In most melee combat, armor can be a very useful thing. A modern day example of armor is a S.W.A.T. team's bullet-proof vests that cover their chests and abdominal regions. Through the use of armor, a sword's cutting blade has less chance of reaching the character's skin, and the bruising shock of clubs and staves are distributed over a larger area, thus dispersing the blow.
Many character classes have limitations on what kind of armor they can wear. For example, Gunslingers and Protectors may not wear metal armor. Other classes, such as Warrior and Cavalier, may maximize their protection without limit.
The worst armor class is 10, for a bare naked Changeling or Elven individual, whereas the most damage deflecting armor has a rating of AC(+10), thus giving the wearer an AC(0) rating. The value of the armor is cumulative with the base armor class. Thus a Human wearing leather armor, AC(+2), would have an AC of 7, while a Dwarf wearing the same armor would have AC(6) since their base armor class is 8.
The use of a small shield improves armor class by 1, whereas a large shield improves armor class by 2. Carrying these items slows the character by one point of speed, due to bulk. A helmet improves AC by 1, but may obscure peripheral vision (thus the character has -1 to performing visually intensive tasks.
The complete calculation for armor class includes:
It is helpful to know one's natural armor class. After all, characters might suit-up for battle but they often go around town in regular street clothes. The toughness of one's skin depends on one's racial stock. Changelings and Elves have the thinnest skin while Dwarves and Werites are have the toughest skin. Constructs are a different matter entirely, as their natural armor class is dependent upon their construction materials (ie. a wooden Construct would absorb less damage than a steel Construct).
Base Armor Class
Varies by construction material
Werewolf: 9 Werecat: 9 Werebear: 8 Weredragon: 8
It is often helpful to know one's natural armor class. After all, most characters only suit-up for combat. When carousing around town, most characters are going to be wearing street clothes. Why is that? Armor is heavy and generally uncomfortable. Very heavy armor (such as plate mail) cannot be slept in, and it certainly makes going to the bathroom a daunting chore. The characters will, more often than not, be relying primarily on their natural AC and Dexterity modifiers (shown below) when ambushed in-town or taken unawares while camped out for the night.
Armour Type and Maximum Dexterity Bonus to AC: Light Armour allows the character wearing it a maximum Dexterity Bonus to his AC of +5, Medium Armour allows maximum Dexterity bonus to AC of +3, and Heavy Armour allows a maximum Dexterity bonus to AC of +1. The lightest type of “armor” is that of Clothing, which does not have an upper limit on the maximum Dexterity Bonus to AC. Clothing is not a true type of armor and can be worn by any character class in any condition – a character that can only wear Light armor can still wear clothing.
Swimming, Climbing, and other Endurance-based skills: Medium Armour applies a –2 penalty to all Endurance-based skills, while Heavy Armour applies a –4 penalty
Saves vs. Electrical Attacks: These are made at -4 if the target is clad in mostly metal armor.
Drawbacks to Dexterity Bonuses to AC: Based upon the previous section, one may get the impression that Armour is more trouble than its worth and you are better off having light armor and a very high Dexterity. There is some truth to this, but there are times when lacking heavy armor is a drawback.
Loss of Dexterity Bonus to AC: This will occur if the character is sneak-attacked or otherwise caught completely off-guard, and will occur if the character is paralyzed, pinned, entangled, or otherwise rendered unable to dodge attacks. In such cases, heavy armor is far better than being nimble.
Lack of protection from the elements: Another minor advantage to wearing more armor is that it offers some protection against the elements and hostile environments.
Things to Remember
Having high Dexterity can improve one's armor class. However, some forms of heavy armor negate the Dexterity bonus.
Certain martial arts can improve armor class.
Shields not only improve AC but they also are of great use in parrying blows.
Weredragons generally must have their armor custom-made.