Swimming in plate-armour?

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Swimming in plate-armour?

Postby Big Mac » Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:44 am

I saw a link to a video called Swimming Test by a someone called Michael K. Bergstrom, who does medieval reenactment. Here is the blurb:
Michael K. Bergstrom on Vimeo wrote:A test concerning swimming in plate armour.

With the help of Dive Alaska, and SOMMA, in Anchorage, Alaska. I took part in a test to determine if swimming in plate armour was feasible. The test results were interesting.

Tester: Michael K. Bergstrom
Assistant: Lance Hanes
Interviewees:
Chris Cushman of Penguin Arms
Allan Senefelder of Mercenary's Tailor
Michael Bergstrom of SOMMA

Camera:
Dan Lee
Mike Collier
Michael Bergstrom

Underwater video by Dan Lee.

Many thanks to Dive Alaska for their assistance.

Produced by:
Mountain Stream Media and Dan Lee Videography

Shot on the Sony EX1, EX3 w/Canon 21x HDGC lens, Canon T2i, and Olympus oStyle 8000.


In the test he shows that he is able to move slightly if he swims, but that he can walk on the bottom of a swimming pool and try to jump up towards the surface. He thinks that some strong fighters may have been able to do a limited amount of swimming in armour.

What are your thoughts on thoughts on swimming in armour? Would you automatically make PCs drop to the bottom of any water body? Would you make them roll strength checks to stay at the surface and move towards a river bank? Would you allow PCs in plate armour to walk across the bottom of a river (if thy could hold their breath)?

Would you multiply encumberance values? Would you treat metal armour differently to leather armour (or clothing)?
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Re: Swimming in plate-armour?

Postby timemrick » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:50 pm

The armor check penalties in 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder are far from perfect, but they do a good enough job of modeling this for my purposes. 3.0 was the harshest (-1 Swim per some increment of gear weight), 3.5 less so (double ACP to Swim), and Pathfinder is the most forgiving (just the base ACP). Heavy armor has an ACP of -6 or -7, which will negate the Swim skill bonus of all but the strongest swimmers at low level (+8 maximum for a 1st level character with Swim as a class skill, maximum ranks, and Str 18). Considering that swimming in calm water is DC 10, a heavily armored fighter is unlikely to keep making that check for more than a few rounds--and won't get anywhere fast, since you can't go more than half your land speed unless your race has a natural swim speed.

On the other hand (in PF, at least), a character can walk on the bottom if they wear or carry enough gear to weight them down (16 lbs. for a Medium creature). This gives them firm footing, allowing them to move at half speed underwater, and only suffer the normal penalties to fighting underwater (rather than the harsher penalties for being off balance). If you can hold your breath for long enough to get where you need to go, that's going to be easier than swimming for someone in heavy armor--much like that video's creator concludes.

5E greatly simplifies swimming (and climbing), simply charging extra movement in most situations. This means that heavy armor imposes no penalty other than reducing your base speed. If the swim (or climb) is especially difficult, the DM can require a Strength (Athletics) check to make progress. That may be a little TOO easy for many players' tastes, but I can attest that it does help keep the game moving.
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Re: Swimming in plate-armour?

Postby Silverblade-T-E » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:21 pm

once depth goes below 35 feet it doesn't matter since only staying above water to breath counts, and be too far form shore/flotation so you'd be screwed short of magic or supernatural strength ;)
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Re: Swimming in plate-armour?

Postby Big Mac » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:11 am

Silverblade-T-E wrote:once depth goes below 35 feet it doesn't matter since only staying above water to breath counts, and be too far form shore/flotation so you'd be screwed short of magic or supernatural strength ;)


Well there are magic items that allow people to breath water.

If someone enchanted a great helm to allow people to breath underwater, a wearer could walk through any river, or climb into a moat and out of the other side.

Getting enough "water knights" across a river could be enough to allow construction of some sort of temporary bridge.

Tinker gnomes might also have steam-powered armoured diving suits designed to get warriors across rivers. I think that Gnomes 100, Dragons - 0 had some sort of armoured super-suit. :lol:
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