Body Armor as Hit Points

In the context of some video games, sometimes body armor just provides a bonus to the owner's maximum Hit Points. Rather than add any kind of specific protection to certain attacks, a character wearing body armor will just gradually have it chipped away whenever they are hit, in the same manner as their usual hit points. If enough damage is sustained, the extra body armor may simply vanish.

It is not usually visible on a character, and acquiring it puts the object to use instantaneously, so the player character is never seen discarding it. This trope is, obviously, not particularly realistic. Ironically, it became popular with many "realistic" shooters because putting on body armor seemed a more plausible way of improving a character's hit points than having them grab a first aid kit and immediately gain the benefits from using one in the middle of a firefight. Generally necessary for the sake of game mechanics, although this is less true today than it was ten years ago.

A variation of this which generally is considered to make more sense is Full-body Deflector Shields As Hit Points. After all, energy which specifically covers your entire person and uses energy to protect should be able to help protect you from anything as long as its energy supply is sufficient, right?

Possibly a bit of Truth in Television or videogames rather. Interceptor body armor for the most part stops bullets outright but breaks down after soaking up one or two hits, making it effectively a free-bullet-to-the-chest-before-you-die card.

Compare Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp". Contrast Destructible Armor, where the amount of armor is a direct indication of the user's remaining HP. Using this system rather than making armour a separate stat Armor Piercing Attacks can circumvent may help avert Armor Is Useless.

Video Game examples:

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     Collectible Card Game 

  • In Hearthstone, armor functions as a second life bar. All damage dealt to your hero is first dealt to your armor total before your actual health. Unlike health, armor doesn't have a cap, meaning you can have hundreds of armor protecting your standard 30 hit points. Most classes don't have access to many armor cards however, limiting it mostly to a signature mechanic of the Warrior and a side mechanic for Druids.

     First Person Shooter  

  • Doom was the Trope Codifier for first-person shooters. Body armor came in 2 varieties, with blue armor having higher durability and absorbing a higher percentage of damage (one-half of all damage), compared to green armor (which only absorbed one-third). There were also "armor bonus" items that could repair your current armor (and bring it above 100% in the case of green armor), while picking up a some armor bonuses while unarmored gave you a few points worth of green armor.
  • Many James Bond FPS games, GoldenEye (1997) plays it very straight by having body armor effectively serve as a second health bar— good thing, since there's no way to recover damage to your basic HP meter. However Nightfire plays with this to a degree: Your armor only protects you from bullets. Long falls still injure you directly regardless of armor.
  • Perfect Dark uses "realistic" personal shields.
    • In Perfect Dark Zero, body armor will mitigate the effect of being shot, although it will still undergo Critical Existence Failure and stop working, and is useless against melee. This actually makes sense, as kevlar vests in real life are designed to absorb bullet impact, and do nothing against a knife or club.
  • The second FEAR game plays this straight, after the first game averted it with an entire system for determining each weapon's armor-piercing capabilities.
  • Played with in the early Rainbow Six video games. Without heavy armor, the player character can go down in as little as one bullet, so body armor more or less took over for hit points. The Vegas sub-series more or less used this too despite the shift to Regenerating Health, as wearing heavier armor would allow you to take a bit more damage before dying, at the cost of slower movement and less stamina for sprinting in Vegas 2. Siege goes for a more standard aversion with separate health and armor counters, the latter of which absorbs damage from the former, and which can't be replenished mid-round.
  • Halo, using the recharging Deflector Shields version of this. By Halo 2 they more or less combined the shields with health, though games that don't have you play as a SPARTAN (Halo 3: ODST) or are set before the original game (Halo: Reach) go back to the old mechanics.
  • Half-Life, and the infamous HEV suit. Power in the HEV suit works like actual armor. Minor things will just chip away the power, but bullets will still take off HP.
  • Played straight in Unreal Tournament 2003, which completely abstracts armour as a floaty yellow shield icon when not equipped, and otherwise as a number that will go down instead of your health when you're hit. The Shield Gun's namesake Secondary Fire has a variation, where damage up to 100 points will be completely negated by the shield (anything above that, like a fully-charged BioRifle shot, will damage you as normal), except for falling damage which is only slightly cushioned (how this even works is best not discussed).
    • Unreal, Unreal Tournament and Unreal Tournament III zig-zag this depending on the armor type. For the latter two in particular, different armor gives different amounts of damage absorption - thigh pads and III's helmet protect from 50% damage (and, in the latter case, making you immune to a single headshot). Armor vests absorb 75% of damage taken. The shield belt, however, will absorb all damage taken until it's knocked out (and sits on top of the regular armor in the original Unreal).
    • UT2004 has the same abstraction of armor as 2003, but nevertheless plays this in an interestingly-different manner, closer to the other games. Although the HUD only has a single armor counter, the regular shield and super shield pickups stack separately (hence it's impossible to, for instance, get above 50 shields just by picking up regular shield packs) and apply different amounts of protection. The super shield absorbs damage first, taking away 75% damage dealt to you, then once it's gone the regular shield kicks in for 50% damage reduction until it's done too. If you have both, you get 100% damage absorption as long as the combined total is above 100 points - conversely, when the super shield is depleted, a glitch causes any damage over that to apply directly to your health rather than being absorbed less-efficiently by the regular shield.
    • Unreal II: The Awakening has an interesting aversion, where the level of your shields affected their effectiveness. At full shields they'd absorb 100% of any damage you took, but below 90% or so you started taking partial damage to your health with the shields only absorbing a percentage of total damage, which got lower and lower as your shields dropped (i.e. at 50% shield strength your shields would absorb less than half of the damage of a hit). It's not uncommon, assuming you grab no health or armor pickups over the course of a level, to die with with your shields still at 33% or more.
  • Borderlands has the "Deflector Shields As Hit Points" variation, some of which also increase max health as well (though others decrease it to make up for higher shield strength). There are some differences between health points and shield points besides shield regenerating, like different elemental multipliers (shock is better against shields, corrode and incendiary are better against flesh).
  • Armor in Dystopia has a certain hit point value and takes damage in place of some of your health, but it works differently. It takes double-damage from explosive weapons and half-damage from everything else. It also cannot be regenerated like health.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade also used it, though the tutorial interestingly tries to claim otherwise when the demonstration on taking damage has both your health and armor take damage from a single shot (which doesn't happen at all in the regular game). Even vehicles have both types of hitpoints, but the armor is taken off first. This makes some sense for the Mammoth Tank since it ties in with their self-repair (which only affects normal health, allowing it to recover to 50% just like in the original game).
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein does this with armored enemies, with pieces of their armor falling off as you shoot at them, including the final boss.
  • First-Person melee game Pirates Vikings and Knights has both a Health bar and an Armor bar, which varies depending on what class you've chosen, with the Heavy Knight having the most, and the shirtless Berserker having the least. The Armor mitigates a percentage of damage taken, and can be replenished by finding Armor pickups scattered across the map.
  • Overwatch has armor as a type of health, represented by yellow pips on the health bar. Damage taken is reduced by up to 5 points per hit as long as there's at least one point of armor. Bastion, Winston, D.Va and Reinhardt spawn with armor, and Torbjörn can create armor packs to give his allies armor.
  • In the Asymmetric Multiplayer game Evolve, the monster has two bars of hit points, one of which is armour, the other of which is its actual health. They are differentiated in that health does not replenish once lost and can only be increased whenever the monster "evolves", while armour can be regained through eating/regenerates by itself over time and does not get boosted when the monster evolves.
  • PAYDAY 2 plays this straight. Even standing in a cloud of tear gas will damage your armor before it starts eating into your health. Hell, armor will even absorb damage from a one-story fall (used to be a specific skill, now a regular part of gameplay as of the skill rebalance), though if you fall too far you do get incapacitated and need to be helped up. On top of that, with the exception of taking a bullet from a Sniper, any damage over that which causes your armor to break will be completely negated.

     Miscellaneous Games  
  • In Glider PRO, aluminum foil lets your glider take a certain undisplayed number of hits from moving things and bumping the sides of obstacles. If you never get it or once you lose it, you're a One-Hit-Point Wonder.

     Platform Games  
  • Demon's Crest gives Firebrand the Legendary Gargoyle morph, which effectively doubles his life gauge. In a more traditional example, the "Armor" talisman halves damage he takes. These two effects stack when used together.
  • This is how armors work in Legend of Kay. You even get an extra Life Meter (for the armor) next to your normal one.
  • In Jak 3: Wastelander and Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier, you start with eight hit points, or "half a circle". Each armor upgrade gives you two extra points, filling up the "circle".
  • In ESWAT (arcade version), you lose pieces of your Powered Armor when you take a hit.
  • In Ghosts 'n Goblins and its sequels, Arthur's only means of protection is the suit of armor he's wearing. Take one hit and he's reduced to his undies. Take another, well you lose the only armor keeping him together, and he's a pile of bones.
  • Similar to Ghosts 'n Goblins, fellow Capcom game Black Tiger also has a hero who will die on the next hit once his armor breaks and he's left with just a loincloth. Luckily you get a new suit of armor after finishing a level and you can also buy new suits of armor.

     Real Time Strategy  

  • In Starcraft, the Protoss have the "Deflector Shields" version.
  • In Rise of Legends the Cuotl have the deflector shield version, explained by the Sufficiently Advanced Technology of Ancient Astronauts.
  • Armor upgrades in Dawn of War increase hit points rather than damage resistance. This is because the game engine relies on armor type to determine damage taken.
  • In StarCraft II, the Vanidium Plating upgrade adds +5% HP per armor upgrade. This also affects vehicles and spaceships, as well as soldiers. Marines also get a Combat Shield upgrade that grants +10 HP.
  • In Star Ruler there are several types of armor, all of which behave as a specialized health bar that has some sort of benefit over your ships natural hull integrity, such as regeneration for nanomachine armor, a resistance to small projectiles/energy weapons on ablative armor, a resistance to (relatively) larger projectiles and explosives on reactive armor, and a lot of hitpoints and a low cost to more advanced armors on solid metal plates. Only two weapons can bypass armor reliably to hit enemy shits subsystems and hulls. Also, one can throw on as much armor as they would like, with no concern as to running out of room, as armor only increases the weight of a ship.
    • This game also follows the regenerating deflector shields as health variant, with a minor twist. Shields have a hardness attribute, this goes down as the shields take hits, and when this hardness goes low enough, the ships shields can simply be bypassed without totally stripping them. This makes nano armor invariably popular (while forgoing shields entirely, or using nano armor in combination with fast regenerating shields) as it is much harder to bypass than shields.
  • League of Legends features the Cloth Armor and Chain Vest items which avert this trope and reduce damage from physical attacks. However, the Warmog's Armor and the now-defunct Leviathan are breastplates that give a huge chunk of hitpoints.

  • In Darkest Dungeon, upgrading the armor of heroes mainly adds to their hit points.

     Role Playing Games  
  • In Parasite Eve 2, armor modifies your maximum HP and allows you to carry more usable items into battle.
  • In the computer game Autoduel, your vehicle's driver has 3 Hit Points at full health. Body armor can also be bought (or replaced, if damaged) at truck stops, which grants another 3 hit points. Driver health isn't affected until all 3 hit points from body armor are gone. (If 6 HP sounds puny, keep in mind that the damage scale is designed around armed, (usually) heavily armored vehicles shooting the crap out of each other.)
    • This is carried over from the original Tabletop RPG Car Wars. Body armour would give 3 extra damage points (improved versions, 6). As a side note on damage scale, what seems to be an ordinary M60-size machine gun does a base 1d6 damage.
      • As a humorous side-note, in the Tabletop RPG, you fall unconscious after taking 2 damage points and die after 3. A .44 magnum revolver inflicts 2 damage points. Therefore, if you take the rules literally, as long as you're not wearing armor, you cannot commit suicide with a .44 magnum, even if you put the barrel in your mouth and pull the trigger.
  • Knights of the Old Republic deflector shields roughly fit this (armour is the standard D20-style where it makes you harder to hit); there's a maximum damage quantity they can take, although they also have a time limit and a maximum they can absorb from any one attack.
  • Mass Effect plays the trope straight, with a third layer devoted to biotic barriers or shields. Most boss-type units in Mass Effect 2 have at least armor or shields. On Insanity difficulty, all enemies have armor or shields, and boss-type units have shields/biotic barriers, armor and finally health. Especially tough boss-type units have biotic barriers, shields, armor and health. However, huge or purely mechanical enemies only have armor, not health. Once their armor is depleted, it's assumed the last shot hit something vital and killed/destroyed them.
    • In Mass Effect 3, armor is implemented as an alternate form of health for enemies (either armor or health, never both). Armor reduces damage per shot by a set amount, and while some powers are more effective against armor than health, armored enemies are immune to certain abilities even if their shield/barrier is depleted.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, the Barrier chips act like this. Each Barrier has a set amount of health, so if you have a 200 Barrier, 20 attacks with 10 damage will break it, but so will the attack with 200 damage. The only way to restore it is it get another barrier. The subversion lies in the sister set, the "Aura" chips. They can only be destroyed by an attack that is equal to or more powerful than their HP.
  • Deus Ex uses the trope and justifies it in universe. The body armor actively uses energy to deflect weapon fire. Once it runs out of power, it no longer provides any protection. The armor slowly depletes just by wearing it, getting hit makes it deplete faster.
  • The Mobile Phone game Battleloot Adventure has armor increase your max HP instead of your defense stat.
  • In RuneScape, this trope was completely averted before the Evolution of Combat update. Before the update, there was no way to raise a players hitpoints above the maximum, and armour only served to reduce the probability of taking damage at all. A player wearing strong armour would be more likely to 'dodge' attacks and take no damage from them, but weren't more durable against attacks that would always hit.
  • Alpha Protocol has armor that grants endurance, which is like health that regenerates.
  • Iji: After 100 Armor Points are lost, you lose 1 of your Life Points.
  • Cube Colossus: Your Life Meter is called Shields.

     Stealth Based Game  

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum also does this. Each armor upgrade adds another segment to your health bar, but does absolutely nothing to improve your resistance to damage.

     Third Person Shooter  

     Turn Based Strategy  

  • Final Fantasy Tactics has no defense stat. Instead, armor just increases HP. Since an increase of 5 HP per level is considered extremely high, it's vital to make sure you have quality armor.
  • The first Master of Orion game had just generic hitpoints and shields, determined by ship size/armor tech and shield tech, respectively. The sequel changed the hitpoints into separate armor, hull integrity and system status levels, making ship design strategy more complex and interesting.
  • In Sword of the Stars all armor techs add to the health of your ships, but they also dramatically increase the chance of physical weapons simply ricocheting off the hull with no damage. Weapons in the 'Polarized Plasmatics' tree are dangerous because they negate that bonus.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, armour adds hit points to your troopers, which if lost do not contribute to recovery time after-battle. Advanced suits can have other benefits, like faster movement, flight, and reducing the enemy's chance to hit. XCOM 2 introduces an armor stat that reduces damage taken, which is important for some enemies (it can reduced damage by as much as 5), but few of your armors provide any. Health added from armor also doesn't reduce recovery time like it did in the first game.
  • In the Disgaea series, some armors and accessories will give you extra hit points in addition to boosting your other stat ratings.
  • The hybrid turn-based strategy/real-time tactics/roleplaying game, King Arthur The Role Playing Wargame adds this specifically to the hero/commander units, including your Knights of The Round Table. When they get armour, they only get a bonus to hit points (though usually a huge amount). However the armour stat (which heroes lack) for normal units, provides damage reduction. This is done, to make non-elite normal units a somewhat viable threat to heroes.

     Wide Open Sandbox  

  • Grand Theft Auto: All of the Playstation 2-era games use this trope the same way; body armor hit points are indistinguishable from regular hit points insomuch as game mechanics are concerned, but in Grand Theft Auto IV, only being shot or caught in an explosion will take off armor; damage taken from falling, getting run over, getting punched in the face and so on bypasses it. San Andreas and Liberty City Stories also bypassed armor damage from drowning and falling.
  • In Spore, adding armor to the animal increases the hitpoints, though the increases don't stack.
  • In EVE Online, spaceships have hitpoints split into three types: Shields, Armor and Structure which take damage in that order. Ships can equip modules to extend the hitpoints of all three.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, armor adds to your health bar. However, over time armor gets damaged and when "broken" you can't regain the health it provides until you get repairs done.
  • In [PROTOTYPE]. Alex has two defensive powers, a shield and armour. The shield on his arm absorbs hit points until it breaks, whereas the full-bodied armour simply reduces the damage done to him while slowing him down.
  • In the classic computer game Auto Duel, your character has 3 hit points and can buy body armor at any truck stop, which provides another 3 hit points. Unlike your body, though, the armor can't be fixed once it's shot up, so once it's sustained the full 3 points of damage, you'll need to buy new armor. (Oh, and if you're thinking that 3 hit points is a puny number, keep in mind that the game is designed around the concept of vehicles blowing the crap out of each other.)

Other examples:

  • In the Lone Wolf series of game novels by Joe Dever, any piece of armor you found would add to your endurance points. Largely because combat skill and endurance points were the only stats you actually had.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ablative armor in GURPS acts almost exactly like normal hitpoints (the exceptions being against attacks with armor penetration modifiers).
  • Rifts's Mega-Damage system basically replaces your normal SDC/Hit Points with the armor's MDC, given that even light Mega-Damage to a normal human will usually kill them outright.
  • Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game: Armor has an Armor Rating and an SDC count. Any strike roll that goes over the A.R. does damage directly to the character, anything under the A.R. damages the armor itself.
  • BattleTech armor is universally like this; it literally adds extra hit point boxes to a given unit's location 'outside' the internal structure proper, which are usually not actually any tougher but have to be eliminated before any actual structure damage can be inflicted.
  • Tunnels & Trolls, having been made in 1975, is the Trope Maker; armor, when donned, provides a boost in Hit Points that, once gone, is gone for good. Averted with shields, though, which shave a chunk off the damage of any connecting attack as long as they are equipped.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones armor has hit points that have to be reduced to zero before you take damage. Unless the enemy takes a single shot to hit something not covered by armor or is using Armor-Piercing ammo, which deals ammo damage to both the armor and the wearer.


  • This is a standard mechanic in Russian style LARP games. They tend to be combat heavy and feature a lot of unsafe medieval weapon action, and need very simplistic and easily trackable mechanic of combat. So the standard rule is "No armor = 1-2 hpnote , light armor = 3 hp, medium armor = 4 hp, heavy armor = 5 hp". Said armor is usually a quite historically faithful reproduction of medieval body armor.
  • We get a film example in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Nick Fury's Cool Car can somehow measure the integrity of its bulletproof windows as a percentage.
  • Commonly used in various version of Star Trek, in which the Enemy of the Week(Klingons, Romulans, Borg) start hammering away at the Enterprise, and as each blast rattles the ship a crew member would say "Shields holding at X percent". Usually after a few hits, the Chief Engineer will announce, "Captain, the shields can't take much more of this!"
  • Shardplate in The Stormlight Archive cracks as it takes damage, with individual pieces shattering if subjected to a lot of punishment. Luckily, it also regrows if provided with Mana. This is made explicit in duels, which are usually fought until a specific number of pieces have shattered.

Alternative Title(s): Body Armour As Hit Points, Armor As Hit Points