Armor with Str / Dex bonus

Inspired from the playtest's core Finesse Weapons (Attack: Strength or Dexterity modifier) and the help I thought the armor table needed, I came up with this armor table that has both Strength and Dexterirt modifier bonuses to Armor Class.

Light armor gets a Dexterity modifier bonus to Armor Class because the armor is flexable and light enough to avoid attacks in.  Heavy armor gets a Strength modifier bonus to Armor Class because the armor is durable and heavy enough to be used to deflect attacks.  Medium armor can get either a Dexterity or Strength modifier bonus depending on how the armor is used.

Armor Penalty is an Armor Check Penalty to Strength and Dexterity checks made while wearing certain armors or shields. A penalty to armor and a penalty to shield do not stack, use greater penalty.

Armor and Shields


































































































































































Armor  Cost  Armor Class  Ability Bonus  Armor Penalty  Speed Penalty  Weight
  None
    Cloth1 gp10Dexterity4 lb.
  Light
    Leather10 gp12Dexterity15 lb.
    Studded Leather    25 gp13Dexterity20 lb.
    Chain Shirt75 gp14Dexterity-125 lb.
    Mithral Shirt2,500 gp15Dexterity-110 lb.
  Medium
    Hide15 gp13Dex or Str-225 lb.
    Scale50 gp14Dex or Str-230 lb.
    Chainmail100 gp15Dex or Str-240 lb.
    Dragon Scale5,000 gp16Dex or Str-220 lb.
  Heavy
    Splint500 gp15Strength-3-5 feet45 lb.
    Banded500 gp16Strength-3-5 feet35 lb.
    Plate1,500 gp17Strength-4-5 feet50 lb.
    Adamantine15,000 gp    18Strength-4-5 feet50 lb.
  Shields
    Light Shield10 gp+15 lb.
    Heavy Shiled20 gp+2-215 lb.
Reserved for Responses
This table differs from the first in that it does not include expensive Mithral Shirt, Dragon Scale or Adamantine armor.  Padded armor starts Light armors at 11, also.

Inspired from the playtest's core Finesse Weapons (Attack: Strength or Dexterity modifier) and the help I thought the armor table needed, I came up with this armor table that has both Strength and Dexterirt modifier bonuses to Armor Class.

Light armor gets a Dexterity modifier bonus to Armor Class because the armor is flexable and light enough to avoid attacks in.  Heavy armor gets a Strength modifier bonus to Armor Class because the armor is durable and heavy enough to be used to deflect attacks.  Medium armor can get either a Dexterity or Strength modifier bonus depending on how the armor is used.

Armor Penalty is an Armor Check Penalty to Strength and Dexterity checks made while wearing certain armors or shields. A penalty to armor and a penalty to shield do not stack, use greater penalty.

Armor and Shields


































































































































































Armor  Cost  Armor Class  Ability Bonus  Armor Penalty  Speed Penalty  Weight
  None
    Cloth1 gp10Dexterity4 lb.
  Light
    Padded5 gp11Dexterity10 lb.
    Leather10 gp12Dexterity15 lb.
    Studded Leather    25 gp13Dexterity-120 lb.
    Chain Shirt100 gp14Dexterity-125 lb.
  Medium
    Hide15 gp13Dex or Str-225 lb.
    Breastplate50 gp14Dex or Str-230 lb.
    Scale Mail150 gp15Dex or Str-330 lb.
    Chain Mail200 gp16Dex or Str-340 lb.
  Heavy
    Splint Mail200 gp15Strength-4-5 feet45 lb.
    Banded Mail250 gp16Strength-3-5 feet35 lb.
    Field Plate500 gp17Strength-4-5 feet50 lb.
    Full Plate1,500 gp    18Strength-4-5 feet50 lb.
  Shields
    Light Shield10 gp+15 lb.
    Heavy Shiled20 gp+2-215 lb.
I think I'd agree that there should always be some kind of trade-off between armours.  I also agree that the better light armours should carry drawbacks or leather might as well retire.
As somebody else suggested in another thread, from a mechanical standpoint it would be great to link medium armors to Dex/Con, and heavy armors to straight Con.

While I don't mind them functioning with Str, I'd like to see Con getting some more love in this current iteration (since it doesn't directly add to HP/Level anymore), and some folks are of the opinion that Str would be too good if it also added to AC in certain armor types.
While I like the idea in principle (though I too would go with Con over Str), the problem I see with both of these tables is that you'd get some seriously astronomical ACs with high Str + heavy armor.  Lowering the AC bonuses from medium and heavy armor (significantly) and using Con instead of Str (since an 18 Con is going to be less common than an 18 Str) might assuage this somewhat.

The other alternative is Medium and Heavy armors allow you to take AC +X or AC Y + ability modifier, whichever is higher.  Actually, I kind of like that salution... don't know if it could be made to work or not, though.

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I could see someone in full plate using their armor to parry a sword swing, for me that can justify a Str mod bonus to AC.  I don't know what the argument for letting Con boost your AC is?

And I think Con is still master of HPs, so it's well represented in core mechanics.  As Str gives some of it's juju to Dex in the form of core finesse weapons and Magical Ability attacks, one place it can make it up is in AC.

But I think this table works because Medium armor is Strength or Dexterity mod bonuses.  In fact, a PC in Full Plate with a high str bonus is only 2 points higher than a PC in Dragon Scale (or Chainmail) with a high Dex bonus.  You can't compare the high end Light armor to the high end Heavy armor.

It does give that 2 points of AC to the high Str character that's proficient in Heavy armor.  Which is who, the fighter and maybe paladin? 
As somebody else suggested in another thread, from a mechanical standpoint it would be great to link medium armors to Dex/Con, and heavy armors to straight Con.

While I don't mind them functioning with Str, I'd like to see Con getting some more love in this current iteration (since it doesn't directly add to HP/Level anymore), and some folks are of the opinion that Str would be too good if it also added to AC in certain armor types.



I think STR would only be closer to DEX in usefulness if added to heavy armor AC, which it should be. CON will still most likely be used for various types of saves as it was in other editions.

On a side note, I think shields should be a little better. The AC is usually so low that most ignore them for higher damage 2-handed weapons or dual wielding.

I think the current table you have up gives waaay too high AC to strength users.  Next is trying to reign in high ACs and attack bonuses.  As such, it should be hard to get an AC of 20, and very hard to go beyond that.

If you look at the playtest, you'll see this is the case.  20 is Adamantine Heavy with a Large Shield, or Mithril Chain with a +5 Dex.  Though I suppose there's a potential problem here if you toss in a shield on to the Mithril Chain.

If Strength is going to modify Heavy Armor, then you'll have to reduce its effectiveness for people with lower strength scores.

Not sure how good an idea this is overall.

I think some people are missing the point that Dex isn't that useful if you can wear heavy armor.  It's only good for ranged weapons and "reflex" saves then, since you can get comparable AC without Dex.  Dex-based AC is more of a freebee to people who don't want to wear armor.  Not a big deal.

I think letting ranged attacks with thrown weapons use strength for hit and damage (and possibly composite bows), would do the job here.  That and ensuring there are more attacks that require strength to resist, such as force attacks with can knock you off your feet.
I think the current table you have up gives waaay too high AC to strength users.  Next is trying to reign in high ACs and attack bonuses.  As such, it should be hard to get an AC of 20, and very hard to go beyond that.

If you look at the playtest, you'll see this is the case.  20 is Adamantine Heavy with a Large Shield, or Mithril Chain with a +5 Dex.  Though I suppose there's a potential problem here if you toss in a shield on to the Mithril Chain.

If Strength is going to modify Heavy Armor, then you'll have to reduce its effectiveness for people with lower strength scores.

Not sure how good an idea this is overall.

I think some people are missing the point that Dex isn't that useful if you can wear heavy armor.  It's only good for ranged weapons and "reflex" saves then, since you can get comparable AC without Dex.  Dex-based AC is more of a freebee to people who don't want to wear armor.  Not a big deal.

I think letting ranged attacks with thrown weapons use strength for hit and damage (and possibly composite bows), would do the job here.  That and ensuring there are more attacks that require strength to resist, such as force attacks with can knock you off your feet.

With a +5 Ability modifier - either Str or Dex - Light armor Mithral Shirt gives 20 AC, Medium armor Dragon Scale gives 21 AC and Heavy armor Adamantine gives 23 AC.  The only difference than high Dex mod blowing up AC in Light armor is now Heavy armor Str mod can keep up. Shouldn't Heavy armor provide higher AC?

But I could see all the ACs being lowered. 

I don't know what the argument for letting Con boost your AC is?

And I think Con is still master of HPs, so it's well represented in core mechanics.  As Str gives some of it's juju to Dex in the form of core finesse weapons and Magical Ability attacks, one place it can make it up is in AC.



There really isn't one. It's strictly based around mechanical function. Of course some crafty BS could justify it, but in the end it's still strictly to enhance both CON and heavy armor. In fact, justification would be much the same as the reasoning to let STR enhance it.

Part of a character's Constitution is their ability to shrug off blunt trauma and minor abrasions and lacerations. While this may not make much difference when wearing lighter armors or no armor at all, heavier armors are capable of absorbing the bulk of incoming contact, leaving blunt trauma as the primary source of injury to the wearer.

Justified. Not that it matters, but if it helps somebody sleep at night...

If Strength is going to modify Heavy Armor, then you'll have to reduce its effectiveness for people with lower strength scores.

Not sure how good an idea this is overall.

I think some people are missing the point that Dex isn't that useful if you can wear heavy armor.  It's only good for ranged weapons and "reflex" saves then, since you can get comparable AC without Dex.  Dex-based AC is more of a freebee to people who don't want to wear armor.  Not a big deal.



I think you've got it 100% backwards there. Heavy armor is a crutch for those who can't get (or afford) a high DEX score. DEX now adds to attack and damage in melee with finesse weapons. That fact means that it does everything STR does in combat and much more.

My first post suggested that you apply STR bonus with a -1 or -2 modifier (thus if you have average or below STR, your modifier even brings the base value down). I'm not convinced that that's really needed, however.

Keep in mind that the best armors of each category are doubtless supposed to be exceedingly rare (Mithril was a legendary material, as were adamantine and dragonscales), which alone would remove them from the range of "typical" available AC. That said, if you feel that it's still too high, then I'd say lower it by a point or maybe two, across the board.

The actual number associated with each armor type is the easy part. The best mechanism for arriving at that number is what's in question and the harder bit to balance.

I think you've got it 100% backwards there. Heavy armor is a crutch for those who can't get (or afford) a high DEX score. DEX now adds to attack and damage in melee with finesse weapons. That fact means that it does everything STR does in combat and much more.

My first post suggested that you apply STR bonus with a -1 or -2 modifier (thus if you have average or below STR, your modifier even brings the base value down). I'm not convinced that that's really needed, however.

Keep in mind that the best armors of each category are doubtless supposed to be exceedingly rare (Mithril was a legendary material, as were adamantine and dragonscales), which alone would remove them from the range of "typical" available AC. That said, if you feel that it's still too high, then I'd say lower it by a point or maybe two, across the board.

The actual number associated with each armor type is the easy part. The best mechanism for arriving at that number is what's in question and the harder bit to balance.



There's a damage hit with finessable weapons (avg. 1, 2 on a crit) with one-handed weapons, and 2 damage with two-handers.  So Dex isn't as good as strength for melee weapon damage.  Since you can wear armor instead of having a high dex, that means Dex isn't essential here.  However you want to look at it, Dex to AC is not important for people who can wear heavy armor (or medium come the next packet)....which happen to be the people likely to have high strength for thematic reasons or for the extra damage.

So I think overall Strength and Dex compare fairly well to each other for AC and Hit/Damage concerns.  I don't see the point of twiddling with it except to make the game more complicated.  There is a concern regarding Saves, but there's a world of possible strength saves, so I think this won't be too bad, especially if some AoE Dex Saves are moved to other abilities scores.

There's undoubtedly an argument to be made for heavy shields, at least, making dex less desirable to use for AC.

If there's anywhere that Dex and Strength is a problem, then it is with more hybrid characters who can't wear armor.  Fighter/Mages almost have to go Dex...there's no choice.  But this has more to do with the difficulties of armor and casting more than anything else.  Clerics don't have this problem, for instance.

So I guess I don't really see what problem this is fixing.
If there's anywhere that Dex and Strength is a problem, then it is with more hybrid characters who can't wear armor.  Fighter/Mages almost have to go Dex...there's no choice.  But this has more to do with the difficulties of armor and casting more than anything else.  Clerics don't have this problem, for instance.

So I guess I don't really see what problem this is fixing.

Any percieved difficulty in casting arcane spells in armor is pure contrivance, and was done as a balance factor in previous editions. Since an eldritch knight/warmage (red mage) concept has been around for quite some time, having the option of going str or dex for this concept should be acceptable. I feel Con would be a better fit for heavy armor, primarily because it should have innately better AC than light armor. An 18 Dex person in chain shirt should have about the same AC as a 14 Con person in full plate IMO.

And I SO wish shields would never again be in the d*** armor list. They are an offhand defensive weapon, not armor!

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Lets run some numbers as it stands now...

A DEX 18(+4) starting character with a chain shirt is looking at 18 AC. They're also looking at +4 hit in melee, along with 7.5 average rolled damage with a single hand (short-sword, scimitar, rapier), or 8.5 average with a two hand (Quarter staff) equipped. As an aside, that DEX score is also going to apply to more skills, saves, and usually opposed rolls too.

A STR 18(+4) starting character with Chain-mail is sitting on 16 AC. They've got the same +4 to hit, and with the best single hand (IF they have martial proficiencies) they do indeed average 1 higher, at 8.5, and a double hand does indeed have a 2 pt edge at 10.5. If, however, they do not have martial weapons available, they're still looking at 7.5 average on a single hand, and only a 1pt edge (9.5 dmg) for a two hander.

So even under the assumption that the guy with STR has access to Martial weapons (which will apply most of the time, but not always), somebody with high str, designed to be a tank, is giving up survivability for added damage. AND, that kit costs a lot more money than the light armor setup. It may only matter early game, but it's just one more arbitrary notch in favor of the light armor as it stands.

Now, mathematically, the defense is still going to scale better than the extra damage. Even if that were not the case, it boggles my mind that heavy armor should offer less survivability than light armor. Espeically given that damage and health still scale by level, where as attack and AC do not, so after a few levels +/- 1 or 2 damage will be negligible, +/- 2 armor is still a big swing!

Example: Fighting a single Hobgoblin (+3 hit, 1D8+1 dmg, AC 15, 11 Hp), assuming both kits examples are with a Fighter (+6 hit, 1D6+6 dmg, AC 18 OR +6 hit, 1D8+6 Dmg, AC 16 OR +6 hit, 1D12+6 Dmg, AC 16)

The Light armor kit sets average hobgoblin damage per action at 1.375 (25% chance to hit for 5.5 av damage)
Heavy armor kit puts Hobgoblin damage at 1.925 average damage (35% hit chance with 5.5 av damage)
Single handed finesse weapon puts average damage per attack at 4.275 (45% hit chance for 9.5 av damage)
Single Martial Weapon gets us whopping 4.725 (45% hit, for 10.5 dmg)

So against the hobgoblin in question, it'll take an average of 3 attacks regardless of finesse or martial single handed weapons, and 2 turns (but not by much margin) with a double hand martial weapon.

Over those 3 turns, you'll statistically take between 2.75 and 4.125 damage in the light armor kit (depending on if the hobgoblin ends up with 2 or 3 attacks himself).

In the heavy armor kit, the hobgoblin will deal between 3.85 to 5.775.

So that's the tradeoff against a slightly better than average humanoid, and the difference gets bigger vs multiple targets, where added defense applies multiple times, but increased damage still only applies once.

IMO it's pretty cut and dried. It's not a huge difference, but taking a couple extra pts of damage in each fight adds up fast. It either ends up taxing the group's healer, or wears down said fighter that much more quickly.

I know this is just one example, but it's not a stretch, and it illustrates that a point of extra damage really means quite a lot less in the grand scheme of things than extra AC.

Dex is very useful for attacking with missiles, saves, and initiative.  It is viewed by many as a super stat.  Strength is needed for attack and damage by melee fighters but dex remains highly useful even if it won't affect your AC in heavy armour.  If an armoured fighter only needs to think about strength for attack and AC, it leaves a lot of free points for dex.  Con on the other hand forces the player to consider splitting his focus and leads to the more traditional tank characters.  It's tougher for min/maxers and I generally approve of that!

I think the problem is more that the better light armours need some disadvantages to balance the better AC.  Skill penalties - probably.  Vulnerability to shocking grasp - yes.  In a flatter math game I'm not convinced that higher and higher AC is the best way to go for heavy armours but in 1e it was possible for a level 2 character to be hittable only a 20 by a kobold if they bought plate mail, a shield, and Dex 16+.  The advantage rules might help mitigate against that.  Maybe capping light armour at +1 magic, medium at +2 and heavy at +3 is another way to balance it?
Lets run some numbers as it stands now...

A DEX 18(+4) starting character with a chain shirt is looking at 18 AC. They're also looking at +4 hit in melee, along with 7.5 average rolled damage with a single hand (short-sword, scimitar, rapier), or 8.5 average with a two hand (Quarter staff) equipped. As an aside, that DEX score is also going to apply to more skills, saves, and usually opposed rolls too.

A STR 18(+4) starting character with Chain-mail is sitting on 16 AC. They've got the same +4 to hit, and with the best single hand (IF they have martial proficiencies) they do indeed average 1 higher, at 8.5, and a double hand does indeed have a 2 pt edge at 10.5. If, however, they do not have martial weapons available, they're still looking at 7.5 average on a single hand, and only a 1pt edge (9.5 dmg) for a two hander.



I don't think that's a fair comparison.  The Dex guy has the second-best light armor, and the strength guy has the WORST heavy armor.  I suppose it applies at bit at level 1, but it seems like very rapidly the heavy armor guy is going to be sitting at 17 AC, which compares well against 18.  He can also forgo a two-handed weapon and gain a +2 bonus from a shield, moving him to 19.  He'll do more damage either way, since his one-handers do 1d8 damage verses the 1d6 of the Rogue.

If they don't have martial weapons, I'm not sure what they are doing with an 18 strength, honestly.  Even the Cleric of Moradin has a martial weapon.

I really do think that simply having thrown weapons able to use strength for hit/damage would pretty much balance things out.  Then those strength guys have some ranged options.

I'm not saying Dex isn't good.  It is.  I'm just saying that it doesn't seem to be necessary for martial types (including Rogues in that or other weapon users).  Ranged weapons is a compelling reason to go with Dex right now, but that's fixable easily enough.  Saves is also fixable, with more variety in the sorts of attacks you'll face and a rethinking of what we apply saves to.  I could see a Fireball requiring a Con save, for instance, since you can't really dodge a massive ball of fire you're in the middle of.

I don't think that's a fair comparison.  The Dex guy has the second-best light armor, and the strength guy has the WORST heavy armor.  I suppose it applies at bit at level 1, but it seems like very rapidly the heavy armor guy is going to be sitting at 17 AC, which compares well against 18.  He can also forgo a two-handed weapon and gain a +2 bonus from a shield, moving him to 19.  He'll do more damage either way, since his one-handers do 1d8 damage verses the 1d6 of the Rogue.

If they don't have martial weapons, I'm not sure what they are doing with an 18 strength, honestly.  Even the Cleric of Moradin has a martial weapon.

I really do think that simply having thrown weapons able to use strength for hit/damage would pretty much balance things out.  Then those strength guys have some ranged options.



You're right that, fairly soon, the guy in Heavy armor will likely have himself some plate. Though if you look at it fairly, by the time the guy who started with chain upgrades to plate (if they purchase it), they're going to have spent $2,000. The guy in light armor (who still has better defense) will have spent $75. That's a pretty big difference. Heck, if it's purchasable that difference puts the guy in light armor only $575 short of having Mithril.

Even if you don't worry about the difference in cost OR the difference in AC, the guy in heavy armor is ALSO at a bunch of skill penalties.

In the end, with the light armor finesse weapon kit you get more versatility, more mobility, better saves, better skill checks, better opposed rolls, quicker to put on/take off, Higher AC, and it's a small fraction the cost, which is an advantage early, and makes it easier to replace later, if needed. It weighs less and is easier to transport... at the cost of (on average) less than a point of damage per round.

If light armor is better than heavy armor in every way, why would anybody make the stuff. Yes, it's better defense if you have cruddy DEX, but on the level that PC's are going to have their primary stat...

Though I have to ask... do shields now deprive you of your dex bonus altogether? I wasn't aware that they did in previous editions, but it's a bit ambiguous now. All it says is that they Add to your AC, yet have an empty DEX bonus field like heavy armor, so I'm not sure.
I greatly dislike the idea that Strength is required to get the maximum AC.  I prefer the aesthetics of light armor and Dextrous characters, so I'd like them to at least equal (if not surpass) the heavy armor/high strength sorts.
I greatly dislike the idea that Strength is required to get the maximum AC.  I prefer the aesthetics of light armor and Dextrous characters, so I'd like them to at least equal (if not surpass) the heavy armor/high strength sorts.



Neither make utter sense so both work fine ... from what I hear 3e explicitly allowed reflavoring armor as you see fit. I am not wearing plate sir I am wearing a chain mail bikini but it pinches badly enough that I dont move that fast with it on.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

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so I'd like them to at least equal (if not surpass) the heavy armor/high strength sorts



Where game design is concerned, it's important to take as many stylistic preferences out as possible, if they affect "balance".

I have no problem with Light armors being on par, via dex, with heavy armor in terms of AC. I'm in fact a fan of that, since I don't want to eliminate any character styles.

But just as I know there are folks like you out there who prefer light armor and some who might even want to be a Finesse-Tank (I've build characters like it in the past), there are those who want to be the big hulking guy in so much plate he looks more like a stove than a man! They shouldn't be inherently inferior simply because they don't conform to your ideal, any more than your style should be inferior because it doesn't fit theirs.

Now, I personally like the idea of making Heavy Armor scale off of something so that to reach the same pinnacle that light armor allows for, a character still has to be exceptional. The alternative is for any schmoe who puts the stuff on to be neigh invincible, or (as it is now) that Heavy Armor is flat out inferior in almost every way, which I just don't like.
I greatly dislike the idea that Strength is required to get the maximum AC.  I prefer the aesthetics of light armor and Dextrous characters, so I'd like them to at least equal (if not surpass) the heavy armor/high strength sorts.

So that my bias is right out front, I think the heavy armor should be allowed to equal (if not surpass) the light armor.  If the ability scores are going to raise with level as I am guessing, just letting the Dex mod add to AC is going to surpass heavy armor.

But the point should be balance and I think the Armor Check and Speed penalty more than balance with Heavy armor getting 2 extra points of AC over Dex mod armor, the highest Medium armor.

I guess a good reason could be made for Con mod Heavy armor.  I don't think it should be Str or Con, that's not a particularly elegant addition. 

Looking at the fighter, Str mod would be awesome for Str build fighters.  But not all fighters are Str builds and core Finesse weapons only enforce this.  So putting it in Con would be a more generic fighter benefit - regardless of what Con does to HP, fighters need HPs.  The flipside is Dex build fighters could rock Medium armor and focus on their Dex mod.  And I guess I figured the Str build fighter could thow some point buy or a good roll down to Int, Wis and Cha if they were getting attack and defense out of Str without having to go big in Con.

The other typical heavy armor classes are Paladins and Clerics.  Both require multiple ability dependencies.  Paladins would probably benefit from Str more than Con.  Con bonus would be gravy to previous editions, but now other characters are getting the Heavy armor bonus.  Clerics could go either way.  Con is important to everyone, adding it to Heavy armor as bonus doesn't hurt anyone who actually needs a high AC and HPs.  Str is tied to melee, and again higher AC is such a value to melee combat. 

If heavy has significant penalties attached (like to skill and movement), there should be something else as a bonus to compensate, otherwise there really isn't a rational reason for people to ever wear it. One idea would be to let heavy get 1/2 Dex, Con DR, and keep the AC on par as light (or maybe even 1 AC better).

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But just as I know there are folks like you out there who prefer light armor and some who might even want to be a Finesse-Tank (I've build characters like it in the past), there are those who want to be the big hulking guy in so much plate he looks more like a stove than a man! They shouldn't be inherently inferior simply because they don't conform to your ideal, any more than your style should be inferior because it doesn't fit theirs.

Then let them be equal.  That's fine, too.  Just don't make Heavy Armor automatically better.  I love finesse tanks--in fact, that's generally my prefered style of character in most games--and it bugs me that people would try to take that away as a viable build compared to the heavy armor/no Dex guy.

Now, I personally like the idea of making Heavy Armor scale off of something so that to reach the same pinnacle that light armor allows for, a character still has to be exceptional. The alternative is for any schmoe who puts the stuff on to be neigh invincible, or (as it is now) that Heavy Armor is flat out inferior in almost every way, which I just don't like.

I have no problem with the AC set up the way it is now--Light Armor can equal Heavy Armor with the maximum Dex investment (i.e. 20, which is the cap). 

So that my bias is right out front, I think the heavy armor should be allowed to equal (if not surpass) the light armor.  If the ability scores are going to raise with level as I am guessing, just letting the Dex mod add to AC is going to surpass heavy armor.

Now you're making me doubt my memory--but I recall seeing somewhere that the absolute cap on PC attributes was 20--that no amount of leveling will be able to push you past that point (so PCs that start with an 18 or whatever will be raising other stats by the end).  That caps your Dex mod at +5, which equals the best Heavy Armor.

Er, oh, I guess it doesn't.  Light Armor is 3 AC behind Heavy.  Hmm, ok, that's an issue.  The best Heavy Armor ought to go up to 20 AC, then, to equalize the options.

But the point should be balance and I think the Armor Check and Speed penalty more than balance with Heavy armor getting 2 extra points of AC over Dex mod armor, the highest Medium armor.

Wow, until you mentioned them, I totally forgot about Armor Check and Speed penalties.  I don't think I've ever once used those in any version of D&D.  Armor Check penalties are annoying to remember/minor enough that they are not worth the effort, and speed penalties are essentially irrelevant (since we don't use a battlemap, distances are blurrier).

Ok, so an amended statement:

Remove Medium armor because it's pointless.  Put Heavy Armor 5 points ahead of Light Armor, but make the best Heavy Armor so expensive that it's unlikely you could get the best until the Light Armor guy can get his +5 Dex.  Proficiency in armor removes all penalties for wearing it (but institute some kind of weight penalty for swimming so you can't Michael Phelps it up in full plate).  Done.
If you were to make it all equal, then every armor would have the same crunch with multiple ability mod bonuses.  Armor would become flavor.

If it's not that equal, then your bring back in Armor Penalties - which I think are actually easier in an Ability Check skill system, if it's a Str or Dex based check, then you apply the Armor Penalty.  I've played TotM and speed does come up.  Like they say, you don't have to outrun the bear just outrun the other campers.  But that 5 feet isn't stopping you from doing what you want as much as on a battlemat.

Just to be clear, the Medium armor on this table can have a Strength or Dexterity mod bonus.  Compared to the playtest's 1/2 Dex bonus or even 3.5's decreasing Max Dex Bonus, this table allows for higher Dex mod ACs.  On the second table without the expensive armor, Light armor Chain Shirt gives you 14 + Dex mod and Medium armor Chainmail gives you 16 + Dex mod.  It's not as high as Full Plate's 18 + Str or Con mod, but it's as open ended.  This adds another dimension to armor proficiencies.  What classes get Light armor, Medium armor or Heavy armor proficiencies?  A barbarian isn't getting Heavy armor, but he can still get a Str mod bonus to hide armor.

I appreciate the feedback, please don't mistake my explanations as dismissing your input. 
Remove Medium armor because it's pointless.  Put Heavy Armor 5 points ahead of Light Armor, but make the best Heavy Armor so expensive that it's unlikely you could get the best until the Light Armor guy can get his +5 Dex.  Proficiency in armor removes all penalties for wearing it (but institute some kind of weight penalty for swimming so you can't Michael Phelps it up in full plate).  Done.



The problem here still remains: One scales the other is static. I guarantee that eventually the scaling armor will always end up better, barring a hard cap on player stats, which isn't going to happen.

Yet another reason why I prefer to let heavy armor scale off of something. I say this from a mechanical standpoint coming from not just D&D but almost any system. Scaling number win out over static numbers eventually. It's just a matter of time before heavy armor once again becomes inferior.

I have no problem with heavy armor offering check penalties either. I think the hit to move speed is a bit arbitrary (since they already contribute more to encumbrance) but it's not severe enough to really matter. I'd be perfectly happy if the two armor types came out numerically identical. Then the tradeoff would be in two forms:

#1) What attributes the armor scales off of.

#2) Light armor offers reduced protection in certain situations (flat footed, surprised, restrained, etc), while heavy armor offers reduced utility in certain situations (skill check Disadvantage, particularly stealth swim and climb, as well as longer equip times and greater expense)
The problem here still remains: One scales the other is static. I guarantee that eventually the scaling armor will always end up better, barring a hard cap on player stats, which isn't going to happen.

I am under the impression that it actually did happen and that the hard cap was 20.
I am under the impression that it actually did happen and that the hard cap was 20.



That's true of base stats for now, but the developers have already made reference that things like Gauntlets of Ogre Power will still be around, despite the shift away from the assumption of magical items. Now, those offer a persistent bonus to the STR attribute of the wearer, but I'm sure there will also be items that offer a persistent DEX bonus. I also find it likely that there will be other temporary bonuses to be had from spells and abilities.

It's possible that they'll make all those things cap at 20 as well, but somehow I doubt it.
The easiest way would still be to cap contributions from attributes like the used to, but however you end up gettign there, I'm happy as long as nothing offers objectively greater potential than the rest.
If they don't implement max dex bonus to every armor they might just implement

Light armor: +4 AC
Medium armor: +6 AC
Heavy armor: +8 AC

add some skill/speed penalties that you think it's adequate.

cost past 1st level isn't an issue.

also one thing 4E did right is that they burned the medium armor.

 
Looking at the pregens in the playtest.

Cleric of Moradin 18 AC
Clerics are profiecient with all armors.  This dwarven cleric has +2 Str, -1 Dex, +1 Con.
18 is his given AC.  15 from Chainmail +2 for Heavy Shield... and +1 for being a dwarf?
Note: clerics aren't proficient with shields...

From this table, Chainmail is a Medium armor providing the same AC as the lowest Heavy armor (which is what Chainmail was in playtest armor table).  But with a Str bonus, his AC will go up by 2 regardless of where that extra +1 came from.
Cleric of Moradin 20 AC


Cleric of Pelor 15 AC
Clerics are proficient with all armors.  This human cleric has -1 Str, +2 Dex, +1 Con.
15 is his given AC.  14 from Scale +1 for Half Dex.

From this table, Scale is Medium armor providing the same AC as it did in the playtest armor table.  But the Str or Dex bonus is a full bonus.
Cleric of Pelor 16 AC


Fighter Dwarf 15 AC
Fighters are proficient with all armors.  This dwarf cleric has +3 Str, +1 Dex, +2 Con.
15 is his given AC, all from Chainmail.  I guess the +1 isn't from being a dwarf, maybe it's from not being proficient with a shield.

From this table, Chainmail is a Medium armor so he can apply a Str or Dex bonus.  His Str is obvisouly higher, but it's not surprising his Str is higher than his Con and this guy is a dwarf!
Fighter Dwarf 18 AC


Rogue Halfling 15 AC
Rogues are proficient with Light armors.  This halflings rogue has +1 Str, +3  Dex, +1 Con.
15 is his given AC.  Clothing provides no armor, +3 for Dex, no clue.

From this table, the Dex mod bonus Light armor rogues get is not as good as Dex mod Medium armor.  This is a great class distinction from say a Ranger who could might have Medium armor proficieny.
Rogue Halfling 15 AC (however they got that)


Wizard High Elf 11 AC
I am just gonna throw this idea out there, give Mage Armor an Int mod bonus so it can scale with Dex and Str mod bonus armors.
Wizard High Elf 11 AC


So the cleric of Moradin went up two points thanks to Str but should really be around a 19 AC.  The cleric of Pelor went up without the 1/2 Dex Medium armor (this mechanic is clearly inferior to 3.5's Max Dex in practice if simpler in concept).  The fighter went up three points thanks to Str at 18 AC and would now be 1 point behind the cleric of Mordin who is using a Heavy Shield.