Zenobia: Dreamers of the Day
Armor and fighting equipment
Armor and equipment of the time was very different from the days of the stereotypical lorica clad legions of the 1st and 2nd centuries. Such highly crafted armor was rare and almost impossible to attain for common adventurers. The mail shirt (now commonly called chain mail) was a simple but effective form of protection usually worn over a padded tunic or undershirt. Such extra padding could defend from sharp blows and prevent the mail from chaffing. Most mail shirts extended to mid-thigh or knee and the sleeves could reach elbow or wrist. Some soldiers and other heavily armed fighters may have worn a small plate of steel or bronze on the chest, often highly decorative, to add extra protection or to cover the ties that laced up the front of the mail. Scale and lamellar constructed armor was common, as it was slightly cheaper and faster to make than mail and provided comparable protection against blades and arrows.
Head protection had developed too from the galic-type helmets of the early empire. Helmets tended to be heavier and enclose more of the face than before. The iconic cheek guards of earlier styles now looked almost like visors covering all but the areas around the eyes and completely covering the ears. Mail and scale hoods, identical to the medieval coif may have been worn over the head instead of helmets which were often very heavy and made movement of the head difficult.
While artistic representations still depicted heroes and soldiers wearing classical style muscled cuirasses and Corinthian style helmets, such style was entirely ceremonial or simply hundreds of years outdated, as if a solider of the Second World War had gone into battle dressed like a trooper of the English Civil War. At the same time, a sword was a sword, and a Roman soldier of the 3rd century would have had no trouble identifying and using all the principle equipment of the Norman knight at Hastings a thousand years later.
Armor continued to be very expensive to produce and time consuming to maintain. A generic adventurer may not have had access to such protection and would have to make due with leather or cloth padding. A finely smithed sword could be a family heirloom or a generous gift by a patron or employer. However, if an adventurer stumbled across the scene of a battle between two armies, he or she might be able to scrounge enough military equipment to dress themselves in fine style.