Why wouldn't you wear a helmet?

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

  1. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Troubadour

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    I see how my assumptions about the purpose of helmet were wrong, but I don't see how I was derailing the thread. I was simply trying to say that combatants with superpowers such as elves, fighter pilots, dragons, etc. may be subject to speeds and forces where a helmet would have to be unjustifiably heavy to be effective. I get your point that the helmet protects you from shrapnel and from being knocked around, not just from blows.
    however, I think I may have some sort of point, because, looking at pictures, WWII pilots didn't wear helmets either. They may be helpful and even lifesaving, but they clearly aern't an overwhelming necessity, or in the 25 years of air combat experience the world had, someone would have thought of giving the most valuable 'soldiers' the protection all other combatants would have had.
     
  2. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    What an untrained conscript...
    https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-medi...ogressive,q_80,w_800/vldz6cfocvf4qmrqui5o.png

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/2f/46/f0/2f46f0faa00fadf35167e5cdf1eae2b2.jpg
    https://static0.srcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/conan-barbarian-video-games.jpg
    https://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/imce-images/superman_logo.jpg

    So poorly trained...
    http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/6a57f80d49bdabf1154328b16787410c

    It makes a character look like their martial skill is insufficient to protect their head. Or their head isn't magically protected, or supernaturally durable. And in fantasy, the people with a combination of:

    - Insufficient martial skill to protect their head.
    - Lack of magical protection that would negate the need for a helmet.
    - Lack of supernatural durability.

    If you lack those things in a fantasy setting that has them, you're a jobber.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Funny I never thought the question was about superheroes or screen characters. Perhaps you should check with the OP to see if his character is from Krypton?

    But even Xena knew a helmet was a good idea...

    and if I recall correctly Superman led from the front.
     
  4. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Read the original Conan stories and you'll see he wore a helmet in quite a few of them, especially when he was in a pitched battle. And he led from the front.

    Then, of course, there was this guy: Frank Frazetta Death_Dealer_3
    He, too, led from the front.
     
  5. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    No one lead from the from the front the way it's portrayed in popular media if we're talking realism. Nobody complains the times Conan does not wear a helmet, either in books or movies. Because to most people, fantasy is entertainment, not a history lesson.

    There's no distinction between fantasy heroes and superheroes beyond semantics. Both can be human, both can be superpowered through various means. Who complained that Aragorn didn't have a helmet at Helm's Deep? That Legolas didn't?

    The average consumer of fantasy fiction doesn't care.

    Xena didn't wear a helmet in a setting where helmets were common. Hercules, Iolaus, and Gabrielle didn't wear helmets either. Joxer the Mighty, the inept bumbler did have a helmet though. So by the logic in this thread, Joxer by default looks like the most capable and professional of the lot? Ahaha.
     
  6. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    But it was you who originally complained about characters wearing helmets:
    Conan often wore a helmet, especially when he was a king leading armies into battle. I think we can say he wasn't a mere jobber. Do you think the Death Dealer's helmet makes him look a lot less bad ass? There are plenty of examples where a helmet did not detract from or even added to a character's presence.
     
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Actually, they did, but you just refuse to acknowledge the real history behind that truth.

    There were episodes where Xena wore a helmet, more than one if I recall.

    Comics, TV and movies are all every different mediums. The TV, comic and movie media are all far more visual and thus showing the face is far more important than in a book where the characters is identified through the prose not the image. Very, very different things. I would have thought someone like yourself who claims to be a comic artist would be the first one to get that.

    I guess you don't like the OP's original question:

    would there be any practical situations where you would not want to wear a helmet in battle?

    Saying "Superman didn't and Xena didn't and sometimes Conan didn't" doesn't really answer the question now does it?
     
  8. Chuck

    Chuck Dreamer

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    Here are the things I considered. You have issues like obstructing vision or throwing the warrior off balance. You could have issues with comfort. Helmets can get hot and they are heavy and would start to cause neck strain.

    I remember reading somewhere that sniper Chris Kyle wore a ball cap instead of his helmet because "Ninety percent of being cool is looking cool." The warrior might feel that a helmet is a sign of cowardliness. Or it could be to intimidate his enemies. He is such a badass that he doesn't consider his enemies enough of a threat to wear armor on his head.
     
  9. Angry Briar Rabbit

    Angry Briar Rabbit Dreamer

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    It will depend on the world. In Star Wars they stopped wearing armor because the offensive force of blaster bolts over ran any armor at the time. A sniper is a different kind of unit. In the field, a soft hat has been used to blend in with foliage for may decades. A hard helmet would be for the physical altercation types: general grunt, SWAT team member, etc.
     
  10. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Maybe you need to go back to the initiating question - why would you wear a helmet? I mean are we talking about an organized army where uniforms and helmets are provided? Or just a bunch of barbarians / villagers who'll fight in whatever comes to hand and which they can afford?

    I mean it's easy to imagine that a villager in a fight or a brigand or what have you will invest all his initial money into some sort of protective vest before anything else. After that maybe gauntlets or a shield. Boots are pretty important too for marching etc. A helmet probably ranks quite low on the items they want to get. It's probably more an item of defensive clothing for those who have full uniforms provided and get trained in swords / melee and so learn the value of one etc.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Angry Briar Rabbit likes this.
  11. spaced06

    spaced06 Dreamer

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    For once, you can have your cake and eat it, too! You can have a world where people are reasonable with helmet use in combat, and where you're mostly accurate on armor and tactics, and still have a character or three who are experienced in combat not use a helmet. Why? Because people have emotions that make them do irrational things that go against their better judgement. For example, I could perfectly see a very well trained, very talented young warrior being so full of himself that he is convinced he doesn't need to wear a helmet. Why would he? Everyone is mediocre compared to him, or so his naivete leads him to think. This is also an obvious possible source of character development and having him wear a helmet at some point, after going through some terrible ordeal caused by his flaw that humbles him and forces him to smart up, would be a nice way to show growth.
    And you can go even further. For example, maybe Mercenary Company (tm) was founded by this legendary dude who's story is half shrouded in myths and half-truths. And maybe a huge part of that myth was how the dude was such a crazy bastard he would charge into battle without a helmet, because he was just that much of a madman. Now, this might not be true at all, or only partially true. Maybe it was just one battle where he was forced to drop the helm due to some unknown circumstance that did not carry on with the rest of the story. He won against all odds, and so that particular battle fed more into the stories about him than others. Anyways, maybe after 30 years, a small tradition forms in Mercenary Company (tm) where guys start dropping the helm to emulate the myth of venerated founder, putting group belonging and pride before practicality (something humans do ALL THE TIME). Eventually, not wearing a helmet might become part of Mercenary Company (tm)'s group identity, a part of their reputation for being brash and fearless and reckless. Hell, maybe Rival Mercenary Company (tm) jokes about what idiots they are for being so impractical.
    My point is, while it is good to ground your story in realism and practicality, it is also important to note that people are not always rational and sensible, and this can encompass even entire cultures. I would think that a story where everyone is rational and practical all the time is not a very realistic story, funnily enough.
     
  12. Gray-Hand

    Gray-Hand Minstrel

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    No way.

    The helmet is more important than any other piece of armour. The shield will normally do a pretty good job of protecting every part of the body, but if you want to see your enemy, your head has to pop out. As a result the head becomes the primary target. And it doesn’t take much of a hit, if the hit is to the head to take someone out of the fight.

    If you had to choose between taking a full suit of armour and no helmet, or a helmet and no other armour, it would be a 50/50 call.

    Shields are another piece of equipment that are ridiculously under-utilised by fantasy heroes.
     
  13. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Not sure of that. I mean if I was a farmer and bandits were coming, I had my half dozen copper bits to spend at the armourer and I wasn't going to run away, I'm pretty sure the first thing on my shopping list would be some sort of protective vest. Maybe that's just me, maybe it's the wrong choice, but the torso is the biggest target and the one likely to be hit first and most often, and a sword through the guts will likely kill you quickly.

    Also, if there's pistols involved, I seem to recall that the first piece of information police get taught about them is shoot for the torso. Body mass center or something. It's the biggest target, the slowest to move if someone's dodging and if you miss the heart you still maim. I'm guessing a lot of melee fighters get similar training. Which sort of adds to the utility of the vest. Next it might well be boots - good boots are vital if you're marching. And after that a shield.

    But probably most important, who are we talking about armouring up for a fight? Lets say you're right and a helmet is the best - does the typical farmer, brigand what have you know that? Or will they be like me and go immediately for a vest? Not everybody is trained in melee combat.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  14. Gray-Hand

    Gray-Hand Minstrel

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    The order in which you should spend your money as an untrained farmer:
    1. Shield: Protects the whole body, and can be used as weapon itself. Better at absorbing blows than most armour.
    2. Helmet: Protects the most important, most fragile and hardest area to protect.
    3. Torso protection and Neck protection. Vital organs and arteries.
    4. Hands: Fragile. Need them to hold weapons and defend yourself. Vulnerable due to being constantly extended towards the enemy. Not vital to survival.
    5. Feet: Like hands, but usually further away from the adversary, thus harder to hit. Also, targeted less often because a strike at the feet leaves the attacker vulnerable.
    6. Arms and Legs: Less vulnerable than hands. Less important than the head, neck and torso. Wounds to the legs and arms are not necessarily fatal and less likely to be completely disabling. Weight on the arms slows arm speed. Weight on the legs slows foot speed. Good armour design tries to put as much weight as possible on the waist To allow for fast arm movement and good footwork - a good belt is therefore worth spending money on.

    Often of course, the one piece of armour would protect several of those areas at once. Without a shield. Torso armour becomes more important, but shields are so effective and so easy to make (any farmer could make a basic one) that it is unlikely that there would be a scenario where torso armour is available but shields are not.

    Pretty much anyone who has ever trained in any form of close combat will tell you that the head is the primary target. Even a pretty average punch to anywhere on the head is capable of ending a fight in its own right or dramatically tipping the balance one way. A good punch to the head can easily kill. For a punch to the torso to have that effect, it eaitger has to be very precisely aimed, or be extremely powerful. Same applies to blunt melee weapons. Bladed weapons open up the torso (and everywhere) as a target, but it is still best to protect the head first.

    Police and soldiers are trained to shoot at the centre of mass because they are using firearms, which are difficult to aim and are powerful enough to either kill or disable the enemy with one hit to the torso. It isn’t really relevant to a fantasy scenario or melee fighting.

    Anyone who has been hit in the head in a fight knows how important it is to protect the head. Go and get a hammer and hit yourself in the chest or stomach with it with enough force to not quite injure yourself. Now hit yourself that hard in the head (don’t). That sort of hit might not kill you, but it will at least leave you open to a killing blow. Those type of hits are common in a melee fight - they are the hits that happen when you see the hit coming at the last second and partially deflect it. They are the hit you get from your own shield getting driven back into your face. They are the hit you get when your friend accidentally hits you with his backswing, or when someone else gets knocked into you. A helmet makes those hits inconsequential.

    Similar with bladed weapons. A two centimetre puncture wound, a 10cm long, 5mm deep slash or cut to the face or skull is an instant fight ender. If taken to the torso or arms or legs, there is a pretty good chance that you could keep fighting for a while or at least work at getting away.
     
  15. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    As I said, you may be right, I don't know. But even if you are right - would an untrained farmer, brigand or what have you, know that? The OP is why would someone not wear a helmet? And most people haven't been trained in melee combat. So why would they put a helmet so high up on their shopping list?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  16. Chuck

    Chuck Dreamer

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    I think most of you have gotten away from the point of the post.

    "but would there be any practical situations where you would not want to wear a helmet in battle?"

    All of us would agree that a properly trained military would issue helmets and require their troops to wear it. When I was in the Navy, we were issued body armor and Kevlar helmets. The helmets were heavy, didn't fit properly, were secured with a single strap so they would fall over my eyes if I looked down, and were very uncomfortable. I hated wearing it and found every excuse to take it off. I wore my boonie hat most of the time.

    I remember a scene in "Black Hawk Down" where one of the Rangers was telling Ewan McGregor what to take into the battle. He removed the plates from the back of his body armor, explaining that they already carry so much stuff that by removing the rear plates, he can carry more ammo, since he doesn't plan on running away. And of course, he gets shot in the back.

    We are supposed to be finding legitimate reasons why one would not wear a helmet, not trying to talk the troops into wearing one.
     
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  17. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    You've provided an excellent reason right there: because I don't wanna! Certainly for story-telling, having a character simply refuse to wear the helmet is believable. Could be out of vanity. Could be arrogance or a belief in luck or just comfort.

    As for practical reasons not to wear a helmet, I can't think of one, unless the helmet was made so poorly, or was so poorly chosen for this particular character and situation that wearing it would be more dangerous than not.

    Oh, here's another: the character has the ability to detect magic and knows this particular helmet is cursed. Or there was a prophesy that he was invincible so long as he went into battle bare-headed.

    There ya go, OP. Must be something in there usable.
     
  18. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

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    The OP asked the question 2 and a half years ago, so they may have resolved it by now.

    Anyway...I have to go out and get my character a helmet now ;)
     
  19. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Hail and well met can now become
    Wail and hel met.

    (which way to the door?)
     
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