Suggestions for lightly armored campaign


Advice


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Any campaign featuring pirate heroes, or socialites, or swashbucklers, or indeed circus carnies means a fighter in full plate will... stand out.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

Do nothing - meaning simply discouraging the players from picking up (and building for) heavy armor? As this limits the AC to 15 plus proficiency instead of the 16 otherwise achievable, might this disfavor some classes? Or simply let players fall into the trap of building their characters to use heavy armor only to see few opportunities to use it?

Related question: do you feel PF2 distinguishes heavy armor sufficiently for it to be worthwhile? Let's discuss:
https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42vcm?Enough-benefits-from-heavy-armor

Modify the rules for the campaign -

Somehow enable players to build heavy armor users without the appearance and description of it? That is, reskin the split mails and plate mails to somehow look and sound "lighter", but otherwise keep stats as-is?

Or grant bonuses to light and medium armor to pick up the slack, essentially obsoleting heavy armors (if players see no reason to use them, problem is solved).

Or what?

I am aware support for light-armor campaigns have been supplied for previous editions, but I'm asking specifically about PF2 here. Thanks


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I think mechanically heavy armour has far less of the baggage that it used to have. Essentially if you are strong enough, it isnt noisy or cumbersome. From that point of view, as the mechanics dont need changing I'd opt to merely change the cosmetics. Which isn't all that hard when you consider that real life privateers have been known to wear breastplate, that a military man in embellished armour works in social settings and the mysterious circus strongman is a staple carnie trope.


Well, a breastplate isn't heavy armor.

And every circus strongman I've ever seen has worn a wrestler's outfit (or the old-school equivalent thereof), which barely qualifies as light armor.

I might add that I'm thinking ahead about the Extinction Curse AP :)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Hopefully the player guide to that will help manage expectations. Even then in a fantasy setting I could see a circus troupe advertising "the iron golem, strongest man in all Absalom, no one knows what he looks like behind the mask."


Yeah, obviously Paizo has a strong incentive to allow every charbuild in every AP.

But for my home game, I don't have to be so generous :)

Meaning it would still be interesting to hear y'all reason how much of a problem it would be to discourage PCs dependent on heavy armor, and your suggested solutions.

Cheers


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

In general I'm not pro restricting character choices outside of those that have an impact on roleplaying (some character personalities or goals may be untenable within a group.) Aesthetically I also dont see full plate being more out of place than chain in a circus setting, but when I conjure up the idea of a circus in my head garbed in a sort of armour no matter how light doesn't come up.

I'd say best option is to just outright ban it. Allowing it but being hyper restrictive about it after is just a dick move. It sounds like you have a group that is moderately experienced, so with the knowledge up front they should be able to build around it. Expect more rogues and monks than you might of otherwise, but nothing effecting things post char gen.


Do they have to use there armor in their act? If your strong man is your fighter, let's say, why doesn't he only use his armor adventuring and the rest of the time it's in his trailer? I've got my eye on that adventure path as well but to me this sort of thing is more about character background than what fits in with the circus. It would be odd having weapons and lockpick tools on your rogue clown but again he is not likely to be wearing those things 'on the' job but his character background may/should explain why he has them at all. My 2 cents.


If you're really that worried about the aesthetics, I'd just let people refluff.


I was just imagining that if Extinction Curse really is about the heroes being circus performers, their adventuring wouldn't always be neatly separated from their "day job".

Instead I imagine and expect there to be plenty of on-circus action, where heroes don't have the luxury of 5 minute warnings to change into full plate.

Plus, nothing says "circus performer" as a fully armored warrior.

Not really, I'm kidding. In fact, few things would kill off the circus atmosphere quicker than heroes being assumed to just be regular D&D murderhobos.

Which made me interested in exploring avenues for ligher-armored campaigns. I'm sure the question must have come up before, even though most of the replies I've gotten sofar seems surprised by the notion.

I mean, it's not like I'm suggesting something extraordinarily rare. I just want to explore my options.

Does such a campaign need rules tweaks? In short, would PF2 be made so much more difficult if players were asked to create characters that aren't reliant on heavy armor that it needs fixing?

If yes, what would those fixes be. Reskinning, yes, obviously, but what about actual rules tweaks?

Things like "increase the max dex limit by one", for instance, to make up for the 1 AC shortfall. Would that do more good than harm, or vice versa?

Should any rules massaging focus on medium armors, maybe. (Thinking that a solution that favors light and medium armor alike, usually ends up with everybody in light armor)

I don't have the correct answer here. Still hoping for a more rules-related discussion, though :)

PS. I should probably add that by mid- to high level, I am fully aboard the idea that any character could solve any issues by better gear or magic. Even if the rules help only teir 1 characters I still need them rules, though.

Besides, if the tweaks make players change their builds, they won't suddenly change into heavy armor mid-campaign. I mean, if you roll up a Rogue, for instance, you will want to stick with light armor all the way. I just mean that any rule that impacts 1st level characters likely impacts them at level 10 and level 20 as well.


No, you shouldn't need to tweak mechanic. Only 2 classes in the game get heavy armor anyway. Also, maybe wait until we have the AP before trying to fix it?


Absolutely.

All I wanted to do was have a think about:

if I want "carnie" characters, that is, characters who don't rush to pull on heavy plate even when danger is afoot, yet have a campaign that doesn't penalize champions or fighters*, do I need to tweak the game rules in anyway?

*) or at least fighters - I can't see highly moral characters with a strict code working at a circus.

That is, is there anyway to maintain the game's equilibrium w.r.t heavy armor dependent classes even in a campaign where heavy armor exists but the heroes choose to not wear it?

Sure I could wait until Jan 26... but then I would have the AP and be busy with reading that. Here and now I have nothing better to do than frequent the Paizo forums :)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Ban heavy armour. Thats it. Anything else is just handing out free power to medium/light armour builds.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Zapp wrote:

Absolutely.

*) or at least fighters - I can't see highly moral characters with a strict code working at a circus.

Also you have read the new champion right? There are plenty of room for a NG or CG Champions within a circus. I mean Shelyn?


Yeah I'd just tell your players they are better off playing barbarians or monks. They can be quite tanky without relying on heavy armor.


The few classes in the game which get heavy armor also happen to get the same degree of proficiency in all the other defense options, so if you just go with "for thematic reasons, don't play a character that uses heavy armor in this campaign" the player isn't "losing" anything - so there's no need to compensate them with something else.


Malk_Content wrote:
Ban heavy armour. Thats it. Anything else is just handing out free power to medium/light armour builds.

Even if not very exciting, at least your reply is on-topic. Thank you. As you can read below, I can imagine there being better ways (=that compensates heavy armor users in ways that doesn't benefit every light armor user equally).

Of course, the baseline question that I still don't think I've gotten a comprehensive rely to is: does the fighter class become less desirable/powerful if heavy armor is restricted?


thenobledrake wrote:
The few classes in the game which get heavy armor also happen to get the same degree of proficiency in all the other defense options, so if you just go with "for thematic reasons, don't play a character that uses heavy armor in this campaign" the player isn't "losing" anything - so there's no need to compensate them with something else.

Well, historically fighter classes were expected to don heavy armor, and if that wasn't an option, the impression was they were losing out.

As opposed to classes which already from the start were designed with lighter armor in mind.

With this in mind, it feels fairly natural to discuss ways to compensate for the loss of heavy armor.

Ideally without just making light armor better (since that benefits the classes that didn't suffer a loss as well).


"historically" is irrelevant.

What is relevant is how the PF2 rules work - and in those rules there is nothing lost to be compensated for.

Specifically because all armor is created equal, assuming you place your ability scores appropriately which is not at all difficult to do.

What is lost isn't "higher AC" it's "higher AC at the cost of Speed penalty and 1 more bulk spent towards wearing your armor." so it's already compensated for by default - you don't come out actually worse off at all.

And while I've left the Bulwark trait out of the mix, I did so for reasons: you have to pay yet another bulk to get it, and if you are really worried about your Reflex saves being low without it just put points into your Dex like you already should be doing as part of using lighter armor.

If you change anything at all, you are "just making light armor better" which you say isn't ideal.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

A portion of fighter builds become less good with heavy armour restriction. Archer builds and switch hitters (I.e DeX or split focus) wont suffer.


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Tell your players what the concept of the campaign is, and trust them to make characters that fit the brief. Boom, job done and you didn't have to lift a finger.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also, waiting for the actual AP and its player's guide might be a smart idea, if the PG says "PCs play artists or if they're not artistically inclined, they might be part of management or perhaps hired security muscle" and boom, job done even better.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

I've been playing a pirate-themed campaign and I think the players naturally gravitated away from heavy-armor-using characters. None are fighters or champions.

I wouldn't change a thing, honestly. Even if some PCs have 1 or 2 less AC than they might have if optimisation were turned up to eleven, that shoudn't in and of itself change the nature of the campaign or the survivability of encounters.


Thank you.

However, on the one hand your message is "change nothing, every class can adapt". On the other hand, over in the "Enough benefits from heavy armor?" thread I still get replies that say things like "just by looking at the numbers, it's obvious that for players who want the most AC, heavy armor is a no-brainer unless they dump strength for some reason".

I created two threads for a reason. That reason is; it's easy to argue nothing needs to be done when that feels like that makes most sense (in the context of not having to come up with house rules).

But it is equally easy to argue heavy armor gets all the benefits it needs, since, again, you don't have to come with house rules.

I expected this. It's natural to defend the ruleset of your choice.

But both conclusions can't be true.

Either heavy armor gives sufficient benefits - but this means those classes that allow it suffer if it is taken away. And some house rule in THIS thread would seem appropriate.

Or there's no real (minmax) reason to ever pick heavy armor. While that solves the issue of THIS thread, it sure suggests the armor type isn't working properly for all those OTHER campaigns...

So which is it? :)


Zapp wrote:
But both conclusions can't be true.

Why not?

It's true that heavy armor is good. It's got a higher total potential AC than light or medium armor. If you can manage the heavy armor (i.e. you have proficiency and the necessary strength) it's a really good choice.

It's also true that it's only one AC, so if you force someone to equip medium armor instead it's not exactly the end of the world either.

It does put more value on Dexterity for classes that can equip heavy armor, though, by increasing the minimum dex score you can have from 10 to 12 and removing access to Bulwark, but again that's pretty self evident.


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Zapp wrote:


I created two threads for a reason. That reason is; it's easy to argue nothing needs to be done when that feels like that makes most sense (in the context of not having to come up with house rules).

But it is equally easy to argue heavy armor gets all the benefits it needs, since, again, you don't have to come with house rules.

I expected this. It's natural to defend the ruleset of your choice.

But both conclusions can't be true.

They do not contradict each other unless you presuppose that the balance between heavy and lighter armors is already wrong and needs houserules to adjust it. If you do not assume that you need houserules to adjust the tradeoff for wearing light armor as opposed to heavy armor (or vice versa) then it is possible for heavy armor to have all the benefits it needs and that a lightly-armored campaign is viable.


In the real world, I think people might get suspicious if an individual in plate armor goes walking around. Usually, the expense in creation and maintenance would make it difficult for a person to afford such armor. So they would either be part of a large organization (ex- knight order, mercenary company), or they are in some kind of trouble (deserter, remnants of a fallen army, or just a bandit that robbed a knight).

However, in a world with magic and giant man eating monsters, I think there is a higher incentive to have people in full armor running around. As a result, there seems to be a higher acceptance of single and small group mercenaries (read: adventurers) that are seen as acceptable forces to use in the civilian market for guarding and 'problem solving'.

Having someone that obviously looks like hired muscle standing in the back will obviously put people more on guard... but I don't think it would necessarily be an unusual sight. Honestly, I would be more concerned about the person carrying a bow.

Scarab Sages

Let them stand out.

If they are heavily armored characters in a setting in which heavy armor doesn't make sense, have every NPC look at them like they are crazy, weird, or stupid. Have a pirate captain laugh at them the first time they fall off a boat, only to look on in awe as they somehow swim in full plate - assuming they survive. Have commoners avoid them or act like fools in front of them, thinking they are knights.

Make sure the player knows that they will be looked upon this way and see if they are willing to deal with it. It could be a fun roleplaying experience.


I guess one good question is 'why are you discouraging heavy armour?'. I can imagine reasons for it ('Dame Katherine, your sabatons are digging gouges in the dance floor!'), but make sure players know.

As mentioned, only two classes get it in the first place. Fighters and champions. Even with those two I remember (at least in 1E) builds for those classes that wouldn't grab the plate for their own reasons -- Archie the Archer is probably going to lean towards the higher Dex modifiers.

That said ... Glammered is a thing. Level five property rune, and I kind'a wish I had it on my 1E barbarian (although it's not relevant in that campaign). 'You change the shape and appearance of this armor to appear as ordinary or fine clothes of your imagining. The armor’s statistics do not change.' Takes a DC25 illusion breaker to see through it, but otherwise you can make your Hellknight Plate look like the fluffiest lace ballgown ever. Although it still keeps its other properties ('Dame Katherine, your custom dancing shoes are digging gouges in the dance floor as if they were steel sabatons!').


Qaianna wrote:


That said ... Glammered is a thing.

Oh, at higher levels heavy armor is totally a thing.

But I'm assuming that most players will want to target a build that works already from the start.

That is, they will not enjoy playing a character that feels suboptimal for the first N levels.

So my question is: "is it enough to simply tell the players about the circumstances of the campaign, or are compensating houserules in order?"

I guess I kind of assumed the answer would be the latter, which is why I asked for what specific houserules would be needed right off the bat.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Only skimmed the thread but say a player really wanted to be a fighter or champion in heavy armor who says they are a circus performer. A circus has lots of roles. A Champion could serve as the religious leader in the troupe or a champion or fighter could be a bodyguard/bouncer for either the show or the star performer. Maybe the fighter is the older sibling to a young performer and is their guardian and agent.

But if you wanted to not have heavy armor for some reason suggest that a Fighter go a dex route like maybe a free hand fighter or dualist and a champion is maybe of a deity like Desna so wears light armor and throws a startknife and runs around the battlefield a lot.


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Zapp wrote:
Qaianna wrote:


That said ... Glammered is a thing.

Oh, at higher levels heavy armor is totally a thing.

But I'm assuming that most players will want to target a build that works already from the start.

That is, they will not enjoy playing a character that feels suboptimal for the first N levels.

So my question is: "is it enough to simply tell the players about the circumstances of the campaign, or are compensating houserules in order?"

I guess I kind of assumed the answer would be the latter, which is why I asked for what specific houserules would be needed right off the bat.

The problem is, based on starting wealth you're not going to see a lot of heavy armour. The cheapest is 130 silver, which does't leave much budget for other things like, say, weapons. Starting wealth by itself will keep folks, at least for a few adventures, out of the big stuff.

And a travelling show may have problems hanging out in one neighbourhood long enough for that set of plate armour to be finished.

Honestly, I'd trust your players and just let them know your expectations of armour and what you're looking for.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

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I think the simplest answer is just to refluff what armour means in this campaign - say light armour becomes heavy clothes, medium becomes leathers, and heavy becomes anything with some metal in. I did something close to this in a campaign I'm running with a more Victorian aesthetic and it works well enough.

Grand Lodge

Qaianna wrote:
Honestly, I'd trust your players and just let them know your expectations of armour and what you're looking for.

Bingo. RPGs are co-operative story telling with dice (usually). Session Zero is for getting everyone on the same page. In addition to alignments, goals, and theme, it should include setting. If your story works better without heavy armor, say so up front. Then ban it and move on. If you are running an evil game you say "no paladins", right? Same thing.


I wouldn't change the mechanics. Let the heavy armor be a weird thing that should be avoided because it stands out, or a thing they wear only when traveling between settlements, between circus jobs. Hopefully, most players won't even try to have characters that rely on heavy armor once you have explained the premise and noted how strange it would be for a fully-armored person to show up in a circus tent. Personally, there are very few things I actually ban, but there are things that are strongly discouraged and that have consequences if people still favor them. If someone does create a heavily armored character, let them deal with the consequences.

However, if, during the game, you notice someone would benefit from heavy armor, once they've dealt with the consequences and worn sub-par (stat-wise) armor for a while, you could drop glamered rune that make it so armor looks like something else, some kind of circus outfit, but still has exactly the same stats and drawbacks. It's a level 5 item, so it can easily come up at some point not too late in the adventure, but after a few levels have gone by. Even medium and light armor users could benefit from such a glamor, and I think it could make for some really nice loot. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they already show up in the AP.


Project_Mayhem wrote:
I think the simplest answer is just to refluff what armour means in this campaign - say light armour becomes heavy clothes, medium becomes leathers, and heavy becomes anything with some metal in. I did something close to this in a campaign I'm running with a more Victorian aesthetic and it works well enough.

This is a cool idea.

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