Types of Armor & Encumbrance

Armor, Armor Class & Weapons

The encumbrance factor for armor does not consider weight alone;
it also takes into account the distribution of the weight of the armor and the relative mobility of the individual wearing the protective material.
Therefore, weights for armor shown below are adjusted weights, and base movement speed is likewise shown.
Armor Type Bulk Weight* Base Movement Cost
Banded () <banded?> bulky 35# + 9" 90 g.p.
Bronze Plate Mail bulky 45# + 6" 100 g.p.
Chain Mail (Mail hauberk or byrnie - OSRIC) () fairly 30# + 9" 75 g.p.
Elfin Chain Mail () non- 15# 12" **
Helmets - - - -
Field Plate fairly 55# 6" 2000 g.p.
Full Plate () fairly 65# 6" 4000 g.p.
Leather () non- 15# 12" 5 g.p.
Padded (Padded gambeson - OSRIC) fairly 10# 9" 4 g.p.
Plate Mail () bulky 45# 6" 400 g.p.
Ring Mail fairly 25# 9" 30 g.p.
Scale Mail (or Lamellar - OSRIC) () fairly 40# 6" 45 g.p.
Shield, Buckler () non- 3# - 5 g.p.
Shield, Large () bulky 10# - 15 g.p.
Shield, Medium fairly 8# - 12 g.p.
Shield, Small () non- 5# - 10 g.p.
Shield, Small, Wooden non- 3# - 1 g.p.
Splint Mail bulky 40# 6" 80 g.p.
Studded Leather () fairly 20# 9" 15 g.p.

    * Assumes human-size
    ** Elfin chain mail is never available on the open market.

<should gorget be added to the above?: cf. DMG.72-73>

dwarf: 150 + 120 = 270 (x 0.89)
elf: 100 + 80 = 180 (x 0.59)
gnome: 80 + 75 = 155 (x 0.51)
half-elf: 130 + 100 = 230 (x 0.75)
halfling: 60 + 50 = 110 (0.36)
half-orc: 150 + 120 = 270 (x 0.89)
human: 175 + 130 = 305

Armor Types:

Banded Mail:

Chain Mail:

Chain, Elfin, is a finely wrought suit of chain which is of thinner links but stronger metal.
It is obtainable only from elvenkind who do not sell it.

Leather Armor:

Padded Armor:

Plate Mail:

Ring Mail:

Scale Mail:

Shield USE:
A shield is basically a barrier between its wielder and his or her opponent.
It is used to catch blows or missiles.
It can also be used offensively to strike or push an opponent. <Shield Bash, Shield Rush>
The shield can be used fully only to the left or front of the right handed individual.
Attacks from the right flank or rear negate the benefits of a shield.

Magic Shields:
Magic shields are no less weighty than their non-magical counterparts, but they are non-bulky with respect to encumbrance.

Shield, Small:

Shield, Small, Wooden:

Shield, Large:

Splint Mail:

Studded Leather:


Magic Armor:
When magic armor is worn,
    assume that its properties allow movement at the next higher base rate and that weight is cut by 50%.
There is no magical elfin chain mail.

Q: The DMG, on page 164, says that
magical armor is weightless?but it
also says, on page 28, that magical
armor only weighs half as much as
normal armor of the same sort. So
how much does magical armor
really weigh?
A: It must be said that the term ?weightless
? is a ?misnomer. If armor were actually
weightless, it would float away.
You can resolve this contradiction in one
of three ways. First, you can just use the
rule on page 28: Magical armor weighs
half as much as normal armor, has half the
normal encumbrance, and allows movement
at the next higher rate. (This does
not mean, as one reader suggested, that a
human in magical leather moves at 15?.
Magical armor negates movement reductions
but does not increase the base movement
speed.) Second, you can just use the
rule on page 164: Armor weighs virtually
nothing. Third, you can split the difference
and rule that magical armor has
normal weight but is totally unencumbering
(or only half as encumbering)
because of its magical nature. This last
option has the additional benefit of preventing
characters from simply weighing a
set of unknown armor against a normal
set of armor in order to determine if the
unknown armor is magical or not. Normal
armor weights are on page 27 of the DMG.

Q: Are magical shields, weapons, and
other items weightless, as are magical
A: There is some discussion over how
much magical armor really weighs in the
previous question. All other magical items
weigh just as much and have the same
encumbrances as normal items of the
same sort. See the Players Handbook, page
37, and Unearthed Arcana, page 26, for
weapon weights. Normal shield weights
are on page 27 of the DMG. Magical item
weights might be guessed by examining
Appendix O (on page 225) of the DMG.


This bonus is in addition to that given by any other forms of protection.
The type of armor worn by the character with a dexterity armor class
bonus does not adversely affect this bonus, for it is assumed that his or
her physical conditioning and training compensate otherwise. (This is
particularly applicable with regard to magic armor which is assumed to
possess an enchantment which makes i t both light and flexible.) The
penalty for wearing armor is already subsumed in the defensive bonuses
given for it, and if it were further to penalize the character by denying
dexterity armor class adjustments, i t would be totally invalid.

Modifiers To Dexterity Armor Class Adjustment: Neither penalty nor
bonus due to dexterity (the Defensive Adjustment) is considered when
the character is subjected to the following attack forms:

Attacks from the rear flank, rear, or strikes from behind (where the
character is virtually unable to see the attack coming).

Large missiles such as those hurled by a giant or some form of engine
(where the trajectory and speed and size of the missile negate dexterity considerations).

Magical attacks by spell, device, breath weapon, gaze, etc. (note that
Defensive Adjustments do apply to saving throws for these attack


Originally Posted by A'koss
If you go back to my earlier post, the point was that all versions of D&D are very much magic gear oriented. This works great... for D&D. However, loads of magic gear (and even just significant armor) is not indicative in many (though obviously not all) of the mythological and fantasy fiction we grew up with. How does a bare-chested barbarian with no magical healing an AC 6 survive to high levels? Robin Hood & his Merry Men? The Three Musketeers? Lightly armored rangers in LotR? A Hyborian Age jungle fighter? Like I was saying, the game isn't really geared to handle a lot of the settings it drew inspiration from. At some point you could add enough house rules to make it work, but at what point would you be better off with another system?



As a matter of fact...

Protection has always been a major factor in combat.

Lightly armored troops in historical battles suffer a lot of casualties.

An FRPG features heroic personas that are not meant to become casualties of confrontations, so of course they are given armor, magical protections too in order to remain as active characters in a campaign, fight and slay their enemies, armored or not.

In a system designed to manage another genre, say fantasy science such as that of ERB's Barsoom it is possible to create systems that facilitate unarmored protagonists fighting and surviving hordes of opponents. That was done neatly by Brian Blume's 3d6 combat mechanics om the Warriors of Mars RPG.

To fault the original A/D&D combat is to entirely miss the whole reason for the game.
Fortunately millions of happy players did not make such a mistake <stick out tongue> <>