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Old 04-16-2012, 09:56 PM   #1
Wildcat
 
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Default Appropriate gear for TL3 soldiers

I'm working on a TL3 campaign setting while between gaming groups because of geography. I have a little bit of writer's block brainstorming big picture things, so I thought I'd turn to a bit more detailed items, particularly designing basic soldiers for the feudal medieval-ish kingdoms where I am focusing to start with. Mostly I'm trying to figure out what would be appropriate weapon and armor selections. Here are some early thoughts.

Conscripted peasants would probably be issued a spear (maybe even a cheap one) and a medium shield. There would probably be a bunch who would also bring along axes, clubs, and/or knives of various sizes. They might -- might -- have some very light armor that is essentially heavy clothing. Would it be too much to give such conscripts even 1 cp in Shield or their melee weapon of choice?

The next step up would be lightly trained, but not professional, militia members. The best example I can think of is England's yeoman archer -- people who have regular lives outside of military service and are only called up when there is a specific conflict, but undergo regular training so they're more than fodder. This group could probably be divided into ranged and melee soldiers. They're much more likely to have dedicated (although still light) armor, hardened leather perhaps. Their weapons would probably be a step up from the conscripts, too. Longbows or composite crossbows for the ranged attackers. I'm thinking melee soldiers would be likely to have weapons governed by one of axe/mace, spear, or polearm. If they're wielding one-handed weapons, they'll probably have a medium shield, too.

The next step up would be fully professional soldiers, people who, if they aren't fighting in a war, are training for the next war. Mercenaries would probably be divided in terms of gear between this level and militia. Here is where you start seeing real metal armor -- mail, possibly scale or jack of plates, or segmented plate, but probably not the best of any of them. But here is where I run into a roadblock picking out weapons. I'm not thinking of these kinds of soldiers as rank-and-file, so I'm not really looking at spears, pikes, or polearms. Leave those to the militia. Are swords appropriate, or should I stick to less expensive weapons like axes, maces, etc.? And should I be looking at ranged professional soldiers?

Knights and nobles would obviously be the best equipped, with high-end mail and segmented plate, while wielding fine swords (probably one-handed with a shield; armor isn't yet to a level requiring huge two-handed can-openers), possibly lances for the initial charge. And of course well-protected horses.

I'm sure I'm off-base on some of these, or at least not thinking of something I should. What should I be thinking about differently? These are really just for the medieval-ish countries, as I said earlier. I also think I'll have a country that relies on a large army of moderately trained and equipped troops (equivalent to the militia I described above), that I'm thinking would probably be equipped somewhat like the Roman legions, using numbers and discipline to overcome opposing armies, rather than individually mighty champions.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: Appropriate gear for TL3 soldiers

This is what I came up with (for my TL3 fantasy campaign) using Instant Armor:

http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=86154

My suits are ahistorical partly because I'm no historian but mainly because I was shooting for consistent DR, not shorting the extremities, simply because I want most characters, the NPCs at least, to have a single DR value for me to keep track of.

GEF

PS: I sympathize with your geographic predicament; game is scarce in the Mojave desert as well.

Last edited by Gef; 04-16-2012 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: Appropriate gear for TL3 soldiers

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Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
Would it be too much to give such conscripts even 1 cp in Shield or their melee weapon of choice?
I would say no points in Shield (canonically it takes 200 hours of training for that 1 pt) but a point in whatever they brought with them for backup (hatchet, knife, etc) isn't unreasonable at all. Some might have a point in Brawling or Wrestling instead.

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here is where I run into a roadblock picking out weapons. I'm not thinking of these kinds of soldiers as rank-and-file, so I'm not really looking at spears, pikes, or polearms. Leave those to the militia. Are swords appropriate, or should I stick to less expensive weapons like axes, maces, etc.? And should I be looking at ranged professional soldiers?
Historically, polearms or missile weapons were extremely common among mercenaries (Swiss pikes, Genoese crossbowmen, etc) - the cultural/ethnic backdrop can be important there. Mercenaries will often be the cream of whatever nearby societies practice for war, so you can get Swedish axemen fighting alongside Turkish horse archers for the right price. Your world may have similar cultural specialties that will come into play as warbands turn pro. Professional soldiers who are not mercenaries will be trained and equipped to fill the role they're needed for - this could indeed be one-handed weapon and shield if the other roles were well-enough filled, but you can also have more than one type of professional soldier (halberdiers, archers, etc). Most armies who took training seriously also specialized.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: Appropriate gear for TL3 soldiers

A shield and a spear? LUXURY! A shield in particular represents a significant investment in training because it's not efficient to train shield without a weapon, so if you're training shield-men you're by implication training fighters.

Most pure levies (ie those with not even a token status of militia) would use whatever harvest implements they could bring or borrow for use as improvised pole-arms. If they have a hatchet and/or knife they'd bring it anywhere they go, including to war.

Protection-wise some might try to make shields for themselves, others would adapt whatever clothing they could to the task -- e.g. leather aprons.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Appropriate gear for TL3 soldiers

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Most pure levies (ie those with not even a token status of militia) would use whatever harvest implements they could bring or borrow for use as improvised pole-arms. If they have a hatchet and/or knife they'd bring it anywhere they go, including to war.

Protection-wise some might try to make shields for themselves, others would adapt whatever clothing they could to the task -- e.g. leather aprons.
This is almost never the case. There were regulations in many regions stating the minimum equipment required for the levy. That equipment almost always required a spear or bow, often a shield, and sometimes a helmet. Body armour was rarely required, except for the wealthy, and never improvised. Those with the means wore proper armour, the rest wore clothing only.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:38 AM   #6
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A shield and a spear? LUXURY! A shield in particular represents a significant investment in training because it's not efficient to train shield without a weapon, so if you're training shield-men you're by implication training fighters.

Most pure levies (ie those with not even a token status of militia) would use whatever harvest implements they could bring or borrow for use as improvised pole-arms. If they have a hatchet and/or knife they'd bring it anywhere they go, including to war.

Protection-wise some might try to make shields for themselves, others would adapt whatever clothing they could to the task -- e.g. leather aprons.
As Dan said, I don't know of any example where men were conscripted as fighters and not expected to bring certain weapons, or of soldiers using modified farm tools and improvised armour. Even early modern peasant revolts had the resources to turn their scythes into polearms; medieval peasants were much better armed. Normally common soldiers had to provide their own arms; if you were too poor for a bow or a spear and shield you were too poor for the privilege of military service.

I think most low-tech men would have 5 points or so in various combat skills. Wrestling, combat sports, and using hand tools like axes were ubiqutous, and a point or two isn't much. These would certainly include the common military weapons for their class.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Appropriate gear for TL3 soldiers

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
This is almost never the case. There were regulations in many regions stating the minimum equipment required for the levy. That equipment almost always required a spear or bow, often a shield, and sometimes a helmet. Body armour was rarely required, except for the wealthy, and never improvised. Those with the means wore proper armour, the rest wore clothing only.
What you're describing falls within the exception I stated of groups with some pretense to militia status. Perhaps my use of terminology is not exact.

Last edited by Figleaf23; 04-17-2012 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:46 AM   #8
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Default Re: Appropriate gear for TL3 soldiers

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
This is almost never the case. There were regulations in many regions stating the minimum equipment required for the levy. That equipment almost always required a spear or bow, often a shield, and sometimes a helmet. Body armour was rarely required, except for the wealthy, and never improvised. Those with the means wore proper armour, the rest wore clothing only.
This ^ !

Note that it costs conciderable resources {beyond those the participant could be producing if He wasn't playing soldier} to put a man on a battlefield .

Men must eat to begin with and food must be transported to the soldier by other men whom also consume resources {and could instead be producing them} and the costs of this skyrocket the further you get from your production base {which is likely to happen unless you want the enemy raiding said centres of production whilst you chase them seeking to force them to give battle which is actually quite hard to do with a pre-industrial army} .

Then understand that amatures without the neccessary skills are worse than useless as not only are they incapable of holding a possition or taking one against any real opposition , but also are very prone to panic and are as likely to rout through the lines of your actual soldiers dusrupting their formation as not .
This also can damage the moral of the rest of your army {which might be lowered by their presence already} whilst boosting the enemies .




The only place for the proverbial shanghied peasant in an army is carrying and cleaning and staying the hell out the way when the fighting starts .
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:00 AM   #9
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What you're describing falls within the exception I stated of groups with some pretense to militia status.
If you absolutely insist on having such , give them some javlins and a clever speech to make them forget that this is why their kingdoms' ecconomy is in the latrine .
That's about as close as close as it could get to working .

Generally , most "Bring Me the usual susspects" in history were slingers {with useful skill in the weapon} , archers {mileage varied} and javlin tossers {which ran the gamut from "are these guys actually costing us money ?" to "Release the Kraken !"} .
Given Thrown Weapon (Javlin) costs the least to learn and must be used as ranges with only {relatively} modest penalties , it makes the best choice .
1 point is pretty cheap .
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:26 AM   #10
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What you're describing falls within the exception I stated of groups with some pretense to militia status. Perhaps my use of terminology is not exact.
I think Dan's point is that levies of untrained men to poor to afford a spear and shield, or a bow, or a sling, didn't exist. At least, I have never heard of one in any historical society (except for rounding up labourers for a siege, or porters, who wouldn't need weapons and armour). The poorly armed men on most battlefields were the grooms and servants of rich men, who were sometimes told to make themselves useful with whatever weapons they had handy. These ranged in arms from "ordinary clothing and a skirt full of rocks" to "second-rate horse, bascinet, hauberk, lance, and sword."
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