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Why wouldn't you wear a helmet?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by D. Gray Warrior, Oct 24, 2017.

  1. There's a balance to strike somewhere, I bet.
     
  2. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    I honestly don't know where you get this idea that generals lead from the rear. We debunked the hell out of this some time ago, starting with King David and going all the way through to King Abdullah II of Jordan and Prince Henry.

    I don't have time to teach you about basic swordsmanship right now, nor what a longsword was used for on the field and how, to say nothing of what a polearm was used for and why. Neither do I have time to get into the myriad ways to beat the living crap out of a spearman or halberdier with a longsword or greatsword and no shield. Most of it rhymes with "Shmontante" and/or "Shmiore di Battaglia." Both of these schools delve into using a longsword or greatsword as effectively a faster, sharper polearm; when coupled with the Abrazare school of medieval wrestling -- which works spectacularly in armor, and which my sparring partner rightfully calls "Judo for Psychopaths" -- you can make short work of a poleaxe as long as you don't turn it into a fencing match or do something as moronic as "swinging" your sword at him.

    Anyway, there are 27 pages on swords and swordsmanship in the Research forum. You should probably get cracking. (Edit: That is, if you're interested in research and accuracy. You may not be, and that's fine, too.)

    Hi, I'm Joseph Malik. Apparently, we haven't met.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
    Russ likes this.
  3. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Skip or another member with more intimate knowledge of history might be able to correct me here...but didn't the Celts fight the Romans naked? Or was it the Vikings? Both? Anyway, I don't think it worked out so well but I'm not too familiar with that era of history.

    Regarding helmets: I'm reminded of an early scene in Saving Private Ryan when the American soldiers landed on Normandy Beach and a soldier briefly took off his helmet. He was shot in the head immediately.
     
  4. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I think the Britons were supposed to fight naked or at least covered in Wode but not much else.
    That might just be a Roman bit of poetic licence.
    For me it helps to remind myself that Roman "History" is because they won [most of the time] and then got to tell us what happened. The Celts were a nasty surprise to the Romans and had to be de-civilised [if that is a real word] for public opinion. So it would not shock me to find that the Celts were suddenly eating babies for brunch and running around naked in battle. All that waggling about could put a Centurion off his oatmeal...
     
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  5. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    How does you being Joseph Mailk - whoever that is- debunk the fact that imagery beats practicality in high fantasy?

    You didn't debunk the fact that a ruler leading from the rear and providing tactical direction is a more sensible and efficient form of leadership.

    I didn't say anything about a greatsword. Anduril is not a greatsword. Nor did Aragorn use it for that purpose.He just charges in and swings it around, usually quite unsupported and outside of any formation. The Samurai used polearms in war, not Katanas, that was a secondary side weapon. The sword experts on Youtube make clear that longswords were primarily weapons of dueling, ceremony and personal protection.

    No, I'm not interested in reading a bunch of pretentious "research". I'm interested in telling an entertaining story to people who aren't the vanishingly small percentage of practicality geeks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    There is that odd thing about leading from the rear. Leading and controlling forces from the rear is quite a modern invention. Many of the great historical generals/leaders were found right in the thick of it. And while there is significant debate about what the most effective weapon in battle is, swords have been near ubiquitous in history. But that is just the reality nerd in me.

    I am not suggesting that every character should wear a helmet, but it seems hard to think of a practical reason (as opposed to stylistic or dramatic reason) not to.
     
    Malik likes this.
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    If you are not interested in reading pretentious research, than you should not suggest that in pre-modern warfare tactical direction from the rear was most efficient, which seems to be a myth and error you like to keep repeating.
     
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  8. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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  9. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I missed this comment in my first read. So when you get a novel published and widely disseminated you will find out just how many geeks of various sorts there are out there. If you make a firearm mistake, you will get flooded with e-mails. If you make a sword or other mistake, you will get lots of e-mails. Even if you don't make a mistake and you run afoul of someone's thought on sword nomenclature, you will get e-mails about it. Now, this is a good thing, because it means your work is being widely read. But there are more geeks than ever, and with the internet they are not at all shy about expressing where they think you got something wrong.
     
  10. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    It's a common misconception, to be fair. As many of you know, I was told for nearly 20 years that no one would be interested in a realistic fantasy; that there was no market for a fantasy technothriller series that creates suspension of disbelief in adult readers by digging into the nuts and bolts of mundane worldbuilding.

    That "vanishingly small percentage of practicality geeks" bought enough copies of Dragon's Trail last year to qualify me for SFWA. They also paid for the remodel of my garage into a writing space, and will be giving us a very nice Christmas.

    It bears mentioning, too, that there are plenty of female-type "practicality geeks" who, judging from the pictures I receive, are REALLY excited about my sequel; it would be fair to say they're somewhat -- ahem -- titillated by my work. I wouldn't have pegged them as my target readership, as many of them appear to know less about practical armor than at least one person on this thread. But hey, you can't have everything.

    Don't write any readers off. Write your thing and let the chips fall. Your fans will surprise you.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Here's the thing about leading on *any* battlefield, any time: to lead, you have to be able to communicate your leadership.

    Now, in modern times, we have this radio thingie, so generals can be behind the lines (not just generals; the colonels and majors are equally if not more crucial for making battlefield decisions). This is not only so they can issue orders but so they can gather intelligence from the front and make informed decisions.

    In pre-modern armies, commanders led from the front in part for socio-political reasons, but there was an extremely practical aspect as well: horns and banners. That's how you knew to engage or to run bravely away. Since armies and war are about life and death, the evolution of combat tended to be a rather pragmatic business.

    Then there was a lovely interim period when generals *thought* they could lead from the rear but the communications weren't up to the job. Tolstoy did a fine job taking apart Napoleon (and then-current military thinking) on that count.

    Anyway, as authors we are of course free to write as we please. Those of us who want to communicate with our readers, though, had better pay attention to this sort of thing. If my story needs to have a general leading from some rear command post, then I'm going to have crystal balls or magic pigeons or *something* to explain how the devil s/he knows what's going on. Similarly, if I take the historically accurate route, I'm still going to take advantage of the fact that the general does not have the same field of view as the author.

    Although it is true that in high fantasy anything at all can be made to happen, it is both liberating and challenging to take real physics, real history, real reality, and try to construct fantasy within that. Those who wish to build stories entirely of handwavium are of course free to do so.
     
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  12. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

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    Depending on the helm, I could think of a couple of reasons not to wear one. A Heavy helm isn't very helpful if you want to move quickly and quietly while doing ranger stuff like Aragorn. Some helms offer more protection, but less in terms of field of vision, so that can be a factor as well. Also there are reports of things getting hot under those helms after extended periods of fighting. In some cases it would also cause breathing to become a bit difficult. Could lead to someone removing the helm after fighting for a while. In the end though, helms are generally a pretty good idea. My main character doesn't generally wear one, but once he gets into a big battle he's definitely gonna be putting one on.
     
  13. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    One of my main characters doesn't wear a helmet because she's a sorceress, and in my world wearing a helmet would interfere with psychic abilities. She wants her psychic senses sharp, and a helmet would dull them, slow them down. And she doesn't usually find herself in battles with massive armies. Her fights are generally the ones the lone adventurer finds herself in.
     
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  14. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Some Celts did, not all. It is thought they did so out of some spiritual belief. There were called Gaesetae. I don't know of any accounts of Vikings fighting naked, although beserkers generally eschewed armor.
     
  15. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Troubadour

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    Many fantasy characters have superhuman speed and strength, and that could explain tossing the helmet. Manfred von Richthofen, Ernst Udet, and Eddie Rickenbakker did not wear helmets; an elf wouldn't either.There is no point in wearing a helmet in anything like aerial combat. Once the speeds get high enough, your opponent will be unable to aim for your head anyway, and if there is enough strength involved, your opponent can probably crush or pierce any helmet anyway.
     
  16. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    While it is true that the Red Baron did not wear a helmet, nor did most other WWI flyers, I think the OP was referring to a land battle.

    Also, poor old Manfred perhaps should have worn one. As you probably know he was hit in the head by a bullet during his flying career and suffered significant injuries that required multiple surgeries to repair. Despite the fact that after that event he like to joke about his thick skull, there is a good chance that the harm caused by that injury lead to his eventual death.

    Your logic on speed and aerial combat only holds true for a very narrow technical band. Modern fighter pilots fly far faster than the Red Baron ever did and all where helmets. In Vietnam soldiers often sat on their helmets while inside helicopters to protect themselves from ground fire.
     
  17. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Also its is the most comfortable way to hang all the sensors, screens [etal] around a human head.
    The helmet was probably more comfortable than the webbing seat too!
     
  18. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Troubadour

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    Richthofen may have taken a round to the head, but it was far from common. A modern pilot's helmet does not offer protection - no helmet is going to stop a 20mm cannon round, the smallest thing he can expect to have coming at him, it holds electronic stuff instead. As for the soldiers sitting on their helmets, the helicopters were flying low and slow and they were being shot at with light guns. During WWII many planes carried armor, and if you look at the thicknesses required to make a difference in aerial combat, you'll see why a helmet is pointless.
     
  19. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Dark, it strikes me that your view of the function of a helmet is a tad limited.

    It does not become "pointless" just because it cannot protect you from a direct hit from a 20mm cannon round (which I suspect is rarer than a WWI bullet to the head). It has many other protective uses for the modern fight pilot (beyond its use as a visor, com device, stabilization for the oxygen mask, and wind buffer when ejecting).

    The modern fighter is subject to violent maneveuring and the head of the pilot can easily strike the inside of the canopy during maneuvering. In the case of detonation in or near the plane it helps prevent brain injury. It can prevent direct penetration injuries from shrapnel and debris. While the modern fighter pilot's helmet has a multitude of uses. those uses include protection from and prevention of head injury.

    Helicopter pilots also wear helmets for (amongst other reasons) protection against head injury. There are significant studies available in this area. You should read them.

    The design criteria for all western air force helmets require significant ability to withstand and diffuse applications of force, including the $400,000 a pop helmet designed for the F-35 system.

    So while you may suggest that the protection aspect of a fighter pilot's helmet is irrelevant to the modern context (which I don't suspect for a moment is what the OP was talking about), all of the current western air forces disagree with you.
     
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  20. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

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    Not wearing a helmet in the middle of a battlefield make a character look like a poorly trained/untrained conscript.
    .
     
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