Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tweaking Pathfinder: Armor affecting initiative

Continuing my series about how to tweak the Pathfinder Game.

What I want to do (my goals)

In some games, in movies, and other representations, you see the typical adventurer wearing light armor for the most part. But in D&D, armor up as high, heavy as you are proficient with. I would like to encourage this type of behavior. I would like to see more fighters in light armor, but also make it interesting for the player to do so.

1e AD&D had an initiative modifier based on your weapons. I also recall seeing it early in during the 4e playtest and in Star Wars Saga (iirc). It makes a lot of sense to me: the shortest armor gets to go first, but has a bigger chance of not being hit.

How to do it?

I thought of a few methods of how to do this. First was imposing a flat penalty based on the weight of the armor: O for none, -2 for light, -4 for medium, -6 for heavy. That was a little too hard and complex.

Next I looked at modifying the system above by lowering by the Base Attack Bonus. So if you wear a bigger armor at low level, you gradually get rid of it. I didn't like that because it was generally a pain to explain.

Finally, I thought of the Armor Check Penalty (ACP). This was a good compromise. There are ways for a player who wants to focus on going first to actually do so.

This makes fighter even better as their armor training ability lowers their ACP and get to go before (on average) a paladin in heavy armor. Also, rogues would be more likely get a sneak attack in before the heavies get to go.

Problem/ What I don't like

This approach is pretty cool in a game focused on non-magical characters - the types common in Warhammer or low-magic settings like Lankhmar or Thieves' World. But in typical Pathfinder settings like Golarion and NeoExodus, such a rule would not really help. The area of effect casters would generally get to kill off mass number of enemies before anything happened, increasing the gap between melee and casters.

I have thought of this and though it is an idea I like, I cannot see it work right in Pathfinder without seriously re-working the system. I could see something like this work better in a system where initiative staggers - such as Arcanis or Savage World.

What do you think? How would you implement such a system?


More thoughts on armor

1 comment:

  1. 1)
    "the shortest armor gets to go first, but has a bigger chance of not being hit."

    This does not compute...

    Were you trying to say: "Just like the shortest weapon gets to go first, but has a bigger chance of not hitting, the lightest armor gets to go first, but has a bigger chance of being hit." ?

    I like the idea of using the Armor Check Penalty. It might be feasible to subtract it (since it is a negative number) from the Initiative Bonus.