Armor rule I'm going to try

I realize that D&D is tied to AC.  Just as much as hit points and classes and levels.  Doesn't mean I can't take advantage of the intended modular nature to try a few things though.

I've always disliked that heavy armor made you harder to hit.  It just doesn't compute for me.  I've had arguments that AC also represents armor toughness etc. etc.  It doesn't since the only thing that targets AC is very specifically a "to-hit" roll.

So I did some looking.  D&D has 10 types of armor (currently).  2 Light (Padded and Leather), 3 Medium (Hide, Studded Leather, Scale) and 5 Heavy (Ring, Chain, Splint, Banded, Plate).  For these purposes Dragonhide and Mithril are going to be considered modifiers to an existing type.

I'm going to give each class a "Defense Rating".  Probably start at a base of 10 + the average of Intelligence& Dexterity Mods + Class modifer.  Maybe something where purely martial classes get +5, secondary fighters get +3 and third tier combatants get +1.

Now each armor gets a modifer to the Defense Rating and a Damage Reduction Rating.

Light Armor (2 types)
Padded (-1/1)
Leather (0/1)

Medium Armor (3 types)
Hide (0/2)
Studded Leather (-1/2)
Scale Mail (-2/3)

Heavy Armor (5 Types)
Ring Mail (-2/4)
Chain Mail (-3/5)
Splint (-4/6)
Banded (-4/6)
Plate (-5/8)

Dragon Leather - Increases the penalty for Leather, Hide and Studded Leather by 1 and the DR of those armors by 2.

Mithril - Decreases the penalty for metal armors (Ring,Scale, Chain and Plate mail by 3 and increases the DR by 2.

Shield - Increases the Defense by 1.

Padded Armor is pretty useless.  Then again...it's padded armor.

So at first level we could have (assuming a 14 Int 14 Dex except for Wizards and Rogues which will be 17/15
Fighter (Primary Combatant) with Defense of 10 +5+2-3+1= 15 DR 5
Cleric (Secondary Combatant) with Defense 10+3+2-3+1 = 13 DR 5
Rogue (Secondary Combatant) with Defense 10+3+2-0 = 15 DR 1
Wizard (Tertiary Combatant) with Defense 10+1 +2-0=13 DR 0

Then we just need to decide is a maneuver/feat/spell/magical spell offsets the penalty or increases the DR (or in rare cases adds a bonus to Defense).

So it's a work in progress but I'm hoping to test it with our group next time we get together.
It's an idea, certainly.  It doesn't solve the issue of DR becoming much less useful as you gain levels, which has been the major problem with this sort of thing in the past.

Personally, I would go with something easier:



  • Primary combatants (Fighter) :                 AC 14 + Dex mod

  • Secondary combatants (Cleric/Rogue):     AC 12 + Dex mod

  • Tertiary combatants (Wizard):                  AC 11 + Dex mod


Shields are AC +1.

Armor grants temporary HP based on its weight category.  


  • Light armor is +1 HP/level.  

  • Medium armor is +2 HP/level.  

  • Heavy armor is +3 HP/level. 

The metagame is not the game.

Oh, noes!  Not armor as hp bonus!  What is this, X-Com?  :P

I'm okay with the basic armor rules as presented so far.  I trust they will be refined and polished up in the coming year.  I like the basic principles of the system as it stands.  It's one of the big hurdles with this "bounded accuracy" goal they seem to be working toward.  I'm eager to see how they can continue to refine it. 
Oh, noes!  Not armor as hp bonus!  What is this, X-Com?  :P

I'm okay with the basic armor rules as presented so far.  I trust they will be refined and polished up in the coming year.  I like the basic principles of the system as it stands.  It's one of the big hurdles with this "bounded accuracy" goal they seem to be working toward.  I'm eager to see how they can continue to refine it. 



That's why I'm specifically not using armor as HP.  Hit points, IMO, represent your vitality and endurance.  Armor represents a material's ability to withstand punishment and offer you some degree of protection.


Conceptually, there's very little difference between armor as DR and armor as HP.  They both mean that the attack hits you, but doesn't hit you as badly since you have the armor in the way.  It's just that DR has significant issues with scaling, where it's difficult to make it meaningful against higher-level challenges without completely trivializing weaker challenges.

Armor as HP has the issue where your HP total changes when you take your armor off, or where wearing armor reduces the benefit you gain by healing.  It doesn't slow things down in combat, though, which is a major benefit.

The metagame is not the game.

Conceptually, there's very little difference between armor as DR and armor as HP.  They both mean that the attack hits you, but doesn't hit you as badly since you have the armor in the way.  It's just that DR has significant issues with scaling, where it's difficult to make it meaningful against higher-level challenges without completely trivializing weaker challenges.

Armor as HP has the issue where your HP total changes when you take your armor off, or where wearing armor reduces the benefit you gain by healing.  It doesn't slow things down in combat, though, which is a major benefit.



I don't think that DR does have significant issues with scaling.  Two things I definitely do not want are 1) Another pool of HP for players to keep track of, along with rules for "repairing" those HP and 2) An armor system that scales with level.  Can you get better armor at higher levels?  Heck yes.  Does the armor you have level as you do?  Heck no.

Any system that looks at armor, hit points, to hits and damage has to work in synergy.  If any of the components is out of whack with the others the entire system starts to fall apart. 


Strange as it may seem to some, D&D's Armor Class system does make some sense.
More than having armors confer DR, it does.


Historically, when you fought a man in armor you were not trying to hack through his armor as many RPG players seem to think.
You were aiming for the gaps in his armor to have a clear cut. Or selse aiming for areas that were left unprotected by his armor.

Taking that into account it makes a lot of sense that armor makes an opponent harder to hit, and once you do hit (which means you managed to slip your sword or spear through the gaps to hit unprotected flesh) it also makes sense that the opponent receives the full damage of the blow.


In the case of lighter armors, such as leather and in some cases even mail, an attack delivered by a good, sharp blade could indeed cut through the armor, and in that case of course the force of the blow would be lessened.
But even when that happened it was more of a "lucky mishap" from a misplaced blow, or because the attacker was simply getting no chance or angle to look for a gap in the armor.

And in the case of really heavy armor such as Plate Armor, a sword or spear could NOT cut through the armor. You had to slip it between the gaps. The use of heavier armor in the late middle ages drastically changed warfare because of that, making sometimes even the use of shields obsolete, when men-at-arms began to favor two-handed weapons such as the longsword (which historically would be what is called the Bastard Sword in D&D), and later the greatsword.


So odd as it may seem at first glance, the AC system does actually make sense.

Because you could try to cut through an armor, true, but that was very seldom the case. So as a general rule it is logical to assume that a character is trying to hit the gaps and exposed flesh instead of hacking through hardened leather or metal. 



Some weapons, such as the english longbow and later firearms could more easily pierce heavy armor, but if those weapons are used ingame and that is taken into account they could be an exception in the rule at most.




That said, a game is about fun. So if you think that DR appeals to your taste more than AC, by all means you should go for it.
I just thought some historicall clarification would be nice.
;)
Strange as it may seem to some, D&D's Armor Class system does make some sense.
More than having armors confer DR, it does.

It probably goes back to what your default assumptions are.  When I think of armor, I almost always thing of either brigandine or chain (even in editions when nobody actually wore that).  I also imagine the attacker is an ogre with a big club.  With those assumptions, DR makes more sense than armor granting avoidance.

If I normally thought of plate armor, or assumed that most enemies would have swords, then it might make more sense to think of armor as avoidance.

The metagame is not the game.


A friend of mine came up with a house-rule for that which I found brilliant.

He used your assumption, that in a "normal attack" a character was hacking at the opponent instead of looking for breaches in his defense.
So he gave armors DR instead of AC.

However, he created a Combat Maneuver (like Bull Rush, Disarm and such, but using the Pathfinder system of CMB vs CMD), with which a character could try to strike at gaps of an enemy's defense. It was then an announced action by the player, and not the "normal attack."

If the maneuver was successful, then you hit the enemy, and you ignored his DR from armor and similar protections.

It had the drawback of always being a Standard Action, and had the Improved/Greater feats to go with it like all other Combat Maneuvers.

I thought it a great idea.



If I were not to use a work-around system like that Manveuver, thought, and stick with the basics only, I'd still keep armor as AC, since I think it would make more sense to most combats in my campaign (though I admit in a few cases, like you Ogre with a giant club, it wouldn't be accurate).



Besides... in my previous post I was analyzing medieval combat from a historical point of view, so an Ogre with a huge club didn't seem quite fitting.
:P 
It's not just the ogre, though.  It's anyone with a club or staff.  From a historical perspective, isn't a warhammer designed to batter someone through the plate?

I'm also inclined to believe that bows and crossbows and even slings would be more concerned with aiming at the center of mass than trying to get "around" the armor.

The metagame is not the game.