A Little Rant About Stupid Armor
Hey, nerds, today we’re going to talk about something stupid. Specifically, stupid armor.
There are a few quick ways to get my jimmies rustled, and putting a character in a skimpy outfit and trying to claim it’s somehow battle armor is one of the big ones. There is a time and a place for drawing something kind of outrageous and enticing, and what is supposed to be full plate is not that.
Like, Demon Hunters in World of Warcraft strip bare to the waist or wear very little for mobility purposes. Followers of Eilistraee will often just straight-up go into battle nude for the same reasons. I don’t have a problem with this, it actually makes some degree of sense. Historically, there are reports of Celts doing that exact thing, and the Greeks took to depicting their heroes in nude combat all the time. It’s fierce. I’d go as far as to say it’s actually sexy, both on men and women.
And then you get into MMORPGs and find a breastplate with better stats than the one you are wearing and it only covers a small part of the breasts? No, sir. No way. That is not armor, that is lingerie, and there isn’t even anything sexy about being peppered with arrows all throughout the stomach and chest region.
You can’t even tell me you did that for mobility because she’s still wearing a huge chunk of metal on her torso. And I do say ‘she’ because usually if people put this kind of stupid armor on a character, it’s a female one. I can think of a few reverse examples — and those are also incredibly stupid, do not get me wrong — but women in stupid armor is an epidemic.
What I don’t understand is this obsession with showing every inch of skin possible, but still covering the nipples. If you’re going to sexualize a fighter that much, what is wrong with just drawing her shirtless? Why is that going to make you squirm, but two small triangles of chain mail covering just the areolas doesn’t bother you?
Here’s an idea: How about if you want to draw something sexualized, you don’t do it with an armored fighter? Try a mage in a low-cut robe or a shameless bard. Put it somewhere that it makes sense, on someone who would actually wear something like that.
Anime, I’m talking to you right now. The second you show me a fighter in skimpy armor and suddenly have her act all blushy and bashful about her body, you have lost all credibility. It can totally make sense for a character to wear very little if she’s owning her nudity, comfortable with it and using it as a point of personal power. Absolutely. Do that. But not every single character should dress that way.
Under no circumstances is a bikini armor, I do not care what you made it out of. And just in case you missed the memo, boob plate is stupid, too. You take one good hit between the breasts on that plate and it’s going to crunch in on you. Do you want a glaring weak point right at your sternum? No. No, you don’t. That’s a good way to get dead, and the last time I checked that is the exact opposite of the point of wearing armor.
I could even believe somebody in leathers was doing it for mobility, but if you’re going to use mobility as an excuse, you’d better show me some shirtless guys doing it for the same reasons. And some sensibly dressed women that are not doing that.
Basically what I’m saying is, show me that it’s the character’s choice and not just you wanting to draw boobies. It’s insanely obvious when it’s the latter. You’re not fooling anybody.
Oh, but if you want to talk about stupid armor that is actually historically accurate, let’s take a moment to talk about the codpiece. Did you know that men in the 16th century actually armored up their dongs? And guess what you never see in MMOs or fantasy illustrations. And I am not talking about a sensible plate down there to protect you from a swift kick in the nuts. I am talking about big protruding hunks of metal. Apparently they just got bigger and more ridiculous when syphilis became more widespread, to give the dong more space in the aforementioned codpiece.
So why not codpieces? Could it possibly be because artists don’t want their male characters to look ridiculous? Or is it just that they don’t want to spend that much time articulating a dong? It boggles the mind, it honestly does.
Spikes on armor
Oh, and one more thing. I get that all those protruding spikes look heckin intimidating, but they’re not doing anything to protect you and are another good way to get grabbed and hauled off a horse or just generally restrained by other people on the field. Or caught on an assassin vine. Just generally they’re not a good idea. I mean, I’m a little bit more forgiving of this one because it’s less obvious and doesn’t have a double standard stapled to its forehead, but as long as we’re talking about bad armor choices, it deserves a foot note.
What is the worst (best?) example of stupid armor you have ever seen in a video game or other media? Are there any of these tropes you like or want to rant about? Got any good stories about stupid armor in your tabletop games? Or even better, if you can point me in the direction of a work of fiction that illustrates a codpiece the same way bikini mail always gets shoved into things, please let me know in the comments below.
Oh, and if you have any questions for our resident necromancer, click on over here to the Speak With Dead advice column and leave a question in those comments, or tweet out to “Speak With Dead” to seek advice from beyond the grave.
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