Leather is the lightest of all the different kinds of armours, though it is still tough enough to resist many types of weapons. Leather is defined as any armour made from the skin of an animal, ranging from the lightweight rabbit leather (used mainly for ceremonial purposes) to the heavy, rare, expensive, and almost metallic drake leather. Leather is definitely the most widespread kind of protection in the world of Caelereth. It is used in primitive and advanced cultures, as the resources of animal hides are practically everywhere, and the technique to harden it is widespread. The material can be used to create a variety of products and is inexpensive and durable.
Picture description. A Centoraurians in the light leather armour of his tribe. Image by Quellion.
Leather is worn in many different ways, ranging from simple bracers and boots to a full
suit including a protection for every part of the body. Traditional Leather
Armour features a hardened breast plate, shoulder guards and a tunic, sometimes
leggings of softer leather (or in combination with woolen ones). Helmets made from
leather range from simple, metal-reinforced helms to elaborate hats decorated
with feathers and jewelry to leather caps.
Leather is generally brown and made from the hide of domestic creatures, such as cows, sheep, goats; wild animals, like deer and boar; and more exotic animals, like giant spiders, ráhaz'estár snakes, and even wargs. It is important that the hide is thick to provide protection, but thin enough to allow freedom of movement.
Leather can be dyed many colours, though its natural colour is brown. This is because the bark used in the tanning process changes the colour, be it red, tan, or purple to a deep brownish colour, much like the bark it is soaked in.
There are two ways of ranking leather. The first is by amount of protection. The second is flexibility. There are three tiers in both ranking systems. The first tier is best, and the third is worst. This system was designed by a merchant and armourer commitee who meet biannualy to review current placement.
|Leather||Hardness Scale||Flexibility Scale|
|1st Tier||Drake, Giant Snakes, Giant Wolves||Deer, Giant Snake|
|2nd Tier||Boar, Bear, Cow||Sheep, Goat, Cow, Giant Wolves|
|3rd Tier||Sheep, Goat, Deer||Drake, Bear, Boar|
The most simple leather armour (deer hide) is
very flexible, allowing for unhindered movement at the cost of some protection.
This kind of armour, if not specially prepared, will not offer considerably more
protection than common clothing. However, it will generally stave off most
projectiles from medium to far-range, but spears will
easily puncture it.
Swords are generally poor peeformers against leather, though it is almost useless against blunt weapons like hammers or maces. It is used mainly by scouts, bowmen, and others who tend to avoid melee combat. Agile warriors will also commonly use leather. Finally assassins, thieves or people who need to work as quietly as possible, will prefere leather armour over any other. One advantage of leather is that it is not very noisy in general (compared to heavier protection like chain or plate mail which have a tendency to cling and clang). Also, leather can be silenced even further through additional layers of clothing, unlike metal armour.
Manufacturing. Tanning and tailoring are combined in this ancient trade:
The first step is to procure the necessary animal hides and clean and dry them properly to prevent rotting. Then, the top layer of the skin is removed, leaving the thicker, useful layer that will eventually be tanned and the bottom layer of flesh, which is removed in a procees called "fleshing". In fleshing, the flesh must be cut away perfectly. One slip of the knife can cause the entire skin to be ruined. Once the skin is fleshed, it is cut to the neccessary thickness, after which it is cleaned again, using special acids and salt. The skin is now ready for tanning.
The leather is placed in an immense vat filled with bark from the oak and maple trees and water. It is left at high temperatures for several days in this oily substance, hardening it, after which it is ready for finishing. The tanned leather is then mixed with tallow and grease to give it a waterproof covering. After that the piece will be stretched over a model of a man's or a woman's chest (in case a breastplate is being produced), so that it stays stiff and strong in the shape that it is needed.
Once the Leather Armour is completed, it will stay very durable. It is resistent against all kinds of weather conditions and is easy to clean as it doesn't rust like metallic armour does after a while. Leather Armour therefore can be worn daily for many a month and can be stockpiled without having to fear any harm on the equipment. Furthermore access to leather material is given practically everywhere and the process of manufacturing in general is also not very complicated, so that replacements can be made if needed even during combat operations to support the front lines. This makes Leather Armour one of the most important parts of combat equipment.
The final step is drying. The leather must be left out for a certain amount of time. If it is left out too short, it will become soft and limp. If it is left out for more than about a week (this will vary depending on weather conditions, including heat and humidity) it will begin to rot.
Leather has been used in different industries (such as clothes-making, book-binding, and shoe-making) but all of these use different methods of tanning the leather. The method mentioned above is the only way to properly treat leather for protection purposes.
Origin/History. Leather is the oldest type of armour, and records of it being used date back to ancient conflicts and skirmishes in the Age of Awakening. It was most likely developed as a by-product of hunting, in an effort to use as much of the animal as possible.
The first hardened Leather Armour was most likely manifactured by primitive humans who hunted boar and deer. Elves are also a likely contender for the first Leather Armour, as they have a long history of making it and seem particulary skilled in the craft.
Famous leather makers include: Tarnian Hithus, the man who refined the leather making process and discovered the best barks for the tanning process, Felish Cava'hiem, an elven seamstress who came up with the current widespread process of crafting leather, and the husband-and-wife human team of Tallin and Nilliz Hetfer, well known for their dangeourus exploits into the dens of exotic animals to craft some of the finest leather known to Santharia.