(Opening scene of Star Wars with Ralph McQuarrie's concept designs, by Daniel James Cox.)
Okay, time to keep thinking about armor. The core of the problem is that the regular World of Darkness is a modern day setting; the game is built around the assumption that people will be shooting guns at you, with maybe a little anachronistic swordplay here & there. Since Oubliette is a Weird Fantasy campaign, that entails certain tropes, pulling from both the Fantasy & the Science Fiction genres. You know, chainmail & mecha. I have to put some thought into making it work. In the last campaign it was fine; Sam's character just wore a chain shirt & that was that. I still like having the default as no armor; I'm only obsessing over the issue because I want to find an elegant solution. Well, that, & because in the current campaign Sam's character has an exoskeleton & Radarless' character was kitted out in ō-yoroi lamellar armour, which makes it manifestly relevant. So yeah, I've been stewing over it. Kicking the tin can around, not to be overly intending with my puns. Just sort of brainstorming.
First thing first: doing anything other than having Armor increase Defense is silly. Clearly it should provide a Defense bonus; that is the obvious, minimalist, elegant method. Anything else over complicates it. Which brings me to the drawbacks of armor. I still admit that I have a fondness for having Armor just penalize Willpower; I think that the biggest problem with armor is a sort of constant discomfort, an awkwardness & unwieldiness that fatigues & frustrates you. Thus: Willpower. I think that might not be as intuitive to some people though so I'm not married to the idea. The other notion I've been kicking around is Encumbrance. I've never really liked Encumbrance rules; I think they generally fail, being reduced to bean counting or abstracted to a point where you can ignore them. Best case scenario, I think, is when people either carry everything in a backpack & drop it (as a free action) at the start of combat (as my Characters have been wont to do) or to have Characters who get a wagon & just carry all their stuff in there (as my current batch of Players tend to do). Both of those are fine measures, but don't address the core of the issue.
I've got a notion for Encumbrance I've been mulling over, based on the World of Darkness damage system, of all things. See, I like their damage track system: Size (five, for humanoids), plus your Stamina. Fill in the bubbles-- on a scaled from six to ten-- & then the boxes below it are your health track. Penalties accumulate as it fills. Easy. I've always been bothered at encumbrance systems for not taking things besides weight into account; I mean, there are a reason that short swords are popular in history, & that reason is "because people keep tripping over these stupid long swords." I just think-- well, as far as abstractions go, giving things a "Encumbrance Rating" & filling that in on a short bar with hash marks is a pretty easy way to go that might actually accomplish that. Now, alright-- some people will argue that no encumbrance system is good, because the very act itself is just micromanagement. Maybe! I just think it might encourage people to kit out their characters responsibly. It isn't really a problem I've encountered with Oubliette, but considering that the first campaign had James' character Garrick as a dreadnought of black iron, & the current game has Sam as a cyborg in power armor, that having a solid system in place might be a good idea.