A Better Stab at Armor

In my last post about armor, I discussed the possibility of a system where we introduce different types of attack damage, and therefore different types of armor.  This worked in my mind just fine for the players, but once it came to NPCs and monsters, whom I want to generate and track with ease, it quickly became too complicated.  So we're back to the drawing board.

My latest thoughts have been wandering in the direction of armor as a last-ditch roll to save.  Basically, I first have my players roll to "dodge", and then if they get hit, roll again to see if the attack hits their armor.   This means that the players should have an armor rating of 0-100%, representing how much of their body is covered. I have two ideas for how this will protect the character.

First though, we have to define 'how well armored' someone is.  Let's throw out some numbers, like light armor = 50%, medium armor = 75%, heavy armor = 100%, and ultra armor is 120%.

Idea #1 is that, if the armor is hit, then it soaks the damage, completely protecting the character from harm.  The downside to this is that it's slightly unrealistic; any hit should still "hurt" the player, which is what I was going for in my last attempt.  The upside is that it's so much easier to work with, but still embodies what armor actually means to a character, rather than just adding onto a "to hit" value or having pure damage reduction.

Alone though, idea #1 doesn't do anything mechanically that just having a "to hit" value doesn't do.  In fact, being "fully armored" from head to toe would mean that you are literally an indestructible tank. Obviously that's also completely unrealistic, so we need something else.

Idea #2 is that armor itself should take damage, and get weakened over time.   I know some systems do this and most don't, and I want to know how people feel about it.  The way I'd implement it is that each armor material would have a "hardness" that was pure damage reduction.  For example, nonmetal materials like leather or bone could have a hardness of 2, vs. metal armors that have a hardness of 5.  Then, any damage on top of that would degrade the quality of the armor, mechanically lowering the % coverage.  Now heavy armor will always block the first attack, but any subsequent attacks start having a higher and higher chance of actually wounding the character.

The actual solution for Hostargo was to combine these thoughts with the more practical approach of damage-soaking armor. Now, armor soaks an amount of damage equal to its armor value, and then "tears" by 1. This gives it the damage-soaking properties that we want, but still allows the character to get wounded if the attack is powerful enough, and finally degrades over time so that each subsequent hit might hurt more. This is a system that allows a huge boulder to crush a character, the sword master to have his fist hit soaked, but then start to wound his target on his next attacks, and have the blade-frenzied rogue deal her death-by-a-thousand-cuts, even to the most armored of opponenets.