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Basic Information

Armour is material used as protection - whether worn on the body or attached to a vehicle - and in modern usage, "armour" can also mean vehicles protected by armour, or even military units equipped with armoured vehicles.

The design and construction of armour varies from age to age, from simple furs and skins protecting a stone-age tribesman, through medieval mail and plate armour and the ballistic vests of modern warriors to the power armour prevalent in science fiction.

Note that due to a bad frame of reference generated by "a certain fRPG" the word "mail" is overused in many of the armour descriptions, mainly for reasons of familiarity. Historically "mail1" meant chainmail … there were no other "mail" armours.

For most purposes, armour can be taken to include shields.

A maker and maintainer of armour is normally called an armourer or armoursmith.

Personal Armour:


Suits and types of armor:

Individual armor pieces:



Fantasy and Legend (including specific, named items):

Transport Armour:


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Different mechanical systems use armor in various ways. Some very light games ignore it all together, or use just one or two categories ("light armor" vs "heavy armor"). Others define each major piece, and make a mechanical distinction between materials used or body-parts covered. Some systems emphasize dodge and mobility at the expense of armor, and other systems flip that around to make layers of steel more important than your movement rate. Know your rules, and let that guide you to the correct armor options for your setting.
    • Those playing crunchier systems may find that knowledge of your armor options can be very rewarding. If playing a system with critical hit or called shot mechanics, individual bits of armor might make all the difference, absorbing a blow and/or being knocked off during the heat of combat.
  • Individual armor pieces or styles, even if they have no mechanical impact, can be used to establish flavor, tech-levels, or identity.
    • Whether the invaders are a professional force or just a horde of rabble may be established by the armor they use, and it's relative (lack of) uniformity from invader to invader.
      • Of course, it's worth actually looking at the armour - high quality but diverse suits may actually indicate a warrior culture with a high degree of customisation and personalisation rather than a mixed rabble wearing odds and sods of gear.
    • A special elite unit might have a particular sigil or emblem on their helms or other armor component. The queens guard are known as the Violet Vambraces, or some such.
      • Such special armors might be a warning cue that this particular bar brawl will be tougher than normal.
      • On a more cerebral note, such uniform armor may be a clue to a murder mystery if (for example) a bit of violet enamel is left at the crime scene from when the victim fought back against their assailant.
    • Material or style may reinforce cultural or racial details.
      • The elves may use enchanted wood instead of metal because they have moral objections to mining.
      • The goblins may have beaten bronze and raw iron, but lack the secret of forged steel.
      • Orcs may like big bulky pauldrons studded with spiky bitz.
      • Maritime cultures will tend towards lighter armors that are less likely to pull you beneath the waves.
      • Fighting styles may also have an influence - the orcs may favour spikes because they have an aggressive melee style that includes a lot of grappling and body slams, dwarven armour may be spartan to reduce the number of parts that could tangle with your neighbour in close formation tunnel fighting and elves may wear armour that enables a fast moving, dynamic and mobile practice.
  • Many fRPGs present the stuff like a buffet, typically with effect based pricing in place to indicate the order of preference. In reality, not all armours were available at all times, either because they had not been invented or were effectively obsolete or because they simply weren't produced by the reference culture.
  • In a zombie apocalypse, being bite-proof would be a major advantage, as long as it didn't make you slower than the zombie hordes. Such a game may benefit from hit location rules and piece-meal armor systems.
  • New break-throughs in offensive technology (whether the invention of the gun or the dissemination of a new spell throughout a magical college) may necessitate or provoke changes in defensive technology. If the game is set in the late Renaissance, for example, Knightly charges in full-plate armor are giving way to massed peasants with muskets. That sort of game-changing tech transition in the middle of a campaign could be very interesting to play through. Or very annoying, depending on how much the PCs spent on their now obsolete armor.
  • Note that pretty much all armour is uncomfortable and tiring to wear and few fRPGs reflect this effectively given that any character qualified to use the stuff tends to wear it like a set of street clothes. Historically men that spend long periods in armour (e.g. during a siege) tended to end up with galls and pressure sores. Fantasy societies also tend to be unrealistically tolerant of people wandering about in armour - in most times and places, wearing armour would be the sign of someone expecting a fight and, as in the modern era, might be expected of law enforcement and frowned on in anyone else.
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