I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Personalyzed armor

One more attempt at "fixing" armor; a bit different from encumbrance armor, but the basis is the same. Hope I am not repeating some old post...

The goals:
* Armor should be suited to your character. Stronger characters can carry more armor.
* No arbitrary class restrictions ("wizards cannot wear armor", etc.).
* As your level rises, so does your AC.
* Armor should follow a simple formula rather than an arbitrary list not-quite-historical armor types.

Here what I can up with.

Light, medium and heavy armor are three different categories (light/medium/heavy), but with no fixed AC. One person's light armor is another person's heavy armor, etc. You can also be unarmored.

You can also have No/Light/Medium/Heavy encumbrance, but with no exact correspondence. For example, you can have light armor but be heavily encumbered (specially if your carrying lots of backpacks etc.)

Rounding: there is no need to round any numbers; it your strength is 15, half of it is 7.5, so 7 is smaller than 7.5, and 8 is larger, etc.

AC is 10 plus Dexterity modifier.

Light armor
Anything that weights less than your one fourth of your Strength. The AC bonus is equal to the weight. You still get your Dexterity modifier.

Medium armor
Anything that weights less than your one third of your Strength. The AC bonus is equal to the weight. You still get your Dexterity modifier, but it is reduced by one third.

Heavy armor
Anything that weights less than your one half of your Strength. The AC bonus is equal to the weight. You still get your Dexterity modifier, but it is reduced by half.

Encumbrance: None/Light/Medium/heavy
* None: If your current encumbrance is smaller than one third your Strength. You get a +1 bonus to AC,  sneaking around, acrobatics, etc.
* Light: If your current encumbrance is smaller than half your Strength. You have a harder time casting spells. You might get an AC bonus if you're a monk, etc.
* Medium: If your current encumbrance is smaller or equal to your Strength. You have a harder time casting spells, sneaking around, etc.
* Heavy: If your current encumbrance is larger than your Strength. You have an even harder time casting spells, sneaking around, etc., and your speed is reduced.

In short:

Weight (= AC bonus) Dex modifier
No armor 0 100%
Light Armor smaller than Str/4 100%
Medium Armor smaller than Str/3 66%
Heavy Armor smaller than Str/2 50%
Weight Special
No encumbrance smaller than Str/3 +1 AC bonus
Light encumbrance smaller than Str/2 affects spells
Medium encumbrance smaller than Str also affects Dex
Heavy encumbrance larger than Str also affects Speed
The result

The results are pleasing, but not ideal. Take a look at this chart; it uses the rules above and assumes that "no amor" gives you a +1 bonus to AC (which is only true if you're unencumbered):

There are some problems. Medium armor is often useless if you have high Dexterity, for example. A simples fix would be allowing your full dexterity bonus to medium armor:

Anyway, it's a matter of fine tuning. And there is LOTS of fine tuning to do. For example, under this system you have good reasons to avoid wearing the heaviest armor you can.

But maybe even HAVING light/medium/heavy armor is one step too far. Encumbrance alone might be enough. Once again, this might be too complex for the types of game I play, but I cannot help playing with the mechanics of the game. But maybe I can come up with a mechanic that is even simpler. Let's see...


  1. I have plans to try and take another crack at this as a holistic system with weapon scaling (having weapon defined as Light/Versatile/Heavy) based on slots, with slots based on a combination of STR score and size modifier. Part of the end goal is that it allows for Small races to just treat weapons as one category larger weapons (think Bilbo/Frodo with Sting, which to them is a shortsword, but to humans was a large dagger, and the trolls in the Hobbit used as a paring knife).

    It too may end up being too complex, but my end goal is to have have at table changes just be moving up/down "categories", (so Enlarge Person allows all Heavy Weapons to become Versatile. and Versatile to become Light, etc).

    I probably would keep your simpler system of allowing full DEX mod to AC always. If I don't like how it works with current rules, I'll just change the stat modifier (Maybe the old -3 to +3 of AD&D).

    A thought that came out of the initial work is that weapons that fully rely on Dex are ones that are either really small (think small bows that usually only deliver poison darts), or spellcasting rays and weapons like the SunSword (just a handle). Spell casting will then only boost saves (and maybe grant a bonus spell slot). Attack modifier will essentially be the old Touch attack.

    1. I like the idea of having a Light/Versatile/Heavy continuum. The Str/Dex issue is another thing that is kind hard to tackle... I tend to prefer using both.

    2. I like the idea of both, and the solution of dominant ability to Attack/Damage, and the other one to just Attack. The more I look at it, the more I like the default outside of blow guns, ray attacks and odd features to make Dex only add to attack, while STR adds to Attack and Damage. Just use an AC+10 crit rule, and you still have your dexterous but not strong characters landing blows, but not cutting through enemies like butter. Dex still keeps the initiative bonus, AC, and strong save.

    3. Yes, that is exactly how I feel too! I used something similar in Dark Fantasy Basic; Dex never adds to damage, but may add "to hit" with certain weapons.


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