There are five materials used in the manufacture of various types of armour used in the Fading Suns. They are leather, polymer knit (i.e. Kevlar), plasteel, hephaestium and ceramsteel. Of these, only the first three are commonly available to average citizens of the Known Worlds. Hephaestium is popular among minor nobles and elite infantry units, while ceramsteel is limited to only the wealthy and powerful. Heavy armour is often baroque and anachronistic in design as the Known Worlds nobility have adopted many of the trappings of the High Middle Ages period of Holy Terra. Armour is rated according to how much damage resistance it offers. The armour rating is added to the character's Strength attribute value as well as any positive or negative modifiers based on special abilities or disadvantages to give a damage resistance total. I have created a somewhat more detailed rating system based on three types of damage; melee, ballistic and energy. Below is a list of available armour types and the damage resistance each provides as well as purchase difficulty.
padded leather jacket +1D/-/- VE
polymer knit vest and helmet +1D/+2D/- E
plasteel and polymer knit armour +2D/+2D+1/+1D E
hephaestium breastplate and mail +3D/+3D/+2D M
hephaestium field plate +3D+1/+3D+1/+2D+1 D
ceramsteel battle armour +4D/+3D+2/+3D+1 VD
Energy shields were exceedingly common in the Second Republic, used not only by military and security forces, but by anyone engaged in dangerous activities, even recreational pursuits. So, even though the knowhow to construct energy shields is limited to very few armoursmiths, there are many units still around and repair of energy shields is fairly routine. There are two types of energy shields, dueling and battle. The former cannot be used with any armour heavier than padded leather because the field is generated very close to the body and heavier armour disrupts it. This type of shield is very popular among the nobility who may, at any time, face a dueling challenge. Battle shields are tuned to generate a deeper energy field and can, therefore, be used with armour. They are much rarer and more difficult to find since elite military units and warlike noblemen tend to hoard them.
Energy shields respond to ballistic and energy attacks by creating a localized repulsion field. As such, they respond quite differently to different types of attacks. They provide no protection against lasers, because photons are without mass. Melee attacks can, with sufficient finesse, be made to bypass energy shields. It is only possible with piercing weapons such as swords and daggers and requires a Difficult (against dueling shields) or Very Difficult (against battle shields) Melee Combat attack roll to succeed. Vibro-blades reduce that to Moderate and Difficult respectively. Also, Brawling attacks can penetrate energy shields unimpeded. Of course, sufficiently powerful attacks can overcome an energy shield and may burn it out. Below are the damage resistance contributions of the two types of energy shields.
dueling shield +3D/+3D/+2D+1 M
battle shield +4D/+4D+1/+3D VD
Note: The maximum defense resistance before negative modifiers, Character Points or Fate Points are applied is 6D. Of this, no more than 4D can come from STR + lift skill. The remainder is derived from armour, energy and/or psychic shields.