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JasRonq

Armourless fighting

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In regards to my single player RPG: I want to allow the player to choose between wearing armour or not wearing it. They should be balanced and valid choices. Originally I was thinking that if you wear armour, the range of motion restrictions and weight would slow you down such that you can absorb blows but you can't dodge them as easily as without armour. The damage avoidance and damage absorption is then balanced against each other can the player is left free to choose. A problem has occurred to me that needs addressing. What about arrows? They fly too fast to be dodged without magic to slow them down. (Dodging in my game is manual and not just a stat based % chance and so relies on player reaction times) But if you need magic to deal with those, then not wearing armour can only be a magic wielding character possibility, which I don't want. Even with balancing it with armour being pierced by arrows too that just makes both choices vulnerable to arrows... Any ideas for a mechanic to avoid this issue without the player having to constantly cast a slow missiles spell?

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How about slowing down the arrows just enough so that player can barely dodge them if s/he's quick about it? I remember Oblivion doing just that (you can strafe to avoid incoming projectiles) and it worked fine. Maybe not the most realistic solution, but no more far-fetched than, say, bullet time. Well, maybe you can introduce arrow time? :)

Also, from what I understand, the movement restrictions from wearing heavy armor are extremely overrated in modern games and media. Look into reports of modern reconstructions for details if you're interested. Apparently, it's possible to do cartwheels while wearing plate.

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Coming from a realism viewpoint, I would think if you were facing an opponent who is utilizing a bow (or similar device to shoot arrows) you would most likely want to be wearing armour. The alternative would be to use the increased agility obtained from not wearing armour to move quickly from cover to cover.

To make this work you could have the enemy spend a larger amount of time acquiring their target (so they don't just hit you as soon as you become visible), or that they waste energy if they just keep the bow's string held back (more realistic considering the strength it took to pull some long-bows).

Either that or you could slow down the arrows as a previous poster mentioned. It's an easier method to implement if not that realistic. In the real-world, the ability of arrows/bullets to penetrate armour became to great and a soldier would have required incredibly heavy armour to avoid damage. Given that the armour was quite expensive, it was easier to send soldiers out without it especially because you'd get similar results.

In the end, remember all you have to do is make the player "think" something is realistic, it doesn't have to be a perfect simulation.

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Something about wearing armour not being as restrictive as people think.. yes, I am aware of that and have seen vids on youtube of it. The reason for the way I have described i is mostly wanting to allow the freedom to not wear armour while not penalizing the player. To do that I need to find some way to balance the two. Got a better way to balance the two options besides agility?

I think dodging the arrow with unrealistically slow flight speeds is probably the best way to achieve balance while not being to obtrusive to realism.

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I don't think you can really make arrows work without some sort of cover mechanic, and environments suitable for flanking.

In the open at moderate range, no amount of agility or amour will save you from a crack archer - even a mid-size bow can punch through steel plate, and even an unencumbered man can't close fast enough to take the archer down.

The equalizer is generally numbers: because of the difference in training time/cost, you can afford to foot tens of foot soldiers for every archer. You can train a man to stand in line-of-battle and hack his opponent apart with a sword/axe in half a day, but for an archer to be effective he needs years of training.

Combine superior numbers of melee fighters with frequent cover and no choke points for the archer to exploit, and you have the makings of a fair fight.

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Hi,

A few historical precisions regarding armor and arrows during Middle Age in Europa.

During Middle Age, bowmen had two kinds of arrows:
- large blades for soft targets (to make large wounds).
- thick spearhead blade for armor piercing.
Later these arrows disappeared with the arbalete which had more impact and could pierce armor.

Though, noble men were trained to wear armor plate of mean weight of 80-90 kg (about 20 kg for the helmet only - 14th to 15th century), they could not do cartwheels. When an exhausted knight had falled down, he could not stand back up on his own: he needed help.
Some robbers could kill a fallen knight with a needle knife by just inserting the balde between two plates: the knight could not defend himself(this kind of knife was also called a Misericorde).

Before the 14th century, chainmail was used.

My 2 cents.
Red.

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Considering that's quite to the contrary of sources I've read thus far, Red, do you have a source to reference for this? I find it hard to imagine a man intending to swing a sword about, half-sword, and grapple his foe is going to wear 90kg of armour. More to the point even than that, if such armour is only for those on horses, I find it insane to suggest that they would waste so much metal protecting a man sitting on a horse's back when a horse's legs, especially under such a load, could be broken leaving such a man laying on the ground like an over turned turtle. No the entire image, no matter the situation or reason, looks to ridiculous.
The truth about plate armour.
James, Lawrence (2003). Warrior Race: A History of the British at War. St. Martin's Press. pp. 119. ISBN 0312307373. for the sentence about it weighing 20kg.

"They call it "transitional mail" which was the heaviest of all the armors at about 60 lbs. It's a combination of both chain and plate mail." Quote from the bottom of the page here. Commentary by L.A. Long



Swiftcoder, what do you suggest when it is the player who is against the archer and has no pals at his back (or doesn't wish to risk being the unlucky man to take the shot)?

[Edited by - JasRonq on March 4, 2010 3:33:57 AM]

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@JasRonQ:

Do your sources mention the time period they tried to recreate ? Armor style and change did vary during the centuries in Europa:

- Antiquity: made of felt, leather and/or bronze (depends on the period and the area - roman armor, macedonian armor, ...)
- High Middle Age (8th to 11th century): Metal pieces (bronze or iron) sewed on thick fabric reinforced by leather. They are light: you can cartweel your heart's content with this (6 gp to you my lord and that's a bargain).
- 12th to 13th century: chainmail was all the rage then. It resisted to arrows, lances and swords but did not protect againts maces, flails or other morningstars (yeah, yeah, but imagine the time spent to make all those rings: 8 gp is a good price, I tell you).
- 14th to 15th century: transition from chainmail to the full plate armor. Plate armor was definitely used during the 15th century. With the advent of black powder in the 16th century, plate mail armor was abandoned.

Note that there are different breeds of horses. Knights in full plate armor used heavier breeds (more akin to the percheron). The legs of these horses won't break with such a 'light' weight.

I have a few books on military history (references are at home I you are interested, I will look into it - I do not know if they have an equivalent in England - one good source for a start is the Medieval Encyclopedia of Mr Viollet le Duc). There are also recent reconstitutions that have been broadcasted on TV on different time periods (mostly on ARTE channel). These vary between mildly interesting (building a trebuchet to break a wall - no period context) to highly interesting and detailed.

Ok, enough talking: what can I do for you sir knight ? I have a nice piece of armor enchanted by the great Merlin himself: 2000 gp ! It is a pity such a low price for this kind of quality, eh ?

Ghostly yours,
Red.

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Original post by JasRonq
I want to allow the player to choose between wearing armour or not wearing it. They should be balanced and valid choices. Originally I was thinking that if you wear armour, the range of motion restrictions and weight would slow you down such that you can absorb blows but you can't dodge them as easily as without armour. The damage avoidance and damage absorption is then balanced against each other can the player is left free to choose.


Don't overbalance things, or decisions become unimportant. All too often I find the decision to wear armour or not in RPG games is little more than a cosmetic choice - often the advantages and penalties are too small to be of any real significance.

What if you left arrows as they are? Sure, unarmoured characters might get murdered if they charge blindly into melee with an archer. That is the price they pay for being stupid.

Armour is expensive, somewhat encumbering, and requires maintenance. But it gives you protection. If you choose to forgo that protection, then you will have to adapt your playstyle accordingly. No more bumrushing archers across open ground: you'll now have to use cover, stealth, misdirection, magic, or archery to get the drop on your enemies.

Of course there will be times when you're caught in the open and using tricks like stealth etc. will be difficult or even impossible. Tweaking the archer's accuracy characteristics could go some way towards limiting their damage. It may be that if you're far enough away, and moving quickly enough, they can't shoot accurately enough to take you out.

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Original post by JasRonq
Swiftcoder, what do you suggest when it is the player who is against the archer and has no pals at his back (or doesn't wish to risk being the unlucky man to take the shot)?
It is the same game of stealth - flit from cover to cover, and try to flank the archer to catch him unawares at close range.

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I'd like to echo sandman about balancing. If you have absorption and avoidance, and they are totally balanced, then the choice is meaningless. It's just an aesthetic choice. I think it would be more interesting to make the choice about what play style players want to use.

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Some historians got the weight of armor wrong because they weighed either ornamental pieces or armor from the age after gunpowder was introduced.

They made the same mistake with swords as well.

Plate armor was really an awesome invention at it's peak. Later versions were even relatively resistant to piercing from arrows. The problem with armor is that it isn't balanced. If you had the money you would want to wear it unless you are dealing with a very specific situation where armor is not beneficial like swimming or something.

Plus if you really wanted realism you would have lines of horses attacking an enemy.

IMO you really should just focus on the game aspect. You have ranged attacks, magic and arrow. How are they different? How can players defend themselves against those attacks?

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Original post by JasRonq
Any ideas for a mechanic to avoid this issue without the player having to constantly cast a slow missiles spell?

Make the arrows slow/weak/costly/whatever enough to make the spell optional. In real life, the only thing keeping people from wearing armor is expense. Full plate armor made every weapon smaller than a ballista noticeably less lethal (until the advent of firearms), while still letting you run, stand up without help, and fight at basically the same speed. But since you're making a game, the balance can be whatever you want, right?

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In the absence of fatigue or other stats that might be impacted by the mass of the armor, could you use the armor class as a lockout for certain moves, making them less feasible?

For instance, have an "aimed shot" move that requires your guy to stand perfectly still and line up an awesomely accurate and powerful attack. If you've got heavy armor on, you can take that chance of being hit and land the killer blow, but in lighter or no armor, the reward is seldom worth the risk, since the moment you break cover and start the move, you're a pincushion. Similarly, a "charge" move that allows you to rapidly dash across a short distance to close with an enemy might be a useful 5-meter lunge for an unarmored character, but just let a heavily armored guy go about one meter and stop.

So mobility is affected both by your ability to move and your need to keep moving, giving a different flavor to each style without necessarily making one or the other hard to kill in any absolute sense.

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Original post by Sandman
Don't overbalance things, or decisions become unimportant. All too often I find the decision to wear armour or not in RPG games is little more than a cosmetic choice - often the advantages and penalties are too small to be of any real significance.

What if you left arrows as they are? Sure, unarmoured characters might get murdered if they charge blindly into melee with an archer. That is the price they pay for being stupid.

Armour is expensive, somewhat encumbering, and requires maintenance. But it gives you protection. If you choose to forgo that protection, then you will have to adapt your playstyle accordingly. No more bumrushing archers across open ground: you'll now have to use cover, stealth, misdirection, magic, or archery to get the drop on your enemies.

Of course there will be times when you're caught in the open and using tricks like stealth etc. will be difficult or even impossible. Tweaking the archer's accuracy characteristics could go some way towards limiting their damage. It may be that if you're far enough away, and moving quickly enough, they can't shoot accurately enough to take you out.

First off, it's totally impossible to overbalance something. It's either balanced or it's not. There is no gray area with balance. Imagine walking on a tightrope. You're either balanced and manage to walk across it, or you're not, and you fall. You can't be "overbalanced" or "underbalanced" in this situation. If you are having difficulty making it across but you still make it, then you're still balanced, you just had moments of imbalance where you had lost balance but then regained it.

Balance is 100% or 0%.

Secondly, you mention the insignificance of armor that has small advantages/disadvantages... Well this has little to do with balance at all. It has more to do with just how significant you want armor to be. If armor is nearly insignificant it won't factor into balance at all. Like you said, it's like wearing something that is purely cosmetic. This isn't for lack of balance, it's for lack of making armor significant.

If arrows are devastating to anyone who doesn't wear armor, it would be stupid to not wear armor. Not just stupid to charge at an archer when you're a melee based fighter, but stupid to even walk around anywhere without being heavily protected by armor. You're seeming to assume that archers are just going to defend and not go on the offensive.

When given the choice between ranged and melee, why would anyone choose melee? The closer anyone gets to the ranged fighter, the more accurate the ranged fighter's attacks become. So you become even more powerful in melee than when you're ranged. Especially if you're capable of firing off several arrows in a matter of seconds.

1. Melee guy running at you with no armor = dead meat
2. Melee guy coming (slowly) at you with heavy armor = you can easily outrun them anyway

So why would anyone want to wear armor and fight melee style in this situation?

It's incredibly hard to balance all of these different fighting styles so that one way doesn't have a distinct advantage. Heavy realism in combat with a wide array of weapon/armor choices means you're going to end up with people picking the most efficient/best weapon and armor. You have to break realism in order to properly balance things or else you're doomed. Not to mention you want magic, which is totally unrealistic, but you want it to fit in this realistic combat environment.

If you really made this game realistic, I'd just get a character with some light armor who has a half dozen crossbows strapped to my body and I'd just pull one off and fire it right into a guy's chest whenever I needed to. I would have fast movement speed due to my light armor and I'd have a powerful ranged weapon with multiple shots available. Any unarmored person would be toast no matter what their range, and it wouldn't even require much accuracy on my part since I just point and pull a trigger. My arrows would tear through armored opponents at close range, which means all melee classes would get destroyed.

There could be a situation where I am outnumbered and used up all 6 shots with more enemies approaching, but they'd have to be faster than me to catch me as I ran off somewhere to reload.

I know this is sort of a silly notion, but you've got to think about this stuff when you're making things so realistic. Balancing this stuff becomes 100x as hard when you have to keep everything realistic.

It's a noble effort but in the end I just don't think you can balance everything without bending the rules a bit.

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This may come as a surprise, Sandman, but my intent is for armour and other garb to be a wholly aesthetic choice. Its not possible to get to that degree without being a bit silly in how I treat either armour or unarmoured but I can get close. It is unimportant here in regards to how arrows can be defended against by unarmoured fighters but armour can be enchanted and otherwise upgraded to add distinctions and advantages. I just don't want to force people into ugly armour because its the best in the game. Likewise I don't want to force people into armour at all because not wearing it is absurd. But balancing these choices doesn't mean they are equal. Not wearing armour makes the characters speed and therefor agility much higher than without, but since dodging, blocking, moving around your opponent, and attacking are all manually done and have no associated stats, they are entirely based on player skill. Like giving a player a sniping rifle over a shotgun, they must have the skill to but it to good use, otherwise its a hindrance, not an advantage.
Wearing armour then allows players to absorb blows instead of trying to block or avoid them, either because they have bad reaction times, are unskilled with that aspect of the game, or are too lazy to be bothered trying that hard.


In any case, I have heard some good suggestions in here.
Those that do not wear armour will have to:
•Employ magic,
•stealth, or
•ranged weapons.

There can also be he factor that moves like charge or burst of speed or acrobatic moves increase abilities based in part on character weight meaning lower weight not only means less hindrance, but increased bonus from the magic.

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In truth I think you may be right. My combat uses no health but instead in melee at least you much strike an opening to land a killing blow and you can block and dodge. With an arrow, it passes through armour such that what would be a glancing blow is still potentially deadly and the speed is too high to dodge or block. If a hit is all or nothing though, how do I lower the power of the archer?

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You can lower the chance for arrows to pierce
Make shots more inaccurate
Have different properties for different parts of armor(aka shooting feet would have higher chance to penetrate then torso due to distribution of armor)
And my favorite calculate the surface angle and based on that angle make the chance higher or lower(for example a perpendicular shot would have 90% chance while at 20 only 10%)

[Edited by - adrix89 on March 5, 2010 7:03:32 AM]

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In the open at moderate range, no amount of agility or amour will save you from a crack archer

Not necessarily. An arrow flies at -- depending on bow strength and arrow weight -- 45-80 meters per second. That leaves you about half a second, give or take some, to dodge it at moderate range. That isn't an awful lot, but it's nevertheless quite possible.

Under normal conditions, using a quiver and such, it takes about 4 seconds to fire another arrow after the first, assuming you actually want to hit something, and not just fire arrows into the field. You may achieve 3 seconds if you're trained in rapid shooting, if the target is not moving, and if you don't need to draw from a quiver, in a quiet environment.
But this doesn't mean you hit an angry running man in a life or death situation, or you hit any important part for that matter.
Archers not trained in speed shooting (the vast majority) probably take something much closer to 6-8 seconds between shots.

A relatively unencumbered man can sprint 40-50 meters in about 5 seconds. Trained sprinters actually come close to 4 seconds, and if you know your life depends on it, I figure you're likely to get close to that as well. As in that quote from "El Dorado", nothing makes a man sober faster than a bunch of angry indians :-)

So, what it boils down to is having to dodge one arrow, possibly two, before arriving at the archer (~3 seconds if you're maybe 30 meters or so away). With any luck, if the archer is not a top world class speed shooter, you get to strike the bow aside before the second shot is fired -- at which point the archer is in serious trouble. Most likely this would end in a "sword pwns dagger" experience, if the archer has a dagger at all.

On a different note, there is an interesting "knight versus archer" movie from BBC history channel (I forgot the title, unluckily), in which they're shooting allegely authentic plate armour in a controlled environment. The result was that for a bodkin arrow to go through plate and padding, so the wearer is actually injured (other than a slight bruise), the archer would have to be no farther away than 30 meters. Which basically means, if the other guy happnes to be on a horse and you don't hit him in the eye with the first shot, you're kind of fucked, because he'll just ride you and anyone near you down before you have a chance to get the next arrow knocked.

Having said that, archers were historically rarely if ever used in that one versus one manner, since they make little sense that way. Usually, large groups of archers would send volley after volley at long range (over 200 meters), hoping a few of their (unaimed) arrows would eventually hit someone, and would hit them in a spot not covered by heavy armour. If you fire enough arrows, that will happen, too. This way, you decimate the enemy a long time before they can even think about a charge.

Quote:
- thick spearhead blade for armor piercing.
You probably mean the right thing (bodkin arrow heads) but you worded it a bit wrong. Those arrow heads were not thick, but indeed very slim, so they would concentrate all energy on a very small area.

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Original post by samoth
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In the open at moderate range, no amount of agility or amour will save you from a crack archer
So, what it boils down to is having to dodge one arrow, possibly two, before arriving at the archer (~3 seconds if you're maybe 30 meters or so away).
You are correct, but you missed my broader point in the one-on-one scenario on open ground.

The archer doesn't need to shoot at you from 30-40 metres away, since you can't do a thing to him until you close. Instead, he waits till you are 5 metres away, at which point even a passable archer isn't likely to miss (you are moving too fast to dodge, won't have time to dodge anyway, and need to be be running straight at the archer), and the arrow will certainly punch through the armour at such close range.

There is also the issue that archers tended to carry melee weapons too - if not a sword, then a long (and lethal) hunting knife. If the archer misses at 40 metres and you charge, he is going to switch to melee rather than loading another arrow.

Or, you know, just run away, especially if you are wearing full plate - while someone armoured may be able to run as fast, they are going to tire of that pace a lot faster than someone unencumbered.
Quote:
Which basically means, if the other guy happnes to be on a horse and you don't hit him in the eye with the first shot, you're kind of fucked, because he'll just ride you and anyone near you down before you have a chance to get the next arrow knocked.
Mounted knights changes things a bit, because they close a lot faster, and they can just ride you down. Although, to be honest, I would aim for the horse - half a ton of thrashing animal is considerably more lethal than my arrows.

However, a bigger issue in the historical period we are discussing is that archers didn't kill knights. Archers were generally commoners or mercenaries, whereas knights were aristocrats who could be ransomed - enemy knight alive is worth considerably more than friendly archer...

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In all this though there is a passable balance in that this is a stand off. At 40 meters the archer may not fire hoping to wait until the range is more in his favor, knowing he may not get a second arrow off. The swordsman though is unlikely the charge him until the archer looses the arrow, afraid of closing to that lethal 5 meters and being shot dead.

At the long range, not only is the archer more likely to miss, and going to take longer to aim, but he will also be less likely to penetrate as his arrow loses power.

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