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Old 01-22-2018, 12:32 AM   #1
Prince Charon
 
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Default [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

GURPS Low-Tech (4e) makes mention of hobnails on p98 (text box), but while it does mention the improved footing in general, and reduced Stealth on hard surfaces, it does not mention the rather important point that they also reduce footing on hard, relatively-smooth surfaces, as Lindybeige notes in this video, helpfully citing an example from Josephus's The Jewish War (Book VI, Chapter I). I'm reasonably sure that other examples can be found, but I have not seen the problem dealt with in GURPS.

Of course, if you're doing Yrth or another non-historical game, the GM can just say that this culture nails/glues strips or discs of leather to the bottom of their shoes/sandals, which does a 'good enough' job of imitating the fancy rubber soles we use (if they don't have rubber, themselves). If you are doing a historical game, though, and you want to go that far in simulating historical accuracy, an appropriate rule for this could help.

Thoughts?
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Old 01-22-2018, 08:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

Yrth has enough cultural cross-contamination with Earth that I expect them to include innovations in shoe design - never mind that they've had 500 years since the medieval period so they should have 500 years more tinkering even without cross-contamination.

I have a pair of rubber strap-on ice-cleats for my boots for foul weather - they allow me to convert my big stompy mukluks into hobnailed boots (they use screw heads instead of nail heads, but the same effect). They give absolutely amazing traction in treacherous conditions.

They are also a death sentence on tile floors; that was the first place my mind went when I read the hobnails entry. They're a little alarming on even well-maintained concrete (worn tarmac roads and crappy shattered crumbling sidewalks are fine).

They're incredibly loud on tiles too. They make the sharp, high-frequency sounds that make it easy to pinpoint your location.
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

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Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
Of course, if you're doing Yrth or another non-historical game, the GM can just say that this culture nails/glues strips or discs of leather to the bottom of their shoes/sandals, which does a 'good enough' job of imitating the fancy rubber soles we use.
You can't have anything like that (including rubber) without negating the point of hobnails (unless you're just using a completely different technology; hobnails for climbing shoes have been pretty well replaced by special sole materials).
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

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Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
.. they also reduce footing on hard, relatively-smooth surfaces ... If you are doing a historical game, though, and you want to go that far in simulating historical accuracy, an appropriate rule for this could help.
The easiest rule would be that they make tile floors and the like bad footing, increasing movement costs as per B387, and imposing a penalty on attack and defence rolls as per B547-49.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

No, not "relatively smooth" surfaces. Lindybeige presented one of the few exceptions, which is polished stone and glazed ceramics. Hobnails improve traction on pretty much every other surface including regular stone and concrete so long as they aren't covered in water.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The easiest rule would be that they make tile floors and the like bad footing, increasing movement costs as per B387, and imposing a penalty on attack and defence rolls as per B547-49.
Thank you. I was having trouble finding (or remembering) the pages for bad footing.
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

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No, not "relatively smooth" surfaces.
Well, depends on your definition of relatively smooth. Also what you're comparing it to. Hobnails have a poor coefficient of friction on most surfaces, but make up for it by catching in dents and holes in the surface, either preexisting or (in the case of soft surfaces) made by the hobnails, so they're heavily dependent on just how uneven the surface is.

Note, also, that hobnails on smooth relatively soft surfaces (such as wood) do this by damaging the surface, thus making them unwelcome. In general if you aren't damaging the flooring, you'll be slipping about indoors.
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
No, not "relatively smooth" surfaces. Lindybeige presented one of the few exceptions, which is polished stone and glazed ceramics. Hobnails improve traction on pretty much every other surface including regular stone and concrete so long as they aren't covered in water.
How do you feel about the Youtube medieval channels? Any you think are really good or bad but popular?
I don't have the education to easily tell quality from opinionated nonsense.
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Old 01-23-2018, 09:59 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

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How do you feel about the Youtube medieval channels? Any you think are really good or bad but popular?
I don't have the education to easily tell quality from opinionated nonsense.
I realize that this question was meant for Dan.

However, Matt Easton who has the channel Scholagladiatora trained as an archaeologist and generally sounds like he knows what he's talking about.
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Old 01-23-2018, 01:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Hobnails and footing

Yeah, Matt knows his stuff.
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