For discussion. The ubiquity of “armored up, all the time” in your game setting.

Recently during a game session, we had a bit of a dispute over what weapons and armor a player might have had on them while in a city. Even in a lengthy campaign, many of my RPG experiences have defaulted to the idea that players have just 1 “kit”–basically the clothes, armor, weapons and gear that are listed on their equipment sheet. As “murder hobos” they don’t have a home, wardrobe or a lot of possessions beyond gear and wealth. Therefore, the players are always in their adventure gear; fully kitted out, armed and armored.

But that’s just silly in many situations. Certainly major cities have laws and rules about armed citizenry. Some may only allow nobles to carry blades; others may require “peace knots” on weapons, or others may require registration or membership in a guild or militia to permit being armed in public.

Those are regulatory issues, but there should also be cultural norms as well. Clanking around in plate or chain armor and wearing a full helm should seem rude or unacceptable in major urban areas. Visitations to courts, merchants houses or administrative facilities will probably require dis-arming. Certainly higher end taverns, inns and restaurants are not going to allow customers that are fully armed or armored.

Finally, it’s just not hygienic to wear the same clothes, underclothes, padding, armor, helms and adventuring clothes all the time! The players will stink, boots will be worn out from travel, clothes torn, armor will dent or bend and a host of wear & tear that’s normal in everyday life. If you’ve ever done any lengthy hiking or outdoor adventuring you know how fast gear can wear out.

In my game, players default to “civilian kit”. They have a appropriate wardrobe for normal, everyday life, often based on their cultural and racial background. We also rate it in a variety of ways (poor, functional, merchant, noble, luxurious or just rank it from 1-10). The quality of the garb will dictate how they interact with various societal classes. As the players have grown in power and reputation, they find themselves interacting with high levels of society. So while they might be murder hobos, they can’t dress like one! Typically they will be armed–but only a staff, or short blade so the heavy fighters feel at a real disadvantage.

Since their civvies are the defaults, that means they have to tell me when they are getting into their combat/adventure kit. Even when travelling, I don’t assume players will continually wear heavy armor, have a shield strapped onto their armor and have a weapon drawn. Of course players want to have all of that when they are ambushed or a sudden encounter unfolds!

This is more of a concern in campaigns–if you are running one-off adventures, dungeon crawls, or just independent adventures most of this won’t matter. The players “gear up” and run the gauntlet. However, if you are running a session or game that doesn’t focus on wilderness/tomb/ruins, and are more urban, what do you do? Do you have an “open carry” “armored up” style game?

Thoughts?

5 Replies to “For discussion. The ubiquity of “armored up, all the time” in your game setting.”

  1. We have had similar discussions revolving around sleeping. How much armor can you comfortably sleep in? Some armors are fine (even comfortable) to sleep in, like AT 2 or 3, which can include furs. I used to think that heavier armor types were impossible to sleep in, but some reenactors have said that plate armor is actually not as restricting as you would think. Nevertheless, I don’t imagine Roman legionnaires slept every night in lorica segmentata. What I’ve been moving towards is requiring a morning a fatigue check, based on maneuvering in armor skill and dependent upon how heavy/restricting the AT is, for those trying to sleep in their armor.

    As far as city laws, I think they depended very much on the culture. Amongst the early Germans, every free man was by right allowed to carry a weapon pretty much everywhere– it was a mark of his free status. Similarly, in medieval Europe, knights were generally allowed to carry swords with them most places, even I believe within some of the city limits. On the other hand, there were protected places: the palace of the king, for example, or the town hall, where laws prevented people from carrying weapons.

    And of course if you’ve ever worn the heavier medieval armors, you know how exhausting it can be. After about 15 minutes of wearing my chain shirt, I start to feel the weight. I can’t imagine wearing it all day long. Nor did medieval soldiers, unless on duty or expecting a battle. Perhaps the most famous case was before the Battle of Stamford Bridge, when the Vikings left there armor behind because they weren’t expecting trouble. If even Vikings try to avoid wearing armor, I think that tells you a lot about how cumbersome it was.

    1. good comments. I think for my players it’s “whatever is advantageous for the moment”. My group is in Eidolon and I don’t see them walking around in their adventure gear in the high rent district.

  2. I’ve always taken a page from the old Top Secret stuff and have my players indicate what they’re carrying with them at the start of each game day (allowing for modification if they happen to be back at camp or their room at the inn, of course). If they’re clanking around a major city in one of my developed kingdoms, the watch will be following them closely and likely harassing them at every turn. If they decide to sleep in AT20, they face major penalties if they’re awakened for combat.

  3. My players were always happy for me to hand wave basic armour and weapon upkeep rather than having the party members splitting up to visit weaponsmiths, armourers, general stores, livery stables and all that sort of thing.

    The first time I attacked them in town and they all claimed to have swords and chain mail on I made them choose, were the weapons and armour being maintained or was it with them as it could not be in two places at once. The pay off being that I was going to up the breakage chances for kit that was not being looked after.

  4. I need to start doing this in my campaigns. You brought of some great points and I have the perfect setting for it now for both the level 1 PCs and the level 5’s. They are in Gryphonburg and I’m playing it up as a refined, high-society type of locale. It’s very forward-thinking and cosmopolitan. There are several learning academies nearby and it is the crux of three main trade routes. I’m going to have the parties have to make decisions regarding armour and weapons vs. society and social acceptance. Having them have to deal with situations that require more than steel and leather will provide a lot of opportunity to earn more XP.

    And if they have to defend themselves without weapons, it will be fun to watch the results.

    Fun for me, at least. 🙂

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