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  • Newbie Degrading Armor Home Rule

    I'm a savage worlds newbie. I'm planning to use Savage Worlds to run a grim and gritty fantasy campaign. I'm considering a homebrew rule but I don't really know the system well enough to know if it's a bad idea.

    I would disallow Soak rolls unless you are wearing armor. If you are wearing armor a soak would still cost a bennie but the armor's protective value would be lowered by one until it's repaired. I think this would make combat more dangerous in general which I like. It would make armor more powerful which I like, and it would add a grittier feel with damaged battered armor.

    I'm curious if anyone more experienced with Savage Worlds notice any problems that this would cause. Thanks for any feedback.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forums and to Savage Worlds!

    A grim and gritty campaign is mostly a matter of description and style, especially in Savage Worlds.
    Definitions matter, so here's the ones I am emphasizing. Grim - harsh or cruel. Gritty - unpleasant situation.
    Describe the blood of battle, the bruises from being Shaken, the evisceration of Extras that have taken a Wound and you'll have a very gritty feeling in combat. The grimness will come from the stories of loss, of isolation, of desperation that characters feel and are shaped by - a lack of good endings, of chances to make things better, will make a campaign and setting feel grim.
    The optional setting rule Gritty Damage can make combat more detailed, dangerous, and painful. It does take some effort to remember, which has proven a problem in my own campaigns.

    I think it is important to mention the purpose of a Benny in Savage Worlds. Bennies are a narrative control device that players have, allowing them to make their characters do cool things. Succeeding when it matters is a cool thing. Ignoring painful damage is a cool thing. Not getting seriously hurt by foes is a cool thing. Reacting faster in combat is a cool thing. Hitting foes more seriously is a cool thing. Having more power points is a cool thing. Getting to find some item, clue, or useful hint in a scene is a cool thing.
    Limiting the cool things your players can do is likely to make the campaign less fun and more frustrating. Fighting assassins as you leap out of the window of the brothel you had been visiting is a cool thing, and being able to Soak an unlucky damage roll when all you're wearing is a grimace helps that be cooler.

    I would disallow Soak rolls unless you are wearing armor. If you are wearing armor a soak would still cost a bennie but the armor's protective value would be lowered by one until it's repaired. I think this would make combat more dangerous in general which I like. It would make armor more powerful which I like, and it would add a grittier feel with damaged battered armor.
    Looking at your stated goals (more dangerous combat, more powerful armor, gritty feel), you don't need any Setting rules to have those - Savage Worlds requires setting rules to get rid of those.
    Combat is always dangerous because anything that is allowed to roll damage on a target can roll enough damage to one-hit kill that target. I had a goblin roll 2d4 damage and kill a healthy dragon (needed 44+ damage to deal six [6] Wounds to the dragon, rolled a 51 and the dragon only Soaked one Wound).
    Because combat is always dangerous, anything that increases Toughness (especially a couple of points above the Average value of typical weapons) is incredibly powerful. A bow deals 2d6 damage and a normal human has Toughness 5, which has a 83.3% chance of Shaken or better and a 38% chance of a Wound (or Incapacitated Extra) or better. If the archer hits with a Raise then that's 3d6 damage, a 98% chance of Shaken and a 75% chance of a Wound or better. Some heavy leather armor gives +2, which means the bow needs to roll 7 for Shaken and 11 for a Wound (normal hit: 58.3%, 25% respectively; Raise hit: 90.7%, 57.4% respectively). Adding just two armor reduces the chance of being Shaken by a normal hit from 30/36 results to 21/36 results - that's a huge advantage.

    My advice is to treat armor damage as if you're using a Benny to "influence the story". Declare the armor to be damaged, providing 1 less bonus until repaired, and throw the player a Benny as compensation for this unfortunate turn of events. If the armor bonus is reduced to 0 then the armor needs to be replaced. Repairs should probably cost about 10% of the listed price, but anything up to 40% might work depending upon your group. (Obviously) make sure there is some in-story justification for the armor becoming degraded before you declare it to be damaged.

    Good luck!
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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    • #3
      One method I saw for degrading armor is to assign the armor a number of armor points equal to the min str. Dir to use it. Each time a player takes multiple wounds from a single attack. Reduce the armor points by one. If it runs out of points it's destroyed. Points may be regained by repairing the armor during downtime.

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      • #4
        Welcome!
        Twice welcome!

        Originally posted by BATWOLF! View Post
        I would disallow Soak rolls unless you are wearing armor. If you are wearing armor a soak would still cost a bennie but the armor's protective value would be lowered by one until it's repaired. I think this would make combat more dangerous in general which I like. It would make armor more powerful which I like, and it would add a grittier feel with damaged battered armor.
        One thing I'd like to point out is that this rule wouldn't make Armor more powerful, it would only make being unarmored more dangerous.

        Soaking is a narrative tool designed to reduce damage. This can look like whatever fits the scene. It might mean the blow glances off the armor, but it can also mean the weapon was misaligned (the flat of the blade hits rather than the edge, etc).

        Given the inherent deadliness of combat in Savage Worlds, this rule change is probably not going to have the effect you want. First, it will mean players will be more likely to design concepts around wearing heavy armor to get the most bang for their buck. Also, the automatically degrading armor sounds like it will just be frustrating for players as they'd either actively avoid making Soak rolls or need to constantly repair their gear.
        ______

        If you want more dangerous combat and the potential for degrading Armor, I'd probably do the following:
        • Increase damage output of weapons by increasing their damage die or adding AP.
        • Leave Soaking the way it is, but provide a player-facing mechanic that adds +1 to the Soak roll in exchange for lowering the Armor value by an equal amount.
        For example, a character wearing medium armor (+3) gets hit for two Wounds. She decides to Soak at +2. Regardless of the result, her Armor bonus now drops to +1.

        Because damage output has been given an overall increase, there is now an incentive to add the bonus to Soak rolls. And because degrading ones armor is a conscious choice, there isn't (or shouldn't be) any frustration attached to the mechanic.

        What are your thoughts on this?

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        • #5
          The concensus seems to be that it's a bad idea to eliminate soak rolls. I'll probalby just run RAW for a while and then consider eliminating soak rules or not based on my experience. I started with the idea of wanting to eliminate the soak option. Armor allowing it at the price of damage was an after thought.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by BATWOLF! View Post
            I started with the idea of wanting to eliminate the soak option.
            That can be a fun campaign, in an X-Com constantly replacing character style. Just understand that by removing Soak you will vastly increase the chances of killing at least one player character per adventure. Instead of the typical* two per campaign.
            If your table is good with churning through characters, and your story is good with none of the starting characters being alive for the ending, then that can be a good campaign. If those things are not true then it will probably not be a good experience.

            *Typical for my campaigns. I haven't seen any studies or surveys done on the subject.
            I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

            Comment


            • #7
              Dropping Soaking damage also means that bad guys won't be saving their Bennies for Soaking, either. Lots of re-rolling attacks and damage against the PCs.

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