No WotC. Just...NO. This is how armour should be done--

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Keep all armours relevant at all levels of proficiency.

Are you going to use Dex caps on Medium armour? Fine. Great even. Now do it wherever it can be applied. No half steps. Embrace the mechanic universally to create meaningful differences between armour types. Same goes for speed penalties. Same goes for disadvantage armours.

In this latest playtest, WotC have fallen back to their old ways by making lower AC armours functionally useless once characters have even a little gold in their pockets...by 2nd level. This can be easily avoided. Why are banded and splint exactly the same? Was this a mistake? Regardless, fuse them together. They both just became Plated Coat. Sorted, moving on.

Chainmail is superior to dragon scale? Why is dragon scale even on the regular equipment list? Have all campaign settings suddenly become lousy with dragons, and, for that matter, displacer beasts? No, introduce special armour materials, like dragonscale and mithral, separately from armour types. If not right away, then make Special Materials one of those 'modules' I keep reading about.

WotC has talked a lot about bringing back the old as the new. Prove it with armour in addition to everything else. As players, armour can be one of our favourite choices in the game. It can largely define how our characters look. Give us meaningful options for this choice. Nothing is final right now, which is good. Please pay more attention to the subject of armour next time.

All right, I feel that criticism is largely pointless unless it comes with an alternate suggestion. For that, see below.

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Editorial History (23 September 2012):
-Added 'shield wielder' distinction to the ranged cover provided by shields.

Editorial History (09 September 2012):
-Added provision for one-quarter cover and stacking cover rules.
-Changed the AC bonus for small shields.
-Changed how cover works for all shields.
-Changed how Shield Wall Fighting works.

Editorial History (30 August 2012):
-Added provision for shield wall fighting with large and towers shields.

Editorial History (26 August 2012):
-Changed the price of leaf armour.
-Changed the properties of adamantine armour.
-Changed speed penalty reduction based on Strength score.

Editorial History (25 August 2012):
-Added dark wood to the list of special materials.
-Added provision for dragonscale full plate, large, and tower shields.
-Added rules for masterwork armour and shields.
-Changed the max Dex properties of leaf armour.
-Changed the properties of adamantine armour.
-Changed the properties of bucklers and small shields.

Editorial History (22 August 2012):
-Changed the properties of bucklers and small shields.

Editorial History (20 August 2012):
-Added mithral impact to chain shirt, chainmail, breastplate, and plated coat.

Editorial History (19 August 2012):
-Added speed penalty reduction note based on Strength score.
-Changed 'Plate Coat' to 'Plated Coat', describing banded/splint better.
-Swapped hide with chain shirt to create a light 'leather' class of armour.
-Swapped breastplate with ring to create a heavy 'plate' class of armour.
-Swapped chainmail with scale mail to reflect differences in protection.

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Armour / Price / Armor Class (AC) / Speed / Stealth / Weight

Light (Leather) Armour
Padded / 5 gp / 11 + Dex mod. (max 5) / — / — / 10 lbs.
Leather / 10 gp / 12 + Dex mod. (max 4) / — / — / 15 lbs.
Studded leather / 25 gp / 13 + Dex mod. (max 3) / — / — / 20 lbs.
Hide coat / 50 gp / 14 + Dex mod. (max 2) / — / — / 25 lbs.

Medium (Linked) Armour
Chain shirt / 50 gp / 13 + Dex mod. (max 4) / –5 feet / — / 25 lbs.
Chainmail / 100 gp / 14 + Dex mod. (max 3) / –5 feet / — / 30 lbs.
Ringmail / 150 gp / 15 + Dex mod. (max 2) / –5 feet / Disadvantage / 35 lbs.
Scale mail / 200 gp / 16 + Dex mod. (max 1) / –5 feet / Disadvantage / 40 lbs.

Heavy (Plate) Armour
Breastplate / 200 gp / 15 + Dex mod. (max 3) / –5 feet / Disadvantage / 35 lbs.
Plated coat / 500 gp / 16 + Dex mod. (max 2) / –5 feet / Disadvantage / 40 lbs.
Half-plate / 1,000 gp / 17 + Dex mod. (max 1) / –10 feet / Disadvantage / 45 lbs.
Full plate / 2,000 gp / 18 / –10 feet / Disadvantage / 50 lbs.

Masterwork armour grants a max Dex modifier of +1.

Shields / Price / Armor Class (AC) / Speed / Stealth / Weight
Buckler / 3 gp / +1 / — / — / 3 lbs.
Small shield / 5 gp / +1 or ¼ cover / — / — / 5 lbs.
Large shield / 10 gp / +1 or ½ cover / –5 feet / Disadvantage / 10 lbs.
Tower shield / 20 gp / +2 or ¾ cover / –10 feet / Disadvantage / 20 lbs.

Presumes wooden shields. Price and weight for metal shields x2.

Masterwork shields allow objects or weapons to be held in the same hand without losing AC bonus.

Buckler: AC bonus against melee attacks only. Can be wielded as a finesse weapon using club statistics without losing AC bonus.
Small Shield: AC bonus against melee attacks only. Grants shield wielder one-quarter cover against ranged attacks. Can be wielded as a martial weapon using shield statistics without losing AC bonus.
Large Shield: AC bonus against melee attacks only. Grants shield wielder half cover against ranged attacks. Can be used in a shield wall.
Tower Shield: AC bonus against melee attacks only. Grants shield wielder three-quarters cover against ranged attacks. Can be used in a shield wall.

Shield Wall Fighting: When two or more adjacent allies overlap large shields or tower shields against attacks and effects that originate from the opposite side of their contiguous wall, the AC bonus against melee attacks improves to the cover bonus provided against ranged attacks.

Characters with Strength 20 reduce speed penalties of armour and shields by 5.


Special Materials

Adamantine (Medium Armours, Heavy Armours, and Shields)
Damage against wearer reduced by 1d6. Price x20.


Dark Wood (Scale Mail, Heavy Armours, and Shields)
No disadvantage. Weight /2. Price x5.


Dragonscale (Scale Mail, Heavy Armours, and Shields)
AC +1. Resistance to dragon energy type. Full plate grants immunity to dragon energy type. Heavy and tower shields grant resistance, but no additional AC or cover bonus. Price x10.


Leaf (Light Armours)
Max Dex modifier +2. Weight /2. Price x10.


Mithral (Medium Armours, Heavy Armours, and Shields)
Max Dex modifier +1. No disadvantage. Reduce speed penalty –5 feet. Weight /2. Price x10.


If the speed penalty is removed from a chain shirt, chainmail, breastplate, or plated coat through the use of mithral as a special material, they fall into the next lower category and can be worn without penalty by characters with the appropriate armour proficiency.

Cover
Cover represents solid objects that stand between you and your target. Walls, pillars, and trees are common examples of things that can provide. The cover granted by an obstacle and the cover provided by a shield stack together. As such, a tower shield wielder standing behind a fallen log gains total cover against ranged attacks.
One-Quarter Cover: A target has one-quarter when approximately one-quarter of target is behind an interposing obstacle. The obstacle might be a fallen log, a small piece of furniture, or an open door frame beyond which the target is standing.
A target with one-quarter cover has a +1 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws, but only against attacks and effects that originate on the opposite side of the cover.
There's a Khmer Rouge sized graveyard of fantasy heartbreakers that made the same kind of changes to armour that you're suggesting.
Not bad, like how it looks.
Don't think a small shield should give disadvantage to Stealth though.
Other than that I like it. 
First I like this more than the current official version, especially 4 Shield types though I'd not impose Disadvantage to a basic Shield or it will be obsolete in favour of Bucklers.

There are other issues:

Ringmail is "Heavy Armour" and yet allows a great Dex bonus than most Mediums, feels nonsensical to me especially as some of the Mediums share the same disadvantages. Infact Medium and Heavy are just headings in your chart - there's nothing really that differentiates them.
Even the actual weight of Chainmail and Breastplate match some of the heavies.

I'd leave Plate Coat as "Splint or Banded" incidentally, there's enough "Plate"




I'm not sure about this system, I am not saying the current one is great but in your system it seems that some armors are functionay not worth buying. I play primarily fighters and I usually put dex as my secondary stat instead of con, as not being hit is better than a few extra hit points. But that is another discussion all together. I would usually have a 14 or more dex giving me a least a 2 point bonus. In your system I max armor at plate coat and save myself 1,500 gold. 

I guess my point is this, dexterity in your system makes all your armors the same with regards to high dex characters, light is AC 16, medium is AC 17 and heavy is AC 18. But there is a distinct drawback to having the second half of your medium and heavy lists. It seems that certain armors would not be used. Dex should not make all armors the same. Some stepping is needed to keep this from happening. 

I agree that special materials should be kept off to the side and simple become a modification to the base armor. Making those types of armors rare and special and allowing the individual GM to decide if they are common in a specific location or world.
It's a sad state of affairs when DMs measure their success in total party kills and players in the damage they deal. Red
I'm not sure about this system, I am not saying the current one is great but in your system it seems that some armors are functionay not worth buying. I play primarily fighters and I usually put dex as my secondary stat instead of con, as not being hit is better than a few extra hit points. But that is another discussion all together. I would usually have a 14 or more dex giving me a least a 2 point bonus. In your system I max armor at plate coat and save myself 1,500 gold. 

I guess my point is this, dexterity in your system makes all your armors the same with regards to high dex characters, light is AC 16, medium is AC 17 and heavy is AC 18. But there is a distinct drawback to having the second half of your medium and heavy lists. It seems that certain armors would not be used. Dex should not make all armors the same. Some stepping is needed to keep this from happening. 

I agree that special materials should be kept off to the side and simple become a modification to the base armor. Making those types of armors rare and special and allowing the individual GM to decide if they are common in a specific location or world.



Agreed.  This was my main issue with armour in 3e.  It usually just became a game of "find the armour with max dex equal to your modifier" unless you had to wear lighter armour for a class feature.

I think either the system should drop down to just having light armour, medium armour, and heavy armour and make the specifics up to the player for flavour, or if they're going to bother having all those different types of armour, each one should have an actually impact on gameplay apart from "well, that one's worse because I have 14 dexterity..."

Personally though, I think I'm more in favour of one set of stats for each armour category (light, medium, and heavy).  I mean, if we're willing to accept AC as a cross between dodging, blocking with a shield, and armour, I personally don't understand why we need to differenciate between chainmail and ringmail.
First I like this more than the current official version, especially 4 Shield types though I'd not impose Disadvantage to a basic Shield or it will be obsolete in favour of Bucklers.

Agreed. Small shields have been adjusted to lose disadvantage.

Ringmail is "Heavy Armour" and yet allows a great Dex bonus than most Mediums, feels nonsensical to me especially as some of the Mediums share the same disadvantages. In fact Medium and Heavy are just headings in your chart - there's nothing really that differentiates them.
Even the actual weight of Chainmail and Breastplate match some of the heavies.

The most important differences between these armours types is character proficiency. As your proficiency grows (if it can grow with feats in 5th edition), you gain access to more advanced and well constructed forms of armour. This opens new options of heavier armour that still let you take advantage of your Dex bonus. Besides, if you have proficiency with heavy armour, you probably aren't looking at medium or light armours as much, and that's by design. You're looking at the latest armour advances in which you have been trained to fight. It's not like a stealthy rogue is going to be wearing full pate and wizards can't wear armour at all if they want to cast spells (in this playest).

I'd leave Plate Coat as "Splint or Banded" incidentally, there's enough "Plate"

Plate Coat was my attempt to simplify what banded and splint represent in the armour world. I'm essentially looking for one name to describe both types of armour. I'm open to suggestions if you can think of something better.
I'm not sure about this system, I am not saying the current one is great but in your system it seems that some armors are functionay not worth buying. I play primarily fighters and I usually put dex as my secondary stat instead of con, as not being hit is better than a few extra hit points. But that is another discussion all together. I would usually have a 14 or more dex giving me a least a 2 point bonus. In your system I max armor at plate coat and save myself 1,500 gold.

Fair enough, but that's you. Somebody else could assign 10 to their Dex and beef up their Constitution, especially if all the complaints I'm hearing about hit points are heeded and Constitution is added to that total again.

I guess my point is this, dexterity in your system makes all your armors the same with regards to high dex characters, light is AC 16, medium is AC 17 and heavy is AC 18. But there is a distinct drawback to having the second half of your medium and heavy lists. It seems that certain armors would not be used. Dex should not make all armours the same. Some stepping is needed to keep this from happening.

Again, I still think you are over-valuing Dexterity because of your personal preference, which is not to say that Dexterity isn't valuable. Still, many people do not share your preference. I can already imagine that clerics with heavy armour proficiency will value Strength and Constitution over Dexterity, and that's after assigning their highest roll to Wisdom. There are characters types that simply don't give a damn about stealth or speed, but do care about protection. They are going to favour the highest AC armours on my list, regardless of the speed or stealth penalties.
Personally though, I think I'm more in favour of one set of stats for each armour category (light, medium, and heavy).  I mean, if we're willing to accept AC as a cross between dodging, blocking with a shield, and armour, I personally don't understand why we need to differenciate between chainmail and ringmail.

I think the differentiation is also a tool that helps form a mental image of your character. Full-plate conjures images of mounted knights. Banded/Splint (plate coat) armour could be worn by elite soldiers. Scale mail could be preferred by sellswords. The choice, even visually, can be a defining one for your character. It certainly doesn't hurt if those stylistic options also come with meaningful mechanical differences.
After seeing the displacer beast hide and dragon scale and mithril chain armours in the main equipment list, I came here to complain about their inclusion, but I see now that this thread has already addressed that point. That the original poster also created a more desirable armour list was unexpected. I would use these armours and shields over the playtest packet armours in a second.
I'm very interested in seeing more opinions about whether this list is balanced because I really like the more traditional armours getting their due.  I have reservations about adamantine armours halving all weapon damage but I agree that it would need something cool to make it finctionally better than mithral Low DR and (immunity to crits from weapons?).  In 1e it was just baked into magic i.e. only mithral armour could be +4 and only adamantine armour could be +5 but since I'm in favour of capping items at +2 anyway that might not work for me this time round!

I just want a little, JUST A LITTLE, realism in my armor options. How many years has the D&D brand just totally ignored realism in their armor options? If this edition is supposed to be the fresh start, then the time to get things right is now.



Full Plate is easier to move in than Chainmail. Ask anyone that's worn the stuff.

My world isn't chock full of displacer beasts and dragons aren't constantly shedding. Get that stuff off my base list and add it to a "special materials" section.
The list from the OP is too involved, but still better than what is in the playtest packet. I posted in General about this and a couple of other things. I like simplified armor lists.

As it is now in the packet there is no reason whatsoever to use Leather over Studded Leather regardless of your Dexterity.
There needs to be a difference between Light and Medium Armor to make it worth using. Cost isn't a factor because 15 gp between Leather and Studded Leather isn't enough to worry about. Just because a few classes can only wear Light armor isn't enough of a difference.

Also, how can studded leather decrease my Dex bonus SO much? It doesn't make sense, it isn't that much heavier. Unlimited in Leather, and then I have a craftsman add some metal studs and that takes me from a +5 Dex bonus to +2? Silly.

Techschwann, maybe that is why Chainmail is 2 AC less than Plate? You are still slowed by both, but in battle they protect close the same when actually hit, but the Plate's ease of movement allows for less hits than Chain.
Perhaps you are trying too hard to think logically instead of in terms of game balance.  The designers' approach seems to be to balance armour by cost but this means that the lesser armours quickly become obsolete.  The table tries to apply a bit of that plus mechanics for keeping armours relevant dependent on your class and stats.  If you simplify armour, you end up with gaps.  I think the more complex table is fine.  More so if they produce certain types of magical armour instead of cookie cutter armour - so magical armour that is only available as splint mail etc.

I guess if you want realism and your DM is fine with it, you can just apply a houserule so that with a minimum strength score you can reduce movement penalties on plate.  It's not hard to do but I don't think it needs to be reflected in the official core, where balance is the prime concern.
I think the differentiation is also a tool that helps form a mental image of your character. Full-plate conjures images of mounted knights. Banded/Splint (plate coat) armour could be worn by elite soldiers. Scale mail could be preferred by sellswords. The choice, even visually, can be a defining one for your character. It certainly doesn't hurt if those stylistic options also come with meaningful mechanical differences.



I agree about the mental image, so I'd just change two things, and it's more names than anything mechanical.

1. I'd swap Chain Shirt and Hide's names. That way, all light armor is some kind of animal hide and all medium armor is metallic. To me, this makes more sense - animal hides of whatever make are cheaper and more available than armor that requires not just blacksmiths but blacksmiths who've been trained in armor crafting. Also, this way there's a nice curve to medium armors where you start out with someone who just has a chain shirt (so no protection to forearms, head, legs, etc.), and build up to a full suit - also I might also swap chainmail for scale, given that scale offers somewhat better protection but is less flexible than chainmail.  

2. I'd swap Breastplate and Ringmail. This way, all medium armor is based on simple, overlapping construction, whether it be chain links or scales, whereas all heavy armor is based on plate, which requires more skill and technological sophistication to make. And again, you have a progression from a combatant who only has the breastplate up to the full fitted suit. 
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
I have reservations about adamantine armours halving all weapon damage but I agree that it would need something cool to make it finctionally better than mithral Low DR and (immunity to crits from weapons?).

Immunity to critical hits isn't a bad idea, but the cost modifier I allocated (x20) would definitely have to fall.

I just want a little, JUST A LITTLE, realism in my armor options. How many years has the D&D brand just totally ignored realism in their armor options? If this edition is supposed to be the fresh start, then the time to get things right is now.

Full Plate is easier to move in than Chainmail. Ask anyone that's worn the stuff.

Perhaps full-plate is more exhausting to wear (heavier) than chain mail. Perhaps chain-mail is worn underneath plate mail? I am more inclinded to abstract/simplify the the differences for the sake of preserving traditional D&D armour types.

My world isn't chock full of displacer beasts and dragons aren't constantly shedding. Get that stuff off my base list and add it to a "special materials" section.

Agreed every day of the week.

Techschwann, maybe that is why Chainmail is 2 AC less than Plate? You are still slowed by both, but in battle they protect close the same when actually hit, but the Plate's ease of movement allows for less hits than Chain.

Also an excellent point of armour abstraction.
I guess if you want realism and your DM is fine with it, you can just apply a houserule so that with a minimum strength score you can reduce movement penalties on plate.  It's not hard to do but I don't think it needs to be reflected in the official core, where balance is the prime concern.

This is an excellent idea and doesn't even have to be that complicated. I think the disadvantage rules for metal armour should be maintained, but that 15+ Strength reduces any armour speed penalty by 5 and 20 Strength reduces any armour speed penalty by another 5 (for a total of 10).

1. I'd swap Chain Shirt and Hide's names. That way, all light armor is some kind of animal hide and all medium armor is metallic. To me, this makes more sense - animal hides of whatever make are cheaper and more available than armor that requires not just blacksmiths but blacksmiths who've been trained in armor crafting. Also, this way there's a nice curve to medium armors where you start out with someone who just has a chain shirt (so no protection to forearms, head, legs, etc.), and build up to a full suit - also I might also swap chainmail for scale, given that scale offers somewhat better protection but is less flexible than chainmail.  

2. I'd swap Breastplate and Ringmail. This way, all medium armor is based on simple, overlapping construction, whether it be chain links or scales, whereas all heavy armor is based on plate, which requires more skill and technological sophistication to make. And again, you have a progression from a combatant who only has the breastplate up to the full fitted suit. 

These are all great suggestions. The original post will be edited accordingly.
Love the armor list you put together, the larger list just seems more satisfying and the armors on it seem to fill a good variety depending on the requirements of the players. I am not entirely sold on the rules for your shields, though. I would simplify them a little bit more, but that is a personal preference.
Just a few onions short of a patch.
1. I'd swap Chain Shirt and Hide's names. That way, all light armor is some kind of animal hide and all medium armor is metallic. To me, this makes more sense - animal hides of whatever make are cheaper and more available than armor that requires not just blacksmiths but blacksmiths who've been trained in armor crafting. Also, this way there's a nice curve to medium armors where you start out with someone who just has a chain shirt (so no protection to forearms, head, legs, etc.), and build up to a full suit - also I might also swap chainmail for scale, given that scale offers somewhat better protection but is less flexible than chainmail.  

2. I'd swap Breastplate and Ringmail. This way, all medium armor is based on simple, overlapping construction, whether it be chain links or scales, whereas all heavy armor is based on plate, which requires more skill and technological sophistication to make. And again, you have a progression from a combatant who only has the breastplate up to the full fitted suit. 

These are all great suggestions. The original post will be edited accordingly.

Wikipedia: both definition: the one as well as the other.



The only problem I can see with this is that chain shirts (or rather elven chain shirts) are sort of the pinnacle of armour available to rogues while hide tended to be the best armour available to driuds because it was non-metal medium armour (although presumably dragonscale can take over this role now).  One fix might be a special rule that mithral chain shirts count as light armour?


The only problem I can see with this is that chain shirts (or rather elven chain shirts) are sort of the pinnacle of armour available to rogues while hide tended to be the best armour available to driuds because it was non-metal medium armour (although presumably dragonscale can take over this role now).  One fix might be a special rule that mithral chain shirts count as light armour?



I think the special rule is the way to go. Elven chain or mithral chain should be special stuff, because the way it's described in fiction, it's the equivalent of some of the most cutting edge bullet-proof materials that scientists and engineers are producing today in terms of protection vs. weight, let alone the noise issue. 

But an ordinary shirt of iron or steel chain loops is heavy, and it makes noise, and it catches the light. No Rogue who wants to move around quickly or sneak around more easily would ever wear ordinary chainmail. They'd pick up an elven chain or mithral chain shirt because that stuff is so damn near magical if not outright magical that it feels like wearing a t-shirt. 
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
The only problem I can see with this is that chain shirts (or rather elven chain shirts) are sort of the pinnacle of armour available to rogues while hide tended to be the best armour available to driuds because it was non-metal medium armour (although presumably dragonscale can take over this role now).  One fix might be a special rule that mithral chain shirts count as light armour?

I think this is a worthy idea. That said, I think it can be seemlessly covered in the individualized armour description for chain shirt and chainmail. Both would end thusly:

"If the speed penalty is removed from this armour through the use of special materials, then the armour falls into the light category and can be worn without penalty with the appropriate proficiency."
I think the special rule is the way to go. Elven chain or mithral chain should be special stuff, because the way it's described in fiction, it's the equivalent of some of the most cutting edge bullet-proof materials that scientists and engineers are producing today in terms of protection vs. weight, let alone the noise issue.

Agreed, although I would deemphasize the bullet-proof aspect of D&D's mithral with an 'a', as opposed to Tolkein's mithril with an 'i'. I think the D&D equivalent of bullet-proof armour clearly falls to adamantine.

But an ordinary shirt of iron or steel chain loops is heavy, and it makes noise, and it catches the light. No Rogue who wants to move around quickly or sneak around more easily would ever wear ordinary chainmail. They'd pick up an elven chain or mithral chain shirt because that stuff is so damn near magical if not outright magical that it feels like wearing a t-shirt.

Indeed. I'll edit the original post to reflect the changes I suggested in my reply to pauln6 (above), but will throw in breastplate and plated coat as well.

I think the special rule is the way to go. Elven chain or mithral chain should be special stuff, because the way it's described in fiction, it's the equivalent of some of the most cutting edge bullet-proof materials that scientists and engineers are producing today in terms of protection vs. weight, let alone the noise issue.

Agreed, although I would deemphasize the bullet-proof aspect of D&D's mithral with an 'a', as opposed to Tolkein's mithril with an 'i'. I think the D&D equivalent of bullet-proof armour clearly falls to adamantine.



I was thinking of the bit in Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo gets hit full-on with a troll's spear (in Moria) and doesn't even get bruised. It's not really how it works in real life; mail armor is good at preventing piercing or slashing weapons from breaking the skin, but it wasn't great at absorbing impact so you'd certainly get bruised up unless you had a lot of padding underneath. In the book, he's got the shirt on under his clothes with no padding.
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Frodo's shirt was a magical shirt of missile resistance, obviously.

I'm also wary of removing penalties for heavier armours as standard.  Let's not forget that dwarves' racial package helps remove movement penalties from armour.  Giving the same ability to everyone with a high strength is probably too generous or at least unfair on dwarves. 

Maybe limiting the benefit to the heaviest plate armours for the highest strengths - 18?  That way those who spend points on strength will only be on par with dwarves in plate armour.

My bad, I was forgetting about the speed penalties on heavy shields.  Maybe Strength 17 then, assuming that the -5 applies to both?  That way heavy plate with heavy shield is still move 25 unless you pump all your spare points into strength at level 1 or do we want to keep that combo away from the lowest level characters - or possibly restrict it to a feat?
I'm also wary of removing penalties for heavier armours as standard.  Let's not forget that dwarves' racial package helps remove movement penalties from armour.  Giving the same ability to everyone with a high strength is probably too generous or at least unfair on dwarves.

Maybe limiting the benefit to the heaviest plate armours for the highest strengths - 18?  That way those who spend points on strength will only be on par with dwarves in plate armour.

My bad, I was forgetting about the speed penalties on heavy shields.  Maybe Strength 17 then, assuming that the -5 applies to both?  That way heavy plate with heavy shield is still move 25 unless you pump all your spare points into strength at level 1 or do we want to keep that combo away from the lowest level characters - or possibly restrict it to a feat?

Dwarves were certainly on my mind while composing that rule, but I don't think it crowds their niche too much. They still avoid speed penalties no matter what, regardless of their Strength score. And yes, I think the Strength mitigated speed penalties should be applied equally to shields as well.

That being said, half-plate and full plate subtract –10 from speed (tower shield as well). Dwarves are still all over that, while everybody else, with 19 Strength or less, are moving with speed penalties while wearing the heaviest armours and shield. Perhaps Breastplate and Plated coat should have a –10 speed penalty as well? It's not like anybody wearing those armour types are likely to have less than 15 Strength.

I'm not crazy about the feat restriction. It feels too much like a feat tax for an ability that should be universally available.
I personally don't understand why we need to differenciate between chainmail and ringmail.



Because they are different?

Ringmail
ringmail


Chainmail:

chainmail 
I like the list

I would prefer if Large Shield/Tower Shield be the same thing. 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I like the list

I would prefer if Large Shield/Tower Shield be the same thing. 

I hear what you're saying, simplifying the shields for the sake of brevity, but a list of four shields isn't that daunting.

To be more visual, when it comes to tower shields, I imagine the Roman shield (scutum)...



...or Norman kite shield.



I imagine large shields falling under the 'heater' category...



...or the viking round shield.



A small shield is basically the 'smaller' version of a heater or viking shield.

Finally, a buckler is an even smaller 'fist' shield.

I agree with Sonofapreacherman. I like the four shield types and feel that there is a place for them all in 5th edition, both historically (in game) and historically (in life).

I've been having some additional thoughts about the buckler. It was designed for distraction and protection in melee combat, but not as protection against ranged attacks. I think that making such a distinction is a more meaningful way to separate the buckler and light shield from each other in game (rather than being defined by what can be held at the same time).

The +1 AC bonus for a buckler only applies against adjacent opponents.

To give the buckler some viability apart from the light shield at this point, it could also be said that...

The buckler can double as a finesse weapon with the same statistics as a club.

That would allow bucklers to be used by dual wielders in conjunction with the Two-Weapon Fighting and Two-Weapon Defence feats (and possibly make the swashbuckler-build for fighters a little more appealing from an AC bonus standpoint).
Wouldn't making the buckler only useful against adjacent opponents (rather than melee attacks) mean that it would be useless against reach weapons and against larger targets? Or is that the intention?
Just a few onions short of a patch.
Wouldn't making the buckler only useful against adjacent opponents (rather than melee attacks) mean that it would be useless against reach weapons and against larger targets? Or is that the intention?

Excellent point. I'll edit the original post and change this to 'melee attacks' rather than 'attacks from adjacent opponents'.
Wouldn't making the buckler only useful against adjacent opponents (rather than melee attacks) mean that it would be useless against reach weapons and against larger targets? Or is that the intention?

Excellent point. I'll edit the original post and change this to 'melee attacks' rather than 'attacks from adjacent opponents'.




im not sure if it should be edited, i mean,

bucklers were tiny, i'm not sure how effective they would be against a large sized weapon.
im not sure if it should be edited, i mean,

bucklers were tiny, i'm not sure how effective they would be against a large sized weapon.

This is where we get into a balancing act. Too much realism bogs the game down with iterative rule exceptions. Drawing a line between melee and ranged attacks for a +1 AC bonus is already pushing the envelope of D&D bookkeeping. I don't think it's wise to throw another exception into the mix.

Moreover, to say that certain shields are less effective against larger opponents, simply because an attacking creature is SO much bigger than a defending creature, raises a whole slew of exception-based questions that (I believe) shouldn't get asked in D&D. Any time a larger creature hits a smaller creature, one-half their height and 1/8th their weight, armour shouldn't really count, but, for the sake of stylized heroics and mechanical simplicity, D&D says it does (and I'm okay with that).
I love how these armours types and shields have shaped up over the course of this thread, but a friend of mine made an interesting point when I showed him the original post. There is a perfect choice for every person based on their level of armour proficiency and Dexterity. If one of your stated goals is to make armour a 'stylistic' choice, it would be at the sacrifice of making the most 'optimal' choice. I'm not sure that's a bad thing, and certainly not a deal-breaker, but food for thought.
I love how these armours types and shields have shaped up over the course of this thread, but a friend of mine made an interesting point when I showed him the original post. There is a perfect choice for every person based on their level of armour proficiency and Dexterity. If one of your stated goals is to make armour a 'stylistic' choice, it would be at the sacrifice of making the most 'optimal' choice. I'm not sure that's a bad thing, and certainly not a deal-breaker, but food for thought.

To that I would say three things: If a certain armour appeals to you 'stylistically', then optimize your Dexterity for that armour type -- up to the max Dex. value. Secondly, if style is so important, wear that armour anyways, regardless of or whether or not your Dexterity fills out the max. Dex. Thirdly, if style 'and' optimization are important, but you can't afford to raise Dexterity up to where it could be right away, you can always raise it later as you level.
damn, I forgot to refer to this thread in my survey.  Everybody else remember to do so please!
I made a thread on Armor Table revision shortly after the second packet was released. It's simplified and cleaner. I loath the current table in the playtest packet. Horrible, horrible design choice on WotC's part. 

The link to my revised table is in my signature below.
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

damn, I forgot to refer to this thread in my survey.  Everybody else remember to do so please!

You conducted a survey? Do tell (or post).