My world is medieval-ish in terms of technology level. While there is magic, it's not at all enchantment-like so any armor should be able to be naturally produced.

In this world is a humanoid snake race. So they mostly have the body of snake, but with arms. They also have a frill like that of a frilled lizard. (Though I don't suspect that'll be too impactful on the answer.)

So what I'm wondering is what kind of armor they could wear. My initial thoughts were for them to be able to wear a chainmail of sorts. The big issue though I'm thinking with that is that it would interfere with their ability to move given that snakes move by pushing off of what they're touching, so if they had a bunch of chainmail, they'd have to push off the chainmail to move and in doing so, get out of the chainmail. Other types of armor like plate, brigandine, and gambeson would also seem to have this issue.

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    $\begingroup$ The body of a snake with arms sounds like a lizard or a crocodile. And armored lizard sounds like a turtle. Why wouldn't that work? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 5:58
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    $\begingroup$ "So they mostly have the body of snake, but with arms." so, are they like the Kenshi from Heroes 6 and the naga from Heroes 3 in that they have a tail, instead of legs? Or do they have legs? Do note, that I don't think the Kensi and Naga armours are very practical. or protective. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 5:59
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ Those look visually similar to what I'm thinking, yes. (Though only two arms, not 4 or 6 like the naga.) $\endgroup$
    – mVitus
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 6:06
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    $\begingroup$ As usual, armor design depends on what it is supposed to protect against. How do you expect these snake-men to fight? That will tell you (and us) more about how much mobility they can sacrifice for protection. $\endgroup$
    – Guran
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ I'll just contribute one of the best answers I've seen in video form here via shameless plug. youtube.com/… $\endgroup$
    – Obelisk
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 10:24

5 Answers 5


While metal armors are the strongest they haven't seen that much use. Even during the musket era's where metalworking was much cheaper the metal would mainly be for the torso and the rest would use things like leather.

Leather armor would suit your snakes well. It's tough but relatively flexible compared to metal. Non-movie leather armor was made out of boiled or otherwise thick and hard leather, and either in laminar form, an inflexible sleeveless jacket or plate armor. The laminar form seems best suited, as it is similar to scale armor with all the leather bound together into a flexible clothing of your choice.

You'd drape it over the snake bits but have nothing underneath the belly, since that will be on the ground anyway. The armor can be made a bit too large, so that a small flap (say 1cm) drags across the ground. This means the sides remain covered when twisting and turning. With small weights close to the ends of the armor it can be ensured the armor doesn't blow off similar to a tablecloth. To prevent the armor from falling off it's attached near the arms and the last bit of the tail section. Should the snake often be upright it can also have armor at its belly.

The type of materials can change, but a laminar/scale setup that is draped over the top seems paramount. If the snake often switches between crawling over the ground with its entire body and then with part of himself raised you cannot armor the belly, and a large shield is going to be required for any fighting to protect it similar to certain ancient groups who would forgo armor in favor of lighter weight and a large shield (say, Spartans).

  • $\begingroup$ I've been thinking about how you were saying that having weights at the end of the armor would keep it on and likening it to a tablecloth. The thing I'm thinking about though is that a tablecloth, unlike a snake-person, is supposed to be stationary. And if a snake-person were to lunge for example, wouldn't it be easy for the weight to shift? If it's possible to give a real-world example of these kinds of weights on a living creature, it might help me visualize and understand what you're saying better. $\endgroup$
    – mVitus
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @mVitus just to be clear it would be a lot of tiny weights sewn near the edge of the armor where it touches the ground. More weight means more force required to move a section of armor compared to the other sections. This makes it harder for strong winds or fast sinuous movement to dislodge the armor from the snake's back and have flaps dangle on the wrong side, exposing part of the snake. If metal armors is used the weights would probably not be necessary. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 17:18

It appears you are talking about a Naga (which for me is a basically a person's upper body with the lower body of a snake).

The armor of a Naga is going to end up similar to that of crocodiles or alligators. Thicker armor on the top of their tail with the underbelly exposed to the ground (to allow them to move naturally). This is because their belly is constantly sliding against the ground. If it was armored, it would wear down fairly quickly and produce a large racket while you're at it, so it's better to keep their skin exposed.

For Upper body armor, you could go with traditional metal armor, but chain mail or leather would be more likely, as you don't want your Naga to be too top heavy and have to resort on slithering with their Torso on the ground.

The Major exposed point would be where their underbelly combines into a human stomach, as that is a huge portion of soft exposed skin. To counteract this, you would likely have different armor coverage, to suit either fast moving, close to the ground Nagas and slower moving tall standing Nagas.

TL:DR? Armor sits on the top and leaves the bottom exposed. Too many scratches if it doesn't.

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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly, mail is actually heavier than plate by and large. quora.com/Which-is-heavier-full-plate-armor-or-chain-mail $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ I usually think that, considering how much body length normal snakes have in contact withe the ground, that for a Snake-man to balance to allow any sort of upright movement, the snakey part would have to outweigh the humaney part by some large amount. That in mind, overbalancing the humaney part might not be such a problem. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ I've been thinking about this and the main question I'm having is: How would it be kept on? Would there be straps around their belly at various points? (As I just know the basics of snake locomotion, I'm not sure if that would face the same kind of issues as if the entire belly has covered or if just having small bits would allow uninhibited movement and let the armor stay on. $\endgroup$
    – mVitus
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 16:59

So you're looking at realistic armor for a naga like being. Your main problem is locomotion, your tail portion is hard to armor because it's hard to armor your flexible appendages.

Think about your human hands and feet. Your feet need some flexibility to gain a good footing and your hands... well you don't really armor the inside of your hands ever. Your naga has the same problems, they need their tail flexible to move. This severely limits your options for protection.

You could armor your tail but it will need a custom fit for mobility. You don't want your warriors to trip while moving. It will need a way to grip the floor. Basically if you cover the belly of a snake with something smooth they can't move. They fail to gain traction, chainmail doesn't provide proper traction. I doubt leather will either, you need something with some curved or slanted spikes. Or perhaps big ridges that function like the legs on a caterpillar.

Regardless you're making something that actively fights your wearer. It would be far easier and logical for the nagas to develop fighting styles that work around their lack of armor.

Ignoring the tail nagas can wear about anything regular humans would. Maybe they prefer shorter cuirasses but cuirasses tend to be far shorter then you imagine anyway. Soldiers like the ability to sit, either on a horse or a chair. Check out the Greek linothorax for a short cuirass, especially the thigh 'flaps'.

When a culture goes light on armor they tend to favor shields by the way. Shields are an amazing piece of armor. Making a basic shield is easy, replacing them can be cheap. After a helmet they should probably be your go to piece of armor you want to get your hands on.


Note: As my answer is very long, I have a concluding paragraph at the end.

I’m going to assume this Naga is more snake than human, meaning they have snake’s head and lower body with an human-like upper body. I will assume they are about 18 foot long with 6 foot standing upright and weigh about 1000 lbs

I feel they would be like Roman Legionaries. They did not wear much leg protection due to their style of combat. Instead of trying to armour the lower body, only the upper third or so of the Naga’s body would be armoured (the upper third as snakes can move just as fast with 2/3rds of their body on the ground as they can with 3/3rds and im assuming Naga can too). So then Naga would wear armour similar to what we’ve seen on humans in history on their upper half with their lower half completely bear.

Whilst it may seem like a huge weakness to have 2/3rds if their body exposed, their style of combat can accommodate for that. Below is a video detailing how Naga might fight in combat: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2uVRKKdIYLI

Naga would use large rectangular shields that protect their body, reducing the need to armour their lower half. In a battle field, they would be in a large shield wall so it would be almost impossible to get around their shield to attack their exposed lower body. In a duel, the Naga has a lot of manoeuvrability so can keep the shield in front if their opponent. They could also coil their lower body up, reducing the amount of area they’d have to protect.

I would suggest some kind of metal armour (full plate, brigandine, coat of plates, lamellar) but it depends on the look you want to portray.

Snakes often loom (stand their upper body straight up off the ground) and expand their hood, if they have one, in an attempt to look bigger and more intimidating. I would incorporate this idea by having large shoulders (like Italian full steel plate armour). You could do what rich Ancient Greeks did, having muscles built into the armour. There could be a chain mail coif with additional pieces on either side to mimic a snake’s hood or the frills you mentioned (note though that, unlike many images you find on google, historical mail coifs had padding underneath them)

In regards to helmets and armour, something to note is female Naga would not have breasts, these are mammalian features. A female Naga would be flat chested so ‘boob plate’ armour (fantasy steel plate armour with defined breasts) would not develop in their society (not that it would be necessary, there is already space between armour and the body. Boob plate is similar to a Muscle Cuirass. It is slightly less effective if it dips in the middle of the chest but not significantly so).

In my world, sexual dimorphism is shown in the heads and body shape. Female Naga bodies are usually smaller and narrower than the male’s and have less broad shoulders. This is similar to male and female humans so I won’t go into this much further. Instead, the more interesting feature is in the heads. My male Naga have oval-shaped heads like this: 0 where as females have more triangular heads like this: /\ I based these shapes on the differences between venomous and non-venomous snake heads and art work I saw. This means that Nagas may have helmets that are shaped significantly differently depending on the gender of the wearer. This is just something that you may want to consider for aesthetics, both in and out of armour. Having different shaped heads makes it easy to instantly tell apart males and females without giving them “feminine” features found in humans, such as breasts and long hair.

To conclude, Naga would likely have armoured upper bodies with completely exposed lower bodies but have a large shield to compensate. Their armour would probably be metal based (full plate, coat of plates, brigandine, lamalar, etc) with large shoulders and a mail coif that looks like a cobra’s hood. The physical shape of the armour would be made to fit with an individual Naga’s body shape with females typically being smaller and more slender and with female helmets being more triangular and male helmets being more ovular. I hope this answers any questions you have and any questions that you might not of thought about.

  • $\begingroup$ My answer was a lot longer than this, i had to remove much of it as it was being labelled as spam. If you want more information, feel free to ask and i’ll post what i removed in another answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ A counterpoint against legionnaire style combat, snake movement with the lower body won't allow them to move in close formation. I do agree they'd favor large shields but close formations are a no go. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Mormacil This is true and it is already something i have considered. Acceleration and deceleration of the unit will drastically be reduced as more rows are added. However, to speed them up, rows can be thinner that what we may find in historical formations. Naga are 4-5 times heavier than the average human and have a lot more surface area if their bodies are coild on the ground, making them hard to move. Alternatively, rows can be thicker when trying to hold a position. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ More information is always good. It's nice to get more perspectives. So if you have more to say, please do post it. $\endgroup$
    – mVitus
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer and interesting video. I agree with Shad on everything but archery. I think Naga would make terrible archers. One of the reasons humans are relatively weak compared to other animals is we have a disproportionate amount of slow-twitch muscles. In our arms that allows us to fine-tune a ballistic throw and is part of our suite of adaptations to ranged hunting. If nagas keep snake musculature I doubt that compromise has been made. They will likely not have the supporting adaptations to accurately use bows. Unless it comes from something like resistance to lactic acid buildup like crocs $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 13:03

As an alternative to my previous answer, I would suggest armouring the tail in scale mail. Being made up of a series of small plates, it would allow for very easy movement, like chain mail. If traction and locomotion are the issues, mimicking the Naga’s natural scales could allow it the traction it needs to move. This is because the small overlapping scales could allow for a rougher texture and more surface area than chain mail or gambeson. To further increase the traction, bumps and creases could be added to the individual scales, allowing them to function like the treads on the soles of shoes. Plus, there is the aesthetic appeal of scale mail being thematically similar to a snake’s skin.

A further option is to have a skirt of sorts. An exceptionally long gambeson or chain mail shirt would hang down from the Naga’s torso, almost touching the floor, providing protection for all of the front and sides of the body. Then, to protect the tail, a large U shaped piece could be sewn onto the Naga’s long gambeson. This piece would be a several feet long but would not cover the whole body. The reason being it would be unnecessary to as a weapon would not extend past the Naga by more than a few feet. You would not be able to reach any further without being in grappling range with the Naga. If you are, it would easily be able to overpower you with its weight (about 1000 lbs) and sink either a blade or its teeth into your neck. It's the same kind of logic in long sword fighting, you could wear heavy calf protection, but you are unlikely to be hit there so there is little point to. Plus, in order to reach its tail, you’d have to ignore far better options for ending the fight, such as a dagger to the neck or armpit.


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