Sunday, December 23, 2012

Field repairs and the value of chainmail

So you've encountered a few ogres.  You've come out triumphant, but they've shaken your party a bit.  What now?  Pick up the treasure and keep driving deeper into the dungeon?  No thought about fixing those beaten up armors?

Keeping track of armor damage can be a pain.  I'm not really concerned about going down the "realistic" road of having some quasi-simulation of combat.  I want to explore the implications of tracking armor damage and the though of having to do field repair.

Armor damage and the eventual degradation of protection that it brings means the character can't go on forever without loss of armor class bonuses.  This will either lead to a much shorter adventure as the party needs to go back to town for repairs or it will lead to a longer game session as the party slows down to fix things.

But there are two other options as well.  The party might get smarter at fighting to actually reduce being hit and thus having the armor damaged or it can choose armor that is easier to repair.  This is the part that I really like to look into.  Generally armor damage and field repairs are seen as a hindrance to adventure.  An unnecessary realism that only slows things down.  Yet as a stimulus to change gaming habits it is of great value to the game.

Chainmail is clearly easier to repair than banded armor or full plate.  Fixing chainmail can be done by spare patches, extra links and wire.  Fixing banded or plate mail requires a lot more hardware and heat to fix.  Not something you'd find nearby, unless you're near an underground dwarven city.  Which, BTW, gives inspiration for a quick adventure to fix the armor.

Armor damage and field repairs can be used as a stimulus to promote armor types that characters would generally migrate away from once they get sufficient money to buy the "better" stuff.  Better being measured by AC bonus only.

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