Many sources (ex) point out that a distinct advantage of non-metal armour is that it does not rust in the rain.

Also, "adventurers", carrying all their belongings on their back, pretty often find themselves in rain, storm, or completely submerged.

So I was wondering it there is some place out there, where item condition is really well handled? I mean more realistically than the hp/toughness concept.

Note that the "pedantically" in the heading is meant to get some thorough mechanic and answers. By no means do I intend to use pedantic rules in my game. I want pick the best ideas and apply them to some of the most important items in an adventurer's life - food, metal armour, scrolls.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can we just cut to the chase here? Many will be of the opinion "Don't do it, it's boring and no one will like it." OK, we've said it in the comments, please make answers to this question below actually answers and not rebuttals, else they'll be deleted. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Dec 15, 2012 at 15:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ I remember something in Warhammer about armor being useless after water due to leather straps being messed up, as well as bows, and I'm pretty sure Rolemaster must have stuff to. However, I think you should detail your question more: are you looking for a system regarding armor and rust, or for a system managing in an absolutely realistic way every single piece of equipment? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 15, 2012 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've edited your title to be a proper question, and I've also replaced the word "pedantic". I know you're trying to use it to provoke some sort of reaction, but it's doing you a disservice: pedantic is an entirely negative word, so you're having people react badly to the question from the outset. I'm guessing you don't want a pedantic item condition system - you just want one that takes a careful, attentive and detailed look at items. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2012 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nothing from Rolemaster springs to mind; I've scanned through several of the books and I can't find anything immediately obvious. If there was a rule for it I certainly ignored in the 15 odd years I've played RM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Sep 27, 2013 at 14:53

2 Answers 2


Desolation by Greymalkin Games added gear quality and degradation to the Ubiquity Roleplaying System. The setting is a post-apocalyptic fantasy where finding functional gear is a pretty big deal. As the underlying system is intended to be fast and easy to use, the system they came up with to emulate the wear and tear of hard use was equally fast.

Essentially, items are assessed when obtained (found, taken, bought, etc) as being in one of three Conditions: Good, Worn, or Broken. Found items, or items stored in poor environments are generally considered to be Worn. Items in use for which the skill roll botches (critical failure) are downgraded one condition level. This allows GMs to quickly asssess quality of items and degrade them as required.

Continued use of an item after downgrading its condition is allowable at GM discretion (such as using a worn arrow, attacking with a broken sword, or cutting wood with what's left of a broken saw) at a reduced level of effectiveness.

The GM's discretion is required for determining if and how an item's degradation affects its performance. Simple guidance was provided such as suggesting a broken sword might be reduced in damage, perhaps as much as to be that of a dagger.

The primary focus was on speed of play and utility,however, so the core of the idea was the three condition levels with each being a step worse. This applied to all objects. A glass bottle, when of the Worn condition, might be cracked and leak, while a dagger might be dull. That same bottle would be useless as a container when Broken (though it might be good as an improvised weapon), but the dagger could have a little death left in it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any difference in effectiveness between items in Good condition and items in Worn condition? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jun 17, 2016 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, case by case and item by item, degradation applies with each Condition downgrade. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2016 at 16:08

The closest thing I can think of is that 7th Sea has a chart for food spoiling on ships, but even that it more abstract. Normally it's really only worried about by really cruel GMs looking to make their players more careful, or ones that are more nitpicky than airport security. Consider that each character in the group will have roughly 4-10 items that they specifically list, and then there are always the abstract ones (usually outlined by kits or trade tools) which can easily ramp each character to having dozens of items to watch out for. Now we get into alchemical issues - if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty you need to know what materials react to what, rates of entropy given certain stimuli, and what materials/sealants can change those rates.

Quite frankly it's an exercise in futility unless you want to make a game about micromanaging your items. Sometimes there are specific situations (for example rust monsters in D&D) where materials get to matter (get it?) but otherwise it's a lot of time consuming desk checking.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ha-ha, indeed writing reaction equations would be no fun. The "predantically" in the heading was added to get some elaborate systems (and answers, containing them), which, in tern, are meant to inspire me to pick the best of it. But I am getting more and more annoyed of travellers, falling in lakes, and then travelling 10 days off the "dried meat and bread in my backpack". \$\endgroup\$
    – Vorac
    Dec 15, 2012 at 14:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ The DM's perogative is to say "you got completely drenched. The bread is moldy, the meat makes your backpack stink to high heaven and draws animals". You don't need a mechanic to justify it, especially if it makes sense. (EDIT: if you need some dice to give yourself confidence, rolls some percentiles) \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Dec 15, 2012 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ So what about armour? Or scrolls? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vorac
    Dec 15, 2012 at 15:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Magical items tend to get a Fortitude save in D&D in a situation where they might be destroyed, but other than that it's DM discretion. If the scroll isn't in a case, it's bound to be tarnished just by daily wear and tear. Armor can rust if not treated (in the hands of non-proficient), you can have a band break and the armor not be able to be worn but it's all plot device \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Dec 15, 2012 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Vorac You could simply have a series of tables for stimulus vs. item giving a chance of breaking (e.g. 'saltwater immersion' and 'leather' cross-references to '40% chance damaged, 20% chance destroyed' or whatever you want), which I don't think I've ever seen anywhere yet. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dakeyras
    Dec 15, 2012 at 21:51

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