- Olympic Boxer Punches: 121 J (each st dev is +/- 25%)
- Vernon Morten Record Punch: 354 J
- Baseball Bat, Composite: 305 J
- Knife, Underhand: 40 J to 63J (typical is 20-30J)
- Knife, Overhand: 100 J to 115 J (11.3 M/S with 0.6 KG dagger), Horsfall
- Greek Spear, Underhand or Couched: 44.3J (likely lowball by 50% or more)
- Greek Spear, Overhead: 29.8J (likely lowball by 50% or more)
- 70 lb bow: 52-55 J (Hardy)
- 70 lb bow: 46-47 J at 10 m
- 80 lb bow: 70-83 J (61 J at 50 m)
- 140 lb bow: 99-104 J (Calculated from Soar et al)
- 150 lb bow: 111-146J
- 165 lb bow: 138J
- Olympic level javelin throw: 360 J
- Sword and Axe: 60-130J
- Sling: 30-128J
- Polearm: At least 100-120J
- Springalds- 1782 J
- Windlass Crossbow- 627 J
- 2 foot crossbow-331 J
- crossbow-126 J
- Modern Spike 1 -- 90th Percentile of Males striking with knife: 33 J (85th is 24J, 95th is 43J)
- Arrowhead vs. Buff Leather 30 J
- Jack Alone: ~20-50J
- Lance vs. Cuir-boulli 30-20 J
- Arrow vs. Modern Mail (mild steel) alone 80 J
- Arrow vs. Modern Mail & Jack Penetration 100 J
- Arrow vs 1mm Plate 55J*
- Arrow vs 2mm 175J *
- Arrow vs 3mm 300J *
- Arrow vs 4mm 475J *
- "about 200J to defeat mail with an edged weapon, more against plate"
- Arrow vs Flesh: 30J is enough for 20-40 cm of penetration
* For different irons/steels, you can multiply these energies by:
Munition quality iron: 0.5
Low-carbon steel: 0.75
Medium-carbon steel (Milanese): 1.1
Hardened steel: 1.5
So... How is all this useful?
It informs a discussion of damage and armor systems. We know that strikes inflict between 20J (average person with a knife) and ~350J (professional baseball player with two handed grip, world record boxer) of kinetic energy. Typical break points include:
- Light Knife, Underhand: 20-50J
- Punches and Overhanded Strikes by strong people: 100-121J
- One handed Weapons: On order of 40-130J
- Two Handed Weapons: On order of 100-305J
- Light Bows: 50J
- Long Bows: 100J
- Heavy Long Bows: 140J
Armors likewise protect against varying penetrating blows:
- Padded: 20-50J (stacks with other armors)
- Leather: 30J
- Chain Mail: 80J
- 1mm Plate: 55J (reasonable typical for lightly armored areas)
- 2mm Plate: 175J (minimum for breastplates, helms)
- Signficant Flesh Penetration: ~30J
Slashing blows are about half as effective when defeating armor.
Those numbers are all rather large, so let's divide them by a common denominator, say, 25J, to get something more usable.
Modified numbers for strikes:
- Light Knife, Underhand: 1-2
- Punches and Overhanded Strikes by strong people: 4-5 (each standard deviation is +/- 1)
- One handed Weapons: ~2-5
- Two Handed Weapons: ~4-12
- Light Bows: 2
- Long Bows: 4
- Heavy Long Bows: 6
Modified numbers for armors:
- Padded: 1-2 (stacks with other armors)
- Leather: 1
- Chain Mail: 3
- 1mm Plate: 2 (reasonable typical for lightly armored areas)*
- 2mm Plate: 7 (minimum for breastplates, helms)*
- 3mm Plate: 12 (not unreasonable for breastplates)*
- Significant Flesh Penetration: 1+
*Cut plate defenses by 1/2 for cheap pot metal. Increase by +50% for high-grade metal.
Interestingly, those numbers look a lot like usable numbers for damage rolls in a gaming context, do they not? As a caveat, most of those damage numbers are high-end maximums (if only one number is given). Most are also for penetrating force. A slashing blow can do a more damage, but is less effective against armor by about half.
Strength Modifiers: From the data on olympic boxers, we also have the data that each standard deviation adds or subtracts +1 (25J). Now, olympic boxers are already above the bell curve, likely at least two standard deviations, but it is a reasonable modifier.
So now we start to get to a usable system.
Weapon Damage (average adult male):
- Punch, Unarmed: 1d3
- Light Weapon (Dagger): 1d6-1
- One Handed Weapon: 1d6
- Two Handed Weapons: 2d6
- Light Bow: 1d6-1
- Long Bow: 1d6
- Heavy War Bow: 1d6+3 or 2d6-1 (or just 2d6 for simplicity's sake)
Strength bonuses: Each standard deviation +/- 1 to above figures.
0-1 (-3), 3-5 (-2), 6-8 (-1), 9-12 (0), 13-15 (+1), 16-18 (+2), 19-21 (+3)
*As an optional rule, two handed weapons deal 1d6 (perhaps 1d6+1) damage as well but all strength modifiers are doubled.
Slashing weapons and strikes: Roll one extra damage die and retain best against unarmored targets; roll one extra die and retain the worst against targets in chain or plate mail.
Bludgeoning weapons and strikes: Bludgeons always do "bruising" damage, not lethal damage, but ignore the "soak" of armor.
Armor mitigates incoming damage. Characters select either to wear a helmet and either full or half armor. Full armor protects the torso and extremities. Half armor protects only the torso, like a breastplate or coat of mail.
Characters may layer lighter protection for extremities (such as greaves for legs and gauntlets for hands) as desired with half armor. For example, you could choose a steel breastplate for the torso and leather gauntlets/leggings for the extremities.
Cloth padded armor may be layered with any other type for more protection.
- Cloth: Soak 1
- Leather: Soak 1
- Light Plate: Soak 2
- Chain Mail: Soak 3
- Medium Plate: Soak 7
- Heavy Plate: Soak 12
With this system there are several checks:
- Attacker checks "to hit." This is based on defender's agility.
- If there is a hit, defender gets to "save" and see if their armor helped out. Roll 1d6:
- 1: Head (Helm)
- 2: Arms (Gauntlets)
- 3-5: Torso (Armor)
- 6: Legs (Greaves/Chausses)
- Attacker rolls damage. Armor, if present in the targeted area, "soaks" incoming damage.
- If the damage roll is less than the "soak," the defender takes a bruising hit.
- If the damage roll is greater than the "soak," the defender takes a lethal wound.
- Extra Damage:
- Hits against the head and torso result in +1 Wound (i.e. two wounds).
- If no armor is worn, a damage roll of >=5 also results in +1 Wound.
- If armor is worn, a damage roll that exceeds the soak value of the armor by >=5 also results in +1 Wound.
- Cover: The "save" system above also factors cover into effect. Decide what part of the body is protected by cover and negate hits to that area. For example, a low stone wall covering half of a warrior's body would protect against any roll of 4-6.
Wounds & Damage:
- Lethal vs. Bruising:
- Most weapons deal lethal damage. Bludgeons as well as unarmed strikes deal "bruising" damage; armor can also "soak" incoming damage, converting potentially lethal strikes into bruises.
- Bruises recover rapidly. Enough bruises stack up to lethal damage.
- Lethal wounds recover slowly.
- Characters have the following hit points:
- 6+/-CON Bruises
- 4+/-CON Lethal Wounds
- If a character can no longer take bruising hits, then all future "bruises" become lethal wounds. This represents a badly battered character having ribs cracked, suffering concussion, and other serious and life-threatening wounds.
The wounds and damage system needs some work, but it could be ok. As an alternative, you could simply use the damage and soak values as is, subtract the "soak" rating from the incoming damage, and use normal D&D hit points.