches (still no chairs, and probably very few stools). Again, cooking may have been done in the Hall proper, but there might also be a separate kitchen. There would have been storerooms (Pantry, Buttery etc.) as well, perhaps a Cellar.

Accommodation: There were no private rooms. Most patrons would have slept on the floor (rush covered) in the Hall (the trestle tables and benches would be taken up for the night), mostly in their clothes, perhaps with whatever bedding they may have been travelling with ... possibly on a rented paliasse and/or blanket.

There would also, most likely, have been rooms available - but these were in no sense private. They would almost always have several beds in each one, and each bed was expected to sleep several people. These rooms were often, if the Inn had two storeys, upstairs.. The doors coul dbe barred from the inside, but mostly didn't have locks.

Theoretically a large party could rent an entire room and use it for themselves, but the idea of travellers having a single room with a single (or double) bed with a lockable door really only appears with any regularity way outside of the period ... though there is some limited evidence which suggests it may have been appearing towards the end of the 14th century.

In this period, however, at least in the British Isles, Inns were almost (if not entirely) entirely an Urban phenomenon. Towns were usually close enough so that you could be reasonably certain you could travel and reach one in a day's travel. In the countryside you either camped, usually on the commons on either side of the road, or you found someone in a Village who would take in a guest ... or, if you were of high enough rank, you might be able to score a place in the Lord's Manor.

In Summary

All those fantasy tropes of meeting in a Tavern, Tavern Brawls and having a private room in a rural Inn ... down the gurgler, by and large!

Phil McGregor

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Re: [KICKSTARTER] MEDIEVAL - Real Medieval Life for RPGs
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2020, 08:28:38 AM »
There are only 23 hours to go ... and we've passed A$9400 ... definitely funded and several stretch goals down. The next is at A$10,800 ... will we blow through it in the time remaining?

Phil McGregor