Friday, June 28, 2013
Dinner Jackets, Plate Mail, and Barbecue Sauce
If you're writing a ruleset for setting, you've got to slather it on. Don't miss this opportunity to drench your players in the setting, like barbecue sauce on ribs. Pour it on thick, so it soaks through the bone. When your players are finished eating the game you served them, they'll walk away stained with all the setting and flavor and deliciousness that you covered it in. Even reading the rules should get them sticky to the elbows.
So for the Eldritch Americana setting (post-apocalyptic 1920's America, swing-dancing with Cthulu, etc), I decided pretty early on that I don't want people running around in plate mail and shields. I also don't want a lot of rules. With that in mind, I present Armor and Fashion.
Basically, every character decides if they want to be armored or fashionable. Pick one or the other. You can't be both at the same time. But you can take off your armor and put on your bow tie, no problem.
Armor is a lot like S&W armor. If you broke into a museum, found a suit of plate mail that fit and and wasn't mouldered to shit, it would give you a +6 to your AC. That's the maximum contribution that armor can make to you. If you wanted to strap armor onto your body all piecemeal, or scavenge some welding helmets, each of those will give you a +1 to your AC. A breastplate might give you a +2. Point is, armor is variable, modular, and capped at +6. Although armor is durable, it also impedes your ability to silently, swim, jump, etc. Say, a penalty of -1 for every 2 points of AC.
There's a certain power is fashionable clothes. A magnetism. How you perceive yourself, and how the world perceives you, has a certain, quantifiable force in Eldritch Americana. Could you really fire a gun at Coco Chanel? Neither can can a shoggoth (even if it had hands). She is protected by the power of fashion.
Basically, every fashionable piece you wear gives you a +1 to your AC, and stacks to a maximum of +4. I'm not going to make a chart of all the different body locations that you can wear an item, but if you wear three awesome evening gowns, you don't get +3 to your AC, you get +0. Because you look like a crazy lady wearing three dresses.
Fashionable clothes cost comparably to their armor counterparts, but they are a lot less bulky. They have two downsides. (1) They're fragile. If a hound of Tindalos tears a chunk out of your shoulder, you're going to have a lot less dinner jacket, and what's left will be covered in blood. Luckily, you brought a spare. And a good tailor can repair your jacket in a couple of hours, good as new. And (2) fashion is particular. Dudes don't get any benefits from dressing like a flapper. Dressing like an aviator (the rock stars of the 1920s) is awesome, but you can't mix and match with your three-piece suit.
Magic Armor, Magic Suits
Platemail +1 or Dinner Jacket +1 are not enchanted versions of those things. Instead, they are just versions of those things that are both fashionable and armored. Double-breasted vests of boiled leather. Chainmail evening gowns. Adamantine top hats. Splint mail by Chanel. Et cetera ad awesome.
Shields and Canes
Shields give you +1 to AC if you are an armored character. So do cigarette holders and canes, if you are a fashionable character. You can't bash with a cane, but it might very well be a sword cane, no?