Armor in one form or another is a role-playing game staple. Starting with leather skins, to chain mail and half plate all the way to laser shields and Kevlar vests, most characters are going to not want to get hit by clubs and particle beams. Because death sucks.
What mechanic is the best to play with?
First to consider is a mechanic something like Armor Class. Wearing plate mail and carrying a shield the size of small table makes you harder to hit. It does not have contested combat dice rolling. You have a 20 armor class, someone attacks and hits you or not, based on their roll. Quick and it keeps combat moving. This is favorable, but what if a lucky peasant attacks with a sharpened stick of viciousness? Our peasant rolls a 22 and somehow injures our knightly juggernaut. Realistic or silly?
Next, there’s damage resistance or a stopping power mechanism. Our peasant hero grabs a makeshift spear and plunges it into our Sir’s side. Let’s assume another hit, doing 4 points of damage. In the first example, the plate mail does its job as Armor Class, performs as all or nothing and either stops/deflects the blow. Should the armor stop all or some of the four points of damage? Say the armor has damage mitigation of three. Now our spear is not going in as far, only doing one point. Is this better than the all or nothing of AC (Armor Class)? Is the spear considered armor piecing? What if our peasant had an assault rifle with bullets designed for shooting through tanks?
Are the two together too much? First having to beat an armor class/rating and then penetrating the armor itself. Adding in the latter takes an extra step. Doubly so if the defender gets some sort of avoidance, defense or soak roll. (That’s another topic) All together they seem too much. There are four types of an armor mechanic that could be used.
- Peasant would need a high roll based on the knight’s plate armor. (AC/AR)
- The knight could attempt to block or evade the strike (Active Defense, Dodge/Block Etc)
- The armor itself could stop some or all of the incoming damage. (Damage Resistance/Stopping Power)
- The Knight’s own personal stamina/health could shrug off the blow entirely. Damn you White Wolf.
I’m leaning towards something with number 1 and number 3 as the best for playability. I can’t think of system that has this already off the top of my head, but I’ll update this post if I come across it.
Armor Penalties Next Week.