2019-03-19 Metal Armour

A discussion with @lskh and @Provinto has me come back to the question of movement rate, encumbrance, and armour.

Basically, the question is: what effect does armour have besides armour class?

Or perhaps the more important question you need to answer first is this: how is movement rate going to affect the game? Can a character that is not faster than an opponent never flee? Can an opponent that’s faster never be caught? Notice that in B/X and Labyrinth Lord, movement speed does not factor into the chase rules. Even if you’re slower, you can hide behind bushes, dive for cover, over throw carts, and so on. In those rules, the trade-off is different: splitting up into smaller groups results in better chances of finding or avoiding opponents, but if a follow-up fight ensues, there’s fewer people on your side. As for my own chase rule: I ended up scrapping it since I never used it at the table. These days I tend to think that I don’t care about movement rate.

In my game, metal armour comes up in a small number of situations:

  1. you cannot sneak
  2. you cannot climb
  3. you cannot swim

Being unable to swim means you’re drowning. This is particularly harsh in my game because it means you must save vs. death or die, every single round.

That still leaves the question of chain mail. I just explain that chain mail is what stingy bosses buy for their troops (mercenaries, guards, soldiers), or poor characters on the first session. Characters should wear leather if pirates or thieves – or they should wear plate.

I also use the old price of 60gp for plate armour instead of hundreds of gold pieces. My argument is that this will buy you the worst armour that still satisfies the requirements. It’s the post-apocalyptic version of plate armour: chain mail with some plates attached, rusty, dented, ugly as hell. And if you want a fancy full plate armour like the ones worn by kings that you can still see in a museum, well then we’re talking about magical armour, or impressive armour that has an effect on the troups you lead, and at that point you might as well be paying thousands of gold pieces for it. It’s famous armour.

60gp gets you murder clown plate armour.



I am definitely going to use the phrase “murder clown plate armour” the next time I play D&D 🙂

– Adrian 2019-03-19 14:43 UTC


– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-19 20:57 UTC

I have been toying for a while with the idea of armour as damage reduction. Basically, damage is rolled on a table (a bit like in rolemaster) based on location and type of damage. Armour substracts differently against different damage and the result is the hp loss, and if over certain threshold, means a wound.

Now, my idea is that one rolls to hit over (say) 10, then rolls for damage if one hits. The table has all the info, and if the location was not specified, it is determined by where the die landed.

Ideally, this means characters risk death from combat at higher levels, and hp are just a measure of fatigue. One dies from wounds, but 0 hp means the character is helpless.

– Enzo 2019-03-20 12:55 UTC

Interesting. I’ve played Das Schwarze Auge as a teenager (The Dark Eye), and there you had a defense roll (a d20 roll based on skill instead of a static target number), a damage roll, and damage reduction based on armor. My impression was that everything just took a lot longer. But your example has a static defense that’s easy to hit, right? Perhaps that simplifies things.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-20 14:43 UTC

Yeah, I haven’t tested it but I had in mind that you roll over 10 unless the opponent is actively doing something to avoid the blow.

– Enzo 2019-03-20 15:41 UTC

If you’re interested, take a look at the combat chapter of The All-Seeing Eye, a retro clone.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-20 16:58 UTC

It looks way more complicated than I was aiming for. Reminds me of my early rpg years (I cut my teeth with MERP).

– Enzo 2019-03-21 08:06 UTC

MERP! Good times. I bought MERP, and then Rolemaster with the companions up to IV, but when I finally got my players to check it out, they fought some orcs and got butchered and that was that. Back to AD&D! 😅

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-21 08:50 UTC

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