Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Why Female Fantasy Armor is (Usually) Stupid

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 24, 2013

FHCOnce upon a time, when we were playing Fantasy Hero on a regular basis, the women in our gaming group started referring to the “companion” supplement as the “Stupid Armor Chick Book.” It was funny, and soon we were all calling it by that name.

The cover art was from a Larry Elmore painting, “Journey to the Gathering,” which is a somewhat notorious bit of “cheesecake armor.” Her only armor, really, is on her shoulder so she could set her sword on her shoulder? What was she thinking? (Well, obviously, she wasn’t, some guy was doing the thinking for her).

I guess I should add that I generally love Larry Elmore’s stuff, and participated in his recent Kickstarter.  I can’t wait for the book. I’m even okay with it if this painting is in it. We’ll continue to mock it. I expect Elmore would be the first to agree that it’s pretty ridiculous.  But then he did SnarfQuest, which is both awesome AND ridiculous.

Anyway, throughout medieval European history that modern fantasy tends to be based upon, women were not often participants in warfare (at least not on the battlefield), so female armor was a rarity. But if our medieval fantasy can include dragons and fireball spells, why not have lots of steel-clad female warriors as well?

I’m good with this.

However, the artistic liberties taken with the armor is often… stupid. Really stupid. Even if the woman is well-encased rather than depending upon the cheesecake distraction defense. A couple of experts have weighed in with their explanation of how female armor OUGHT to be, and why it’s so often STUPID as portrayed in art. And, of course, in video games.

Take #1: Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits

Take #2: “Why Do You Hate the Shape of Breasts in Plate Armor So Much?”

(Short answer to the latter question: The shape directs weapons right to the center of the chest, and a fall would direct the force of the blow right into the sternum. Sorta… the opposite of what you’d want armor to do…).

Filed Under: Geek Life - Comments: 9 Comments to Read

  • Tesh said,

    On Take #2, not only does that geometry deflect blades to the sternum, but the metal itself has a force point there, such that a fall or large area blunt trauma to the front winds up focusing the force on the sternum.

  • Tesh said,

    *sigh*, sorry, posting too fast again. Please feel free to delete that. Not too long ago I read an article an armorsmith wrote complaining about that very problem about the structural design of “breast plate”. I can’t find it again, though. 🙁 The woman who had asked for the armor in the first place found it painful.

  • Da said,

    Oh well. Don’t get me started about all the stuff in fantasy games that doesn’t make sense.

    At least the female armor is mostly pleasant to look at whilst not making sense.

  • Ben Book said,

    Great article. I also want to share a few great pictures here…

    I’ve always admired Vanguard: Saga of Heroes’s art direction (led by the late Keith Parkinson). For anyone who knows about Vanguard’s history, it’s quite obvious these weren’t the final models, but these were the finest.

    Dark Elf Female 1

    Dark Elf Female 2

    Thestran Female on a Caravel

    Thestran Female looking out a window

    Make sure your next iteration of Frayed Knights has some heavy metal babes!

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Hey, I wrote an entire GAME about all the fantasy game stuff that doesn’t make sense. 🙂 But we’ve been in the realm of the absurd for a long time, now, and as both articles show, there are ways of making armor that’s very flattering and even sexy without being ridiculous.

  • Xian said,

    The first thing I thought about was the College Humor skit:

  • Stropp said,

    There are events through history where a great figure was felled due to the tiniest chink in his armor. Can’t remember names, but wasn’t one king killed when a lance fragment entered his visor?

    Perhaps the female armor designers are using this principle. The random blow always falls on the tiniest area, and by making the armor as tiny as possible it thus ensures that the blow will fall on the armor and not the acres of exposed flesh…


  • LTB said,

    When talking about this, I can’t help but think of a very popular japanese game character, Saber from Fate/Stay Night.

    Even if the game in question has lots of “questionable” content, this character is one of the least revealing female fantasy knights I have seen – and I love her design, as much as so many others seem to do. Beautiful at the same time as being serious business. It’s definitely possible! 😛

  • Maklak said,

    > Hey, I wrote an entire GAME about all the fantasy game stuff that doesn’t make sense.

    Speaking of which, the group discovering a suit of “stupid female armour” that has low-to-none DT bonus, but is enchanted to provide a good deflection bonus instead, then arguing over it, with Arianna going mad over the suggestion of wearing it, would be quite amusing as an easter egg. It can even be handwaved as a rich female sorcerer spending a small fortune on enchantment of chainmail bikini to make it worthwhile.
    Well, I suppose Ariana or Chloe could put that thing under their normal clothes and get the best of both worlds.