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Armour in Thick Forest


I have a scene going on a thick forest (think Fangorn) and for the sake of a fight scene that's going to happen, need the guards on one side of the fight to not be wearing armour.

I assumed that realistically, guards of a machete-to-get-through thick forest wouldn't wear metal armour anyway as it'd be too hindering in getting about. Just wanted to check whether you think this is the case.

To clarify, these guards are supposedly there to protect a bunch of revered corpses from both animal attack and human interference. They're mercenaries and tall, skinny humans but by no stretch elf-like.

Do you know of any examples of guardian of the woods type characters and what they wore?

They're equipped with machetes. If this viable in a temperate forest or are they more likely to be wielding hatchets?


One thing that I've heard is that armor is terribly difficult to transport when you're not wearing it on your body. If you are traveling light without a baggage cart, you probably would be wearing your armor when you not really expect to be needing it. Because where else would you put it?

Armor is also not too restrictive in regard to movement. Armor works wonderfully in deflecting hits on large areas on the body, but perhaps even more important is the ability to avoid being grappled so someone can stick a blade through the gaps. Wearing armor seem to be more tiring than restricting.

The best reason to not have them wear armor is them not having any armor. Also, the main pieces of armor that are really the most important by far are a shield and a helmet. This is the main armor that would have been worn by warriors through the ages. Metal torso protection was comperatively rare and very expensive. Even a warrior without a mail hauberk or a breast plate would be well protected and feel ready for battle.

Machetes should work well everywhere. The top third and the bottom third are basically the same as a hatchet, it's just whether the middle third is blade or haft. But since you grip both at the bottom end and do the chopping near the tip, they should be handling very similar.
Can always use leather armor as a standard to the forest dwelling guardians. Or piecemeal sorts of armor, someone has a breast plate (the highest ranked one, say) others have greaves and the like. Or scale and mail armor for lighter sorts of metal armor. As mercenary forces the armor could be a sign of just how much they're paid too, denoting their value to be able to get a hold of it.


Myth Weaver
If someone is expecting a fight and armor is available, then I think they would be wearing it. If they are guards, I would expect they would be wearing armor as part of their guard duty, if they have it. If they were taking a break, they might have their helmets off or such, but I must think either they are a culture that does not use armor, or they are very poor guards if they are caught without it while on duty.

I can see not liking to wear it, I certainly did not like wearing stuff when I was in the Army, but where the heck am I going to put a big flak vest if I am not wearing it? If they are guards and guarding a stationary site, they have no real excuse to not have armor. So what type of culture is this?


Myth Weaver
If it was a temperate rainforest like the NE States then you might also have to worry about rust if you were wearing iron-based armour.
I did a little landscaping as a teen and everyone in the team had a machete. When used by someone that knows how it would take out almost anything up to an inch or two in diameter in a blow [maybe two]. There was also a larger axe for anything over about four inches [and a chainsaw for anything much bigger than that - but I guess that isn't an option]. We kept the machetes sharp. The first thing every day [at least] was to sharpen the edge and the last thing each day was to clean and oil it.


Thanks everyone. It's really only their wrists I need exposed, for a dogfight.

I think the forest is likely to be a temperate rainforest in this region too so rust could absolutely be a thing there. Perhaps the guards have helmets, breastplates and shields that they can easily keep clean (money's not an issue) but not the other, more fiddly pieces.
The choice of armor can play a major role is saying something about these mercenaries, individually and as a cohort/organization. My first thoughts were much in line with Orc Knight 's. Leather, maybe with some scale, and possibly much variation depending on each fighter's habit, relative income, etc.

You haven't said anything about the size of the cohort. If this is a mercenary group that belongs to some larger organization, perhaps they'd have with them green troops who are forced to do the machete work in clearing paths; these, less proficient with the fighting anyway, might be the ones forced to strip most heavy armor while the others have less need to. Or perhaps there can be guides doing this work for them, or other non-combatants in the group.


Myth Weaver
I would ask... what do these people where culturally to begin with? That's the starting point. Heck, they could be wearing lamellar armor fashioned from wood. But personally, if I'm in a tropical forest and might get attacked... give me a shield, whatever weapon, a culturally appropriate torso armor, and a helm... call it a day. Even a rapier and buckler wouldn't be half bad, except in the woods I might expect someone to mistake me for a deer and put an arrow in me, hence the buckler is less effective. Now, give me a hand-and-half sword and no shield... Nope, shield is a game changer. I'll take that with minimal armor in tropical woods.
Armor isn't as restrictive as a lot of people think. There are several videos online of people running full obstacle courses in full plate armor. So really, whatever armor you wanted, you could use.


toujours gai, archie
Unless there was a specific reason, soldiers didn't wear their armor except when going into battle. While it is true people could be agile enough wearing armor (much depends on type of armor), it simply made sense to put it on your horse or mule rather than wear the stuff.

You could have one side or the other be wearing or not wearing. You could have them in the midst of scrambling to put it on. Whatever suits. of armor. hah!