The secrets of forging stronger steel are held exclusively by Dwarfs and Men. It was the Dwarfs that were the world's first true metalworkers, but thanks to centuries of alliances they have shared some, if not all, secrets of the process with the nascent Empire. Soon, human smiths were superheating iron and adding charcoal to create stronger, more pliant steel - the perfect material for making full-plate armour.
The greatest and most honoured warriors of the Empire go to battle wearing sturdy suits of Dwarf-forged plate mail. It is the best armour available to them, protecting Generals, Elector Counts, Greatswords and the Knightly Orders.[2a]
There are many variations of plate armour in the Empire. The Knights of the White Wolf incorporate heavy wolf pelts and headdresses to enhance their sinister reputation. Greatswords, the best foot soldiers in the Empire, do away with helmet visors; instead they utilise open-faced helmets to expand their field of vision.
Knights of the Blazing Sun have laurels on their shoulder plates and great black and yellow plumes on their helmets, while the Reiksguard have large red and white feathered wings branching out from their helms. Perhaps more than anywhere in the Old World, armour in the Empire allows a warrior to mark his house, service to an Elector, and Order to which he vows allegiance.
Compared to the Empire, Bretonnia has not completely adopted full plate armour, as fewer Dwarfs live in that land. Instead, they mostly rely on foreign armourers and mighty furnaces taken from Nuln. Copying techniques and forge designs from their Imperial neighbours further improves their metalworking.
Talented blacksmiths are highly sought after in Bretonnia, being one of the few peasant trades that Knights do not look down upon on. Of course, this is probably because the nobility need their horses shoeing, their lances in ready supply, their swords sharp and the dents in their armour knocked out. As such, all Bretonnian castles have their own resident blacksmith.
While they are not yet as capable at mass-producing suits of plate armour, it cannot be denied that the individual products of Bretonnia tend to be superior to those produced in the Empire. This is because a Bretonnian craftsman lives to make the best items he can, not to make as much money as possible.
The noble Knights of Bretonnia ride into battle donning both plate armour and chainmail underneath their heraldic tabards. In contrast, heavy plate armour is forbidden to peasants under all circumstances, as are the weapons of chivalry: the lance and the longsword. Only the half-noble Foot Squires are equipped in a similar fashion to knights.[3a]
The suits of armour worn by Grail Knights are works of inspired artistry, often thicker-set than those of the Empire and reverently treated as holy artifacts. They commonly bear the religious imagery of the Grail - a warning to opponents - and the divine Lady of the Lake.
Amongst the warriors of icy Kislev, only the Winged Lancers have armour fine enough to rival those panoplies worn by elite soldiers in other lands. They typically go to war donning spiked helmets with combined mail and plate armour.
In Araby, heavy armour is considered impractical given the unforgiving climate. Instead, to shield themselves from the oppressive heat of the sun, they wear voluminous robes and body coverings that also make them harder to hit. However, elite Arabyan warriors such as Knights and Guards are known to be lavishly equipped with glittering steel armour.
- 1: Total War: Warhammer
- 2: Warhammer Armies: The Empire (8th Edition)
- 2a: pg. 31
- 3: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Knights of the Grail
- 3a: Sumptuary Laws
- 4: Duty and Honour (Short Story) by Chris Wraight
- 5: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Old World Armoury
- 6: Knight Errant (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- 7: Total War: Warhammer II
- 8: Warhammer: Siege (5th Edition)
- 9: Warmaster: Armies