Tuesday, May 11, 2010

RPG Ability: Beard Armor

Have a seat, boy, and listen. Now, you're not in trouble, but you gave your ma and I quite a scare when we found that razor in your toolbelt. We're not mad, we're just worried that you might make a terrible mistake.

Don't shave your beard, son. No dwarf should ever shave his beard. I know you think you're stickin' it to your old man and all that, but maybe I can change your mind. I'd like to tell you the story of your great-great-great-great granddad, old Othar Beardhaverson.

Othar was stationed to an outpost on the frontier of our clan's territory, right at the edge of goblin territory. It was little more than a small guardhouse cut from the rock, with a storeroom and a watch tower, but it was crucial in watching for goblin incursions. Othar and three other dwarves kept watch day and night. It was boring work, sure, but crucial, lad, crucial.

You see, one day they spotted a mass goblins approaching across the valley. They tried to go for help, but the goblins had sent advanced scouts that engaged the dwarves and penned them up. The main force would arrive in a matter of hours, and the dwarves knew they had to get a message out to ready the defenses.

They made several attempts to push past the goblins, but the greenskin scouts had the dwarves outnumbered ten to one and kept pushing them back into the gatehouse. The dwarves were tough though, and they kept fighting despite their wounds.

After several hours of constant fighting, all of the dwarves were too wounded to run except your great-great-great-great granddad. After so much abuse, his proud armor was in sad shape, battered and broken, and he didn't have the time or tools necessary to mend it properly. Without his armor's protection, he wouldn't last ten seconds against the cunning gobbos.

Othar was a clever one, though, and he came up with a plan. He took his big, glorious beard, and he braided it over his body, using it to shore up the weak points in his armor and keep the plates in position. With his armor prepared like this, he downed the last of the ale and charged from the guardhouse. The goblins attacked as always, but their weapons couldn't get through Othar's beard armor. He fought his way through and ran as fast as his legs could carry him, bringing warning to his king and mobilizing the army.

The next day, the army came and relieved the guard house. They met the goblin army head-on and turned it back, with Othar Beardhaverson, still clad in his beard armor, personally leading the final charge that routed the goblins.

There, there. Don't cry, son. We forgive you. Just promise me you'll throw away that horrible razor, and not another word about shaving your beard. For your ma's sake.

Beard Armor is an ability that allows a bearded character to bolster his armor with his mighty beard. It was developed by the dwarves, and dwarves get bonuses as the race with the best beards, but it is available to any race capable of growing beards. Sorry, elves.

A character cannot simply tie his beard about his body and expect to receive the Beard Armor bonus. One must learn the secret of the Beardsmith's Art, which includes special techniques for knotting and braiding beards to give the best durability and protection.

Beard Armor gives its bonus in addition to any other armor that the character is wearing. It can be worn by any class, and does not impart any armor-related penalties to skills or spellcasting.

Only the character who grew the beard can wear the beard armor. You cannot cut off another character's beard armor and wear it as your own. Beard armor must consist entirely of your own beard, though you may include your mustache if you like. No weaves, wigs, or beard extensions can grant beard armor.

Legends say that some Beardsmiths grow their beard armor to the level of beardery where they become Beardmasters. Beardmasters weave weapons and tools into their beards so that they can both attack and defend with their formidable facial hair. If there is any interest in the Beardmaster paragon path, please let me know in the comments. If I get enough commenters clamoring for Beardmaster rules, I'll give it a shot to develop full rules for the paragon path.

EDIT: Kudos to my lovely (and beardless) wife for the idea.


Kyle said...

Ha! Suck on that, elves!

bluefish said...

What are kids these days coming to? When I was that age, I didn't even know what a razor was. Now, you see them all the time in schools.