AMTGARD'S OPINION CODEX • ALL OPINIONS, ALL THE TIME • OCTOBER 22, 2014
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SOCIALLY AWKWARD
Inauthentic Armor
[07/18/2011] [Trieste]

As the rush of the breeze off the ocean cut the sullen summer heat of Ashen Spire, I jerked my arm out of the way of a deadly thrown dagger shaped like an overly large suppository pill wrapped in safe and medievally-available cloth tape. I looked across the cut Kentucky blue grass and saw the bright cherry red cover of the polearm the monk was threateningly pointing at me. I checked my grip on the black and yellow foam bat in my hand, made sure my cut-down lacrosse gloves were tight on my fingers, flexed my knees, and felt the sweat slowly dripping down my shins until it slid into the soccer-style ankle braces I wear. I dug my football cleats into the grass and ran towards the polearm, pumping the swords down to block the inevitable shots at my legs that are always taken running a pole. Surprising me, the monk jabbed directly at my chest, but I was able to partially block it, and push the shot onto my arm.

"Point off arm!" I called out, continuing my advance even as the monk began to backpedal furiously. He swept the pole down, looking to strike my unprotected leg and halt my advance, but after some practice running poles I was able to push the dangerous blade away from my body. Craftily, the monk drew a flatbladed, grey, cloth-covered longsword out and threw two cross-body cuts at my left arm, still pinned to my body by the falling polearm.

"Three off arm, no armor left!" I quickly jammed my other sword into his chest, point first, driving the breath from his lungs with my exhilaration at defeating my foe.

"Oh man, you okay?" I asked. His hand came up and waved me up, before he slowly straightened.

"That's three point armor?" he asked.

"Yeah, it's riveted aluminum, so it's minus one for aluminum, and plus one for being riveted."

"Damn man, the inauthenticity of your armor is ruining my game of Amtgard," he said angrily before stalking off to Nirvana for his death count.

Currently, the V8 committee is engaged in a process of overhauling the rulebook, and one of their concerns is the Amtgard armor system. Our armor system is relatively unique in that each location has armor where the armor actually is, and armor has various point values associated with it. Some people might argue that the system as it stands is needlessly complex, but I disagree. Making armor is an investment of money, and armor often has to be specifically fitted to the individual who will wear it.

In general, once armor is created it only needs to be rated once, so while applying a number of modifiers and coming out with a total might take a few minutes, it really should only have to happen a few times. At worst, your armor might face being rated again every six months as new champions come into office, as well as at major events. Largely, the new armor rules seem like an attempt to focus on clarity, and I think that's the right direction to go. If someone invests several hundred dollars and several days of labor into making armor, a reeve or champion should be willing to spend ten minutes poring over the rulebook and the armor with a ruler.

Armor in general is a really good thing for Amtgard. It is one of the places where expert craftsman can really show their stuff. Mediums like leather are highly flexible, with multiple stages of production can include differing techniques of ornamentation. Armor also just looks plain awesome, and lends a good feel to Amtgard in general. When you go out to a park and see a bunch of guys battling in authentic-looking armor, even the importance of the foam bats we swing diminishes. When you go out to a park and see a bunch of guys in jeans and t-shirts with towel-style tabards belted over them, it looks like a bunch of nerds have briefly escaped from their parents' basements. It's my opinion that armor ought to be actively encouraged: encouraged to be made, and encouraged to be worn.

In terms of class balance, any net nerf on armor is a net buff on magic classes. Any time you make it harder to obtain points for armor, warrior suffers, and wizard celebrates. Sadly, the most powerful class in Amtgard requires little in terms of investment. Spell balls are cheap and easy to make, while armor is expensive and difficult to make. If it's highly difficult to even make armor that rates at six points, warriors' ability to wear six points of armor becomes severely less valuable. Under the current rules as proposed, the only way to obtain six points of armor for a warrior (excluding class abilities) would be to make articulated plate. While plate mail is the gold standard in armor, and something I'd love to see more of on the field, it also requires a significant investment in skills, tools, and materials, which puts it out of the budget of the average Amtgarder in my experience.

However, my primary concern with the new armor rules is the discrimination against "inauthentic" materials. In part, this seems to be an attempt at game balance, since in general many inauthentic materials are lighter than their more authentic counterparts (such as substituting aluminum for steel.) It would follow logically that armor that is lighter would be less cumbersome to wear, and to balance that out it should be receive fewer points. However, Amtgard has become an incredibly fast game, with very light swords being possible. A relatively high level of athletic activity often takes place during battle games as they have moved away from the slow paced shatter battles, which were virtually spectator sports interrupted by brief encounters. Today's battle games focus on high activity, low death count, objective-based scenarios. Speeding up death times is common, and so is simply advancing the clock when an entire team is dead.

Why should armor weigh close to historical standards to receive full value? We're certainly not using it to ward off weapons that weigh close to historical standards.

The rules of Amtgard as they govern armor should try to keep up with the times. Innovative new armors should be accepted and applauded. Specifically, I am of the opinion that the goal for the new rule set should be to encourage armor, and encourage players to wear it. For that reason, I would propose that the new armor rules be changed to not discourage the use of things such as plastic lamellar and aluminum chainmail. If anything, as opposed to a penalty for inauthentic (that appear authentic) I would give a bonus for authentic in the case of metals and leathers (of +1) and change the maximum bonus possible on armors to +2, and completely remove the max two points for synthetic materials. One side effect of this would be that we would continue to not see platemail on the field, and while that is unfortunate, I think the benefits of more armor made and worn far outweighs forcing warriors into investing in articulated plate to get the most out of their class's most valuable ability.

The only option I can see to give platemail some kind of inherent value would be to give it immunity to the armor breaking ability, while at the same time restricting the number of points you receive to whatever your class has available. This would give classes that can’t take full advantage of articulated plate's 5+ points of protection a reason to make and use it. Plus it would finally give us some literal knights in shining armor (hopefully.)

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