Sunday, December 2, 2012

Armour class and basic looting, Part 1

When players buy armour, they most of the time just buy the best AC they can get. They don't care that much what it looks like or who made it. The only thing important is what you're allowed to wear and what is the easiest way to get it. As far as roleplaying goes, this is a missed opportunity.

Questions like "how could a cloak influence AC" just aren't asked. Or what about trousers, arm protection and helmets? Nobody cares that much (other than as part of a whole package or it comes with magical properties, that is). I'd like to change that (in my game, at least), so here are a few ideas how to get this a little bit more flexible and relevant.

AC is only a category, not a set.

Just by looking at the unmodified numbers, it could be splitted like this:
9 - without armour.
8 to 6 - light armour*
5 to 3 - medium armour
2 to 0 - heavy armour
Those are the 4 categories characters can have anyway. And if shields are not treated as something seperate, it changes nothing.

Categories are about material.

Six areas need to be protected: head, torso, two arms, two legs (most of the time). Any three items of light armor give a character an unmodified AC of 6 (light/small shield could be one of those items). Any one piece of medium armor (as a substitute or an addition) improves your armour by one (up to AC 3). You need at least 3 items of medium armour and one item of heavy armour to get AC 2 another piece of heavy armour and you have AC 1. In conclusion, with 3 items of medium armour and 3 of heavy armour, the whole body is covered = AC 0 (taking of a helmet, for example, would be AC 1 again).This is still about unmodified AC. And it looks something like this:

  • AC 8: (heavy) leather, heavy fabrics, fur and skins (one main piece)
  • AC 7: (heavy) leather, heavy fabrics, fur and skins (2 pieces)
  • AC 6: (heavy) leather, heavy fabrics, fur and skins (3 pieces)

  • AC 5: heavy leather, furs or hide (reinforced with metal, wood or bone), also chain, banded or scale mail (at least two pieces light armour and one piece medium armour)
  • AC 4: heavy leather, furs or hide (reinforced with metal, wood or bone), also chain, banded or scale mail (one piece light armour and two pieces medium armour)
  • AC 3: heavy leather, furs or hide (reinforced with metal, wood or bone), also chain, banded or scale mail (three pieces medium armour)

  • AC 2: mostly metal and/or bone (three pieces medium armour and one piece heavy armour)
  • AC 1: mostly metal and/or bone (three pieces medium armour and two pieces heavy armour)
  • AC 0: mostly metal and/or bone (three pieces medium armour and three pieces heavy armour)

So any combination of armour can get you to the AC your class is entitled to. Let's say a fighter has a fur cloak, some good leather trousers and a horned helmet (a little metal and hardened leather for the helmet). Further assume the trousers and the cloak are light armour, the helmet is medium. Even without a shirt (going for the look and all) he'd be at an AC of 5 (unmodified). Add two metal arm protectors and he is at 3 (still all style over substance...). Give this guy a breastplate, a metal helmet and some chainmail trousers and he's in full plate (AC 0).

It's the basic idea, anyway. But there is more. Two layers of light armour could count as medium armour, for instance. Or: if a character wears more items than needed to get an AC, he can loose or discard them without penalty (a helmet or a shield, etc.). Wearing not enough items would degrade items you wear up to the point the requirements are fulfilled (wearing only 4 items of heavy armour and nothing else, would mean 3 of them count as medium armour, AC would be 2, see below). Stuff like that, but:

Now loot those bodies!

The beauty of it is that armour becomes an interesting part of the game. Starting equipment should just allow for the basic needs. It's not that easy to get descent armour around any corner, to be honest. Why should the smith at your village have all this stuff in stock anyway? But if you see a nifty helmet on that orc chief, it adds to your armour and you have a story to tell about it. Make the need for protection part of the game, but let the players fight for it. It's easy enough to keep track of and adjust armour on the fly. Take for instance this random pic:

Great art and it's from molybdenumgp03

Helmet? Check. Both arms protected? Check and check. Torso? Check! Now, I'd say the arms and the head are protected by medium armour, torso protected by heavy armour (but I could go either way here...). So this dame is down to AC 2 (unmodified)...

Part 2 will be about prices and quality, Part 3 should be about attributes and magic.

*Symmetry being the only reason here.

1 comment:

  1. I like this idea quite a bit. A lot of fantasy artwork is devoid of all things platemail so it's nice to have some style with fur and metal pauldrons, or vambraces of bone and have it all add up to a respectable armor class.