leather armor

how to become an unstoppable axe person in D&D 5e

Want to throw 9 handaxes in a single turn??? Do you want to be feared??? Here’s how.

Step 1: Pick the Fighter Class okay I know it sounds basic but trUST ME on this one
Step 2: Screw those Background items!! Screw those Class items!! You don’t need ‘em!! You have dice! And according to PHB Chapter 5 page 143 table 1 “Starting Wealth by Class” *ahem* that’s 5d4 x 10 GP worth of starting equipment. So what do you buy with
C: Axes. Hand. Axes.
(Okay so assuming the maximum GP (200), get some Leather or Hide armor (10 GP) because… I mean you probably want that and then spend the rest on handaxes.)
That’s 38 Handaxes
“But Luna!” you might ask, astounded by the multitude of crude axes I have hanging around my belt, “How do you carry all of those!”
(they weigh 2 pounds each and your carrying capacity is str score times 15 so like it’s almost impossible not to be able to)
STEP 4: Throw??? Them??? Just throw them. Recover them after the battle. Also, since they have the Light property, you can use two-handed fighting to throw two per turn!
“Okay what about that fighter thi–”Okay here’s the deal
Take the two-weapon fighting style so those Bonus Action axes get that sweet, sweet STR mod. If you want, you can become a Champion, get a second fighting style, pick Archery, and now you have accurate handaxes.

Now the real money here is “how many handaxes can I throw per turn?” Keeping in mind the Fighter’s Extra Attacks and Action Surge (Note: An action surge gives an extra action, and Extra Attacks are each time you take the Attack action, so keep that in mind), I’ve made this neat little visual.

1st level: 2 axes
1st level (Action Surge use): 3 axes
5th level: 3 axes
5th level (Action Surge use): 5 axes
11th level: 4 axes
11th level (Action Surge use): 7 axes
20th level: 5 axes
20th level (Action Surge use): 9 axes 

You are now a human(oid) machine gun of handaxes.
… One last thing: Take the Sharpshooter perk. Gets rid of disadvantage at long range, meaning you can throw 9 axes from 60 feet away.
Remember: With great power comes great responsibility. And at least 38 handaxes. Godspeed.

This costume has so many little details that were really fun to work on! My litmus test for every material I chose was, “can I make it shinier?” Almost every fabric, pigment or thread in this thing reflects the light in some way. I might have an addiction.✨

Photo by Ngo Photography
Costume made and worn by me

BBC’s The Musketeers and the Problem of Leather

Having just finished watching the first episode of BBC’s The Musketeers, I have to ask:

Are we seriously still on this leather armor thing?

Since the early 2000s we’ve seen a slew of “period” pieces in which misguided producers thought it would be a good idea to take the fashion sensibilities of The Matrix (already dangerously close to dated at the time of its own release) and apply those sensibilities to films set in the distant past.  And so you get movies like Van Helsing and King Arthur and Ironclad and Solomon Kane and dozens of other films in which pretty much all materials are replaced with leather.

Even Cardinal Richelieu is head-to-toe leather

Yes, leather has been used throughout history, often for clothing and armor.  But so has wool, so has linen, so has silk, so has oilcloth.  The way that leather is employed in the costuming of the overwhelming percentage of action movies that happen to be set in the past is not only wrong from every conceivable historical vantage point, but also from an aesthetic standpoint.  It doesn’t look cool.  It looks like what an out-of-touch middle-aged producer thinks teenagers will think looks cool.  And because of their ubiquity, these costume elements remove any chance of the film or show having a “look” of its own, a visual identity, and instead delegate it to be one of many that have interchangeable, forgettable art direction.

And worse than looking generic and anachronistic is the narrative shortcoming that they encourage.  The filmmakers, having what they think is a costume that conveys edginess and attitude (failing entirely to realize that it conveys neither because of its consistent and poorly executed overuse), allow themselves to be lax on actually developing that individual uniqueness and verisimilitude via the script.  It becomes all style and no substance and the films are subsequently immediately forgotten, if any notice is taken of them in the first place.

Each period in history has its own weird, unique, and genuinely awesome fashion elements that can be played up to great effect.  It’s such a shame to not use this, because it can tell you SO MUCH about the characters.

Let’s look at another film set within half a century of Musketeers: Shakespeare in Love

Using period-appropriate clothing, and more than that, the way that the characters choose to wear it, the filmmakers can illicit very specific responses to the characters from their audience.

Geoffrey Rush’s character is comic relief.  He’s an optimistic hard luck case, and his costume is a parody of the finery worn by Colin Firth’s character.  The great big round pants look silly, the weatherworn nature of his jerkin makes its silk finery into the 16th century equivalent of a tuxedo t-shirt.  The ballooned pants give him an almost stuffed-animal, cartoony quality.  This character can’t be taken seriously, and you shouldn’t take him seriously.

Similar is Colin Firth.  But his costume demands that it be taken seriously because it IS in good shape, and this does two things: first, it makes us think that he’s silly and vain (the care in which he obviously takes his appearance screams vanity), and second, it makes us question the social conditions in which such an outfit would be considered not only acceptable by enviable.  Our modern conceptions of what does and doesn’t make somebody look good are in play here in full force, and the filmmakers can use that to their advantage to make us think that any society that would put this git on a pedestal doesn’t have rules worth obeying, which is pretty key to accepting the conceit of the plot.

Seriously, that neck ruffle and the dangly pearl earring.  How could you NOT hate him on sight?

Now we have Will Shakespeare.  He has big pants, too, but big by their cut, not by the volume that they create.  They’re allowed to hang loosely on his legs, giving him a much slimmer appearance than the others.  He’s the only guy wearing leather, but it’s not to give him a generic warriorlike edge, it’s to evoke that cavalier blue-collar John-Travolta-in-Grease rebel look.  It’s period-appropriate, but more importantly it’s CHARACTER-appropriate.  It’s left unbuttoned, in the style of 20th century teen rebels, and his shirt is unbuttoned, too.  He strikes a slim cut to contrast the ballooned appearance of his contemporaries.  He looks like us, which is how and why we identify with him as a character so easily.

It’s the contrast that counts, not what you start with.

All of this is done within the framework of using period appropriate costumes.

Now look at these costumes from The Musketeers

Which one of these guys is the devil-may-care gambling dandy?  Which one is the religious ladies’ man?  Which one is the tortured soul alcoholic? 

They’re all wearing what is basically the exact same outfit the exact same way.  And so a great opportunity to convey huge amounts of information about the character, their personality, their social status, and their relationship to the audience is squandered.  It’s a disservice to the actors (especially in a show as well-cast as this one) to not allow them to garb themselves in the idiosyncrasies of their subject.  And all of this, while important to the nature of the narrative as a self-contained thing, completely ignores the possibly important fact that nobody in 1630 wore anything close to this sort of thing.

There’s often a fear on the part of folks making movies that we as an audience will see period clothing and think that it looks stupid, and that’s an understandable fear.  You’re putting a ton of money into these productions, and you don’t want anything, including the absurdity of some of the costume mores of history, to stand between your project and an enthusiastic audience.  But that viewpoint ignores the most basic and important principle of designing costumes based on historical clothing, and that’s that historical costuming for narrative is really all about SHAPE and HOW the characters wear the clothing.  You have take one outfit and make a dozen different shapes that tell you a dozen different things, giving volume to different parts as it suits your needs.  It can be worn a dozen different ways.  Catholic school outfits aren’t the only set of clothes that’s infinitely modular.


So enough with the leather.

Kalan is a hedonist. He’s a lecherous little drow who overindulges in any substance he can get, be it women, wine or other things. He’s boastful and arrogant with a lewd sense of humor. He’s friendly when he wants to be & threatening when he needs to be. In combat, he maneuvers through the battlefield with grace and unnecessary flourish, exuding confidence and laughing as he fights.

Kalan was born in the Underdark to a family on the verge of becoming a noble house. His family shot up seemingly from nothing. Envious of this small house’s newfound success, other families of note began to shift their plots and efforts towards the destruction of House Omolon. In a bloody affair, even by Drow standards, the other houses butchered everyone in Kalan’s household in a coordinated attack. Badly injured during the surprise attack, Kalan managed to slip away to the slums of the Underdark.

Hidden in poverty, away from the scheming and plotting that consumes the Drow high society, Kalan used this time to heal & plot his revenge. After some time he managed to track down the architect of the plot that destroyed his house, which he found out was his close friend and lover Vierna Naerth. With his dagger at Vierna’s throat, he couldn’t will himself to kill her. In a moment of compassion, he spared her life. Word spread of his actions & eventually reached the Drow High Clerics. Knowing they wouldn’t stand for this act of kindness, Kalan fled the Underdark.

Eventually, he ended up surface-side in the Waterdeep, where he was recruited by a small thieving crew. He was casing a tavern for a potential robbery when he crossed paths with the group of adventurers. Lured away by a noble in danger (mainly the rewards the noble would give), he accompanied them into Barovia.