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In a world I am building, the sapient species (the Lokk) have discovered another species (the Lotl) and they have decided to go to war. The problem is that their bone design is physically weak against blunt force trauma. The Lotl have noticed this and are able to easily kill swathes of the Lokk with little effort.

The Lokk Emperor has decided they need to design an armor for protection. But the design that works for us is too heavy for the average Lokk soldier and barely manageable for even the strongest Lokk, never mind the fact that these soldiers would be travelling miles every day.

What lightweight armor can my species wear to protect them?

Edit

Let's assume that this species lives in medieval era Europe.

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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't sound like this species is well adapted for combat, or living, actually. How did they evolve weak skeletons, and why are they starting the war? $\endgroup$ – M i ech Dec 27 '16 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ Tres you should really define a tech level that is available. Because the obvious answer is power armor. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 27 '16 at 7:39
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    $\begingroup$ Don't bother with armor they're just going to slow ur forces, speed is the essence of war strike quickly under the cover of dark and pull out immediately causing the enemies to confuse. The point is to drain the enemy strength and spirit so avoid head on clash, create diversions and taunt em into traps last but not least let the weather elements such as rain weight down on them. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Dec 27 '16 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ The correct answer for this question is: "You don't". A physically weak species against a stronger species in Medieval Europe means you need speed, range, accuracy, traps, ambushes, and a lot more other sneaky stuff to win. There is no universe where the Lokk go into a head on fight with the Lotl and the Lokk come out with a win - the Lotl will win every time. If your armour can tank one hit, then the Lotl will just hit you twice. If it can tank 2 hits, he'll hit 3 times in the same spot. Each armour also has weak points as well - the joints can be targeted, thinner areas can be targeted, etc $\endgroup$ – Aify Dec 27 '16 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Well. I guess now your story has one sapient species now. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Dec 27 '16 at 19:01

19 Answers 19

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Focus less on actual armor and more on keeping the enemy at a distance. Ranged weaponry is your friend. In most role-playing and computer games, the sling is almost always seen as a sub-optimal weapon. In actual use, using prepared shot (not just stone, but specially made of metal or ceramic), they can be quite deadly. If the Lokk are also physically weak in addition to being frail, then the crossbow may be ideal, if using cranks to set them.

Speaking of friends, heavily armored trained warbeasts (rhinos, elephants, etc) can be used to directly engage while the Lokk stay back. This does assume a more fantasy element in which such warbeasts can be controlled and directed better than in the real world.

Light cavalry (lightly armored, fast moving, armed with bows, slings or javelins), will allow the Lokk to strike and not remain in place to be smacked with blunt force. Heavy cavalry would not be a good option, as that is all about dealing (and often receiving) heavy strikes and direct conflict.

Formation fighting will be vital for when combat does get close. Shield-walls and Turtles equipped with spears and pole-arms will keep direct "hand-to-hand" combat to a minimum. These will also be the counter to any heavy cavalry used by the Lotl.

Of course, as the Emperor has declared that the solution is to wear armor, it will be the job of his advisors to not have their heads removed while attempting to let the Emperor know that his solution is not practical.

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    $\begingroup$ This would really be the ideal answer. When strength is not on your side, speed and range are your best friends. $\endgroup$ – thanby - reinstate Monica Dec 27 '16 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ Obviously, ranged weapons are great for a species like this, but you can't fight a war without any actual front-line troops. This is like the medieval version of the current penchant for just using an air force without any ground support because we don't like casualties. You can't win a war that way. They can have all the longbowmen in the world and would not be able to hold a line against a cavalry charge. Also, unless this is "World of Warcraft", there is NO WAY to replace your infantry with "trained warbeasts". Sorry, at best, war elephants and such were a SUPPLEMENT to real infantry. $\endgroup$ – JBiggs Dec 27 '16 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ @JBiggs. Given a different history than ours (i.e., not rooted in the idea of frontal assault that was popularized by Greece), you would not need a battle line in the first place. The problem with airforce is that you can not use it to occupy populated territory with it, not that you can't win at all. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 27 '16 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist. A man on a horse is vastly more massive, powerful, and fast than a man on foot. Weapons were designed to use the mass of the horse to assist a mounted man with an attack, creating overwhelming penetrating power at the head of a lance. Despite that, men on foot with nothing but long pikes, without even wearing any sort of armor, did stop charging cavalry in their tracks on a regular basis. There is a lot more to successful infantry deployment than just the size of your infantryman, even with ancient technology. $\endgroup$ – JBiggs Dec 31 '16 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ Makes sense. It's more just using existing technology to it's utmost. I'm glad I got into this discussion with you. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Jan 1 '17 at 1:01
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In medieval Asia, cloth and bamboo were both used in certain types of armor. Cloth was also used in Europe, but usually in conjunction with other materials. A heavy, quilted cloth layer surrounded by strategically located "shell" of bamboo "plates" could do well against blunt force trauma. Obviously, with medieval armor, you always have the basic tradeoff that armor which is great against blunt force is usually bad against stabbing or slicing, and armor which is great against stabbing or slicing is usually bad against blunt force attacks. This is why warriors of the era would be proficient in multiple types of weapons and armies would alternate things like polearms, long bladed weapons, piercing arrows, and maces or war hammers. It is very hard to create an ideal armor against all of that (eventually, Europe did with Maximilian plate, but by that time, hand to hand weapons were already on the way out).

An alternative is to forget about the armor. We are talking about a lightweight species with limited strength that needs to move a lot. In ancient Greece, the Hoplites maximized mobility and protection by forgoing any armor (and sometimes even clothes) apart from greaves and a helm. To protect themselves, they used a very heavy duty shield, and the warriors trained for years to be able to coordinate their defense by locking shields together and protecting the man on their left as they moved as one unit. It took a lot of skill and discipline (and years of training) to do well, but the Greeks were able to get a heck of a lot of protection out of (almost) nothing but very well built shields.

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  • $\begingroup$ Cool idea and bamboo is surprisingly strong. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 27 '16 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, a physically weak arm would get crushed by a determined opponent. Same problem as with the armor. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 27 '16 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ A good solid shield even without the special formations will be a big help $\endgroup$ – John Dec 28 '16 at 1:31
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Ghengis Khan is your friend here. As mentioned above, If the turtle option ain't working, it's time to go with speed and range. Medieval horse archers were absolute masters at this. The Khans never really used frontline type troops (infantry and the like), unless they were co-opted from other armies, and even then, they never played a huge part in their tactics.

A problem with this is that light cavalry can get thwarted by rough terrain.

Fighting from behind good fortifications is something you can play with as well. Mobile fortifications, might be a bit more fun. think more like howls moving castle rather than just tanks. This takes away the need for individual armor, but it has some obvious flaws as well. crack open the mobile fort, and everyone inside is going to have a really bad day.

Finally, you can look at one of the turning points in warfare, the advent of the firearm. A trained archer is superior in almost every way to a simple rifleman except for the fact that it takes years and years of training to become highly effective. You can hand a peasant a rifle, and he will be effective almost immediately. You need to be fairly strong to fire a bow. Little old ladies can handle even muzzle loading guns with ease. The point is, firearms do not require big muscles to operate. Primitive firearms might be slightly out of technological scope, but gunpowder based weaponry did exist that far back.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice. The other issue with archery is that you need a strong skeleton. Firearms, on the other hand, could be developed to absorb recoil elsewhere, like the ground. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 27 '16 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Mad Physicist Thanks. I hadn't thought about the skeletal strength, I was thinking more about musculature, but you are right. The skeleton would actually be more important than musculature. I wonder what other primitive weapons...maybe the atl-atl. definitely the sling. both rely more on angular momentum than main strength. both could be lethal at range. the atl-atl could be tipped with poisons. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Dec 27 '16 at 19:02
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Pillows

So, the Lokk are too weak to carry all kinds of plate, and their enemies have figured out that stuff like maces work wonders against frail bones like Lokk's. Doesn't look good.

Maces/hammers were the anti-armor weapon of the era, able to do harm to plate armor and scoffing at stuff like chainmail (which does almost nothing against blunt force).
The thing about hammers is that you only have two armour options to protect against it: Increase strength (and thus thickness and weight) or... cushion it.
Unfortunately, a human would need excessive amounts padding to negate a warhammer, and the Lokk are frail-er, so they'd need even more. They'd need to look like... Helmeted walking pillows.
Oh, and forget to protect about stuff like polehammers or halberds.

All in all, the armor way won't work unless magic is applied.

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ALON Armor

Transparent bulletproof aluminum (aluminum oxynitride) might make a good armor.

Aluminum armor can deflect the same rounds from small-caliber weapons as traditional bulletproof glass, but it will still be more clearly transparent even after being shot. Also, a .50-caliber armor-piercing bullet could sink nearly three inches into bulletproof glass before stopping. Aluminum armor can stop it in half the distance and yet is half the weight and thickness of traditional transparent armor.

In addition, transparent aluminum armor can be produced in virtually any shape and can also hold up to the elements much better than traditional bulletproof glass, which can be worn away by blowing desert sand or shrapnel.

ALON Mechs

If you want to, you could build powered exoskeleton armor suits out of ALON, and have bulletproof mech armor.

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  • $\begingroup$ This would not be a great idea if the thing supporting the armor was very fragile. Mech armor is a better idea. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 27 '16 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist Yeah, I was thinking about it being more of an exoskeleton for just that reason, so that was why I ended on the mech exoskeleton. Since OP said they should have armor, I thought to provide some possible traditional light-weight armor solution, in case it can be worked into the plot somehow. But I agree, everything is better with mechs! :D $\endgroup$ – Thom Blair III Dec 27 '16 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ It's a thin line between mechs and exoskeletons. The main issue is that the impulse-absorption systems have to be completely dissociated from the operator in either case. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 27 '16 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ Mech Armor is always a good idea! $\endgroup$ – X-27 wants to Reinstate Monica Dec 27 '16 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MadPhysicist That's why I was thinking of some kind of shock absorption system inside the armor/mech like the hamster ball here: thisiswhyimbroke.com/human-hamster-ball $\endgroup$ – Thom Blair III Dec 27 '16 at 22:11
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Don't go into battle and forget armour -- and use an 'underground' and terrorist-types of retaliation and fighting? Suicide bombers, mines (if you have gunpowder) or deep pits lined with stakes , stealth and intelligence? Draw armies into areas where the smaller Lokk could fight? In the booby-trapped trees, in a valley where there's a natural barrier that allows few Lotl through at a time and the sheer numbers of Lokk to Lotl evens the field. Perhaps a poisoned food or water supply, even poisons that the Lokk, though physically weaker, were immune to? Use natural elements like fire to fight? Or build a dam and let it open to kill thousands of the enemy? Push the enemy off of cliffs? Poison darts?

I like the idea, but not the armour.

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Animals and engineers.

Taking out swathes of your enemy implies some way to project force to more than one enemy at a time. We're not talking about raging berserkers here. (If you were thinking raging berserkers, the premise itself is flawed. Use ranged weapons. Use a longer pokey-stick. Whatever.)

Animals give you an organic buffer between you and your attacker. War dogs go back to classical times and were moderately effective as a means to disrupt an organized front line. No organized front line, no coordinated attack, more effective missile troops and long pokey-sticks. Your world might have larger animals that can be trained as easily as dogs, and I'm not about to fight the army with a front line of war triceratops. Mounts change your attack surface. Are they killing squishies by rolling logs downhill? An elephant won't care as much and provides some cover for missile troops.

Engineers give you a better battlefield and siege engines. Dig a ditch. Run some wire. Put a wooden wall on wheels. Cover your head with a roof like a medieval battering ram. Put a team of mules inside a light siege tower in lieu of elephants. Whatever makes sense to deal with the scary smashy weapon.

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You didn't mention much about what kinds of weapons these species have, even by mentioning the medieval era, so it's hard to give precise answers.


If these species are too weak for normal heavy armor, what about "spiked armor?"

There are many animals in our world that are covered in spiky hairs known as "Quills" or "Spines" to protect themselves, most notably Porcupines, and Hedgehogs

Porcupines are rodentian mammals with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that protect against predators.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porcupine

In a zoological context, a spine is a hard, needle-like anatomical structure. Spines are found in a wide range of animals both vertebrate and invertebrate.

In most spiny mammals, the spines are modified hairs, with a spongy center covered in a thick, hard layer of keratin, and a sharp, sometimes barbed, tip.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spine_(zoology)


Here are a couple of videos showing how a Porcupine defends itself, and more information on the quills.

https://youtu.be/4U-u4CsnygA?t=42s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37mB2n9Rozw

So what can you do to your story?

  1. You could change elements of the Lokk in your story so that they are born with spines.

  2. You can have the Lokk find a way to produce armor with light spines that can aid in battle.

The issue comes with what weapons the Lotl have, and how strong the Lokk's spines are. You could technically make extremely strong spines that wont be broken by swords, and can pierce armor.


EDIT 1: Since @Rick Ryker mentioned that the spikes could contain poison, I should note that there are many ways that these spikes could contain any amount of nasty in them.

For example you could have spikes containing

poison,

acid,

flesh eating bacteria,

tranquilizer/stun,

a viral attack,

or even a parasitic attack that overtakes the host.

Another thing that could be noted is that they also could have other sort of abilities, such as being able to spin webs like spiders, or even crazier abilities such as Planaria's ability to be cut in half and regenerate into 2 separate beings (would make them very overpowered then, but just giving an example).

You also could make it so that they are able to breed in crazy high numbers and their numbers make them strong. For instance, the Army Ant is tiny and could be crushed easily by us humans, but an army of them have been known to take down humans easy.


Essentially, just because they are weak structurally, doesn't mean they couldn't have an ability that makes up for their weakness, just like the many animals in our world.

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  • $\begingroup$ If the underlying skeleton is weak, the creature will die even with the strongest of unobtanium spines. In fact, the spines will contribute to this death by transmitting any impact more directly without absorbing it. If you had very flexible spines that acted as a bumber of sorts, you might be onto something. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 27 '16 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ How will the enemy be able to kill the spiked creature? You need to be able to crush it, or possibly shoot it with an arrow (if it makes it through the spines), so to kill it will take a lot of work, and the other creature might not be able to live through trying to kill it. All of these creatures that have spikes are weak creatures themselves, and the spines are their protection for a reason. $\endgroup$ – XaolingBao Dec 27 '16 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ The point of the spines is not to protect that individual from being killed by a predator - with or without a long reach ('hit it with a stick'), but to dissuade any predator from killing the NEXT ONE of that type of prey, because being reckless and getting too close to a prey animal that has spines or quills HURTS. Now add in poison of some kind and you just ruined someone's day. $\endgroup$ – Rick Ryker Dec 28 '16 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ How do the two species adapt to their environments? Why are the Lokk more lightweight and frail? Can the Lokk live in environmental areas inherently more dangerous to the Lotl than the Lokk? What is the size ratio between the Lokk and the Lotl? It appears everyone assumes they are the same size and weight. Is one species inherently larger, taller, wider, heavier than the other? Longer lived? Can one species replace their numbers quicker than the other? Is one species more prolific than the other? If the Lokk are much smaller and reproduce faster, then use swarm tactics. Like vermin or insects. $\endgroup$ – Rick Ryker Dec 28 '16 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ @RickRyker glad you understand about the spikes, and good mention about poison, I was thinking about added features, but not sure if it's something the OP wants. I will add in some additional information since you commented on it. I also agree with your assessment about us not knowing that much about these creatures, and that it would be beneficial to learn more about them to create the best scenario. $\endgroup$ – XaolingBao Dec 28 '16 at 23:46
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Focusing on deflection could give them a chance - highly angled and curved plates could improve survivability by hoping to turn a blow rather than absorbing any impact (cushioning the impact with padding would be far too cumbersome and interfere with movement to remain effective themselves). A solid hit would still be deadly, so seek to deflect and only take a glancing hit.

That said, armor is not a good solution here - the key is to avoid actual melee combat when at all possible. Easily broken bones should never be in a position to be struck in the first place. Shields will likely just break your shield arm, and armor is great at preventing cuts but the kinetic energy of blows will still wound the body underneath (hence why hammers and poleaxes became so popular as armor got better, though thrusting with a point to get through a vulnerable spot remained a favorite).

Two basic strategies come to mind:

The first is the use of light cavalry as mounted archers (if possible). Heavy cavalry is not advisable as any melee is going to significantly stress the skeleton, but hit and run tactics focusing on archery and tent-pegging (emphasizing mobility to run in and make a quick attack in passing) should be highly effective. They could harass the enemy support troops, hinder logistics, or just tire the enemy through being a constant annoyance slowly bleeding them which cannot be caught. Though this would be an effective way to weaken an enemy over time, it will not take/hold ground or survive long in the thick of fighting.

The second strategy will be the core of the combat - pike squares. These would be blocks of lightly armored troops wielding long spears, relying upon keeping the enemy at distance and defense in depth (especially pertinent here as such melee combat would still put comparatively little stress on their fragile bones). If gunpowder arms are available, the pike and shot method would be ideal, but infantry of pikes supplemented by light cavalry should prove effective.

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Micheal Richardson hit on some of it, but I think everyone's missing the fact that this species can have a great tactical advantage that they're not using: lighter bone structure.

Seriously, think birds in that they're extremely weak against blunt force (die by running into windows) but their agility is something we can't match.

Your species should not be donning any armor (besides maybe leather to protect from enemy ranged weapons) and should be fighting in forests and from the tops of trees. Their lighter frame and bone structure should mean they can safely move in the higher tree branches without breaking them and can thus move more easily out of range. Guerrilla warfare is their friend.

They should also never engage in open-field warfare except with ranged weapons in a fight and flee scenario with traps and specific fallback points and even then, their lighter frame is definitely not suited for what humans typically use as military strategy for war.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice one. But if they fall from the trees... splat! Try makeshift wings made of something light. $\endgroup$ – KingraHoundoomJazz Feb 11 '17 at 1:01
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Ride something like a horse or elephant, and have a heavy shield attached to the saddle to give you more protection than you would be able to lift in your weak little arms. This will, with some luck, allow you to complete a charge without being taken out by arrows on the way. Maybe give the animal a little armour at the front as well if you want it to survive first contact with the enemy.

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  1. Unobtanium

Tolkien's hobbits wore mithril, a super light and super hard metal. The Lokk might have access to large quantities of such a material and could armor an army with it.

  1. Super Advanced Old Technology

The first carbon fiber was produced in the mid-1800's. The greatest Lokk inventor perhaps figured out how to spin coal ash into a hard but brittle thread, and applied a resin coating to form the substance into a plate. The result is a hard and lightweight but brittle material that can take a punch or two before it shatters. You might add a thick fabric behind it to provide a little protection against piercing weapons.

The difficulty in lots of modern technology isn't necessarily the fundamental idea, but rather the prerequisite scientific understanding or the development needed to make something practical at a large scale. Neither things most readers care about. Lots of similar technologies exist.

  1. Super Advanced Old Technology 2

Large quantities of Aluminium were not available until after the invention of the Bayer Process in the late 1800's. The Bayer Process itself was discovered by accident. The Lokk could have had that accident much earlier, or they might have access to native (pure) aluminum deposits.

Aluminum is a relatively strong metal (although we usually use it in thin sheets, so it might not seem like it), but not quite as strong as steel. By density, aluminum is about 3 times lighter than steel. According to various rules of thumb I found online:

  • If a medieval set of steel plate armor weighed about 110 pounds, then an aluminum version would be about 75% as strong but only weigh 36 pounds.
  • An equally strong set of aluminum plate armor would be a little bulkier, and weigh about 55 pounds
  • Aluminum is more malleable than steel. This would make it less effective versus blunt weapons and somewhat more less effective versus piercing weapons, since the metal deforms easier. On the flip side, the material is easier to craft with and repair, and can be formed into more complex shapes.

It is relatively abundant as well.

  1. Super Advanced Old Technology 3

Titanium in this context would be similar to the above discussion of aluminum. It became viable to produce in bulk in the early 1900's through a directed research program in chemistry. Titanium is about half as dense as steel, but is about as strong. If a medieval suit of plate armor weighed about 110 pounds, then the titanium version would weigh about 55 pounds but be dimensionally similar (unlike aluminum, which would be bulkier).

One big caveat about titanium is that it would be significantly harder to work with. Not that your medieval Lokk would be welding, but titanium welding must be done in an inert atmosphere (argon or nitrogen) or else chemical corrosion will embrittle the material. It can actually be shaped similar to stainless steel, but readers might assume that titanium simply can't be worked by hand.

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Lightweight Materials

Bamboo, wood, splint armor or slat armor (made with metal, wood, or other materials), or even bone were all common armor materials at points in time. Raymond E Feist's Riftwar saga makes use of lacquered wood on the invading foot soldiers, though this was more due to lack of materials than strength requirements. The same could work here though.

Shape Matters

Reading up on Kendo armor, the chest/belly plate is crafted with a bulge to specifically direct forces away from areas of weakness. The same application can be used to craft your armor to spread the impact force out, making it less likely to break specific areas.

The main component of the dō is the gently curving stomach and chest protector. The modern form has a pronounced bulge to help direct the force of strikes away from the soft areas in the middle of the torso.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C5%8Dgu#D.C5.8D

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Massive, technological advantages. Also many people and/or animals like horses. I had to take some educated guesses as to what they have available. The basic idea here is ancient Egyptians built great pyramids with primitive tech like wheels,pulleys,levers, and fulcrums so these people should be also to handle heavy items one way or another.

  1. Heavy carts and wagons can be pull with animals if you have the right kind.
  2. Series of pulleys will allow them to lift and move things they can't.
  3. Levers and fulcrums, and etc.

They will need to move, and place great walls around their kingdom so they can't be easily over run. While the wall is being built 10's of thousand of your guys will be killed during its construction, because it wasn't built in advance.

The wall will need to have 1000's of bow and arrow barrage firing mechanisms that can be loaded and pull back with pulleys and levers(block and tackle) or whatever. Several adults may still be needed to pull back on the bow and arrows(fire if possible) and/or crossbows. A way to quickly reload the arrows, either teams of 20 or more people or some kind of automation.

Your going to need tons of automation to produce the require arrows made out of wood or steel. Catapults and the like. Through a series of primitive conveyor belts they will have to keep the arrow coming. They will need to be able to carry and move things the people are not capable of carrying or moving. Powered by horses/people/animals on treed mill like devices.

You will need wheels and strong axles so you can make heavy tanks that can be pulled with teams of horse, people or etc. Of course, the protection surrounding the people/horse would add a lot of weight but its only way you would survive.

Possibly, dozens of gerbil wheels with people running inside of them to help provide movement.

Again, once cannons were in place, pulleys/levers/etc would have to be used so they could load, and aim them. You probably need 1-2 loading,1-2 aiming, and probably 1 could fire. So teams of 5.

Build on a hill so you can flood it with water, making moving through the mud harder. Can you make some quick sand traps? If cold is available make it so icy they can't climb it.

Traps of all kinds.

Primitive flame throwers.

It would be best if they could build primitive combustion engines with gunpowder, but probably unlikely.

If they could make white phosphorus weapons, certainly a boon.

Equipment with spinning blades,knives,arrows, or anything sharp.

Poison and plague delivery like poison arrows and animals infected with the black death or whatever flung at them. Again levers,pulleys,fulcrum will be need so these weak people can load them.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Hopefully having 200 people pulling one of these thing will toughen them up so that generation 2 dna is more focused on strength." - That's not how evolution works. You can't change DNA of an creature by making it workout. $\endgroup$ – Neberu Dec 29 '16 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, then the strongest need to have the most children with we use the darwin theory. Delete above statement. $\endgroup$ – cybernard Dec 29 '16 at 2:04
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The Lokk do not fight a head-to-head war with the competent and more durable Lotl. That would be silly. Instead, the weaklings fight the war the Ferengi way. By financial attack.

  1. The Lokk engage in economic warfare in order to slowly drain the coffers of the Lotl. They can put tolls on bridges, fund piracy and banditry, and undercut markets where the Lotl are weak but dependent. If nothing else, all these things are distractions and may cause rivalries within the Lotl to erupt into conflict.

  2. Surely the Lotl don't have a single homogeneous empire, especially with medieval technology, but a loose kingdom of envious rivals. Find the most greedy, ambitious rival and make an alliance. They provide troops that the Lokk cannot. The Lotl will provide the funding and perhaps gain territory.

  3. If the Lotl economy is based on gold, the Lokk dump gold to drive the value down. Now prices go up, the balance of power in the Lotl ruling houses might change. Normal people can't afford anything. Social stress is accomplished.

  4. If this sort of thing is known, Lokk operatives secretly deposit the seeds of non-indigenous invasive plants or foods known to have mold/diseases that affect the Lotl food sources. The point here is to create stress after a winter or two.

But you never said why the Lokk want to go to war...

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I have 5 Ideas: 1: Once, in medieval England, the king hosted a practice tournament for his knights. The knights used boiled leather for armor, which is hard but light.
2: Wooden shields. Light but effective. Wood is pretty hard.
3: Long-ranged weapons. It doesn't matter how not-tough the Lokk are if the Lotl can't touch them at all.
4: Traps. Maybe a large group of Lokk throwing rocks or taunting to Lotl, with a deep ditch dug between them, covered with sticks and mud.
Will edit this question if I get more ideas. 5: Don't attack them at all. Send wild animals or even just roll some rocks down a hill at them.

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A species that is weak to blunt force strikes is common, but let's say they're weaker than humans, which doesn't really matter. Armor itself if around 50lbs and lighter than you think.

Blunt Force Trauma Armor is what you would consider "light." Gambisons and such are just stitched together fabric which lightens the blow of blunt force strikes on the body and stops cuts fairly well. So I don't what the issue is.

Heavy armor deflects cuts and blunts the points of piercing weapons. Wearing such armor actually makes Blunt Force strikes worse in some cases.

Most people fought in Light Armor with Maille over it which is far less than 50 pounds. If they are the same size as Humans, but weaker by 50% I'm pretty sure this would still be light enough for them to use so I don't know what the issue is.

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The Emperor has spoken. He wants armor, not alternative solutions, so he gets armour.

The challenge here seems to be quite a specific one about protection from blunt impact weapons to prevent bones being broken. The nearest human equivalent has been the need for protective helmets -- not military ones (which are geared to prevent penetration by high-velocity fragments and bullets) but sporting ones.

The good news here is that helmets are not made of metal or anything heavyweight. You can do anything with suitable biologically-sourced materials from the bark and leaves of your special armor-tree.

Typically such protection has two layers. The outer shell may be rigid (eg carbon fiber) or, more likely these days, something which deforms on impact. The inner layer with be a material which absorbs impact. In either case, there are versions which deform once and then need to be replaced (like cycling helmets) and those which bounce back and can be reused (like football helmets).

NB such armor is not as effective against pointy things, but that was not in the spec, your highness.

Details will depend on what body parts need protection - I assume head and abdomen/thorax - but I would suggest a medium-sized lightweight shield, used to deflect blows, and layered armor as described over the vulnerable parts.

And, if one may suggest, long pikes would mean said enemy would not get close enough to use a blunt melee weapon.

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If you want to stick to armors, how about a lot of spring-like structures sticking out of it? It'll absorb shock from the opponent's attacks. To deal with thrushing, the springs are covered with oil which makes the blade slip. You can make the base armor with light weighted materials such as aluminium, titanium, fiber reinforced plastic, bamboo like others suggested.

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