Rings: An Alternative/Supplement to Equipment

Weight Gain games come with a number of expectations, chief among which is that your character gets larger, and said enlargement has consequences… Such as bursting out of one’s clothes.

Role-playing games also come with a number of expectations, one of which is that you’ll be able to customize and augment your character with worthwhile equipment.

One of the most common types of WG game is either an RPG or one with RPG elements, and thus, many WG games will have equipment systems.

Should there be any problems? Probably not. But what if your game includes clothes-bursting from weight gain as a feature?

Has your player literally destroyed their precious armor? Has it conveniently, but unsatisfyingly, been damaged, and need to be repaired and refitted? Did it not matter at all, because all armor is generally interchangeable? Did nothing happen at all, because you’re ignoring it? Are any of these particularly satisfying conclusions?

I propose an alternative system to the traditional RPG equipment system: Rings. These simple loops of metal slip onto any available finger, provided there isn’t already a ring there, and bestow some boost or other effect, much like any other enchanted armor piece.

Rings are:

  • Simple to design, whether you’re conveying its appearance through graphics or text.
  • Logical loot. Player finishes a quest? Give 'em a ring. Opens a chest? There’s a ring. Better than yet more gold or consumables.
  • Potentially fun collectibles. Almost everybody loves to “catch 'em all,” and rings can fit that bill.
  • A pragmatic, modular augment system. Hate having two different pieces of armor for the same slot? Rings have slots for as many fingers (minus thumbs) as your character has, sidestepping this particular problem. Rings offer the ultimate in mix-and-match.

Granted, I’m probably trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, and I’m simply overthinking a system that works well enough already, but I thought it’d be fun to propose the idea for discussion anyway. Thoughts?


rings are a great supplement in my opinion, and I’m just bummed that more games/systems don’t really use or mention them much. also when you can use rings, you usually can only have 2 at a maximum.

I think for the context of weight, jewelry makes the most sense, as you’ll likely be out growing your other equipment at varying rates. I’ve always liked artificing in D&D and games as well, so the idea of having buffs and effects held in all your extra trinkets is a nice one. and again, with weight in the equation, it feels more practical. also, you don’t have to worry about wear and tear with jewelry typically: if you’ve got some nice enchanted armor, it’s gonna get beaten up eventually, meaning repairs or replacement. my only concern with rings would be if you get fat fingers, which might make putting a ring on difficult – or make it hard to take one off!

you don’t have to stop at rings either. necklaces, bracelets, small extra garments like bandannas, you name it. I love doing the little extra stuff for a character when I can, and making those little touches more practical is always good.


They’re an excellent option for a more practical approach to protecting the heavier hero. That said, I definitely like the option of having regular armor and clothing available as well, as outgrowing it and dealing with the consequences. That’s half the fun of playing a gaining hero!

Admin Notice (7/26): Moved to the new #game-design-discussion topic

The idea of logical loot, not just rings, is actually a very well discussed topic overall. I think there are at least 2 GDC talks on the topic, and I think extra credits did an episode on it as well. Its great for when you require a large amount of items but can afford to have them modeled in game.

That being said in the context of a weight gain focused game it is an effective way to provide equipment that can help nullify the negative effects of gaining weight. It depends on what they designer is going for though, as having equipment have a maximum size that it can be worn to before it breaks or can not be worn can add an interesting dimension to weight and item management.

That’s some of the intent, yeah. I can’t help but notice that no WGRPG I’ve ever played (or remember) has ever actually given the player unique armors. Logical enough; why invest design in something you’ll either break or otherwise be unable to use literally five minutes after you get it? Still, it’s a shame that so much design space goes unused.

I probably should have elaborated in the OP, but that’s the idea. Maintain the general mundanity of clothing/armor so that it doesn’t frustrate the player; instead, give all your cool effects to a type of equipment you won’t outgrow (suspension of disbelief willing).

Also, thank you @grotlover2 for the new subforum and all you do for the site.

I certainly considered that; part of me felt that only 6-8 slots for customization might be a bit stifling, but I realized that it’s at least comparable to a standard loadout (head, chest, arms, legs, feet).

Bracelets/anklets/necklace/tailring are a logical further supplement, but I was kinda enamored with the “purity” of my initial concept: rings are rings, universal, they go on any empty finger. Assuming they’re differently sized, a bracelet can only go on a wrist and an anklet can only go on an ankle.

I kinda like the idea of bracelets/anklets/etc. all being interchangeable, I.e., all the same size, basically “big rings” that go around any extremity. They’d still be essentially a parallel but separate system to rings, or perhaps just a replacement for them altogether. I’d still prefer the elegance of rings, though.

Alternately you can decouple the stat-giving from the items themselves. Let’s call the object that modifies a stat a gem. So you might have a ring which holds a small gem, or a bracelet which holds a medium gem. Your hand may be too fat to fit that ring someday, but you can re-slot the gem into a new ring without too much trouble.

That’s fair enough. Stones are probably equivalent to rings, and more easily integrates bracelets. Some of the idea behind rings is that they aren’t outgrown, allowing the developer to have clothes-bursting goodness while giving them design space to make equipment that isn’t disposable.

With rings alone, I worry that there are too few slots for customization; on the other hand, though, stones might mean too many. How many stones should a player expect a ring to take? Two seems like an arbitrarily small number of stones, yet it doubles the number of possible slots for augments (from 6-8 to 12-16).

Granted, if you only allow each bauble to hold a single stone, then the choice between collecting unique baubles and collecting unique stones comes down to the feel they want to give the game.

I think that you could do some really interesting things if you designed the game around clothes and armor being destroyed. Plenty of interesting gameplay scenarios could result from the player suddenly losing a piece of equipment and its associated benefits. Forcing players to plan around eventually losing their favorite outfits could potentially make for more interesting, meaningful decisions than if those outfits’ gameplay value was negligible.

Plenty of gear-based games already make their players constantly replace old stuff with newer, better stuff. If a suit of armor is destined to be replaced anyway, would you rather pawn it off for pocket change, or have it explode off of your character’s body to reveal their jiggling curves?

Of course, you’d have to balance the game to accommodate these situations. Armor and clothing would need to be plentiful enough to keep pace with the player’s needs. At the same time, they should be scarce enough so as to not drown the player in vendor trash. There’s also the challenge of imbuing these items with enough variety so that the player continues to appreciate getting new ones.

that would put both a premium on armor modifications and would make them expendable: make it worth it to beef your favorite equipment up a bit, but make it easy enough to do so when it inevitable gets mangled.

one thing that could be done is make the base equipment plentiful and cheap, but the additional stuff…that’s where the meat of your loadout comes into play, pun intended. with the base level stuff common and cheap, there’s little incentive to carry more than a couple backup pieces.

modifications, enchantments, and little accessories could be what makes a simple shirt a utility armor piece, and if the shirt is destroyed, maybe one of your mods can be salvaged and re-used. enchantments are a different story, but if this is the common way to enhance clothing, it wouldn’t have to be terribly expensive, being a common and necessary service.

That’s fair enough, but I’ve never seen a game of this ilk put that much effort into armor. Granted, that’s likely due to deficiencies in both time and interest, but I don’t have much reason to believe that we’ll ever see a game with more than eight distinct sets of armor.

A game balanced around acquiring and replacing armor would be interesting, though… It would basically have to have Diablo-style loot to justify itself, though. I’m not sure I’d particularly care to keep getting the exact same piece of armor in an area, even if I needed it.

well, ideally you wouldn’t need to carry around much backup, if any backups at all! I would have the base items be common and cheap, with varying base properties, but not much special to them by themselves. it’d be the mods and/or materials for the mods holding more value, so you could do detailed modding to stuff outside of dangerous areas and maybe some emergency additions to clothes you find in the field, should you damage your outfit…

Perhaps a point of comparison would be weapon degradation. When I’m playing, for example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’m constantly forced to choose which weapons I’m willing to damage or break in a given fight, versus which ones I want to save for later. Aside from the three weapon types, the weapons only differ in their damage output and durability, both of which are tied to a single number. Even so, it’s still enough to present me with a conundrum: break some weak weapons and save my strong ones, or use a strong one to end a tough fight quickly and maintain my supply?

That said, I feel like that game is probably not the best model for this system. I’m either draining my inventory dry because a six-foot claymore is somehow less durable than a potato chip, or I’m constantly dropping stuff because my inventory is too full.

yeah, this is something I don’t really like about the new zelda; the equipment system is interesting and makes you change it up, but it almost feels like it does so too much. I don’t want to use my favorite good weapons because that will only make them break faster…

I had an old RPG called Arcanum, where certain circumstances would cause equipment to take damage, such as receiving a critical hit on your armor, or using a weapon to break an object. normally things wouldn’t degrade, but certain situations would put more than average strain on your gear.