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Studded leather armor is a common item of equipment in most Fantasy Role-Playing Games.

Unlike leather armor, studded leather is made from soft unhardened leather. Your basic set of studded leather is a soft leather jacket with hundreds of metal rivets sewn into it. The rivets are what provide the protection, the leather itself exists merely as something to attach the rivets to. This form of basic armor provides good protection from slashing and cutting attacks. But is useless against bludgeoning weapons, and next to useless against arrows and other forms of piercing attacks.

Studded leather is very common among barbarians and the poor. Simply because it is very easy to make, even a simple housewife can make this armor with a day or two of work. Leather and rivets is the professional way to make this armor, but it is far from the only way to do it. Any sturdy cloth can serve as a base, and everything from standard rivets, to rings or even nails may serve as the studs. This armor is also very popular among sailors and pirates because it is the heaviest armor that still allows for easy swimming.

This armor does have the downside of wearing out rather quickly. Sweat and dirt have an effect on the leather similar to the effects it has on padded armor. While the studs tear out easily if the armor sees any real combat use. This armor has to be replaced frequently because it cannot be effectively repaired.

Historically, "studded leather armor" simply did not exist. While leather armor was used from prehistory until the 19th century, metal studs were never added as a form of protection. In all cases where studs are visible on leather armor, the studs represent either decoration or a method of fastening multiple layers together. The studs themselves were never intended as protection.

A few close styles of armor did exist:

- Leather was occasionally used as the outer layer of multi-layer armors such as the brigandine and the jack-of-plates, and the heads of nails were commonly visible on the outside of the leather.

- The "Coat of a Thousand Nails" was an Indian armor consisting of a waist- or knee-length coat of leather with an outer layer of velvet. Thousands of tiny brass nails decorate the garment, holding the two layers together. a few steel plates (4 to 6) are often attached to the outside of the garment to add additional protection.

In practical terms, adding a sprinkling of studs to a leather cuirass would add weight without adding protection. Worse, any hard blow would drive the studs into the wearer, causing increased damage.

The idea of "studded leather armor" is the creation of 19th and early 20th century historians who misinterpreted certain historical paintings and statuary. The idea was then popularized by Dungeons and Dragons, embedding it so deeply in the fantasy genre that it will never be removed.

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