During times of war and in situations requiring personal defense, armor is often a necessity. This is especially true in the ungoverned land of the Fringe, a place where the high-running emotions of the free populace often cause conflict to eventually lead to some form of violence as an outlet. A way of life for these people, armor in some form is seen as a must by most who spend their time in areas of the Fringe which aren't well guarded by Civilian Police of the local powers that be. This armor can range from simple combat armor, to massive mechanical behemoths which require physical augmentations for the wearer to properly pilot them, only utilized by those who have the time and resources to maintain such devices.
Personal armor can be divided into a variety of different classes and compositions: ultralight, light, medium, heavy, superheavy, and mecha.
The most basic of armor, the Extralight base type encompasses combat armors constructed of Kevlars and other fabrics which may or may not be reinforced with light metal fibers such as Durasteel or Aegisalt. These bases are usually capable of dealing with short blades such as those on daggers and knives meant for stabbing, and can slow the impact force of small arms on thicker plates put on the torso, back, upper arms, and upper legs. Using modern materials, they allow for superb maneuverability, but are quite limited in their ability to protect from attacks, particularly energy weaponry. Mostly used by scouts, or those who feel as though they do not need to heavily guard themselves. Most ultralight polymers utilize carbon nanotubes in their structure.
A step up from Extralight, Light armors include thicker fabrics supplemented by actual hardplates, usually made of light metals or composite ballistic ceramics. Much less flexible than extralight, it still offers a good balance of agility in comparison to provided defense, as long as you aren't in the middle of bullet hell. Light plating can best resist average pistol rounds and some larger pistol rounds. Most light armors make use of a combination of fabrics and polymers, aegisalt plates, or ceramic composites.
Often treated as the trading point between whether you are wearing Combat Armor or Power Armor, Medium armors begin to use more hardplate than softplate, thinner metal plates, high impact composite ceramics, and other materials such as limited carbide/carbyne use provide a much greater defense against armaments, at the cost of both maneuverability and range of motion. Because of the higher grade materials, Medium Armor allows for specialized defense against energy weapons through ferozium and or high-polish surfacing and angling of armor depending on its composition. Combat armor consisting of Medium plates often only covers vital areas, with light or even ultralight being used on other parts such as the extremities to minimize the weight needed to be carried. Medium armor can handle pistol rounds, as well as provide moderate defense from rifle rounds. Medium armor sets can begin to take advantage of durasteel, rubium, ferozium, and even lesser amounts of violium.
Breaching into armor plating only meant to be on powered armors, such as power armor, (light and heavy), mechsuits, and mechas, Heavy Armor is the route to go for superb defensive capabilities when weight and cost is not an issue. Consisting of thick plates of metals and composite materials meant to tumble ballistics and have enough bulk to resist the ablation and slagging of energy weapons, Heavy Armor's greatest weaknesses are the lack of flexibility when donning this armor, and its weight. Those with lighter armors can take advantage of the inertia their opponent's mass carries, disorienting them and moving around faster than they can safely. These armors can be powered through hydraulics, servos and actuators, and synthetic muscles. Without their power, they become little more than extremely heavy turtle shells, impossible to move in. Heavy armor can handle rifle rounds, but massive or dedicated armor penetration calibers will still cause damage reliably. Heavy armors often take advantage of impervium when able.
The ultimate in defense, Superheavy armor plating is only capable of being put on mechsuits and mechas. Thick metal and composite plates in layers allow for the armors which don these plates to become walking tanks in their capability to shrug off projectiles. Similar to heavy plating, the armor which carries this can only pray to be mobile in any way if powered, leaving them at the mercy of those wielding high-voltage weaponry capable of shorting out circuitry and destroying battery cells. Mobility is all but limited to walking and turning, with fine motor skills left impossible to access due to the thickness and bulk of this armor. Weapons meant to be used by those in these armors have to be custom made for them to be held in the larger hands of said suits without being crushed or otherwise impossible to wield. Able to generally provide good protection from rifle rounds and survive large rifle rounds and dedicated armor penetration without much difficulty.
The final "class" of armor, mecha armor consists of plates similar in design to superheavy class armor, yet in weights which can range from just over superheavy weight, to a single plate weighing more than entire sets of armor. Ability against ballistics varies, but usually hovers around Heavy to Superheavy capability.
Armor can be composed of various materials, from ultralight nanotube vests to mechas with impervium plating. The composition of armor changes what your armor is best at defending against, and perhaps what it is weak to.
Composite armor is designed to defend against both ballistic and energy attacks effectively, at the cost of being fairly average in terms of defense. Composite armors are typically made with polymers such as nanotubes, durasteel plates, or any combination of varying metals that would lend itself to being average in all of its defensive capabilities.
Ceramic armors are designed to defend against higher caliber ballistic fire, but will often fail and shatter after one or more hits, depending on the weight class of the armor. Ceramics are popular for many armors worn by civilians, in which defense against an initial burst of fire is important to allow for escape, but heavier armors can take advantage of ceramics as well. Ceramic armors are typically made using various ceramic alloys or rubium.
Ballistic armors are designed to defend better against ballistic or kinetic fire, usually at the expense of taking more damage from attacks made using energy weapons. Ballistic armors are usually made with light polymers that are often weak to intense heat, violium which is significantly weaker to plasma fire, and impervium which offers supreme kinetic defense but very poor energy defense.
Heat armors are designed to defend better against energy weapons, usually at the expense of taking more damage from attacks made using ballistic weapons. Heat armors are usually made with materials heat-resistant polymers that are structurally weaker, ferozium which offers significant energy defense but can shatter when subjected to ballistic fire, and other various reflective layers or angles that help deflect laser fire.