is armor class a long overdue sacred cow

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There should be no armor class, just a reflex save and damage reduction. Armor would grant a damage reduction bonus while a shield would give you an evasion bonus to reflex, though maximum dexterity penalties would still apply to the highest bonus to your reflex save you can get from dexterity for wearing armor while shields could also be given a penalty. You would only have 3 saves and a damage reduction score but there would be no minimum damage, if you cannot beat a characters damage reduction then it is effectively a miss. Classes would still gain a bonus to saves with experience which would increase a characters ability to avoid damage which makes more sense and also explains real world reasons of adding and eventual toning down armor, and even enhancement bonuses to armor would add a bonus to damage reduction while enhancements to shields would go to reflex defeating the need for these too stack. Dnd has it wrong and this is a simpler more effective, efficient and realistic system. SW Saga edition tried to go in this direction but I believe they wanted to avoid too much change but it isn’t such a radical system that one couldn’t add it with ease I just wish WotC would recognize a superior system in the core rules, and kill the worst sacred cow of all AC. If you really wanted to get less simple you could also bring back 2nd edition ADND’s weapon vs. armor scores - where a mace would finally get to shine as its real world counterpart as one of the greatest weapons of the middle ages due to its devastating ability to ignore most damage reduction from plate armor – but that is better left as an optional rule for people who love complexity.

any thoughts or suggestions
Actually, no. Armor Class should definitely stay. In fact, I find it more than relevant.

The idea behind AC is that it represents the possibility of someone dodging (in light armor), the attack simply missing (in light armor), or the attack bouncing off (in heavy armor). You can actually extrapolate this for the real world, since medieval plate armor is known for being able to deflect small-calibur bullets. That's part of why any guns introduced into DnD shouldn't actually make that much of a difference against armor until you get into the more-refined powders (the early powders sucked).

Now, what does that have to do with swords? Metal armor was actually made with the idea of deflecting swords. That's part of why any armor with obvious breasts is incredibly stupid (it would direct the blade straight into a killing blow).
Apparently armor as DR was something that was tried.

Some problem about HP, damage, hit/miss chance and adding in a fourth variable (the DR) that made the whole thing skew irratically.

Apparently there was a choice between armor being DR and HP being a constant number for all PC's or keeping armor as a miss chance.
In my DND group we tried something similar to this once... admittedly I KNOW our calculations were off on how much DR each type of armor should give, but it basically boiled down to this:

Our fighter in Full plate: An ogre would hit him for 1-2dmg...
Our Rogue in Studded Leather: The same ogre would miss twice, but then hit him for 15+ damage...

I think the main problem with changing AC->Dr is that one of two things is likely to happen. either a)the monster does no damage 90% of the time, or b)the monster does a crap ton of damage all the time...

I mean, imagine if hit points stayed at about the same values, but AC changed to DR...
A level 3 fighter in Scale mail (lets just assume that AC=DR) gets hit by an orc. [Now he stacked con and str, so his dex is low and he's relatively easy to hit] The Orc does 1d12+4 dmg (average of 10dmg , min being 5, max [non crit] being 16). Now the fighter has damage reduction of 4 (assuming no shield), so the per round AVERAGE a level 1 orc is going to do is 6 damage to the fighter...Even if he rolled max hit points, and has a +4 con score, he only has 42 hit points, which gives him 6 rounds to kill (lets say) 4 orcs who could each hit him every round... And assuming the DM rolls slightly better than average, kill you in ONE round!

Switch to Full plate, and a heavy shield: DR=10... same fighter, same orcs... suddenly its an average of 0 damage per round, with a max of 6... Even if there's still 4 orcs, the MOST (non crit) that they could do to him is 24 damage per round... still a lot, but thats assuming all 4 of them roll max damage. All of a sudden you've gone from standard starting package death to extra armor not gonna die in easy combat.

And how well does it scale with later levels? That +5 full plate in 3.5 rules means they have to roll 13 higher than they normally would to be able to hit you... If it were DR, then sure you can take a 23 damage hit and only actually take 10 damage, but its gonna happen a lot more often. OR, you can keep it as AC, and reduce their overall chance to hit you by approximately 65% ...


I say keep AC as it is with maybe just a few minor tweaks and fixes, but don't change it to damage reduction. As damage reduction at early levels its going to be all or nothing early on, and you'd find much more characters dying easily than if it were simply AC, and at higher levels you'll find armor to be a lot less useful, as your main tactic of survival will be to kill them before they can hit you...
but your not taking into account that you would still have a version of armor class in your reflex save, therefore you would still have a miss chance so your dex, shield and class reflex bonus would would give you your "armor class"-just like now- and armor would give you DR 8 for full plate or DR 4 for chain shirt and this would also fix the idea that some one punching someone in full plate would actually hurt them unless it was some one really strong. Also the chance of the armor deflecting the blow is represented by the fact that if someone doesnt beat your DR they dont hurt you and even if they do its gonna hurt less than getting hit wearing your boxers. i dont know im gonna try to test it out for a session soon. but if you think about it, your gonna get hit by an ogier alot in full plate but it wont hurt as much some thief in leather isnt going to get hit as much but you can bet your ass he's gonna feel it, but the damage vs landed hits would probably equal out. course you could always test it out on Star wars saga edition as they went in that direction to some extent
I used to be an advocate for this argument, but I've come around. Mearls had a good post on it somewhere (can't find now).

There are two reasons to keep AC in a fantasy setting:

* It does allow for differentiating getting out of the way (reflex) from deflecting or absorbing damage (AC)

* DR as armor can be made to work for certain scenarios, but doesn't balance well over the range of levels, abilities and damage that D&D should include to be a fun game.

Here is why (disregarding crits):
In the long term you can abstract damage as chance to hit times average damage on a hit. So at low level you may have one creature that hits 80% of the time for 1d4 (2.5) damage and another that hits 25% of the time for 2d6+1 (8) damage. Both of these creatures do an average of 2 points of damage per turn.
Now say we shift to armor as DR 3, so the first creature hits 95% of the time and the second hits 40% of the time. But the first only does 1 damage 25% of the time, so it's average is about 0.23 damage per round. The other creature still averages 2 damage per round.

What this means is that in order to make armor as DR work, you need to narrow the potential ranges of damage so that DR is only ever a fraction of the different. So, if plate armor got up to DR6 you'd want small creatures to do something like d4+4 damage and no less and large creatures to do d8+6 damage and no more. Suddenly the rogue with no DR is hurting. The alternative is just going back to the invulnerable character who can only be hit on a crit which just isn't fun, you want a 20-80% chance that someone gets hurt by an attack just to keep each round interesting.

I can report that I'm currently DMing a homebrew campaign with two characters who have DR (one is a template, and the other a pixie) and I've seen this in action. It is really hard to find encounters that are interesting because anything that can overcome the pixie's DR 10 and do any significant amount of damage could nearly insta-kill another character if it happens to crit them.
Pet Peeves != Sacred cows.

Armor class works and does not remove from the fun. I think its good that it stays.
I've always found it paradoxical that armour makes you harder to hit and increased skill (level that is) enables you to take more damage.

I realize that hit points are somewhat of an abstraction.

I wouldn't mind a complete overhaul of the armour class mechanic, as long as it imroved the game play at the same time.
My group has been trying Iron Heroes ( a Monte Cook d20 variant) lately. My entire group took about 2 sessions to get the hang of the armor & defense differences but they now they work very well for us.
Armor is changed to DR but not a static one. Leather gives 1d3 DR, whereas full plate gives 1d8. Certain feats and class abilities give bonuses to these rolls.
In addition A new stat called defense which functions like AC but has nothing to do with armor is given to each character based on class & level with each class giving a base defense bonus modified by dex.
This sounded like an extra complication when I first read it. But in play we discovered it quickly became automatic and feels satisfying in how it works. You do get hit a bit more often but even light armored classes can soak up more damage over the course of a fight.
It also uses the concept of reserve points. Basically a number of phantom hit points equal to your hp total. These can be used to replace your hit points but only out of combat.

This isn't for everyone or every game. But it feels right for the setting & theme of Iron Heroes (Low Magic, High Action) and it plays smoothly & well for us & we've talked about house ruling this method into our normal d&d campaign albeit with more restriction on reserve points in a setting that has easy access to healing magic..
Armor class gets played with every couple of editions. Anyone remember the old AC 10 to AC -10?
Really, in the end, there's not much difference between the two systems if you do them correctly; you should take the same amount of damage regardless. The issue is that in D&D attack rolls and damage rolls scale in a certain manner, and if you just keep it as dexterity then at high levels you ALWAYS get hit, so it is all about the DR, which just gets ugly.

Basically, D&D wants to work in a certain way, and that way supports AC much more. GURPS and Alternity both use "DR" but in rather different ways; in GURPS you have many layers of defense, but if something penetrates all of them, you take a ton of damage. In Alternity, its all about not getting hit; armor takes away some of the sting, but you're still getting hurt through it, albiet gradually, and having less armor simply increases the damage rate and nothing else.
Roll d20 and compare one value against another. That is DnD's
mechanic for determining success.

Introduce damage reduction, and you introduce another step. This
slows down play.
There should be no armor class, just a reflex save and damage reduction. Armor would grant a damage reduction bonus while a shield would give you an evasion bonus to reflex, though maximum dexterity penalties would still apply to the highest bonus to your reflex save you can get from dexterity for wearing armor while shields could also be given a penalty. You would only have 3 saves and a damage reduction score but there would be no minimum damage, if you cannot beat a characters damage reduction then it is effectively a miss. Classes would still gain a bonus to saves with experience which would increase a characters ability to avoid damage which makes more sense and also explains real world reasons of adding and eventual toning down armor, and even enhancement bonuses to armor would add a bonus to damage reduction while enhancements to shields would go to reflex defeating the need for these too stack. Dnd has it wrong and this is a simpler more effective, efficient and realistic system. SW Saga edition tried to go in this direction but I believe they wanted to avoid too much change but it isn’t such a radical system that one couldn’t add it with ease I just wish WotC would recognize a superior system in the core rules, and kill the worst sacred cow of all AC. If you really wanted to get less simple you could also bring back 2nd edition ADND’s weapon vs. armor scores - where a mace would finally get to shine as its real world counterpart as one of the greatest weapons of the middle ages due to its devastating ability to ignore most damage reduction from plate armor – but that is better left as an optional rule for people who love complexity.

any thoughts or suggestions

Arguments like these make me wonder what 4E Unearthed Arcana will look like.
Armor class gets played with every couple of editions. Anyone remember the old AC 10 to AC -10?

And before that, it was 9 to -9
There are two issues I have with Armor as DR

First the possibility of a character saying "Great... the guys in full plate, guess I'll stay back since my dagger can't bet his DR"

Second... armor as holes that can be exploited. Where an attack roll against AC can represent this (ie. a thief being able to hit a full plated walking tank with a dagger even if it is only for d4 pts of dmg), DR total negates this possibility.

I feel the abstraction that AC represents not only solid steel(leather/wood/etc.) protection but dodging as well has always felt "right" to me.

Just my 2 cents.
I am currently in process of writing a system for a friend of mine who plans to fund the publication with a movie he's putting out this April. (go ahead, laugh. I'm not sure he can do it either, but it's about the only way I'm ever going to see my stuff in print) I do mechanics, he does worldbuilding, but I digress...

We have a system that uses DR, AC an injury track and HP. In short, the "AC" is based on things like dodging and shield use. You then have an HP threshold (based on armor and level, essentially) that determines what hits deal injuries. Under a certain damage roll (2 for unarmored, untrained folk) the hit is ignored because it grazes. Higher damage outputs deal Wounds, (your thresholds drop by 1; now only a 1 is ignored for the unarmored, untrained folk), then you go through Injured, Hobbled, Incapacitated and then Dying.

The difference between Wound and Injured damage (for instance) is enough that its a real threat (about 3HP) but generally requires one or two Wounds to get in common range, even for the unarmored. One factor we've had to limit is damage dice - you're generally only rolling one or two damage dice, but the range goes to d20, d30 and beyond. Armor is something of a problem since it tends to make people invulnerable at first, but after a hit or two those thresholds have dropped to reasonable range. We also have fairly intuitive in-combat armor-piercing and armorless hit rules (even called shots for those stealthy assassination attempts) to circumvent that pesky armor.
I personally have tried DRmor in several different methods, and trust me, it just does not work anywhere near as good as the current system. DR in general is a nightmare because it's far too large a swing, you either have a character that bypasses it altogether (energy dmg, sneak attack, or being a PABar), or a character that is nearly useless against it (TWFers in particular, though most noncasters fall in this category). In fact, it makes PABars horrendously powerful, because they can afford to tank their BAB as much as possible and shoot their damage with Scythes and Gaxes into absurd lvls. Even splitting DRmor so that it's some combination of AC and DR bonus, you still end up with the unhittable, undamageable tank scenario. So AC is good as is.
I've played in a group that uses DR for armour as well. We felt that it was intuitive that armour should reduce the damage delt. Over time, I noticed that such a system just did not work and eventually we changed back to the regular AC system for armour.

I fully understand that people would intuitively think that armour should reduce damage. In reality, armour deflects blows. Hits against heavily armoured targets are due to a blow penetrating a weak spot in the armour. Better armour protects the target better by exposing fewer weak spots. Having a better armour class means there are fewer exposed vital spots for a hit to cause damage. If you look at armour this way, the current AC system makes sense.
<\ \>tuntman
I fully understand that people would intuitively think that armour should reduce damage. In reality, armour deflects blows. Hits against heavily armoured targets are due to a blow penetrating a weak spot in the armour. Better armour protects the target better by exposing fewer weak spots. Having a better armour class means there are fewer exposed vital spots for a hit to cause damage. If you look at armour this way, the current AC system makes sense.

Actually, this is untrue. AC, as in D&D, is actually entirely unrealistic; in reality, armor IS DR; this is why armor in reality tends to suck unless you've got a huge amount of it relative to the force concentrations possible by current technology.

Chainmail may not be easy to cut, but it can be broken, stabbed through, or damaged, and even if it isn't you may still get hit in the face. Apart from that, though, taking a blow with a sword while wearing chainmail HURTS; all chainmail does is spread out the damage, so instead of being hit with a sharp edge, its like getting hit with a crowbar. Same goes for plate mail, but it does an even better job of not getting penetrated and spreads it out even better; it still hurts to get hit in it though, and it is still penetrable by lances and longbows.

Modern guns can shoot through a lot of armor because of sheer force concentration; they aren't actually stronger than sword swings in terms of actual energy, but because they're so much narrower they put holes in you. Thus armor has had to get all the better to resist it, and it still hurts a lot if you get shot while wearing even the most modern of body armor; it just spreads it out, which is ultimately what all armor does.

Now, in the cases of tanks and such, they're just so big that they spread out the force a lot more, and so thick it is nearly impossible to penetrate.

Reality is not D&D though, and getting shot a few times in the body armor cracking your ribs is hardly fun; thus the AC system, which is more enjoyable even if it is less realistic.
Well, AC represents how hard it is to be hit, and taken like it is difficult to represent armour and especially heavy armour. Armour does not prevent to get hit it prevent to get hurt.
Now before going any further, we can look at it which ever way we like a guy in leather does not have a chance against someone in full plate.
Fighting someone in armour just make fighting someone with a longer weapon even worse.
So no, AC in D&D does not fell right, and it can not feel right.But is a bloody game for crying out loud.
As long as, after all bonuses, heavy armour gives you the best AC by 2 or 3. It is fine.
To make more the difference and make heavy armour a viable investment
Give:
An extra bonus to heavy armour when fighting defensively
The ability to learn TWF where heavy armour is considered the second weapon or a shield.
And may be a fortitude bonus against constriction /compression and ignore the first D6 of fire/acid/cold/blast or a DR against those. Basically mail given almost nothing and plate giving the most.


Using weapons, (like in 2nd Edition) and requires a thorough knowledge of armour and weapons and combat technique.
For example the historical mace was phased out because it sucked against plate, it was great against mail.
Beck de Corbin (the actual war hammer) is the anti-plate weapon (and you will find one on most the pole axe or at least a thrust orientated spike.
But then when fighting against plate you had dagger and sword that were really designed to be stiff and to be good thrusters and combat methods were such that you exploit the gaps in the armour.
As well you can use your armour as if it was a second weapon either to strike or to parry strike.

Technically it is not an issue it can replace the large small creature damage dices and we can have feats to ignore armour (and probably some feat to use a bit or armour to reflex)

PS
is not AC in 4e based on reflex anyway.
When using light armour AC= base reflex + ac (I said base reflex because reflex bonus like the rogue do not seems to be included but it is 10+ ½ level +best of int/dext).
Well, in Saga they ditched AC for just Ref defence, but then again, the armour rules are different in Saga, and I'm not Mr Holy-Beef-Boy, bit it did feel odd not to see AC.

So I for one am glad that we have the 4 defences (AC, Fort, Ref, and Will).
I have always sort of left AC alone (except for implementing a d20 + ac modifiers instead of 10 + ac modifiers) but the idea of AC as DR sort of hit a nerve. Here is an idea that occurred to me.

What about you roll to hit, just like normal, but with the attack roll compared to AC offering a damage modifier. For example:

Level 3 fighter in Full Plate and shield with AC modifiers of +12.
Level 3 ranger wielding a +1 longsword with weapon focus and 16 strength with a total attack modifier of +8.

Ranger attacks fighter, rolling a 16 for a total of 24.
Fighter rolls defense of 8 for a total of 20.

24 (Attack) - 20 (Defense) = 4 (For 4 bonus damage)
Ranger rolls damage 1d8 (longsword) + 3 (strength) +1 (+1 longsword) +4 (bonus damage) giving 1d8 +8 total.

This means a better hit and less skilled defense will bypass the protection of the armor, striking truer.

Lets say the ranger rolled a 14 for a total of 22.
Fighter rolled a 14 for a total of 26.
The damage modifier would be 22 - 26 or -4.
So the damage roll would be 1d8 +0.

This means a poorer hit and more skilled defense will negate some of the potential damage.

If the attack roll was a certain threshold below the defense roll (could be different for each armor type, or could be a standard figure), it would be an absolute miss. And natural 20s would be auto hits for full damage, or double on crits, of course.

The numbers I am using are just examples, and I am sure would need to be tweaked for balance, but it seems like an interesting possibility.

What does everyone think?
I wouldn't like light sabers in D&D because that's Star Wars, nor rabbits that do kung-fu because that's Bunnies & Burrows.

The mechanics define what D&D is, don't touch AC or call the game something else than Dungeons & Dragon :D (how does GURPS sound?).
don't touch AC or call the game something else than Dungeons & Dragon.

Hallways & Lizards?
Just for my two cents:
Yes, armour in D&D is unrealistic, but it works within the system.
Now, there are a few ways I've seen armour done:
- Adds to your defense, making you harder to hit - how D&D currently does it.
- Gives Damage reduction which eliminates some to all of the damage inflicted on you. This can make certain weapons useless in D&D. However, it can work in other settings such as CthulhuTech where if your armour give +1 you roll a d10 and subtract that from damage. The only die you use in that game are d10's incidentally and you damage is based on what you roll on your attack skill vs the opponents defense skill. In this setting DR works, D&D not so much.
- Adds to your fortitude/toughness, making you harder to damage but not necessarily harder to hit. This is one of my favourite methods, but really only works well in systems that don't use hit points, such as Savage Worlds, though SWSE uses this method. In the Savage Worlds system everyone has a parry score, you roll over that you hit and roll damage, if damage is over your toughness you drop a would level and get penalties.

That's all I've seen in terms of armour, and some work better than others depending on the mechanics of the game. From the above, the first and what D&D uses, is the best option in my opinion.
is armor class a long overdue sacred cow?

No.

AC, like the d20, is a sacred cow that must be kept sacred.

Long Live the Sacred Armored Cow!
There are two issues I have with Armor as DR

First the possibility of a character saying "Great... the guys in full plate, guess I'll stay back since my dagger can't bet his DR"

Second... armor as holes that can be exploited. Where an attack roll against AC can represent this (ie. a thief being able to hit a full plated walking tank with a dagger even if it is only for d4 pts of dmg), DR total negates this possibility.

I feel the abstraction that AC represents not only solid steel(leather/wood/etc.) protection but dodging as well has always felt "right" to me.

Just my 2 cents.

Not that I have a real problem with the AC system, but I did add in DR when I created my own d20 version some time ago. It addresses your issues and maintains the flow of game. So, just for the record, AC and DR can indeed work and work well in D&D.
The Piazza A renaissance of the Old Worlds. Where any setting can be explored, any rules system discussed, and any combination of the two brought to life.
In games like Warhammer from GW, you make a roll to hit and then if you hit, you make a roll to penetrate the armour. Your attack skill determines whether or not you hit the target. If you do, the weapon you use and the type of armour of the target determines if the blow penetrates. I think that many players of D&D feel that D&D should have a system similar to this.

The disadvantage of the hit target + penetrate armour (or DR) rule is that you have to deal with 2 things for every attack (that succeeds). First, the attack and then the penetration. The penetration step may seem minor, but it can add up over time whether you're simply subtracting damage or making a penetration roll. If you are making attacks against different targets for each attack, you have to recalculate 2 values every time: one for the hit and one for the penetration.

With the current AC system, you just need one roll. The advantage is that is one roll instead of a roll + a DR modifier (or penetration roll).

At the end of the day, regardless of the rule you use, the target with the better armour will take less damage. Higher DR means less damage with each blow. Higher AC means fewer blows land. I'm sure that someone can create a chart that show the equivalence between AC x and armour with DR y vs. Weapon z. If one system can be shown to be equivalent (more or less) to the other, why not just use the simpler one?
<\ \>tuntman
In games like Warhammer from GW, you make a roll to hit and then if you hit, you make a roll to penetrate the armour. Your attack skill determines whether or not you hit the target. If you do, the weapon you use and the type of armour of the target determines if the blow penetrates. I think that many players of D&D feel that D&D should have a system similar to this.

The disadvantage of the hit target + penetrate armour (or DR) rule is that you have to deal with 2 things for every attack (that succeeds). First, the attack and then the penetration. The penetration step may seem minor, but it can add up over time whether you're simply subtracting damage or making a penetration roll. If you are making attacks against different targets for each attack, you have to recalculate 2 values every time: one for the hit and one for the penetration.

With the current AC system, you just need one roll. The advantage is that is one roll instead of a roll + a DR modifier (or penetration roll).

At the end of the day, regardless of the rule you use, the target with the better armour will take less damage. Higher DR means less damage with each blow. Higher AC means fewer blows land. I'm sure that someone can create a chart that show the equivalence between AC x and armour with DR y vs. Weapon z. If one system can be shown to be equivalent (more or less) to the other, why not just use the simpler one?

Well they can not be equivalent in the fell of the play, but obviously they are going to be equivalent in term of global results. It is just a different level of abstraction.

In other words the level of granularity, you want to deal with. It does not necessarily increase the number of dice you roll but it impacts the character sheet.

D&D requires a hit roll and damage roll. For two rolls you can have level of granularity that can make the difference with the same ammunition fired from a handgun or a rifle or the generic AC generic weapon of D&D).
now if in warhammer you do have roll to hit, topenetrate armour and then to damage. from a designe stand point it does not change anything to group penetration and damage on one roll, that can be taken care in a single roll.

In the role playing game I have created.
You roll to hit, the opponents roll a defence (I am one of those player that like to do something when the pc is attacked).

The dice results give us a success margin. The defender success margin reduces the opponent success margin.

Each weapon has a fixed damage base and a type, a stopping power and penetration coefficient.
Each armour type has a protection against Chop, thrust and concussive force. (And can have protection against a certain penetration coefficient).
(Penetration directly reduces either the effective damage or the protection of the armour and stopping power use success margin and compares it the frame of the target)

The success margin and the damage base give the actual damage. The armour absorbed its value of that damage point. The rest result in a wound

And according how those actual damage points compare to vulnerability of the place you have hit (localisation roll) or you have aimed at.

That give the ability to deal with weapons from a fire harden spear to anti-matter or 20-30 mill calibre rotating guns passing by war hammer, laser sabre and 0.303 bullets.
Aginst full plate, jazeran, padded jack, flack jacket, force field, mechanically assisted armour and so on.
You will have a different feel for each weapon and armour and make composite armour easy to deal with.

It is the same 1 or 2 roll for the attackers as in D&D. (Before you ask you can attack people or a place, you just roll once. All the targets in place will defend against that attack)
However the character sheet needs to record much more info than the D&D sheets
My group has been trying Iron Heroes ( a Monte Cook d20 variant) lately. My entire group took about 2 sessions to get the hang of the armor & defense differences but they now they work very well for us.
Armor is changed to DR but not a static one. Leather gives 1d3 DR, whereas full plate gives 1d8. Certain feats and class abilities give bonuses to these rolls.
In addition A new stat called defense which functions like AC but has nothing to do with armor is given to each character based on class & level with each class giving a base defense bonus modified by dex.
This sounded like an extra complication when I first read it. But in play we discovered it quickly became automatic and feels satisfying in how it works. You do get hit a bit more often but even light armored classes can soak up more damage over the course of a fight.

I like the sound of Iron Heroes, reminds me of Chivalry and Sorcery, where your armour pieces give you rolls for DR for each part of your body. Armour pieces were ablative in the long term, since they could accumulate some of the damage they soaked.

Earthdawn has a Physical Defence number to get over and a DR reducing damage taken. It works well in their campaign setting.

In 3.5 I enjoy rewarding players with light DRs against specific damage types. That is within the RAW. D&D copes well with small numbers for DR and players really like the variety of having the odd blow that bounces off, or knowing that fire devil isn't quite so scary due to their 5/fire DR (contrary to RAW I list what is resisted). Most likely a rolled absorption would be even better, e.g. d8/fire.

Better to leave D&D using AC, with minor use of DR, than otherwise.

-vk
I would like to see an armor system that uses both armor class and DR. The armor class would be the odds of bypassing the armor completely (ie. what % the armor covers), while the DR is how well it absorbs damage if struck. You strike the armor if you beat the Reflex defense but don't beat the AC.

Some examples:
Padded: +8 AC, DR 1
Leather: +8 AC, DR 2
Chain shirt: +5 AC, DR 8
Bronze Breastplate: +4 AC, DR 7
Steel Breastplate: +4 AC, DR 10
Scale Mail: +7 AC, DR 7
Full mail: +9 AC, DR 8
Half plate: +9 AC, DR 10
Full plate: +10 AC, DR 10

However, I think for such a system to work best another sacred cow would need to be slaughtered, STR to hit.
DEX would be added to the hit roll indicating the ability to precisely strike and therefore bypass armor. While STR would still be added to damage for smashing through armor. This way, large creatures like giants won't be trying to finesse a blow past the armor, they will just smash you flat. On the flip side, a halfling rogue with lots of DEX will be more able to bypass the completely and therefore ingnore the DR when he stabs you with his dagger for full damage.
I would like to see an armor system that uses both armor class and DR.

Does 3.5 adamantine armors ring your bell?

GURPS had something similar to what you're saying. I didn't like it on the long run.
I would love to see DR in DnD, but not because of what has been mentioned.

calvinNhobbes alluded to it.

However, I think for such a system to work best another sacred cow would need to be slaughtered, STR to hit.

I'm disappointed by what is left on the table with the current AC system and that is the possibility of having a broader range of melee character types each with a different approach to melee. In the current system a melee character who maximizes Strength will be better off than a character who does anything else because of the Str to hit modifier.

Changing to DR could allow for stronger fighter types who will be more effective against larger, more heavily armored enemies and faster fighter types who will be more effective against smaller enemies.

Granted this would require major changes elsewhere as well as a lot of tweaking, but personally I think it would be worth it. I cannot count how many times I've envisioned a character only to realize that my vision is gimped in the game or that he comes with all sorts of baggage. The quick fighter is a classic gimp.
Arguments like these make me wonder what 4E Unearthed Arcana will look like.

Well, apparently there was an early 4E idea that you would not roll for damage. That might be in there.
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Does 3.5 adamantine armors ring your bell?

GURPS had something similar to what you're saying. I didn't like it on the long run

Yes, similar, but the DR only applies when you hit the armor, not all the time, that is a very important difference. Moreover, the DR for adamantine within the 3.5 system doesn't really make sense. I think it was more an after thought to make it special. Really it should just give an AC bonus to be consistent.

I looked at GURPS, and didn't like it. Too much detail for my taste. I don't recall the armor system exactly so I have no idea if it is similar or not.

Granted this would require major changes elsewhere as well as a lot of tweaking, but personally I think it would be worth it.

I think it'd be worth it as well!
Well they can not be equivalent in the feel of the play, but obviously they are going to be equivalent in term of global results. It is just a different level of abstraction.

I guess if you are using a wide variety of weapons that have a wide range in terms of penetration (club to a laser), then it would make sense to have a system that can handle things like this. In D&D, there is not so much granularity in the types of weapon attacks. Yeah, a pick is more penetrating than a club, but it's nothing like a laser. Practically all weapon attacks are based on the strength of the person whether it is swinging the weapon or pulling a bow string back. For such an environment, having a DR armour system may not necessarily be that much of a benefit.

I would say that a laser in D&D would be something like Magic Missile. MM (like many other damage spells) ignores armour and attacks against the targets reflex. The D&D way of handling this is to make it all or nothing. DR is something that is a special ability that certain monsters have.

If you were to change the armour class rules, you would probaby have to make it so that armour also reduces damage from spells as well. This will greatly change the power of spells as well. If DR reduces damage from spells (which would make sense), then spells that do not deal damage would become more powerful because they do not need to worry about armour DR.

They may go in the direction of armour as DR in future releases of D&D. Simply implementing without looking at the big picture can make things unbalancing.
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I would like to see an armor system that uses both armor class and DR.

That exact variant/rule is in the 3rd Ed UA.

I believe full plate is AC +4 and DR/ 4.
That exact variant/rule is in the 3rd Ed UA.

I am aware of the UA variant, but it is definitely not the exact rule I proposed for several important reasons:
1) The AC is not a function of coverage.
2) The DR is not a function of the material.
3) The DR applies always and there is no way to bypass it.

These factors are very important to avoid many of the short comings of the UA system. Example, the situation where the average person using a dagger can never ever damage someone in fullplate.
I've always found it paradoxical that armour makes you harder to hit and increased skill (level that is) enables you to take more damage.

No, armour makes it harder for you to be wounded. A fighter gets hit all the time, if an attack exceeds touch AC (in 4E, reflex) but not full AC, you are hit but it glances off the armour.

I think a mechanic like fallout would work well, armour makes you harder to wound, but also reduces damage when you are wounded.

However, in mêlée combat, usually a hit to the armour will always glance off, that is what armour is designed to do, to wound someone in armour, usually you have to get a weak point where there is no/little armour. You either miss, hit the armour, hit a weak spot, or hit with so much force that you break through the armour. The better the armour, the less weak spots.

This is why AC works, it just requires a bit of imagination.
However, in mêlée combat, usually a hit to the armour will always glance off, that is what armour is designed to do, to wound someone in armour, usually you have to get a weak point where there is no/little armour. You either miss, hit the armour, or hit a weak spot. The better the armour, the less weak spots.

This is why AC works, it just requires a bit of imagination.

I agree, that is an excellent way to think of AC, as long as it is just two medium-sized humanoids fighting.

However, when you start adding fantastic creatures like huge giants and dragons that should be able to crush standard plate armor like it was tin foil, then it begins to get more difficult to say the giant hit the armor and it deflected off with no consequences.
I guess if you are using a wide variety of weapons that have a wide range in terms of penetration (club to a laser), then it would make sense to have a system that can handle things like this. In D&D, there is not so much granularity in the types of weapon attacks. Yeah, a pick is more penetrating than a club, but it's nothing like a laser. Practically all weapon attacks are based on the strength of the person whether it is swinging the weapon or pulling a bow string back. For such an environment, having a DR armour system may not necessarily be that much of a benefit.

I would say that a laser in D&D would be something like Magic Missile. MM (like many other damage spells) ignores armour and attacks against the targets reflex. The D&D way of handling this is to make it all or nothing. DR is something that is a special ability that certain monsters have.

If you were to change the armour class rules, you would probaby have to make it so that armour also reduces damage from spells as well. This will greatly change the power of spells as well. If DR reduces damage from spells (which would make sense), then spells that do not deal damage would become more powerful because they do not need to worry about armour DR.

They may go in the direction of armour as DR in future releases of D&D. Simply implementing without looking at the big picture can make things unbalancing.

Really the ability to damage is much more linked to skill than strength or dexterity. that being said at least in 4e rogue has his dex to attack and damage.

That being said I agree with you cannot really play about with armour without touching weapons (and spells).
My point was that in D&D armour and damage are such in the state it is difficult to change something without increasing complexity and lengthening game play or serious revamping.
The problem is that armour in D&D just makes you harder to hit. So any making harder to hit can only add to the process




But i do not hink DR is the solution either