Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fluff is Crunch - Of Boots and Gauntlets

Roles, Rules, and Rolls has been putting out a stream of really good posts recently.  Two things in particular struck me as warranting potentially a bit of my attention in running ACKS (well, more than that, but this one I decided might be worth writing about).  In Analog, Digital, Procedural, he concludes with the pronouncement that "In Old School play, fluff is crunch."  This, I think, is going to be a very valuable insight for a grognardling trying to run an oldish-school game for the first (well, second) time.

Something which struck me in combination with this was from Taking Secret Doors Beyond the Letter S.  In particular, this bit:
Niche doors usually open by pressing a button at the back of one of the niches, and these buttons also open the corridor doors, though they may be some distance away from their chosen door. Part of my map notes involved working out which niche button would open which secret door. There was a good moment when I combined one of those buttons with a poison needle trap that was already in the key. "Okay, you push the button in ... with your finger ..." Well, the dwarf had a great save and made it, but from then on, used his axe handle.
 The "fluff is crunch" idea immediately caused me to ask "Was he wearing gauntlets?  Because getting a metal needle through a piece of metal might take some doing."  So I started thinking about gloves and gauntlets as a varying continuum of protection vs manual dexterity; on the one side, you have plate gauntlets, where you can poke things with relative impunity but are going to have a fun time unstoppering a potion bottle, and on the other, you have fingerless thieves' gloves, which provide excellent freedom of motion but are no good at all for stopping poison needles (which might explain their popularity on locks).  In the middle you have general purpose "leather gloves" with no particular gains or losses.

A natural extension of this paradigm is to boots as well; I vaguely recall hearing somewhere that the 1e DMG actually did this, but I don't know the details.  Again, you have a stealth vs protection continuum, with soft boots being good for sneaking but no good against caltrops and hard boots being loud but durable.  It might also be possible for the introduction of high vs low boot categories (an important distinction when wading in questionable substances, as dungeoneers often do), but I'm having trouble finding much of a benefit to low boots in these circumstances (perhaps a relative resistance to fungal foot-rot?  More ankle flexibility?  General comfort is hard to measure).  Finally, hobnails and steel toes warrant a mention; I distinctly recall the dwarven fighter in the 3.0 starter box being noted as having hobnail boots, and it's something that's stuck with me as a decent (if loud) idea for dungeoneering ever since.

Anyway, probably not something I expect to ever come up in 3.x, but hopefully I'll remember this when I start equipping pregens for ACKS or creating templates.

1 comment:

micahblackburn said...

That's...really interesting. I've heard that phrase before, but never quite parsed what it meant. But that is enlightening. Thank you!