Monday, October 3, 2011

Armour: Easier to get hit, harder to harm

In Neoclassical Geek Revival, armour does not increase your ability to dodge a blow.  Quite the opposite,  it often slows you down and increases your likelihood of getting struck.  What it does do is make you take less damage from shots.

So the attacking player has made an attack roll,  added their combat bonus, any bonus (or penalties) for weapon and compared that to a defence score (including the defenders combat bonus, penalties for armour bonuses for shields: which can get quite large,  and other defensive articles, such as a sword).  And so far the armour has done jack except get in the way.

But armour grants a damage reduction per die.  This means that against multi-dice hellscapes (take 6d6 fireball!) a good suit of plate armour (-5 damage per die) makes one walk through practically unscathed.  With power like that, everyone should be an armoured tank right! (note that anyone can wear armour, though wizard's have some problems casting in metal armour).

Not so much,  for many situations and opponents the armour does nothing but slow you down.  Against armour piercing weapons for instance,  or just against really large amounts of damage by a single source.   A giant might not have any attack bonus (hard to hit)  but will do tremendous damage (d8 x 8) on a successful hit.   When you take 28 points of damage on a single hit,  is it really better to take 23 and be hit more often?  Armour thus becomes a choice to make not a problem to solve.  What do you want to be better prepared for? If you know you are fighting a Giant, sure, ditch the armour.  Likewise if you know you fighting goblin archers with bone arrows? throw on the steel plate.   Otherwise it is a case of deciding how you want your character to fight.

Like weapons,  armour CAN be modified to be more specific by adding descriptive tags to it if you want to be really finicky about the difference between Roman Segmented Armour and Norman Chain,  or an Ancient Greek Breastplate and Renaissance Plate.

From Neoclassical Geek Revival, PG 52

Basic Armour
The main benefit in armour is not
to avoid being hit, but to reduce or
eliminate the impact. Armour will in
many cases actually increase your
chances at being hit. Armour will grant
you a 'damage reduction' score per die of
damage. This means if armour gives
you a DR of 2, and you take 2d6
damage, you would receive up to 4
fewer points of damage. It is important
to note the rolls of each die. Armour
will also tend to give agility check
penalties. These modifiers usually apply
to agility checks, evade rolls and defense
rolls. Wearing no armour and loose
clothing will actually give you a slight
bonus. Armour can be described by the
basic type, and then modified by
descriptive tags should you wish that
level of detail

Type              Modifier       DR
Loose clothing 0/+1          0
Light Armour    0              1
Mail Armour    -2             3
Plate Armour    -3            5

Descriptive tags for armour
Describing armour as light, mail
or plate is fine for quick or combat light
games. If the game is of a more militant
nature, descriptive tags are a good way
to add mechanical differences to the
many types of armour available in a
fantasy world. Tags are more efficient
than describing specific historical
armours, as historical armours were
developed to protect against historical
weapons. Would smiths have still have
used the same designs to counter griffon
claws as they used for heavy crossbows
or emerging firearms? Historical
armours can be approximated using the
descriptive tag system as well. Note that
the orders of the tags impact the
application of the benefits and penalties.
Reinforced, Spiked armour is different
than Spiked, Reinforced armour.

Tag: Beefcake/Cheesecake
There is practical armour
and then there is fantasy armour. Many
examples of fantasy armour feature
exposed midriff, thigh-high boots,
or glistening well oiled pectoral
muscles and biceps. This makes it hard
for the wearer to take himself or herself
seriously, giving a –1 penalty to
resistance rolls. On the other hand it
really does keep to trope and as such
gives +2 to awesomeness. Clothing can
use this tag.

Tag: Bulky
Bulky armour sacrifices mobility
for an increase in protection against
blunt attacks. The armour gains +2 DR
against blunt attacks but suffers an
additional –1 to both defense rolls and
agility checks. The armour also
increases in dot size by 1. Quilted
armour is a good example of this
armour. Clothing can use this tag.

Tag: Ceremonial
Ceremonial armour is not
designed for field use, but rather for
display. Ceremonial armour gives a –1
penalty to defense rolls but a +1 bonus
to presence. Clothing can use this tag.

Tag: Crude
Crude armour represents shoddy
workmanship, experimental designs or
partially damaged armour. It provides
no extra benefit but does increase the
defense penalty and agility check
penalty by 1. Clothing can use this tag.

Tag: Lightweight
Lightweight armour has been
specifically stripped to ease the burden
and increase mobility. This lowers the
dot size by 1 and reduces the penalty to
defense and agility checks by 1. The
downside is the armour loses 2 DR
versus blunt damage.

Tag: Ornamental
Ornamental armour has been adorned
with decorations designed to catch the
eye. Ornamental armour gives +1 to
appeal roles due to the opulence it
projects, but gives –1 to evade rolls due
to its distinctive appearance. Feathered,
gem encrusted or gold plated armour
would use this tag. Clothing can use this

Tag: Partial
Partial armour is any incomplete
set of armour. This halves the dot size
of the armour and halves the defense roll
and agility check penalties of the
armour. The armour is also bypassed
completely by attacks that roll a 15 or
better. It is possible to wear a set of
partial armour over a set of full armour,
such as partial plate over full leather. In
this case, the full armour is only used if
the partial armour is bypassed. Stack the
penalties for both sets of armour. A
breastplate or mail shirt is an example of
partial armour.

Tag: Sophisticated
Sophisticated armour represents
master workmanship coupled with a
perfected design. Renaissance period
plate armour would be an example of
this tag. Sophisticated armour reduces
the defense penalty and agility check
penalty by 1.

Tag: Reinforced
Reinforced armour has been
improved with additional plating, chain
links, metal studs or other modifications
to deflect blades. This doubles the
armour’s DR against slashing weapons,
at the cost of also doubling its defense
and agility check penalty. Studded
leather or advanced plate armours are
examples of reinforced armour.

Tag: Spiked
Spiked armour has been studded
with small blades or long spikes. This is
useful to repel a grapple (or deal 1d4
damage in a grapple) but gives a –1
penalty to attack roles as the spikes
impact the ability to move cleanly. The
spikes also deflect blades granting a +1
DR against slashing weapons, but
actually reduce the effectiveness of the
armour against blunt attacks (-1 DR vs


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