You raised some good points, a few that I forgot to include even. Props
However you did miss the main point which I was about to explain. Armour is relative, but what does that mean exactly? Well first of all, armour is worn for protection and protection is very relative. So you wear armour and you are protected. Compared to what?
If you give any armour system some thought you will soon realise something. Comparing the armour worn by different people is an excercise in futility. Person #1 is wearing safety goggles that protects his eyes. Person #2 doesn't even HAVE eyes. So how then can you assign some sort of abstracted score of +1 eye protection to those safety glasses if they are useless to person #2? The important question to ask is not "how protective is my armour". That question can never be answered, instead you must ask "how much does my armour protect me".
When you meet an enemy army in the field, it shouldn't matter one bit that his soldiers are wearing "light armour" or "heavy armour" or "+300 Spartan thong of arrow protection". What matters on that battlefield, at that moment, is "how well does his armour protecting against my weapons".
This is why the armour system must factor in all of these little details. You are not comparing armour to and against some kind of abstracted table of statistics. You are comparing the armour to the users ability to wear it, and his enemies ability to hurt him inside it.
Earlier when I said that my example system didn't involve numbers, I was talking about the front end. The part that the user sees does not display numbers and can be adequatly represented by a series of coloured bars. The actual mechanics behind the scene of course do involve numbers, percentages in particular. So lets imagine we are firing up the armour editor and want to outfit a human in plate armour.
The starting display will looks something like this: (imagine each line is a coloured bar and we have a "paper doll" diagram of a human)
There are 3 types of bars here. The first three bars are sliding scales, the closer the bar is towards one side or the other, the more the balance shifts to that attribute. The fourth has 3 parts seperated by / marks. Each armour will have 3 independant ratings in this category. The last five bars are all line gauges, the closer to the right the mark is the more full the bar is and the better this attribute will be, however a full bar here may affect the other stats.
The list you see on the "main" page is the average of all of them and gives an you a general idea of how it performs. Because the set of armour is essentially blank at the moment, some of the bars such as articulation are faded.
The first part we will deal with is the torso. You click on the torso section and the interface changes a bit. Instead of the full human paper doll we now have a view of the front and back of the torso. Some of the bars have dissapeared leaving us looking at these:
All of the bars are at the far left, representing zero. The armour has no statistics because there is no armour as of yet. The plan is to arm this guy with plate armour over some maille. Every human soldier comes standard with a plain cloth shirt. This can be upgraded to a padded surcoat without any change other than an increase in cost and a slight raise in tolerance.
The tolerance bar represents the users ability to tolerate wearing the armour for extended periods. The heavier the armour is the shorter the time you have before your soldiers with become exausted. While weight is the biggest factor, heat is another major issue, things like padded surcoats offer good protection but may cause the soldier to overheat over extended periods.
The second thing we do is add a maille shirt over the surcoat. This is a full shirt complete with sleeves and reaches down to the waistline. As far as the torso is concerned this is a full layer of coverage and the bars change to reflect that:
For the purpose of demonstation lets say the chain shirt we just added is "average".
- The first bar has changed to the midpoint, having a padded shirt and a chain shirt is a good balance between protection and weight.
- The second bar is similiar to the first. Maille provides good protection but does not significatly limit agility because it can flex.
- The third bar indicates that the maille is made of strong materials. The better the rating here the more damage it can take before it breaks.
- The fourth bar shows us how maille armour can deflect things like sword blades while remaining fairly flexible. It has no absorb rating at all because it does little to impact force other than blunt it.
- The fifth bar shows how the weight distribution is far from ideal. The main problem with maille armour is that all of its weight hangs off the highest point, most often your shoulders.
- The sixth bar is maxed out. This shirt covers the entire torso with no area left bare.
- The last bar shows us how the weight of the armour is starting to affect his performance in combat.
Now I know this still looks terribly complex but go back and examine the bars and just the bars. Building on what we talked about earlier about damage types, these bars accurately sum up the benefits of the maille shirt you just equipped on this soldier. It is heavy but not too heavy, protects very well against slashing weapons and offers complete coverage to the torso leaving no vulnerable areas. At no point did visible numbers and calculations come into play here. This armour doesn't simply offer "10% protection against slashing damage". It simply offers your soldier good protection against slashing weapons. As it stands now this soldier is now equipped with "medium" armour. Medium is not a class, it simply indicates a good balance between protection and weight.
Hope you understood that . Ill add another example later on what happens once we add plate armour to the mix.