Friday, March 5, 2021

OSR: New Armor Rules + Weapons beyond 1d8

This post is another attempt by me to rewrite my Armor System to make it not so burdensome on the Referee, as well as to align it more closely with my ethos of keeping things simple and small.  It makes no sense to limit HP and then give the players 15 extra hit points in the form of their armor.  Plus, the Armor breakage rules were irritating me.  You can find those former rules here.

artist unknown

Basic Weapons:

Come in three varieties-

Quick Weapons do 1d6 damage.  You do not add your attack bonus when calculating damage for a Quick weapon.  A Quick weapon is anything you can hold in one hand.  Example Quick Weapons include daggers, throwing knives, nunchaku, sai, sickles and small war hammers.

Balanced weapons do 1d6+Atk damage.  Balanced weapons can be held in both hands or just one without losing effectiveness.  Example Balance weapons include short or longswords, spears, maces and staves.

weapons do 1d8+STR+Atk damage.  Powerful weapons must be held in both hands and cannot be used with a shield.  They also usually cannot be used in tight corridors without imposing disadvantage.  Example powerful weapons include warhammers, greatswords and axes, lances, pikes or polearms.    

Mid-Tier Weapons:

Players will naturally get stronger as they level up and gain higher attack bonuses.  But as the enemies get more HD and armor, they might need more firepower.  Similarly, the Referee might want to equip his more powerful enemies with weapons that do more than 1d8 damage.

Mid-Tier weapons can do 2d6, 1d10, 1d12 or 1d8+1d6 damage.

Mid-Tier weapons should probably start being introduced around Level 4.  These include things like rifles, muskets, cannons, magic weapons, adamantium blades, relic weapons, etc.

Mid-Tier weapons, while they do more damage, still follow the same qualifications as a Basic Weapons.  A greatsword that is perpetually wreathed in flames is still going to be very hard to use in a narrow tunnel.  

High-Tier Weapons:

High-Tier weapons follow the same principle as Mid-Tier weapons.  They should start to be introduced around Level 7. 

High-Tier weapons can do 2d8, 3d6, 1d20 or 2d10 damage.

High-Tier weapons include all legendary weapons, items forged by superpowered beings, and anything else sufficiently important. 

They still follow the same qualification as Basic weapons, though circumventing these limits should be child's play for anyone worthy or powerful enough to wield such a weapon. 

by Matthew Stewart


Armor reduces all damage by X, as long as that kind of Armor can protect you from that kind of damage.  This damage reduction is your Armor Rating, abbreviated as AR. 

For example, normal, non-magical armor can protect you from blunt/bludgeoning, sharp and force damage.  It can also protect you from thunder and acid damage.  Acid damage reduces the armor's effectiveness by 1 point per die, unless the armor is designed to resist acid or magical.  Normal armor can also protect you from lightning damage, unless it is made of metal, in which case you take +1 lightning damage per die.   

Some kinds of damage, such as psychic, radiant, necrotic ignores armor unless that armor is magical or designed to protect against that kind of damage.

Some types of armor only protect against certain kinds of damage.  These are known as Specialist Armor.  Examples include fire-fighting suits, biological or chemical warfare protective gear, space suits, etc.

Light Armor: Reduces damage from all applicable sources by 2.  Takes up 4 inventory slots. 

Medium Armor: Reduces damage from all applicable sources by 3.  Takes up 5 inventory slots.

Heavy Armor: Reduces damage from all applicable sources by 4.  Takes up 6 inventory slots.

Shields: Reduces damage from all applicable sources by 1.  Takes up 1 inventory slot.  If you have a shield and are forced to save against some kind of attack that sprays out and having a shield would be a benefit in evading that effect, instead of taking half damage on a successful save, you may take no damage. 

Ex: Without a shield- Successful save indicates half damage, failed save indicates full damage.
With a shield- Successful save indicates no damage, failed save indicates half damage. 

This only applies to some things, like say, Dragon's breath, a barrage of quills from a Manticore, a Wizard's heat-vision, etc.  Referee's Discretion on whether this ability can be used.

Shields can also be splintered to reduce the incoming amount of damage by 1d12.  Doing this destroys a shield, so if your shield is indestructible or magical, this might not be an option for you.

Helms: Reduces damage from all applicable sources by 1.  Take up 1 inventory slot.  Also provide a +4 bonus to avoid being knocked unconscious from bumps or blows to the head. 

by Daniel Kang

Special Construction and Materials:

If a piece of Armor is Masterwork, it grants +1 to the damage reduction. 

If a piece of Armor is Adamantine (reinforced with Adamantium), it gives you immunity to critical hits from types of damage the Armor protects against and increases the damage reduction by +1.  For example, if your adamantine breastplate is Mundane, it protects you from cirtical hits that would do sharp, bludgeoning, force or acid damage, but not fire or psychic damage.

Mithril, also called Faerie Steel, is a type of metal alloy created by mixing tin and glass into a shimmering, magically conductive substance.  Mithril naturally channels mana, meaning it counts as magical for purposes of overcoming damage resistances.  They also ignore Ethereal Nature, meaning you can use a Mithril mace to beat up a ghost.  Ethereal creatures can also wield Mithril weapons as if they were solid.

Dragonscale is lighter than steel and much more flexible.  It also grants resistance to the type of dragon that the Dragon's breath weapon produced.  For example, if a Dragon's breath weapon was fire, it grants resistance to fire damage.  If the Dragon instead spat giant balls of stone or steel, the armor might make it impossible for the wearer to be crushed to death by earth or metal.

Feathersmithing is a rare art, usually only practiced in Foreign Parts.  It is the Art where soft materials are imbued with magic to make them much harder than normal.  In such lands, warriors fight in armor made of painted porcelain with paper swords and glass shields.  The Folk are sometimes known to practice such an Art, creating hard armor out of willow bark, lances from green boughs and cuirasses of many hundreds of leaves.

Some Magic Armor: 

Griffon Greaves.  A pair of metal guards for the legs, made of boiled leather and covered in the feathers of a griffon.  By themselves, only grant +1 Armor.  But as an action, the wearer can cause the feathers in the leather to unfurl into a quartet of tiny wings and take flight.  The wings grant the user the ability to fly for 10 minutes.  The user cannot fly if they are wearing heavy armor or have an Armor Rating (AR) of 4 or higher.  Once the fly time is expended, the feathery wings meld back with the greaves and the user must wait until the next sunrise to fly again.

Brimstone Helm.  A Helmet that is made of burnished bronze, with strips of inlaid brass, copper and red gold.  It is also topped with a bright white feather.  While wearing this helm, the wearer can give themselves resistance to fire damage and/or immunity to inhaled poisons 1/Day.  Both can be activated at once or independently of each other, but each can only be used once daily.

Driftwood Shield: A Shield that floats like a cork and gives any creature holding onto it a +4 bonus to stay afloat or above water.  It can support one Medium sized creature or two Small creatures.  Large creatures get only a +2 bonus from the shield and so on.  The Shield can also, 1/Day, fire a bolt of light 100' into the sky.  This bolt of light does no damage and can be seen by any creature within a mile.  It burns in the air for 1d6+1 minutes before going out.

Assassin's Armor: A set of Light Armor that, 1/Day, allows the user to alter his appearance to look like any other creature the user has seen or can imagine.  The armor also changes the user's voice, smell and magical aura to match the creature they have been disguised as.  This illusion lasts for 1 hour, after which the armor automatically changes back, revealing the user's original form.

Sanctuary: A shield of silver, polished to a mirror sheen.  Any creature who looks into the shield will see it acts as a mirror, but they cannot see their own reflection in it.  This is because it is not a mirror, but an entrance to a tiny pocket dimension.  Creatures can climb through the shield and walk around in the environment reflected in the shield.  Note that only creatures with souls can enter the shield.  Non-magical objects or things without souls cannot enter the shield.  This  The only exception to this is non-magical clothing (that doesn't count as Armor).

Corpsebane Plate: A breastplate made of iron adorned with gold filigree, which depicts dozens of tiny, wire warriors fighting against unseen monsters.  Included among these warriors are 1d20+4 tiny golden archers.  As an action, the wearer of the breasplate can command one of the archers to fire.  The archer will then loose his arrow, which will fly unerringly and strike any creature within 100', doing 1d6 radiant damage.  If this creature is an Undead, it takes an additional +1d6 radiant damage.  Once all the arrows are loosed, the breastplate only functions as magical armor.  Secretly, an act of heroism on behalf of the wearer will cause 1d4+1 of the archers to gain new arrows.  If no such actions are taken, on the other hand, the archers will regain their archers in 1d20+6 years.

Bracers of Submission: A pair of bracers that grant +1 Armor.  When a creature puts these one, they are compelled to approach the creature they most respect (among those visible to them) and swear allegiance to that person.  That creature, if he accepts the allegiance of the wearer, henceforth becomes the wearer's Master.  Whenever the Master gives an order, the wearer must succeed on a save to disobey.  But if the Master commands the wearer to do something and the wearer does it, the wearer may add whatever of the Master's ability score modifiers most appropriate to the current situation to their roll.  For example, if ordered to attack a creature, the wearer may add their Master's STR bonus to their 1d20 roll.

The wearer may not remove the bracers unless the Master permits them to.  Should the Bracers be removed from the current wearer or the current wearer or Master dies, the pact is immediately dissolved.  In the latter case, the Bracers fall off. 

Helm of Hatred: A scowling helm of black iron that is heavy and burdensome, covering the wearer's face behind a mask of metal.  Whenever creatures first see the helm, they must save.  On a failed save, the creatures become disgusted by the creature wearing the helm.  Depending on the context, their next actions may vary.  If at a dinner party, they may give it venomous stares, but if in combat, any fighters not occupied with a more important threat will seek to destroy the creature wearing the helm.  Note that even on a successful save, creatures will still be subtly repulsed by the helm and will seek to avoid it and the wearer, for as long as they have it on.  This effect can be prevented by hiding the helm, but anyone who knows where the helm is hidden will still feel a vague discontent.

Any creature who wears the Helm of Hatred has their AR increased by +2 and gains immunity to death effects, automatically passing any save or die effects, unless the effect is from something that a magical helm that protect you from, such as plummeting down a three hundred foot chasm or being crushed by a rockslide.  

artist unknown


  1. How available is armour? Because even light armour + helmet and shield gives you DR 4, which means basically 2/3 of basic weapon attacks will deal no damage to you. With heavy armour + helmet and shield, that's DR 6, which makes you very hard to harm with basic weapons.

    Or is that countered by higher damage bonuses? Or automatic hits?

    1. Armor is pretty common, but it is countered by my damage system. You see, unless you are using a Quick weapon, players automatically add their Attack bonus to a d20 roll made to harm an enemy, with Attack being a combined damage/to-hit bonus.

      As such, most players will start dealing 1d6+1 damage on a hit at level 1, and these bonuses increases gradually with level. Fighters, for instance, have an attack bonus that increases by +1 per level, meaning even with armor they can still make mincemeat of most monsters.