Minions are sensitive creatures especially when wading into battle, simultaneously worried about drawing too much attention to their persons and resentful at being relegated to bland anonymity behin their standard-issue armor. Paying attention to the psychological effect of the rank and file is an important part of succeeding at the art of war, especially when the forces are going up against some physically scary-looking foe. In addition, the protective functions of the battle gear can be literally vital, and only the most foolhardy or the most sadistic of overlords would sacrifice his or her troops in exchange for a fashion statement.
- Research. The first duty of a battle gear designer is to research current trends and stay on top of predictions by experts in the industry, through newsletters and reports, through firsthand contact with cutting edge textile and composite manufacturers, and through industrial espionage. She or he must understand not only the way style shifts every season but also the latest developments in weapon research at labs worldwide, for to fall behind in this business can be messily fatal for those using the equipment, as well as personally humiliating.
- Sketches. Potential design ideas combining the freshest new trends with the best thinking as to possible threat profile countermeasures should be sketched loosely, either on paper on in software, to articulate the designer’s personal design aesthetic. The process of refining the preliminary sketches, tweaking the colors, overall weight, and survivability is best evaluated by placing the design in the context of the battlefield user’s they are targeting.
- Selection of materials. Body armor designed by the beginner can end up surprisingly expensive if you do not consider your materials budget carefully. Depending on the milieu where it is expected to perform its protective functions, a mixture of artificial high-tech materials and energy absorbing layers may be engineered to give the best performance for the weight at a reasonable cost, while still giving the outward appearance that harmonizes with the environment and time period of the campaign. Make sure that any exotic requirements such as items of alien or future-derived origin are sourced properly to support the expected manufacturing run.
- Fabrication. Ordinarily a specialized manufacturer is needed to have the battle gear produced to the necessary tolerances to meet the specification. The first couple of units should undergo rigorous testing, potentially to destruction, to scope out the limits of the protection capabilities and to establish the standards for wearability under stress. Incorporate any insights gained at this stage into the final mass production run with an eye to achieving better uniformity at lower cost.
Strokes of genius
- Shoulder pads. These confer an automatic +2 to machismo, even when applied to horses or inanimate objects. You may wish to incorporate compact missile launchers into the design in order to justify the conceit.
- Text. Among troops who are literate or semi-literate, a rousing catchphrase or cherished nickname clearly visible upon their bodies can be an asset binding the taskforce together and possibly distracting the enemy who may pause to read what the text says. Owing to their excessive verbosity, full-blown manifestos have no place on battle gear.
- The helmet. The casket shrouding the warrior’s head serves the dual function of warding off attack (whether these be impact, beam, or psychic in nature) and of conveying the soldier’s status to all onlookers whether friend or foe. Often personalized by its owner, it should avoid blocking the individual’s vision and other senses, provide some camouflage, and in extraterrestrial situations retain a breathable atmosphere for the duration of the mission.
- Variations. Depending on the composition of your forces, decide on the amount variation within the uniform's design. Males and females commonly require divergent patterns, as do aliens, shapeshifters, and incorporeal beings. Additional components to the uniform to acknowledge seasonal considerations as well as extreme climates and alternate dimensions should be factored into the mix as well.
- Boots. The foot soldier is called that for a reason. Blisters and trench foot can knock a fighting force down multiple levels to the point where a fresh but inexperienced foe might score an upset victory at an inopportune moment. This is not the place where the designer should be tempted to economize at the expense of function; indeed, it might be argued that every other element of the combat gear may be eliminated besides this one, as has been demonstrated by the numerous villains in the habit of fighting in a semi-nude state.
Traps for mere fools
- Excessive weight and bulk. Although difficult to quantify, mobility is a kind of armor itself, which one gives up when overencumbering an infantry soldier. If there is a critical need for hardened battle gear in your scenario, then it is better to take it to the extreme and mechafy the force so they resemble a mobile pillbox more than a garden-variety humanoid.
- Dry-clean only materials.
- Overreliance on sequins. They lose much of their appeal in dusty or foggy conditions, and look untidy once the user has engaged in strenuous enough activity to pop a significant number of them off.
- Ironic hipster-wear.
- Chinks in the armor.
- Roman gladiator sandals. One should only consider these if one were fielding a force of actual Roman gladiators.
Precious and needful
- Natural fabrics.
- Spiky, insectoid antennas. Even if not connected to any functional apparatus, these look cool.
- Articulated joints.
- Spare underwear.
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- Image credit BM180 Ceremonial Plate Armor by listentoreason
- Image credit Donning the armour by Doomster
- Image credit Self portrait with East German / Soviet respirator by macspite
Created by: . Last Modification: Sunday 28 of November, 2010 11:35:16 EST by .