Written by David Kuijt

All these armour rules are designed to be used with Hit Locations. If you aren't using Hit Locations, you can largely ignore this stuff.

Armour Encumbrance

Well-fitted armour is much less encumbering when worn than a similar mass that is carried in the arms or on the back. It is designed to spread the weight evenly, and not to interfere with the movement of joints.

The Encumbrance Table (page 150 of Champions) is appropriate for carried equipment, but is too severe for armour. For armour (even with the Real Armour Limitation), reduce the penalties of the table one level.

Finally, characters experienced in fighting in armour may have CSLs to counteract this (+1 DCV with the Limitation Only To Counteract Armour Dcv Penalties (-1), and OIF (Armour; -1/2), for 2 points each).

Simple Armour Encumbrance

Tracking exact encumbrance involves a lot of bookkeeping. As a simpler alternative, a GM may prefer to use the following system:

Full Armour is armour of metal (mail, plate, brigandine, or splint) or cuir boulli covering a total of 7 or more of the 13 non-head Hit Locations (i.e., ignoring Locations 3-5). This will almost always include Locations 9-13 in real (historical) armour.

Half Armour is armour of metal (mail, plate, brigandine, or splint) or cuir boulli covering between 3 and 6 of the 13 non-head Hit Locations (i.e., ignoring Locations 3-5). This will almost always include Locations 10-13 in real (historical) armour.

Cloth armour and other light armours provide no significant encumbrance.


Helmets with protection on Location 5 give no particular disadvantages. Helmets which protect Location 4 cause the user to suffer a -1 to PER rolls due to interference with hearing and field of vision. Helmets which protect Location 3 cause the user to suffer a -1 to PER rolls additional (total of -2 PER if Location 4 is also protected) When inside a full helmet it is fairly hard to see, hear, or smell anything going on outside.


Shields require WF: Shield to use effectively. A shield gives the user a DCV bonus against any opponent attacking from his front (only). It also gives him an OCV bonus for the Block maneuver, if using a Block the shield user will have an OCV and DCV bonus. Shields may be used as weapons, to smash an opponent. This use is included in the WF: Shield, and requires no additional training. Large shields are harder to use as weapons, but do more damage. The STR Min of shields applies to the damage they do as a weapon. If your STR is lower than the STR Min of the shield you may still use it defensively without penalty, save that you must pay extra END for it—1 END if you are up to 5 points of STR below the STR Min, 2 END if you are 6-10 points STR below the STR Min. You may not use a shield where you are more than 10 points STR below the STR Min of the shield.

Shield Type DCV Modifer OCV Modifer To Block OCV Modifer As Weapon Damage STR Minimum Notes
Buckler +1 +1 +0 2d6 Normal 5 Short Weapon
Shield +2 +2 -1 3d6 Normal 7 Short Weapon
Large Shield +3 +3 -2 4d6 Normal 10 Short Weapon

Optional Rules For Shields

Shields were often pierced or destroyed in combat. As an optional rule to reflect this, do the following—on any hit roll on a shield user from the front that misses exactly (rolled exactly 1 less than the "to hit" roll needed, which is a roll which would have hit the character except for the shield bonus), treat it as a hit on the character where the shield acts as armour, DEF 5. If the shield used is a buckler then treat the hit Location as Location 6 (the hand holding the buckler). For other shields roll the hit Location normally. Apply the shield's DEF 5 armour to the hit Location in addition to any normal armour worn.

If the damage rolled on the shield hit described above is double or more the shield's DEF (i.e., 10 points) then the shield is destroyed by the blow and useless thereafter. This is in addition to any damage done to the target. If the damage done is 6-9 points then the weapon is imbedded in the shield. Count this as a 3 DEF, 3d6 Entangle. Neither shield nor weapon may be used until they are separated, and if both fighters keep their grips on the respective weapon and shield they will both be at 1/2 DCV, as if grabbed. This was a fairly common occurence in the Middle Ages, and the Vikings in particular constructed their shields to increase the chance of this happening. The shield and weapon may be separated by taking a Full Turn out of combat.

The DEF 5 reflects the fact that shield construction stayed largely the same from ancient times until shield use was abandoned at the end of the Middle Ages. Shields were constructed of layers of wood, sometimes with a leather or canvas cover. Bucklers (small round hand shields) were often reinforced with metal to prevent them from being split with a single blow, but significant metal reinforcement was much too heavy for a larger shield.

Putting On Armour

It takes an experienced fighter—without assistance—a lot of time to put on armour. Some approximate figures are below.

So it will take a Viking standing over his armour a mere two Phases to don his hauberk, helmet, and shield. A 15th century knight in full White Harness (plate) will take 15 Minutes or more to put all his armour on. Taking it off is faster, but if the Viking and the 15th century knight both fell into a moat, the Viking could probably get his armour off before he drowned, but the knight would become a permanent fixture of the bottom of the moat. He had two dozen knots and a similar number of buckles to find and unfasten while drowning, and he isn't going to succeed in time.

Having a squire to assist you putting on the armour does help, perhaps as much as halving the time to don the armour.

The moral of this story? Don't expect to put armour on in time to deal with an emergency.

Armour Mass

The armour weights described in Fantasy Hero are directly based upon the DEF value of the armour and (for the Sectional Armour Weight Table) the probability of hitting each armour Location. Real armour, however, doesn't work that way.

A full suit of plate weighed in the neighborhood of 20-25 kg. A full suit of mail weighed about the same. A coat of plates (metal brigandine body armour) weighed about the same as mail covering the same body Locations, and was about as encumbering. Cuir boulli is a bit lighter than plate for the same coverage, but not a lot, and it tends to be a bit bulkier.

The armour masses listed are approximate, and there was some variation.

European Medieval Armour

(mounted) Kettle Hat (5), padded jack (10-11), metal knees (15-16)
(foot) Sallet (4-5), mail hauberk (9-13) and brigandine (10-12)
Sallet (4-5), mail coif (9-10), leather jerkin (9-12)
Kettle Hat (5) and leather coif (4), padded jack (10-12), leather boots (15-18)
Kettle hat (5) and mail coif (5,9), steel pauldrons and demi-breastplate (9,12), padded aketon (9-13)
Kettle hat (5) and mail coif (4), leather jerkin (10) and breastplate (11-12)
Kettle hat (5) and mail hauberk (8-13)
Chapel-de-fer (5), mail coif and hauberk (4, 8-13), metal knees (15-16)
Knights and Man-at-arms wore full plate.
Body Armour
Mail: 14th-15th C. Hauberk always covers Location 9-13. Arms can be long (Locations 7-13), medium (8-13) or short (9-13). Sometimes goes down to mid thigh (covering Location 14). Mail coifs worn independently with the helmet will always cover the neck (5), and sometimes the shoulders and upper chest (9-10).
Leather Jerkin: Location 10-14.
Leg Armour
14th-15th C: Greaves alone (Location 16-17), Knees alone (Location 15), or large knees (Location 15-16).
Head Armour
14th-15th C: bascinet (4-5), sallet (4-5), or kettle-hat (4?). Often with a mail coif (5, sometimes also Location 9-10) or a leather one (same Locations).
Small buckler and sword—often carried by polearm users
Plate			DEF 7
Metal Brigandine	DEF 6 * (includes all varieties of splints)
Reinforced Mail		DEF 6 *
Mail			DEF 5 *
Cuir Boulli		DEF 4 *
Reinforced Aketon	DEF 3 *
Padded Aketon		DEF 2
Leather			DEF 1

Coif (short)		3.0     DEF 5 (Locations 4-5)
Coif (long)		5.0     DEF 5 (Locations 4-5, 9)
Cap			3.0     DEF 8 (Location 5)
Cap and short Coif	4.0     DEF 8 (Location 5); DEF 5 (Location 4)
Cap and long Coif	6.0     DEF 8 (Location 5); DEF 5 (Location 4, 9)
Helmet and Aventail	5.0     DEF 8 (Location 3, 5) DEF 5 (Location 4)
Helmet and Gorget	4.0     DEF 8 (Locations 4-5)
Full Helmet		5.0     DEF 8 (Locations 3-5)
Mail Shirt			DEF 5 (Locations 8-13)
Mail Hauberk            	DEF 5 (Locations 7-14)
Mail Chausses		2.26	DEF 5 (Locations 14-18)
Full Mail		13.36	DEF 5 (Locations 6-18)
Armor Pieces
See gambeson.
Fitted helmet. 15th Century, Italian in origin.
Arming Doublet
A padded gambeson worn underneath metal armor. Fitted with points (strings) to attach armor pieces; may have gussets of mail sewn on the insides of joints (elbow, arm-pit).
Chain neck guard attached to the edge of the helmet.
Close-fitting metal helmet with a T-shaped opening in the front.
Close-fitting metal helmet.
Combined neck and chin protection, worn with some types of Sallet or Burgonet.
Torso protection. Worn with or without a backplate.
Cloth armor, where plates of metal are riveted between two layers of sturdy cloth.
Small round shield.
Light helmet worn in the 16th century. Could be combined with a Bevor for neck and chin protection, or worn open-faced.
Mail shirt. See also hauberk.
see aventail.
Broad-brimmed metal helmet.
Mail leg protection.
See brigandine.
Hood and neck protection, sometimes extending down to cover the shoulders. Usually of mail, sometimes leather.
General military half-armor. Usually of plate, and covering the arms, torso and upper legs.
Breast and back plates.
Cuir Boulli
Thick leather armor, hardened by boiling in water or wax (and possibly oil.)
Thigh armor.
Abdominal protection, worn below a breastplate.
A padded and quilted body armor, worn underneath heavier armor for comfort, or by itself as light armor.
Gamboised Cuisses
Padded and quilted thigh defenses. 13th-14th C.
Hand armor. Could be mail, plate, or quilted (usually in combination with a long-armed gambeson).
Rigid metal neck protection. Depending upon the type of helmet worn, this could be either outside or inside the helmet's lower rim.
Great Helmet
Large metal helmet, often fitted over an open bascinet or coif.
Shin and ankle armor.
Mail shirt. Arms could be short or long; the hauberk could extend down to cover the thighs. "Hauberk" could also be used to refer to a scale armor covering the same regions.
"Flatiron"-shaped shield.
Cloth armor, thickly padded and stuffed with tow or linen. Usually many layers. Quite comfortable.
Kettle hat
Broad-brimmed metal helmet.
Long tear drop-shaped shield.
Shoulder armor.
Large squarish shield for protecting crossbowmen in sieges.
Short breastplate, for protecting the abdomen and short ribs.
Upper arm protection.
Foot armor. Also called a solleret.
Fitted brimless metal helmet.
Lower arm protection.
Mail face protection in the form of a flap that laces up over the nose and lower face, leaving the eyes uncovered.
Visored Bascinet
Fitted metal helmet and face protection.