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Armor changes in v1-3 playtest draft

posted May 27, 2015 17:42:12 by Doug Bailey
This topic is for discussion of the changes made in the Armor rules in the v1-3 playtest draft.

I much preferred the rules from the previous drafts, in which Armor provided a dice pool of damage absorption, to these rules in which Armor grants the wearer bonus Vigor and/or Injuries. It makes more sense to me that armor stops you from being hurt rather than enabling you to withstand more hurt.

In addition, I'm concerned that there may be other game elements besides combat which use the Vigor and Injuries rules, and that the new armor rules may interact oddly with them. Imagine, for instance, that a character can willingly sacrifice Vigor to power a summoning spell or to exert extra effort when running, jumping, etc.: under the new rules, that character can cast *more* spells or jump *further* in armor than when unarmored.

If the time taken for the additional armor soak roll is a concern, I'd suggest an option to use average values for Minion NPCs, so that the armor roll only need be made for Elite and Nemesis NPCs.

What does everyone else think?
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25 replies
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Doug Bailey said May 27, 2015 17:44:47
Oh, and as an aside, retaining the "Armor as dice pool" approach also allows for a more interesting armor-damage rule: perhaps reduce the armor's rating by [CD]1 each time the wearer is injured? I think this is a bit more fun than the "all-or-nothing" damage rule in the v1-3 playtest draft, though it does add a bit more bookkeeping.
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Nathan.Dowdell said May 27, 2015 19:14:07
This is one of the reasons we're putting this alternative out - we want to see where people's preferences lie and which form is preferred.

Of course, "armour helps you withstand hurt" makes a lot of sense - few attacks will be entirely absorbed by armour, and stopping the cutting edge of a blade doesn't stop the impact force of the weapon. It's also very difficult to forget (because it's already been accounted for), which puts more emphasis on the meaningful decisions that players make.

There are advantages to both approaches. The trick is to figure out which one works best in this case.
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Benn said May 27, 2015 22:38:12
And to speak to the point of 'sacrificing vigor' vigor is so easily replenished that it wouldn't be close to a meaningful sacrifice.

Very curious to see what feedback comes back from this.
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paul@eotkw.co.uk said May 28, 2015 10:48:01
Firstly the armour needed changing, there were too many dice bouncing around, attacks/parrys/damage/soak so it's a step in the right direction.

I wouldn't have it as a Vigour Bonus but as Armour. In combat you lose Armour then Vigour. This will appease the bonus Vigour situation Doug talks of.

There are some questions, how is armour vigour restored (under current RaW it suggests a Heal would restore armour)? When Bonus vigour is used is the armour written off (RaW suggest it is only destroyed when sundered)? Is bonus Vigour restored after the battle?

Alternatives are fixed armour points, armour protects 1-5 vigour per hit. Armour Points could reduce combat dice by it's value, meaning there would be a greater reliance on momentum in combat to do damage. This could allow different armour per location, and re-introduce hit locations.

Finally Armour could just reduce Injury, ie, if in armour ignore 1 or more injury, or roll some dice to avoid taking an injury.

What i do like the sound of is replacing armour regularly for short periods of time, and makes armour more of a tool, rather than a fashion statement it is in most other games (tbh players rarley change armour unless it's an upgrade in other games).
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Benn said May 28, 2015 12:54:18
Quick answer
Wearing armour gives the character vigor. This simulates the reductive effect of armour in a simple fashion that doesn't make armour feel mandatory. Vigor consists of minor scrapes and wounds suffered by the character. These scrapes are still healed in the regular fashion.

Armour points would create an absense on a character sheet and make the few vigor that armour provides more important than it really is.

Note that over time armour gets harder and harder to repair in the field. Its almost inevitable that it will get discarded.
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Sean Schoonmaker said May 28, 2015 19:47:27
I'm have to say that I prefer the new rules.

It removed a die roll and makes combat feel more fluid, which I like.
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Nathan.Dowdell said May 29, 2015 08:03:00
One thing worth considering is that the armour - conceptually - isn't giving more Vigour, but rather allowing the character's vigour to stretch that little bit further. Identical hits against two identical characters, one armoured and one unarmoured, will do less damage (as a proportion of the character's overall Vigour) to the armoured character.

Vigour is more stamina and a capacity to avoid serious harm in the first place - the telling blows are Injuries, rather than Vigour. Recovering it is a relatively swift and straightforward process, often requiring little more than a few minutes rest and maybe something to ease a character's aches and pains.
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paxton kirby said Jun 10, 2015 00:53:57
If you are going to give weapons all kinds of "abilities" then armor deserves the same treatment.

In a world where there will be no "magic" armor for the most part, simple classifications are unfulfilling. And the concept of armor being that fragile and that it will be replaced from "vanquished foes" is absurd, considering their armor will have big holes it.

I applaud Melee covering hand to hand. Conan is not a fencer. He will beat you with anything as long as it makes you dead. Most "warriors" do not train "Melee", big category vs. "Unarmed" small category. They train to kill and often the killing blow with a weapon is not the pointy end but the part you can hit the person with a telling blow with...ignore the pommel and watch the blade as I dent your forehead.

Conan's theme is much more like Greek and Roman style armor than Middle Age Knight. The best example would be the duel between Achilles and Hector in the Movie Troy. Those shin guards like bracers can be used to deflect blows. the world of Conan is one where skill is more important than completely covering yourself from head to toe. On bash and some one fully covered in even mail will be struggling to regain their feet while Conan sends them to visit their deity.

Maces were much more common during the Middle Ages. A fully protected head may not have a dent in its plate but the neck is snapped like a chicken bone. In the MMO, several examples are demonstrated where "hard points" give a defender a surface to deflect or absorb blows. Modern Body Armor does not attempt to cover every area, instead it focuses on making a telling blow much more difficult. Conan's "pantherish twists" and such display a combatant that is using armor actively, not passively for defense. A few plates covering the chest can be avoided if one combatant fights in asuperior manner. Archers would have the area that will hit flesh narrowed down to small spots, hard to hit on a moving opponent, especially at any range but point blank.

I realize getting the right "flavor words" is very important; but the idea of the "ponderous armor" is just crazy. The closest example I can think of would be the Maximillian style full plate. Oddly, it is easier to use than most of the other heavy types. Its expense and the need for it to be perfectly fitting is why it was almost never used. It also does not feel very "Conan".

Last note on armor. Lacquered linen was flexible and vastly superior pound for pound than leather, even thick hides. Players like their gear and they like it to feel special and that it was chosen to protect their weaknesses and accentuate their strengths. Picking the right armor is more important than weapon selection. Slam a sword into a breastplate, you will be holding a handle. the breastplate may have a dent. Armor is a place where Conan can really shine besides light, medium, heavy, etc. If you are going to use that method why not just use Warhammer's old "Hand Weapon". A weapon that is one handed, be it axe, mace, warhammer or sword.

The idea that the GM has little coins that it can fling at you for bad stuff to happen is very dangerous. It can be easy for players to feel and, some times justly so, that they are being kicked when they are down. Positive points that can be banked if you have an extra one is just an awkward mechanic. They need to be savable or not.

This can be reflected in the rules; but Melee combat (By the way, it is the flavorful way of saying it. It use to have an accent mark. Just because it has become "mainstream" does not detract from the flavor.)

I don't know where the design was going with the only count 1 and 2 and worry about 6. Very awkward mechanic. Maybe a d4 and worry about 4s?

There maybe a good reason for Alchemy to be under Willpower. I can see arguments for Sorcery but Alchemy seems more Intellectual where Sorcery may require massive mental strength.

The attributes still feel forced. Awareness and Coordination in particular. Insight requires thought. Don't forget Conan's strongest point. Hung ya up, didn't I? He was a genius. In any field he applied himself, absolute genius. He did not take the throne of Aquilonia "by his own hand". Did he walk up and start rolling dice against one of the mightiest kingdoms of the world? Insight is interpretation (Intelligence) not the ability to "sense" your surroundings. it is possible for someone to lack coordination and not Agility; but that is usually because of a medical problem and even then that is thin explanation.

I work with game skill lists all the time and have over a thousand in my collection. They are hard to break apart where one attribute is sole contributor of a skill. The reason? They are not. Swimming can be Agility, Strength or Endurance depending on what you are trying to do.

Maybe I misunderstood some of your points. Would have like to have seen an "alpha"; but this list seems more like notes on an alpha.

If you would like I can send you the list you are not getting right. I agree, it is tough to split them.

But try this: Attribute (situation dependent) + Skill + d20 = Target Number where Target number = 20

They did the inverse with AC in Basic D&D. It took them 25 years to fix it. 15 years after that, it is still not genius work.

Oh and for everyone who just cried SAVAGE WORLDS like someone has just destroyed a planet with the Deathstar. Savage World is a classless D20 game with poorly thought feats and the grand illusion of choice. Although I do like their UP/DOWN/OR OFF THE TABLE. Its great for slogging through minions a real ref could have said "Well, after slaying a bunch of minions...you get to the real fight.'

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Benn said Jun 10, 2015 07:26:26
“If you are going to give weapons all kinds of "abilities" then armor deserves the same treatment.”
Agreed but only if armour is actually “important”. As you’ve identified in conan skill is more important and as this is governed by skill activity.
“In a world where there will be no "magic" armor for the most part, simple classifications are unfulfilling. And the concept of armor being that fragile and that it will be replaced from "vanquished foes" is absurd, considering their armor will have big holes it.”
Agreed but then as we’re abstracting armour (even in the hit location model) the replenishment of armour is a piecemeal affair. At the end of a fight it’s a reasonable assumption that armour will require some TLC likewise as armour gets more brutalised its fair to assume that repairing it gets harder
“Conan's theme is much more like Greek and Roman style armor than Middle Age Knight. The best example would be the duel between Achilles and Hector in the Movie Troy. Those shin guards like bracers can be used to deflect blows. the world of Conan is one where skill is more important than completely covering yourself from head to toe. On bash and some one fully covered in even mail will be struggling to regain their feet while Conan sends them to visit their deity.”
Actually Conan is either in medieval armour or not in armour at all. The difficulty lies in making both approaches valid for play in the same group.
“Conan's "pantherish twists" and such display a combatant that is using armor actively, not passively for defense. A few plates covering the chest can be avoided if one combatant fights in asuperior manner.”
And the active avoidance of harm is governed by skill activity. Namely Parry.

I realize getting the right "flavor words" is very important; but the idea of the "ponderous armor" is just crazy. The closest example I can think of would be the Maximillian style full plate. Oddly, it is easier to use than most of the other heavy types. Its expense and the need for it to be perfectly fitting is why it was almost never used. It also does not feel very "Conan".
Plate armour according to REH is a nightmare. Conan wears it for about 15 minutes and those who put their faith in it tend to come a cropper. About the only combat activity REH plate allows is a headlong charge although in fairness this may be due to a lack of “Screen time”

“Last note on armor. Lacquered linen was flexible and vastly superior pound for pound than leather, even thick hides.”
Awesome, if you can provide a cultural/historical reference so I can action the addition of this I’ll be very happy to do so.
“Players like their gear and they like it to feel special and that it was chosen to protect their weaknesses and accentuate their strengths.”
Fair critique although from personal experience players tend to like their equipment to grant as big a play bonus as possible and to disappear if it’s not actually granting that bonus.

“The idea that the GM has little coins that it can fling at you for bad stuff to happen is very dangerous. It can be easy for players to feel and, some times justly so, that they are being kicked when they are down. Positive points that can be banked if you have an extra one is just an awkward mechanic. They need to be savable or not.”
Deviating off topic somewhat but players should be encouraged to creatively use momentum. Banking momentum is for when nobody can think of a “way to be awesome” It happens but not as frequently as you’d imagine. Regardless of system/game mechanic being fair is the ultimate job of the GM. You can’t legislate for fairness.
“I don't know where the design was going with the only count 1 and 2 and worry about 6. Very awkward mechanic. Maybe a d4 and worry about 4s?”
Actually there’s a lot of utility in the [CD] rule. It keeps damage effect low so as to not overshadow momentum usage too much. By having a built in activator/timer it prevents a lot of additional dice rolls. Also it means that on average you’re doing .5 damage per dice. Yes there’s a chance of rolling no damage but as 1 momentum lets you reroll any dice failures this is a very slim chance (.5^4) becoming (.5^8)

“There maybe a good reason for Alchemy to be under Willpower. I can see arguments for Sorcery but Alchemy seems more Intellectual where Sorcery may require massive mental strength.”
All skills are assumed to be in use “mid adventure” performing science in a lab is a different affair from peforming science in the ruins of a forgotten city.

“The attributes still feel forced.”
And that’s a topic for another thread. Although in quick reply I will say that this is what leads some systems to avoid attributes altogether. Personally I find attributes a quick way to form an image of my character and I find that even when skill lists are open attribute they usually default to one attribute when used in play.
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Nathan.Dowdell said Jun 10, 2015 12:53:46
Benn's covered a lot of this, but I'll weigh in from my end.

If you are going to give weapons all kinds of "abilities" then armor deserves the same treatment.

And that's certainly being considered. However, a lot of this comes down to whether or not we want armour to be important. Equipment minutia is a classic trait of D&D, Shadowrun, and a lot of other RPGs, which frequently end up valuing what you're carrying over the innate prowess of the character (in most forms of D&D, particularly 3/3.5/Pathfinder, unless you're a spellcaster, you'll eventually reach a point where your equipment has more impact than your class... and fire-and-forget spellcasting is really a form of embedded equipment anyway, as older editions counted new spells as a form of treasure).

That model doesn't have to be the case. With Conan, we're aiming for a model where the character's capabilities are front-and-centre, with equipment being a means to an end. That means, in many cases, reducing the importance and mechanical impact of some types of item. Weapons remain valuable, using qualities to distinguish between types, so that while all are roughly equal, an axe handles differently to a sword or a mace. Armour is a complex matter, because it needs to matter enough to be useful, but not matter so much that it's essential, to model the kinds of armour damage that the stories depict, and to be something that, when necessary, can simply be discarded if it becomes a problem. That would never work in a D&D-esque armour paradigm, where armour is a defining part of a character's appearance and profile, and not being armoured is a huge drawback without some special class feature to say otherwise.

The idea that the GM has little coins that it can fling at you for bad stuff to happen is very dangerous. It can be easy for players to feel and, some times justly so, that they are being kicked when they are down. Positive points that can be banked if you have an extra one is just an awkward mechanic. They need to be savable or not.

You're welcome to your opinion here. However, those elements are integral to the core of a system developed over a year ago. Conan will get a heavily adapted form of that, but essentially you're pointing at the foundation bricks and telling us to replace them - at this point, doing that would add months (minimum) to development time.

I've seen what happens when companies scrap a system halfway through development and start anew... it never works out as well as you might hope.

Thing is, the idea of GM and player resources is hardly a new concept. Sure, in the hands of a malicious or overbearing GM, it can be problematic, but so can any set of rules - there's never anything to stop a GM simply declaring a cave-in or other natural disaster kills all the characters. Having a pool of points to reflect and help maintain a sense of peril during scenes and adventures is a tool for the GM, but its presence does not indicate an adversarial nature, any more than its absence indicates that everything is fluffy, happy and perfect - a GM running a system without such tools is still perfectly able to "kick players when they're down", and probably even more so, because there's nothing to hold them back.

The 'cost' of banking Momentum is up for discussion internally - its absence has caused some issues with some groups in other 2D20 games, while its presence seems to limit abuse of the system.

This can be reflected in the rules; but Melee combat (By the way, it is the flavorful way of saying it. It use to have an accent mark. Just because it has become "mainstream" does not detract from the flavor.)


Typing all the accents is also slower, particularly on a forum or during a playtest where names and details are subject to change. Needless to say, the name is subject to change as the playtest progresses.

I don't know where the design was going with the only count 1 and 2 and worry about 6. Very awkward mechanic. Maybe a d4 and worry about 4s?

In practice, it's worked really well - as Benn notes, its got a number of mathematical benefits in terms of damage scaling, and the Effect on a 6 structure allows for a lot of options in producing varied and interesting outcomes, particularly weapon qualities, in a way that isn't governed by character skill. From my own practical experiences running Mutant Chronicles (the first game to use this system) and running Conan playtests of my own, it plays better than it reads, and it resolves really quickly. With Conan, we're trying to ensure that more weapons and attacks have effects that trigger on 6s than ones that don't, because it's more interesting that way from both mechanical and actual play perspectives.

There maybe a good reason for Alchemy to be under Willpower. I can see arguments for Sorcery but Alchemy seems more Intellectual where Sorcery may require massive mental strength.

Skill placement and function is subject to change. I've got some fairly radical ideas on the subject that we're debating internally at present.

The attributes still feel forced. Awareness and Coordination in particular. Insight requires thought. Don't forget Conan's strongest point. Hung ya up, didn't I? He was a genius. In any field he applied himself, absolute genius. He did not take the throne of Aquilonia "by his own hand". Did he walk up and start rolling dice against one of the mightiest kingdoms of the world? Insight is interpretation (Intelligence) not the ability to "sense" your surroundings. it is possible for someone to lack coordination and not Agility; but that is usually because of a medical problem and even then that is thin explanation.

Arguably every RPG in the history of the medium has had characteristic and skills names that were slightly off - in D&D, Dexterity covers agility and reflexes as much as hand-eye coordination, while Wisdom seems often to represent willpower and perceptiveness than actual wisdom. Further, when you divide a person up into a collection of arbitrary categories, it will always fall short in some way, as most tasks a human performs will normally fall into two or more of those categories (back to D&D again, using strength for the majority of melee attacks, without acknowledging how much coordination and accuracy is required.

None of this is new, and they're simple consequences of trying to render the human condition down into a handful of arbitrary values.

Details of the attributes - the number and names of them - is another subject of discussion.

If you would like I can send you the list you are not getting right. I agree, it is tough to split them.

Please consider that game design is very subjective, and what works for some people won't work for others. A lot of your post reads as if you're declaring facts rather than stating opinions.

But try this: Attribute (situation dependent) + Skill + d20 = Target Number where Target number = 20

They did the inverse with AC in Basic D&D. It took them 25 years to fix it. 15 years after that, it is still not genius work.

First, the target number would need to be 21 in order to not skew the maths of each die - if the target number is 20, you've increased the chance of success per die by 5%.

This is an argument that's been had countless times over many years. There is nothing inherently better or worse about roll over or roll under dice systems. You may dislike roll-under, but that does not make them a problem. D&D in 3rd and 4th edition slows down as the number of modifiers to add together increases and you're aiming at higher and higher numbers.

Roll under can be awkward when you're handling modified target numbers and so forth... but we're not. We're counting successes, the basic target number for a skill test basically never changes, and we want to highlight particularly successful rolls for greater benefits. Roll under works better for that (here's your stat, roll equal to or under it to get a success; roll equal to or less this smaller value count double), because it makes determining the outcome from a single die very fast (it requires no mental arithmetic, only value comparison; even for people good at mental arithmetic, value comparison is far faster). Knowing that 6 is less than 11 is so simple that it requires basically no thought, meaning that the outcome of each die is known almost instantly.

Because the overall success or failure of a task is the result of multiple dice rolled, the impact of an individual die is minimised, meaning that the speed of interpreting each of a handful of d20s (2-5 in most cases) is important to keep the game moving. What the individual dice roll doesn't matter, the total number of successes does. So we use the method that allows that number of successes to be determined most quickly.

Converting to roll over adds more mental arithmetic to the process, slowing things down for no meaningful benefit.
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Benn said Jun 11, 2015 06:06:18
To reiterate. If you have a good source on the use of lacquered linen please forward it.
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RichardLeroySkinnerIII said Jun 11, 2015 06:40:28
Found this: Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor: Unraveling the Linothorax Mystery - https://books.google.com/books?id=isn-7ZlBJrEC&pg=PT325&lpg=PT325&dq=lacquered+linen+armor&source=bl&ots=4kdjHT1LMu&sig=tEoIyKbfzQhohf4a77bIm2RpxT8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CFkQ6AEwDmoVChMI18vj7YKHxgIVgWCtCh35JwCw#v=onepage&q=lacquered%20linen%20armor&f=false

Looks like the general thought was that linen armor was something soldiers had to "make do" with at times.
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Sean Schoonmaker said Jun 11, 2015 14:52:30
paxton kirby
The idea that the GM has little coins that it can fling at you for bad stuff to happen is very dangerous. It can be easy for players to feel and, some times justly so, that they are being kicked when they are down. Positive points that can be banked if you have an extra one is just an awkward mechanic. They need to be savable or not.


I don't see this so much as a problem with the system, but as a possible issue between the GM and his game group. Regardless of how many Threat Points I've accumulated as GM, I would never spend them in such a way as to destroy the story that we (GM and players) are creating.

However, sometimes it can be very appropriate to bring in a story- or character-based complication when players are "down." Movies are replete with examples of bad things happening in the darkest of hours - but it's almost always something that's very important to the plot.

In short, I see Threat Points as a way to advance the plot and ratchet up tension on the players, and while they may sweat it at the time, they almost always appreciate the stories they can tell about it later.
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Benn said Jun 11, 2015 23:23:17
@RichardLeroySkinnerIII

Thanks for the link. Lacquered linen looks to be a go-er.

As a 2013 publication I'm not sure how well it will gel with REH's armours and it looks (from the review sample) like they only tested against arrow penetration.

If anyone has read the full text or has any opinion to the nature of macedonian lacquered armour and how it would withstand the rigors of melee i've got an open mind.


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RichardLeroySkinnerIII said Jun 12, 2015 23:51:34
From just a cursory glance through the internet, it looks like linen armor (lacquered or not) is one of those things that is not definitively known to have been widely used because no samples survive to this day. That said, there is some precedent to it working. The Mongols (I believe) wore silk shirts to aid against the penetration of arrows.

Some of the linen armor sources I found showed them to come in 2 varieties: Lacquered and folded. The lacquered versions look similar to roman-style armor, and were hardened with glue ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qyGge-laQY ). Folded linen (as rather un-scientifically and dangerously described here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ysi1DTkFXR8 ) looks like it relies on the layers of fibers to disperse and entangle the force of the blow.

The benefit of these types of armor may have simply been that they could save you from a few blows and probably would have been cheaper to produce than metal or even leather armors. Could have been lighter too.

Also, just found this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ERSx1o8wwk
College kids. Who knew?
[Last edited Jun 12, 2015 23:54:49]
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