This article is for equipment that can be considered armor. For the damage-reduction attribute, see Armor.
In a world where you are constantly besieged by swords and arrows and all kinds of other sharp, pointy objects, it's nice to have some protection. For some classes that prefer to travel light, this is their own abilities that keep them safe. For everyone else, there's armor.
Depending on whose definition you are using, armor can be any piece of equipment that's not a weapon, or it might just be the major body-covering equipment slots. What is universal is that all of your equipment is essential to your survival. Even for a class like a mage that doesn't protect themselves with steel, the attribute bonuses on items are crucial to their success.
The strongest type of armor available is Plate, followed by Mail, Leather, and finally Cloth. The type of armor your character is permitted to use is based upon your class. You may gain additional armor proficiency at level 40, as well.
|Classes||Before level 40||After level 40|
|Priests, Mages, Warlocks||Cloth||Cloth|
Although all items are otherwise identical, stronger types of armor will protect your character from physical damage better. That is, the random world drop greens for Mail in the mid-30s is Jazeraint. A Jazeraint Chestguard typically can have a single attribute bonus of 16, or two attributes each with +11. The Huntsman's Armor is very nearly the Jazeraint's equal in all regards, except that it is leather armor, and so its armor rating is lower. (See Itemization Formulas for a more thorough explanation.)
One way that armor can be slightly different is in the types of actual bonuses you see. For example, because only the three true caster classes wear cloth armor, it is very rare -- in fact virtually non-existent -- to see a bonus of either Strength or Agility on a piece of cloth. Random Greens are normally the result of some basic type of armor (like Jazeraint) with a suffix added to the end of the name. This suffix determines exactly which attributes will be on the item. For example, a Jazeraint Chestguard of the Eagle would have intellect and stamina, but a Jazeraint Chestguard of the Tiger would have strength and agility instead. Ideally, you will only see attribute bonuses that make sense for your class or the other class that uses your armor type. (A rogue could find leather armor with +healing because druids use leather also.)
There is nothing that forces you into using the type of armor that is listed in the table up above. You could "dumb down" to another armor type if you see one with good bonuses. Hunters and druids are especially known for doing this, because frequently the next armor type down has the sort of attribute bonuses they are looking for. Be considerate if you do this, though, a hunter that takes a high agility leather item may not be very popular with the rogue in the group. You can not, however, use armor higher than what is listed in the table, so it is generally considered the norm for your character to look for specifically that type of armor.
Some armor comes in sets. If you can collect all or at least a certain portion of the set, you are rewarded by an additional bonus. Armor sets usually involve the chest, legs, helm, shoulders, and hands slots. Most sets additionally include the wrist, feet, and waist. However, sets can comprise any slots, including traditionally non-armor slots such as rings and weapons.