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Brian Stanfield

Armor Encumbrance

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Next up in my series of questions that get shot down: how much does armor actually affect movement? I'd like to encourage my players to opt towards less, not more armor, and would like to emphasize the encumbrance penalties of armor. Although I know of the perpetual myths of plate mail being so heavy that knights had to be lifted onto their horses, etc., there are some real encumbrance issues to consider: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/07/heavy-armor-gave-knights-workout

 

What are some good ways to get my warrior-types to max out on full plate armor? DEX penalties seem like a good idea, but won't affect combat as much. Actual DEX reduction would be interesting in a 5e or earlier campaign since it would affect SPD as well. But in a 6e campaign without figured characteristics, this isn't as easy to figure out. Does it make sense to actually reduce SPD because armor is heavier? Or is that too punitive? Would DEX penalties, encumbrance based on casual STR, and Long Term Endurance be enough of a disincentive? Besides, how often would characters actually be wearing their armor anyway? It seems more appealing to build characters with no armor in mind rather than depending on armor to be effective.

 

Some of your own experience on this issue would be greatly appreciated. 

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Are you already using the encumbrance and endurance rules?  A suit of full plate weighs 40 kg, add a large shield for an additional 7 kg, plus a few more for all the other stuff the characters are carrying and you are easily over 50 kg.  Unless you characters all have 18 STR this meanst they are taking -2 to their DCV/DEX rolls, as well as -2m of movement and paying 1 END per turn.  This also means they lose 1 LTE per turn. 

 

If this is for heroic characters they pay 1 END for every 5 STR instead of 1 per 10.  If you use the LTE rules this means the high STR character with a good SPD runs out of END very quickly.  A character with an 18 STR and a 4 SPD uses 16 END per turn in just STR alone.  If they are moving or doing other things that require END they can easily push this to 20+ END per turn. Unless they have over a 10 REC this means they lose 2 LTE per turn. 

 

Most combat focused characters have decent STR and above average SPD.  Figure a character with an 18 STR and 3 SPD.  They spend at least 12 END per turn when going full out in combat.  That means they only last a few min. before they are exhausted.  Out of combat they will probably need to reduce their SPD or they will be out of END all the time.  Dropping down to a 2 SPD they can avoid exhausting themselves so quickly, but now are moving a lot slower.  Most people don’t consider this, or ignore it.  If you really want to keep amour in check this is one of the best ways. 

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I guess it comes down to what kind of game you want.  Fantasy is by its very nature is basically unrealistic, so quibbling about how heavy armor is seems possibly nitpicking, but its up to the GM and players.

 

Generally speaking, wearing something well distributed and crafted over your whole body tends to make its encumbrance and weight significantly less of an issue (like the difference between just throwing junk into a bag and carefully packing it then carrying it in a backpack that's well strapped down and balanced).  So armor probably should encumber you less than random baggage that weighs the same amount unless its not very well made or ill fitting.

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5 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

I guess it comes down to what kind of game you want.  Fantasy is by its very nature is basically unrealistic, so quibbling about how heavy armor is seems possibly nitpicking, but its up to the GM and players.

 

Generally speaking, wearing something well distributed and crafted over your whole body tends to make its encumbrance and weight significantly less of an issue (like the difference between just throwing junk into a bag and carefully packing it then carrying it in a backpack that's well strapped down and balanced).  So armor probably should encumber you less than random baggage that weighs the same amount unless its not very well made or ill fitting.

 

If you look at the link I give in the OP, it suggests that although armor was equally distributed, there was a great deal of weight on the legs, which made the whole affair more burdensome. If you imagine hiking with a large pack, and then add 5 pound weights to each ankle, you get the idea. So it could have been a lot more tiring that previously thought. But not as bad as the myths about full plate being too heavy to move. 

 

So, I'm trying to develop a city-based campaign, perhaps using Valdorian Age and a cross between the city of Elweir and Sanctuary from the Thieves' World series of books. In general, armor just doesn't belong in a city, as discussed in this thread: http://www.herogames.com/forums/topic/95995-why-are-you-wearing-that/. I'd like there to be real tradeoffs for wearing armor. I think the DEX penalties for stealth alone would be a good start, but since it's a gritty, dark sort of setting for hero level characters, I'd like it to be more skill-driven than hack-and-slash-driven.

 

More ideas would be a great help!

 

 

 

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Well there are several things you can do with armor.  First, its really uncomfortable and awkward to do anything in but fight (even fight, but the tradeoff is worth it).  Second, unless you leave off the helm it reduces visibility (and hearing), sometimes severely.  Also, its very odd,  Its like showing up to the tavern in full riot cop gear or wearing an NFL uniform with the pads.  People will react poorly to you and expect trouble because of how you're dressed.

 

So penalties to skills, social interaction, fear, attention from authorites, being rejected from going places, penalties to perception rolls, and even trouble getting into areas and bumping into people, knocking things over, etc are all reasonable to be expected.

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In my current campaign the world is hot and very wet.  Metals tend to corrode pretty quickly and so you have to constantly be maintaining your metal armor at a level you might not have to in other games.  Also did I mention it is hot ...

 

Finally no one knows how to make plate armor. 

 

Finally I encourage the players to take on level of combat luck and let them know that they can wear armor that provides an additional 3 rPD/rED which can stack with their combat luck.

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I've done a fair bit of weapons fighting and training (20+ years in various asian martial arts, including Kendo/Kenjitsu). I've worn what would be equivalent to light (stiff leather) armor in kendo, but that was limited to the torso and the helmet. I also wear leather for my costume at the local renfair, and even in temperatures of ~100F, it's not that bad compared to just wearing appropriate attire anyway.

 

I think Christopher Taylor's ideas are probably the best for characters/adventures that are mostly situated in or around a city. A warrior might only put on his full plate when going into an actual battle (Think of the different armor that Faramir wears in the Lord of the Rings for when he's 'scouting', and when he lead the charge to Osgiliath). Even heavy armor isn't really much more exhausting than medium or light armor.

 

The things I would maybe impose is a max run speed. Even this is somewhat artificial, though. The other things encumbering a typical adventurer are running with a sword in a sheath, the backpack, cloak, etc. (Running with a sheathed sword can be pretty comical actually, and it's very encumbering in terms of slowing one down.)

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Worldtraveller said:

The things I would maybe impose is a max run speed. Even this is somewhat artificial, though. The other things encumbering a typical adventurer are running with a sword in a sheath, the backpack, cloak, etc. (Running with a sheathed sword can be pretty comical actually, and it's very encumbering in terms of slowing one down.)

 

 

Those are all great points. Here's one thing I've been considering, and would like to get some ideas about it because it's potentially very punitive: actually reducing SPD when the weight of armor surpasses a certain % of the character's STR. I thought about reducing DEX, and in terms of figured characteristics in 5e and before, this would amount to a reduced SPD, but they've been unlinked in 6e, so I've been thinking about what sort of actual penalties might apply to armor.

 

As you point out, the weight itself is not as much as myth tells us, but in the first link I gave in the OP they suggest that the weight on the legs alone would, as you say, at the very least reduce the rate of movement. But would it reduce the number of moves (SPD)? Is that even reasonable to consider for a campaign ground rule?

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Yeah lowering run speed slightly makes sense for heavy armor.  Its not going to have a big effect on you, but your flexibility and movement will be slightly hindered.


What is difficult to simulate in a game that happens in real life is annoyance.  It doesn't take a lot to make an expert and skilled person annoyed at something.  Put tape over the top of someone's fingers and ask them to type.  Its not much but its annoying as heck.  Discomfort and annoyance are sort of intangibles that are hard to really impose in a game.  Minor penalties, reminders of what its like, really all you can do.  No, you can't feel how soft that maiden's hair is, you're wearing a gauntlet.  Plus her hair caught in a joint and now she's mad at you for yanking it.  No, you can't sit in that chair in full plate.  Its extra weight is causing the floor to creak ominously when you walk, too.  You had to turn sideways to get through that door with those shoulderpads, and the helm's big crest bashed on the doorjam.

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2 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Yeah lowering run speed slightly makes sense for heavy armor.  Its not going to have a big effect on you, but your flexibility and movement will be slightly hindered.


What is difficult to simulate in a game that happens in real life is annoyance.  It doesn't take a lot to make an expert and skilled person annoyed at something.  Put tape over the top of someone's fingers and ask them to type.  Its not much but its annoying as heck.  Discomfort and annoyance are sort of intangibles that are hard to really impose in a game.  Minor penalties, reminders of what its like, really all you can do.  No, you can't feel how soft that maiden's hair is, you're wearing a gauntlet.  Plus her hair caught in a joint and now she's mad at your for yanking it.  No, you can't sit in that chair in full plate.  Its extra weight is causing the floor to creak ominously when you walk, too.  You had to turn sideways to get through that door with those shoulderpads, and the helm's big crest bashed on the doorjam.

This is why you practice, practice, practice and practice some more
and if you bought the armor it needs to be fitted to you
if something is digging into you

you and the armor will be figuring out what it is and dealing with it(grind this, bend that, punch an new hole in tthat strap, etc...)

you might want to have the player buy Enviromental Movement talent to negate any movement penalties

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6 hours ago, Beast said:

you might want to have the player buy Enviromental Movement talent to negate any movement penalties

 

I actually want just the opposite, hence the original post. I'm looking for, as Chris suggests, more down-to-earth constraints to armor. Low fantasy, I guess, if I have to label it.

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I doubt that this is what you are looking for, but you can make it part of your economy.  

 

I ran a game where metal was scarce. Additionally, blacksmith/weapon-smith/armor-smith were mainly for the nobles or upper merchants.  Metal weapons were 10x to 50x the cost.  Most people used quarterstaff or various sized clubs.  Daggers were for getting through armor.  Armor was mainly leather types. Studded leather if you were well off.  Metal armor was at least 100x the cost.  Due to the amount of metal needed for armor, most invested in metal weapons.  I do not have my notes, so some of the info will be off, but you get the idea. 

 

If metal is not scarce in your world, how about making refined metals scarce.  You can have low, good, excellent qualities for anything metal.  Not sure if that would help your situation though....

 

For me....  As mentioned above, I would just use the encumbrance rules.  That can be pretty harsh. Minuses to DCV, Dex rolls, and movement along with extra endurance per turn.  Although, it adds to the book keeping.

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On 2/23/2018 at 8:05 PM, Beast said:

This is why you practice, practice, practice and practice some more
and if you bought the armor it needs to be fitted to you
if something is digging into you

you and the armor will be figuring out what it is and dealing with it(grind this, bend that, punch an new hole in tthat strap, etc...)

you might want to have the player buy Enviromental Movement talent to negate any movement penalties

 

It might make more sense to have the character buy "armor familiarity" the way they already buy weapon familiarities.  You could build on this to have levels with armor, for those characters that are so used to wearing it that it does become second nature. 

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2 minutes ago, Old Man said:

 

It might make more sense to have the character buy "armor familiarity" the way they already buy weapon familiarities.  You could build on this to have levels with armor, for those characters that are so used to wearing it that it does become second nature. 

I felt enviromental movement a more apt purchase

 

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Armor familiarities make a kind of sense, but they're harder to enforce (what's the penalty for not having the point in plate armor?).  You really can't eliminate all the penalties entirely if you want a remotely realistic campaign.  If you want a goofy Anime setting where the characters are using surfboards for swords, then no penalties need apply at all.

 

Maybe half the effect if you have armor familiarity: -2 perception rolls and 2 END per turn becomes 1 each?

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5 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Armor familiarities make a kind of sense, but they're harder to enforce (what's the penalty for not having the point in plate armor?).  You really can't eliminate all the penalties entirely if you want a remotely realistic campaign.  If you want a goofy Anime setting where the characters are using surfboards for swords, then no penalties need apply at all.

 

Maybe half the effect if you have armor familiarity: -2 perception rolls and 2 END per turn becomes 1 each?

 

I was wondering about something like movement as well as SPD penalties. The SPD is pretty harsh, so maybe just DEX penalties that affect the order to act if everyone has the same SPD. I'm just spitballing at this point, and trying to gather ideas.

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I gave that kind of armor 3 rPD, but 2 rED and normal PD.  It does do really well against piercing attacks in tests (so I think I'm going to rate it hardened against piercing; most arrows are AP in my campaign), and was light and easy to make.  Not great against heavy attacks like the Romans used, but it was armor anyone cold reasonably make at home.

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On 3/7/2018 at 6:49 PM, Old Man said:

 

I'd forgotten about this. Have you watched the video of their arrow tests? It's rather amazing how resilient this armor is. However, while it stops arrows, it shows wear pretty obviously, so you'd have to have armor breakage rules to simulate the tears that accumulate over many attacks. I'd agree with 4rPD, but with a chance of failure after use. Perhaps an activation role on a scale with how many times it's been hit?

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