OK, so in the last post, we were pushing getting better armor made out of better materials and enchanted to even higher points. So why not? What can a GM do to prevent the PCs from getting impervious armor?
Well, let’s start with - Have you allowed your PCs to accumulate so much wealth that they could probably pull this off? If the answer is yes, then game balance is already your problem. If this is the case, you have two choices: 1) end this campaign and start another where you will better control the rewards to prevent the PCs from becoming the next billionaires. or 2) assume that everything we wrote in that last post did not concern the PCs, but instead the NPCs and let the bad guys get impervious armor first.
So we are now assuming that the PCs want impervious armor but cannot afford it. Or can they? First things first, the supply of some style of super steel needs to be restricted. In Fletnern, the first level of “super steel” is considered to be dwarven steel. Dwarven steel is a steel alloy assumed to be more similar to some of our modern alloys. It is stronger than steel, but not as tough as “diamond”. So yep, you guessed it, the next step up is diamond. There are intermediary steps as well, but if steel is a “3”, dwarven steel is a 4 and diamond is a 5.
Dwarven steel is only available in smaller quantities, but someone with sufficient wealth could get a suit of dwarven steel plate armor. Because in Legend Quest, armor slows you down, if you’re making dwarven steel armor, you have to decide if you are keeping the same general thickness and thus making the armor sturdier or if you are thinning the metal to give the same protection in a lighter form. But getting that much dwarven steel would likely require someone to do a favor for the Rocchairian Nation (hint hint - mission reward, not something sold in the farmers’ market).
Which makes us turn to diamonds. Obviously building a suit out of diamonds is out of the question - or is it? Can alchemy do this? In LQ it doesn’t matter, because enchanters can use the harden-diamond enchantment to make it happen magically. So why aren’t all the adventurers running around in diamond hard armor? Well, the cost of the enchantment is pretty high. But also, a suit of armor is not a single thing. It is a large number of plates, scales, and other items that are attached to each other. So in order to enchant a suit of plate armor, you need to enchant every single piece. Every strip, scale or plate would need to be individually enchanted. For this reason, typically only the biggest pieces are enchanted - the breastplate and the helmet.
Just to take that one step further - In LQ, steel is tough to enchant, so enchanters often seek other substances. For example, after a harden-diamond spell, a leather breastplate would be just as durable as a harden-diamond steel breastplate and a whole lot easier to enchant, so would the warrior be willing to have a breastplate and helm that did not match the rest of his armor?
Let’s add an additional element that likely affects both special substances and magic: craftsmanship. To begin, there shouldn’t be a lot of folks out there who can make plate armor - it is not only a specialized skill, but without factories banging out identical pieces, it is one that requires experience. So whatever else you’re doing, you need to find an armorer willing to work with you. That is a slight difficulty.
Once you find this armorer, you need to make certain that they can do the job. Dwarven steel needs a hotter forge to work than regular steel - does the armorer have it? What other complications kick in when trying something like this? Again, in LQ (this is why we used the comic book references in the last post), there are nemean lions, like the thing Herc fought and kept the hide from. Nemean armor is the best armor in the game, but it cannot be made by just anyone. Why? Because it cannot be pierced. How do you stitch something that cannot be pierced? You sew it with a needle that has been enchanted to be vorpally sharp. Finding an enchanter that can do a vorpal sharpness enchantment is tough enough, but finding one that can do it on something as small as a needle is much more difficult.
So having the craftsman shouldn’t be a problem, but having a craftsman with the proper tools is. Remember all the Wolverine origin stories? Adamantium, really tough stuff to work with. So are these substances.
So here’s the summary: If you have enough money, you should be able to get really good armor, but you need to overcome the rarity of the supplies, the limitations of magic, and the rarity of craftsmen with the appropriate tools. Once you’ve done that, you’re golden. Oh, as long as you have the means to repair it when it gets damaged in combat. Yeah, that’s a pain in the @$$ too.
I really like having stuff made out of stuff other than steel. A character may want to have the greatest armor ever, but does that mean it resists weapons best? Does it have built in fire avoidance? Does it repel the undead when they look at it? We’ve only begun to scratch the surface (sorry, that pun was sort of planned) of what armor can do. Repelling weapons may be its main job, but there are so many other things it could do that have to be considered.