Monday, January 18, 2010

Armor By the Piece

In most situations, combat resolution in Tunnels and Trolls is fantastic. It's simple, fast, and flexible enough to allow for creative actions when playing in a group or even in a solo. When in doubt, make a Saving Roll to see if you can trip up your opponent, throw sand in his eyes, or hit him in the solar plexus (if he has one). One place I do like to add a little more detail and complexity (forgive me) is with armor. Again, for most situations the standard full suits of armor are great. You buy one set and it provides a certain number of hits of protection against any and all (or most) physical damage. But what about situations where your character is specifically hit in the head by a trap or a troll? Or someone shoots you in the leg with a crossbow? Do you get the full 12 hits of protection from the suit of mail you are wearing?

Traps often only affect a certain part of the body. I use a lot of targeted traps and hazards in the solos I write. Rocks falling on your head, razor wire strung at ankle height, iron spikes on the floor, spider bites to the hand, etc. There are also those situations where two combatants are equally matched and must rely on spite damage to slowly whittle away CON points until someone is nicked and bruised to death. But what if instead of trying to trip your opponent, you decide to target a specific part of his body? If the orc you've been fighting for the last five minutes is only wearing a steel breastplate, why not aim for his legs, or better yet, his head. That breastplate won't be much of use against a club to the cranium.

That's why I've always liked the separate pieces of armor available in T&T. The expanded armor table is another part of T&T 7.x that I really liked. Finally, a haubergeon. In the past, I've used my own house rule versions of armor pieces, and still do with parts not currently listed (coat-of- plates, brigandine, lorica segmentata). Personally, I am fascinated by armor. I was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms in the '90s and made my own set of armor. My armor included an arming doublet, brigandine vest, leather and steel splint cuisses, greaves, rerebraces, and vambraces (with plate elbow and knee guards), plate gauntlets, a mail coif, and a full helm. It was hardly a uniform set of armor, with different amounts of protection in every location. The same is true of just about every fighter in the SCA. So I enjoy picking a mixed assemblage of armor for my T&T characters. For me it's part of the character's personality and history, especially for a warrior.

If you purchase armor by the piece then dealing with the situations I mentioned above is simple. Each piece offers a certain number of hits of protection to a specific location. If you don't have a piece of armor for your legs, then you get no protection from that scythe trap that sweeps across the corridor at knee height. When buying armor by the suit, I usually use the following distribution (rounding up) to determine how much protection each body part gets:

Head: 25%
Torso: 50%
Arms and Legs: 25%
Hands and Feet: 10%

So, in 7.5 edition a suit of mail takes 12 hits. This would apply in any normal combat situation. But, if your torso were specifically targeted it would only offer 6 hits of protection; your head, 3 hits; your arm, 3 hits; your foot, 2 hits. Of course, warriors get to double these numbers as usual.

Buying armor by the piece also tends to be more cost effective, if you maximize your layers. Here is one of my favorite combinations from 7.5:

Arming doublet 2 hits 40 gp
Haubergeon 4 hits 150 gp
Vambrace 2 hits 10 gp
Greaves 2 hits 20 gp
Cuisses 2 hits 30 go
Coif 2 hits 10 gp
Open-face helm 2 hits 15 gp

Thats a total of 18 hits taken for the bargain price of 275 gp. It also gives you a well-protected head (4 hits) and torso (6 hits) when your troublesome GM decides to throw some targeted trouble your way.

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