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Brigandine armor is a type of medieval armor and a common item of equipment in many Fantasy Role-Playing games.

This armor is a descendant of both scale mail and studded leather armor. A suit of brigandine armor begins with a soft leather coat, then a layer of small metal plates will be riveted to the leather. Finally an a third layer of either stiff cloth, or soft leather will cover the metal plates. This makes an armor with equal protection to scale mail, that weighs much less.

Brigandine armor is named for the brigand (a type of bandit). The armor is popular among the banditry because of its light weight, relatively quiet movement, and how it blends in. You see, brigandine armor does not look like armor from a distance, which is something that many thugs take advantage of.

This is also the best armor that many armorers can make, chain mail and more complicated armors are just beyond the skills of the average part-time armorer. It takes a skilled dedicated armorer to produce anything better than this. This may also be the best armor available in some RPG campaign worlds, particularly those that are based in the dark ages, the better armors simply may not have been invented yet.

Brigandine is sometimes called "Smuggler's Armor", because the multiple layers allow for all means of small items to be concealed. Many suits of brigandine will have several secret pockets, to even further allow for smuggling. Although the smart smuggler will hide his real stuff between the layers, while simply tossing a few copper coins in the secret pockets.

In fact, Brigandines are a decendant of the Coat of Plates of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. They consist of a foundation layer of heavy canvas or leather to which hundreds of small (~2 cm by 5 cm), overlapping metal plates are attached inside the garment. An outer layer of velvet or other fashion fabric was often added, as well as an inner lining to protect the wearer's clothing from the metal plates. Hardened leather plates were (very) occasionally used in order to make the armor lighter and cheaper. The word "brigandine" is most commonly used to describe a vest-like garment made in this fashion, but other garments of similar construction have been found. Early brigandines typically have fewer, larger plates while later ones have many hundreds of very small plates.

While a Coat of Plates was intended for the battlefield, brigandines were primarily intended for peacetime use. They were armor intended for travellers, late night errands and other dangerous activities. Some of the examples that have come down to us through the centuries are quite elaborate, having been made for kings or other important persons.

The Japanese brigandine is quite different. Rather than rivet rectangular plates to the fabric, tiny hexagonal plates are sewn in between two layers of heavy fabric. The fabric is quilted around each tiny plate, isolating each within its own little pocket. This provides less protection than the overlapping plates of the European brigandine, and was commonly used to cover portions of the body which were difficult to protect with solid plate armor.

This armor is of a completely different evolutionary line from scale armor, and "Studded leather armor" is a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy.

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