The Black Hack: Armor

I like the Black Hack, although I’m not entirely happy with a couple of the rules.

For example: Armor. The way that it works here is that the Armor Class value absorbs that many points of damage until the next 8 hour rest. That means that even the weakest monster in the game’s bestiary can neutralize even a full suit of plate & mail in one hit. The armour is of no use until after the next rest.

The rationale is that the PC is “too tired or wounded to make effective use of it again”. I get what they were going for, but I don’t like it.

Surprisingly the designers didn’t apply the same rule as the Usage Die to represent the wear and tear of armour. It would work perfectly!

The Usage Die is used to track expendable resources. That means that after each use, you roll the usage die and if you score a 1 or 2, you “downgrade” the Usage die by one step. So, for example, if you started with a d10, it would go down to a d8 and so forth. If you’re at d4, the next step is zero (you’re out).

In my mind, armor could work the same way. The total armour point (AP) value syncs up to a die type perfectly:

  • 1 AP = d4
  • 2 AP = d6
  • 3 AP = d8
  • 4 AP = d10
  • 5 AP = d12
  • 6 AP = d20

Please note that 6 AP is the maximum value that you can get with mundane (non-magical) armor.

So with this system, you still get the defensive bonus of your armor. However, each time that the character is hit, they must roll the Usage Die. On a 1 or 2, the armor point value goes down (and thus, so does the die).

In the case of a total AP value including a shield: the player can decide to reduce either the shield’s value or the armor. So that simulates shields being broken. Pretty cool.

With access to a forge, a character can repair their armor during downtime.

Magic Armor would simply work the same way as it does in the rules (providing an extra bit of damage reduction), but the die value would remain the same, even if the total value would go beyond a d20 (it just means that it will stay in good condition for longer. Repairing magical armor would be expensive or difficult, perhaps requiring magic or even a quest.

This will likely need play-testing, but I’m quite pleased with this system.