Tuesday, April 12, 2011

[From A to Z in Kalamar] Lamellar Armor

Can you tell that I pick the most catching words in the index of the KoK campaign sourcebook? I have once again missed a day, but hopefully this will be of some interest.

In a sidebar of the KoK sourcebook we can read about lamellar amor. It's the kind of stuff you usually see in sourcebooks, right? More classes, monsters, equipment and spells. Using all of this is another kettle of fish, entirely.

I once ran a 3rd ed campaign. It started when the game was fairly new, and it ran for something like five years. Originally I had intended it to be longer, but the group became geographically dispersed and the game fizzled. In that game I allowed everything imaginable. We had weird spells, weird items and god knows what. I totally lost any sense of control of where the feel of the game was heading, and I knew nothing of how to make it right. Doing the right thing from the beginning would have helped, I guess. But what?

Now I see all this options as something of a hindrance. Considering how common the "rules light" meme is in the OSR parts of the web, I guess I'm not alone. I'm not against the idea of new stuff, but it has to somehow reinforce the setting.

So, what use are a thing like lamellar armor? Well, I think one way to make a secondary world, like a game world, come alive is to make it stand out. To have all the magicians cast spells from the same PHB spell lists, and to have the all monsters be the same old, same old from the MM, it will feel just like any other game world. While you can go as far as Talislanta, or Glorantha, or Tekumel, I think there might be a middle ground.

Take some of that crunch, like special classes or a odd piece of equipment that might have the same game stats like any other, and make it culturally significant.

Let's say our bold hero, having slain a hobgoblin chief, wanders into Bet Rogala i Pekal wearing the armor of his fallen enemy. Suddenly everyone's attitude towards him seem different, and suddenly people start to expect him to behave in a special way. Maybe they suddenly want him to take part in some dangerous task, or religious ritual? What if that kind of armor is something only the sacred chief, bound to be sacrificed to the gods after the campaign or war, is supposed to be wearing. Suppose that armor means something else, and quite significant as well, to some other culture the characters might encounter.

In that way even a suit or lamellar armor might be more than just another piece of "kewl power" from the latest sourcebook to plunder for maximum powergameing potential. Maybe it can be that as well...

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