Copyright Chris Tozer © 2018

Edited by Terence Wynne for The Guild Companion

"A core component in the Rolemaster rules is the continual balance and calculation by players between the protection that armor affords from being horribly injured or killed at the expense of being able to move."

The following are the normal 1 – 20 core Rolemaster Armor Types (AT) with the different variations mentioned above to provide more choice for players to outfit their characters with a wider range of options, which include several historical forms of Armor that the original Rolemaster rules left out.

No additional protection with Armor Types

With the 1 – 20 Armor Types mentioned below they exist as they are described and no more.

In other words, there are no additional pieces of armor that are included with, for example a Rigid Leather Breastplate (AT9); no additional protective foot ware, nothing on the combatant’s head or arm protection. Any of these additional items to better protect someone wearing a core armor type require that character to acquire the required additional individual pieces of armor to protect them as they need.

Please see the Armor by the Piece section on Table 5.0 and Table 3.1 (Helmets) to add these additional pieces of armor.

Assumed Existing Clothing

It is assumed that, unless specified, that a character is not walking around with nothing else on and that they will be wearing a light pair of pants, dress or hose, a shirt, and soft skin shoes. Anything heavier and more protective needs to be added.

As already mentioned, when character purchases and dons armor, the correct padding is automatically included. The cost and weight of this padding is calculated into the cost and weight of the armor. Should a warrior take off for example, a Chainmail Hauberks they could expect to still be protected by an Arming doublet/Padded Armor (AT3).

Armor Penalties

A core component in the Rolemaster rules is the continual balance and calculation by players between the protection that armor affords from being horribly injured or killed at the expense of being able to move, maneuver, dodge and fire a bow or throw a weapon without penalty.

Maneuvering Penalties

Maneuvering in armor takes training, a skill that can be learned by a character. While anyone can simply put a full suite of plate armor (AT20) on and be instantly more protected, if they have not trained in how to move in that armor they will find it much harder to move effectively.

Movement and maneuverer penalties cover actions such as running, rolling, diving, climbing, swimming, and riding. Static maneuvers, like picking a lock while wearing armor, are also effected as appropriate.

This limit represents the fact that the weight and constriction of the armor will always hinder the character to some extent. These minimums may vary for certain superior or magical armor (See Character Law p.77).

Missile Penalties

Firing a bow, throwing a weapon, or using a sling is also restricted depending on what type of armor a character is using. Training does not overcome this penalty. Using a crossbow in armor is easier than using a composite or long bow, so the missile penalty listed below are halved.

Quickness Penalties & Defensive Bonus Bonuses/Penalties

An armor Quickness penalty can reduce or cancel a combatant's Quickness stat bonus for his DB. Unlike those penalties above, this penalty can only reduce the armor wearer's Quickness stat bonus. It will not reduce a combatant's overall DB below the level that it would be at with a zero Quickness stat bonus.

This penalty can also modify the Base Movement Rate (see Character Law p.140), but only to the extent of canceling the Quickness stat bonus (and racial bonus). In other words, if only the Quickness stat bonus (and racial bonus) and the armor bonus penalty are considered, the resulting Base Movement Rate cannot fall below 50’/rnd. This factor may be partially cancelled by a character’s Strength bonus. The Base Movement Rate can fall below 50 because of other factors such as stride, encumbrance, etc.

In terms of giving an additional Defensive Bonus (DB) for some armor types, as mentioned previously to balance up the gameplay in some cases an additional bonus is provided; Example “Normal Clothes AT2” should offer better protector, or at least the combatants be faster, than “Robes AT2” hence a bonus is given.

With the four “Natural Armor Types” (AT3, AT4, AT11 & AT12) in the original rules the penalty associated with them is NOT a Quickness Penalty but rather a Defensive Bonus (DB) penalty. This means that the comments above this penalty does “not reduce a combatant's overall DB below the level that it would be at with a zero Quickness stat bonus” do not apply.

This means, for example, that when a combatant is wearing Quilted Armor (Gambeson) AT3 he will always incur the -20 to their Defensive Bonus, rather than his Quickness Stat bonus.

In Table 2.0 NEW CORE ARMOR TYPES this is expressed as QU Penalty or DB Bonus or DB Penalty (-xx).

Examples: -10 = a -10 to a characters Quickness (QU) Stat Bonus
+10 = a +10 to a characters Defensive Bonus (DB)
(-10) = a -10 to a characters Defensive Bonus (DB)

The rationale, as mentioned previously, is that these four Armor Types were not originally intended to be for humanoid combatants. Some of the restrictions in the table below are not strictly realistic (i.e. a gambeson should not suffer the restrictions that is does in comparison to “very light clothing”). These restrictions are an attempt to balance up the gameplay to prevent one armor type proving totally dominant against another.

These four Armor Types are very powerful and hard to damage hence the need to “bake in” some limitations in these new rules.

Essence & Channeling (& Mentalism) Penalties

Due to the nature of the three main types of magic in the Rolemaster rules, Essence, Channeling, and Mentalism in the core rules there are restrictions on what types of armor a spell caster can wear. These include:

For Channeling: Metal interferes with the drawing of power from deities, so no metal may be worn when casting or using a Channeling spell (any spell of this realm). In addition, only a small amount of metal may be carried on the person of a spell user of Channeling when casting or using spells. At least one free hand is needed to normally cast spells from this realm, and casting requires incantations (prayers).

For Essence: The more inert material that is on the person of the spell user of Essence, the more difficult it becomes to manipulate the Essence. Thus, when casting or using and Essence spell no armor, heavy clothing, or helmet may be worn. At least one free hand is needed, and incantations (words of power) are required when casting from this realm.

For Mentalism: Any head covering interferes with the power of Mentalism spells, so no head covering (especially helmets) may be worn while casting or using a Mentalism spell.

There is also the ability in the rules (see Spell Law p34 – 36) for a spell caster to attempt to cast a spell while wearing armor using the Extraordinary Spell Casting rules. This is risky and if the spell fails the consequences can be dire but if desperate times call for such a risk, a spell caster may choose to attempt to cast a spell.

In Table 2.0 below the Extraordinary Spell Casting Failure modification for both Essence and Channeling are listed below.

While having your whole head and face protected with a helmet is a pretty good idea in a fight attempting to see and hear with certain types of helmets (full helmets or helms with visors for example) is often difficult. See the mentalism penalties for helmets in Table 3.1.