Friday, May 28, 2010

Sci-Fi Armour for Labyrinth Lord

Last time I talked a bit about what I’m doing with firearms, and now I’m going to talk about armour.  Moldvay/Cook/Labyrinth Lord makes armour a pretty big deal.  But descending AC limits me somewhat, and makes the math a bit harder.  So, for my sci-fi project, I’m going to bite the bullet and embrace the ascending AC. 

May Thor have mercy on my poor lost soul.  ;)

The nice thing is, this really gives me no upper limit on AC or on attack roll bonuses for weapons.  I can get really crazy if I want to.  I don’t think I want to, but I like having the option open.

The real handicap here is that this game only has one flavor of AC.  Sure, I could create all sorts of tables for impact vs. energy vs. gravitic attacks, but I really don’t want to deal with all of that.  I may change my mind later, but for now, I think I’m going to try to hew to a single sort of AC. 

Armour is fairly vague in my Labyrinth Lord games.  “Plate Mail” can mean the articulated armour of the Renaissance knight, but it can also mean the breastplate, helm, and grieves of the classical hoplite.  I’m going to be equally vague here.

Soft Armour (+5 AC): this is woven layers of special flexible, cloth-like materials.  It usually means bulky flack-jackets, but if you’re willing to pay ten times the list price you can get stuff that can be hidden under most clothing.  Most space suits count as soft armour, especially those fashioned to be used in construction, mining, or other hazardous activities.

Rigid Armour (+7 AC): fashioned from hard plates of specialized materials.  This can’t be disguised easily.  Armoured space suits are those with rigid plates attached for additional protection.  These are usually only seen on folks expecting to get shot at, though some environments are dangerous enough to warrant their general use.

Light Powered Armour (+9 AC): Powered armour gives a boost to the wearer’s strength, stability via a rigid, robotic exoskeleton while onboard sensors provide enhanced perception.  This results in an effective STR of 18 while wearing the armour. Light powered armour is used primarily for scout units and those expected to fit into small vehicles.  Still, if the power fails, it’s nearly impossible to move in.

Living Armour (+10 AC): Living armour is a biological parasite that fits itself around its wearer, who enjoys additional protection, enhanced strength and reflexes, as well as boosted senses.  The results are a +1 to STR and an increase in the wearer's hit points by 25% (rounded down). The suit's hit points are lost first, but the loss of the last hit point doesn't kill the suit or affect the wearer's AC in any way. In addition, it can never run out of power.  To get a suit of living armour to stop working, you have to kill it.  It’s the armour of choice for those who can afford it.  Unlike other armours, it needs to be fed regularly and can be extremely particular about who wears it.

Heavy Powered Armour (+11 AC): heavier version of the light powered armour.  It grants the wearer a STR of 19 while the power lasts. Generally supplied to shock and forward assault troops, as well as the spearhead of boarding parties.  If the power goes out, you can’t move.  It typically comes with its own internal life-support, making it, in effect, a really fancy, sturdy space suit, though you’ll almost never see it used anywhere besides combat.

Ulta-heavy Powered Armour (+15 AC): really more a small artillery platform than armour per se.  Movement is slow even when it’s powered up, and if the power fails you probably can’t even get out of it! The STR of the wearer is effectively 20 while the suit is operating.

Arachnid Armour (+12 AC): a heavy version of living armour, this adds four additional limbs with diamond claws for combat or climbing.  It can be used to manhandle heavy equipment or weapons, be ferocious in melee, or travel overland at great speed, even over rough terrain.  The wearer has their hit points increased by 50% (rounded down) and the effective strength of the limbs is 18. It needs to be well-fed for optimal performance, however, and it eats like a horse.

UPDATE: Added STR and hit point bonuses to some of the armours.

Photos by ellenm1 and brava_67.


Zzarchov said...

Consider making power armours give a mechanical strength bonus and living armours giving a mechanical HP bonus for extra differentiation.

Norman Harman said...

Counter points.

Descending AC makes math easier for me using target 20, (AC+tohit+d20) >= 20 is a hit. AC0 being upper limit, and having limits on bonuses are both huge benefits in my mind (easier math, limit power creep).

This is the first time Palladium's/Rifts two different damage types (Standard and Mega?) has made sense. I think I'd use two(low and high tech) independent AC ranges.

To me chemical projectile and more advanced weapons so outclass low-tech armors. Muskets made all armor not just poor AC armor obsolete. Conversely ceramo-steel power suits and energy shields so out strip low-tech weapons to be virtually immune.

JB said...

Have you ever thought of doing away with the standard AC tables of Labyrinth Lord/D&D and going with a straight armor Class give each type of armor a "letter" (e.g. power armor is class "C" but ULTRA-power armor is class "A"). That's more similar to Gamma World, and is pretty much how I was designing my GW retro-clone (back when I doing that...a couple years ago!!).

Otherwise, if you want to keep it true to LL, I don't see why you can go with the standard descending AC. Soft armor is AC 7, rigid armor AC 3, powered armor AC 0 while heavy powered armor (etc.) seem to be the equivalent of "powered armor +2" or whatever.

Are all of these types of armor going to be present on a standard equipment list? After all, 1st level characters in LL have a pretty tough time hitting AC 2, let alone AC -3. Though I suppose you are fixing this with your attack roll bonuses for firearms?

Why not "de-value the peso" so to speak, knock off the attack bonuses and reduce the AC to standard levels. No one says AC3 in YOUR game needs to be the equivalent of plate mail. How about:

AC 9 - No armor
AC 8 - Primitive soft armor
AC 7 - Primitive metal armor
AC 6 - Soft ballistic armor
AC 5 - Hard ballistic armor
AC 3 - Light powered armor/living armor
AC 2 - Heavy powered armor
AC 1 - Arachnid armor
AC 0 - Ultra-heavy powered armor

Or something similar?

JB said...

RE: Your first counter-points post (sorry, cross-posted)

What do you want your game to look like? For example, is the Chronicles of Riddick where a guy with a pair of knives can take down hi-tech robots? Even in the Warhammer 40K universe a dude in tactical dreadnought armor ("Terminator" armor) can take a shot through the eye ("blow a save") and get killed.

Or is this more like John Steakley's Armor books where powered armor is completely self-contained an impenetrable.

Rather than going SDC/MDC, you may just want a simple notation like:

Power Armor: AC 5*

Where the "*" designation in an AC type simply means "completely invulnerable to non-hi-tech weapons." And then on your weapons table you can tag some items as HT (just like D&D tags some weapons as "two-handed").

Also some alien monsters can have a "*" designation for AC and/or for their damage meaning they can only be damaged by hi-tech weapons or have the ability to damage hi-tech armor classes.

trollsmyth said...

Zzarchov: Yeah, really like that idea. I'll update to include it.

Ascending vs. Descending: I'm not quite sure how insane I want to get with the range, but this is fare closer to Riddick territory than Steakley's novel. When I get things more settled down, I might very much want to revert to a more condensed model like JB's.