In my previous post I discussed weapons and how unarmed attacks could work in Dragon In Ninth Heaven. This post will discuss armour. Many of the same issues with weapons apply to armour in the D&D game:

  • AC changes based on class role
    • Light +2AC
    • Medium +4AC
    • Heavy +6 to +8
  • The AC of armour increases by 2-5 points in each armour type in the paragon and epic tiers
  • Armour enchantments are expected
  • Characters are expected to have magical armour as they progress, this is built into encounter design and the way attack powers scale

In the Dragon Tiger Gate comics (and other related sources like Heaven Sword, Dragon Sabre, The Four Constables, Hero, Storm Riders, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc.) armour is very rare on characters, and usually cosmetic. In fact, when a character does wear armour, it is usually destroyed mid battle.

So how should this be handed in the game?

In the normal edition of D&D, each class has access to a different set of armour types that provide AC bonuses. The amount of armour is always relative to the fighting style of the class, rather than the actual powers the class has. There is a tendency for strikers to have less armour (than defenders and leaders) and controllers to have none, but this is not a strict rule.

I want to keep this feel in Dragon In Ninth Heaven, but I also don’t want characters to have to wear armour. Armour does not suit the genre at all.

Moving back to class roles, each role requires a different level of AC defence. The solution needs to model this. So I will make the solution to the problem class based rather than kung fu based. This will keep the character class important, and the kung fu style as an interesting flavour element to the system.
A class-based solution limits me to class features, powers/exploits or feats. I don’t see any problem with using a class feature for this – I’ll just take away armour proficiencies and add a class feature that substitutes for it.

The name of this class feature will be something that I’ll have to decide later. A few examples from the genre are ‘iron shirt’, ‘hard chi gung’, ‘internal air’, which are all used to describe the ability to resist damage. Previously I modelled this as damage absorption, but I’m going to stay much closer to the base system this time. For the purposes of this article I’ll just use ‘armour class feature’ rather than confuse the issue any more.

The mechanics of this armour is as follows:

  • Many class will have the armour class feature.
  • This represents the character’s ability to focus their chi to ward off attacks while fighting.
  • Activating armour is a minor action. Characters who are not concentrating cannot defend themselves.
  • Each class will have several different levels of armour they may use. These will be equivalent to the range of armour types in the Player’s Handbook.
  • The armour class feature will increase in power in the Paragon and Epic tiers.
  • Check penalties and movement penalties will still apply for heavy armour types. The character is focusing so much of their chi and attention on defence that it affects their ability to perform other tasks.

Each armour type in the class feature is similar to a stance, although armour is an internal expression of the character’s power and stances will be used as part of an attack power. This needs to have a name so that the character’s current state can be described as ‘Dragon stance, steel <something>”.


Each level of the armour class feature will be listed as an armour type for the character. Like the unarmed weapon class feature, each one will be able to support an enchantment.

These enchantments require a ritual, which is usually going to be special training that a character receives. This should be the same types of training that were mentioned in the weapons article, to keep the setting consistent.

Integration with class powers

Since the armour class feature is going to be integral to each class, some of the class powers should grant bonuses when the character is using an appropriate armour type. Examples are:

  • Defenders may receive a damage bonus to an attack power when using a light armour type
  • Defenders may receive additional movement or defense bonuses when using a defensive power with a heavy armour type
  • Strikers may receive movement bonuses with an attack power when using a light armour type
  • Leaders may receive a bonus to healing powers when using a light armour type

The full extent of this idea may not go very far – only to a few powers for some classes. It is certainly not something that should impact play all the time.

What does everyone think so far?


2 Responses to “Armour”

  1. 1 Fellhand
    September 16, 2009 at 1:02 AM

    definately a great way to work it give the way Chi works. It might be possible to add a “profession” from this, of a scribe or scholar type, who can create seals of purity etc that enhance the armor value of your Chi through paper seals and talismans. It may perhaps be too much complexity for the requirements, but it definately gives the opportunity for some flexibility with armor enchantments etc, and doesn’t require physical armor.

  2. 2 antonyball
    September 16, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    Hi Fellhand,

    That’s a great idea about the paper seals and talismans. I’m considering the classes now, and one of them will be a Taoist Sorcerer. Creating the seals and talismans is perfect for them and I think I’ll add that to the system. Thanks for the neat idea!


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