Monday, December 2, 2013

Improving Fine Armor in GURPS DF

Right now, I feel like Fine armor is kind of second-rate in GURPS DF. Per DF1 it's +9 CF (making it 10x cost, basically) for all of a -10% weight decrease -25% weight decrease. That's significantly more expensive than the Lighten enchantment, and doesn't provide a lot for the cost. The armors you most want to be lighter are too expensive to use it.

I'm debating giving it a little more oomph for the price. On the table are:

- Lack of Chinks in Armor. That is, any armor of Fine quality simply doesn't have Chinks in Armor. Helmets would be an exception, because eyeslits are eyeslits. But otherwise, you simply can't target them because those niggling gaps have been covered thanks to the custom sizing and placement of the armor.

- Smaller Chinks in Armor. This would allow targeting Chinks, but at a -9 instead of a -8. Eyeslits would stay -10 but Chinks In Armor on the Face/Skull would be -9; there is only so small you can make eyeslits. This is essentially folding Expert Tailoring from Low-Tech (p. 110)

- Reduced Cost. Maybe +9 CF just isn't right. +3 CF, perhaps, would make it a better choice. It's still costly but not so costly that all other options should be exhausted first.

- Improved DR. Maybe Fine armor is +1 DR, for no additional cost. Because it's perfectly sized and carried, it just protects better.

- Improved Marginal Mobility. Anytime when bulk, tightness, squeezing into spaces, and similar situations occur, Fine armor reduces any penalty for armor by -1 (or gives a +1, if there are no penalties).

- No Halves DR Criticals. Any time an opponent rolls a 4 or 17 on the Critical Hit Table, treat it as "normal damage only."

- Improved Layering. If both of your armor layers are Fine quality, you don't suffer the -1 DX penalty for layered armor. Normal layering rules for DF apply, so this would mean only a bottom layer of Fine cloth under a top layer of Fine whatever would be allowed.

I'm not sure which of these I will go with. Probably the Smaller Chinks in Armor, since that takes nothing to implement. Possibly a combination of that plus Lack of Chinks in Armor for certain locations - if you have Fine Armor on the Torso, for example, there are no Vitals chinks at all, if you have it on the Head, there are no Skull chinks. Other locations would just get the -1 edge. Maybe the No -1 DX one, too - in DF, giant spider silk cloth armor, suitably enchanted (since I let Fortify stack), can be a big add. +3 DR might be worth it even for the very high cost. It would partly tramp on the Knight's Armor Mastery power-up, but not terribly so, since that also gives +1 DR and lets you layer non-Fine armor.

That might work - I haven't decided yet. Not that monsters target Chinks in Armor very often, and we don't use the Critical Hit Table (I use the Basic Combat rule of 3 is max damage, 4-6 are just no defenses). But a combination of those might make Fine worth looking at. Any other cute, small fixes I might consider?


  1. Hmm, why not offer each as options with different costs? A given blacksmith in a town could, depending on his skills, offer each of these, at different costs.
    For example, one guy might want better mobility and improved DR for his mail shirt, while another would rather get Lack of Chinks for his breastplate and leggings.

    Of course, that's make it a bit more complicated to keep track of...

    As a note, I'd give each some small disadvantages as well and maybe not stack-able. Improved DR might weight more, better mobility might have slightly lower DR, lack of chinks might be clunkier, etc.

    1. As you say it would be "a bit more complicated to keep track of..." - I'd need to put in a different option for each into GCA, make sure they were all cost-balanced against each other, and so on.

      The suggestion of small disadvantages isn't a bad one, but in my experience no one every pays money for a downside. So if it's, say, 10x cost, no chinks in armor, but clunkier, no one will take it. More DR for more weight is okay, but that's already in DF as Dwarven.

      I think I'm looking for "no work to implement but makes the cost seem more appropriate."

    2. Maybe you could say "Fine armor gets to pick N from the following list" or something. So people could choose what benefits they get from a list of pre-approved options? Lighter weight, extra DR, chinks, lack of DX penalty, etc.

    3. A list of pre-approved options makes "fine" a grouping, not a type. So it would need to be broken out into Fine, No Chinks; Fine, Layered; Fine, Extra DR, etc. I'd also need to answer the question of changing from one sub-type to another. If you can't, they aren't really sub-types of Fine, they're mutually incompatible armor types of their own.

      So that's expanding the list of armor adjectives and getting rid of fine, but preserving its cost on those new armor adjectives. I'd need to code them into GCA, fine a way to consistently note the effects and cost, etc.

      I think what I'm really looking for is another trait to bolt on to Fine without changing anyway in a major way. Saying, "As listed, plus this other thing." Not "As listed, plus choose one of the following and make sure you track what it does." I don't want to have to ask, "What kind of Fine?" just declare a new perk for having it.

  2. Quicker donning time (if you're using it), as fewer straps need adjusting, less padding is needed to be loaded etc. No idea what's realistic here, but I'd likely just half the time for DF.

    Less FP loss at the end of a fight (again, if you actually enforce this), say -1 FP loss to a min of 1 FP. This will only help when fighting in hot conditions or for long fights, but it makes sense that well made armour would indeed aid in these cases as the weight is distributed more easily and less padding is required under it.

    Easier to maintain, providing a bonus to armoury skills to keep it in order or repair simple damage (again, if you even track this sort of thing), perhaps a +4 to skill. This again makes sense that properly crafted armour would have fewer weak points in the material and distribute forces better over their surface which simply leads to *less* to repair and upkeep.

    More noteworthy/enforced reaction bonuses where appropriate, other Knights, fighters, and even royalty would appreciate a well made set of armour. Armoursmiths who are good enough to make Fine grade gear likely have a mark they leave on the armour too, so even those who can't assess the quality by eye can still see the mark and realise its good quality armour. This isn't much, but a +1 here and there may be the difference between passing yourself off as a likeable foreign Knight who can stroll into the kings court wearing full armour, and one who isn't and is forced to strip down to underclothes before entering.

    ... and that's all I can think of before I've finished the first cup of tea of the morning - I might chime in with more ideas later if they come to me.

    1. Those are good - a reaction bonus would mean it's just another variation of Ornate, or that I'd have to worry about stacking (+4 for Fine and maximally Ornate).

      I like the reduced FP cost, although how much Fine armor do you need for that? People buy suits piecemeal in my game.

    2. Ornate is purposeful 'fancying' of armour, it pretty much applies to merchants and hirelings only (by text) although even if you expand that to 'anyone in town' (unless they have Quirk: Loathes poncey garbed fakers). Either way, it should never apply in hostile situations, no one cares how much gold you got gilding your armour, when all they want is to see your blood. Or, if they *do* care, its only because they're thinking about the spoils of war (which *wont* make they like you more).

      Where as my proposed Fine reaction bonus applies to an (arguably) smaller part of the populous, but also a *different* one. I'd say it should apply regardless of their level of hostility, too. Only those keen enough to spot well made armour, or knowledgeable to identify it by the makers mark would be affected.
      This would cause enemy Knights and other 'high society' fighters to regard you as a worthy opponent when wearing Fine armour, and treat you better than they might otherwise. That's not to say they wont try to kill you, but they may hear your last words, give you a proper burial, or simply stop and request a 'fair fight' rather than just cutting your down and moving on to the next foe.

      I'd therefore say they would stack, but obviously only where both would naturally apply. It's not a large bonus, in and of itself, so shouldn't cause too much of an issue. Also, well made Ornate armour really should give better reaction modifiers than 'averagely' made Ornate armour - if nothing else, the 'Ornateness' itself would also have been made 'Fine'. It's quite literally 'Fine Art'!

      As for FP reduction, I'd rule all or nothing. Or at least all 'major zones' or nothing. So any armour worn on the head, neck, torso, arms and legs would need to be Fine to count. Hands, feet and other minor armour wouldn't really need to be, as they're mostly negligible.

      An alternative way which might produce more realistic results, would be to say "at least 75% of the total armour weight must be Fine to count". Although I'd not really want to do this, as making armour Fine reduces the weight, and thus alters the total weight, making it a painful exercise in optimisation as the target number keeps changing.

      This does highlight the problem with piecemeal bonuses in general, though. Take Ornate for instance - what if my helm is +3 Ornate, my breastplate is only +1 Ornate, and everything else is normal, what reaction bonus do I get? The best, the average, the worst? DF1 doesn't really give any guidelines for this - otherwise I'd just use those.

      Either way, I see you've posted up a proposed final draft for how you intend to tweak Fine armour. I like it the layering bonus a lot, and think it's makes the armour well worth cost. I'd personally not use reduction of chinks, they get targeted to infrequently as it is, and there is only so much fidelity in those numbers to be meaningful already.

      Also, the ability to layer armour would *already* cause chinks to be less effective when layering - which if you're investing in Fine you might as well do with at least cloth. So to me it looks like it's too much egg to the mix. Those rich enough to afford Fine gear will layer it up - and not even chinks become an alternative to overcome it, you're looking at relying on armour divisors or just high damage by that point.

  3. Personally I like the "lack of chinks" option. It's valuable against intelligent foes, makes worthwhile for NPC's, doesn't involve any new rolling and sounds cool, albeit it is the least realistic option.


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