Friday, August 15, 2008

Fantasy: Gateway 2008, Armor/Weapons

Whew! July just flew by, didn't it? Man, I didn't post once. What a slacker.

I'll be running another playtest-ish session of "SotS" at Gateway over Labor Day Weekend. Specifically, it'll be on Sunday the 31st at 3:00 pm. Here's the cornball write-up:

Foul deeds are afoot in Busra! When a few vagrants turned up missing here or there, no one even noticed -- but with the disappearance of an acolyte from the Cathedral of the Maiden, the Theocracy decrees that something must be done... discreetly. Will you solve the mystery of the vanishing clergy? Or will you be the next victim?

So if you're attending, come on out and give it a shot. It'll be better than the last "SotS" game I ran. I mean, I liked "Election Day" well enough, but this'll be better. Con pre-registration is on now! Event pre-registration starts tomorrow (the 16th)!

Plus, I'll be testing the No-Stress rules, so that oughtta be interesting.

Speaking of no stress, losing the stress tracks means some serious changes to the way weapons and armor work. You can look back through the archives and see for yourself, but the main issues are these with the rules as they stand now:
  • Armor provides extra Health stress boxes
  • Heavy weapons let you increase the severity of a consequence you've dealt by spending a Fate Point

Both of these obviously need to change.

I toyed with the idea of armor providing stress boxes anyway. They'd be, like, the only stress boxes a character would have (excepting spellcasters, but I'll get to that later). Ultimately, though, I decided that that would be pretty dull. I mean, if light armor provided, say, one Health stress box, then it'd only benefit you if your opponent succeeded by one point -- and then only once! So that's not very exciting or useful. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

  • The armor's aspect is invoked as usual, but the heavier the armor is, the greater the benefit. E.g., Light is invoked for +2, Medium for +3, and Heavy for +4.
  • The armor acts as an additional skill, outside your skill pyramid, to be used only for defense. Light is a Fair (+2) skill, Medium a Good (+3) skill, and Heavy a Great (+4) skill.
  • The armor acts as a skill, as above, but it's a back-up to Melee when defending. That is, if your defensive Melee effort doesn't exceed your opponent's attack, you get a second chance by rolling Armor.
  • The armor lets you replace one or more Fudge dice with normal six-sided dice when using Melee to defend: 3dF+1d6 for Light, 2dF+2d6 for Medium, and 1dF+3d6 for Heavy. Add 'em up and that's your total.
  • Same as above, but you only take the highest d6 (and all of the Fudge dice) instead of adding them all up.

I've already made a decision, but I'd be interested in hearing your ideas.

As for weapons, only a few are affected. I think you'll agree that the ability to increase consequence severity is pretty unbalancing when every hit results in a consequence. Here are a few ideas I've had to make those heavy weapons more interesting without making them game-breaking:

  • On a successful hit, pay a Fate Point to put a fragile aspect on your target (e.g., Stunned, Off-Balance, Life Flashing Before His Eyes, etc.). It can be tagged once, for free, then it goes away.
  • If your Melee effort results in spin, put a fragile aspect on your target. Tagging the aspect costs a Fate Point.

I'm leaning towards the first one, but the second has its appeal, too. What do you think?

5 comments:

Guybow said...

I like these two best:

# The armor's aspect is invoked as
usual, but the heavier the armor is, the greater the benefit. E.g., Light is invoked for +2, Medium for +3, and Heavy for +4.

(...there's something nagging at me about this first one though that I can't put my finger on...)

# The armor acts as an additional skill, outside your skill pyramid, to be used only for defense. Light is a Fair (+2) skill, Medium a Good (+3) skill, and Heavy a Great (+4) skill.

...I think I like this best, however I can't tell if there's a problem or an opportunity in the second idea.

If you use "armor" as a skill, would it REPLACE the non-armored skill used by a melee target for defense, or would be considered as a complementary "second skill"?

Mike Olson said...

The thing I like about the first one is that it always provides a reliable benefit (so long as you're willing to spend a Fate Point, anyway). Armor-as-skill, on the other hand, could potentially result in a roll of, say, -4, which, at best, would be a Mediocre result.

Armor-as-skill, though, would still at least give you another aspect to play with.

As for how armor would interact with other skills, my impulse is to punish defensive use of Athletics while wearing medium or heavy armor, but I can't tell if that's because it makes sense or because I'm just used to seeing it. E.g., something like "If armor is higher than Athletics, take the difference as a penalty to Athletics rolls."

In general, yeah, I see armor as replacing defensive Melee or Athletics. You can still defend with those skills, or you can roll armor instead; it's your choice. High-Athletics guys with leather armor can still defend with Athletics and invoke their "Leather Armor" aspect to help with the roll, and fighter-types can still defend with Melee and invoke "Plate Armor" similarly.

There's a slight weirdness with the high-Melee guy, though -- why wear anything heavier than Light armor?

Guybow said...

NOW I remember what was bugging me about the first idea:

Would the use of fate points to "power" armor reduce its effectiveness for the very people who would (in reality) stand to gain the most from it? Namely Minions and those people who are less skilled at combat? In other words, those with fewer Fate points.

Granted trained warriors could gain quite a bit from armor also (i.e., knights, samurai), but you see what I'm saying.

My feeling is that the use of Fate points is part of what enables someone to be a hero in the story (instead of a bit player), which I think runs a bit counter to the use of armor--which is something of an "equalizing" force in the story.

Guybow said...

Oh, one other thing. You wrote this...

"There's a slight weirdness with the high-Melee guy, though -- why wear anything heavier than Light armor?"

...Here's why:

Because armor also protects the character from attacks that are not avoided.

In other words, ambushes where the character is surprised, the proverbial rain of arrows or other such attacks.

Mike Olson said...

My feeling is that the use of Fate points is part of what enables someone to be a hero in the story (instead of a bit player), which I think runs a bit counter to the use of armor--which is something of an "equalizing" force in the story.
Definitely -- but minions wouldn't get the same benefits from armor that PCs do.

A troop of plate-clad soldiers just has the "Armored" aspect and a point of Grit (i.e., they'll take a Minor consequence before going down). That's it. I allot Fate Points for NPCs per scene, not per character, so the minions, while not individually worthy of Fate Points, would probably have a pool of them to share, although they'd be unable to earn more. (The No-Stress rules tend to involve a bit of inflation in the Fate Point economy.)

A PC, on the other hand, has Armor-as-skill, an aspect, and, if appropriate to the armor, the ability to take another consequence or two (although I haven't really mentioned that -- I think it's time for another post on this).

Because armor also protects the character from attacks that are not avoided.
Yeah... I guess. I don't find that very compelling, really, but neither am I all that troubled by a master swordsman who gets by just fine (usually) without armor. That's just how I like my master swordsmen, actually.