So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Discussion of all things magical for DCC RPG -- "Let the Phlogiston take you where it will..."

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mindseye
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So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by mindseye » Tue May 20, 2014 7:33 am

I've been looking through some DCC adventures, and I noticed one had a suit of +1 Chainmail in it. This seems to be the only mention of magical armor I've come across. As near as I can tell, there are no rules for creation of magical armor (or Shields, or bracers for the mages) in the Core Rule book. I was wondering if this was intentional or not. With the generally low level of magical weapons, it doesn't seem that implausible, but as Warrior attack bonuses go up, I was thinking my Wizard might want something in case he gets too close to the front lines (or the sneaky monsters use the back door, so to speak). I can probably wing something together without too much problem, but I wanted to make sure it wouldn't upset some game balance issue before I went too far with it.

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Raven_Crowking
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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue May 20, 2014 8:37 am

Magic armour occurs, I believe, in Doom of the Savage Kings (Goodman Games), Tower of the Black Pearl (Goodman Games), and Prince Charming, Reanimator (Purple Duck Games). There is probably more (I would not be surprised if it was a fair bit more) that is not leaping to my mind at present.

Remember that DCC has a lot of widgets in terms of what magical armour can do. It can affect AC bonus, sure, but it can also affect critical hits against the wearer, fumble die, check penalty, and/or speed. A suit of chainmail with a 1d4 fumble die is a better treasure than a suit of chainmail that adds +1 to AC, in my books.

Consider also that armour can affect other things, or have different effects. A suit of chain might not affect spellcasting, for instance, without its check penalty being otherwise affected, might allow a spell to be cast, might be intimidating, might absorb the blow that would reduce its wearer to 0 hp three times before being ruined, etc. An AC bonus might be tied to specific conditions (at night, under a full moon, indoors, outdoors, three times per day for 1 minute each, with a successful spell check). Magic items can also have Mercurial Effects, and they need not be the same as those for spells.

DCC is not a game that is built around meticulous balance. I wouldn't worry too much about how a small increase in AC would affect the game's balance - the game offers widgets enough to alter it back if you decide that you have gone too far in one direction or another. Call it the Old God's Armour and, if it gets out of hand, have the Old God come to claim it (perhaps granting a gracious wearer a lesser suit of cast-off armour in exchange).
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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

mindseye
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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by mindseye » Fri May 23, 2014 1:22 am

so Kind of how the scabbard for Excalibur either healed wounds, or prevented you from dying from them, instead of straight +2 to ac? Hmm. I like that. In that case it probably falls under the "Wands, Rings and Other items" section of the rulebook.

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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by Caffiend » Thu May 29, 2014 5:26 pm

Magic armor can be obtained in the classic funnel, too (Sailors on the Starless Sea), though it does seem that magical weapons are far easier to come by in the published modules. I've gone so far as to rule that magic does not cause it to be one-size-fits-all, so the dwarf traded in the first set of armor found for something that looks just as cool but isn't quite as powerful.
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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by LotharTheFellhanded » Fri May 30, 2014 5:23 pm

Sailors on a Starless Sea has a suit of hide armor made from basilisk skin and polar worm fur which gives you a chance to negate critical hits, which is pretty good. Armor is harder to make enchanted in an interesting way, which is likely why it isn't given much love in DCC. Sword Magic is very flavorful and fleshed out, but armor is a passive defense, rather than a symbol of aggression, will and intent, like a sword is. Armor made from exotic materials would be something good to flesh out; meteoric iron, mithril, adamant, dragon hide, etc.

I had an idea for an Armour Magic spell, similar to Sword Magic. I was thinking of basing it on the armor of chaos warriors in Warhammer; something enchanted like that doesn't want to let you go once you put it on. That's a rather extreme drawback though, but it might fit right in DCC, where are magic swords are intelligent.

Except for the ones written in modules, which appear to be magical without any intelligence or anything.

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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by oncelor » Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:57 pm

I introduced magic armor when the party defeated their first giant wyrm. I let the party blacksmith forge its metal plates into shields and scale mail that had reduced armor check penalties and gave the wearer 5 points of damage reduction against acid attacks.

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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by Zenitii » Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:45 am

Personally, I don't like the idea of +x armors and generally +x to AC protective magical items. I have an experience from former dnd campaign where my players were high levels and possessed suits of +4 or +5 armors, along with some rings of protection. In my experience that didn't go well, because with 24 to 27 AC and high hp due to levels they were not afraid of normal NPCs and most monsters. Only creatures with +12 bonus to hit could strike them on 15+, which is still only 35% chance. As a result, they felt pretty godlike and weren't afraid of anyone, except maybe the strongest, most powerful beasts like dragons, demons etc. In my opinion this is strongly against Appendix N feel. When I read these stories, protagonists always need to be careful, because good sword blow from an ordinary guardsman can seriously harm or kill them, especially when mentioned guardsman is there with a pack of his friends. These are not stories of armored warriors getting into melee in shiny magical platemails which deflect every strike, but rather of fast, vicious skirmishes full of dodges, deadly cuts, slashes, cracking chainmails and gory death. Monsters, even the weaker ones, are always dangerous with their hideous fangs, sharp claws and aura of strangeness. Magical +x armors bring a feeling of invulnerability and 'epicness' to the campaign, what I strongly dislike. I prefer settings where players must always be aware of their vulnerability and feel the breath of death on their necks. Safety kills an adventure and often causes boredom. Not to mention - how many encounters per session can you design involving demons and dragons? It will totally destroy their uniqueness, what for me is the most terrible thing to do (I deeply hate dungeons with 1d4 big dragons and an army of balors).

Despite what has been said, on higher levels there is still a need of better armors to protect PCs' warriors from attacks of powerful beasts, otherwise they simply get obliterated. My solution here is to introduce armors made of unique materials, such as rare ores, dragon's scale, troll's hide etc. Getting them is an adventure in itself, and obtaining them may provide bonus to AC up to +5, due to their hardness. On top of that I rule, that big monsters and strong warriors with flails, battle picks etc. can destroy armor with their blows - I just roll d3 or d4 die with their attacks, and if they score 3 or 4 they permanently remove 1 AC from the armor. Repairing such armor may be done only by the most skilled armorers (probably dwarves), provided they get materials from which it was made. This attitude works for me - players get rewards from killing legendary monsters or visiting desolate mines, there is a trope of "armor made of the hardest material", players need to manage their resources well when fighting with giant beasts and they need to use such armors cautiously when fighting with normal warriors (they will usually wear normal platemails, afraid of damaging their favorite ones in an ordinary fight, and enter their armory with trophies and weapons on the walls only when dire need or potentially lucrative expedition arises). On top of that I don't 'flood' the world with a magical equipment, these are still ordinary items, just made of better substances. Occasionally I may introduce magical armor, but it will give some special magical effect, not + to AC, and will be very rare.

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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by oncelor » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:31 pm

There are spells in the DCC rules that give very large AC bonuses to characters. The party in my campaign typically has several enlarged characters with a +4 or +6 AC bonus and Protection from Evil which is effectively another +3 or +4 to AC against chaotic monsters and monsters with "clear harmful intent." The front line warriors typically have AC 28 or higher, and I've found that I either have to give monsters 3 or 4 attacks each or else give them at least a +12 attack bonus in order to keep combat interesting.

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Zenitii
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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by Zenitii » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:01 pm

Hmm well it is not good, thanks for pointing this out, I'll probably try to houserule here a little, because this is clearly not a way I'd like to play. If we had typical Vancian magic it could be bearable, but with potentially unlimited low-level DCC spells per day at higher levels it does seem like a potential future problem in my campaign.

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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by oncelor » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:21 pm

Yeah I agree, it's not how I like to run higher level campaigns either. I would like to rework these spells so the AC bonuses weren't so high, but I think this would make my players sad.

Things get grim really fast when the monster calibrated to take on the two AC 30 warriors each with a bonus 20 HP somehow instead finds its way toe-to-toe with the AC 14 wizard.

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Zenitii
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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by Zenitii » Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:44 am

Changing spells mid-campaign usually brings players' rage so I'm glad I've been warned by you in advance ;]. Monster with +18 to hit attacking a wizard is a problem, but I will never forget one of my player's cleric who stood with a magic platemail, shield, some protective rings and spells' buffs amid horde of undead, bashing them with his mace just for fun and simply laughing at their attacks. It might have been fun for him for a moment, but it killed the spirit of the game pretty fast and soon we stopped playing (we certainly didn't want to play pen and paper WoW or similar MMO RPG, which it started to resemble). Also, I won't play 3rd edition DnD ever again, the defense and player's power level scales so high it's ridiculous.

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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by GnomeBoy » Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:31 pm

Hmm. What would you do, if you had a foe that you couldn't hit in order to hurt them...?

Would you try to lock them in a room, or hurl them off a cliff, or stick them to the floor, or take away the thing they are hurting you with, or trick them into wasting their time -- or something else, perhaps?

Monsters can try that stuff, too.
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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by oncelor » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:23 pm

It's not that I can't find ways to neutralize characters with very high AC's, it's rather that I don't enjoy campaigns as much when high AC's render many party characters nearly invulnerable to many things that I think ought to be threatening in my campaign. This is not a problem of finding tricks to hurt characters -- I can always do that -- this is about spells or items that I feel reduce my creative options too severely. Imagine there were a spell that granted characters total immunity to every type of danger except for giant crickets, and then I might complain about this spell but you might say, "well you can always have them fight giant crickets every session." And I could...but I'd like my campaign to have many sorts of dangers. Your suggestions to have monsters disarm the character, pin them, or lock them in rooms are good suggestions, but I'd also like to run a campaign in which a vampire lunging at your throat is also something to be feared.

I think I've got a house-rule that will address this while allowing players to keep their giant ACs. I'm thinking of letting certain types of nasty monsters score "natural hits" on rolls of 18+ or 19+. Thus a ghoul lord with a +7 hit bonus who gets a "natural hit" on a natural 19 will still be able to hit an AC30 fighter 10% of the time. That's twice as often as the current 5% of the time, and may be enough to put fear back into the claws of ghoul lords.

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Re: So about that suit of +1 Chainmail

Post by GnomeBoy » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:42 pm

I wouldn't even think of that as a houserule -- that's just another mechanical variant, and obviously the ethos of DCC is that monster's designs should explore/exploit such variants as much as possible. It's not that they all look weird and you can't identify them, but that you can't know in advance what they might do to you... :twisted:

Come to think of it, THAT is what should be putting fear into them -- the unknown.

Also, area effects. :wink:
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