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There have been many questions on this site about helmets with antlers, but I am going out and asking about antlers with helmets. Specifically, I am asking in the context of creatures that are basically human for the sake of the question, so think a human with deer antlers. That's it. Also, I do not want them to be forced to cut their antlers off or augment them in any similar manner, and I feel like stating that they just don't wear helmets or wait until their antlers shed is dodging the question. Now, let me go over the glaring issues that popped up when I first thought of this.

First off, antlers aren't made to have something pulled over them, it isn't hard to find videos of deer getting tree branches stuck on their antlers. I doubt these antlered humans could get shirts over their heads, much less a helmet.

Secondly, one could theoretically get rid of the top of the helmet and squeeze it over, but these are generally broad antlers, so it doesn't work except for individuals lacking antlers entirely, and for most individuals it would work better as a neckband than anything else at that rate.

And thirdly, any standard helmet I could think of could theoretically be placed on with some intense agony or perhaps a little flavor of magic, but good luck getting it off again.

Here's the criteria for the question.

  • Must not augment or remove the antlers to work, which includes the ability to remove the helmet without harming the antlers on regular use
  • Must be somewhat obtainable with medieval to early-industrial technology, so no plastics
  • The helmet must provide genuine protection and be identifiable as a helmet to the point of not being mistaken as a headband

Also, the antlers do not have to be protected, just the head and face like a normal helmet, ideally without a gaping hole in the top if at all possible. In conclusion, what helmet design would be applicable to antlered humans?

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    $\begingroup$ How much do these humanoids care if their antlers are damaged or lost? Is it like breaking a toenail? Or a serious injury? Or a major cultural diminishment? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, as DJClayworth is probably thinking: do we not need to protect the antlers? They would likely be extremely vulnerable to anything from which the head proper needs to be protected. $\endgroup$
    – CCTO
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ People started shaving a lot more to wear gas masks. Just saying... $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ Frame challenge: would helmets even be needed for an antler-bearing species? Normally animals that use their heads as weapons will have physical adaptations that allow their skulls to handle much more blunt force than ours, minimizing the benefits of helmets. Perhaps your creatures lost the utility of antlers and only use them for sexual displays now? $\endgroup$
    – Drake P
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ Antlers would probably go well with bayonets on each tip. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 2:48

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Make the two halfs of the helmet separable. Just like human helmets have visors that can be pushed up yours could have pivot points that allow the helmet to be split in the middle. Two small holes at the top allow the antlers to stick out but the holes are also split so they can take the helmet off.

Another idea that I had was sort of a twist lock system.

enter image description here

If you look at the cutout for the face in the picture you can imagine having a similarly shaped cutout again at the top of the helmet. You then would have to slide the base of the antlers down the slit and then twist at the end to get the correct orientation of the helmet and also lock it in place somewhat.

I hope you can follow my descriptions. I'm not a native speaker so if anything is unclear please let me know and I'll try to explain more.

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You can make 3 bands:

  • 1 covering the left side from the left ear up to the left antler,
  • 1 covering the right side from the right ear up to the right antler,
  • 1 going between the antlers, all with matching borders except in the area where you leave the passage for the antlers to go through.

The 3 bands will then be held together by quick release or straps, and might be pivoting around a common plate protecting the back of the head and the neck.

Or, as per Alexander's comment, you can do 2 bands - front one and rear one, with opening for antlers in between.

You can do this with leather or worked metal.

To wear it, one would pass the loose bands on the head and put them in position, then fasten them together. The contrary would go for removing it.

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Helmets could be made in a clamshell design, in two pieces with a hinge at the top, so that they have a front half and a back half. The helmet is opened, put over the face, then the back closed over the horns/antlers and the back of the head. The holes for the horns/antlers would be along the hinged seam. Once closed, the helmet could be latched to keep it closed.

This is the simplest possible design for a metal helmet for a being with large cranial appendages such as horns or antlers that don't themselves need to be protected, and would protect most of the head with the exception of the antlers themselves.

It is certainly within the bounds of possibility for medieval technology to manufacture such a helmet.

Inside such a clamshell metal helmet would be a padded cap that would serve to absorb impacts, much as in regular armour for humans who lack cranial appendages. That, too could have holes and slits allowing it to be easily slipped over horns or antlers, and it might lace up to provide a better fit and more complete protection.

I can't say that it would be terrible easy to don or doff such armour, but anyone who could afford such armour could no doubt afford a squire to help them with the process of arming for battle and disarming afterwards.

As technology progresses, laces could be substituted by velcro, and wearing such head protection would become easier to manage.

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    $\begingroup$ Some historical armets, or similar full-faced helmets, are made almost like this; they hinge to the side, or sides, or along an 'axial' rivet at each side of the head. It's not a huge leap from those to your proposed helmet. $\endgroup$
    – Chemus
    Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 6:59
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Using only medieval technology, a helmet in three parts that interlock and buckle together.

Left side; Right side, Top side. Medieval metal smiths could custom fit very precise elements; all suits of armor were custom tailored to the wearer. So for this helmet; the Top piece fits between the antlers and partially around them; leaving little scalp exposed, and down the back of the head / neck far enough to protect it; perhaps change over to mail to preserve neck and head movement.

The side pieces complete the circle around each antler, and fit into the top piece; with tongue-and-groove edges. In steel, of course, this is what I found in wood:

Tongue and Groove Edges

Both pieces are connected by "latch" buckles, I don't know when they were invented but they are easily plausible within the skill set of medieval metal workers. Make them as robust as needed for battle. Welded on, of course; not bolted.

Latch Buckle

You have a complete helmet with antlers sticking out.

If you want, once antlers are shed, you can fit (tongue and groove on the edge again) circular fill pieces to cover the antler holes; no new buckles necessary.

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Slits and chain mail

Helmets are designed to deflect incoming blows. That is why slits on the sides that allow the antlers through will be enough. The slits can still allow stabbing weapons through, so to mitigate this further disadvantage you can add chain mail. This can easily be hung over the slits, leaving the antlers free.

But chain mail is malleable, allowing it to come in many shapes and sizes. It is in general the most heavyvand protective part of any armour. This is because each link can deflect a blow on it's round edges. The several layers help stop many blows and devide the energy. As all armour it certainly doesn't stop all weapons and still allows damage to the wearer. But the resilience and spread of energy of a hit makes it incredibly strong.

So I would suggest chain mail helmets. They certainly existed and their malleability makes them great for allowing antlers through as well as having the correct shape after it's rested on the head. If the helmet is created in pieces the layers allow full protection with only a few fixing points. This can decrease the time required to don the helmet while increasing the complexity as little as possible.

Add the antlers for defence

If you have antlers you might be able to use them for further protection. You can put several layers of chain mail on the antlers, giving much more protection to the antlers and head. It will also reduce damage to the chain mail and the flex allows the energy of an attack to be distributed more gradually.

This does require a very strong neck though. The weight of chain mail is one of the biggest disadvantages of this armour. Together with leverage effects you need to be able to have a very strong physique for this to work.

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Stay Peaceful during the Breeding Season

Antlers, unlike most anatomy, are rarely a permanent part of the animal. Hence, there is a simple solution to this problem, which would be to avoid any helmet-requiring activities until the antlers go

One major issue with this solution is that this doesn't leave much time, as antlers don't stay cast for long. I don't really feel there is much of a solution to this issue, as it is based on how long it take to grow and use the antlers, faculties which are already surprisingly fast

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    $\begingroup$ War waits for the most opportune moment. OP specifically asked to avoid answers where antlers do not come off. $\endgroup$
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 18:15

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