Players and their armor.

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:07 pm

Epicenter wrote:
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.
What if your character is a witness to a mob hit, and you testified in court and now the mob wants you dead, and you ask for permission to wear heavy armor, and the police say no, we'll protect you, but you suspect some of those cops are being paid off by the mob, and you don't trust them to protect you, so you'd just rather wear heavy armor. So you wear the armor, and now both the police and the mob are after you, the mob because they want you dead, the police because you are breaking the law by wearing heavy armor. Pretty absured isn't it?
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:18 pm

paltrysum wrote:
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.
How about instead of giving the armor hit points, we give it damage resistance instead? In Dungeons & Dragons some creatures have damage resistance, basically you have to hit and score a certain amount of damage before you do any damage to the character, so lets say you have battledress with a damage resistance of 20, and your enemy hits you and does 25 points of damage, the Battledress subtracts 20 points of that damage and you take only 5 hits instead of 25. Another possibility is that the armor absorbs a percentage of the damage that a hit inflicts upon you, in that case you could say Your armor has a damage resistance of 80%, so if your enemy hits you and inflicts 25 points of damage, the armor absorbs 80% of that damage, and your character only receives the remaining 20% of that damage which is 5 hits.

Now percentage damage resistance would make your character the equivalent of a 5th level character while wearing that armor in the example I cited, basically in the latter example for every 5 points of damage your enemy inflicts on you with a hit, you receive only 1 point to your character. That seems like a good fix, what do you think? At least this way, you don't have to keep track of your armor's hit points.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Hakkonen » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:22 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:07 pm
What if your character is a witness to a mob hit, and you testified in court and now the mob wants you dead, and you ask for permission to wear heavy armor, and the police say no, we'll protect you, but you suspect some of those cops are being paid off by the mob, and you don't trust them to protect you, so you'd just rather wear heavy armor. So you wear the armor, and now both the police and the mob are after you, the mob because they want you dead, the police because you are breaking the law by wearing heavy armor. Pretty absured isn't it?
Not really, no. You're breaking the law, therefore there's an arrest warrant with your name on it. This sort of scenario is why witness-protection programs exist.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:33 am

Hakkonen wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:22 pm
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:07 pm
What if your character is a witness to a mob hit, and you testified in court and now the mob wants you dead, and you ask for permission to wear heavy armor, and the police say no, we'll protect you, but you suspect some of those cops are being paid off by the mob, and you don't trust them to protect you, so you'd just rather wear heavy armor. So you wear the armor, and now both the police and the mob are after you, the mob because they want you dead, the police because you are breaking the law by wearing heavy armor. Pretty absured isn't it?
Not really, no. You're breaking the law, therefore there's an arrest warrant with your name on it. This sort of scenario is why witness-protection programs exist.
But what if the cops are corrupt, or being paid off by the mob? It may be safer to wear armor.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Hakkonen » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:31 am

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:33 am
Hakkonen wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:22 pm
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:07 pm
What if your character is a witness to a mob hit, and you testified in court and now the mob wants you dead, and you ask for permission to wear heavy armor, and the police say no, we'll protect you, but you suspect some of those cops are being paid off by the mob, and you don't trust them to protect you, so you'd just rather wear heavy armor. So you wear the armor, and now both the police and the mob are after you, the mob because they want you dead, the police because you are breaking the law by wearing heavy armor. Pretty absured isn't it?
Not really, no. You're breaking the law, therefore there's an arrest warrant with your name on it. This sort of scenario is why witness-protection programs exist.
But what if the cops are corrupt, or being paid off by the mob? It may be safer to wear armor.
And give the putatively-corrupt cops (side note: being paid off by the mob is corruption, no need to be redundant) a publicity-friendly reason to arrest you? In that situation, you leave the planet.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby BigDogsRunning » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:57 am

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:18 pm
paltrysum wrote:
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.
How about instead of giving the armor hit points, we give it damage resistance instead? In Dungeons & Dragons some creatures have damage resistance, basically you have to hit and score a certain amount of damage before you do any damage to the character, so lets say you have battledress with a damage resistance of 20, and your enemy hits you and does 25 points of damage, the Battledress subtracts 20 points of that damage and you take only 5 hits instead of 25. Another possibility is that the armor absorbs a percentage of the damage that a hit inflicts upon you, in that case you could say Your armor has a damage resistance of 80%, so if your enemy hits you and inflicts 25 points of damage, the armor absorbs 80% of that damage, and your character only receives the remaining 20% of that damage which is 5 hits.

Now percentage damage resistance would make your character the equivalent of a 5th level character while wearing that armor in the example I cited, basically in the latter example for every 5 points of damage your enemy inflicts on you with a hit, you receive only 1 point to your character. That seems like a good fix, what do you think? At least this way, you don't have to keep track of your armor's hit points.
This is exactly how armor in Traveller works now. You reduce the damage given by the armor value (less any AP effect, of course).
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby BigDogsRunning » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:10 am

Battledress doesn't make you invulnerable, it just makes you quite tough. It also absolutely invites the other side to escalate. First off, BattleDress armored people aren't a police problem, it's a military problem. If you don't have a handy military rapid response team that rolls out when really threatening people start popping up, someone isn't paying attention. You can get away with using that sort of equipment anywhere that a government isn't, but even many law-level 0 places, while tolerant of owning such equipment, frown on its use. I think that if a BattleDress equipped player got really out of hand and made a nuisance of themselves, they would find a spec ops squad deployed to prevent further harm and disruption from occuring. This may involve snipers with anti-material rifles and APDS rounds, or light vehicular weapons, or some sort of capture gear. Traveller BattleDress actually isn't that powerful. It's been nerfed twelve ways from sunday compared to powered armor as represented in any number of novels. TL14 Assault BattleDress adds bonuses to STR and DEX. It's enough to make you feared in hand to hand, maybe the equal of a really big Aslan in strength, but not enough to tear your way through walls, or flip over cars. And, yes, you can carry a PGMP. So what? A couple of combat armored troopers using a disposable Plasma Launcher, or a light vehicle with an autocannon, or any number of other configurations can really ruin the BattleDress trooper's day.

Just keep in mind, someone using Combat Armor, or BattleDress, is bringing a military solution to a firefight. Why wouldn't the other side to the same? And, you don't have to match an out of control player for TL if you given them a high tech toy, and they've been breaking other people's things with it.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby JMISBEST » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:30 am

Maybe do what I've done a few times over the years and have a few people that want the characters dead paid to test a prototype TL 17 Heat Based Energy Weapon the potential damage from which goes up, not down, the heavier the victims armour is, and decide to test it on The Pcs?
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:40 am

BigDogsRunning wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:10 am
Battledress doesn't make you invulnerable, it just makes you quite tough. It also absolutely invites the other side to escalate. First off, BattleDress armored people aren't a police problem, it's a military problem. If you don't have a handy military rapid response team that rolls out when really threatening people start popping up, someone isn't paying attention. You can get away with using that sort of equipment anywhere that a government isn't, but even many law-level 0 places, while tolerant of owning such equipment, frown on its use. I think that if a BattleDress equipped player got really out of hand and made a nuisance of themselves, they would find a spec ops squad deployed to prevent further harm and disruption from occuring. This may involve snipers with anti-material rifles and APDS rounds, or light vehicular weapons, or some sort of capture gear. Traveller BattleDress actually isn't that powerful. It's been nerfed twelve ways from sunday compared to powered armor as represented in any number of novels. TL14 Assault BattleDress adds bonuses to STR and DEX. It's enough to make you feared in hand to hand, maybe the equal of a really big Aslan in strength, but not enough to tear your way through walls, or flip over cars. And, yes, you can carry a PGMP. So what? A couple of combat armored troopers using a disposable Plasma Launcher, or a light vehicle with an autocannon, or any number of other configurations can really ruin the BattleDress trooper's day.

Just keep in mind, someone using Combat Armor, or BattleDress, is bringing a military solution to a firefight. Why wouldn't the other side to the same? And, you don't have to match an out of control player for TL if you given them a high tech toy, and they've been breaking other people's things with it.
Those equipment items are listed for a reason with the possibility of player characters using them in mind. Now if the situation involved the PCs facing a corrupt police department bought off by the local mob, then that is the adventure, the players will think the adventure is to get rid of the mob, not just runaway like a coward. If player characters are running away all the time, there is not much adventure there! So if there is a corrupt police department under the influence of the mob, what is the solution if not a military solution? The players started it off by agreeing to be a witness to a crime committed by one of the mobsters, and in reaction the mob tries to assassinate them, because of that the players are wearing armor, now a bunch of dumb cops say, "Eh eh! Full body armor is illegal, you can't wear that, not please take off your armor so the mob can assassinate you like a good man!" If the players say "No," then they get into a fire fight with the police and the mob, if they say, "yes, then the mob kills them and they get to roll up new characters, if they still want to play the game after that." Now which option would you pick?
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby paltrysum » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:39 pm

You're not listing all the options. Perhaps the players can leverage the mob/corrupt cops another way. Perhaps they can leave the system, obtain something (tech, assistance, financial leverage) that sways the mob/corrupt cops to continue their current course. The military solution isn't always the only solution. Applying creativity can solve a lot of problems without a single bullet being fired...or a suit of battledress being donned.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby steve98052 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:11 pm

If you want to require maintenance with less bookkeeping, just set a flat percentage for device classes. I've spent around 1.2% (per year average) of my car's original cost on maintenance, so 1% is reasonable for gentle use of stuff.

For computers that might be replacing screen scratch guards, or software update fees (library data mainly). For simple guns that might be oil. For advanced guns it might be spare precision parts, or software updates. For vacc suits or combat armor it might mean fresh gaskets and life support filters. For battle dress it could include all sorts of small parts that wear out.

Assume that characters can do general maintenance for cost of parts as long as they have appropriate skills within the group; otherwise double it. Just figure an annual cost for everything a character owns, and assess it once a year. Don't bother pro-rating things unless the cost is large enough that the character wants to bother keeping the books on it.

It's more complicated when things get beat up. Again using my car as an example, a minor collision (backing into a truck that I couldn't see, at low speed) cost over 3% of the car's original cost. An earlier car took about 18% of its original cost from a slightly faster, but still low-speed front collision -- which totaled it because its depreciated value was down to about 12% of original cost.

How do you model that in the game? If your vehicle crashes, it's pretty easy to assume that damage is similar. If a vehicle or armor gets shot, it's more complicated. Minor (non-penetrating) hits can be modeled with a fixed cost per hit. Major (penetrating) hits should have a much larger cost, but they aren't necessarily a cost per hit. For example, if you get one arm of your combat armor shot off with a bazooka, another bazooka to the same arm isn't going to add much to the repair cost, but getting both arms shot off costs twice as much.*

If you get into a shootout with small pistols and light armor, hit points (strength, dexterity, endurance) model damage adequately. But if you get into a shootout with big weapons and heavy armor, I think most players would prefer the added effort of things like hit locations to, "Hit, 59 damage, minus 12 for armor is 47. Looks like a closed casket funeral for you."

In short, don't worry about the extra bookkeeping. Wouldn't you prefer this sort of resolution? "Roll hit location. Lucky you, that's an arm. You're unconscious, but if the medic is still standing at the end of the battle she should be able to stop the bleeding until you're in the medical low berth."

* At that point, guy wearing the armor will probably be more worried about the cost of months in the hospital, growing cloned arms, surgery to attach them, and physical therapy. So don't get your arms shot off with a bazooka.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby BigDogsRunning » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:52 pm

steve98052 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:11 pm
If you want to require maintenance with less bookkeeping, just set a flat percentage for device classes. I've spent around 1.2% (per year average) of my car's original cost on maintenance, so 1% is reasonable for gentle use of stuff.

For computers that might be replacing screen scratch guards, or software update fees (library data mainly). For simple guns that might be oil. For advanced guns it might be spare precision parts, or software updates. For vacc suits or combat armor it might mean fresh gaskets and life support filters. For battle dress it could include all sorts of small parts that wear out.

Assume that characters can do general maintenance for cost of parts as long as they have appropriate skills within the group; otherwise double it. Just figure an annual cost for everything a character owns, and assess it once a year. Don't bother pro-rating things unless the cost is large enough that the character wants to bother keeping the books on it.

It's more complicated when things get beat up. Again using my car as an example, a minor collision (backing into a truck that I couldn't see, at low speed) cost over 3% of the car's original cost. An earlier car took about 18% of its original cost from a slightly faster, but still low-speed front collision -- which totaled it because its depreciated value was down to about 12% of original cost.

How do you model that in the game? If your vehicle crashes, it's pretty easy to assume that damage is similar. If a vehicle or armor gets shot, it's more complicated. Minor (non-penetrating) hits can be modeled with a fixed cost per hit. Major (penetrating) hits should have a much larger cost, but they aren't necessarily a cost per hit. For example, if you get one arm of your combat armor shot off with a bazooka, another bazooka to the same arm isn't going to add much to the repair cost, but getting both arms shot off costs twice as much.*

If you get into a shootout with small pistols and light armor, hit points (strength, dexterity, endurance) model damage adequately. But if you get into a shootout with big weapons and heavy armor, I think most players would prefer the added effort of things like hit locations to, "Hit, 59 damage, minus 12 for armor is 47. Looks like a closed casket funeral for you."

In short, don't worry about the extra bookkeeping. Wouldn't you prefer this sort of resolution? "Roll hit location. Lucky you, that's an arm. You're unconscious, but if the medic is still standing at the end of the battle she should be able to stop the bleeding until you're in the medical low berth."

* At that point, guy wearing the armor will probably be more worried about the cost of months in the hospital, growing cloned arms, surgery to attach them, and physical therapy. So don't get your arms shot off with a bazooka.
For military gear, you're looking at more like 10-20% per year, assuming you have access to the contractor that produces the parts. For purely military gear, like Battle Dress, or Plasma/Fusion weapons, unless you've got real connections, like, you're running a planetary military, or a merc outfit and have lots of active duty officer friends, you're going to be buying your spares on the black market, grey at best. Even with those connections, you're likely paying 200-300% markup, because the Imperium takes a dim view of people stealing that stuff from it. So, you're likely looking at maintenance costs approaching 100% per year, at least. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't let players purchase battle dress at anything like book costs. There would be too much demand, for too scarce a supply of something that the Imperium criminalizes private ownership of. Just Saying. :)
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Bulletsponge » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:02 am

Those are all great solutions guys. I think I am going to go with the armor having a durability or HP. It won't always take damage, but when hit hard enough, it will.
I've had to make drastic changes to prewritten adventures to make things threatening. My most recent was increasing the number of monsters and having them grapple and drag away characters. It caused an element of fear having one of their party pulled away and them not being able to go after without the remaining foes getting free attacks. Plus the grapple was by the creature's tail and if grappled long enough, it cracked open the armor like a nut cracker. In this situation, it was not a player, but their hired marine, that was taken and by time the party fought through to their companion they had to go into medical triage mode as the creatures had removed the marine's leg and fed it to the mama monster. I was quite satisfied with this outcome. <insert maniacal laughter> I called the session there and my players seemed dismayed but are enjoying the challenge of it all. As long as they are having fun, my job is complete. There must be threat of serious injury.

Thank you all for responding with such great ideas!
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Itharus » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:19 am

I like the critical hit table idea.

Back in my 2nd ed. D&D days, there was a GM screen that had critical hit tables where you rolled a die to see where you hit (6 sections) then rolled a d20 to see what happened (extra damage, loss of limb, disabling blows, etc). At one point I actually applied that system to ALL damage since D&D abstracted armor as a 'to hit' chance anyway. It was very brutal but very satisfying. As a bonus, it made describing the battle far more visceral, even when you didn't score a crit and just did regular damage because it took the burden off figuring out where the hit was :)

I could see that working just as easily for Traveller. Just set it up so that you hit a location of the armor, then roll 2d6 or even d66 or whatever you want to add options like protection reduced, systems destroyed (for battle dress), sections of armor disabled or even blown off, etc. A certain result to a limb could just cause a %value of the armor to repair it; the same result to say the torso or head might completely ruin the armor and/or cause a huge repair cost. Personally fond of having "limb destroyed" and "killed (chest/head)" results in there too, lol.

You could also set up the table to just remove protection rating as the thing takes hits to represent a slow degrading of the armor. Just keep it relatively simple.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Epicenter » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:33 pm

paltrysum wrote:
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.
I understand that sentiment. As I said, I've tried these and not all of them were as successful as others. All the methods work, but some require more book-keeping than others.

Over the years, I've made an observation about Traveller. In D&D, you have Hit Points as the most important thing in the game; in D&D you can you run out of other things and its inconvenient, but it's not the end of the world. But you run out of HP, and you're out. So if you want to make the players feel danger or threat without eliminating them outright, you threaten to take away their hit points or you take some away.

Now, you might have figured this out years ago, in which case you're far better than me, but for me, I only figured out this a few years back: Traveller has something similar to Hit Points as well. It's not vitality or whatever. It's their money. The credits in their accounts. In Traveller, if you run out of money, it's game over. You can't make repairs on stuff, you can't pay your birthing fees, you can't do your yearly maintenance on your ship, and you can't make the monthly payments on your ship. Your character may not be dead, but they're stuck on some world as little people and they stop being Travellers. So the way to hit players in Traveller with "threat" is to do things to take their money away. The larger chunk of their money (and things) you threaten, the more wary they'll become.

It's a solution you might want to experiment with, if you haven't already. To do this, you can't let them accumulate zeroes willy-nilly in their accounts or rather, you can, but you have to make sure it's because they're earning money towards some goal and so losses of money hit them hard. I find the way to do this is to enforce, however abstractly, recurring costs and other drains on their bank accounts. Pricing out things like organ and limb replacements and other life-saving surgery and making it expensive (upwards of tens of thousands of credits to millions of credits - it's much cheaper if the players are willing to wait three months or six months or whatever for their replacement stuff to grow, but typically players want it now and that comes at a premium).

In this way, I've found I can actually get my players to play more safely, even if I don't hurt or kill their characters directly.
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:07 pm
What if your character is a witness to a mob hit, and you testified in court and now the mob wants you dead, and you ask for permission to wear heavy armor, and the police say no, we'll protect you, but you suspect some of those cops are being paid off by the mob, and you don't trust them to protect you, so you'd just rather wear heavy armor. So you wear the armor, and now both the police and the mob are after you, the mob because they want you dead, the police because you are breaking the law by wearing heavy armor. Pretty absured isn't it?
If the cops are in on it, you're as good as dead if this organized crime group wants you dead. No amount of militaristic manly man fantasy is going to save your life. It's akin to this hypothetical witness in the modern day wanting to drive around in a de-weaponed tank because he's afraid of having the mob kill him (which is, I should say, is not illegal even in the 21st century in many areas, provided the tank doesn't exceed weight limits of the roads). The very choice of protection means the witness attracts an enormous amount of attention. That attention makes it trivial to do things like figure out where this person lives (not that it matters if the cops are in on it) and what their routine is. Now the ball is completely in the criminal cartel's court. They can use some method to kill the witness when they're not in their ballistic ceramic security blanket (surely you're not going to counter "what if the person is essentially fused into their armor and never leaves it again!"). Or they can find a good time to simply bring some weapon that will poke a sufficiently large hole in the heavy armor to kill the witness when they're out doing whatever. This doesn't need to be something "fair" like some anti-armor rifle or something. They'd more likely simply use enough explosives to blow up the witness, armor and all, planted in some mundane location. You can't check them all. Certainly you might argue they'd never leave the house then, but if they're never leaving the house, why do they need heavy armor?

Pretty absurd, isn't it?

You're better off being anonymous than putting on heavy armor be that anonymity from moving far away and trying to go dark or trusting yourself to a witness relocation program.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:50 pm

Epicenter wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:33 pm
paltrysum wrote:
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.
I understand that sentiment. As I said, I've tried these and not all of them were as successful as others. All the methods work, but some require more book-keeping than others.

Over the years, I've made an observation about Traveller. In D&D, you have Hit Points as the most important thing in the game; in D&D you can you run out of other things and its inconvenient, but it's not the end of the world. But you run out of HP, and you're out. So if you want to make the players feel danger or threat without eliminating them outright, you threaten to take away their hit points or you take some away.

Now, you might have figured this out years ago, in which case you're far better than me, but for me, I only figured out this a few years back: Traveller has something similar to Hit Points as well. It's not vitality or whatever. It's their money. The credits in their accounts. In Traveller, if you run out of money, it's game over. You can't make repairs on stuff, you can't pay your birthing fees, you can't do your yearly maintenance on your ship, and you can't make the monthly payments on your ship. Your character may not be dead, but they're stuck on some world as little people and they stop being Travellers. So the way to hit players in Traveller with "threat" is to do things to take their money away. The larger chunk of their money (and things) you threaten, the more wary they'll become.

It's a solution you might want to experiment with, if you haven't already. To do this, you can't let them accumulate zeroes willy-nilly in their accounts or rather, you can, but you have to make sure it's because they're earning money towards some goal and so losses of money hit them hard. I find the way to do this is to enforce, however abstractly, recurring costs and other drains on their bank accounts. Pricing out things like organ and limb replacements and other life-saving surgery and making it expensive (upwards of tens of thousands of credits to millions of credits - it's much cheaper if the players are willing to wait three months or six months or whatever for their replacement stuff to grow, but typically players want it now and that comes at a premium).

In this way, I've found I can actually get my players to play more safely, even if I don't hurt or kill their characters directly.
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:07 pm
What if your character is a witness to a mob hit, and you testified in court and now the mob wants you dead, and you ask for permission to wear heavy armor, and the police say no, we'll protect you, but you suspect some of those cops are being paid off by the mob, and you don't trust them to protect you, so you'd just rather wear heavy armor. So you wear the armor, and now both the police and the mob are after you, the mob because they want you dead, the police because you are breaking the law by wearing heavy armor. Pretty absured isn't it?
If the cops are in on it, you're as good as dead if this organized crime group wants you dead. No amount of militaristic manly man fantasy is going to save your life. It's akin to this hypothetical witness in the modern day wanting to drive around in a de-weaponed tank because he's afraid of having the mob kill him (which is, I should say, is not illegal even in the 21st century in many areas, provided the tank doesn't exceed weight limits of the roads). The very choice of protection means the witness attracts an enormous amount of attention. That attention makes it trivial to do things like figure out where this person lives (not that it matters if the cops are in on it) and what their routine is. Now the ball is completely in the criminal cartel's court. They can use some method to kill the witness when they're not in their ballistic ceramic security blanket (surely you're not going to counter "what if the person is essentially fused into their armor and never leaves it again!"). Or they can find a good time to simply bring some weapon that will poke a sufficiently large hole in the heavy armor to kill the witness when they're out doing whatever. This doesn't need to be something "fair" like some anti-armor rifle or something. They'd more likely simply use enough explosives to blow up the witness, armor and all, planted in some mundane location. You can't check them all. Certainly you might argue they'd never leave the house then, but if they're never leaving the house, why do they need heavy armor?

Pretty absurd, isn't it?

You're better off being anonymous than putting on heavy armor be that anonymity from moving far away and trying to go dark or trusting yourself to a witness relocation program.
There is another solution. The witness can get lost so that the mob loses track of him, and at some point he becomes extremely successful, has surrounded himself with a bunch of underlings that the Mob can't touch him, and sometime later on the planet the mob controls, a fleet of ships appears out of Jump space, these are military ships under the player's command, the planetary defense forces rise up to repell the attack. squadrons of fighters come out of the fleet carriers and their is a tremendous battle with massive amounts of casualities. The cities on the planet come under orbital bombardiment, massive fires are started when bombs are going off. People flee for their lives. And then the drop ships land, marines in Battledress come out, and the defenders from the ruins of the cities put up a tremendous defense. The Mob boss is in his hideout in the woods, and then a dropship lands near him, a platoon of marines comes out and a firefight ensues between mob enforces and marines, the house comes under fire, as the mob boss and his men are surrounded. And then finally when the mob boss surrenders and is in cuffs, the player character makes a reappearance, as says, "So you wanted to rub me out eh? I have those crooked cops in cuffs too, or at least the ones that survived! As for the rest of the cities population, well it looks like they have new rulers now!" The mob boss says, "What are you going to do when the Imperium gets here?" The player replies, "Well the Imperium ignored you didn't they? I'm sure we'll get along just fine, once suitable arrangements are made."
Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:19 pm

A little over the top I know. the above scenario illustrates one point, player characters at "high level" are usually at the head of an organization. A "high level" player is usually directing troops and playing Napoleon, he has lots of guards, and spends a lot of time counting the numbers for his various businesses.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby steve98052 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:32 pm

BigDogsRunning wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:52 pm
For military gear, you're looking at more like 10-20% per year, assuming you have access to the contractor that produces the parts.
Is that 10% to 20% figure the light use figure I was describing, or the aggregate for all military gear, including things damaged or destroyed in combat, and replacement ammunition and vehicle fuel? In other words, what is the figure for gear that is used on base and not used in live fire exercises?

Does this include replacement due to average amortized depreciation because some things wear out no matter how well they're maintained -- unless they're B-52s, which last forever? To again use the example of my car, its current private sale value is around half what it cost new four years ago. My old car's insurance value was about 15% of its original cost when it was totaled after 19 years of use.
For purely military gear, like Battle Dress, or Plasma/Fusion weapons, unless you've got real connections, like, you're running a planetary military, or a merc outfit and have lots of active duty officer friends, you're going to be buying your spares on the black market, grey at best. . . .
That's a separate issue. If you're a licensed mercenary company, you pay sticker price, but you have a lot of separate costs for keeping your license in good standing. You probably don't want to go too far into gray market, and definitely not black market, according to the laws under which you're licensed. (Of course, if you're on a ticket to overthrow a local government, you're probably breaking its laws, but you're not getting your supplies from them.)

If you're a Merchant with an artillery fetish, it's a different story. Maybe you have a contact with a dirty official in a planetary government who lets you have the occasional "surplus" item, or declares a few choice items damaged in shipment when the Merchant delivers it to the military, and charges you for the damage to the cargo.

However you get it, the cost is inflated. Maybe you pay triple sticker price for it. As long as you don't lose track of the source, you should be able to get spare parts for a similar mark-up. To keep down the bookkeeping, just note the maintenance costs in terms of the price paid, rather than the sticker price.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:27 pm

How much does a planet cost? Some of the population figures for some of the planets are pretty low. So what if the PCs decide to set up base on a low population planet and start trying to develop it? If they are running a planet, they could get military gear when trying to build up a defense force.
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Re: Players and their armor.

Postby BigDogsRunning » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:58 am

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:27 pm
How much does a planet cost? Some of the population figures for some of the planets are pretty low. So what if the PCs decide to set up base on a low population planet and start trying to develop it? If they are running a planet, they could get military gear when trying to build up a defense force.
This is the right way to go about it, although it is playing the long game. The biggest obstacle is attaining legitimacy. If you're a Noble of sufficient rank, you can get Imperial backing, and if you can pay for it, you can likely buy whatever gear you need. If you're starting a corporation, you're going to need an operation of sufficient financial mass to start having clout locally. If you're taking over running a planet just to get military hardware, I would suggest you're working too hard. :D

If what you're after is hardcore, high-tech, military hardware, unless you've got the nod from Imperial authorities, you're going to be shopping grey market at best. In the same way that the Imperium frowns on people, other than themselves, using Nukes, they would frown on other types of military hardware than can threaten Imperial interests.

That pretty much seems like the bottom line on all of this stuff. If you've got Grade A military bang-bang, you're going to attract attention from whoever holds the local monopoly on military force. If there isn't anyone, then you're good to go. You can carve out a little empire and rock on. If you start brushing up against an entrenched power that perceives you as a threat, then you're in trouble.

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