(BRP) RuneQuest, Stormbringer and BRP seem to user roughly the same weapon and armor rules, which is weird because Stormbringer had about 3k-5k years better technology.
Not really, RuneQuest and BRP are generic systems, Stormbringer is a setting-based system. BRP/RQ armour covers anything from prehistoric to far future.
Armour is designed to be wearable, durable and protecting. It is not designed to protect from a bazooka shell or from being trampled by an elephant, so most armour will be designed to protect against common damage. In fantasy games this normally means hand to hand or fairly primitive missile weapons. In modern games, it covers hammers, axes, knives, clubs and firearms. In future games, it can cover knives, clubs, forceblade weapons, blasters and so on. Weapons designed to kill humans do enough damage to kill humans, so armour should protect against that kind of damage.
Hence, all the D100-style games have a very similar range of damage and damage protection.
This might be fine as realistic combat isn't exactly the goal of either, but I'd really like to make the alloys behave properly, even if they're not found together.
Here are some ideas on how to think about and adjust equipment and armor to reflect that quality steel is found only in the last thousand to half thousand years or so, and that other types of alloy have very different properties.
Bronze is far more frangible than iron or steel. Though most bronze is harder than most iron, and the absolute limits of bronze hardness are twice or more that of iron, bronze is more likely to shatter and crumple under stress. Bronze armor works primarily by deflecting points. Unlike steel plate or mail, which is almost physically impossible to cut through, it is quite possible for a for man to drive a spear right through a bronze breastplate and the man inside. In fact, bronze's properties make it better as a sharp weapon than as armor, meaning a bronze age warrior faces a double inequality: absolutely inferior armor and relatively superior arms. In some cases bronze weapons perform better than iron weapons, add they're stiffer and can be sharpened more.
In order to be viably strong bronze armor is also quite a bit heavier than steel or iron, a bronze greave well weigh as much as three times that of a steel counterpart one reason we don't have Attic full plate. This is an important feature, because between the weight, lower relative benefit, increased absolute scarcity of bronze and absolute poverty of the pre-classical world you well see VERY FEW people in full 'hoplite' armor, and essentially no one in more. This means lots of bare flesh in every battle; flesh which is no match for even bronze edges.
Not sure that plate cannot be cut through - it can certainly be punctured and I would guess that a very heavy weapon would slash through plate.
There are far more armour materials than bronze and iron. Ancients used leather, linothorax
, wicker and ceramic armour. Whilst they wouldn't stop a Bastard Sword or Greatsword, they might reduce the damage enough to survive the blow.
My suggestion is that weight be tripled for armor, DR reduced by 1/3 and HP reduced by half. For weapons, double weight for small blades and bludgeoning weapons, and triple the weight for Longsword and full sized axes. For all weapons reduce damage slightly (perhaps -1) but reduce HP by half.
For playability, tripling bronze is quite a heavy penalty.
Long-hafted weapons such as Axes and Spears tend to be wooden most of the way up, with a metal head. So, ENC and HPs should not change that much, unless they are protected by a wire coil.
Why double small weapons and treble large ones? Surely, if a weapon is made entirely of bronze it should be 3 times the ENC regardless of its size.
As I'm primarily talking the near prehistoric and very early historic periods, shields will be even crappier; basically wicker or leather of limited use except as a disposable arrow catcher. Even bronze and wood shields as were used much later will be penetrated by a solid blow, so we're taking 1/5th to 1/2 DR and HP, and that's being generous.
Even Viking shields were wooden, covered with leather and with a metal rim.
Wicker or leather shields should be lighter and offer less protection. Wooden shields should absorb about as much as a Viking shield, as they would probably be leather bound.
Copper is much like bronze, but inferior in all respects. Stone would also be common in maces, axes, arrowheads, knives and tools in general. Many people outside the small cores of civilization and urbanity will still be living in primitive hunter-gatherer and partial conditions. They will have essentially nothing but the simplest handicrafts, and metal will beer outside their income and possibly outside their experience altogether. Some will be in a more mixed state, especially if they have organized war bands or valuable resources to barter with. Stone weapons would be terrible, incredibly fragile, very heavy, virtually impossible to repair and very tedious to produce.
Stone maces are as heavy as metal ones. Spears have a wooden haft and a stone head, so should have the same HPs/Aps. Long bladed weapons should be fragile.
This was probably the biggest deficiency I found I the BRP family, there seems to be acknowledgement of this fundamental issue; and considering it's original setting was Bronze Age it's even more glaring an omission. I'd course we can't for everything in a book but I've seen only one fan book that even acknowledges that bronze and steel are different, and it's far too conservative/favorable to bronze IMO. GURPS handled this issue in their core rules, and I might use them as a rough guideline to audit/edit BRP and RuneQuest weapons/armor top confirm properly to the relatively junky and bulky ancient equipment.
It is a common misconception that Glorantha is a Bronze Age world. Sure, main weapons are based on bronze, but iron is relatively common for magical characters. In any case, the Gloranthan metals are analogues of real world ones, but are substantially different.
The further back in time you go, before the renaissance anyway, the more of an edge weapons have on armor (somewhat balanced by greater effectiveness of static fortifications on the large scale), and bronze age warriors face the same sort of situation as modern soldiers; their armor is really only there to stop glancing blows and stray projectiles; against a direct hit it's of very limited utility and against a well aimed hit it's useless because overt half the body is effectively naked/unarmored.
I am not entirely convinced that this is true.
Skills will also be far more limited, both in terms of what skills one can acquire, how intensively one can train it and how crude the available tools are. It's not likely people with high skill ratings, other than some communication skills, would really exist. Wealth and accumulated techniques make a huge difference, the more talented the warrior or scholar in the first place the greater the benefit from advances in technique and tools. It's simply not possible to train warriors to Immortal standards, much less chivalric or Ottoman standards, without this vast accumulation of knowledge, wealth, stuff and free time; it doesn't matter if you have a 19 intelligence or a 20 dexterity, you will not have the opportunity to exercise your talents to that limit.
I strongly disagree.
The best modern-day flint-knappers are nowhere near as skilled as their Stone Age predecessors. Many skills have been lost or now exist in a rudimentary form compared to ancient masters.
D100 systems have a relative skill base. This means that 90% is considered Mastery. Anyone who dedicates their life to the pursuit of a skill will become a master of the skill, given enough practise and talent.
The ancient world had stone masons, architects, poets, painters, scholars and many more professions. Many of these were very skilled at what they did. The idea that ancient cultures did not specialise as they were too focussed on survival is just wrong in many respects. Evidence is there that many of these societies has specialised people who spent their lives doing one or two things really well.
Chinese, Persians, Greeks and Romans had specialised soldiers. They were well trained for their time. Many other cultures had a specialised corps of soldiers backed up with militia. These were well-trained. Epics and tales tell of great warriors, they would have been equally skilled.
Other than survival and communication skills the limits would be much lower, and even these benefit immensely. The smartest Babylonian priest may write a brilliant epic, but it's going to be limited and formulaic compared to Homer, much less Dante (or Robert Howard). These people are basically cavemen and 80 word vocabulary starving farmers with bricks and asphalt, and their greatest aren't as well off as poor people in Mexico in terms of access to accurate information, food and time to develop specialized skills.
No, no, no, no.
Because D100 skills are relative, this means that a master of the skill is measured relative to peers.
Sure, a Babylonian Priest would have a good grasp of basic mathematics but would not know of algebra, calculus, group theory and the many newer branches of mathematics. This does not mean that a Babylonian Priest should not have 90% Mathematics. What was once cutting-edge theory is now being taught in high schools., What is now cutting-edge will be taught in the schools of the future.
How are ancient Egyptians and Babylonians basically cavemen with 80-word vocabularies? Did you know that more ancient languages have richer and more complex grammar than most modern languages? Vocabulary is based on what people are talking about. Ancient vocabularies are going to be as rich, if not richer than today's languages. Sure, they won't have terms for computers or spaceships, but so what?
Saying that a Babylonian epic is limited and formulaic is misunderstanding the purpose of ancient epics. They were often written for specific purposes, sometimes as religious works, sometimes as records of historical or legendary people. You might as well say that Haiku or limericks are limited and formulaic.
The only time that relative skills do not work well is when you have a genre mix. A modern-day mathematician going to the Babylonians would have a higher Mathematics skill, for example. In this case, it is best to establish what the baseline is and then assign a bonus or penalty to the skill. The baseline should be the predominant culture of the setting.
In fact, genre-mixing also means that you do need rules for different types of armour and weapons as well, as they will be important.