Rules for using armor in Hit Location Larps.

We know from Common Larp Weapons how we deal damage, but we should also know how to prevent it. Armor is less universal across larps and there can be all kinds of major and minor differences. This is the rough outline for the rules of my 4x larp, check with your own game system before assuming they are the same. There will be many details which are different.

The function of armor is to prevent damage. To do this armor covers the hit locations (we usually discuss these during practice, but maybe a post should cover that as well). If your opponent takes a swing at one of the hit locations and the armor gets between the blow and the body, the armor takes the damage. This reduces the durability of the armor temporarily. The armor then must be repair before it can stop blows again.

This is the closest a Hit Location System gets to working like a Hit Point System. Taking hits with armor requires practice. It is very easy to get confused and forget how much armor you have in which locations. Remembering to repair armor in game can be a pain. But it does add an interesting tactical limit to the power of armor. For game play purposes this is crucial to prevent over powered characters from ruling the field with invulnerable armor. But I digress…

In our system there are two kinds of armor available without adventuring; Flexible and Rigid. Flexible armor prevents a single point of damage before being rendered useless. Rigid armor can prevent two points of damage. Remember the protection only exists in the locations the armor actually covers. Hit an exposed bit of a torso, say in the joints of the armor, and the wearer gets no protection.

Here we have a friend borrowing my armor. Here we have a lightly armored fighter. He has one point of armor covering most of his torso. Although there is no armor on his arms, there is a leather gauntlet on the sword arm. His legs have no armor coverage at all. Any hits to the upper arms and legs will get no protection from the armor. Hits to torso and lower left arm are protected from the first hit.

Flexible armor comes in a few different forms. Leather armor is the most common form of flexible armor. Not garment leather, btw. Hardened leather scales, or leather plates, specifically designed for use in armor must be used. Suede alone will not stop a sword. Chain mail also falls under the category of flexible armor. If you want reasons why, we can have Terry write a guest post/rant on chain mail in boffer combat.


Rigid armor must be made from stiff material. Either metal or hard plastic can be used as long as the plates are not flexible. Plates can be held together with flexible material. As long as rigid plates are going to get between a boffer weapon and a hit location, it will be counted as rigid armor.

If players from practice are interested in making their own armor, we’ll cover armor construction for them in a later post. In general the armor should be made out of the actual material. Chain mail should be woven metal rings, preferably not soda tabs, aluminum, or other excessively modern materials. Plate armor should be made from plates of metal or rigid plastic. Leather armor can be constructed from leather scales or hides.

Tweet me directly with any questions. Or comment on armor on the Google Plus page. Alternately check out the FB group post. And as always you can find me on Ello.co/larp.

Current Gear

Here’s a look at my garb and armor at the moment. Let’s walk through each piece, and take a look at each. There are pros and there are cons to the look and the use of each item and there are plenty of areas where things can be improved. All this can be found in this gallery, if you just want to see the pictures. Tons of pictures below the jump!

Base Layer
If you’re going to a larp for the first time, this is pretty good to wear. There are no labels, and only one small logo. The shirt is a knit Old Navy 100% cotton shirt. Cotton is a relatively modern material. Linen or Wool are the real period materials. But Cotton is the oldest material still mass produced and therefore relatively easy to acquire. If not right off the rack, then check thrift stores, salvation armies, and consignment shops.

The pants are work out gear. They are a modern synthetic material and should be the first thing to be replaced. They have one small logo, which gets hidden by armor. If you game system forbids modern materials, you probably won’t get away with these pants for long.

These two items are vastly better than most new players bring to the field. They are fine for a first year player, and will go unnoticed on the battlefield. Even if the next layers aren’t added, a new player could get away with these pants and shirt, and perhaps a tabard thrown over for their first few events. Anyone with any interest or ambition in larp should be able to replace these items with much better looking gear within their first year eventing.

Armor Layer
This layer is the one that needs the least work (paradoxically its the most fun layer to work on). All leather, all hand made and appropriate for all kinds of different time periods. The hauberk is riveted leather scales, which was constructed by myself (the leather scales can be purchased, punched, then riveted together). Not shown here are the chain mail sleeves I’ve added. The gap between the gauntlets and the shoulder left a big patch of upper arm unprotected. This took relatively little experience, and was fairly cheap. The comments I get at Ren Fairs are priceless.

Also added some Leather Greaves on the lower legs this year. Purchased those through Amazon of all places. Hand made in India by one of the historic replica companies. They really protect the lower legs from rocks, stumps, and my own clumsy combat. Great to have and look good too.

Accessories
Added are a decorative belt, also hand made. A knife and sheath (you can tell I made that myself), and a World War II ammo cartridge case as a pouch. Although thoroughly modern the cartridge case looks as though it jumped right off the page of a D&D adventure. It looks great, and therefore passes where I play. But if you play strict period, it’s not going to work.

Weapons
Two latex one handed swords, purchased from Craigslist (an amazing find)! They look amazing, function well, and last for years. Until Oct 2013 I owned 0 latex weapons. Now I have 3, and really would rather not go back to boffers (but still do all the time). These things are expensive! Expect to pay $70-80 US, plus shipping and handling for one sword. You can build boffer swords for $5 a piece, or buy them for $20 to $30. Not cost effective, but tons of fun.

Shield(s)
After larping for years, you tend to end up with things. Like this small collection of bizarre shields. Classic heater style on the left (too small for me), Giant Foam Scarab Beetle in the center (which is my main shield). And a buckler on the right. The buckler was a fun build. Press board, with a trowel handle.

The Future
Now looking objectively at these pieces they could come from a viking raider/farmer. So to further that look, the shirt would get replaced with a Viking Tunic. Picking all black may be fine for the armor, but not for the cloths. A natural color tunic, and probably brown color breeches would round out the look. The shield would have to go. Although it’s tons of fun, it really does not say ‘Viking’. So it should get replaced by something more appropriate.