Musings on Armor

I’m not entirely satisfied with how Armor works in Dragons at Dawn.


Here’s how it works: you have an Armor Class, which gets bigger the more armor you have. If you take a hit, roll an Armor Save, rolling 2d6 under your Armor Class. Success negates all the damage. Dragons at Dawn characters are fragile, with few hit points, so a high AC is the main way of ensuring survivability.


The problem with that is that it’s boring. You have rounds where literally nothing happens: there is a roll to hit, and a roll to save, so that’s 2 chances for the attack to fizzle. It’s more interesting if each round sees some change to the game-state, some momentum or wearing down of the participants.


Some other Armor Systems:


In typical D&D, armor makes you harder to hit, applying a penalty to the attack roll. This is reduced handling time, (I hit AC 5…) but requires determining what ‘baseline’ AC is. Is it no armor? Is it light armor and attacking an unarmored foe essentially gives a bonus?


In some systems, armor subtracts from damage (Dungeon World, for one). Of course, this can mean that a static armor can make swarms of small threats negligible (which I certainly don’t want), and be irrelevant against larger attacks (which again, is not interesting.)


Burning Wheel also has an Armor roll type system, but there is a chance of Armor degrading. (Fighting characters with Superior Quality armor can be extremely frustrating, since it results in very slow combats.) Note that D at D has an option for Armor degrading on certain rolls.


Often seen in die pool systems, is the Soak roll, where degree of success subtracts from damage taken. A high enough soak roll can reduce all the damage.


How does this come back to Dragons at Dawn? The solution is probably to roll Armor Class into the to-hit roll (and I wonder if Gary and his crew did this for the exact same reason), or making the margin of success of the Armor Save have more effect: a really low roll is no damage, a moderate roll is half damage, a narrow roll is quarter damage, and armor saves in general roll on better numbers to compensate.


3 thoughts on “Musings on Armor

  1. buzz says:

    When we were playing on Saturday, I kept thinking that maybe the quality of the attack should somehow affect the Armor save. Perhaps the margin of victory on the attack affects the Armor save in some way, or else it becomes an opposed roll, and the victor is the one who makes their roll by the largest margin.

  2. Abram says:

    Thought for the half/negate one: if you roll under armor save, check if odd or even. If even, no damage. If odd, half damage, 1 minimum.

    That way you don’t need different tables or roll-under w/ margin of success.

    I’m not a fan of combining armor save and roll if keeping it on 2d6 – it’s a pretty small bell curve.

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