Arms & Armor for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

When the Troll Lords launched a Kickstarter for the Castles & Crusades “Three Sisters” (AKA the core rulebooks), one of the stretch goals they hit was a revision of Arms & Armor, a fantastic little book packed beyond what its page count should suggest with neat historical and physical details and info about hundreds (thousands?) of pieces of combat gear. Dozens of different armor types and full suits, a couple dozen helmet styles, shields galore, and more weapons than you can shake a stick at. Enough so that there’s not always enough mechanical depth to show the differences in the items, but when you take into account all the diagrams and background info on the items it gives you the perfect mix of game stats and real-world info to provide neat flourishes to different fantasy world cultures.

Well, since everybody loves this sorta thing to help differentiate their character — whether it’s the knowledge of a specifically sized sword with an interesting grip or its the knowledge of rolling that slightly higher die type for damage — I’ve decided to convert the tables to the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules, and provide it for free. So, you’re still gonna have to buy the book to get all the cool background info, but you can make use of the stats when you do. And if you don’t, well, you can just use the stuff you know, do your own research, or make it up!

First, a little explanatory text, and then the link to download this thing, below:

Arms & Armor for the Castles & Crusades RPG

Cover art for the revised Arms & Armor for the Castles & Crusades RPG

Goal vs. Reality

My goal was simple: don’t re-write the entire book, and simply take the tables in the back and convert them to Dungeon Crawl Classics rules, opening up the ability to use some funky dice to differentiate some weapon statistics and making sure to cover some extra bases by considering things like the different examples of Mighty Deeds of Arms.

I don’t know if this is just me, but when I convert something from one system to another, I dive pretty deep into the systems and usually come out with some weird discrepancies or find some cool house rule to implement. But while it’s easy to keeping adding and adding — variations, house rules, etc. — it’s really important for me to keep things simple. I probably failed in a couple cases, but you can be the judge of that. To make your job easier in judging this stuff — and being a DCC Judge that uses this document — here’s some of the neat and/or convoluted stuff to look out for.

Caveats: We’ve changed some damage values pretty wildly from what they are in the Castles & Crusades version of the book, both to ensure we don’t step on the Troll Lords’ toes and to represent some of the standardization of weapon stats in D&D 5E. Some folks may not agree with our changes, and we invite those folks to go nuts changing things to improve their games! Additionally, there was some effort made to achieve “game balance” by looking at all the various attributes of any given item — cost, damage rating or AC modifier, special traits, check penalties, etc. — but there is simply not enough variation in the existing game mechanics, nor strong enough justification to pile on additional house rules to truly find a unique place for every single item. Judges should always keep in mind that the items on these lists are available only if and when you say so, and therefore it shouldn’t be easy — rarely even possible, perhaps — for players to “game the system” by selecting the most advantageous item at any given cost, damage rating, AC modifier or whatever. In point of fact, Judges should generally only make the smallest number of item variations available at any given shop, should rule out items that come from cultural backgrounds that are nonsensical to the campaign world, and only drop the items that make the most sense as loot.

Finally, the entirety of this document includes mechanics that probably complicate the Judge’s job if they make regular use of re-arming their NPCs and monsters with weapons from these lists. Judges should ignore all rules, traits, and ratings for NPC and monster weapons except for the ones that matter most to them (damage!). Recovering weapons as loot from the bad guys should generally lead to “sorry, that weapon is broken” or “yes it might operate slightly differently for you, because the NPC/monster has different training, skills, and traits.” It’s as simple as that.

Helmets & Shields

Helmets. Castles & Crusades makes a big thing of including a billion helmets in the equipment list, complete with AC modifier, but then doesn’t give you a clue how to use them. So, I’ve kept them and simply noted that their AC modifier works in the following situations:

Helmet AC modifier only applies to attacks from high ground, mounted opponents, or flying opponents (assuming you are not also flying).

Helmets are never included in the cost for a suit of armor, so you pay for them separately and factor your head Armor Class separately. Since this is an added mechanic, I recommend starting Judges ignore it, as well as anyone who doesn’t like the idea of more mechanics. Just use the regular body AC of a character and assume a hat, helm, or full-face helmet mirrors your body’s Armor Class.

Shields. To differentiate differently sized shields, I returned to the old school idea that shields are only good against a certain number of foes in a combat round. I tried to clarify when those uses “refresh”: the default is on your turn, which might mean in the first round of combat an enemy with a better initiative roll can get the drop on you before your shield is at the ready. The option is there for it to start at the beginning of a combat round, though; Judge’s choice. I’ve also dropped in a couple simple ideas for tracking these uses: a die counter, check marks, or tokens like glass beads.

Helmets & Shields Will Splinter! The famous rule that you can negate a single attack by permanently breaking your shield (and thus making it useless for the rest of the fight, but well worth it for the life-saving attack negation) has been noted in the document, and expanded to include helmets. You could theoretically use this with helmets in place of a separate helmet AC modifier, or you could use both aspects of helmets. Regardless, this might give heavily armored (helmeted and shield-equipped) characters with a chance to negate two attacks against them. But then they no longer get the AC bonus from the helm or their shield, so while it’s a nice touch for survivability, it doesn’t exactly mean they are in the clear for more than a single encounter…and sometimes not even that long!

Here’s the text of the house rule, in case you don’t care about this document and just want to use that:

If you are wearing a helmet or wield a shield, you may choose to negate any single attack. Doing so renders your shield or helmet useless until you perform significant repairs or replace it entirely. If you wear both a helmet and shield, you choose which one breaks unless the Judge says otherwise.

Weapon Traits

Some weapon rules were scattered across the equipment and combat chapters, and a few others weren’t clearly defined or the notations relied a little too heavily on me having to remember what the difference between a pound sign # and an asterisk * were. So I simply spelled it all out, give it a brief name, and placed them in their own column right next to each weapon. You’ll find a little bit of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons inspiration in there, for sure, but I tried really hard to stick to DCC RPG-only concepts. Here’s the full list of traits:

  • 2H: Two-handed weapon: use a d16 for Initiative.
  • Backstab: When a thief uses the backstab ability, use the listed damage instead of the weapon’s normal damage. For example, an akinaka (a type of dagger) normally deals 1d4 damage, but it has the “Backstab (1d10)” notation, allowing the thief to roll 1d10 for damage when using their backstab class ability.
  • MD [bonus]: This weapon provides the listed bonus on the deed die when performing the specified Mighty Deeds of Arms maneuver; see below for Mighty Deeds of Arms Notations. For example, “MD: Defensive +1” means you get a +1 on your Mighty Deeds of Arms dice roll when making a Defensive Maneuver.
  • Mounted Charge: When using this weapon during a mounted charge maneuver, double the damage.
  • Power Throw: At close range, your Strength (STR) modifier applies to damage.
  • Range: There are three range bands: Short (AKA Close), Medium, and Long. Medium range attacks suffer a -2 modifier to the attack roll, and Long range attacks suffer a -1d penalty on the attack roll.
  • Receive Charge: This weapon can be set to receive a charge attack as your action, and deals double damage on a successful hit when doing so.
  • ROF: Rate of Fire: you can make this many attacks in this number of rounds; “2” would be two attacks in one round, 1/2 would be one attack every other round.
  • Subdual: A subdual weapon only deals subdual damage.
  • Versatile: When wielding this weapon two-handed, you suffer the 2H initiative penalty (d16 instead of d20) and use the listed damage instead of the weapon’s normal damage.

One thing I haven’t done as of this writing is add the base damage type — bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing — to the damage notations of the weapons. While I plan to do this, there’s enough vagueness for some weapons that I haven’t quite nailed down the best route to go. Should some weapons deal both types and you just assume the least useful option when referring to damage resistances for monsters? Or player’s choice? Should some weapons that are better known for crushing — even if they have an “edge” of some kind — get placed under bludgeoning or slashing? I dunno, but if you’ve got ideas, send ’em my way!

The Document

So, without further ado, click the link to download the PDF of Arms & Armor for DCC RPG!

And like I said, please go show some love to the Trolls for putting together their book by picking up the PDF of Castles & Crusades Arms and Armor at DriveThruRPG, or get the physical version over at the Troll Lord Games store!

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neuronphaser is an editor, eCommerce consultant, web producer, and analyst living in sunny Hollywood, CA. He's been playing tabletop RPGs of all kinds since 1985.

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