Sunday, November 24, 2013

Excerpt Armor: Descending Armor Class

Fighter by KYONGHWAN KIM

Since I'm getting pretty close to a stable release it is time I start posting more excerpts.  Armor factored pretty decently into the last few posts on proficiencies so let's continue with that.

Here's how I handle Armor.  I use a similar system from the past that has been cut down, renewed, rewritten, retooled until eventually I found myself returning to Descending Armor Class.  Ol' Faithful.  Of course this has a twist.  I still use Armor as a way to reduce damage, now how do we reconcile that with descending Armor Class if lower is better?


Originally I played with dice size manipulation, then later with multiple dice but the added rolling wasn't worth it.  Later I tried a flat reduction which worked well in the previous higher damage build but since everyone can expect to be doing a d6 of damage it became overkill.  From there we progressed to a Threshold idea, where any damage less than the Armors Value (Ascending at the time) was ignored before it could target HP.  If you've forgotten or need a refresher here is how I handle Hit Points and Hit Dice.

Quick recap
  • Hit Dice are recorded individually.  
  • Damage is also separated and compared against individual Hit Dice. 
  • If damage is greater than or equal to the Hit Die then the HD is defeated.  Otherwise HD remains untarnished
  • You may roll Hit Dice whenever you are about to take damage
  • With the Rule of Three you may roll as many Hit Dice as you like but your HP can only contain 3 Hit Dice.
  • The defender may assign multiple damage dice to a single Hit Die.  Doing so sums the values.

The last point is key, with a threshold you can ignore a lot of low dice of damage that would otherwise sum together and defeat a high value Hit Die.  This method still has some promise and may be included as an optional module but it was eventually discarded because it didn't give Armor enough gravitas.  It was useful but not nearly enough to justify the cost.  Which brings us to our next stage which is a reworking of my old shields rule.
Armor
Each armor has a class, the lower the number the better.  When you are taking damage roll a d6 called the Armor die.  If the Armor die is greater than or equal to your Armor Class prevent all damage that would be taken.
Note: Any damage greater than 6 cannot be prevented.  

Light Armor (Leather, Hide) is AC 6
Medium Armor (Chain, Scale) is AC 5
Heavy Armor is AC 4 (Lamellar) or AC 3 (Plate)

Looking at this and doing a quick probability check you may think Light Armor does not justify losing the benefits of being a naked barbarian but there is one final interlinking rule that makes Light Armor a very appealing choice. 
Spending HP
I use a modified version of Blue Boxer Rebellion's Initiative system where one can spend HP on Initiative.  I was already using a system where you can spend HP to improve your attack so gambling for a higher initiative was an easy fit.  One thing i decided to do recently after dealing with Mindless creatures like Undead was to allow HP to influence the Armor die.  It may seem unfair at first to allow you to spend HP to prevent all damage, but in the long run you are just delaying the inevitable.  Your HP continues ticking down while your Armor barely saves your bacon, until you have no more HP left to spend.  Wearing Light Armor which ordinarily has a poor chance (1/6) of saving your hide can now be quite effective with Spending HP and it further solidifies the choice between wearing Armor and the Naked Warrior Challenge.

{Images courtesy of the excellent pinterest board: Female Fantasy Characters in Reasonable Armor}

Next time: Initiative!