The Q Manual gives the James Bond: 007 RPG player armor ratings for vehicles, but did not really address personal body armor. I covered this in my Q2 Manual, but thought it might be worth coming back to for those who want to understand the reason for the game specifications on personal body armor.
Level I armor is lightweight and allows for easy production of body armor that can look like ordinary clothing — a tee-shirt or a vest. They stop most light rounds — .22, .32, .380 — but does not usually take care of all of the kinetic damage. These are usually in the range of DC C to E. The armor reduces the damage class by -2DC.
Level IIA armor can handle mid-weight and speed bullets like 9mm and .40 S&W (DCs in the range from E to G.) Damage class is reduced by -4.
Level I and IIA are usually older vests or special order items, as they are considered by law enforcement to be ill suited to protecting officers from modern ammunition. The older armor also rarely protect against bladed weapons, something that most newer vests do. That doesn’t mean, however, they wouldn’t be perfect for the deep cover officer looking to have some protection, but not advertise this fact. Level I armor has the equivalent of a CON -4, Level II CON -2 to be spotted with a PERCEPTION test.
Level II armor is is the standard for hot-weather police department and is also available to civilians in the US and a few other nations. Level II is rated to stop fast (“hot”) 9mm, .40S&W/10mm, .357 magnum+P ammunition (DCs in the G-I range.) It lowers DC by -4DC but also provides a -1WL benefit, but also cuts the Run/Swim and Stamina times by a quarter.
Level IIIA is typical of police and military units where concealment of armor is not a high priority. They are rated to handle up to .44 magnum pistol cartridges and can stop most shotgun shot (DCs in the H to J range.) It provides -6DC protection, but halves the Run/Swim and Stamina times of a character using it.
Level III is “tactical” armor, and is normally worn over clothes with MOLLE or velcro-attached pouches to carry ammunition, radios, etc. It also typically adds a “rifle plate” or “trauma plate”, which provides protection for up to .308/7.62mm rifle rounds and 12 gauge slugs (DCs in the I to L range.) It provides -6DC and a -2WL benefit, but it also halves a character’s Run/Swim and Stamina times, and adds a -1EF to Dexterity tests. Often tactical units will include a kevlar helmet that provides protection worth -4DC .
Level IV armor is rated for high-power armor-piercing rounds like the US APM2 .30-06 round. It is hot, heavy, and uses both ceramic, steel, or carbon fiber plates, in addition to kevlar fabric to protect against these high-energy projectiles. Level IV armor also nearly always includes a helmet that gives -4DC protection, but gives the character a -1EF to any Perception-based test. Also the neck roll on Level IV armor gives a -6DC rating.
One issue: these materials are, however, brittle and usually break up on impact, providing single shot protection against high energy bullets. The armor provides a -8DC for the first impact on the vest (front or back.) However, it loses a -4DC of protection per hit where the original DC was K or higher.
As you can tell, the design intent is to drop the damage to about DC B or C, where the worst the character suffers is a light wound, but usually takes a stun. Gamemasters can add hit locations to the mix, if their players get a bit too cocky, thinking the armor makes them invincible. (See the GM Screen for hit location table.) All of this armor is generally good for the torso area, although Level IV armor is a notable exception.
Here are some examples of modern body armor:
Second Chance makes a concealable armor in Level IIa through IIIa in the Summit line. They also make a “stab-proof” twaron armor vest for correctional officers in their Prism Spike line and gives a Level IIa protection versus both handguns and blades. Their Prism Multi-Threat armor is Level IIIa.
American Body Armor (ABA) makes the Xtreme line of police vests from Level IIa through to Level IIIa.
Savvy is one of the few manufacturers of body armor specifically for females. It also provides improved impact resistance in the breast area. Their vests come in Level II and IIIa.
Point Blank makes armor for both police and military. Their Vision and Hi-Lite series are more focused on deep cover protection, and the C-Series on uniform use. They also make “carriers” — tactical vests that can have armor plates inserted into them and typically provide Level IIIa protection. Police tactical line — Level III and IV are the Dragonfire and Spider lines. Their military offerings are the IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) in Level III and IV.