WARNING: Outdated Rules
The rules in this section have become obsolete following the recent rules overhaul. The most current version of the rules are those included in the Core Rules section of this website.
Just as characters use weapons to increase the damage they deliver, they wear armor to reduce the damage they receive. But the protection armor affords doesn’t come for free—armor can be heavy, and may restrict the character’s movement and vision.
Non-magical armor comes in three grades: Light (padded cloth, leather), Medium (typically chainmail or scale armor), and Heavy (typically plate-and-mail or full plate). Not surprisingly, the heavier the armor, the better protection it affords, and the greater the penalties it inflicts.
In most cases, when a character takes damage, his armor reduces the amount of damage he takes by the amount listed on the Armor Table under Damage Adjustment. For example, Keen wears leather, which is Light Armor; if an orc hits her for 4 points of damage, she’ll only take 3, since her Light Armor carries a Damage Adjustment of -1.
Brawn minimum and armor penalties
The awkwardness of armor is expressed in the game as a Modification to Finesse, and an Adjustment to Brawn Checks. (Yes, the game impact of the penalty to Finesse is greater than that of the penalty to Brawn on purpose!) In each case, the amount of the penalty is determined by comparing the character’s Brawn to the Brawn minimum for the armor. If the character meets the Brawn Minimum, he may wear it without penalty. But if he does not possess the requisite Brawn, he suffers penalties to Brawn Checks and Finesse equal to the armor’s Brawn Min minus the character’s Brawn.
For example, Keen wears light armor (Brawn Min 6) and has a Brawn of 6 herself, so her Finesse is not Modified by an armor penalty, nor are her Brawn Checks. Fustus wears light armor as well, but his Brawn is only 5—one short of his armor’s Brawn Min of 6. Thus, Fustus suffers a -1 Modification to Finesse while he wears that armor (which changes his Finesse Check and Effect dice), and a -1 Adjustment to all Brawn Checks he makes.
The table lists values for the Size value of armor in each category, as well as the Size of a full Helm appropriate for each category. These values will be more fully explained in the Gear rules. For now, just know that the Size of armor is irrelevant while it’s being worn. Size only matters for armor and helms that are being carried in the character’s inventory.
Armor isn’t perfect; it has gaps and openings which occasionally allow a weapon to strike the wearer’s unprotected body directly. The most obvious vulnerability is the face and neck; the default armor configuration in the game assumes an armored cap or open-faced helmet, not a full helm. A very lucky hit can inflict damage directly upon the target, in a spot where the Defender’s armor doesn’t mitigate it. This happens whenever the Attack roll exceeds the Defense roll 4 or more. In such an event, the Defender’s armor affords no protection, and the Defender suffers the full, unadjusted damage from the attack.
For example, Lunk swings at an orc in chainmail. He rolls his Brawn Check in the attack Attempt, and scores a 12; the orc’s Finesse Check to defend comes up a 7. Lunk has beaten the orc by 5 (12 – 7 = 5), exceeding the +4 necessary to bypass the orc’s armor. The unfortunate monster takes the full 1d8 damage from Lunk’s attack, without any protection from his chainmail.
Adding a Helm to your armor
A more complete set of armor, signified by the addition of a full helm to the character’s equipped gear, makes it much harder for attackers to hit an unarmored location. If a character wears a full helm along with his armor, any Attack roll must exceed his Defense roll by at least 7 in order to bypass his armor. Thus, if the orc in the previous example had worn a full helm (a chain coif, in this case), Lunk’s 5-point margin in the Attack would not have been sufficient to bypass the orc’s protective chainmail.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Wearing a full helm restricts a character’s vision and hearing to some degree, resulting in a -2 Adjustment to all Awareness rolls. Most parties make a compromise, putting a heavily-armored warrior out front with a full helm, while the lightly-armored rogue types in the second row go without a helm, ready to shout a warning when they spot a trap or ambush.