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.
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.
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.