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What's the appeal for Random Armor Value?


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Basically the title.

I've seen the option in the new BRUGE and in Magic World and in Cthulhu Dark Ages, but I have the impression, that it's a pretty frustrating rule because it's so random. So I've been asking myself why someone would actively want this rule in their game?

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Posted (edited)

Increase the factor of "luck."
It's really rather similar to rolling damage (instead of having a fixed value, like a longsword doing +6 damage instead of 1d8)

It may also shorten combats overall:  sometimes the armor blocks very-little damage, and so the person gets more-injured, more--quickly.

Edited by g33k

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Nokaion said:

Basically the title.

I've seen the option in the new BRUGE and in Magic World and in Cthulhu Dark Ages, but I have the impression, that it's a pretty frustrating rule because it's so random. So I've been asking myself why someone would actively want this rule in their game?

With fixed AV and hit locations after determining whether a target is hit and what damage is done, there is still the variable of where they have been hit. With variable AV and no hit locations, there’s the same number of random rolls. But, with locational hit values and fixed AV, more outcomes producing impairing results (limb out of use, or destroyed etc); variable AV and no locational hit values allows GM and players more latitude in how they narrate and interpret the more results of a blow, with only Major Wounds directing how we imagine the outcomes to any specific degree.

For games that need a greater degree of fluidity and speed in play, that are tonally more heroic / “pulpy” I would always choose variable AV and Major Wounds (and often Heroic hit points). I was originally a huge fan of hit locations when I first played RQ, but experience over the decades has taught me that they are a poor fit for many (but not all) the games I run: frequently too fiddly, impeding the flow of the game and too often throwing up weird statistical anomalies (e.g three rounds in, everyone has their left leg disabled).

I am considering revising my BRP monograph Outpost 19 currently: and a major choice is whether I keep the hit locations in NPC stats, because they push the tone and feel towards BRPs more gritty and detailed orientated mode and I’m unsure now if that’s the best fit for the adventure and setting… It was originally partly inspired by the original Future*World which didn’t use them… but another major inspiration was the early Revelation Space novels of Alastair Reynolds, and hit locations and that gritty, detail focused style of BRP seem (as they did nearly twenty years back when I originally wrote it) well suited to the setting.

Ultimately, like the overwhelming majority of these sorts of debates, there is no “objectively correct” answer, because it’s an aesthetic judgement.

 

Edited by NickMiddleton
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Basically, this decides whether the pistol hit the kevlar vest or bypassed it at the shoulder (replace with arrow and square breastplate for other periods).

With fixed armor values you get tank invulnerability to anything but crits or specials.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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The idea behind random armor is that armors don't cover a body uniformly, and there are spots where it's weaker. Notably if you're not wearing an helmet...

Localised armor only partly address that issue. For instance, in real life it's possible to hit a soft spot on a plate mail, but it's not possible with RQ-like armor where each localisation has a set AP value. Unless you consider that only crits are able to hit soft spots.

It's possible, though, to have less random armor values. Instead of 1d10-1, use 1d6+2, for instance. Or 2d4-1 if you want non linear values.

11 hours ago, g33k said:

Increase the factor of "luck."
It's really rather similar to rolling damage (instead of having a fixed value, like a longsword doing +6 damage instead of 1d8)

It could be possible to use a standardized (random element)+(weapon factor)-(armor factor) instead of weapon dice -armor di(c)e.

Where the random element could be XdY, or based on your attack roll (for instance, your attack roll's tens).

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7 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

am considering revising my BRP monograph Outpost 19 currently: and a major choice is whether I keep the hit locations in NPC stats, because they push the tone and feel towards BRPs more gritty and detailed orientated mode and I’m unsure now if that’s the best fit for the adventure and setting… It was originally partly inspired by the original Future*World which didn’t use them… but another major inspiration was the early Revelation Space novels of Alastair Reynolds, and hit locations and that gritty, detail focused style of BRP seem (as they did nearly twenty years back when I originally wrote it) well suited to the setting.

IF you choose to make the change, I would like to suggest that you keep the current options in an Appendix. That way you serve the old and the new!

SDLeary

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6 hours ago, Mugen said:

... It could be possible to use a standardized (random element)+(weapon factor)-(armor factor) instead of weapon dice -armor di(c)e ...

Part of me really likes the systems that show how different types of weapons handle different types of armor with greater or lesser success (some weapons are optimized to pierce chain; others to smash through plate; etc).  🤪
 
Another part of me notices that every system that implements this notion -- that I've tried -- as been slow, clunky, and less-fun at the table.  🥺

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, g33k said:

Part of me really likes the systems that show how different types of weapons handle different types of armor with greater or lesser success (some weapons are optimized to pierce chain; others to smash through plate; etc).  🤪
 
Another part of me notices that every system that implements this notion -- that I've tried -- as been slow, clunky, and less-fun at the table.  🥺

 
 

The BRP/BRUGE rules for specials for different weapon types certainly fall into this less-fun at the table category, in my experience too.

I quite liked these two from Aquelarre, a BRP-like game, which can be implemented without much fuss:

Axes are better at attack than defense (+/-10%), and maces halve the value of metal armour.

 

Speaking of that game, it did use hit locations but didn't have specific hit points for different body areas. Instead, the location gave a damage multiplier eg. x2 for head or x0.5 for limbs. When you lose 3/4 of your life points you are gravely wounded and may pass out.

Edited by Questbird
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Quote

What's the appeal for Random Armor Value?

I liked the idea of it until I played Stormbringer and Hawkmoon, then I didn't like it at all. It is far too swingy for my tastes.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, soltakss said:

I liked the idea of it until I played Stormbringer and Hawkmoon, then I didn't like it at all. It is far too swingy for my tastes.

I agree. IMO the random armor method has two flaws:

1) It uses only one die for the random protection so you don't get a bell curve, making it so "swingy".

2) It originated in Stormbringer (RQ2 era) when Plate stopped 6 points instead of 8, so the values tend to be a bit low for current BRP.

 

 If you switch to two dice with the same average value it works much better, IMO. So, for example,  Plate 1d10 (5.5) would become something like 1D6+1D4 (6) or even 2d6 (7), +2 with helm.

After experiencing some deja vu, I check my hard drive and discovered that I did something like this 4 years ago for another thread. Here is the table I wrote up at the time.

 

 

Fixed AP Random AP New Random AP
1 1D6-1 or 1D2-1 1D3-1
2 1D6 1D3
3 2D3 2D2
4 1D4 2D3
5 1D6 2D4
6 1D8-1 or 1D6+2 or 2D4-1 1D6+1D4
7 1D8 2D6
8 2D6 or 1D10 2D6+1 or 1D8+1D6
9   2D8
10 2D4+2 or 1D10+2 2D8+1 or 2D6+3
11   2D10
12   2D10+1
13   2D10+2
14 2D6+2 4D6
15   4D6+1
16 4D4 4D6+2
17   4D8-1
18   4D8

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Atgxtg
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On 5/20/2024 at 4:09 PM, Nokaion said:

Basically the title.

I've seen the option in the new BRUGE and in Magic World and in Cthulhu Dark Ages, but I have the impression, that it's a pretty frustrating rule because it's so random. So I've been asking myself why someone would actively want this rule in their game?

For much the same reason why they would want to use general hit points and major wounds instead of hit locations.  It's simpler than hit locations and piece armor, but allows for some variance in protection to reflect where you hit (where the armor is thick, weak, doesn't cover, etc.). The rule came from Stormbringer which was the first attempt to adapt the RuneQuest rules to another setting, and it streamlined & simplified the RQ rules quite a bit.

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3 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

2) It originated in Stormbringer (RQ2 era) when Plate stopped 6 points instead of 8, so the values tend to be a bit low for current BRP.

 

 

I love random armor.

IIRC, Stormbringer full plate covered 1d10+2, around 7.5 plus, SB hit points were higher than other BRP games as they were calculated as CON + 1 each SIZ point over 12.

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3 hours ago, el_octogono said:

 

I love random armor.

To each their own. Personally I think it's a good concept but not a good implementation, although it worked better in early editions of Strombringer than elsewhere, due to other rules in that system. 

3 hours ago, el_octogono said:

IIRC, Stormbringer full plate covered 1d10+2, around 7.5

With a helmet, but even then it's not as good as fixed  6 points you'd get in RQ. The thing i, ifs your armor stops something completely,  it doesn't matter by how much, but it if fails to stop something it does matter how much got through. So those high armor rolls don't really offset the low rolls. Of course Stormbringer didn't have bleed through damage from parries (a successful parry would stop all of the damage except from a critical attack)which helped the armor a lot, , not to mention demon armor, which wasn't random at all (odd considering it was chaotic).

Another thing was due to the differences in SIZ (3d6 vs 2D6+6) the average damage modifier was zero instead of +1D4 which helped random armor. Plate at 1D10+2 will usually stop a broadsword that does 1D8+1, but usually won't stop 1D8+1+1D4, making random armor less effective in BRP compared to SB. That's one reason why I think you need to up the random armor protection by a couple of points and make it a bell curve to keep up with the increased damage.

 

3 hours ago, el_octogono said:

plus, SB hit points were higher than other BRP games as they were calculated as CON + 1 each SIZ point over 12.

They could be higher, or lower than other BRP games,  (you forgot the -1 HP for SIZ below 9, a common occurrence as SIZ was rolled on 3D6), but averaged about the same for humans. SB predated RQ3 and it some ways it was a testbed for things that showed up in RQ3, in modified form, like 1% skill increments, 1% category modifier increments, and SIZ having a bigger effect on HP.

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4 hours ago, el_octogono said:

IIRC, Stormbringer full plate covered 1d10+2

No. In SB, all armors were 1Dx-1 (1D10-1 for plate). Only with helm can the roll be 1Dx+1 (or +2).

This is why I hate this rule: I always got 0 (zero) armor and lost 3 characters in about 1 hour of play, spread over 2 sessions.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/23/2024 at 8:19 AM, Atgxtg said:

They could be higher, or lower than other BRP games,  (you forgot the -1 HP for SIZ below 9, a common occurrence as SIZ was rolled on 3D6), but averaged about the same for humans. 

I don't remember if the game had an exception for characters with low SIZ and low CON, but in theory it was even possible to have negative HP maximum...

Edited by Mugen
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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Mugen said:

I don't remember if the game had an exception for characters with low SIZ and low CON, but in theory it was even possible to have negative HP maximum...

 

 

Page 23: "The SIZ modifier will not reduce a character's hit points to below half his CON"

Also, since negative species and cultural mods in chargen do not apply if a attribute 9 or less, the worst a PC could do would be 2 hit points, assuming a  CON of 3 or 4 and a SIZ of 7 or less. But at that point you might as well be proactive and roll another character. One point of damage would be a major wound! 

Edited by Atgxtg
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On 5/20/2024 at 10:09 PM, Nokaion said:

Basically the title.

I've seen the option in the new BRUGE and in Magic World and in Cthulhu Dark Ages, but I have the impression, that it's a pretty frustrating rule because it's so random. So I've been asking myself why someone would actively want this rule in their game?

Given weapon's damage values and armor points, I either use random armor values and major wounds or fixed armor values and hit locations. Consider two completely average combatants, sword (1d8+1 dmg) vs Ring (5 AP). The attacker needs a critical to inflict a major wound on the defender, because the maximum damage he can do is 9-5 = 4 (in fact the defender could be below average and still receive only a minor wound). With hit locations instead you could incapacitate his arm or possibly even legs and abdomen (depends on how really average he is). 

So with fixed armor values and major wounds, fights, which are already slowed down by the need of having a successful attack not countered by a successful parry, tend to become even longer attrition affairs (or waits for the lucky critical). I prefer fights where if I hit, something significant can happen. Also, it makes characters more dependent on their skill than on armor, as a parry is likely going to help you more than armor, like in the sword & sorcery source material.   

Cheers,

Alex

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10 hours ago, Alexandre said:

Given weapon's damage values and armor points, I either use random armor values and major wounds or fixed armor values and hit locations. Consider two completely average combatants, sword (1d8+1 dmg) vs Ring (5 AP).

That has more to do with which BRP game you are using. In most BRP games with fixed armor values (RuneQuest, CoC), there are special successes, and some swords could impale or slash for extra damage, changing the equation to 18-4=14 and a major wound.

10 hours ago, Alexandre said:

The attacker needs a critical to inflict a major wound on the defender, because the maximum damage he can do is 9-5 = 4 (in fact the defender could be below average and still receive only a minor wound). With hit locations instead you could incapacitate his arm or possibly even legs and abdomen (depends on how really average he is). 

In a game with random armor, no special successes, and 3D6 SIZ, such as early editions of Stormbringer,  that is true. But most BRP games with fixed armor have special successes and/or 2d6+6 SIZ. The latter tends to bump up the average db to +1d4 changing your math from 9-5=4 to 13-5=8 which is a major wound for anything with less that 17 hit point. So this could work fine in RQ, COC, WoW, and latter edtions of Elric!/Stormbringer.

10 hours ago, Alexandre said:

So with fixed armor values and major wounds, fights, which are already slowed down by the need of having a successful attack not countered by a successful parry, tend to become even longer attrition affairs (or waits for the lucky critical). I prefer fights where if I hit, something significant can happen. Also, it makes characters more dependent on their skill than on armor, as a parry is likely going to help you more than armor, like in the sword & sorcery source material.   

Again, it depends greatly upon which rules are in play. That the BGB/UGE's biggest advantage and  it biggest drawback. All those variants and options mean that we aren't all playing by the same rules.

 

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13 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Again, it depends greatly upon which rules are in play. That the BGB/UGE's biggest advantage and  it biggest drawback. All those variants and options mean that we aren't all playing by the same rules.

 

Agreed. In fact it all depends on which rules/settings you are using. Random armor values have IMO a place in some settings but not in others...

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7 hours ago, Alexandre said:

Agreed. In fact it all depends on which rules/settings you are using. Random armor values have IMO a place in some settings but not in others...

Yes/Kinda/Maybe. 

The idea of random armor and major wounds is to simplify things and get away from hit locations and piece armor without giving up too much. But a lot of settings would work just fine with either method. I've run Elric! with RQ3 hit location and armor rules, and it worked just fine. I think it really more a matter of desired play style. 

 

I suspect a lot of the simplified rules in Stormbringer came about in part because one of the authors was Ken St. Andre, and part because the other author, Steve PErrin, wanted to make changes from RuneQuest and tested out his ideas. Note that 1% increments for skills and category modifiers made it into RQ3.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/21/2024 at 8:55 AM, NickMiddleton said:

weird statistical anomalies (e.g three rounds in, everyone has their left leg disabled).

This apparently is statistically analogous to real life medieval battle! A lot of leg and arm injuries. I remember reading in a treatise on skeletal remains from the mass graves after the battle of Wisby, Gotland in Sweden, that a very large percentage of injuries were on...the left leg. Like 60% or something.

https://www.medievalists.net/2024/03/medieval-battle-injuries/

Also, it seems from the linked article that (metal) armour was indeed very efficient in stopping blows from penetrating. So for the people who feel that characters running around in full plate become too invulnerable - sorry, but that's how it kind of was historically. You basically had to knock a knight down and push a dagger through a gap between armour plates to finish him.

I've long sworn by hit locations, but lately I've switched to Major Wounds because as a GM I find it too finicky to keep track of seven separate hit point pools (plus total hit points, so eight really) for each of my throw away orcs etc. But the injuries on the Major Wound table are a bit too specific for the purpose, to my mind. Some of the results might not at all match the weapon being used, so then I have to reinterpret the results which feels kind of awkward. One solution I've been thinking about when a Major Wound occurs is to roll on the hit location table instead of the MW table, where the limb struck would suffer the same result as if it reached negative HP equal to positive in the standard hit location system, i.e. disabled along with specific effects for that particular limb. I think that could be pretty elegant.

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