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  #1  
Old 03-23-2019, 03:16 AM
BlackDouglas BlackDouglas is offline
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Better Armour System

Does anyone have any ideas (or links to effective house rules or alt rules) for better armour (or HP) systems for D20 games?

I'm thinking in terms of (say) a Breastplate having a better rating against slashing weapons but weaker to piercing weapons (such as certain types of sword, or crossbow bolts - given that these are specifically designed to defeat plate armour), or full plate forcing the opponent to reroll for a critical due to the layers and intricacies of the design.

or even, and I'll use the breastplate again, because the idea of just wearing a cuirass frustrates me, having armour act as DR or crit hit protection - you can still get well maimed wearing a cuirass, it's just a lot harder for the opponent to stick his sword straight through your sternum.

Another - Does anyone assess damage to armour? ie - PC has AC 15, 3 of that is due to Armour, so on an attack of 13-15, the attack has "bounced off" the armour, and potentially damaged the armour if the attack overcomes hardness?


My goal is to increase the "grittiness" a little - to make it a bit more interesting than just swapping blows until someone gets to 0, and also to give things consequences - clearing the local goblin infested cave should have the possibility of ruining you lovingly oiled leather outfit, or even costing you a finger.

on the other hand, I'm also not a big fan of arcane rules, and getting bogged down in tables and charts, so I'm after something relatively simple.



I have no doubt whatsoever that this has been discussed ad nauseum in the past, so happy to be sent off to explore ancient threads on the subject.

Last edited by BlackDouglas; 03-23-2019 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 03-23-2019, 08:48 AM
Auron3991 Auron3991 is offline
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Well, 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons has rules for material hardiness and HP on pages 158 and 166 of the PHB with page 222 of the DMG detailing effects of magic. Different individual D20 systems will need different numbers for proper balance (for example, Mutants and Masterminds 3E has completely different mechanics, but is still technically a D20 system), so you're going to need to know the confines of your system. For D&D, I personally find it to be a bit of a waste in general play, as the early game has too low of numbers to significantly risk bypassing hardness, and later game has magic armor, which is immune to anything that doesn't match it's magic bonus (which most creature's natural weapons don't).

Now, if you're going for significant armor management, I seem to remember location damage rules someplace (having a bit of difficulty locating it right now) and that could be combined with a Morrowind-style armor system. If you do go this route, you are looking at a significant amount of work, because changing the armor system changes several magic items as well, as they are all designed around the current number of armor slots.

Another thing to consider is that HP is actually a bit more of a combined stamina and health bar, so a hit might actually be a strike that caused a character to move the wrong way or pull a particularly intensive maneuver to get out of the way, not necessarily one that caused an open wound. That could be represented with circumstance penalties or even stat damage.

Finally, I feel the need to mention to make absolutely sure your players are on board with this, as you would be severely weakening them.

As an aside, full-plate was often designed quite well for defending against piercing weapons, as it often had rounded sections that would make it difficult to properly align the point. What you really wanted against plate armor was bludgeoning weapons because those were all about transferring force to the opponent as a whole rather than trying to concentrate force at a certain point or line. Crossbows were just all around obnoxiously good, as they didn't rely on the strength and endurance of hairless monkeys. Knights were extremely hard for normal archers to take down (as can be noted in the Battle of Dorylaeum, where outnumbered knights held off mounted archers for around half a day in the middle of open ground).
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:21 PM
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jj_wolven jj_wolven is offline
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Pathfinder has alternate rules that combine similar to what you are saying...Combine:
Wound Thresholds (get weaker as you are more damaged)
Armor as Damage Reduction
Called Shots
Piecemeal Armor (plus a bodypart (d12) die)
Wounds and Vigor

Rolemaster has a few tables that would help.

Important Note: each of these takes more record keeping. Are you and the other players willing to do this? Will it take away from the fun?

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Old 03-24-2019, 12:50 AM
BlackDouglas BlackDouglas is offline
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I figured they might JJ, but I couldn't find them.

I found them in the PFRD, so that's good
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