Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fantasy: Armor

Working out armor for "Spirit of the Sword" is considerably easier than working out weapons. Actually, it's easier for having done weapons, since they kinda go together.

Like I said in my last post, I didn't want armor to just soak damage. A million games already do that, and it doesn't especially take advantage of FATE's strengths. My solution is to have armor work essentially just like weapons in reverse, using Aspects, adding Health Stress boxes (instead of adding damage), and, for top-of-the-line models, allowing the wearer to withstand an additional consequence (the mirror image of the pay-a-Fate-Point-to-inflict-a-consequence utility of the greatsword, war maul, and greataxe). There are three types of armor: light, medium, and heavy. I don't see a need to get more detailed than that. Wearing heavier armor also means taking a penalty to Athletics. I realize that this could be modeled by tagging an Armor Aspect, but my fear is that doing so would encourage, rather than discourage, use of Athletics. A fella could build up quite a store of Fate Points that way.

Unlike any other Aspects, Armor Aspects can be invoked once per scene for free. After that, it costs a Fate Point, like usual. The "Armor" field on the character sheet will have a check box beside it, a la FATE 2.0, so it's easy to track. When you invoke your armor's aspect for the first time in a scene, check the box. Admittedly, this makes armor a little more fiddly than just about anything else, but I think the system can take it. Invokes are pretty intuitive in this context, I think, but every armor type also has its weaknesses and strengths, and can be tagged in the former case and invoked in the latter. Armor Aspects are usually just the name of the armor itself: Plate Mail, Chain Mail, Soft Leather, etc.

Light:Soft leather, cuirboille, mail shirts, gambeson, etc.
Strong Against: None.
Special: None.

Medium: Chainmail, scale mail, lorica segmentata, brigandine, cuirass, etc.
Strong Against: Slashing
Special: Adds one Health Stress box. Imposes -1 to Athletics.

Heavy: Half plate, full plate
Strong Against: Slashing, Piercing
Special: Adds two Health Stress boxes. Allows wearer to take a second moderate physical consequence. Imposes -2 to Athletics.

I picture the Health Stress track as having, essentially, two rows: one for your own Health Stress, and one below for your armor. That ought to keep things clear. Like so:

Health: [] [] [] [] []
Armor: O O

Shields, on the other hand, give a +1 to a defensive use of Melee, or when using Melee to perform a Block, and make the "full defense" action give a +3 instead of a +2.


Jonathan Breese said...

I like how you handled armor. I recently played a test of Pendragon in SotC and the damage reduction was pretty bland. It made the fight pretty anti-climatic. Every time I would hit the guy, his armor would stop my damage and basically we spent a few rounds beating on one another.

It sucked to be honest. So, I sent your blog to him.

padawan in training said...

I haven´t yet read your latest posts, but I love having a frequently updated SotC blog out there. Great work man. I´ll read your fantasy ideas ASAP to see if I can convince my GM to run a Spirit of the Warhammer game soon :)

Anonymous said...

I'm actually the Pendragon GM in question (just haven't had time to post. Also, FWIW, Irvine is my hometown. If you've lived in The OC more than, oh, 10 years, once upon a time I worked in the Gamesmanship game store in South Coast Plaza.)

I like the idea of armor having aspects that are taggable, both strengths and weaknesses, though I think it might require a skill or stunt to be able to use them - for example a Weapons stunt like Know Where the Chinks Are or something like that.

It seems like what you're suggesting with armor adding to stress tracks, makes armor ablative. Shouldn't armor continue to protect you after you're wounded just as well as it did at the beginning of the fight, unless it specifically gets degraded somehow? I would think that every bow has to penetrate your armor to hurt you, not just the first one or two.

I also adopted something that Fred Hicks mentioned in his blog about the FATE 3.0 pre-alpha fantasy game that he's running, which was that he reduced the stress tracks from 5 + (skill/2) to 2 + (skill/2), which gets you to consequences significantly faster that SOTC. That makes the armor reducing quality of armor much more important, particularly in a game where all of the characters are armored horsemen.

Just my tuppence. Keep up the good work!

Mike Olson said...

I remember that Gamesmanship store in SCP from my early days at UCI! I may have bought something for 2nd ed. from you.

With armor, I'm not really going for simulation, but at the same time I want it to matter at least a little with no real effort on the player's part. Thus, the free stress box(es) and invoke. Yes, that effectively makes armor Ablative (-1), but the emphasis here is on how important a character's armor is in the narrative. If a character is really going to rely on his armor for defense, the player can spend Fate Points to reflect that. It's just that the heavier or more effective your armor, the longer you can wait before you start spending Fate Points on it.

If this were Fantasy Hero, I'd do things differently, but given SotC's emphasis on narrativism over simulationism, it's more about the player's commitment to certain aspects of his character over others than to accurately modeling armor or weapons.

Besides, I find that even an extra box or two of Health Stress can make quite a difference -- although if you read my Gamex follow-up post, you'll see that I might have some completely different plans for those stress tracks....