Armor and Damage

Copyright David L Craft © 2004

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"The best defense is a good suit of plate!"

Damage Adjustment

"The best defense is a good offense - with a lot of that offense going to parry!" -- Kerathian Mirstan, Master of Fencing, Dethasian School of Blades

"Trollfeathers! The best defense is a good suit of plate!" - Garlun Stonefist, Dwarven Mastersmith

Whichever school of thought you choose to follow, the new rules in Martial Law have provided some interesting options for play. One section in particular, "Damage Adjustment by Armor", allows for heavier armor types to nullify a lot of harm to the wearer, but it also penalizes those who choose to wear light armor (or none at all). What follows is an alternative which provides some benefits to those who choose to wear armor, but doesn't negatively affect those for whom less armor is the preferred option.

Under this system, all armor will absorb a certain amount of damage, while extra damage results (stun, bleeding and penalties) are converted to Concussion Hits to reflect the armor's protective benefits. Each round of stun, point of bleeding, or 5 points of penalty becomes one Concussion Hit when reduced by the armor. Concussion Hits generated this way are never themselves absorbed by the armor, but are applied to the wearer. Death and other special effects are unaffected by armor.

No Armor: Apply the critical exactly as written. (Armor spells are treated as No Armor.)

Soft Leather: Absorbs 1 Concussion Hit. No effect on stun, bleeding, or penalties.

Reinforced Leather: Absorbs 2 Concussion Hits. Reduces stun by one round. No effect on bleeding or penalties.

Chain: Absorbs 4 Concussion Hits. Reduces stun by one round, bleeding by one point/round, and penalties by 5 points.

Reinforced Chain: Absorbs 7 Concussion Hits. Reduces stun by one round, bleeding by two points/round, and penalties by 10 points.

Plate: Absorbs 10 Concussion Hits. Reduces stun by two rounds, bleeding by three points/round, and penalties by 15 points.

Examples:

Vanyar Fleetfoot prefers reinforced leather armor to preserve his mobility. When struck across the head in combat (a 62 Slash critical), the base result is 6H 1S 1B -10M. First, reduce the damage by 2H. Then remove the round of stun (adding 1H). Final result: 5H 1B -10M.

Jeroth the Bold is wearing plate armor when struck hard by an orc (a 96 Crush critical to the Legs/Feet). The base damage from the critical is 16H 4S 1B -30M. First, reduce the damage by 10H. Then drop the stun from four rounds to two (adding 2H), remove the one point bleeder (adding 1H), and lower the penalty from -30 to -15 (adding 3H). Because of the armor, this result becomes 12H 2S -15M...still a hard hit, but not nearly so debilitating.

Finally, Dranval Trollslayer, a fancier of chain mail, takes a 31 Crush critical to the head. Base damage is 3H 1S -5M. Remove the 3H, then drop the stun (add 1H) and the penalty (add another 1H). Final result: 2H. Note that although chain absorbs 4 Concussion Hits, the damage added by reducing stun, bleeding and penalties cannot itself be absorbed.

Damage to Armor

Even the most finely constructed armor will eventually become battered and broken from repeated abuse at the hands of attackers. Any given suit of armor has an Endurance rating equal to the DB of the armor.

Each time that the wearer takes a hit which inflicts more Concussion Hits than the armor can absorb, the armor itself receives one Concussion Hit. In addition, each round of stun, point of bleeding, or 5 point penalty converted by the armor causes one additional Concussion Hit to the armor. If the armor is not being worn, but is subjected to spells or effects which would cause damage, such as fire or acid, figure damage as if it were being worn. If a suit of armor goes for one month without proper maintenance (GMs can adjust this to fit adverse conditions), it receives one Concussion Hit. Each time a suit of armor takes damage equal to its Endurance rating, its DB drops by 10 points. If the armor DB reaches zero, the armor becomes useless. If the armor reaches a -20 DB or lower (which is possible through abuse or neglect), it literally falls apart and cannot be repaired by any non-magical means.

Example: a suit of Soft Leather armor has an Endurance rating of 20. For each 20 points of damage it takes, its DB drops by 10. A suit of Plate armor has an Endurance rating of 60, and thus can take more damage without losing DB; the additional DB provided by Plate also means that it will take damage less frequently, making it far more durable in the long run.

Repairing Armor

Armor can be repaired by anyone qualified to construct it (which means that special armors, particularly magical ones, can only be repaired by Master craftsmen). The base cost of repair is Base armor cost * Percentage of damage done, and assumes that all necessary materials are on hand and that the craftsman is free to work.

Percentage of damage done is based on the number of Concussion Hits required to destroy the armor. Total hits to destroy = DB * INT((DB + 25) / 10). For example, a regular suit of Soft Leather would have total hits of 20 * INT(45 / 10) = 20 * 4 = 80. Each point of damage would thus cost 1/80 gp to repair.

A craftsman with a fully-equipped smithy (or leatherworking shop, for leather armors) can repair a number of Concussion Hits equal to their number of Craftsman ranks per 10-hour day worked, and few will work more than 10 hours in a day without some compelling reason (such as a higher rate of pay). Other factors, such as prior orders, may also affect the amount of time required to complete repairs. Those performing field repairs under minimal conditions can generally manage Ranks/5 hits repaired per day. The GM may adjust this rate if partial facilities are available.

Once all damage is repaired, the armor is back to full strength. Armor may be partially repaired if desired; simply restore DB according to how much damage remains on the suit. For example, a suit of Chain armor has taken 150 points of damage, reducing its DB by 30. If 90 points of damage are repaired, the remaining damage will mean that the DB is still reduced by 10 points.

Piece Armor

If the GM uses piece armor, then the exact effect to damage is determined by the type of armor at the indicated hit location. Individual pieces of armor have Endurance ratings equal to their DB, and take damage as per the full-suit rules. Cost and time of repair is determined as above.

Adding Shields

For further detail, shields (and parrying weapons) may be added to the above rules. Since shields in particular are much cheaper than armor of an equivalent DB, the following rules will give some interesting options for players and GMs to consider in equipping characters. Shielding items offer the following damage reduction benefits:

Wall shield: Absorbs 3 Concussion hits. Reduces stun by two rounds, bleeding by two hits/round, and penalties by 5 points.

Full shield: Absorbs 2 Concussion hits. Reduces stun by two rounds and bleeding by one hit/round, and penalties by 5 points.

Normal shield: Absorbs 2 Concussion hits. Reduces stun by one round and bleeding by one hit/round, and penalties by 5 points.

Target shield: Absorbs 1 Concussion hit. Reduces stun by one round and bleeding by one hit/round. No effect on penalties.

Buckler: Absorbs 1 Concussion hit. Reduces stun by one round. No effect on bleeding or penalties.

Shielding weapon: Absorbs 2 Concussion hits. Reduces stun by one round, bleeding by one hit/round, and penalties by 5 points. This is for weapons like the Main Gauche or Sai, which are specifically designed for defensive use, and only when used defensively.

Non-shielding weapon: Absorbs 1 Concussion hit. No effect on stun, bleeding, or penalties. This is for any situation when the Shielding Weapon definition above does not apply.

Unusual objects: Absorbs 1 Concussion hit per +10 DB (round down). Reduces stun by one round if +15 DB or better. Reduces bleeding by one round if +15 DB or better. Reduces penalties by 5 points if +20 DB or better.

Such use depends upon whether the individual is trained or untrained.

Untrained: The shielding item may not be voluntarily interposed, but will be automatically interposed if both dice show even numbers on a successful attack roll.

Trained: The shielding item may be voluntarily interposed if the tens die is even (off-hand side), and if the attack was subject to the item's DB (i.e. not from the rear, or with the target unaware). The choice is up to the person with the shielding item.

If the shielding item is interposed, the critical location is automatically changed to the shield or off-hand arm, then the shield effect is taken first. The resulting critical is then applied to the armor at the location hit (which means that Concussion hits created by the shielding item's effects CAN be absorbed by the armor).

Shielding items have an Endurance rating equal to the "Trained" DB value, and take damage in the same way as armor, including damage from neglect. Note that a shielding item will have a lower DB in the hands of an untrained person, but will not be destroyed until it takes damage sufficient to reduce its DB to -20 or below based upon the "Trained" value. It will simply be useless, or even dangerous, much sooner to the untrained. Cost and time of repair is determined as for armor.

Cover effects

Cover may also be included in damage reduction effects. If so, then cover should be treated as a shielding item with respect to how the critical is affected. Cover affects critical results as follows:

Half soft cover: Absorbs 1 Concussion hit. Reduces stun by one round. No effect on bleeding or penalties.

Full soft cover: Absorbs 2 Concussion hits. Reduces stun by one round, and penalties by 5 points. No effect on bleeding.

Half hard cover: Absorbs 3 Concussion hits. Reduces stun by one round, bleeding by one hit/round, and penalties by 5 points.

Full hard cover: Absorbs 5 Concussion hits. Reduces stun by two rounds, bleeding by two hits/round, and penalties by 10 points.

In theory, damage and repair could be determined as per the armor rules, but only in rare situations would such details matter. Perhaps if the defenders are under siege, and the attackers are chipping away at the defensive cover bit by bit...

Many thanks to Chris Adams, Tim Dugger, Heike A. Kubasch and the rest of the HARP crew for providing the book which formed the inspiration for this article.