Players and their armor.

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Bulletsponge
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Players and their armor.

Postby Bulletsponge » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:34 am

Perhaps I was to lenient on my players, but I basically allowed them to buy what they wanted from the supply catalog as long as they had the cash and went to a place that had it. So now they all have badass armor and I am finding that most of the pre written stuff has threats that can't really hurt them. I changed the cursed guys in Demon's Eye to have them grapple and pry their armor off or open. This actually resulted in a character death. It was terrifying for the players and worked really well.
Now, I am doing this or restricting their armor for other encounters. I feel like they are annoyed when I find work arounds, but if I just let them steamroll everything, I feel it will be too stale.
Has anyone come across this issue or does anyone have any ideas?
baithammer
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby baithammer » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:48 am

Before allowing players to freely pick gear, it is a good idea to see how encounters are built so you can avoid having to ratchet up the tactics / encounter difficulty.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Jun 02, 2018 2:13 pm

Should have done a practice fire fight with your players first so everyone understands lethal and non-lethal before starting a game session. If you beef up all your NPCs to balance things, it will teach your players how ridiculous they've made their Travellers and question what the actual point of their characters were in the adventure.
MonkeyX
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby MonkeyX » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:10 pm

Haven’t quite got to this level yet but the group now have access to the suits of Battle Dress from a Treasure Ship. Vacc suit skill and law levels have largely limited their usage but even that small step could have made a big difference.
Bulletsponge
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Bulletsponge » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:37 pm

In an upcoming session, I'm thinking about giving them environmental challenges that their armor will make more difficult. Like traversing a mud pit or extreme humidity that coats and obstructs their vision.
I have already house ruled that doing things that require fine motor skils, like first aid, is near impossible while wearing really bulky armor. Seems reasonable to me.
Linwood
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Linwood » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:22 am

I like the improv for Demon’s Eye! And giving your players environmental challenges is a great idea too.

I find the most useful way to limit players in this way is law level. Battle dress is generally illegal at law level 2 or so, I think.

Another thought - give them more challenges involving social skills. I’d give an automatic Bane to anyone who is trying to negotiate a cargo sale on most worlds (unless intimidation is called for).

In certain situations battle dress may make it hard to be stealthy. There’s always chameleon coatings for visual concealment but that won’t help you walk quietly across a creaky catwalk. (Then again there’s grav belts...).

Tight spaces are another possibility. Battle dress might be too bulky to allow one to slither down a tight maintenance shaft.
Condottiere
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Condottiere » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:40 am

Send down a couple of spider or snake drones.
Linwood
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Linwood » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:05 pm

Heheheheh....
paltrysum
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby paltrysum » Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:08 pm

Weapons, armor, and tech proliferation is really a game issue. It makes sense that these amazing high-tech armors would be available, and it kind of ruins the verisimilitude of the setting if you just deny access to it all the time. I'm experiencing the same thing in my campaign. One player has battledress (he was an ex-marine and was able to work his contacts on Pax Rulin to purchase some), and several have combat armor. The group also has a plethora of weapons and drones (including a PGMP and an autocannon-armed combat/security robot) in part to mitigate their exposure to violence.

I run it like this: Most of the opposition does not have access to that level of armor and weaponry. Certainly most of the encounters in Pirates of Drinax do not involve deadly weaponry of that magnitude. Most of the pirates they come across have things like boarding vacc suits and ACRs, maybe a gauss pistol. There are some encounters in the adventures that involve battledress, but they are few and far between. My take on it is that over time, they will develop a reputation and word will get out about how well armed they are. For those opponents who have the means, it could be come an arms race. If you've heard of this mysterious group operating the Harrier and their possession of several powerful suits of armor and weaponry, you're not going to take them on without gearing up yourself first. So if the players use battledress and plasma rifles in combat, and the opposition survives or people otherwise get wind of what they have, future encounters will involve people who may have learned about it and have equipped themselves accordingly.

In the end, it could become more deadly for the players than if they did not constantly gear up to the max. I suspect that the long and the short of it is that the players will ultimately learn that avoiding violence is the best route they can go and if they get into a scuffle, they'd better be prepared for a gradual ratcheting up of difficulty and lethality.
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Culture-pig
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Culture-pig » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:27 pm

If you want to separate the players from their armour, another option is always through normal wear and tear !

By now the armour is getting a little old, it's been in a few firefights, taken damage etc. So, it starts to break down - it needs repair - but maybe the required spares aren't available, they are back in a system 10 parsecs away where you bought the armour (I'm sorry sir, if you had a suit of ACME Combat armour I could help, but unfortunately we don't stock anything for a Zendyne model 3000 - there simply isn't the call for it out here). Or if spares are available they are rare and so very expensive, with repeated repairs (after every combat ?) soon exhausting the local supply.

If that doesn't work, or the players have figured out another way to keep the kit repaired, try making the armour unreliable - because of the age and repairs as above, maybe the targeting system packs up in the middle of combat (removing bonuses or even apply negative factors when shooting perhaps), or a knee servo-joint locks (no running or climbing ladders, negative modifiers in melee maybe ?). Before long the players will learn that they cannot trust/rely upon their high tech armour in critical situations. Therefore they will find lower tech (inferior ?) alternatives that they can maintain, or as others have suggested, they will avoid combat as much as possible because it is dangerous !

Just my thoughts.

Thanks

Martin.
Bulletsponge
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Bulletsponge » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:43 pm

Thanks for the suggestions everyone!
steve98052
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby steve98052 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:00 pm

Culture-pig wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:27 pm
If you want to separate the players from their armour, another option is always through normal wear and tear !
. . .
I assign hip point values to things that are likely to take damage, like armor. When a character gets hit, but armor stops the damage, it takes just a little bit of that damage itself. Ablat armor has that in the rules explicitly, but it makes sense that any armor will lose a little of its strength when it stops something energetic from applying energy to the living tissue inside the armor.

How do you do that? One possible mechanism is to say that any "6" on a damage roll does a hit point of damage, but that might need tuning. Another possibility is to do damage only if the damage total is at least half the amount needed to get through.

Of course, it damage gets through full body armor, the only way it can do that is to break through the armor. That definitely hurts the armor too.
NOLATrav
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby NOLATrav » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:56 pm

I’ve been using 10% of damage inflicted on the character, with a 50% milestone then no protection.

So a guy in TL10 Cloth (Protection 8) takes 5 points of damage after armor soak. The player must also track 0.5 points against his armor. When the armor gets to 4 points of damage taken, it's effectiveness is reduced 50% to Protection 4. At 8 points damage taken it is rendered useless.

Repairs are 20% of new cost per point of armor damage taken, if they have or can find the expertise and materials to do it. So Cr100 per point in this example.
Linwood
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Linwood » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:57 am

Sounds like armor repair kits could be a handy add to the ship’s locker. Maybe with a limit as to how much damage you can fix that way before the armor needs a repair shop or simply isn’t repairable at all.

There should be some damage to any built-in sensors, comes, etc. Maybe a flat DM-1 to one of those systems for every 10% of protection lost?
NOLATrav
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby NOLATrav » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 pm

Yeah, my PCs have essentially created armor repair kits on their ship by stockpiling spares when they’re on the right worlds.

That’s a good idea, limiting the number of times they can repair a given suit... I’ll have to noodle on that a bit.

As crunchy as it seems we actually improv a lot of combat results, including damaged HUDs, comms, sensors, etc. But when the gang went up against a couple of rogue Marines in battledress I actually used the Vehicle Crit Location table to whittle away at the NPCs’ suit systems, even if the PCs weren’t really dealing much actual damage. Seemed to work pretty well.
Linwood
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Linwood » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:38 am

Vehicle Crit Table - i’ll have to remember that!
Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:35 pm

baithammer wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:48 am
Before allowing players to freely pick gear, it is a good idea to see how encounters are built so you can avoid having to ratchet up the tactics / encounter difficulty.
You know Starfinder has the concept of Leveled equipment. One problem is that Traveller doesn't have levels. With Traveller, it is all about what equipment one has, skills and characteristics mostly determine what sort of equipment can be used if one has them Tougher characters have more stuff, like fusion guns for instance.

Maybe we could have meta levels in Traveller, sort of like having various equipment equipment packages and assigining levels to them. Cooking up a particular challenge for a group of players is more of an art than a science, chances are most encounters will be too easy or kill the Travellers. the Referee has to sort of predict what will happen in each combat encounter before the players announce their actions. If the Travellers have armor, their opponents get an equipment upgrade to deal with that.
steve98052
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby steve98052 » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:20 pm

Indeed, any armor more complicated than Cloth is pretty much a vehicle. Combat Armor is a human shaped vehicle powered by the user's muscles, with (because it's also a vacc suit) the addition of a lot of life support systems such as oxygen supply, CO2 removal, waste handling, temperature control. It would have communication systems, and might have chameleon features, infrared and radar signature management, fire control assistance, and so forth.

Battle Dress would be all that plus powered joints and the associated balance and strength amplification computing, bracing points for heavy or high-recoil weapons, mount points for jet packs or grav packs, and all the sensors and displays needed for weapon targeting, including friend-or-foe sensing. Command and forward observer models would add battlefield management systems.

Even simple armor -- Cloth with a hard-shell helmet for example -- could be treated as a vehicle, just to bring all breakable things under a common damage system.

Of course, armor is not the only only thing a character would carry into combat. Weapons can break, obviously, both from combat damage and from hostile environmental conditions or neglected maintenance. Getting your backpack full of food blasted into compost might not matter in the heat of battle, but it could force you to take time away from continued combat operations to forage or await resupply. If you're trying to blend in on a lower technology world, your gear might be more fragile.

A lot of those details are too much for formal rules, but they are all things player characters (or non-player adversaries) might do that would require a game master to come up with a rule on the spot.
Epicenter
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Epicenter » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:53 pm

I call it the "Ping-Splat" conundrum:

Either the enemies can't do anything to the players (their weapons ping off their armor). Or they have weapons that can penetrate the armor which will pretty much always kill the player wearing it because the power needed to penetrate the armor is overkill on the flimsy fleshy body wearing it (their weapons splat the wearer).

The issue (for me) is that there's nothing inbetween. You either ping or you splat. It's a nightmare for the GM because it's difficult to establish a sense of danger to the players without killing them; anything that can threaten them can kill them in one shot.

Another way of looking at it is battledress is the equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons +5 plate armor. Traveller doesn't have a scaling Hit Point system; everyone is forever a 1st level character with a 1d8 HP (average); anything that can hit the person wearing +5 armor is going to find it trivial to kill the wearer. Then you factor in that the GM has much less plausible control over (they can buy +5 armor).

I've come up with a number of solutions to the problem over the years, some of which have worked better than others. For your use, I'll list them here:

* Give Armor Hit Points.

This sounds amazingly stupid, right? Maybe even blasphemous. But if your characters get into a lot of combat, it's actually worth doing. Just assign any kind of full body (or reasonably full body) armor hit points (I don't have the table we used right now, but I think it was something like TL * Armor Value with some other modifier). We currently don't use this method, but it was great fun while we were using it, we might go back. Weapons with AP effects multiply their damage instead of dividing the armor value. A good suit of battledress is likely to have HP in the triple digits. Because there's no threshold, this means even wimpy pistols will do damage - but your battledress will have so much HP you're not concerned, however a bunch of guys even with small arms will eventually wear the battledress down. We also have an anti-instakill rule: If a single attack rolls good enough to drop someone's HP from their full HP to 0, the attack instead drops the character's armor HP pool to 10% of his or her maximum; this rule can only be invoked once per combat and though the player's armor will continue to work at some level, it is a total loss after the combat and must be replaced. The advantage of the HP method is the same as D&D: It gives the players an immediate and visceral knowledge of how much longer they can stay in combat and large drops in their HP will register as a correspondingly large threat. Don't use this method with the stuff below; this method basically embraces the idea that everyone will be wearing heavy armor all the time.

* The Book-Keeping Method.

The biggest issue with battledress (powered armor) is that standard Traveller rules ignore things like batteries and maintenance in the interest of reducing book-keeping. This removes any drawbacks from wearing the armor all the time; only an idiot wouldn't save himself from death using something that costs only money.

- Battledress requires batteries: These batteries cost 50% of the battledress' new purchase cost. They weigh (80 - ((TL of the battledress) * 3)) = % of the total weight of battledress (so a TL12 battery masses 45% of the total mass of the suit, while a TL15 battery masses 35% of the suit's mass). The mass of a suit in equipment guides assume a battery is included; this for extra batteries. Batteries from one TL cannot be used in battledress of another TL. Batteries last a flat 6 hours of mixed duty and assume life support and any activity. Yes, technically if someone is doing very light duties in battledress without using the life support, the batteries would last a lot longer, but if the players ask about this, just tell them they're welcome to come up with some huge book-keeping mess of "power points" and keeping track of light work and heavy work and keeping track of life support and so on and if they want to do it, they can come up with a system and let you review it. Players must bring along extra batteries if they're in the field longer than six hours. Batteries always require 2 hours of charging to restore the power of 1 hour of use.

- Battledress requires maintenance: Battledress are basically like vehicles. It requires a technician experienced in battledress to repair it. In military forces that use it, there are technicians and so on who handle this (they may be cross-trained soldiers). Because making new skills is cack, a character with a Electronics-1, Mechanic-1, and Cybernetics-1 can do maintenance and repair on battle dress (it's assumed that while battle dress requires specialized skills, players can learn these skills if they have those three skills). Battledress that is worn but without combat requires 18 - (the TL of the suit) = % of the original cost per month in maintenance (so a TL12 suit requires 6% of its original purchase price in maintenance). This high cost reflects the difficulty of getting parts and so on - players who are skilled merchants may roll successes in relevant skills to reduce this cost by half by getting a better price on parts. Battledress that get into combat and are hit by weapons fire, regardless of it penetrates the armor or not, requires a flat 5% of the original purchase price in maintenance in checking to ensure things aren't damaged, recalibration, filling in gouges and cracks and so on - this maintenance must be done the next time the players can (you may feel free to assign penalties if they don't) and is charged on top of monthly maintenance. Any battledress that is penetrated by weapons fire requires a 5 + 1d6 = % of the original cost repair to bring it to working condition (yielding a number from 60% to 110% of the original price) - yes, just like how your car can require repairs that basically make it cheaper to buy a whole new car, the same thing can occur to battledress. It's assumed the battledress has various "temporary sealing foam" and similar features that will allow it work reasonably well for a while after damage so players can put off repairs to penetrated armor for a bit but the suit cannot be used in combat again safely until it is repaired. Any armor that is penetrated is considered to be badly damaged and the combat armor rules for DEX apply to it until it is repaired.

- Combat Armor and Armored Spacesuits are uncomfortable: Great, so power armor is expensive to operate. So Combat Armor or Armored Vacc Suits are better, right? From now on, I'll just refer to both of these (and similar items) as Combat Armor. Battledress has various feedback systems, life support such as temperature control that heats or cools you and gives you cool air to breathe that make it very comfortable for long-term wear for a trained operator. Combat Armor doesn't have this benefit - its weight must be borne by the wearer. In addition, it is confining, likely hot, and a bit clumsy to wear. Every hour a character spends in Combat Armor, their DEX drops by one. Any DEX-related checks must be done with this adjusted value. If a character hits 1 DEX wearing armor, they are now considered fatigued. A character who takes off their combat armor will be back to full DEX instantly - but the "suit fatigue" of wearing combat armor goes away more slowly, it drops by a 1 for every hour spent outside of the suit; if the wearer puts a suit back on, any remaining penalties come back (rounding up). For instance, Sue has 7 DEX. She spends 4 hours in her combat armor so she has 3 DEX. Feeling hot, claustrophobic, and needing a break, she takes off her combat armor to stretch her limbs. The moment she takes off her combat armor, she has 7 DEX again, however if she were to put the armor back in, she'd be back to 3 DEX. If she waits an hour before putting the suit back on, she'll have 4 DEX when she puts it back on. Only by not wearing it for 4 hours total will she get 7 DEX in her combat armor.

* Armor stands out.

There's a reason why heavy armor is illegal on many worlds. "But it's not weapon" you say. It doesn't seem like it would be a weapon, but it effectively is. If the cops can't stop you, it's essentially a weapon. You could simply walk into a bank, grab the manager and threaten to turn their face into a bloody deformed pulp with your unarmed but armored fists until they open the vault, grab whatever you can carry and fly off with your grav belt - if the cops only have 9mm pistols to shoot at you, you're immune. You can walk into a bar and demand free drinks, if they don't give them to you, you can simply walk behind the counter and grab whatever you want. How are they going to stop you? For these kinds of reasons, people are nervous around people wearing obvious armor. No matter what the "armor rights" people say, everyone knows that if you're wearing armor ... you're going to cause trouble or you're expecting trouble. Nobody wants these types in their communities.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby paltrysum » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:52 pm

Those are all great solutions if you want to drill down to that level. In spite of the implications, I intend to just go with the "splat" method. Battledress and combat armor essentially make you impervious to most attacks. But once a capable enemy decides he needs to eliminate you, he brings the tools necessary for the job. This can create quite a nasty wave in your adventure or even your campaign. Many players don't like having their characters summarily "removed" from the campaign. But that's the risk you take when you make yourself nigh invulnerable: You invite a capable enemy to do what's necessary to kill you.

That said, sure, I will employ some level of maintenance requirements. Powered armor is complex stuff and requires "care and feeding." But I don't like to weigh my campaigns down with minutiae so my references to maintenance will be hand wavy at most. If you start having them maintain battledress, then you have to start maintaining your gauss rifle. Then your air/raft, and then you're buying capacitors for your maneuver drive, etc., etc. I don't fault people for running campaigns that drill down to that level, but my group would fall asleep if we burdened ours with all that extra information (I would call it "baggage").

I consider myself a pretty good referee, but I'm not enough of a multi-tasker to keep all those extra threads going without weighing down the story.
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