Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Elthosian Armor Mechanic

In my long standing (1978) rules system of Elthos RPG (http://elthos.com) I have it that there's two factors to take into account in relation to combat. One is the skill of the person striking with the weapon. And the other is the Armor of the defender. Now someone wearing platemail is going to be slower than someone without it due to the bulk of the armor. Therefore the armor impedes the wearer's Dexterity. It also impedes their Movement (how far they can run per melee). On the other hand it also makes it hard for an opponent to hit them (directly, as in hit their skin). And if there is a direct hit that armor also absorbs some of the damage from the blow, even if it hits. So there's trade offs with wearing heavy armor. It makes it hard to be hit, and absorbs damage. Those are good. On the other hand by being bulky and heavy it makes the wearer's Dexterity less effective and so their own Attack Level goes down, and it also makes them run slower. These trade offs don't quite balance out to make it even ... there is a distinct advantage overall to wearing armor. And if the armor wearer is very strong their Strength bonus can help to mitigate the Dexterity modifier, so that very strong characters can wear platemail with less restriction on their Dexterity.

Consequently, the selection of armor for Characters in the Elthos RPG is one of the more interesting choices that players get to make while outfitting for adventures.  I like the give and take of the options.  And of course, Gamemasters are free to construct any kinds of armors that they think may fit into their worlds. I have some cases where light armors nevertheless absorb a good deal of damage, but those, of course, are quite rare and valuable.  I have other armors that are burdensome and don't do such a great job absorbing damage.  Their inventors were likely drawn and quartered by the Lords to whom their armors were sold, but the armors persist because ... well, just because.  So part of the fun of the game for me is in designing the weapons and armors to have specific effects.  And of course, on occasion I toss in magical armors with "impossible" configurations, for good or evil as the case may be.  Yup.  Fun fun.

In practice, which is to say in my bi-weekly games, we have found that light armors are perfect for some characters who prefer to remain quick and agile, while heavy armor is better suited for others. In either case the Armors as such and the options and variables involved make for a fun tactical combat game. We've been enjoying it this way for some time now at any rate.

I did a little video on the technical aspects of Armor Class usage a while back. Here it is for your interest.


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