Tuesday, November 30, 2021

DF Felltower, Bracers of Force, Ironskin Amulets, and Shirtless Savage Barbarians

I mentioned some of this in my post yesterday, but I wanted to expand further.

I said the following:

- the Bracers of Force aren't exactly the same as the ones in DF6. I'll post them sometime soon. They specifically do not layer with Shirtless Savage DR, and they replace it if you wear both. No if, ands, or buts about it. If not, you'll end up with a very munchkinny approach of claiming or arguing for force field DR for the eyes (excluded from Shirtless Savage DR), DR 9 on the arms on 1-3 and shirtless savage DR on a 4-6, and the force field DR whenever the force field is a better choice. No. either wear it and get DR 3 (9 on the arms on a 1-3 in 6) or don't wear it at all.

That does appear to contradict Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians, p. 14, doesn't it?

I will say that the rules on p. 14 apply in my game - but not to these variant Bracers of Force (from Dungeon Fantasy 6: 40 Artifacts). Here are their stats . . . as the players know them:

* Bracers of Force. DR 3, force field, doesn’t stack with armor, only while conscious, only on living, sapient beings. Protects arms on 1-3 on 6 with DR 9 (total), $10,000, 6.75 lbs.

The players also know that Armor spells stack with barbarian DR, so these aren't providing the Armor spell exactly. They don't know if these stack with the Armor spell or not - likely not, but "similar effect" often doesn't stack.

There hasn't been an appearance by the Ironskin Amulet in DF Felltower, either, and I've firmly rebuffed attempts by players to order one or ask about one. The Invulnerability elixir exists, but isn't commonly for sale. At $2,100, it's a bit expensive for a casual purchase.

When it comes down to it, though, this is about play balance and color and interest.

As a GM, I need to make some decisions when I equip foes. I felt like the golden swordsmen were way cooler if they didn't have a lot of native DR from "tough skin" or "magical innate forcefields" or something, but instead the big bracers on the minis were actually a variant of Bracers of Force. That's pretty cool. It also means the PCs can take and use them, if they choose, or sell them - so they act as a form of loot. That's fine. But that doesn't mean I have to accept that choosing this approach means barbarians with Shirtless Savage DR thus get +3 DR force fields stacked onto the already-maxed DR (they all always max their DR). I can - and did - come up with a ruling that makes that not so.

The alternative as a GM was to say, okay, if I give these guys a cool, stylish, and interesting spin - their only armor are magical bracers others can use - I'm giving +3 DR to every barbarian in the game, and that's too much, so nevermind. I'll just say the bracers allow them to generate a forcefield but they only act for golden swordsmen. Or they have an innate Armor spell ability. Or something else. It's foolish to take the negative consequences you can see instantly or get rid of the whole idea, good and bad, to stay "consistent." And if the players are going to arm-twist the rules into making this work for their PCs in some fashion, I'd be better off just saying "these guys have Shirtless Savage DR, too, and no one gets any loot for that." That's not as fun or as cool as the bracers, even if it is easier to do and means the rules stay utterly consistent. See what I mean?

I chose to have cool magic items that some players can use on their PCs - or not use, as they decide. Cool magic items they could cash in as loot, too, making the risk of fighting the six-fingered ones and the golden swordsman a worthwhile risk, as their gear is quite valuable. But I don't have to also feed into the escalation of DR and damage in the game by letting it all stack together. I'm happy to give out the Bracers of Force above, but not ones that will turn Bruce, Crogar, and any and all future shirtless barbarians into DR 10 (12 vs. crushing) guys with DR 11 (13 vs. crushing) on their arms on a 1-3 and DR 3 on the eyes. That's pushing them firmly into the "ignore all threats not inflicting at least 2d+4 / 3d" territory, and makes them invulnerable to far too many effects. I still wanted the bracers out there and useful. I solved that problem by making it clear they don't stack with armor and the barbarian Shirtless Savage DR doesn't stack with it, either.

And that's why the ruling, and different bracers, and the lack of Ironskin Amulets laying around.


  1. I like this ruling as a GM and as a player.

  2. To be more specific, I like how those bracers encourage delvers to go after the golden swordsmen—more loot! (At least on that level…if I recall correctly, when the delvers fought those same guys on the “gate level,” only one of them had the bracers). And as a GM, when everyone has DR in epic plate levels, it really requires upping the damage dealing abilities of the opponents—which is really a problem for the back rank guys with low HP (they just have to avoid any physical combat at all costs). That’s why I really like armor divisors and the phase ratmen—they could injure/threaten the big guys some, but weren’t insta-kills vs. lightly armored folks.

  3. I respect the reasoning even if my DR 10/12 Shirtless Savage weeps for her Felltower brethren's inability to hit "Epic Plate Nudity".


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