Heavy Armor

We have some basic types of D&D with basic armor types: Leather, Chain, Plate. Then we have some versions of the game where there are tons of armor types in between: Studded Leather, Chain Shirt, Scale, Splint, Banded. Generally these are included to fill in missing AC values, since the armor choices tend to span 8-10 points’ worth.

How about just giving people the chance to wear “Heavy X” armor. Such as multiple layers of chainmail, or cuir boili with furs over it, or full plate armor. New armor types can count as these Heavy types, for example Studded Leather can be Heavy Leather.

Here I’m giving rules for 1E AD&D, but you can alter to fit other games by modifying the armor check penalty or max dex bonus or whatever. If you wear such heavy armor, you get +2 AC bonus but you have -2 to hit and -3 MV.

(The symmetry of the table below is a little nicer if, in your game system, Unarmored is 9 and Leather is 7 instead of 10/8 respectively)

Leather: AC 8 / MV 12 (Also Padded)
Hv. Leather: AC 6 / MV 9 / -2 to hit (Also Studded Leather and Hide)

Chain: AC 5 / MV 9
Hv. Chain: AC 3 / MV 6 / -2 to hit (Also Brigandine, Scale, and Splint)

Plate: AC 3 / MV 6 (Also Banded)
Hv. Plate: AC 1 / MV 3 / -2 to hit

As you can see, the basic armor types are still optimized better than Heavy version of the earlier type. So why bother? This is an explanation of what happens when you try to wear two suits of Chainmail at once, a choice for characters who can’t wear metal armor, an upgrade for games with technological limits on armor choices, and an upper-AC choice for people who absolutely must have the best AC available.

Specifically, I want to look at Heavy Plate as the kind of armor worn by trap-springers, shock troops, and knights. Remember the knight’s MV doesn’t come into play while he’s on horseback, and the attack roll penalty won’t matter because of his bonus for horseback elevation, skill, and charge, and also the relatively low AC of the infantry he charges.

How does this fit with 2E? The rules don’t give armor-based movement penalties. I’d say the person counts as one place more encumbered regardless of weight carried, if wearing Heavy Armor. That lowers his MV and gives various penalties which should be used instead of -2 to hit because they’re already in the system.

How about 3E? Give half again the armor check penalty and spell failure, and halve max dex bonus. The AC values of the armor are Leather +2, Chain +5, Plate +6 (as usual) but +2 for Heavy version. I’m going based on memory here so you might want to compare the penalties to the armor you would otherwise have to wear to get the new AC: you want the penalty for Heavy Armor to be worse, but only a little, and the Heavy Armor should be cheaper.


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