Heavy armors are, well, heavy. This is a trait that comes up mostly in combat, but also outside it. I've been thinking how to enhance armor choice in games with a heavier emphasis on logistics (that is to say that the happy-go-lucky adventuring of modern D&D, or more narrative games, are not as well suited to what I have in mind for heavy armors).
First, a few assumptions:
- Heavy armor is an investment. The heavier the armor, particularly when plates start being involved, the price tends to drastically jump. Buying heavy armor needs to be relatively difficult and pricey.
- Heavy armor is protective. As long as you can maintain mobility and focus, the heavier armors should be able to keep you alive against most human foes and plenty of monstrous ones.
- Heavy armor is a choice. For fighters in modern D&D, heavy armor is a must the moment they can get their hands on it. The assumption is that taking heavy armor means giving things up.
Part 1: Out of combat
Out of combat, armor is a tiring affair for the long haul. Mainly speaking - walking around in heavy armor is walking around with many tens of kilograms on your body. They might be spread out, but they normally mean adding a third of your body weight to lug around, sometimes even more than that.
To simulate this, without becoming too technical, I propose the following: every certain amount of time units of exploration (say, turns of 10 minutes) you receive a fatigue token. The amount of tokens you have have 2 impacts: the first is changing the max HP of the character by reducing it at a 1:1 ratio. The second is that when the amount of tokens surpasses the character's CON score, they must rest or lose consciousness for 1 time unit. After they wake up, they lose 1 token and should rest properly.
When a character rests, they lose up to 10 tokens. Resting takes 1 time unit.
If the system or GM allow, the game is advised have a method of reducing just how tiring armor is to a character.
Part 2: Inside combat
Inside combat, the concept changes a bit. Characters are suddenly pumping with adrenaline and renewed strength. The first thing that changes is that they stop gaining fatigue tokens.
Every round (or several rounds) in combat, the character wearing heavy armor, instead of gaining fatigue tokens, will now start to lose HP at the a certain rate. The heavier the armor, the quicker the loss. This might seem counter-intuitive, but remember the assumption about protection: if armors negate hits, they should help negate most of them. If they negate damage, they should negate most of it. Heavy armor is a sacrifice of long combats in favor of survivability
Appendix: Wearing armor
Putting armor on or taking or taking it off is, well, time consuming. Normally, heavier armor would require a second person to actually get all the armor on. During an adventure, it might take an entire time unit to put it on with the help of another, more without. But this kind of stuff starts falling into a niche I call "too much nitpicking to care about". I'm all for some level of logistics, but this feels a bit excessive.
This still feels a bit raw to me, but it's still being developed and I am liking it so far, even more than the initial idea.