Armor comes in many different types:
- Padded - Cloth padded with rags, cloth, wool or anything available. Not too good at stopping anything sharp but fairly effective at blunt weapons. It has the the benefit of being cheap and easy to make. But let me make this clear - you have to be very desperate to wear ONLY padded armor in battle. Often worn under better armor like chainmail and plate as padding.
- Lamellar This armor consists of small plates known as lamellae, which are punched and laced together, typically in horizontal rows. The plates themselves can be of Steel, iron, bronze, copper, leather, wood or (I'm not kidding) paper - laminated to form a surprisingly tough armor. The big difference between this and Scale is the plates are not overlapping.
- Leather - Made of leather (surprised?) that has been boiled and shaped. A good example is the brown and green armor worn by Faramir in the Lord of the rings movie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangers_of_Ithilien
- Studded leather - leather armor reinforced with stud or rivets of metal (usually iron).
- Scale mail - This is a scales (usually made of laquared wood, iron, steel, bronze) sewn onto a backing of cloth or leather. The Chinese used scales made of paper! Lacquered together to form a surprisingly strong armor. King Tut had a set of armor made with raw hide scales.
- Ring mail - This is rings of metal sewn onto a backing of leather or cloth. One interesting variation uses coins instead of rings. An expensive but effective method. The difference between this and Chain mail is that the rings are NOT interlocked but sewn to the backing material.
- Chain mail - This is made of rings of metal interwoven to form a fine mesh. Difficult to make but effective. Used for millennia in one form or another. This is the most widely used form of armor. A good balance of protection vs weight and cost. Also one of the few still in use. Modern butchers wear gloves made of chainmail when cutting meat. And the shark-proof suits worn by divers now a days is (waterproof) chainmail.
- Brigantine - Sometimes called a coat of plates. This is made of large, metal plates (usually iron or steel) sewn into cloth. The plates are a lot larger then those used in scale mail. A sort of poor mans plate mail. The most famous example of this in the real world is Wisby armor - recovered from an archeology excavation in the town of the same name. http://www.armourarchive.org/patterns/wisby/
- Plate mail - The ultimate in armor. This is the height of the armor making art. It consists of large plates of steel hammered and forged into very large pieces. Very difficult to manufacture and often passed down from father to son. It provides the maximum protect at the cost of being heavy and slowing the wearer down. This is the armor most people think of as being worn by knights.
- Linothorax - used by the ancient Greek hoplites was made of layers of laminated linen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linothorax. A recent recreation of a set of Linothorax armor proved remarkably resistant to bronze tipped arrows. Showing why it was so well used in the Bronze age. But an arrow tipped with an iron arrowhead ripped though it with frightening ease. Showing why it stopped being used in following the Iron age.
- Cuirass - This is a breastplate made of either bronze, iron or later steel. If you have seen a movie about the Roman army (Like Gladiator) - you've seen this armor. The breastplate is often of leather or bronze and shaped with fake muscles on it. Also called Muscle Cuirass for obvious reasons. This armor was so complete that besides the fake muscles some even had (And I'm not making this up) fake nipples and a fake belly button. Later versions are just a single piece of high grade (and thick) steel. As firearms came into play the metal got thicker until it got too heavy and abandoned altogether. The last soldiers known to have used it were French and German cavalry in WW1! In a 1914 cavalry skirmish.
- Other - There has always been experimentation in armor making and some cultures have created some unusual armor. For instance the Japanese used a form of armor made of laquared wood. Another is a form of chainmail with large plates of steel protecting the chest and back.
Padding of some sort was almost universally worn under armor like Chainmail, scale mail and Plate. This was roughly equal to padded armor.
Armor is expensive and difficult to produce. A suit of chainmail could take over a month or 2 to manufacturer. This lead to armor being used and reused for decades. In the Real World one Roman army helmet is known to have had at least 4 separate users over its lifetime of use. This is confirmed by the fact that when found the helmet had 4 different names scratched on the inside. In real life looting armor from the dead after a battle was a very common practice. In Metamor it would also be common.
The one Midlands story tells of a noblewoman in Eldwater who was shopping for an antique in a crowded market. She used a spell to find the oldest Suielman artifact and had it lock onto the chainmail armor her husband was wearing. She decided against buying an antique and instead got her husband new armor. The old armor was donated to a museum and can still be seen in a local Eldwater museum.
The most well know story comes from the Silver Knives (Lutin) tribe. Who in 950 CR donated a suit of armor to the Metamor City museum. The scale armor had no less than five, separate (different) makers marks on different pieces. The oldest was a Seuilman one and listed a date of 110 CR! Showing that it had been made for the empire then captured by the Lutins who had rebuilt and repaired the armor countless times. And it had been in use for over 800 years!
Morphic Armor is a unique form of magical armor created to deal with the unique problems of the animal Keepers.