Posts Tagged With: armor

Building a Foundation

This is not an article about pouring concrete or laying block in the ground.

First night of adventuring!  Could have been worse, I suppose.  We added a new player at the last minute, so most of the evening was occupied creating that character and purchasing gear.  (As you may have guessed, I’ve stolen Mr. Smolensk‘s trade organization largely wholesale, so it does take most of an evening to sort through 20 pages of shops and items) But after that all got sorted (mostly), the adventurers finally left the walls of Canterbury on their way to Oslo.

Our current cast of characters is led by Freya, a half-elf rogue, followed closely by her sister Hilde. The final PC is a half-orc barbarian, Aleksandr, a recent resident of the British Isles due to a rather personal argument with a ship’s captain. Also along for the ride is Klaus, a human mercenary and friend of Freya.

The party left the south gate of Canterbury at 9:00 am the morning of May 2. They took Watling Street south towards Dover. The weather being fine for traveling they made good time, crossed through Bridge, and a bit after ten bells heard a strange sound coming from the young wheat field that edged the road.

Alek moved to investigate, and discovered three huge rats fighting over a bit of something. This information he relayed to the rest of the party, alerting the rats to his presence. They promptly attacked, and brought the barbarian down to half health before being put down. Which is where we had to end.

Not bad for a half hour of actual running.  As for the rewards, we stopped immediately after the last rat was gloriously criticalled by Freya’s arrow.  Which is a shame, because it only had 4 HP left at the time.  All that to say I only assigned XP.

Now XP for this campaign is taking a bit of getting used to for my players.  They are used to the super-fast WotC XP table, so when I introduced the concept of different classes requiring different amounts of XP to level, based on the Pathfinder XP tables using Slow for Fighters, Paladins, and Barbarians, medium progression for every other class less Wizards and Sorcerers who use the fast tables (which are themselves a bit slower than the default PHB table).  This combines nicely with Mr. Smolensk’s XP scheme of basing XP awarded based on damage dealt and received.   If after playing with the PF based tables it’s still taking too long to level, I will consider upping the number of XP awarded per point of damage.  XP for loot doesn’t apply here since the rats don’t have any, but I think it will make my players happy when they do get some later.

For the record, according to the standard 3.5 rules, this encounter would be worth 75 XP for each character.  Freya received 88, Hilde received 20, Alek received 176 and Klaus received 50.  Alek received the most because he was the only one bitten by the rats, and did the most damage to them.  Freya took second for her accomplished bow-work, Klaus also managed to deal some damage, while Hilde played her lute and inspired the then-stunned barbarian on to greater deeds.  Her XP is solely from watching Alek have his calves shredded.

Something that I will introduce next session officially (since I didn’t have time to write it up and send it out before we started) is the concept of armor as damage reduction.  I’ve written about that before, but I’m simplifying it majorly to actually be workable in a combat.  Basically it boils down to using the AC rating of the armor as DR instead.  Shields will still add to AC.  This means that enemies will be hit more reliably (along with the PCs), but the damage done will be less.  Working hand-in-hand with this concept will be a mechanic for equipment fatigue/damage that occurs in combat.  It is based on this proposition, but modified according to my own tastes.

It will run thusly:  For each attack against an armed and/or armored opponent, 2d6 are rolled by the attacker and the defender.  If the attack hits, the defender’s roll applies to his armor, as indicated on the second table on the second link posted above.  If the attack misses by (10 minus the defender’s base attack bonus) or less, the defender’s roll applies to his weapon, because he is considered to have parried the blow.  If the attack misses by more than (10 – D’s BAB), the roll is discarded, because the attack missed so widely.  The attacker’s 2d6 are applied to his weapon (as per the same table referenced above) if he misses by 10-defender’s BAB, or hits by less than or equal to the DR score of the armor the defender is wearing.  If the attack succeeds spectacularly or fails miserably, it is considered to not have encountered any suitably defensible material and therefore suffers no risk of damage.

For creatures not wearing armor but wielding a weapon, the defensive roll only applies if a weapon to weapon strike occurs.  For creatures wielding natural weapons, such as claws or teeth, they may still be blunted or broken.  Natural attacks such as slams, however, cannot be damaged.

We’ll see how that plays out next time, if the PCs get into another fight.

I may have more thoughts on the campaign later, but for now we will have to wait and see what the PCs do with the rat corpses and whatever they were fighting over.  Next session is expected to occur on the 10th of March.  Oh yeah, Sliders is happening Sunday, so I’ll be participating in my wife’s adventure then, I may have some thoughts after that game. Stay tuned!

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Empire’s Foundation Equipment Table

This is mainly for the players in my online campaign, as the forum we are using is rather unwieldy to edit.  We are set in Ancient Greece, so if you need an equipment table for that, feel free to borrow.

First, the Pricing Table:


    • chiton, linen…2 drachmae
    • chiton, silk…20 drachmae
    • peplos, linen…3 drachmae
    • peplos, wool…5 drachmae
    • peplos, silk…30 drachmae
    • himation, light wool…10 drachmae
    • himation, heavy wool…16 drachmae
    • chlamys, wool…3 drachmae
    • strophion…1 drachma
    • perizoma…2 drachmae
    • sandals, goat leather…6 drachmae
    • slippers, linen…4 drachmae
    • shoes, goat leather…10 drachmae
    • boots, goat leather…20 drachmae
    • belt…4 drachmae
    • brooch, common…3 obols
    • brooch, good…2 drachmae

Musical Instruments:


    • Short sword, bronze…20 drachmae
    • Sword, kopis, bronze…30 drachmae
    • Spear, bronze head…10 drachmae
    • Dagger, bronze…5 drachmae
    • Dagger, copper…4 drachmae
    • Knife, stone…3 drachmae
    • Sling, leather…4 obols
    • Bow, Bronze…200 drachmae
    • Shortbow…60 drachmae
    • Shortbow, composite…75 drachmae
    • Mace, bronze…27 drachmae
    • Mace, iron…25 drachmae
    • Mace, stone…10 drachmae
    • Javelin…2 drachmae


    • Cuirass, bronze, muscled…450 drachmae
    • Cuirass, bronze, bell…350 drachmae
    • Linothorax…70 drachmae
    • Helmet, bronze, Corinthian…50 drachmae
    • Helmet, bronze, plated…40 drachmae
    • Helmet, bone, plated…10 drachmae
    • Armor, plate, bronze…100 drachmae
    • Armor, plate, bone…25 drachmae
    • Greaves, bronze, muscled…60 drachmae
    • Greaves, bronze, plain…50 drachmae
    • Shield, aspis…40 drachmae
    • Shield, pelte…10 drachmae


    • Bread, loaf, 8 oz…2 morionae
    • Flour, sack, 15 lb…1 drachma
    • Olive oil, litre…2 obol
    • Olives, in oil, 5 lbs…1 drachma
    • Grapes, 1 lb…1 obol
    • Wine, 1 litre…1 drachma (incl. wineskin)
    • Milk, goat’s, 1 litre…2 obols
    • Cheese, goat’s, fresh 1 lb…1 drachma
    • Cheese, goat’s, aged 1 lb…1 dr 3 obols
    • Vegetables (Cabbage, onion, garlic) 1 lb…1 morion
    • Beans (lentils, chickpeas, common) 1 lb…2 morion
    • Fish, 1 lb, fresh…1 obol
    • Fish, 1 lb, salted…5 obols
    • Eggs, 1 dozen, fresh…2 obols
    • Eggs, 6, pickled…1 drachma
    • Honey, 1 lb…5 drachmae
    • Meat, goat, 1 lb, fresh…2 obols
    • Meat, Boar, 1 lb, fresh…5 obols
    • Meat, venison, 1 lb, fresh…1 drachma
    • Chicken, whole (3 lbs)…3 obols
    • Rabbit, whole (2 lbs)…2 obols
    • Fruit (fig, apple, pear), 1 lb…2 obols
    • Nuts (almond, walnut, beech, chestnuts, pine), 1 lb…1 drachma
    • Herbs (sage, mint, thyme, savory, oregano), fresh, 1/2 lb…2 obols

Anything else that you think you would want, post a comment here or on the forum and I’ll get you a price.  Since you are starting out in Corinth, most anything you want will be available.

Now, a note about the armor and weapons.  If you will notice, there is a distinct lack of chainmaille armor, and a complete lack of anything steel on any list.  This is because we are in the Late Bronze Age here.  There is a bit of iron working going on, but it is time intensive, and typically yields a slightly inferior product (more brittle, heavier, higher cost due to the large amount of work involved in forging the iron at this stage of development, etc.  The main advantage of iron at this time is it’s availability, as Copper and Tin for bronze have to be imported from very far away.  There is an existing supply line, however, and demand is high so costs are kept reasonable.)

There are a few specific items I’d like to describe for the benefit of the players.  First, the linothorax.


The linothorax is armor made from layers of cloth layered together with a binding compound (like pitch) and stitched together.  It is lighter and cheaper to make than any bronze armor, and is the go-to for the hoplite on a budget.  It has properties identical to Hide armor (DR 2/S, 3/P, 2/B; DC 3), but weighs 15 lbs.


The bronze armor listed above is equivalent to a breastplate from the SRD.  Note that Helmet, Cuirass and Greaves must be purchased for the full protective benefit.  Lacking a helmet will reduce the stats by 1 each, and likewise lacking greaves will drop the protection by 1.  Purchasing a helmet and greaves only will provide armor thus: DR 2/S, 2/P, 1/B; DC 2.

The “muscled” option for the armor is to be specially fitted to the buyer, and will take an extra two days to manufacture.  Since it is made tailored to the individual who purchases it, the armor check penalty is reduced by 1 for that wearer.

Armor, Plate

Plated armor is essentially a leather backing with metal (or bone) plates sewn onto it.  It is rather stiff, but offers decent protection at the cost of mobility and comfort.  It’s stats are equal to Scale Mail in the SRD (and as listed on the “Problem of Armor Progression” post on this blog.


There are a few different materials listed for several weapons on the list above, and largely this does not affect how the weapon performs.  It does, however, mean that weapons of different construction have a chance of breaking a weapon of a lesser material.  Further, dropping a weapon due to a fumble gives a chance for the weapon to break, and how much of a chance depends on the construction of the weapon.  Bronze is at the top of the list, and bone and stone are near the bottom.


I should note here that the currency for the campaign is based on the real-world currency of the era.  The standard is the silver Athenian drachma.  1 drachma is roughly equivalent to 1/2 a gold piece, but please ask for prices not listed on this post or on the forum.  1 drachma = 6 obols = 24 morionae.  These are all silver coins minted in Athens.  Corinth also mints a silver coin (the stater) that is worth 2 drachmae.  1 Talent is equal to 6,000 drachmae.  Should other conversion information be necessary, I will update this post.

Food & Lodging

Please be sure to be sure that you have sufficient food for any journeying you plan to do.  See my post on Starvation on this blog for more info.  While in Corinth (or any large city), premade meals may be purchased from street vendors or obtained from lodging establishments.  In smaller settlements, street vendors may be in existence, but things like inns will not be common.  Travellers often stayed with friends, or in the city squares, or camped outside most often.

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The Problem of Armor Progression

Ok, I think we all know that armor in D&D is fairly limited in it’s usability/usefulness.  As levels increase, attack bonuses increase, saves increase, hit points increase, but armor is fairly static.  Why is this?  Mainly because AC is primarily a function of equipment bonuses, with ability as a small supplement.  (I should note that this lack is primarily a concern for the front-line fighters, and not so much support or skilled characters)  In contrast, attack bonuses are primarily a function of ability, with equipment bonuses as just that, bonuses.

The solution for this problem can come from a few different angles.  Below I will present two possible fixes:  Armor Feats, and Armor as Damage Reduction.  First the feats:

Why is it that there are no feats to increase a character’s ability to utilize the armor they practically live in, day in, day out?  Fighters get weapon focus and weapon specialization, two-weapon fighting, the list goes on.  But what about armor?  Proficiency is as advanced as any character can get in the core rules.  So I propose some new feats, to mirror those that are provided to reflect weapons training.

Improved Maneuverability [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield.

Prerequisite: Proficient with chosen armor, base attack bonus +4.

Benefit: When wearing the armor selected, your armor check penalty is halved (round up).

Special: You can gain Improved Maneuverability multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat you choose a new type of armor or shield.

A fighter may select Improved Maneuverability as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Shield Finesse [General]

Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +2, Weapon Finesse.

Benefit: A shield’s armor check penalty no longer applies to attacks made with light weapons using the Weapon Finesse feat.

Special:  A fighter may select Shield Finesse as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Armor Focus [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor or shield, base attack bonus +1.

Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to AC while wearing the selected armor.  This bonus does not apply when you are caught flat-footed or otherwise denied your dexterity bonus.

Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat you select a new type of armor or shield.

A fighter may select Armor Focus as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Armor Specialization [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield for which you have already selected the Armor Focus feat.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Armor Focus for selected armor, Fighter level 4th

Benefit: You gain damage reduction 2/- while wearing the selected armor.  This bonus does not apply when you are caught flat-footed or otherwise denied your dexterity bonus.

Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat, it applies to a new type of armor.

A fighter may select Armor Specialization as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Greater Armor Focus [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield for which you have already selected Armor Focus.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Armor Focus with selected weapon, fighter level 8th.

Benefit: you gain a +1 bonus to AC while wearing the selected armor. This bonus stacks with other AC bonuses, including the one from Armor Focus (see below).

Special: You can gain Greater Armor Focus multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of armor.

A fighter must have Greater Armor Focus with a given weapon to gain the Greater Armor Specialization feat for that armor.

A fighter may select Greater Armor Focus as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Greater Armor Specialization [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield for which you have already selected Armor Specialization.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Greater Armor Focus with selected armor, Armor Focus with selected armor, Armor Specialization with selected armor, fighter level 12th.

Benefit: You gain damage reduction 5/- while wearing the selected armor. This bonus does not stack with the damage reduction gained from the Armor Specialization feat, and does not apply when you are caught flat-footed, or are otherwise denied your dexterity bonus.

Special: You can gain Greater Armor Specialization multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of armor.

A fighter may select Greater Armor Specialization as one of his fighter bonus feats.

An alternative to adding additional feats to the list is to change how armor works entirely.  This change is a little more drastic, and requires your players (and DM) to be on board with this rather more complex variant.

In real life, most armor converts damage from one type into another.  For instance, bulletproof vests transfer a projectile’s energy from a single, high-energy point (piercing damage) into a lower-energy, more widespread area (bludgeoning damage).  Chainmail works in much the same way, converting slashing damage into bludgeoning damage.  The gambeson worn under top layers of armor would absorb a portion of the bludgeoning damage, and convert the rest into subdual damage.

Armor as Damage Reduction Variant:

Instead of AC being a static number, it is now an opposed roll, with dexterity modifier, shield bonus, size modifier, and miscellaneous modifiers as bonuses to a d20 roll.  Armor no longer adds a bonus to this check, but acts as damage reduction/conversion instead.  Dexterity and shields work to avoid being hit, armor serves to blunt the impact of those strikes which do.  Since the armor check penalty indicates how difficult it is to move in your armor, it affects your ability to dodge attacks.

Defense rolls look like this:

1d20 + Dex mod. + Shield bonus + Size mod. + Deflection bonus + Misc. mod.s – Armor Check Penalty

For simplicity’s sake, you may roll once per round instead of in opposition to each attack if you find that combat is taking too long due to utilizing this variant.

Armor now has different properties: Damage Reduction and Damage Conversion (DR and DC, respectively)

The damage reduction property of armor indicates how much damage from an individual attack is ignored, just like the barbarian’s class ability of the same name.  Different armors will reduce different amounts of damage from different weapon types (Piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning). These are indicated in the listing after the slash as P, S, and B (ex. 3/P, 6/S, 1/B)  The remainder of the damage (if any) is then subject to Damage Conversion.  Damage Conversion then changes the indicated amount of leftover damage into subdual damage, while any remaining damage is taken directly.

Example: Bruk Ironfoundersson the Dwarven Fighter is wearing full plate armor (DR: 6/P, 8/S, 8/B; DC 8).  He is attacked by three orcs, who are conveniently (for our example) wielding a shortspear, a longsword, and a club.  The first round of combat he rolls a d20 and adds his Dex mod of +1, his Shield Bonus of +2, and subtracts his armor check penalty of 6 for a total bonus of -3.  He “adds” this to his roll of 18 for a respectable defense of 15.  The goblins with the shortspear and the longsword miss, but the one with the club hits with an 18.  He deals a total of 12 damage to Bruk.  The first 8 damage is ignored (due to the DR 8/B of the full plate), and the remaining 4 damage is converted into subdual damage.   Round 2: Bruk rolls a 5 on his defense roll, for a total of 2.  The orcs land all three of their attacks easily, but Bruk’s armor still protects him.  The shortspear wielding orc deals 9 points of damage, the first 6 of which is ignored, and the remaining 3 is converted into subdual.  The orc with a longsword strikes with a critical hit, and deals 24 damage to Bruk.  8 of this is negated, 8 is converted to subdual, and the remaining 8 remains lethal damage.  The orc with the club hits, but only deals 6 damage, all of which is ignored.

After two rounds of combat, our stout dwarven hero has taken 15 subdual damage and 8 lethal damage.  Not too shabby.

And now, what you have all been waiting for, the new Armor Table (Note: Cost, Max Dex, Armor Check Penalty, Spell Failure, Speed and Weight all remain unchanged:

Light Armor

Padded:  DR 0/S, 0/P, 1/B; DC 1

Leather:  DR 1/S, 2/P, 1/B; DC 2

Studded Leather:  DR 3/S, 2/P, 1/B; DC 3

Chain Shirt:  DR 4/S, 3/P, 1/B; DC 4

Medium Armor

Hide:  DR 2/S, 3/P, 2/B; DC 3

Scale Mail:  DR 4/S, 3/P, 2/B; DC 4

Chainmail:  DR 5/S, 4/P, 1/B; DC 5

Breastplate:  DR 5/S, 4/P, 4/B; DC 5

Heavy Armor

Splint Mail:  DR 6/S, 4/P, 4/B; DC 6

Banded Mail:  DR 6/S, 5/P, 5/B; DC 6

Half Plate:  DR 7/S, 6/P, 6/B; DC 7

Full Plate:  DR 8/S, 6/P, 8/B; DC 8

Magic Armor:

Any magical armor effects (bracers of armor, mage armor and the like) has equal protection across the board, so Mage Armor would provide DR 4/S, 4/P, 4/B; DC 4.  In addition, these spells (along with magical enhancement bonuses to armor) provide damage reduction to spell effects such as Fireball, Acid Arrow, and other evocation spells.  However, deflection bonuses (vis. Ring of Protection) to armor would simply improve the Defence roll.  Enhancement bonuses to shields would provide a bonus to Defense rolls as normal as well as the enhancement bonus being applied to reflex saves.

If desired, the ultimate in realistic armor performance would be to apply some sort of mechanic to indicate when the armor had taken so much damage itself that it becomes useless.  A simple way to do this would be to assign it a number of “hit points” equal to five times its DC score, and count each attack that manages to deal lethal damage to its wearer as one against that hit point total.  Masterwork armor would have hit points equal to six times it’s DC score.

So that’s my ideas for you.  Any questions or comments are appreciated.  It may be a bit cumbersome, but believe you me that I simplified it quite a bit from my original idea.  Even the stuff I made up just now I edited back a bit.  If anyone out there sees this and actually puts it into use, please let me know.  Good Gaming to you!


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