Reskinning armor

I would like to see the notion that Plate armor is the heaviest armor in a campaign, regardless of what it looks like. So, for example, if you are setting your game in the following:


Ancient Rome – Legionary armor (Lorica Segmentata) with the additional greaves and vambraces for fighting Dacians.


Dark ages – Maille hauberk (knee and wrist length) with maille trews.


Chinese Martial Arts movies – ad hoc metal armor for forearms, knees, shins, and a breastplate.

Musket&Pike period -- metal breastplate, greaves, and partial arms (half-plate)

Neolithic -- really thick bear skin     

You can already do that.  You can describe what your character's armor and weapons look like, however you want.
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You can already do that.  You can describe what your character's armor and weapons look like, however you want.



You can, but nobody does. I'd like to see a paragraph or two about it in the core rules. 
You can already do that.  You can describe what your character's armor and weapons look like, however you want.


This is one of many things we can already do that I would like to see more official published advice on, so that more people understand it really does work.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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You can already do that.  You can describe what your character's armor and weapons look like, however you want.


This is one of many things we can already do that I would like to see more official published advice on, so that more people understand it really does work.



so a table in the DMG/ world builders handbook.

would have the armor categories on one axis ( light,medium, heavy,extra heavy (plate))
and on the other axis geograpical areas / time periods.
I would agree that 5e needs a larger chunk of pagespace devoted to reflavoring.  Hopefully the fluff and mechanics will remain separate enough for that to be feasible.
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I'm normally inclined to disagree about the separation of fluff and mechanics, but armor is arbitrary enough that it's easily reflavoured into whatever.

I agree that they need more pagespace devoted to drawings of swords and armor and stuff like in old books, and then just label what the armors count as
I'm normally inclined to disagree about the separation of fluff and mechanics, but armor is arbitrary enough that it's easily reflavoured into whatever.

I agree that they need more pagespace devoted to drawings of swords and armor and stuff like in old books, and then just label what the armors count as



Who are you agreeing with on that?  I sure don't agree with it, except maybe in the case of rare or made-up weaponry like the Mordenkrad.  And of course, you can refluff that, too.  I would question how many people in the world, D&D players or not, need a picture of an axe or sword to know what one looks like.
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I'm normally inclined to disagree about the separation of fluff and mechanics, but armor is arbitrary enough that it's easily reflavoured into whatever.

I agree that they need more pagespace devoted to drawings of swords and armor and stuff like in old books, and then just label what the armors count as



Who are you agreeing with on that?  I sure don't agree with it, except maybe in the case of rare or made-up weaponry like the Mordenkrad.  And of course, you can refluff that, too.  I would question how many people in the world, D&D players or not, need a picture of an axe or sword to know what one looks like.




Well if he wants a bunch of "period" armors, it'd be nice to have a drawing of what it looks like so you can kinda see how it's heavy and what it is and whatever.

Everything should get at least one drawing of it.  They should draw cool orc weapons on their own right in their monster manual entry, maybe my guy would want one if I knew what they looked like.  I can't go deciding for the whole table what an orc sword looks like so that my guy can want one, but the book can.
I personally don't like this idea.

In a medieval setting a fighter with a plate mail should have a big advantage against a normally clothed opponent.

In a neolithic setting a fighter with a bear skin should not have a big advantage against a normally clothed opponent.

 
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
The bear skin would clearly be covered in cave bear bones and the plates of giant horseshoe crabs.

It's all fluff that allows you to get to a relative position of difference so that the story works.
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I personally don't like this idea.

In a medieval setting a fighter with a plate mail should have a big advantage against a normally clothed opponent.

In a neolithic setting a fighter with a bear skin should not have a big advantage against a normally clothed opponent.

 


Then look at the standard armor chart, pick what you think bear skin is closest to(Hide Armor, naturally) and in your game, bear skin can be Hide Armor.  If that's what is most important to you in the situation, it wouldn't require anything you hadn't been doing since AD&D.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
I personally don't like this idea.

In a medieval setting a fighter with a plate mail should have a big advantage against a normally clothed opponent.

In a neolithic setting a fighter with a bear skin should not have a big advantage against a normally clothed opponent. 



I likewise agree that equipment should be what it is and would not allow a player in my game to refluff hide armor as plate.

However, it is clear others don't always feel that way.  I see no harm in a paragraph or chapter of the PHB/DMG giving advice, examples, and guidelines on how to refluff.
I think this is an interesting discussion that highlights 2 points - 1) reskinning or re-fluffing is something that most of us do in our games, but that many of us might not do initially and a small blurb in the DMG or PH might actually inspire a lot of people to think of this and use it early on.

however, 2) it gets into a lot of issues about other rules like encumbrance and even real or percieved armor classes, dexterity adjustments, or armor modifiers that make reskinning someone tricky depending on the DM and the setting and that may carry un-expected bonuses (or negatives) that you didn't plan for.

Say your tribal fighter wants to have dinosaur/behemeoth skin or giant cavebear skin armor (with or without armor plates, skull for a helmet, etc) that counts as platemail.... what happens when that fighter and his allies end up in a more urban setting where there are actual knights wearing plate armor... does the tribal fighter have to calculate his encumbrance and dex modifiers as if he was wearing plate and move as slowly as a fully armored knight?   now what happens when that tribal fighter and his new knight ally are dungeoncrawling and attacked by a rust monster... the knight is suddenly naked, the tribal fighter unphased by the rust monsters attacks... or since the tribal fighters armor is "platemail in theory too" does your rust monster suddenly have the power to dissolve clothes too and both of them end up naked?...

Is that something the rules should encourage?  Is that something that the DM should allow (assuming your campain has both tribal and urban knights and rust monsters)?   How can a reasonable set of rules allow for all of these exceptions while being fair to the knight but not unfair and restrictive to the tribal fighter?

I know this is kind of a stretch as far as examples go, but I think it gets the point across... does everything our player or DM thinks of have to have a rule attached to it? or can flavor and fluff outweigh written rules?

To me it would depend on the players and the campaign... I know some players that would freak out if someone got to claim hide armor as plate, and others who would give their shield arm to be able to strut around in front of the king and his queen wearing non-magical exotic dinosaur skin armor that protected them as if they were wearing plate... and I know some players who would get up and leave if there hide armor was dissolved by rust monsters and others who would get up and leave if their knight's armor was but their tribal allies armor wasn't...  (serves the knight right for fighting the rust monster anyway...)
Maybe I'm more of a simulationist that other DMs but I would say that the bones would give the bear skin an upgrade, so I would take hide armor and give it a bonus. Bone is still not as hard as metal so I couldn't allow the result to be as strong as plate, but it would make up for that by the fact that it doesn't carry the same Dex cap. The behemoth hide is made of similar stuff as any other hide, but I'm guessing that its thicker skin and probably less flexible. So, I would still use hide armor as the base, give it a larger bonus than the bone upgrade and some dex cap; still not as hard or as inflexible as the plate armor though. If the player was really into the fact that he could strut around in behemoth skin like the original badass I would give him a bonus to intimidate checks. heck, maybe even a slight bonus to dimplomacy checks cause that would be intimidating even when he wasn't "trying" to be. I suppose some players would say that if I don't let it achieve the same AC bonus as plate then there is no point in using it, but at some point it comes down to whether you really want to use the best armor in the world or whether you want to be the hard core barbarian badass with everything that comes with it. There is also the point that a fighter in full plate doesn't get to Rage.
It's true that, objectively speaking, the Bear hide armor isn't nearly as much better than cloth as the plate armor is. The problem, as I see it, is that if you bar certain technology due to world flavor, you undermine classes which rely on access to that technology. For example, if you set the game in an illiterate culture, then you nerf wizards unless you reflavor scrolls (as, in my case, macrame). If you set it in Ancient Greece, you nerf fighters of the dominate culture to using short swords and long spears. You can do that, or try to make up other balancing mechanisms, or you can refluf.

And if you neolithic party ends up in a world with knights in plate armor, now their bear skins are just hide, but they now have access to plate armor.