What do people do about helmets?

1981 B/X D&D doesn’t seem to say anything about helmets. Labyrinth Lord (based on B/X) has a helmet in the equipment list but no rules for effects, though the Advanced Edition Companion uses the AD&D rule (below).

The AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, of course, includes this:

It is assumed that an appropriate type of head armoring will be added to the suit of armor in order to allow uniform protection of the wearer. Wearing of a “great helm” adds the appropriate weight and restricts vision to the front 60″ only, but it gives the head AC 1. If a helmet is not worn, 1 blow in 6 will strike at the AC 10 head, unless the opponent is intelligent, in which case 1 blow in 2 will be aimed at the AC 10 head (d6, 1-3 = head blow).

To be honest, I’ve never really used this rule. I’ve been tempted from time to time to do so, maybe by just including a 6d roll along with every d20 to-hit roll, but have never gone ahead with it. I’ve also thought about the idea of a natural ’20’ indicating a “head shot” that causes double damage to those wearing helmets and triple damage to those without. Or maybe normal damage if wearing a helmet and double damage to those without.

Philotomy writes:

Wearing a suit of armor (i.e. doesn’t include “shield only”) without a helmet grants attackers a +1 bonus to the attack roll. (I followed the OD&D practice where an armor bonus/penalty applies to the enemy’s attack roll rather than to the PC’s armor class.)

This effectively grants an AC penalty to those wearing armor but no helmet and fits in with the AD&D view that “it is assumed that an appropriate type of head armoring will be added to the suit of armor.”

Generally, I’ve ruled that helmets don’t make any difference unless something specific comes up and I rule otherwise. Rocks raining down from above may cause 1d4 damage to those without helmets but only 1 damage to those with, for instance. Or maybe someone wearing a visored helmet gets a bonus when trying to avoid a medusa’s gaze. But I’ve never had any formal rules. Only on-the-spot rulings.

How do others handle helmets?

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