A while back, I tossed out the idea of modeling variant samurai in Ruins & Ronin by swapping out access to armor in exchange for extra special abilities.
Today, I was looking at some classical art, wherein all the great heroes fight in the buff. Now, you could swap out the fighter’s normal access to armor with the monk’s ability to improve AC by level if you wanted to run a campaign set in classical Greece – in fact, I would suggest it. But what if you wanted to award fighters (and other character classes that normally have access to very good armor) if they want to throw down their metal suits and fight like Hercules?
My idea would be to grant an XP bonus whenever a warrior goes into battle unarmored. You can actually tie the size of the bonus to the amount of armor the warrior forgoes. This can get tricky at lower levels though, when fighters and clerics cannot necessarily afford better armor. You don’t necessarily want to hand the fighters and clerics a big XP bonus over the thieves and magic-users when they’re opting not to use armor they couldn’t get access to anyways.
Maybe the way to do it is this: If a character that normally has access to any armor decides to wear nothing more than leather armor (nonmagical), they get a +10% bonus to earned XP. If they decide to wear nothing more than padded, they get a +15% bonus. If they go around unarmored, but clothed, they get a +20% bonus. If they go virtually naked, they get a +25% bonus to earned XP.
You can reduce these bonuses for characters with more restrictive armor choices; you might decide that thieves who decide to go around virtually naked earn no more than a +10% bonus to earned XP, since they’re really only forgoing a couple points of AC bonus.
Shields don’t figure into this – the classical heroes often fought with shields. If the armor mentioned above is magical, reduce the XP bonus by 5% per magical plus (so wearing +1 leather armor translates into a +5% bonus to XP).
This could be a fun option for players with fighters who want to challenge common sense, and show off a bit in the process. It could also be a way to model the Xena’s and Red Sonja’s running around in less-than-optimal armor.
You might also give fighters with impressive physiques an additional bonus to reaction checks if they walk around virtually naked – i.e. permit them to add their Strength bonus in place of their Charisma bonus to reaction checks.
9 thoughts on “Fight Like a Greek Hero … In the Buff!”
I favor the exp bonus idea myself.
Sorry for the blog spamming but I had a post on the general topic a while back folks might enjoy: http://aeonsnaugauries.blogspot.com/2011/04/naked-warrior-or-diapers-in-dungeon.html?m=1
Pretty sure the art isn't indicative of reality. But it's a fun idea and I applaud exploring it! The book definition of armor are limiting and sometimes boring.
One of the reasons fighting naked was a thing in some cultures at various times, was the recognition, without understanding the why of it, that wounds that didn't have bits of cloth/leather/fabric pressed into them were less likely to get infected and lead to sickness and death. Clothes back then tended to be covered in bacteria, animal feces, bad stuff in general. If/when it got pressed into a wound by a weapon that bacteria etc. transferred into the wound, causing infection.
When armor got good and available enough to offset this problem, people started wearing armor consistently. This of course didn't happen uniformly, so you have occasions of Roman Legionnaires fighting scantily clad fellows.
That's not to say it was never a case of “Look how brave I am!”
For a more silly take on the whole thing, add Charisma bonus to AC (the full bonus if the character is naked, half the bonus if the character is in armor), assuming you're using Charisma as the “attractiveness” stat. After all, the reason a hero is nearly naked is to look great, right? Plus, this totally justifies the “chainmail bikini” stereotype: magic chain that allows the character to add their entire Charisma bonus to AC.
As far as not rewarding people for forgoing armor they don't have, you could simply make it a 5% bonus per point of armor they decline. If you only have mundane chain mail and set it aside, it's 20% (AC 5 on the 9-descending scale). If you have plate mail +5 (AC -3) it's 55% (big percentage, but if you have plate mail +5 and you're not wearing it you're taking on a serious disadvantage that could get you killed). Throw in an extra 5% style bonus for going naked.
This does limit how much wizards and rogues can stand to gain from this rule, mind, because they simply don't have the big armor options. I'm okay with it though, because they shouldn't be getting into those situations anyway, and thus are not put at as much risk by doffing the armor. (Incidentally part of why I dislike rules that trade an AC penalty for benefits when they can be used by people who stay out of melee as a rule.)
You could also go with the armor prices in the early books, which put chain very much within reach of a 1st level fighter, and plate a possibility with a good roll and help from the magic-users.
Epées & Sorcellerie grants an (ascending) armor class equal to the Dexterity score to unarmored characters. You could do the same with charisma. Greek heroes of the classic mythology fighting nekkid all have sculptural bodies (works also for heroïnes , I called it the “chainmail bikini” rule).
Humm…? A Charisma bonus to AC for being scant or naked, and bonus EXP for fighting naked. That sound good.
I try to make defense tied with agility, so making AC work like the monk class ability would not be a special ability, but a rule feature. That is, as you progress in level, characters would be harder to hit even without armor. After all, as they gain level, they are harder to kill and can hit better. With shields, I find a simple +5% to one's chance of not being his is too low. I would rather treat it like a cover bonus.
Pardon me for throwing out another blog spam, but I made this for shits n' giggles that would be a more modest option (it basically D&D armor reduced to a bikini and codpiece form, with nipple-shields in place of actual shields):
What I've read is that in cultures without silk, fighting naked lowers the chance of cloth being carried into the wound and causing toxicosis. While I don't think Celts and Greeks would phrase it that way, these were smart people and I figure they probably made some sort of connection. Maybe fighting in the buff could be some sort of save bonus, or basically something like 1 DR?
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