Bring out your dead


I’ve been sick the past few days, so please excuse the lack of content. Not quite dead yet, but I am going to use this to make a rather clumsy transition (*wait for it).

Something I wanted to share – a week and change ago, Emperor’s Notepad wrote a piece on the absurdity of armor depiction in fictional fights. Not being an expert myself, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of everything he says, but he does make some great points, especially worth thinking about for writers.

5. Concussive damage is the answer to all your problems.

When people wearing heavy armor (which in some contexts may be just mail) start appearing, you have two options: you either bypass it by targeting the non-protected areas (usually face) or you pound your opponent like you are trying to make mashed potatoes with his brains. That means using polearms, maces, hammers, etc. Or just hitting your target really hard with your long sword if nothing better is available. A sword won’t cut mail, but it may break the bone underneath. And even if it doesn’t, the sheer force of the impact will hurt.

What that means is that most fatal injuries that heavily-armored warriors (as in, full plate, covering the entire body) would suffer would most likely be closed injuries, not open. That means broken bones, perforated lungs from a broken rib, broken femur/pelvis leading to internal hemorrhage, broken skull, etc. Keep that in mind when making descriptions of wounded and dead warriors. Most writers tend to assume it would look like a bloodbath, but a lot died (if at all) from “invisible”, internal injuries.

So (*here we go!) – Monty Python and the Holy Grail is on Netflix right now. By some chance of fate, I read Emperor’s post right before watching it for the nth time, and something occurred to me.

The fight between the Green Knight and the Black Knight, right before the iconic bout between Arthur and the Black Knight, is…probably a lot more accurate a depiction of a medieval brawl than a lot of the games and movies we see these days. Minus the part at the end where the Black Knight chucks his sword through his opponent’s eye slit, of course.



Leave a Reply