Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Armor

"We can save the recently possessed, but not the Greater Demon. Legion sings His song to us all, and listening closely draws Him near. Beware, young Acolytes, for if a year and a day passes before the Exorcism, the Soul is lost forever: becoming a beacon -- a Gate -- for one of Legion's Children."
-Mother Veronica St. Alden, High Priest instructing her class of Acolytes in Exorcism.

For Sophia's Children I have designed the armor system where I have tried to balance simplicity with a degree of strategic choice. The multitude of choices present in some armor systems replete with all sorts of elemental resistances, physical damage type variations make my head hurt and trigger, for me, choice paralysis. I think there should be SOME degree of tactical variance apart from the Armor Class (AC) which is why I have the Special Resistance (SR) in the system.

Tactical Choices

How do these differ tactically? Well, attacks that are basic or mundane will nearly always focus on AC While attacks that are of a more extraordinary or even supernatural quality will target SR. I have not detailed the Ability and Action Point system yet, but really quite simply put each class has access to one or two kinds of abilities beyond the Basic Attack.
1. Basic Attacks that use no Action Point and always target AC. All PCs and Monsters have basic attacks.
2. Advanced Attacks that use an Action Point, but that Action Point can be gained back later in the same combat -- these nearly always target AC.
3. Major Abilities that spend an Action Point, which is returned after Resting (by "rest" here I mean sleeping for 6-8 hours and getting a solid meal in one's belly). Whether these target AC or SR depends on Class, Monster -- but the spread is about 50-50 across all abilities
4. Supreme Abilities that "burn" an Action Point. Burnt Action Points are only ever returned following the month-long Upkeep between excursions. Supreme abilities always target SR. 
A Hassan Fighter wielding a Saif and Pike.
The terms above, Basic, Advanced, Major and Supreme are not necessarily game-terms as each Class, as well as Monsters have their own nomenclature for how they interact with the system. For examples: Fighters have Weapon Proficiencies which grant access to an Advanced Attack and Power Attack for the weapon type or style the Weapon Proficiency is in. And Magic-users have Spells: each one having both a Partial Incantation that spends an Action Point and Full Incantation that burns up an Action Point.

Those will be detailed further in future posts specific to each of three starting classes: The Fighter, The Magic-user and The Thief.

Strategic Considerations

That aside, the intention behind the system is to present the Player Characters with a strategic choice: Equip to shore up Armor Class, risking being more easily hit by big attacks? Or: Focus on equipment that raises Special Resistance, making it more likely to avoid extraordinary effects, but becoming more vulnerable to mundane combat modes.

Armor functions as a complete set when worn. I.E.: there are no rules for piece-meal armor, helmets et cetera. Armor is of three types: Light Armor, Heavy Armor and Super Heavy Armor.
A group of Nein Soldiers wearing Full Brigandine Suits
Light Armors provide straight bonuses to Armor Class and Special Resistance to varying degrees as their construction focuses on deflection, comfort and enhancing maneuverability. Some lower quality Light Armors may favor one form of protection over another, resulting in a bonus to one and a penalty to the other.

Heavy Armors mainly provide a straight bonus to Maximum Hit Points, in addition to slight bonuses to AC or SR -- although more simply constructed Heavy Armors may have a small penalty. Heavy Armors are constructed to absorb punishment more directly, but are still designed well enough to preserve maneuverability.

Super Heavy Armors provide the same bonuses as Heavy Armors, but also provide Damage Reduction. Damage Reduction is subtracted from all incoming damage. Super Heavy Armors are the toughest of all the armors, and also the heaviest. When wearing Super Heavy Armor the bonuses to AC and SR from Agility and Intellect are divided by two, rounding down.

In addition to providing AC, SR, DR and bonuses to Maximum HP, Armor requires a certain degree of Strength to use effectively, in addition to modifying the chance to Dodge. Light Armors can be used effectively, but having the Strength Requirement to use it allows for fully unencumbered movement equivalent to being unarmored. Heavy Armor and Super Heavy Armor being used without meeting the Strength Requirement result in a permanent Slow condition that inhibits movement in addition to limiting combat strategies as a result of being Slowed (no Dodging, Intercepting or Running). (Fortunately, acquiring the Slow condition again as a result of combat or similar will NOT increase this penalty in any way.) Super Heavy Armor also has a Strength Requirement one higher than Heavy Armor.

Example Equipment

Leather Jack: A padded leather jacket that laces up the front to a high collar. Comes with matching combat boots. Light Armor, +2 AC, -2 SR, Requires 1 Strength.

Jack of Plates: A woolen coat with plates of iron woven in. Comes with a pair of studded combat gloves. Light Armor, +3 AC, -2 SR, Requires 1 Strength.

Military Suit: A standard mobility-focused armor issued to Nein soldiers: a padded justacorps, hardened leather leggings and arm-bands. Comes with an iron kettle hat. Light Armor, +2 AC, Requires 1 Strength.

Coat of Mail: A set of mail armor: hauberk, sleeves and chausses. Comes with a woolen hood. Heavy Armor, -1 SR, +6 HP, Requires 1 Strength.

Old Breastplate: A piece of scrap from a suit of field plate. This should work for now. Super Heavy Armor, -1 AC, -1 SR, +4 HP, +2 DR, Requires 2 Strength.
Field Plate Armor without helmet plus Arming Sword

Note: And this is pretty much the format for equipment in the game. Quick, evocative descriptions combined with to-the-point statistics. And, again, there are elements within this post that will elaborated on later (Dodging, Encumbrance, Action Points, et cetera). Stay tuned!

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