Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Armor at NERO

I get the fact that running around in armor is kind of a staple in fantasy LARPs. I'm someone torn as to how we treat armor in NERO, since I think we don't really know what our goal is for armor.

In my opinion, in NERO, Armor is added to increase the quality of the atmosphere and help players suspend disbelief.

For this reason, we need to stop discouraging the use of modern materials, such as aluminum, titanium, and some plastics. These materials offer so many benefits against an essentially invisible effect (assuming the armor looks good) upon our goal. We should also be giving more credit for how the character looks than what they're wearing.

Modern materials (like plastics and aluminum) are much less expensive than period materials. They're easier to find and easier to work with. This translates to more players wearing armor, including players who may not have a ton of disposable income. If it looks good and in-period, it's not going to affect anyone's suspension of disbelief.

In addition, since these materials are lighter, there's a greater chance that players will feel hits when struck by weapons or magic spells. This would stop players who swing hard on armored targets from swinging hard on others in the heat of battle. This also makes those players less of a health risk to themselves (over-exertion, heat stroke) and to others (players wearing 300 lbs of armor falling on someone else).

I would also give more armor bonuses to well made leather items, since it looks good and doesn't weigh significantly more than light chainmail. As is, no one who honestly needs armor goes for leather.

NERO needs to figure out the kind of game they want to be. Fighting games like Amtgard have rules for weight and materials, because armor is much more powerful than in NERO. That's their game, and I feel their armor system fits their goals quite well.

At NERO, I would much rather see someone wearing a nice leather jerkin or a suit of aluminum chain than someone wearing football pads on their legs or nothing at all.


  1. Would you support something like the following, then? For the record, the system below is not my own invention.

    Leather is any material, natural or synthetic, that looks like leather. Chain Mail is made of material of interlocking links whose holes are small enough not to easily catch a finger. Plate Mail is made of rigid material that does not easily deform or of material that accurately recreates the look of plate, either medieval or fantasy.

    Armor does not have to be real to count for armor points, so long as it looks reasonably realistic from a short distance away.

    Leather plate / back is worth 6/6, Chain is worth 7/7, Plate is worth 8/8 (instead of 3/6/9 in armor suite)
    A helm, upper arm or upper leg is worth 2/3/4 (instead of 1/2/3).
    A forearm or lower leg is worth 1/2/3 (same)

    Max totals are 40 for plate, 37 for chain, and 26 for leather, assuming non-enhanced armor. (As opposed to 45, 30, and 15).

  2. Those numbers look good to me, except perhaps for the chain max (maybe drop it a few points to 34).

    The trick would be convincing all the people with hardcore armor to adopt something like this.

  3. The 2 people? In the chapters that we play in? I think we might overrule them

  4. Come on, you know how the old guard gets whenever you try to change something as fundamental as materials for armor. There have been a fair number of forum posts where people are calling for the exact opposite of what I'm saying.

  5. "Armor does not have to be real to count for armor points, so long as it looks reasonably realistic from a short distance away."

    That is a direct quote from my writing in the new rulebook.

  6. Mickey you guys are awesome for working so hard on that rulebook, I just hope that we see it soon. I know that it is not your fault, and I just wanted to say that.

  7. Hey Tim, thank you, I really appreciate it. It's been a... challenge. ;)

  8. Yeah Mickey, as Tim said, there's a lot of good stuff in 9th ed and we're aware that you guys are fighting the good fight. As far as armor is concerned, we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were when we used the armor rules from the 8th ed rulebook.

    This was intended to be a 'player perspective' article, in which I added hopes of giving leather more value. The rules are already in place giving alternate materials full value. Just some players frown upon it, where I feel we, as players, should embrace it.

  9. I'm a big proponent of Look over Material when it comes to Armor. My hope is that in a hypothetical 10th we can finally move to obliterate most leather/chain/plate distinctions and just make it be about how covered you are and cool you look, but that's kind of a future pipe dream.

    I mostly commented because it was odd to see my words being quoted.

  10. I am in agreement with the premise of what you are saying Bill, but fear the reality thus I encourage real armor materials, not because they really do protect, but because they look better.

    The problem with rewarding alternate materials is you get things like poker chip tabards that really add nothing to the atmosphere, but because they are made of plastic they count. In most chapters they are being rated at plate mail!
    So while I am in full agreement, I suggest a cautious approach to be sure the result is better looking armor not cheap cheats around the process.

  11. I like alternate materials that look like real materials. Safer, easier to obtain, and less expensive armor that to the casual observer might as well be real.

    I agree, that poker chip shit has got to go. Fun fact - it is very very hard to get 3/4 coverage out of poker chips in a square quilted tabard.

    If a poker chip is 1.3" in diameter and is placed in a square whose dimensions are greater than 1.33", you have less than 75% coverage.

    Let me repeat, if your square is three-hundredths of an inch larger than the chip, you fail at three quarter coverage. GG.

  12. I view armor as much more of a game mechanic than a costume element. To me, the mechanical benefit it grants and how cool it looks are completely separate. Granted, armor isn't as significant of an element in Nero as it is in many other games, but that is purely a function of our rules system.

    What I mean is, armor is a method that protects characters from damage. Costume is what makes you look cool. Cool looking armor *looks cooler.* That is its benefit - you look great. To me, asserting that better-looking (or more realistic materials) armor should provide more game value is roughly analogous to claiming that you should get larger portions at a restaurant if you wear a fancy suit instead of jeans and a t-shirt. You look better, that's why you paid more for your outfit.

    The other side of this argument is accessibility and fairness. Setting strict requirements on the aesthetics or materials of armor is essentially stating that if you lack the finances or talent required to buy/make armor of the appropriate quality, your character will never be as effective as those that do. Likewise, if you physically can not wear heavy armor, your character will not be as powerful as those that can. Inequality is already rampant throughout the game. More athletic players have an advantage over people that are out of shape. Those who happen to be friends with the staff/ownership/management tend to have an edge over others. People who consistently "email game" and interact with the plot between events tend to have more influence than people who only play during events. The financial difference is already present in terms of weapon quality, but nowadays the difference in price between a PVC and "ultralight" weapon isn't nearly as severe. Unlike ultralight weapons, the price on armor hasn't come down all that much over the years.

    If the 98-pound girl has a vision of her character as a proud swordmaiden, clad in armor and brandishing a terrible blade, she should be allowed to live out that fantasy whether or not she can afford or physically wear "real" armor.

  13. @Noah

    I think your goal and mine are the same, even though we got at them in different ways. I wanted armor to be more accessible by allowing alternate materials, as long as they look good.

    I think it should be both costume and mechanic driven. If armor didn't have a trade-off of any kind, we'd just be wearing arm-bands representing our level of armor and finding armor IG would be the only limitation. There are games that operate that way.

    Compared to most of the gear in NERO, armor is expensive. But there are plenty of guides out there that show you how to do it on a tight budget. If someone made their own armor, I would never ever eliminate it on account of the quality (unless it was unsafe).

  14. I don't think I would mind completely virtual armor in Nero, to be honest. That's essentially what we had at the last NCN event, and any event with "summer armor rules."

    I fully support having rewards and recognition for the people that really look great. I just don't think it should be a *requirement,* nor should those rewards be a "must have" game effect.

  15. I can get behind that. I see no reason why a player should feel required to spend $200 on armor.

    I understand the need for summer armor rules, it's just difficult to roleplay with a dude in a t-shirt. At least virtual armor would let those people spend their money on a tabard or something.

  16. Oh, and summer armor is only virtual armor with those out there that have the money to get the reps. It's literally trading cash/effort for IG effect, with no additional atmosphere.

  17. 7 days late: Mickey, that's because it WAS a direct quote. I didn't want to quote the 9th edition draft because I was unsure whether it would change from what I'd seen and I wasn't sure what all /should/ be discussed. FWIW, I also appreciate the effort put into the 9th edition system; I particularly liked the way armor was handled in the draft, so props to you. Contrary to some other people's reactions, I didn't mind the pattern: yes, it's different than Armor Suite, but it's still straightforward: 6,7,8, 2,3,4, or 1,2,3, dependent on the location.