Stop me if you heard this before, a heavily armored warrior faces the foul creature with a two-handed sword. All the while the lightly armored rogue sneaks up behind the creature with his trusty rapier. This could easily be a scene in any fantasy game. So much so in fact that I’m sure most of you didn’t see what wrong with the picture. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the fact that one is armored the other isn’t. To put it simply, it’s the weapons.
Now, I’m sure at this point you are asking, what the hell is wrong with the weapons. Well by themselves nothing. Taken together, then one of them is sort of anachronistic. I can hear some of you yelling, “But it’s a fantasy world” or some other such thing. While true, that should excuse the fact that these two weapons would have not be employed during the same time even in a fantasy world.
All too often when we look at things from our modern perspective, we forget that all weapons are function of the time that they were built. Let’s take the rapier from the above example. In our time it was use during the 16th and 17th Centuries. It’s primary use was that of thrusting attacks. Even so, it was not designed to piece armor of any type. Why? because armor had fallen out of use due to the rise of early firearms which could easily pierce the thickest armor of the day. Meanwhile the two-handed sword appeared during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There is some theories that such sword were used to cut down horses rather than mean. Still such a weapon is pretty heavy compared to the rapier.
So let’s face off our warrior and our rogue. In the situation where the warrior is in armor and the where the rouge simply does not run away but stays and fights, the rogue would find his rapier useless against the armored warrior. Although he hit often, those attacks would just penetrate the armor. While the warrior would likely find it hard to hit the rogue, but if it did there would be one less rogue to worry about.
Now let’s say that neither was armored. In this case the warrior would still have a hard time hitting the rogue not to mention he would be getting tired really fast. The rogue on the other hand would be able to quickly use his rapier and remove one stupid warrior from the planet.
These of course are just the quickest examples that I could whip up. There are plenty of more examples out there. I wonder why we always choose to mix time periods like this in fantasy games? The only thing that comes to mind is “Because it looks Cool”. The other is that we always want the kitchen sink setting. We want everything to be possible in a fantasy setting. After all, it is fantasy right? Even in a fantasy setting, I think we forget that there has to be some sort of logic.
If you want everything, you need to explain why there would be such mix-match of weapons and armor. Although I’m not sure what that might be. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to hearing them. I dare say, it might be easier to pick a period stick with it. Disallowing weapons and armor that don’t fit that period.
One closing thought, people from different areas have different needs. The weapons they use should reflect that (not to mention armor). If you a GM, one should have noted what weapons and armor typical warriors of an area would use. That way you players might be able to guess just based on equipment where someone is from.