Thursday, June 16, 2011

Holmesian-Inspired Armor Redux

A little over a week ago, there was a "shields ought to be better" meme that popped up in the OSR corner of the blogosphere. Even I peripherally took part. Subsequently, Paladin in a Citadel had some thoughts on Dexterity, Jeff Rients took a shower, Erin of Welsh Piper commented on my own armor thoughts and Epées & Sorcellerie came out in English. Given my own current obsession with Holmes, I have been riffing off all of these thoughts from a Holmesian-kind-of-POV. The results:

In Holmes, Dexterity = initiative. Therefore, it is not a huge leap to say that Dexterity also = AC, where AC is the target number for the attacker. If Dex = AC, this doesn't leave much for armor to do. I very much like E&P's handling of this, where characters can choose to use either Dex or their armor's AC (which ever is better); however, Dex also equalling initiative inspires me to take armor off in a different direction.

I am intrigued by the notion that armor, rather than preventing a hit, reduces damage. I am also intrigued by the idea that wearing heavy armor also has a disadvantage. Thus, the heavier the armor, the less Dex becomes available for purposes of AC and initiative but the more damage resistance is available. Here is my rough draft:

  • Leather: DR = 1; max Dex = 15
  • Chain: DR = 2; max Dex = 12
  • Plate: DR = 3; max Dex = 9
  • Small Shield: DR=1
  • Large Shield: DR=2; Dex penalty -1

Thus, if you wear plate and carry a large shield, you are going to be slow and be hit a lot, but won't necessarily take a lot of damage. If you have an 18 Dex, you are going to go first in most combats and aren't going to be hit that often, but when you are, you will take full damage.

Also being a fan of Weapon vs. AC tables, there is also a fun little wrinkle that can be thrown at this system:

  • Blunt Weapons vs. plate reduce the DR of plate by 1
  • Piercing Weapons vs. chain reduce the DR of chain by 1
  • Slashing Weapons vs. leather reduce the DR of leather by 1

Any thoughts?


Erin Smale said...

An excellent synthesis. Like you, I'm a proponent of armour deflecting damage, not determining "to-hit" roll:

This gives you a lot of freedom to simulate various aspects of combat: armour effect on movement, armour performance vs. certain attacks, use of the shield, and what magical "plusses" really mean.

Well done!

Alan said...

This is sort of how Rolemaster views armor. If you wear light armor, you are more difficult to hit, yet more damage gets through.

If you wear heavy armor, you are easier to hit but less damage gets through.

5stonegames said...

I have come to like armor class, seeing it as "roll to find an unarmored spot or weak point" and seeing damage rolls as quality of a hit.

The problem however comes in scaling AC with level. A L1 Fighter say will only hit a plate armored (AC3) guy 15% of the time. This is about right as it represents a stab to a joint or smash to an opportune location.

Obviously modifiers can be used as needed (maces get +1 vs plate and chain or whatever) and in those circumstance the rules as written work fine.

The problem is that to hit goes up much faster than AC, after about 3rd level or so. In 1e using the optional 1 per level rule a 6th level fighter has a 40% chance or scoring a hit (sans mods) which is a too much. Add in mods and it gets even worse.

If AC (sans magic) rose at a reasonable rate along with attack , most of these issues would vanish.

Alan said...

With your system above, magic armor can have several different aspects:

* It can allow for higher DEX while still providing the same DR/AC (finely crafted elfin chain, perhaps?).
* It can provide an AC bonus
* It can provide a DR bonus

Of course, it could provide a combination of the three.

Alan said...

Another idea - a critical hit could bypass the DR of the armor.

Question: How would you translate monster ACs in this new system?

FrDave said...

You have touched upon one the things that is really attractive about handling armor this way: it is very flexible.

I have two possible answers for dealing with monster AC. The simple way would be to simply convert an AC 7 to a Dex of 12 and a DR of 1. The complex way would be to revamp monsters where they have a range of possible Dexterities and a DR (such as a Dex of 10 + 1d4 and a DR of 1d3).