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Arms, Armor, and Visibility

Although anybody may purchase weapons or armor, most people go about their daily lives unarmed. As a general rule, the more heavily armed and armored a person is, the more they stand out, and the more suspicion and distrust with which they are viewed. While traveling between towns, the suspicion and distrust is lessened, but by no means removed.

Lightly Armed

  • Lightly Armed: Carrying tools that could be used as a weapon: knife, dagger, hammer, hatchet, quarterstaff, etc.. While anyone may walk around lightly armed, usually people do not do so without a reason. Carpenters, blacksmiths, hunters, traveling merchants, nobles, lumberjacks, sailors, leather workers, and slavers are often lightly armed, among others.
  • Lightly armed individuals are permitted in almost all places, including bars, taverns, temples, shops and often secure facilities like keeps and castles. Lightly armed individuals might be asked to disarm themselves when meeting behind closed doors, with officials, or for matters of ceremony. While lightly armed individuals do not attract attention, they are more memorable than unarmed individuals, especially if involved in an altercation.

Armed

  • Armed: Unarmored, or lightly armored (studded leather or lighter) individuals who carry a side arm: short sword, scimitar, cudgel, etc.. Local watchmen, off duty soldiers and knights, messengers, military officers, nobles, and mercenaries often walk around town while armed. A general may wear a leather jerkin and a short sword while going about his official duties, saving his armor and longsword for ceremony and battle. The same general may have a few armed or heavily armed guards with him. Being armed is a sign that you are ready for a fight should it arise. It is not unheard of for towns to bar common citizens and visitors from being armed within the walls of the town.
  • Armed individuals of rank or status are permitted in all locations, but armed individuals of no significance may be barred from temples, taverns, bars, shops, and places where arguments often arise. Each place has their own rules about weapons, and one tavern may confiscate weapons on entry, while another may allow them. Armed people attract attention from everybody around them, even if it’s just a cursory glance.

Heavily Armed

  • Heavily Armed: Individuals who wear armor, carry shields, or carry weapons of war: Spears, two handed swords, crossbows, pole-arms, battle-axes, war-hammers etc.. Wearing armor, or being heavily armed, is a sign of wealth and power. Few people go about town heavily armed. Knights and mercenaries make up the majority of heavily armed individuals in times of peace. Being heavily armed draws a lot of attention, most of it negative or dangerous, and is a sign that you are looking for a fight.
  • Heavily armed individuals are often regarded with suspicion and are likely to be watched by guards or those assigned to keep the peace. They are commonly barred from shops, temples, taverns, or entire villages, towns or cities. Often these institutions will have a place for visitors to check their weapons. People may be uncomfortable talking with heavily armed individuals, or may see the signs of wealth and need to be bribed. Agents of the state, and those of rank or nobility enjoy the luxury of being heavily armed in public without restriction.

A mercenary escorting a merchant to town may travel the road in splint mail with a long sword, short sword, crossbow, dagger, and a shield. Upon arriving in town, and having no other duties, the same mercenary would be likely to drop their gear off at their inn, and go about town in leather armor and their short sword. This reduction in profile allows them to blend into society more easily. They can visit taverns, go shopping, and question people without raising too many suspicions. Heavily armed people asking questions are jet-fuel of rumor mills.