The Chainmail Bracelet – A Permanent +1
This detailed .925 sterling silver chainmail bracelet is inspired by some of history’s most iconic and enduring armour. Delicate links are banded by medium to lightweight silver that’s comfortable against the skin and easy on the eye. Its unisex fit works with medieval outfits, fantasy LARP clothing, and everyday street clothes alike. A timeless classic in silver.
The oldest archaeological evidence of chainmail comes from the 3rd Century BC near modern-day Slovakia. Mail was, despite their being technologically eclipsed by their Greek and Roman neighbours, an invention of the Celtic people – though Celt is a very broad category in terms of time and geographical distribution. The Etruscans (a contemporary civilisation of ancient Greece and Rome) are thought to also have employed mail from about the 4th Century BC onward, and historians have not conclusively decided which civilisation used the process first. Celebrate one of history’s greatest armours with the chainmail bracelet.
Though most of us picture the iconic breastplate when we think of Roman armour, they actually employed mail for a longer period. Chainmail was common on the battlefield for many centuries until high impact warfare from cavalry charges and more advanced crossbows made mail less effective in battle. Mail can make beautiful jewellery like this and is still in use in activities like shark-diving and industrial butchery, where freedom of movement and dexterity are needed alongside protection.
The success and subsequent proliferation of mail can be put down to several important attributes. Chiefly, chainmail is quite flexible for the level of protection it offers. Linked rings of metal can each move independently of each other to some degree and don’t hinder movement or retain heat. Mail is also relatively lightweight. This chainmail bracelet is made of single-sized rings but armourers could maximise the equipment’s lightness by varying ring size. Tighter, smaller rings offer better protection from thrusting and stabbing attacks. Armourers could use these rings in critical areas most likely to need protection and bigger, wider rings in areas that need to exist for structural reasons but are less likely to come in contact with the point of enemy weapons. This reduces the weight by increasing the surface area of the shirt which is simply empty space. Many warriors wore a tightened belt around their waist on the outside of the mail, reducing the weight placed on their shoulders by the armour.
What Are Its Stats?
Chainmail’s resistance to slashing is well-known thanks to video games and tabletop RPGs. Game systems sometimes need to emphasise certain aspects of weapons and armour to create progression and game mechanics. Mail’s “weakness” to thrusting attacks may be one such example. Certainly, full-plate offers better resistance than mail to a thrust from a sword or spear point. But mail, even when breached, continues to offer friction, slowing down the weapon and lessening injury in its wearer. Forcing apart multiple links requires significant force. Typically, mail was worn over a padded gambeson, both for comfort and for the added protection and impact resistance offered by the cloth armour. This would further hinder thrusting attacks from spears and swords. Ultimately, plate armour offers superior protection from thrusting attacks, but when weighed against its many disadvantages (weight not least among them), it’s clear why mail remained a part of so many soldier’s equipment for so long.
Even after the abundance of resources and know-how made plate armour possible, mail continued to offer some advantages. Full-plate armour, though not as heavy and cumbersome as some game systems and movies lead us to believe, is nonetheless unwieldy and tiring to wear for long periods. For a professional soldier on campaign (not a knight with his retinue), carrying plate armour across countries and continents for the comparatively tiny amount of time spent fighting was impractical. Plate also required time, effort, and help to put on. Mail could be taken on or off in seconds, oiled, rolled in oilcloth, and stashed for use when needed. This represents a big advantage for the budget-conscious soldier with limited inventory space.
Links In The Pattern
The majority of historical, Indo-European chainmail used a 4-1 weave to create its protective mesh-like layer. This foundational technique for creating medieval armour used one jump ring with four jump rings connected to it, repeating this pattern as many times as needed to create the armour piece.
For an excellent, easy-to-follow tutorial on making a chainmail bracelet with the 4-in-1 technique check out this link.
Japanese armourers used atypical designs, employing butted, twisted links and varying their patterns – one of the most striking being the 6-in-2 pattern with its three-dimensional effect. Japanese mail had more variations in pattern than the rest of humanity combined – to some extent echoing the kind of gradual, iterative, technological improvements which are still a hallmark of Japanese industry today. The chainmail bracelet designs of today carry on some of this tradition.
Chainmail – The Forgotten Progenitor To A Genre
We are all to some degree familiar with the tabletop roleplaying game stalwart, Dungeons & Dragons. It’s like a touchstone for an entire hobby – to RPGs what coca-cola is to soft drinks. Most of us are also familiar with the game’s creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, though some of the details may be less well-known.
It Started In War
The history of miniature wargaming goes back into antiquity with games like Chess and Go amongst the best-known surviving to this day. What’s considered to be the first modern wargame which aimed to teach its players valuable, transferable lessons in contemporary military strategy was published by a Prussian college professor named Johann Christian Ludwig Hellwig in 1780. Many of Johann’s students were young aristocrats, destined to become officers in the military. Wargaming remained a mainly Prussian affair, with others developing subsequent systems after Ludwig Hellwig’s – the most famous of which being Kriegsspiel in 1824. International interest in wargaming only began after Prussia’s 1870 victory in the Franco-Prussian war, when many credited the success to the nation’s wargaming tradition.
The Rise Of Medieval Wargaming
The first known, medieval-themed miniature wargame, Siege of Bodenburg was created in 1967 by Henry Bodenstedt. Gary Gygax was introduced to the game the next year at the inaugural Gen Con, a national wargaming convention. These rules were later published in what was then a fanzine called Strategy And Tactics – a publication famous for releasing a completely new wargame every issue and still running to this day. This ruleset was adapted by Jeff Perren who introduced his revised medieval wargame to Gygax. Gygax, the creator of Gen Con and chairman of a national association of wargaming clubs, began working on his own version of medieval miniature wargaming in 1970 with Don Lowry.
Their company, Guidon Games, issued their first release, Chainmail, which in addition to the medieval miniature rules, included a 14-page supplement which featured rules on fantasy races such as elves, hobbits, trolls, and wizards for the first time. The introduction of magic users and heroes demanded further development of game systems related to individual characters. This resulted in some mechanics like saving throws against magic which are still used today. The work of Tolkien was certainly an influence but literary figures like Michael Moorcock and Robert E Howard also had an impact, with the stories of Jack Vance looming large over the magic system, in particular.
From Macro To Micro
Around this time, A University student and Napoleanic wargamer named Dave Wesely began playing the Braunstein game – an early hybrid war/roleplaying game that took place in the fictional German town of Braunstein during the Napoleanic wars. Wesely, the inventor of this game, had intended to assign roles in the defence or attack of the town to those who showed up to play his game. But because so many people turned up to play, he had to assign some of them civilian roles that wouldn’t have any direct impact on combat but could influence the game through resource management. Wesely had intended for the players of the game to confer with him, the referee, in private, with the outcomes of their actions being resolved in turns. Instead, he discovered players were taking on the roles of their characters, travelling around the town, and interacting with each other. When two players challenged each other to a duel, Wesely found himself improvising rules to meet the situation. He considered his first game a failure, but its participants did not, eagerly asking when the next session would take place.
The Draw Of Fantasy
Dave Arneson had participated in a few of these early Braunstein games and, inspired by his love of pulp fiction, Tolkein, Moorcock, and other fantasy writers, began developing his own medieval fantasy-inspired version of the game called Blackmoor. Arneson used the rules from Chainmail to resolve conflict and thus the first games of proto-D&D could begin. Once Gygax was introduced to this style of play, the two began collaborating on what they dubbed simply, “The Fantasy Game”. As it turns out, by the time D&D was released as an official product, miniatures had been dropped in favour of “theatre of the mind”-style play with occasional drawings and tabletop objects standing in for visuals. It wasn’t until the 1976 publication of Swords and Spells that rules for miniatures were reintroduced, with the author, Tim Kask describing the rules as the “grandson” of the wargame Chainmail.
Material: Chainmail Bracelet is made of .925 Sterling Silver
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