Armor Rating and Penalty

Talk about Green Ronin's A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling fantasy series. Winter is here!

Armor Rating and Penalty

Postby Zapp » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:28 pm

So, because damage is what's left after you deduct your Combat Defense from the blow, essentially AR protects against damage but AP lets it through.

Thus it is the difference between AR and AP that's really interesting. Examples:

Clothing 0-0=0
Mail 5-3=2
Full Plate 10-6=4

Does this mean that the difference between no armour and full armour is four points only? (That's less than even Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, by the way, a game designed by Green Ronin, also by the way)

Trivia: Here's an interesting (dis)similiarity to the RoleMaster line of games. I wonder if the SIFRP designers considered to have the Armor Penalty restrict the Agility part of the Combat Defense only? (That is, AP can only reduce CD as much as Agility increases it, but no more)
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Re: Armor Rating and Penalty

Postby Rhybard » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:59 pm

Zapp wrote:So, because damage is what's left after you deduct your Combat Defense from the blow, essentially AR protects against damage but AP lets it through.


Not really. Damage is determined based upon the damage of the weapon multiplied by the degree of success minus the armor rating.

Granted the armor penalty makes it easier to hit a person because his Defense is lower, but it does not mean the attack is going to more damage than had there been no armor penalty.

Take Maester Rudolphus (from the quick start rules) he has a Combat Defense 6 and is wearing Robes (AR 1 / AP 0). Ser Merik attacks with his bastard sword achieving a respectable roll of 26. Since its 4 degrees of success he does 16 (4 base × 4 degrees of success) points of damage.

Which means that Rudolphus is taking 15 points of damage (16 - 1 AR) -- in short a wound or defeat.

Now how Rudolphus been wearing full plate, his combat defense would have been 0. However, the blow would have only done 6 points of damage. Since it still would have been 4 degrees of success, so 16 damage but -10 AR, which makes it more manageable. So Rudolphus could easily take a couple of injuries and still be okay.

On the basic level, full plate's AP is going to give the attacker one degree of success higher than someone wearing clothing. This may or may not matter depending on how skilled an attacker is an how much damage his weapon does.

Given the low base damage of weapons, I would trust that heavier armor is going to take most of the damage even though you may be hit more often than in light armor.

A weapon doing a base of 3 damage is going to need at least 4 successes to get past plate, where as against robes, just need the 1. So, I would trade the 1 success for wearing full plate over robes for the fact its going to take fairly skilled warrior to damage me. Granted the reverse becomes true when thrown into the pond.
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Postby Skyman » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:59 pm

If I'm reading it right, damage is not the difference between your test result and combat defense. It is simply equal to your key ability with a modifier (say, number of athletics dice +1 for a longsword). This is multiplied based on degrees of success.

So on a marginal hit, heavy armor is very useful, much better than none. But it can also make it easier to get hit with a high degree of success, so you could take more damage.

Edit: Beaten to it. And yes as noted, it's unlikely for armor to increase the damage from degrees of success more than it reduces the damage.
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Re: Armor Rating and Penalty

Postby Patchface » Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:05 pm

Zapp wrote:So, because damage is what's left after you deduct your Combat Defense from the blow, essentially AR protects against damage but AP lets it through.

Thus it is the difference between AR and AP that's really interesting.

This is a misunderstanding, I think.

While a negative AP results in a penalty to your Combat Defense (among others), AR is subtracted from the damage you receive; those are two different things (see p. 10 and 11 respectively).

The first one (AP) makes it easier to land an attack; the second (AR) makes it more difficult to inflict damage even if your attack hits.


Example:

The Red Viper wears some kind of light armor. I don't remember which one exactly, but let's say a ringmail for argument's sake. He receives a -2 penalty to his Combat Defense and the damage he receives is lessened by 4.

The Mountain, on the other hand, wears a Full Plate for an AP of -6 and an AR of 10.

This means that it is far easier for the Viper to have a successful attack against Gregor (because of the Mountain's AP of -6), but much more difficult to actually inflict damage even if his attacks hit his opponent (because of the AR 10).

The Mountain will have a harder time getting through the Viper's defence (only an AP of -2), but once he does, he will deal more damage (because the damage is only reduced by 4).



So the AP/AR thing is essentially a tradeoff between defence and damage reduction. Quicker characters will wear lighter armour to evade enemy attacks, while slower characters will be careful to wear heavy armour (which is very suitable for Westeros, btw).

EDIT: Argh, doubly beaten. I should learn to type more quickly... :wink:
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Postby timemrick » Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:38 pm

This tradeoff between speed and armor has a solid historical basis, too. Skirmishers, archers, scouts, and sailors wear light armor (or none at all) in order to use their speed to manuever. Armored knights are shock troops, who can expect to be hit numerous times as they plow through their enemies, but they can shrug off most of the damage thanks to their heavy armor.

And I like how the damage and armor system helps model the really scary fighters like the Mountain or Jamie Lannister--high Fighting and Athletics means doing enough damage to mow down your enemies before you, even if they're encased in metal.
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Postby Zapp » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:05 am

Thank you for your replies.
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Postby Lord Mormont » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:12 am

timemrick wrote:And I like how the damage and armor system helps model the really scary fighters like the Mountain or Jamie Lannister--high Fighting and Athletics means doing enough damage to mow down your enemies before you, even if they're encased in metal.


Amen to that! Given the setting I think its appropriate that highly proficient knights should be really scary to face.

One of the things I like about combat defense and armour penalties is that awareness is factored into calculating a character's combat defense. This taken into account a certain degree of armour penalties could be rationalised as restricted vision and hearing due to wearing a helmet. An interesting side effect of this might that a character wearing one of the complex types of armour may be able shift what its damage reduction and penalties are by raising their visor or taking off the helmet off all together.

Furthermore surprised opponents may not get the awareness part of the combat defense in the initial round.
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Postby RJS » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:27 pm

Seems like you solved this one :)

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Postby Itkovian » Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:35 pm

The one issue I see here, is that there are circumstances where a fullplate is actually less useful than a Breastplate.

Namely, this situation arises when someone has a base damage greater than 5. In that situation, the quasi-automatic higher margin of success translates into the fullplate warrior taking slightly more damage than the one in breastplate (and the higher the base damage, the higher the difference), when you assume the same base defense which is then modified by armour.

Mind you, in the rare cases (1 in 5, I believe) where the margin of success against both the fullplate and breasplate are the same, the fullplate does protect far better.

For example, if an attack is made with a weapon with 6 base damage (5 athlelic+1, for example), with a result of 14 against someone with a base defense of 12, we end up with the following results:

Breastplate:
12 - 2 = 10 defense, difference of 4, only 1 margin or success. Damage is 6 - 5 = 1 damage taken.

Fullplate:
12 - 6 = 6 defense, difference of 8, margin of success of 2. Damage is (6 * 2) - 10 = 2 damage taken.

The difference gets wider at higher base damages.

Granted, such high damage is likely rare, and at 4 base damage or below fullplate is definitely better, but this situation is rather unrealistic. Fullplate should simply protects better.

Perhaps lowering the armour penalty of fullplate would help resolve that issue. Truth of the matter is that armour really does not limit movement in combat that much.

Then again, that involves the classic mindset of having people with no armour be able to avoid blows that armoured combattants, when in reality simply dodging a well-centered and ranged sword strike is nigh-impossible. Which is where armour comes in (and parrying/blocking the attack, which are most definitely not impeded by armour). :)

In any case, that is my one nit-pick, otherwise I definitely like what I am seeing.

Mind you, I'd love to see polearm stats. :)

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Postby Zapp » Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:52 am

Not saying you're wrong, but please consider this...

Any fantasy game which want to support several fighting archtypes at the same time (i.e. one heavily armoured tank going side by side by an unarmored agile striker) needs to make armour a choice with as many upsides as downsides.

If armour is simply better, everyone would simply wear as much armour as they could afford, or as much as local custom lets them get away with, or as much as they they think they need (less for peaceful workers than soldiers at war).

Not only are these answers complex and detailed, they don't correspond well to game balance (simply being able to buy yourself better combat ability is not a popular choice even in today's capitalist world - you are entering a world of fantasy for a reason after all).

Finally, they open the door to the truly ugly simulationist reasons why people might not wear the best armor they could get (it's hot, it's heavy, it's dirty, you could get lice or scabs, you need to maintain it by setting aside hours of dull work).

Very few rpgs detail things like eating or going to the toilet, and by driving realism too far, you end up having to simulate reality in full in order to explain any negatives of armor.

Far simpler then to say "the thief doesn't wear armor because it hurts his Dexterity"!

Cheers

:)
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Postby Zapp » Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:40 am

Regarding your math,

The difference in protection between Full Plate and Plate & Mail is three points. Anytime the larger Armor Penalty of the Full Plate results in the attacker keeping more Degrees of Success, this will result in more damage on the "better" type of armor as long as the attacker's base damage is more than three.

Examples:

An attack of 20 vs a combat defense of 10 will result in four degrees of success on Full Plate, while only three degrees of success on Plate & Mail. If this DoS represents seven points of damage (Say Athletics 6 plus a longsword), the net result is four extra points of damage on the Full Plate (only three were soaked by the Full Plate's higher Armor Rating).

The same can be said for other armor types too, though the difference isn't as great. Take Ring and Mail for example. While Mail's Armor Rating increases one step over that of Ring's, it's Armor Penalty increases one step too. If that point of lower Combat Defense is what separates the attacker from another Degree of Success, the sole extra point of protection isn't worth it, considering you're getting six points of extra damage.

But this means you're not seeing the forest for all the trees!

Let's list Full Plate and Plate & Mail beside each other, and increase the attacking score and see what happens:

Code: Select all
Attack   Full Plate   Plate & Mail
10      -6   -7
11      -6   -3
12      -6   -3
13      -6   -3
14      -2   -3
15      -2   -3
16      -2   1
17      -2   1
18      -2   1
19      2   1
20      2   1
21      2   5
22      2   5
23      2   5
24      6   5
25      6   5
26      6   9
27      6   9
28      6   9
29      10   9
30      10   9
(all numbers assume a Combat Defense of 10 - or 4 and 6 respectively, after taking Armor Penalty into account. The attacker's Damage is set at 4.)

As you can see, there are plenty of instances where you take one point of extra damage in the Full Plate. But there are several instances where you're saved an additional three points of damage too!

Now, let's redo the numbers, but with a base damage of 6 this time.

Code: Select all
Attack   Full Plate   Plate & Mail
10      -4   -7
11      -4   -1
12      -4   -1
13      -4   -1
14      2   -1
15      2   -1
16      2   5
17      2   5
18      2   5
19      8   5
20      8   5
21      8   11
22      8   11
23      8   11
24      14   11
25      14   11
26      14   17
27      14   17
28      14   17
29      20   17
30      20   17
(your Combat Defense of 10 remains, but now the base damage of the attacker is increased two steps)

As you can see, either you lose three points or you gain three points by choosing Full Plate.

Do note that you lose it two times out of five, but gain it three times out of five. Thus even at Damage 6, Full Plate is better than Plate & Mail (overall, not in each specific instance).

This means that not until Damage 8 will Plate & Mail be better all things considered. (At this time, losing five points two times out of five is worse than gaining three points three times out of five).

But, of course, Damage 8 represents an attack of superhuman strength or nearly so; perhaps from a small siege weapon. In this case no degree of protection is going to save you, however, so I see no problem in the wisdom of just trying to avoid the attack - which you do best in no armor at all! :-)

(Or Robes, actually, but still)
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Postby Itkovian » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:51 am

Zapp wrote:Not saying you're wrong, but please consider this...

If armour is simply better, everyone would simply wear as much armour as they could afford, or as much as local custom lets them get away with, or as much as they they think they need (less for peaceful workers than soldiers at war).


Which is exactly how it worked in real life, at least whenever one expected to go into combat. People without armour (or just light protection) will lose the fight (unless they are greatly superior to their foe, or unusual circumstances are involved (such as a body of water the armoured foe can be thrown into)). This is mostly due to armour not being anywhere near as encumbering as popularly believed, and that being without armour really does not make you agile enough to avoid shots.

This usually means that in combat, unless you are really skilled at parrying with your weapon and/or shield (or fighting an inferior foe), you will get hit. Without armour, that usually means you get gravely injured, whereas a good suit of armour would have made the attack ineffective (so making armour reduce damage is an excellent mechanic, incidentally).

However, this does not need to harm game balance in a game where social achievements are at least (if not more) important than Prowess on the field of battle.

A good example can be found in the novels: Neither Tyrion nor Samwell can be considered warriors by any stretch of the word, yet even they wore armour when needed.

But anyway, I agree that this mindset does not really jive with the classic fantasy roleplaying style, but that is how it really was. The AGoT RPG, for all its flaws, actually modelled that very well (amazingly so, considering it was D20).

Thank you.

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Postby Itkovian » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:17 am

Zapp wrote:Regarding your math,
Let's list Full Plate and Plate & Mail beside each other, and increase the attacking score and see what happens:

Code: Select all
Attack   Full Plate   Plate & Mail
10      -6   -7
11      -6   -3
12      -6   -3
13      -6   -3
14      -2   -3
15      -2   -3
16      -2   1
17      -2   1
18      -2   1
19      2   1
20      2   1
21      2   5
22      2   5
23      2   5
24      6   5
25      6   5
26      6   9
27      6   9
28      6   9
29      10   9
30      10   9
(all numbers assume a Combat Defense of 10 - or 4 and 6 respectively, after taking Armor Penalty into account. The attacker's Damage is set at 4.)



I am not sure if I am interpreting your charts correctly, but I think there is a mistake here, at least the first few levels. At attack 10 vs defense of 4 you get a difference of 6, which is a marging of success of 2. That means the fullplate takes -2, or 2 damage against a base damage of 6.

Mind you, I believe that merely shifts the table upwards, and ultimately the ratio you describe is true. But that's comparing fullplate to plate and mail, with an armour penalty difference of 2. Given it takes 5 points to reach another margin of success, it means that 2 times out of five the plate mail will protect you more, while the other 3 the fullplate with be better.

However, please run the same numbers against a fullplate and a breastplate. There's a difference of 4 in their penalty. This means that 4 times out of 5 the breastplate will protect better than the fullplate, so long as the weapon damage is higher than 5 (at 5 the results are equal, and lower is definitely in the fullplate's favour).

This means, in short, that when faced with an opponent that has a high damage weapon, you're better off in a breastplate than a fullplate. And the higher the damage gets, the more drastic the difference becomes.

And that, to put it simply, makes no sense. The armour penalty mechanic, coupled with the margin of success multiplying the base damage, means that fullplate is basically weaker than a breastplate against the very attacks which you'd want more protection in the first place.

That's a basic mechanics flaw that should be corrected, IMO.

Mind you, it can be house ruled with relative ease (lower fullplate armour penalty to 4), but it is a shame to see a flaw in what is otherwise a very beautiful combat system.

Thank you.

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Postby Matt H » Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:00 am

Itkovian wrote:Which is exactly how it worked in real life, at least whenever one expected to go into combat. People without armour (or just light protection) will lose the fight (unless they are greatly superior to their foe, or unusual circumstances are involved (such as a body of water the armoured foe can be thrown into)). This is mostly due to armour not being anywhere near as encumbering as popularly believed, and that being without armour really does not make you agile enough to avoid shots.


The game isn't supposed to model real life, though. It supposed to model a series of books where, at least two times that I can think of off the top of my head (Bronn vs. knight from the Eyrie whose name I can't recall and Martell vs. Clegane) a combatant chose lighter armor so that they were more mobile and could dodge blows from a heavily armored foe and it was a valid tactical choice.
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Postby Zapp » Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:34 am

All values given are final damage, modified by nothing. Any negative values in my tables should thus be interpreted as zero. (It was just me being lazy and not minimizing damage to zero - you can't have negative damage - I've corrected this now.)

Here's the full run-down (excluding soft leather). You can simply choose the armor type you think works best for you.

Image

The upper left quadrant are the values for Damage 4. Then follows Damage 5 to the right, 6 lower left and 7 lower right.

As you can see, there's no clear and simple progression from "thinner" to "thicker" armor.

There is, however, a tendency that bulkier armor works better. And that full plate avoids the scariest number of hits.

Breastplate emerges as the best piece of armor for high-damage attackers (base damage > 6), but I imagine you would face such an attacker very rarely only. Against common opponents, full plate remains the better choice.

Sometimes, even robes does the best job - see for instance the Attack 19 line for Damage 7 (highlighted in the screenshot).

I really don't see any problem that needs fixing here. :)

(Certainly lowering the AP for full plate isn't going to solve anything, that would only make it the overwhelmingly better choice, putting anything else in the shadow. But considering your views, perhaps you could consider removing the Armor Penalty altogether, as your houserule?)
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Postby Itkovian » Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:48 am

The tendency that I see here is that the higher the base damage done by the attacker, the less effective heavier armour becomes, due to its AP bringing about a higher margin of success.

This, quite simply, make very little sense by any logic.

Essentially, fullplate becomes the best armour only when dealing with base damages of 4 or less. However, if we look at the definition of the ability ranks, we can see that having a 4 of athletics is something we could reasonably expect from a trained fighter (since rank 2 is normal, rank 3 indicates some minor training, while rank 4 represents proficiency). That means, with a longsword, a base damage of 5 is not necessarily remarkable.

And at 5 base damage, your charts shows that fullplate is not any better than other, lighter armour (most notably breastplate), which again defies logic and what can be observed in reality.

Fullplate ends up protecting better against light damage, against which you wouldn't need such heavy armour in the first place, and becomes an actual liability against high-damage attacks, precisely the kind of attacks against which you would want to wear fullplate in the first place.

It's illogical and goes against common-sense, and there's no way around that.

As for lowering the AP for fullplate, it does indeed make fullplate the best armour... which is exactly what it was, the culmination of centuries of technological advancement in armouring, and everyone would could afford it would use it whenever possible.

Now clearly, there are reasons some would not use such armour: they could not afford it, it is unsuitable for the environment (no fullplate in the desert, thank you), for example. But mechanically making heavy armour less effective against the very attacks it is meant to protect is not the way to resolve any apparent imbalances.

Disregarding the realism aspect (as was previously pointed out, there are examples in the books of the whole "agility vs protection" scenario), perhaps a better way to resolve this is to make AP apply to a given ability that composes the base defense, with a minimum of 0, instead of a penalty against the base defense itself. Agility comes to mind.

That way it would make sense for higher agility characters to eschew heavier armour so they can gain full benefit from their nimbleness (such as Oberyn or Bronn), while the less agile combatants will be able to compensate for their lack of agility by using heavier armour. For example, if I have an agility of 4 or 5, I might be tempted to use lighter armour so as to retain my mobility and high defense, while if I have only an agility of 2 I would be better off using heavy armour, as the AP will only reduce my defense by 2.

Mechanically that means that those with a high agility would have a high risk of taking an extra margin of success in damage if they wore heavy armour, while the less agile ones run a smaller risk as the AP only reduces their agility bonus to defense by 2 or 3 points.

Thus, we preserve the feeling we get from the books: highly agile fighters prefer to use light/medium armour to have a high defense, while others prefer to rely on their armour to protect them in battle.

Thank you.

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Postby Zapp » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:06 am

Itkovian wrote:Essentially, fullplate becomes the best armour only when dealing with base damages of 4 or less.

7. Not 4.

Why do you insist on saying this? :-?

Your point or tendency; that the heaviest armor types slowly lose their edge vs hard-hitters is still true. But as the point where this happens is 7ish and not 4, this problem is mostly a theoretical one (not many foes will have a Damage of 6+).

Besides, the idea that heavy armor should become better and better as damage increases, does have its logical limit. When damage becomes supernaturally high, it follows (to me at least) that no armor will help, and thus the only variable is to minimize your AP/Bulk.

Which is exactly what I see in the tables! :)
Last edited by Zapp on Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Zapp » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:13 am

Itkovian wrote:perhaps a better way to resolve this is to make AP apply to a given ability that composes the base defense, with a minimum of 0, instead of a penalty against the base defense itself. Agility comes to mind.

Agreed. I've already suggested this, by the way... 8)

Incidentally, this is how it works in the RoleMaster line of games: only the Quickness component of your "defense" is reduced by armor penalties; once your Quickness is reduced to zero, further armor penalties has no effect. Meaning that for slow characters, getting the very best protection they can find is indeed the best option; while quick and agile characters has another option, that of staying lightly armored.

In other words, this is how you can eat the cake and have it too... :)
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Postby Itkovian » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:45 am

Zapp wrote:Besides, the idea that heavy armor should become better and better as damage increases, does have its logical limit. When damage becomes supernaturally high, it follows (to me at least) that no armor will help, and thus the only variable is to minimize your AP/Bulk.


It should not get better and better at all, but it should stay just as good. There is no reason a breastplate should protect better against stronger blows than a fullplate.

In fact, the evolution of fullplate actually made higher defense less useful, which is why the shield fell out of use: the plated fighter could just take sword shots, and so it was better to let go of the shield and switch to a more powerful weapon (and it is to be noted that the damage levels in SIFRP that makes fullplate equal to medium armour is attainable with a longsword).

Ultimately, better armour, especially full plate, should have a net result of less damage being taken, because that is what it was made for. If fullplate was so clumsy as to make it easier to land blows in weak points (which is essentially what the margins of success represent), it would never have been used in the first place (which is what makes those stories of knights needing to be lifted on their mounts with cranes, or unable to get up when fallen, quite laughable).

Even in the world of aSoIaF, only exceptional agility should truly benefit from having light/medium armour over heavy armour (and in RL, that is not even true, as heavy armour is suprisingly nimble and dodging shots is rarely possible), which is what that suggestion about applying AP to agility only would achieve.

That said, I am glad we agree on that last suggestion (I must have missed the part where you did). I hope the designers will take it to heart, and that this debate helps settle the question. :)

Thank you.

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Postby Rhybard » Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:16 pm

One thing to consider is if the full rules cover called shots or bypassing armor. Then the differences in armor will play a more important role. The breast plate isn't going to be that good when someone keeps hacking at your legs and arms, where you have no armor.

If its not included in the main rule book when published, it can easily be house ruled with penalty dice for the called shot and then using the basic armor rating of the area being struck.

One other point to consider is changing the Defender's Defense value as this will change the numbers dramatically. If you take a normal person who should have a base defense of 6, then Full Plate is nearly always the best choice, same holds true with a 9 base defense (assuming 3s in all skills).

So there are more factors to consider. I would also be curious to see if there are other Qualities that will impact armor ratings and values as well, which then can change things as well.

As a side note, the fact that the book is in page layout I am not sure there will be more changes made to the system other than basic editing, but I could be wrong.
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Postby Doocc » Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:32 am

A couple of notes: The Bronn/Erie fight is referenced by a lot of RPG'ers as 'evidence' that light armor is better. Not True. GRRM is a fellow history buff. True to his research, Bronn - as a man-at-arms - has never worn plate armor in his life. (In early medieval times - akin to ASOIAF - and covered during the Kings Turney and 'The Hedge Knight', it is EXPENSIVE). The character took huge risk backing Tyrion. Why on earth would he ask his now 'foes' to provide him with armor that has to be personaly fitted to each wearer so he can fight to the death on strange ground, in strange armor that is probably fitted to him as poorly as possible?

Nah - he was smart to trust his own skills as a professional soldier and his youth to defeat an elderly knoble.

Point 2: Another missconception is that plate armor is more cumbersom than chain mail. Plate armor is LIGHTER than a full chain mail hauberk and coif, covers more of the body, and permits greater freedom of motion. A suit of plate weighs about 50lbs... our average combat soldier today wears a kit in excess of this ON HIS BACK (not evenly distributed over his body). It does however require (at this 'time') a boatload of money to purchase, fit, and maintain. Historicaly when it became less expensive and more available every lowely man-at-arms was equiped with such.

My point is that GRRM clearly showed it is unbalanced but few could afford it. (Syrio was written as being one of the fastest, smartest, and best swordsmen in the world... and even if he had a braavosi blade (they are not made to defeat amor) he was toast against a knight in plate.

Harness fighting, as it was known, required a change in tactics. Shields were droped in favor of weapons better suited to defeating an opponents harness (as mentioned above). Halfswording was developed along with changes in weapons. Cross sections of swords changed to become more adept at piercing joint armor. Alternative weapons came into use - Estoc/tucks, polearms, war hammers, maces, special axes, etc. They were still vulnerable to large crossbows, specialy trained archers with longbows with a huge draw and bodkin arrowheads, and guns.

Point 3: What to do about it in ASOIAF RPG? Try to stick closer to the books (IE history) and tweak armor to be more effective. If I wanted 'balance' I would play a video game. Stress that plate armor is Extremely Expensive. Y'all with the excel charts can probably do this better than I. Ohh, and a peasent with a crossbow and a frying pan should still be able to kill an armored knight despite a life time of training and today's equivalent of millions of dollars worth of arms and armor. (See death of King Richard the Lionhart).
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Postby Itkovian » Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:17 am

Very good points indeed.

Still, we can expect there to be some sort of balance, even if (IMO) there should not be.

When you've seen someone tumble in fullplate, and actually try to land good shots on them that would actually work, you really do see why fullplate was so prized, and how unbalanced it truly is. :)

Which is when it is time to use that polearm, of course. :)

Again, very well said.

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Postby Doocc » Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:49 am

I expect to see balance more than mechanics to reflect history but thats the joy of a role playing game... the GM can tweak the game to fit what they want. I started last night playing around with some house rules regarding the combat mechanics.

Most of the changes would reflect a larger number of weapons and a greater focus on footwork.

There is no 'arming sword' (or just 'sword) in the quick start. This is odd considering most soldiers used a one handed arming sword and not a 2h long sword.

Turney lances are for turneys.... and just like todays turney lances... they are designed to break on impact and not kill the victim. A war lance should be more akin to whats listed in the quick start guide.

My 'idea' would be to incorporate a footwork aspect to combat based on ones agility/athletic ability. (IRL I have learned this is just, if not more, important than ones ability to swing a sword). A players skill in this area would determin the number of 'moves' one can take in a round. A modified version of armor penalties would apply. Initiative decides who goes first. GM can declare how many steps the oponents are apart and terrain. (or use a grid chart - I hate grids but they would work too). Each 'move' can be a step forwards, backwards, side to side; or a passing step forwards, backwards, side to side (IE Movement and Strike in one motion); or leaps f,b,s to s; or no movement at all. Each player in order completes a move (or strike), then starts again from the begining of initiative and continues until no more 'moves' are left. Multiple steps could be taken but only one strike per round.

This would allow for fights similar to 'real' combat and those in ASOIAF like the one between the sand viper and the mountain that rides. I would assume that Martel is more agile and using footwork is able to use passing steps to strike the mountain and dart away without being struck himeself. This would work saying the mountain has 3 'moves' and the viper '5'. The viper could yield initiative to the mountain and continue to move out of range of the mountain until only his 2 extra 'moves' remained and use these to strike and retreat setting up the next round. A lot of attention would have to be paid to terrain. Failed rolls or certain terrain could cause a trip or stumble and loss of moves etc.

As an optional rule this could make 1vs1 combat a lot more exciting but be ignored for fast and brutal play.

I would also add an arbitrary weapon range to make this more interesting. Knives etc would be 0; arming swords, hand axes etc would be 1; long swords, bastard swords, axes, war hammers would be 2; 'great' swords, large axes, short spears, smaller pollarms, staves would be 3; etc etc etc etc.

The 'range' would impact how many steps (or 'moves') one had to be away from a target to strike etc.
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Postby Skyman » Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:08 pm

On the longsword, that is a one-handed sword (if it doesn't list the two-handed quality then it's one-handed). I don't remember seeing the term arming sword used in the books, while IIRC 'longsword' has been used for one handed blades.

I also feel like fighting is probably supposed to include a measure of footwork, and that's why it's not called 'melee weapon' or something like that.

I like your moves concept, though I'd wait to play the full system before deciding if I wanted to implement something like that. I do hope the system allows for some of the tricky fighting maneuvers of the books.
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Postby Doocc » Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:29 am

Skyman wrote:On the longsword, that is a one-handed sword (if it doesn't list the two-handed quality then it's one-handed). I don't remember seeing the term arming sword used in the books, while IIRC 'longsword' has been used for one handed blades.

I also feel like fighting is probably supposed to include a measure of footwork, and that's why it's not called 'melee weapon' or something like that.

I like your moves concept, though I'd wait to play the full system before deciding if I wanted to implement something like that. I do hope the system allows for some of the tricky fighting maneuvers of the books.


The term 'arming' sword is a modern one. Historicaly they were just 'swords'. Often the book refers to a sword or a long sword. They are different - why else shorten the series by a score of pages by removing the 'long' and call everything a 'sword'? Very few plates from period fechtbooks use single handed grips except in certing situations (binding, halfswording etc). Long swords could be used with one hand but have a two handed hilt and for a reason. The longsword was both an infantry and cavalry weapon. It was a preferred cavalry weapon as the increase reach was useful sitting up so high. This type is mentioned most often in the books because most of the main characters ride into combat as nobles, knights, or mounted men-at-arms. Most of the main characters also were or had access to better armor and may have preferred using a longsword over a shield/dagger/sword combo. Personaly I struggle using a longsword single handed but I have never sparred or trained with one on horseback. (The hilt and blade length make it feel clumsy compared to a sword). It is effective to get a little extra reach or grapple now and again but I always revert back to a two handed grip. That long hilt is a lever. It increases control, spreed, and strength and is a weapon in and of its own.

As an exercise I pitted myself against someing using a sword and buckler, then a long sword and buckler, and then I switched to using my longsword single handed, and finaly we both used longswords and bucklers. End result: If your going to use a shield a lot on foot... use an arming sword.

I dont disagree that 'fighting' is supposed to incorporate footwork; but adding a 'move' component makes combat feel more fluid without adding any aditional die rolls as an occasional optional rule.
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