Armour absorbs damage from successful strikes and deflects those blows that would have made a glancing blow. Armour is split into 3 varieties which perform different functions. Different weapons work best against different types of armour. Chain mail if almost proof against a slashing sword blow yet provides little protection against a mace, or other bludgeon weapon, similarly war arrows are designed to pierce chainmail splitting the rings. Plate armour, the most highly sought after may be proof against arrows at long range and swords but maces transfer the shockwave to the internal organs pulverising them without touching them and the battle-axe spike backed by a heavy head pierces plate armour like butter.

See the Medieval Combat Guild for a good description of armour.

Note: there seems to be as many types of armour (and weapons) and ways of wearing it as there are answers to a typical google search. All I'm trying to do here is devise a system that works.

Armour Type


Boiled Leather

Metal breast plate


Mail Hauberk

Coat of Plates

Def mod
Thrust /
/ chop
 Unarmoured 1-10
 Leather / Padded / Furs 1-9
 Boiled leather 1-9
 Scale 1-9 -2 -5' 1/2 3/4 3/4
 Mail 1-9 -2 -5'
 Plate 1-10
Helms and metal add ons
 Small helm 10
 Medium helm 10
-0.5 ranged (spot)
 Great helm 10 -1 ranged (spot)
 Shoulder... (pauldrons) 9 -1 for 2+ locations
-2 for 6+ locations
for 5+
 Gauntlets / Bracers 8
 Breast plate (Metal) 4-7
 Thighs (cuisse) 2-3
 Boots / Greaves 1

Plate Armour


Shield Move Melee defence Ranged defence #


0 +1 -
Medium -5' +1 +1


Metal armour is not silent and cannot be made silent (bar a silence spell), that's why people (thieves) wear leather or padded. Metal armour squeaks, rattles and makes noise against your other equipment.


The defence mod is also applied to athletics checks (those requiring full body dexterity such as acrobatics and climbing.). Helms affect your spot skill so indirectly affect ranged defence.

§ Medium helms and better give disadvantage or worse to all alertness checks.

# Includes ranged spell attacks and (most) AoE spell effects originating from a point (e.g. fireball but not lightning bolt). The bonus assumes you have spotted the incoming and are trying to take cover behind the shield.

Most races have a base 20' - 25' movement, armour (including add-ons) hinders this.

* Add-ons

Most armour comes in parts, it is assumed that when you buy armour you choose to buy the bits to cover all your body, you may choose otherwise. Add on parts must be worn on top of at at least padded armour. In general characters will either wear plates in all locations or choose only a breastplate.

Metal add-ons are heavy, shoulders, breastplates, arms and leggings typically 2.5-5kg each per location (2 arms = 1 location).

Metal add-ons (including helms) are heavy and make it more difficult to manoeuvre. Except for helms they must be placed over chain (or they would be less effective).

Bits not included

If you don't have some bits of armour the defence penalty may be reduced however as add-ons (generally) need to be worn over something; you can't just add greaves without padding underneath so with add-ons there is no modification.

If you truely are wearing nothing then the modification is according to the type of armour and the amount removed.

Armour locations

Armour may cover different areas of the body depending upon the type. Helms are included of the appropriate type but are often supplemented with greater protection.

Location Roll
Head 10
Arms 9
Shoulder 8
Chest 6-7
Abdomen 4-5
Thighs 2-3
Lower legs 1

Note : Many non-naturally armoured monsters do not cover their shins with anything more than light leather as this would restrict their movement.


Helms Spot check / Ranged defence
Head Coverage
Small 0 60%
Medium -1 80%
Great -2 100%

Creatures struck on the head and suffer damage must make a Stun (endurance) save. The maximum effect is limited by the amount and type of damage, as helms reduce the damage then the effect is weakened.

Most Helms provide better armour reduction than normal as they are designed to protect a sensitive area. Other types of damage cause manly scars to reminisce over if you ever make it to an old soldier.

Archers don't like helms as they reduce vision. Archery feats are not possible with helms on.

Armour effectiveness

Physical Weapon damage

Damage factor
Damage taken Damage pattern
Double damage x2
1.5 Plus 50% damage (round down) x1.5
Normal damage X X X X
Take every 2nd point - X - X - X
Take every 3rd point - - X - - X - - X
Take every 4th point - - - X - - - X - - - X

Always ignore damage before taking any when wearing armour, this reflects the better base absorbtion of thicker armour.

Thus plate against a sword only takes a fifth of the damage so the character only suffers the fifth point taken


However against a club it only absorb half the damage so :

Armour has a different effectiveness against each weapon style. There are three types of weapon

Each fighting style is more or less effective against different armour. Slashing swords are easier to use and great for parrying but almost ineffective against chainmail or better armour, maces and hammers smash the force of the blow through armour without puncturing it, the shockwave causing the damage whilst piercing weapons puncture the armour.

Melee piercing weapons cause the opponent to expend stamina dodging the blows as they know that their armour won't deflect the blow. Remember that if an arrow pierces the mail much of the force of the blow will have been dissipated and it may well just get caught in the padding underneath.

Against magic

Armour provides no bonus against magic (except elemental magic which is counted as the elements) or is of a specific type (e.g. bludgeon).

Against the elements

Different types of main body armour are effective against different elements. This is only against direct area blast effects. The armour covering the chest is used as the base type. Breast plates add-ons do not affect the save as they leave many gaps. The padded under metal armour is too thin to have a noticeable benefit.

Armour vs the elements
  Absorption Protects against
Leather 1/2 Fire,
Padded/silk 1/2 Cold
Metal 1/2 Lightning

Body armour

Most towns do not permit the wearing of armour within the walls unless you are noble, have been given the freedom of the town or are part of the guard. It must be packed up before entering the gates.

Wearing armour helps you absorb damage, the amount absorbed depends upon the weapon type, bludgeon, slashing or piercing. Any but the lightest will affect your athletics ability.


Most places only stock armour for typical humans off the shelf, anything else will have to be made specially or altered from existing stock.

Armour descriptions


Flexible armour such as leather or chain helps against slashing weapons as it spreads and distorts with the force without penetration. Against bludgeon weapons it is less effective as much of the impact shock will penetrate and pulverise internal organs.


Hard armour such as boiled leather or metal chest pieces are more effective against bludgeon weapons as the impact is spread over the whole body.

Padded / furs

Padded or quilted Padded armour is constructed of an outer fabric, 2 layers of padding fabric and a lining fabric, stitched together with either horizontal, vertical, checked or diamond patterning. The barbarian/monster equivalent of padded is furs. They have the same characteristics.

Silk armour is a light for of padded that stops you getting too hot in deserts or other hot climes

Boiled Leather

This is multiple smaller harder pieces of leather sewn or riveted together providing protection to the upper half of the body. Triangular or half diamond studs may be present turning it into studded leather.


This is light mail which either was worn as a hauberk covering the torso, upper legs and upper arms or as a full suit. Although heavy it is flexible allowing and the weight is well distributed (shoulders, arms and waist if a belt is worn) causing a minimal restriction to movement. It is designed to deflect the glancing blows of swords and is an excellent defence.

Mail may be bought off the shelf, it causes a -1 dexterity modifier but is 10% cheaper. Mail made to measure has no modifier.


Scale armour comprises many small scales (often of iron but varied according to the material available from cuir bouilli to horn ) attached to a backing material of either leather or cloth.

Scale armour offers the same protection from blunt attacks as mail. It is also cheaper to produce but it isn't as flexible and doesn't offer the same amount of coverage.

Nobody makes scale any more

Plate armour

This is a fully interlocking made to measure suit of armour plates providing complete protection to the whole body. Only master armourers can make plate armour, even then it can take up to 6 months with several fittings required. Be careful not to put on any weight or the armour will no longer fit.

It requires 30 minutes and a squire to help you put it on. You cannot sleep in plate armour.

Plate armour is immune to arrows (except in special circumstances such as if the arrows go through the cracks).

Helms, Breast Plates, Legs and Arms

Helms are worn to protect the vulnerable head area. The absorption of the helm is only considered when a wound is done directly to the head. With the covering of the head the perception of the person wearing the helm is reduced.

Small Helm

Medium Helm

Great Helm


Helms only cover a portion of the head dependent upon the type of helm. When a strike to the head occurs you must determine whether it hit the helm or your open face. If the strike was to the open face then the helm offers no protection.

Helms are so thick that they convert all wound points that would pass through to stamina points.

Any strike to the head may stun a character.

Breast Plates are worn to protect the vulnerable chest and abdomen area. The absorption of the plate is only considered when a wound is done directly to the chest. They only add to the protection of light leather, padded and mail body armour, other armour types already include a solid chest plate or equivalent.

Leg and arm protection was sometimes added separately which may be of a different type to the main armour. Typically it is plate armour covering only the front vulnerable part of the limbs.


Shields make it harder to hit somebody. By training in their use it is possible to increase their effectiveness.

Although shields provide coverage they can be large, bulky and unwieldy which makes it harder to do other tasks, medium and bigger shields limit a character's dexterity whilst large ones also reduce their attack skill as it is harder to reach the opponent.

Shields become less effective the better armour you wear as they don't provide much additional benefit over the armour.

Shield types

The Buckler

The arming sword and buckler was the most common combination for much of the middle ages in open battle as the speed and agility it gave outweighed the advantages of the greater coverage and weight of a medium shield.

The buckler was a small round, often metal shield which could be hung from a belt. This type of shield was reserved for hand-to-hand combat. The shields normally measured between 8 and 13 inches in diameter.
They were held in a fist grip rather than strapped on like shields
Many bucklers were pointed with a central tip or several smaller “teeth”. These points could be used offensively to great effect as well as aided in binding and deflecting an opponent’s weapon.

Medium shields

Both kite and heater style shields were made of several layers of laminated wood, with a gentle curve in cross section.

Type Description
Kite Rounded at the top of the shield and tapered at the bottom providing body cover.
Heater Strongly associated with jousting knights. These are smaller as they compliment full suits of armor and are suited to horseback
Targe The traditional Scottish / Viking round shield

Large Shields

Large shields are unwieldy and can only be used with spears, or other stabbing weapons such as short swords. They are not suitable for use with arming swords, axes, maces... really anything other than spears.

Type Description
Scutum The Roman Scutum served the purpose to deflect missiles targeted at the soldiers, as well as protect them from the impact of hand held weapons wielded at them. The shields large size allowed the soldiers to form a shield wall that could protect them during an advance.
Pavise The Pavise was the shield used by Crossbow men. This type of tall shield provided protection when reloading his crossbow

Shield construction

Shield construction started with the type of materials that would be required for a particular type of shield. These were chosen according to the style of combat and armor worn by the owner to determine the weight and style of the shields. Medieval shield construction used the following materials:

A Medieval shield construction might also include a strap called a guige that allowed it to be slung over the knight's back when not in use or on horseback