I am not exactly happy with the AP-ignoring capabilities of kevlar vests in a modern setting I am playing. Combat in the setting is mainly ranged, even though melee is still really effective. The problem I have is that there is simply no reason to use anything but a Kevlar Vest, because Guns are used so often that the AP-ignore is really really strong. I understand that it makes sense for the vests to have that ability, as that is the benefit of kevlar, but I feel it makes the AP of guns totally unnecessary in most situations and buying stuff like AP bullets (+2 to AP) seems like a total waste with 90% of the weapons (there are a few AP3 weapons that would "benefit" from the AP bullets, but that is only a small range of guns)

Is there any better way to make other armor be a viable option? (other than "simply not use guns on the enemies {as much}") I would be fine with a way to make other armor types more viable or with ways to change the Kevlar Vests. Showing me a good way to prevent kevlar beeing the "non-plus-ultra" without any rule changes might be acceptable anwers, too.

Available weapons, armor and arcane backgrounds in the setting are:

  • many modern weapons from different Savage Worlds supplements, from pistols up to machine guns and rocket launchers, even though small weapons are used in most missions
  • modern and medieval melee weapons are in broad use, but there is still more guns than swords in the most fights
  • Grenades, Explosives are all accessible quite easily
  • Modern armor exists as well as medieval armor, even though 95% of people in the world don't use chainmail or heavier stuff. Leather armor is relatively common, but "modernized"
  • Psionics is the only allowed Arcane Background, but most powers from the core book and some custom ones are available
  • Blackpowder Weapons exist, but only a small amount of people use them (mostly just "because they can", too)

Some clarifications on my setting:

  • People mainly use melee weapons (especially the medieval ones) because the gods (that clearly exist in this setting) bestowed many people with special "powers" and those favor melee weapons. Also, I don't talk about real warfare here, but instead guerilla operations (so you won't find that many tanks, Anti Material Rifles or Bazookas in the fights the players are in)
  • Kevlar won't really arouse that much suspicion because soldiers and people from military organizations are common on the streets. Sure, someone in jeans and T-Shirt wearing a kevlar vest will look "funny" and maybe people will be irritated, but with a small bit of effort you look like you belong.
  • Many people also wear small arms openly and for all to see

Clarifications on why I feel a change is needed:

  • I want to increase the diversity. Both in armor and guns, simply because I am a fan of characters actually using different equipment in different situations
  • I feel that the AP of guns is pretty useless because of the high numbers the vests ignore. The normal vests ignore AP 4, heavy vests ignore AP8, while the gun with the highest AP that is not a Heavy Weapon (which ignores Non-Heavy Armor completely) has AP 4 (AP 6 with AP Rounds)

1 Answer 1


Are you sure it's a problem?

The problem I have is that there is simply no reason to use anything but a Kevlar Vest, because Guns are used so often that the AP-ignore is really really strong.

I would counter that in the real world, there is simply no reason to use anything but a kevlar vest. Guns are used very often and the fact that they by and large prevent bullets from piercing is the reason that they are used. This is why virtually every modernized police and military organization in the world uses kevlar vests; because they are just better.

If you're going to have other people wearing other stuff, then there has to be a reason. There's some reasons in the real world that not everybody wears a kevlar vest:

  • It's expensive (a quick search showed that a military-grade vest that is actually kevlar, rather than a flak jacket, is at least $1,500)
  • There are laws preventing civilians with a criminal record from owning them
  • They are too restrictive and bulky for everyday wear
  • Some types easily absorb moisture and would be heavier in wet environments
  • Walking down the street in one will probably make people scared of you

All of these problems are avoided by wearing leather armor, giving incentive for someone to choose that instead. There still is less reason to use chain and plate mail because, let's face it, they historically became useless once gunpowder was invented.

These are all reasons outside of combat to not wear kevlar. But let's say that you're already in combat. The fact is that you have to change your tactics, just like you would in real combat:

  • Use bullets that are designed to pierce kevlar vests (e.g. teflon-coated armor piercing bullets)
  • Make called shots to areas without armor (if they just have a vest, their limbs and head are exposed)
  • Fight with grenades and other explosives
    • Area of effect weapons bypass any armor in Savage Worlds unless you are fighting in enclosed armor
  • Use Vehicle Mounted & AT Guns, which almost all have a large enough AP to mitigate the AP reduction of kevlar
  • Use melee weapons (although kevlar vests are resistant to cutting and slashing, stabbing can generally get through it)
    • In Savage Worlds, melee weapons generally don't have armor piercing and those that do, like the katana, are not bullets and thus not negated by kevlar. I would imagine that knives and spears would be typical weapons since slashing swords generally won't work.
    • Also, blunt weapons are still just as effective at whacking your enemy senseless. Plate mail help can counter this, which might be a reason for someone to switch.
  • Since psionics are available in your setting, use them (kevlar won't protect your mind)

But it you really want to change it…

Probably what I would do is have kevlar vests ignore 2 points of armor-piercing, rather than 4 (up to you whether or not you keep the bonus to Toughness). Thus a weapon with AP 3 is reduced to AP 1. This broadens the range of guns that would be able to pierce some of the protection of a kevlar vest.

Since you mentioned that they are gifted with supernatural powers...

In an edit, you added the following:

People mainly use melee weapons (especially the medieval ones) because the gods (that clearly exist in this setting) bestowed many people with special "powers" and those favor melee weapons.

This sounds pretty similar to superheroes. Hawkeye uses a bow and arrow while Wolverine uses metal claws, and yet both exist in a world where guns exist and are used quite frequently.

Consider using the Super Powers Companion and picking a low power level, probably Pulp Heroes. Then characters can take the Attack, Melee or Attack, Ranged power, or whatever other ones you want them to have. This will increase the power level of archaic weapons and make them viable in a setting that uses guns regularly. And since you said that the gods granting these powers prefer the weapons, you can establish that the gods have made the powers conditional on using those weapons.

Since more powerful melee weapons ignore the primary benefit of kevlar, it creates a disincentive for taking it and encourages characters to take other types of armor.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Making kevlar reduce AP rather than negating it is more realistic. The US military uses kevlar armor with hard plate inserts because kevlar alone isn't enough to stop a high-power rifle round except at long range. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Aug 12, 2015 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note also that simply coating a normal bullet with teflon reduces its ability to penetrate armor. Teflon coating is normally used on armor piercing ammunition because the harder metals used in those rounds can damage gun barrels. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Aug 12, 2015 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I double-checked the Savage Worlds rules and it turns out that kevlar does indeed reduce AP, rather than negate it completely. It just does it up to 4 points of Armor Piercing, which is enough for anything except high powered rifles and mounted guns. Kelvar vests with inserts increase the negation to 8 points of Armor Piercing, which matches what you said about the US military using it. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12, 2015 at 18:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Negating 8 AP still sounds somewhat high. I might go with 2/4 or 3/6 rather than 4/8. Even the inserts won't help much against an anti-materiel rifle or a vehicle-mounted heavy machine gun (to say nothing of vehicle-mounted autocannons). Another approach might be to negate AP less than a certain value but do nothing against AP that meets or exceeds that value. So an AP3 attack becomes an AP0 attack, but an AP5 attack is still AP5. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage An Anti-metrial-rifle and a vehicle-mounted machine gun most of the time use the heavy weapons rule. Which negates anything thats not heavy armor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bazhell
    Aug 13, 2015 at 5:59

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