Copyright Chris Tozer © 2018

Edited by Terence Wynne for The Guild Companion

"The idea behind these changes of Armor rules are to give players more variety and more options"

There are a couple of things that are less than perfect with the Armor Types (AT) in Rolemaster. The first problem is how the lower Armor Types are defined. In the original rules, in many cases reinforced leather Armor is worse than wearing no Armor at all; at least until the top twenty results on the attack tables.

This does not with historical references or common sense, but it can be fixed without changing the attack tables, by redefining the Armor Types. Another problem is the complete lack of cloth, scale, lamellar and banded or laminated armor. So those types of Armor have been added to the existing Armor Types in this document.

Further, in the original Rolemaster rules there is not the ability to “mix and match different Armor Types. (ie a chain shirt with leather greaves or a leather breast plate over the top of the chain shirt etc).

This document seeks to:

  1. Firstly, expand the range of armor available for a Rolemaster game, but still keeping within the AT1–AT20 tables, to give players more options
  2. Secondly, provide options for mixing and matching different types of Armor together, again for players to customize how they view their character’s Armor.
  3. Lastly, try to refine a better common understanding of what different types or Armor are, using images and more written descriptions than are in the standard Rolemaster rulebooks

Two key points of these changes from the standard RM2/Classic Armor rules are that:

  • there remains the core AT1–AT20 Armor Types which includes a base area of coverage but are expanded in this document to provide more variety
  • and if additional items of Armor, covering more locations and/or made out of a different material and this will increase the wearers defensive bonus (DB) but decrease their maneuverability

Rulebooks & Sources Used

Rolemaster (1st & 2nd Editions, denoted as RM2) include the first set of rules originally published by Iron Crown Enterprises for their fantasy role-playing game around 1980, and essentially includes all the Rolemaster material that was published by the company until 1995.

There was then a major revision to the game when the third version, Rolemaster Standard System (RMSS) was released in 1995. This was then reorganized somewhat, with very few actual rule changes for the fourth version, Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying (RMFRP), released in 1999.

Rolemaster Classic, released 2006, is a reworking of the Second Edition. Most of the changes were organizational, but the tactical system was replaced with a simpler version of the RMSS/RMFRP activity percentage system.

The core rules and professions used in this document are the based on Second Edition and Role Master Classic with strong use made of the Rolemaster Companions 1–7 and other RM2 source books.

There are three main sources which have been used to produce this document:

  1. The “Optional Armor Rules in Arms Companion (see ArmC p.36–39)
  2. The “Armor by the Piece rules in Combat Companion (see CC p.28–50)
  3. The “Armor Combinations rules in Companion VI (see RC6 p.20)
  4. A Useful article “The Art of Fighting Section 8: Armor, by John Sondrup, 2011 Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Lastly to note, while most of this document will be focused on medieval/fantasy type settings for the sake of completion, the additional four types of modern body armor (AT I–AT IV) which are included in Rolemaster Weapons Law: Firearms are also included.


In a number of places, I directly cut and paste from various sources, partially from the three main sources I mention above, and elsewhere from on the internet. As I don’t have plan for this document being used much wider than other my own gaming group I’m not too worried nor will I be citing what is my material rather than someone else’s.

Should this document find its way in the public domain, I hope you find it useful and any suggestions, anything I have missed, corrections or enhancements that you think would help improve this document, please email me.

Lastly, none of the material presented here (either images or text) is my own intellectual property. Apologies in advance should I be using anyone’s work inappropriately; I would be happy to remove anything should I be requested to do so.

This document is not meant for commercial use, but rather to be used for free among interested members of the Rolemaster gaming community.

“Natural Armor Types

It is very clearly expressed in the original Rolemaster rules the following regarding AT 3–4 and AT 11–12:

  • Light Hide (AT 3): The natural hide of certain classes of animals, both normal and unusual (e.g. Deer, Dog, Wolf). ‡
  • Heavy Hide (AT 4): The natural hide of certain classes of animals, both normal and unusual (e.g. Buffalo, Elephant, Bear). ‡
  • Half-Hide Plate (AT 11): Rigid leather armor that covers the body completely, and the hide of certain creatures that contain at least a few rigid plates (e.g. Rhinoceros, Alligator). ‡
  • Full-Hide Plate (AT 12): As half-hide plate above, except that the rigid leather or plates are harder and/or more plentiful (e.g. Turtles, certain Dragons, Giant Crabs). ‡

‡ Armor Types 3, 4, 11, and 12 are animal armors, natural body coverings with no normal armor equivalents. One cannot achieve such an AT without acquiring some enchanted and specially designed armor (e.g. magic, fell beast skin).

One quick look at any of the attack tables in Rolemaster shows clearly that these four Armor Types perform extremely well and hence they are only meant to the hides of animals or fantastic creatures in the core rules. If they are used as such, they have no penalties (ie the tables reflect natural movement, ability to dodge, for an animal or creature).

It is, however, for these amended rules, and in a major departure from the core rules, also the Armor Type for quilted or padded armor in the case of AT 3 and AT 4 and for reinforced leather Armor for AT 11 and AT 12. To provide game balance, reasonably hefty penalties for all of these four humanoid AT’s are applied (see each Armor Type below and the New Armor Maneuver Modification Table, Appendix I) for both maneuver and quickness.

At face value these restrictions are not realistic (for example penalties to quickness to padded or quitted Armor really shouldn’t be as restrictive as they are listed in this document) but to keep a measure of playability and balance (i.e. so that not every character rejects every type of armor except for AT 3–4 and AT 11–12) these penalties are included.

Also, for the sake of playability/balance, both AT 3 and AT 4 (and of course anything heavier) start to incur penalties for either Essence or Channeling spell casters (See SL. p.25 regarding spell restrictions when casting in Armor /heavy clothing).

Again, this is not strictly realistic (padded armor/arming coat is not likely to be much, if any thicker than robes or furs) but these restrictions are in place to stop all magic users suddenly gaining massively advantageous Armor Types. The penalties for spell casters using either AT3 or AT4 are, however, less server than heavier ATs.

The idea behind these changes of Armor rules are to give players more variety and more options, but like everything in Rolemaster, there should always be a tradeoff; for example, there are now tougher to hit certain “newly available” AT types but they still not should not massively over power the existing other Armor Types. In other words, AT 3 should certainly provide better defense for a humanoid than say AT 2 or AT 1 but not massively so.

These penalties are largely based on the difference in effectiveness between the different AT types thanks to the table Weapon/Armor Effectiveness (see RC1 p.67) which compares all the Armor Types across all the attack tables in Arms Law, Spell Law and Claw Law. Basically, I have worked out the difference across Arms Law, Spell Law and Claw Law and averaged them based on this table.

Rolemaster Armor Characteristics

Rolemaster Armor Types are designed to reflect the protective capability of one’s covering.

Heavier coverings (e.g. ATs 15,16,19,20, etc.) are usually much more cumbersome than light armor or mere clothing. When attacking it is easier to contact these ATs, but they resist penetration better than the less cumbersome Armor Types. Therefore, “critical strikes” achieved against the more cumbersome Armor Types will be less frequent and lower in severity.

However, attacks resulting in just concussion hits will be more frequent (i.e. the hindrance due to these coverings make the target easier to strike but harder to seriously damage).

Less cumbersome Armor Types have the advantage of providing the wearer with mobility. Fewer swings will make contact because the agile defender will completely avoid the blows. However, when a swing does make contact, the result is usually more severe than it would be against the more cumbersome Armor Types: frequent and severe criticals along with more concussion hits are the rule.

Animals often attack the upper body. In addition, their penetrating power is usually limited. This is reflected in the Claw Law attack tables—animals and monsters can be devastating against the lighter Armor Types where the wearer’s high mobility is outweighed by the creature’s maneuverability. However, against higher Armor Types most beast attacks are relatively ineffective.

Spell attacks are also affected by armor. Metal armor is particularly effective when a character is resisting spells, but often lessens the wearer’s mobility. Therefore, she or he may be easier to hit with Elemental spells, but harder to severely damage.

Lightning and other forms of electrical attacks are more effective against metal clad foes. Fire is more effective against flammable Armor Types; primarily the organic Armor Types (e.g. leather and cloth).