Thursday, December 10, 2015

Defense (and Attacking) Overview

So I've done a lot of postulating and rambling in the last handful of posts. I thought it'd be good to have an overview of what options I'm leaning towards using for my own sanity (and possibly for any reader that is attempting to follow along).


Defense is replacing D&D Armor Class. It represents your ability to stop yourself from being hit by an opponent. It is calculated thus:

Combat Skill + Shield + Miscellaneous Bonuses

Umm....Combat Skill....I suppose I should mention


Combat Skill replaces the class Base-to-Hit bonuses. It is a representation of your character's combat training and ability to read your opponent's actions, find openings in their defenses, and defend yourself (see above). Attacking is calculated as below:

d20 + Combat Skill + Miscellaneous Bonuses

One important factor in each of these calculations are that there is no ability bonus to either of these aspects. I talked about it in my posts that talked about attacking and defending as potential options. The more I thought about it the more I liked it. To reiterate the reasons; it keeps the number of variables down, it keeps the overall numbers down, it removes the major psychological drive for players to think they need high stats to be effective combatants, and it represents that, despite all the natural talent in the world for various activities, the actual act of combat requires training.

Is it 100% realistic. Probably not. Does it make game sense? I think so. 


Armor reduces incoming damage by a given amount based on its Armor Rating (called DR in the table below). Any successful hit ALWAYS deals 1 damage minimum for a couple of reasons; it keeps the fight moving, and represents that even though your armor took the brunt of the damage, you are still being beaten down/demoralized/fatigued by a successful attack. 

DR is the amount of damage the armor reduces. Skill Penalty is the penalty you take when performing most physical actions (those usually relying on strength or dexterity, but occasionally constitution as well). The number in parenthesis is the penalty you take for swimming. Weight and Price are self explanatory, although price might change once I start delving into potential trade tables (much in the future). Spell Failure is the number a magic-user has to roll equal to or higher than on a d20 in order to successfully cast a spell while wearing the that type of armor. If that roll is lower than indicated number, the spell fizzles and is lost for the day.

Important note; since armor does not make you harder to hit and I can't find any evidence that wearing armor is not significantly more difficult than wearing clothes as long as it's properly fitted, there are no class restrictions on wearing armor. As long as you're willing to suffer the consequences for wearing it, you can do it. I think that's balance enough.


Shields are used to parry blows away from you rather than reducing damage you take. This bonus to defense is only gained for opponents in the 60 degree arc in front of you. I don't care to go into the minutiae of a buckler vs a small shield vs a kite shield vs a heater vs a whatever the hell other type of shield you care to come up with. I have one mechanical type of shield with two ways of wielding them. The actual description of the shield is up to the player and GM. Based on what I can find each type of shield had it's own benefits and flaws that pretty much average out to "it works".

The two ways of wielding shields are a handle, usually with a metal boss protecting the hand, in the center of the shield. This allows the character to equip the shield quickly, but prevents the use of the hand for almost everything other than holding the shield. The other type is by strapping a shield to the forearm with one strap and gripping another strap with your hand. This takes longer to equip, but cannot be disarmed under normal circumstances. This type of shield (usually with a long body as in a kite shield) was favored by knights as it allows them to protect most of their body and still hold the reigns. 

The skill penalty is to most physical actions in the same way (and stacks with) the penalty from wearing armor. But, while wielding the shield, you cannot do more than swim exceedingly slowly or tread water in very calm water. Doing anything more, or trying in any kind of water moving at any kind of speed, is virtually impossible. 

Hit Points

There are two types of hit points. Wounds, which is the actual physical damage you can take, and Vitality, which is a catch all term for your ability to stay in the fight. Vitality heals quickly, Wounds heal slowly. It is possible for a character to die from loss of Wounds while still having Vitality left. You suffer a -1 penalty to almost every d20 for every point of Wound damage you are missing.

To determine your Wounds:

1/2 Constitution score + Racial Modifier (usually 2)

To determine your Vitality:

Each level (up to level 9) you roll a new hit die (size based on class) and add your Constitution modifier. Past level 9 you gain a flat hit point bonus, but do not add your CON mod. Just like the book (and most editions of D&D). The difference is, I'm lowering the hit die size for most classes on account of armor reducing damage.

If the book gives a d10, it becomes a d8. A d8 becomes a d6. A d6 becomes a d4. Any class with a d4 doesn't have it's hit die size lowered. I'm not cruel.

This took a little longer than I thought it would to put together, but I quite enjoyed going over it again now that I've had some time to think on it. Though, I'm only testing a few of these at the moment in my current campaign. I am seeing some issues which I'm accounting for in these proposed rules. These should streamline and clean things up a bit and make it easier for me to run and my players to play. Which is the ultimate goal.

Final note, I've had daily (or more) posts since I restarted this blog. Future posts will be a little delayed and probably no longer daily because, you know, life. I haven't left this again. I have lots more to talk about and rules to propose, but I need some time to order my thoughts.

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