Famously known as the miniature wargame launched by someone called Gary Gygax. Chainmail was also a type of armour, who’d have thought!
With origins as far back as the 4th Century BCE, historical sources suggest that chainmail was originally invented by the Celtic tribes of Europe. This excellent article explains in detail how mail armour (as it is often referred to) came to be. Chainmail has been used consistently by different cultures over the last 2500 years. This is a great testament to its ability to protect which balances out against a number of different factors such as actual protection offered, weight, movement and production time and like most things…the overall cost.
So what exactly is chainmail armour made of ? Well it’s actually made of two layers. A layer of closely woven metal rings that overlap each other to form a metal mesh.
The metal woven rings then placed over a padded material for extra protection. The idea is that the closely woven ringlets would “turn” a blade or stop an arrow. If you continue reading this article it explains in detail how chainmail did offer some protection against arrows. Whilst offering protection against the various weapons of warfare in that period, there was one area where the level of protection wasn’t as effective.
Different to penetrating trauma (Sword, Knife, Arrow). Blunt trauma are injuries sustained as a result of the force or shock waves of a blunt impact (Mace, Club and Warhammer). They can be equally deadly bypassing the armour’s protection.
Chainmail allowed for a good amount of flexibility. This is important if a soldier was to fight effectively. The weight of mail would be down to the amount worn plus the type of rings and wire weave that the mail was made from. A chainmail hauberk might weigh on average around ten kilograms. If you add the rest of the “set” it become a significant burden! Mail wasn’t as expensive to make in relation to some of the other types of heavier armour and much more affordable!
It’s now obvious why certain classes have to specialise in it. A reflection of the extra training needed. Until then, various penalties are applied. These would be until a character has gained enough skill to use it unhindered. As a middle ground between the leather armours and heavy plate, chainmail is a good compromise between the two in terms of penalties applied and overall protection.
This excellent guide shows you how to make your very own!