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Jo'Mase's AD&D Weapon/Armor Rules



Armor Values

The armor value(AV) is a rating that details the amount of damage the armor will absorb if the wearer is hit. This is given as a Base AV. The AV applies in full against slashing and most piercing attacks. Some piercing attacks are AP(armor piercing) attacks which cut the AV in half(round down). Blunt attacks are resisted in a special way by AV. Half the AV(round down) applies normally to absorb damage from a blunt attack, while the rest of the AV only absorbs some of the shock of any damage it absorbs. This other half of the AV reduces the damage absorbed from real damage to temporary/stun damage, the same kind inflicted in unarmed combat. See the rest of this page for more details on these aspects.

Each armor type of AD&D normally has an AC associated with it. To get the Base AV for this system, just subtract that AC from 10. Magic plusses add to this AV. Magic armor also weighs only half normal weight, and has its AC/Initiative and DEX check penalty reduced 1 point.

Special AV Modifications

Once you convert each type of armor into an AV, there are a few modifications to be made to specific armor types.

-Leather/Hide/Padded/Ring Mail/Scale/Cord: these armor types have 1 point less AV against piercing attacks.

-Chain Mail/Improved Mail: these types are 1 AV point less effective against both piercing and blunt attacks, but gain a +1 AV bonus against slashing attacks.

-Field Plate: this armor gets a 1 point bonus to its AV against piercing attacks.

-Full Plate: this armor gets a 2 point AV bonus against piercing attacks.

-Special Note on Plate Armors: plate armor(field and full plate) can be designed, and usually is, so that the limbs are armored with thinner plate while the head is armored with thicker plate. To simulate this, reduce the AV for limb shots(called shots or criticals) by 1 point and increase the AV for the head by 2 points. Also, for plate armors, armorers tended to thin the back of the armor so as to thicken the front without actually increasing the weight of the armor. To simulate this, give the AV against frontal attacks a +1 AV and reduce the AV against rear/flank attacks by 1 point. These modifications normally only apply to plate armors, but the DM is free to extend this concept to all armors if he thinks it makes for a better game.

Armor Weight Modifications

-Size Alterations: both height and breadth effect the size of armor a PC will need. Adjust the armor weight as follows:

- Each point of damage from a STR bonus adds +5% to the weight of the armor.
- Use this formula to find the weight multiplier for height.  H = height of the PC in inches.  
  Weight Multiplier = (1 + (H - 69)/69)^2.  

Armor Hindrances

AC/Initiative and DEX check penalties

To calculate this penalty, use this simple formula: the penalty is 1/2 the Base AV(rounded up) minus 1. Field and Full plate are both so well designed, that they both have a 1 point reduction to the usual penalty they would incur. Thus, AV 2 has no penalty, AV 3-4 have a 1 point penalty, AV 5-6 have a 2 point penalty, AV 7-8 have a 3 point penalty and AV 9 has a 4 point penalty. Magic armor reduces this penalty 1 point. Armor proficiency also reduces this penalty 1 point. This penalty penalizes the wearer’s base AC(the armor slows you down a bit), his initiative rolls and his DEX checks(but not the score itself, so give the user full DEX bonuses if they apply, the mobility restriction of the armor is already taken into account by the AC penalty, so no need to reduce the DEX score.)

-Helmets that cover the face and restrict peripheral vision cause all flank attacks to be treated as rear attacks.

-Bows receive a further to hit penalty when used in heavy armors. Bow fire in such armor receives a -1 to hit for each -1 the armor penalizes the wearer’s AC/Initiative and DEX checks. By removing the arm portion of the armor, this penalty is removed.

-Crossbows are not further penalized.

-Other missiles receive a penalty also. This penalty to hit is only half that for bow fire, rounded down. If the arm portion of the armor is removed, this penalty is removed as well.

Called Shots Against Armor

Called shots to the head/vitals(-8 to hit) of all targets will allow the attack to get a +2 AR and +2 to knockdown rolls.


Shield weights are given below. The percentage before each shield gives the percentage of body coverage the shield offers when the user is using it normally. If the user crouches behind his shield, multiply this percentage by 3/2 (giving 100% cover to users of body shields). These shields will not last long when the heavy armors and weapons are in full use. If this is the period of your game, use the metal shield weights, which are simply 2 times heavier than the wooden ones below. Only these metal shields will offer protection in these later periods, and the body shield will not be in use during these periods, as its weight is prohibitive. Plate armors saw the shield disappear, as it became somewhat redundant since the plate armor gave more than enough protection. It also helped reduce the weight the knight had to carry, as a 20 pound steel shield is a heavy burden, for the relatively small amount of protection it gave a plate armored knight. Finally, without the shield, the knight could also use the heavier, 2 handed weapons which were required to harm others who wore plate armor.

Buckler (10%) - 3 pounds
Small Shield (25%) - 5 pounds 
Medium Shield (50%) - 10 pounds 
Body Shield (90%) - 20 pounds 

-Shields and Piercing Attacks: against piercing attacks, a shield may be penetrated, reducing its effectiveness. Slash and blunt attacks can eventually ruin shields, but until that point, they still stop the attacks, but some piercing attacks can penetrate and still inflict harm on the defender. Consider a shield of wood to have 6 points of AV, and if an attack with a piercing weapon that is an AP weapon missed, but only because of the shield, consider it a hit, and just add 6 points to the AV of the defender instead, then apply all the AP and any AR effects as normal. Metal shields offer 9 points of AV for this purpose.

Armor Class Modification

AC is divided into 2 subclasses: Base AC and Defense Pool.

-Defense Pool: this part of defense only counts those defenses which deflect or allow the defender to dodge. Shields and DEX bonuses are 2 examples. Any former AC bonuses that would have been lost to rear attacks would count toward the Defense Pool. Add up all such bonuses and the total is the Defense Pool of the defender. Each point must be applied to a single attacker, which reduces the base AC of the defender 1 point against that attacker.

-Base AC: this aspect of AC is the part that applies at all times and against all attacks. If you do not use by armor rules above, then armor modifies the base AC, otherwise, only magical rings of protection, cloaks of protection, and similar defenses that give an overall AC bonus modify the base AC.


-Large Creatures/Toughness: due to their size and toughness, larger creatures will have a special type of extra protection beyond their natural armor. Large creatures have a base toughness value of 1. Huge creatures have a base toughness value of 2 and gargantuan creatures have a base toughness value of 4. This toughness value does not act as full armor, but it reduces the damage it absorbs to stun. This means it is harder to truly harm tough creatures. Blunt attacks do not have any extra effect on toughness, as they do on armor, and toughness reduces blunt damage to stun just as it does other forms of damage. However, toughness reduces stun damage to nothing, so if any stun gets through armor, the toughness will negate that first, then absorb real damage if possible, reducing it to stun. This base toughness value even works against physical damage from sources that normally ignore armor. The larger the creature, the more of this resistance it will have. Every 25’ a creature is over the base 25’ of gargantuan, count it as 1 size class bigger. Thus, a 50’ long whale is 1 size above gargantuan. This also increases the base toughness value of such creatures. Each size over gargantuan adds 2 points to the base toughness value of the creature.

-Strong Creatures: although this often goes hand in hand with the above bonuses due to size, creatures who are very strong for their size can enjoy toughness. They get a toughness value, just as large creatures do. This toughness value is equal to half their bonus to hit from STR, rounded down. This base toughness has the same effect as it does for large creatures. Only natural STR is considered, not magical STR, gained from a magic item or spell.

Toughness and Stun: normally, every 4th point of stun is treated as 1 point of real damage instead, just as in AD&D temporary damage. But toughness adds to this ratio, so it takes 4 plus the toughness value of stun points to count 1 of them as real. Thus, a monster with 2 toughness must suffer 6 stun to have 1 point count as real against it. Additionally, tough creatures recover stun faster, add their toughness to the points of stun they recover each round, normally 1 per round. So a toughness of 2 allows a recovery rate of 3 stun per round.

Special Attacks

-Armor Piercing Attacks: some weapons are designed to punch through armor, and these will be classified as AP(armor piercing) weapons. Armor resisting these attacks has its resistance cut in half(rounded down). Toughness is also halved by these AP attacks.

Some AP weapons include: picks, some spears, stilettos, bodkin arrows and heavier crossbow bolts. In addition, all charging lance attacks, and all spears/pikes set to receive a charge are considered AP weapons during these special situations only. In addition to being counted as AP weapons during these times, they double all damage that gets through the target’s armor.

-Armor Reducing Attacks: some weapons/attacks reduce the effect of armor, as they are better able to breech it. They get an AR(armor reducing) bonus which reduces the AV of armor resisting them by a like amount. This AV reduction does not mean those lost points of AV are ignored, but reduced in effect. The lost AV points act to reduce damage from real to temporary only. So someone with AV 6 is hit by a 2 handed sword, which does d10 and has an AR of 1. The AR reduces the AV to 5, and converts the lost point to shock absorbing resistance only. So a hit for 8 points of damage by the sword, would see 5 blocked by the AV 5 from armor, 1 point reduced to stun, and the remaining 2 points getting through as real damage. Thus the target suffers 2 points of real and 1 of stun damage.

Toughness is also affected by AR. In fact, toughness is affected first. AR totally eliminates toughness on a one to one scale. Unlike its effect against armor, AR negates toughness totally.

-Large Creatures and AR: large creatures get a +1 AR bonus on all physical attacks. Huge creatures get a +2 and gargantuan creatures get a +4. This is due to the mass and power of such attacks. Every 25’ a creature is over the base 25’ of gargantuan, count it as 1 size class bigger. Thus, a 100’ long dragon is 3 sizes above gargantuan. This also increases the armor penetration of such attacks. Each size over gargantuan an attack is, add +2 to its AR bonus.

-Blunt Damage: blunt weapons are treated in a special way by armor. Only half(rounded down), of the armor value applies to resist damage. The rest applies only to reduce damage it would have normally stopped. It reduces the damage it absorbs to temporary/stun damage. The blunt attack only reduces the AV from armor, toughness counts in full as normal. Basically, toughness serves to cancel out the effect of blunt weapons against armor, as any AV reduced to stun reduction by the blunt attack is simply re-enforced by toughness back to its full effect, on a one to one bases. Thus, a blunt attack against an ogre(toughness 1) in hide armor(AV 4) would cut the hide armor AV in half, so only 2 of the AV points apply to negate damage. The other 2 reduce damage they would absorb to stun damage. But, since toughness totally negates stun damage, any stun getting though the armor can be canceled by toughness up to the toughness value. Basically, this means the armor has some of its AV restored by toughness, with any left over toughness reducing real damage that gets over the armor to stun, as usual. So the ogre’s 1 toughness restores 1 AV back to his hide armor, which ends up with 3 AV resisting in full, and only 1 acting as damage reduction.

-Slashing Weapons and Blunt Trauma: although slashing attacks usually have full armor applied against them, this is only true when the base damage roll of the slashing attack(base damage includes only exceptional/magic weapon pluses) equals or exceeds the armor value of the target. If the base damage of the slashing attack does less than the armor value of the target, then the slashing attack does not fully penetrate the armor, and it is instead treated as a blunt attack, as the sharp edge has less effect. To find this, just halve the base damage roll(rounding up) and then add on weapon mastery and STR bonuses, treating the attack as if it were a blunt weapon, instead of a slashing weapon. Thus, even slashing attacks which fail to penetrate armor well, can still do stun/trauma damage if backed by great skill and/or strength. In this way, a sword can act like a heavy metal club.

-Crushing/Constriction Attacks: attacks that squeeze/hug, crush or trample are considered special attack forms that do not fall under the usual slashing/piercing/blunt categories. Such attacks halve any armor resisting them, much like AP attacks. To qualify as such an attack, the attack must squeeze the target as a constrictor snake or giant hand would. Also, massive bite attacks would fall into this area. If not clear as to if an attack falls into this category, if it is 2 sizes larger than the target, and is a bite or grab attack, it counts.

Armor/Toughness vs. Area Effect Attacks

-Armor vs. Area Attacks: armor that encases most of the body(field and full plate are good examples) as well as many creature's natural armor defenses offer protection against area effect attacks that originate outside the armor and must penetrate to do damage. Fireball, acid sprays, etc. are all good examples of attacks that armor offers protection against. For armors that fully cover the body(field/full plate, turtle shell armors, dragon armors, etc.) apply the armor's base defense against the attack if reasonable(metal will eventually heat up or freeze over if exposed to fire/ice for prolonged periods of time, so protection from this kind of exposure would steadily decrease). If the attack allows a save and the target does save, he takes none of this absorbed damage. If the attack does not allow a save or he fails it, he takes half of what the armor would have absorbed. Because armor is not always totally covering, some of this blocked damage will get through after all. Figure how much of the total body the armor actually covers, this percentage is how much of the blocked damage is truly ignored. Magic missile type attacks are, by nature, armor defeating and as such are not effected by armor, this may apply to other attacks as well.

Toughness vs. Area Attacks: some of the armor value a large/strong creature may have is due to his size/strength. This toughness value, detailed above in the Large Creature/Toughness section, counts in full against area attacks and against any damage causing attack that inflicts physical damage, even if normally armor breaching. The toughness reduces the damage it absorbs in this way to stun, as with physical attacks.

Armor and Shield Damage

Armor and shields can be damaged in combat. To determine when this occurs, follow these rules:

Armor Damage

When armor is hit by a blow that does more damage than the armor’s AV, it must make a save vs. crushing blow(a 7 for metal armor and a 13 for non-metal armor) to avoid damage. If the save is made, the blow did not do significant armor damage. If the save failed, but did not fail by 5 or more, the armor suffers some damage, which manifests as a -1 to all future item saves, including future saves of this type. Each failure adds another -1. If the save fails by 5 or more, the armor suffers the -1 to item saves and also suffers a minor damage result(see below). If the save failed by 10 or more, the armor suffers the -1 on saves and a major damage result(see below). If the attack did more than twice the armor’s AV in damage, then the armor’s save to avoid damage is at -4. Each further multiple increase(x3, x4, etc.) imposes an additional -4 to the save.

Minor damage allows called shots to exploit the area(see Combat Maneuvers), and for every 2 such minor damage results, the armor loses 1 AV point. Major damage also allows called shots to exploit the area(see Combat Maneuvers), and each such result drops the armor’s AV by 1 point. Repair of such damage is possible, see Repairing Armor and Shields below.

Shield Damage

Every time a shield is used to parry a blow, if the attack the shield attempts to block has a maximum damage greater than the shield’s effective AV(6 for wooden and 9 for metal shields, plus 1 per plus of the shield), the shield must save vs. crushing blow(7 for metal and 13 for wooden shields) to avoid damage. If the save fails, the shield is damaged in some way, and all future item saves by the shield suffer a -1. If the save failed by 5 or more, the shield also suffers minor damage. If the save fails by 10 or more, the shield suffers major damage. In normal use, the shield only needs to check for potential damage if the attack roll of the enemy is an 18-20, then use the above method to determine any damage. If the maximum damage the weapon used against the shield user does is more than twice the shield’s AV, it saves at -4. Each further multiple increase(x3, x4, etc.) imposes an additional -4 to the save. If the shield is used to attack, and the attack roll is 1-3, the shield must make a save as above, but only a failure of 10 or more gives any special result more than the usual -1 to future item saves. If the save fails by 10 or more, the shield only suffers minor damage in addition to the -1 save penalty.

Minor damage weakens the shield, reducing its AC bonus by 1 for every 2 minor damage results. Major damage reduces this AC by 1 per major damage result. If the AC bonus of the base shield falls to 0, it is destroyed. Repair of such damage is possible, see Repairing Armor and Shields below.

Armor and Shields of Quality

Just as weapons can be crafted to be exceptional, so can armor and shields. The level of quality depends on the material used and the skill of the craftsman.

Fine Armor and Shields

Only a Skilled or better craftsman can make these items as they require a -4 on the check. Fine armor has its base AV improved by 1 and costs 3-5 times normal. Fine shields have their AV increased by 2 and cost 3-5 times normal. Skilled craftsmen(x3 cost) give a +1 bonus to the saves of all fine items they make, Experts(x4 cost) give a +2 and Masters(x5 cost) a +3.

Exceptional Armor and Shields

Only Expert or Master craftsmen can make these items as they require a -8 on the check. Exceptional armor gives a 1 point improvement to the base AV and an additional +1 AV bonus against 1 attack form chosen by the craftsman(S-slashing, P-piercing, or B-blunt attacks). Exceptional shields have their AV increased by 4 points. Such items costs 6-10 times normal. Experts(x6-8 cost) give a +4 bonus to the saves of such items they make, while Masters(x8-10 cost) give a +6 bonus.

Repairing Armor and Shields

Repair of damaged armor and shields is possible provided the item is not beyond the skill of the craftsman.

Repair of General Damage(Removing the Item Save Penalties)

Each -1 item save penalty can be repaired by a Skilled craftsman at a cost of 1/4th the original item’s value for every such -1 removed. Magic/exceptional armor/shields can only be repaired in this way if the craftsman makes his check at -4. However, in any case, the armor/shield must pass an item saving throw after each -1 penalty is repaired(include any unrepaired item save penalties in this saving throw). If this save fails, the armor/shield cannot be repaired further, as it is just too far gone, so the user will just have to use it as is or get new equipment. For armor, determine which piece or pieces are beyond repair.

Repair of Minor Damage

Each such damage result costs 1/3rd the item’s original value to repair, and can be done so by a Skilled craftsman. Magic/exceptional armor/shields require the craftsman to make a -8 check to repair such damage, hence, only Expert or Master craftsmen can do so.

Repair of Major Damage

This damage costs 1/2 the item’s original value per major damage result removed. Such repair requires a -4 to the craftsman’s check. Magic/exceptional armor/shields can only be repaired of this damage by a Master, as such repair requires a -12 check.


AR/Damage Bonuses and 2 Handed Weapon Use

2 handed weapons get a +1 AR bonus. Those that are 1 or 2 handed weapons get a +1 to damage and a +1 AR bonus if used 2 handed. The knockdown dice increases 1 step also for those weapons used 2 handed that are designed for either 1 or 2 handed use. However, such weapons also add 2 to their speed factors when used 2 handed. Weapons not designed for 2 handed use, get a +1 damage bonus if used 2 handed, but get no AR bonus, neither a knockdown die increase. However, these weapons do not alter their speed factors when used 2 handed.

Heavier Weapons

Swung weapons, as opposed to those used in a thrusting motion, can be made heavier than normal, adding an extra 1/3 to their weight. This gives them a +1 AR bonus, but also slows the weapon down, imposing a 2 point increase in the weapons speed factor.

AP Weapons Damage Limit

All AP weapons are limited to double their actual base damage roll, when adding on STR or mastery damage bonuses, when determining the actual damage inflicted to a target. Magical damage bonuses are added on separately. The full damage bonuses apply normally to determine how much damage gets through armor, this special limitation only applies to the final damage that is actually inflicted on the target. For example, a magical pick+3 which does a base damage of d4+1, with a +3 damage bonus from the magical +3, is used by a warrior who is a master(+3 damage bonus) with an 18/00 STR(+6 damage bonus). The normal damage is d4+13. This is used to determine how much damage gets through armor. Say the target has a AV of 4, so the pick, being AP, sees only 2 AV points. Thus, it gets d4+11 points of damage through. However, this damage that gets through is limited to the above rule, so if the damage roll on the d4 was a 2, the pick then did a base damage of 3(2+1), so it is limited to double this damage result, with the magic plus added on at the end. Thus, it does 9 points of damage, not the full 13. If the roll was a 1, the weapon would do 7 points, on a roll of 3, it does 11 and finally, on a maximum damage roll, it would do 13 points. AP weapons are, thus, inefficient against lightly armored or unarmored foes.

Minimum STR For Weapon Use

The minimum STR required to use a weapon properly is determined by finding the weapon’s maximum knockdown die result and adding to this the AR bonus of the weapon, if any. Weapons designed for 2 handed use, or any weapon used in 2 hands reduces this STR minimum by 2 points. Weapons which have 2 knockdown die types depending on their being used in 1 or 2 hands, use the lowest of the 2 die types to figure the minimum STR required. Thus, a longsword requires an 8 STR(d8 KD die), a footman’s mace requires a 10 STR in 1 hand(d10 KD die), a 9 STR in both hands(d10 KD die value used, plus a +1 AR bonus, then reduced by 2 points for 2 handed use). A greatsword requires a 10 STR minimum. Heavier weapons(see above) require 1 extra point of STR because they get an extra +1 AR bonus.

For each point of STR below the minimum the wielder has, the speed factor of the weapon is increased 1 point. On top of this, the wielder suffers a penalty to hit, equal to half the speed factor penalty(rounded up).

Other Weapon Modifications

Clubs now only do d4 damage, d6 in both hands.

-Light crossbows do d4+1. They are foot loaded for a ROF of 1/1 and can be hand loaded by a user with a 18 STR for a ROF of 3/2. Range is 6/12/18.

-Medium crossbows do d6 and are AP weapons. They are crank loaded for a ROF of 1/2 and can be foot loaded by 18 STR which gives same ROF as light crossbow. 18/00 STR can hand load and increase the ROF to 3/2. Range is 7/14/21.

-Heavy crossbows do d8 and are AP weapons. They are slow crank loaded for a ROF of 1/3 and can be crank loaded by 18 STR for a ROF of 1/2. Foot loading requires a 18/00 STR which gives same ROF as light crossbow. 21 STR can hand load and increase the ROF to 3/2. Range is 8/16/24.

-Longbows using bodkin arrows do a d6 and they are AP weapons as well. Sheaf arrows do a d8, but are not AP.

-Medieval firearms are relatively weak, and very inaccurate at first, doing d10(in rifle form), but with a +2 AR bonus, and doubling all range to hit penalties. As they advance, their power improves, becoming AP weapons, but this is usually beyond the AD&D time frame.

-Bow, sling and all thrown missile weapon ranges are modified by STR. Add(or subtract if a penalty) the STR bonus to hit and damage as a range modifier for the missile's maximum range. For example, a bow with normal range of 7/14/21, is built for an 18/00 STR, a STR that gives a +3 to hit and a +6 to damage, this adds 9 to the maximum range of the weapon, making it's range now 7/14/30.

Weapon Damage

Every time a weapon attack rolls a 1-3, the weapon must make a save vs. crushing blow(7 for metal, 10 for partial metal and 13 for wood weapons) to avoid damage. If the save fails, the item suffers a cumulative -1 penalty to future item saves. If the save fails by 5 or more, the weapon breaks.

Effects of Weapon Damage

For fine/exceptional quality weapons, when the weapon has accumulated a number of item save penalties equal to the item save bonus it had to start with, it loses any +1 damage bonus it might have had. Furthermore, when any weapon accumulates a -4 or more item save penalty above any item save bonuses it originally had, it suffers a -1 damage penalty.

Weapons of Quality

Fine Weapons

Fine weapons require a -4 check and give a +1 to hit or a +1 to damage. Only Skilled craftsman can make them. They cost 4-6 times normal. Skilled craftsmen(x4 cost) give a +1 to the item’s item saves, Experts(x5 cost) give the item a +2 on its saves, and Masters(x6 cost) give the item a +3 to its saves.

Exceptional Weapons

Exceptional weapons require a -8 check and give a +1 to hit and a +1 to damage. Only Expert or Master craftsmen can make these. They cost 10-20 times normal. Experts(x10-15 cost) give such weapons a +4 to their saves, while Masters(x15-20 cost) give such weapons a +6 to their saves.

Repair of Weapon Damage

General repairs can be made by any Skilled craftsman on normal weapons, with each -1 to the weapon’s saves being removed at a cost of 1/4th the weapons normal value. Fine weapons can be repaired with a -4 check, while exceptional/magical weapons require a -8 check to repair, and thus, can only be repaired by an Expert or Master. However, in any case, the weapon must pass an item saving throw after each -1 penalty is repaired(include any unrepaired item save penalties in this saving throw). If this save fails, the weapon cannot be repaired further, as it is just too far gone, so the user will just have to use it as is or get a new one.