September 17, 2018 0 comments

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Rigid Armor vs Metal Armor

In the quick-start rules, I noticed that metal armor only protects you against four critical hits (two cutting and two firey), while rigid protects against nine critical hits (5 impact, 1 cutting and 3 piercing). The result seems to be that rigid leather is a better pick than chainmail, especially since rigid leather doesn't slow you down as much, doesn't make you more vulnerable to lightning bolts and actually provides a defense bonus. Note that even the attack table columns don't seem to help this problem, once you factor in the +5 combat defense bonus for rigid leather... chain is much worse vs. blunt weapons than rigid leather and about the same vs edged and missiles.

Should the critical tables be revised slightly to give more benefit to non-rigid metal armour like chainmail?

My guess (although I am not sure) is that metal armour should generally protect you against slashing and rigid armour should protect you against impact. Metal armour can also protect you against fire and mid-level piercing criticals, although high-level piercing criticals would probably leave little to no defense for any armour type. This would allow the following armour types to protect the wearer in the following number of cases:

Leather Jerkin (1 instance of protection): Only when armour is mentioned generally.

Reinforced Leather (2 instances of protection): Only vs impact and as general armour.

Chain Mail (3.5 instances of protection): Protection vs slashing, fire, mid-level piercing attacks and as general armour.

Half Plate (4.5 instances of protection): Against impact, slashing, fire, mid-level piercing attacks and as general armour.


Ciao Thurm! Thank you in the first place for your smart insight.

You got it right: rigid leather armor (not simply reinforced) is a very good pick.
This was historically true: greek oplite armor, roman lorica musculata, and late medieval/early renaissance courbouilli were really good protections, being almost as sturdy as metal armor, but way lighter - at least before renaissance metallurgy techniques kicked in. They were however rather expensive (probably way more expensive than metal armor - at least chain) and difficult to craft, so basically very rare. We may want to reflect this in the Full Rules by having Rigid Leather Armor being essentially a masterwork kind of Reinforced Leather (so +1 Fare).

Yet, as you may have guessed, Against the Darkmaster doesn't aim for historically accurate simulation, but more for epic fantasy heroic adventures, so the above may well be disregarded or at least be considered of secondary importance.
The fact still is that rigid leather is Light armor, while chain mail is Medium armor. As you have pointed out, this has a certain impact on the weapon attack tables, especially at lower and higher results (plateuing a little on the middle part of the gauss) and an even higher impact against Beast attacks. On a single swing this may seem not a big thing, but it comes in very handy when you are a front line Warrior taking lots of punishment: each lowered Critical Strike, each spared HP loss is vital! What emerges from our playtests is that a Chain Mail Warrior can stand the front line way better than a Rigid Leather one. Of course there are exceptions, because - as any game - VsD system has its exploits. A maxed out DEF fighter can be advantaged against wearing Rigid Leather over a Chain Mail one. Ever heard of elvish skirmishers? 🙂

Finally, keep in mind that contextual reads on Critical Strike description must be taken cum grano salis, judging on the situation. For those Critical Strikes description reading "if the target's wearing rigid armor" on legs and arms swings, you can safely assume that a chain mail or soft leather piece of armor could still include metal or rigid vambraces and greaves. So you can be in chain mail armor but still be considered protected by rigid armor against those swings.

For no one in this world you can trust, my son. Not man, not woman, not beast. But STEEL... this, you can trust!

Oh, I think my version of the Quickstart has rigid leather as 1 fare (same as soft leather)! If it is essentially treated as masterworks, then that makes a lot more sense. One thing I might do to clarify the utility of chain mail is to simply lower the "Max SWI to Def" for rigid leather to +10, explaining this change away by saying the rigid leather is just bulky and difficult to maneuver in. That way characters with SWI 10 or less are more advantaged to wear rigid leather (given the inherent +5 Def bonus from the armor). Characters with SWI 15 could wear rigid leather or chain mail at the same bonus, while characters with SWI 20 or greater would get a higher Def bonus from chain mail. I'll keep the Movement Penalties as written, though, since chain mail is still quite a bit heavier than rigid leather, even if it is more flexible than the latter.

By the way, stats never increase after character creation, is that correct?

Yes, the Quickstart does not list all the notes and modifiers for the various armors and weapons.

Of course if you feel the need to patch leather armor the way you proposed, you're more than encouraged to do - and please share with us the outcomes of your playtests!

Finally: actually, in the Full Rules there will be a way to increase Stats. You may have noticed in the character sheet space to note down a thing called "Heroic Path"... 😉

For no one in this world you can trust, my son. Not man, not woman, not beast. But STEEL... this, you can trust!