Armor and Armored Clothing

By 1780 the common use of armor has declined (at least in those nations derived from European beginnings) as the need for battlefield mobility and the ease with which firearms can penetrate even the thickest worn steel have increased. However, even the simplest protection can offtimes prevent a death blow in the melee combat that often follows an exchange of bullets so armor is still found – albeit not the suits that dominated medieval battlefields. Below are some common examples – others can be generated using the rules in Low Tech pp 100-117, although TL5 steel is good enough that all steel armor should be regarded as “hardened steel”. The following modifiers for type of metal armor thus apply:

Duplex Plate (TL5): +1 DR, -10% weight, +4 CF.
Hardened Steel (TL5): +1 DR, +0 CF.
Steel (TL5): no changes.
Iron (TL5): no changes, -0.6 CF.

Light brigandine armor is still occasionally seen among some nobility who favor its protective qualities while still being showy enough for public use. Small hardened steel armour plates are riveted between two layers of stout cloth, usually rich velvet or felt. The rivets attaching the plates to the fabric are often decorated with gilt-work or embossed with a design and grouped to produce a repeating decorative pattern. The example below is such a piece, already Tailored (5 CF) and Styled (2 CF). If you want something cheap and cheerful, Jack-of-Plates is your thing.

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Cuirass torso 4 6,300 8.5 30

A breast and backplate assemblage sometimes worn by heavy foot but more often by cavalry. Made of hardened plate steel, it is designed to sit on the hips, so that they can take some weight off the shoulders.

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Cuirass torso 10 4,000 32 45

Duplex Cuirass
A more advanced version of the common cuirass, made by welding two layers of plate, each with a different hardness, that gives the toughness to better resist firearms without complicated heat treatments. It is actually lighter than a normal cuirass, by just a bit, but far more expensive. Often found Styled.

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Cuirass torso 10 16,000 29 45

Horseman’s Pot-Helm
Also known as a ‘lobster-tailed pot’, this helmet is made from two heavy hardened steel plate sections, joined by a raised comb running from front to back, and cloth padded on the inside. Cheek-pieces are attached to the skull by leather strapping, there is a nasal bar to partly protect the face and a laminated defence to protect the back of the head and neck that was said to resemble the tail of a lobster. Officer’s examples include plumes, gilt, enamel and all kinds of other Styling.

Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Buff Coat Skull, Face, Neck 11 900 8 4 [1,2,3]

1 Nasal has a 1/6 chance of protecting the face.
2 Cheeckguards have a 2/6 chance of protecting the face.
3 Lobstertail only protects the back of the neck.

A cheaper version of the brigandine, this is a vest made of two layers of strong cloth between which overlapping hardened steel plates are held in place by sewn cord. It resembles quilted cloth, making it fairly easy to conceal (+1 to Holdout).

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Cuirass torso 4 300 18 30 4

4 -1 DR vs. crushing.

Leather Buff Coat
This is a heavy trench coat that covers the torso and arms, and extends to the knees or below. Often worn by military officers and calvarymen, it is made of layered leather with only a single layer at joints, and can conceal bulky items (+4 to Holdout). Buff coats are typically crafted from oxhide or buffalo hide. The very finest buff coats are made of elk-hide. It is waterproof due to its treatment with cod oil as part of the tanning process, often lined with linen or silk, and often Styled with gold or silver fastenings. Cavalry often wear one under their cuirass (armor layering applies).

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Buff Coat torso, arms, thighs, knees 3 300 38 30

Leather Neck Stock
A rigid piece of layered leather worn around the neck and fastened at the back, designed to protect the wearer’s throat from blades and choking.

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Neck Stock neck 3 450 8 20

Mail Vest
A piece favored by those with Status who want to stay protected while not being seen to “dress down”, it comprises a layer of hardened fine steel mail between two layers of silk and is often both Tailored and Styled.

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Mail Vest torso 5* 4,500 15 15 [5,6]

5 Concealable as or under clothing.
6 -2 DR vs. crushing.

Steel Vest
A very popular form of personal protection, this piece consists of a vest with two plates of hardened steel sandwiched between two layers of cloth at the front. It is light enough to not count for armor layering penalties, can be Tailored, and is often Styled.

Body Armor
Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Steel Vest torso 4F 600 7 30 5

Steel Splint Boots
High riding boots of light layered leather with light steel plates sandwiched between the layers at the shin. knee and thigh. Can be Tailored, and often Styled.

Type Locations DR Cost ($) Weight (Lbs) Don Notes
Splint Boots Legs, Feet 2*/4F 1,125 20 30 [5,9]

5 Concealable as clothing.
9 Roll 1d, on 1-3 the steel armor is hit.


Arcanum 1780: A New World Cernig