The Masterwork Armor Rules of 4e are totally confusing!
In some cases, there is no difference between a so-called Masterwork Armor and a normal magic armor with the same amount of enhancement boni. Or what's the difference between a Godplate and a +6 Fullplate? Both have AC+14 so this tells me that basically, masterwork armor rules don't exist because it's just a different name for a magical armor with a certain enhancement bonus.
But then I looked at Elderhide and saw this: Normal Hide+3, Elder Hide+5 (Minimum Enhancement Bonus +6)
According to this, if Elderhide has a min.enh.bonus of +6, the +5 has to be the base AC of the armor. A +6 Elderhide would then have AC11 (and in turn, +6 Godplate would have AC+20).
But then you get a problem with the prices because it says the price is already included in the enchantment!? So those masterwork armors are free (except for the enchantment, of course)??
Seriously, I don't get it. Can someone enlight me on this?
This should be stickied. Sigh.
You know what, I'm bored. So here is some history! Yay history! At some point late in 4e's development cycle, they changed something. It could be the removal of a stat bump, it could be the removal of Masterwork items altogether, but something changed. It destroyed some carefully balanced math, leading to problems with defenses and to-hit scaling on the PC side of things. Some other side effects are the existence of Expertise, Paragon/Robust/Improved defenses, and etc.
This was particularly noticeable with AC and for Heavy Armor users in particular. So the first PHB was published with Masterwork armor. Masterwork armor is free, it is included in the cost of the Enchanment (so many people got, and continue, to get this wrong that it is kind of sad), and it gives you additional base AC to fix the scaling issue. However the available Masterwork Armors didn't really fix the issue 1-30, so more Masterwork armors were introduced in Adventure's Vault. These had the added option of either taking the AC bonus or picking a special armor that gave you a bonus to Will (Cloth, Chainmail), Reflex (Leather), Fort (Hide, Scale), or Resist All (Plate).
Some more Masterwork armors were introruduced in the Dark Sun books, but they are identical to existing ones with different names. Fluff.
The latest and largest change is in the Heroes of... books, where they remove the "Masterwork" part and just have the AC automatically increase based on Enhancement (so people would stop failing at the "Included in the cost" part). However this applies even if the armor is Masterwork, so now you can take the special Masterworks that increase Fort/Ref/Will/Resist all and still get the AC bonus.
An excellent recap by Alcestis. IMHO, that should be stickied.
Thanks Alcestis. Let me get this straight using examples:
So, I am wearing hide armor. It's +3 AC.
Or, I put on some hide armor +2. Now it's +5 AC (+3 from the armor, +2 enhancement).
Or, I put on some hide armor +4. I should have +7AC (+3 armor, +4 enhancement).
But for the exact same price as that hide armor +4, I can put on (masterwork) darkhide armor +4. That's +8AC (+4 armor, +4 enhancement). In Dark Sun, that would just be called kank hide armor, but be exactly the same thing.
Or! For the exact same price as either the hide or darkhide armor, I can put on feyhide armor +4. That's +7AC (+3 armor, +4 enhancement) and +2 Fortitude.
Is that all correct?
Ok thanks a lot! I too came to the conclusion that someone slept while doing this and then some other guys slept while publishing it and then some more guys sleep up to now since there is no errata on that and the rest fell asleep when more confusing "masterwork" armor was published, using other flawed techniques. So let's make our own rules as long as we're awake. We can do two approaches:
1. We say that MW armor basically doesn't exist. If you have a +6 Fullplate it's called Godplate. Yeah I know, awesome.
2. Or we say that MW is actually a non-magical material bonus. I'd like to go with this one. We just need to assign prices.
Masterwork Armor Basics
So we now have to decide on a formula for a non-magical +1 bonus to the Base-AC. Any ideas?
Masterwork Armor grants Damage Reduction to any damage against your AC (not other defenses; it's a non-magical armor effect). Prices are equal to the ones from +X Magic Armor.
This cost in in addition to any enchantment costs.
Not all magic armor are masterwork even if they now have equivalent AC bonus as of Essentials (HoTFL/HoTFK 344).
If you take masterwork armor, you get the armor bonus it says it gives in the PHB or AV or Compendium, not what the new table in the Heroes Of books indicates. These are exceptions to the general armor bonus scaling rule. In many cases this results in a lower AC for a specific masterwork than an equivalent level magic armor, but the tradeoff is that you get a F/R/W/Resist bump.
In other words, all magic armor follows the armor bonus from the tables in the Heroes Of books but masterwork armor types are the exception. Specific beats general.
Note that this is the way the CB calculates it and that the armor bonuses for masterwork armors were never changed in the Compendium either.
I'm supposing the masterwork armor system and the new armor bonus scaling system in the Heroes Of were not really meant to be used together since Essentials doesn't acknowledge the existence of masterwork armor, but IMO it's not a huge deal if you do. They were probably both meant to be fixes to the armor scaling "problem," but since some of the masterwork armors gave NAD/resist bonuses instead of extra armor bonuses, it wouldn't be fair to allow someone to get both the NAD or resist bonus AND the extra armor bonus for no extra cost. And for folks on CharOp who get bent out of shape about one point on a defense score, that should be a big deal, but it doesn't get addressed much.
Someone who strictly owns Essentials doesn't even know what Masterwork Armor is and what it does (past AC bonuses). That's the reason why many people come here asking about the AC discrepency. Essentials mentions some name of Masterwork Armor only in the fluff part. No mechanical element is ever given nor the name Masterwork even suggested.
Masterwork is more that a better AC bonus, its a very specific game element that can have properties when a set of magic armor is enchanted using a particular type of materials and not all armor has those qualities automatically as described in the Masterwork Armor themselves. Essentials merely adjusted magic armor AC bonus accordingly that's all. That doesn't make all armors Masterwork.
HoTFL 343 Armor: Magic appears at higher levels, and grant higher armor bonuses than its mundane counterpart.
HoTFL 343 Armor: For exemple, magic cloth armor might be made of feyweave woven by the eladrin or starweave fashioned after patterns created in the divine dominions of the Astral Sea.
I'm not going to pretend to be an expert, but there's a couple of things I've noticed from skimming this thread.
"There are no actual materials you have to acquire, you Enchant the armor and it is magically Masterwork."
RC 281 uses a set of +5 Black Iron Plate as an example of a magic armor providing +13 AC. I would like to humorously point out that this is clearly a magic armor that isn't Masterwork presented in the Rules Compendium, which seems to function on a level similar to a Bible around here. ^.^
As a more direct comment, RC 282 defines Masterwork Armor as having been made "according to esoteric methods that involve weaving magic into the substance of the armor." This suggests that Masterwork Armor isn't the result of a simple "Enchant Magic Item" (though there is little reason for a DM to rule that an invalid method of acquiring it, unless the DM wants to use the "fluff" as an actual element in his game), but instead suggests that Masterwork Armor is one of those exciting things you find during an actual quest, kind of like Rare Magic Items (I'll note here that Rare Magic Items don't cost any more in GP for a PC than Common/Uncommon, which is a strong example against this idea that you absolutely have to get the best value for your GP in any expenditure). I think, while Masterwork should obviously be used for the sake of the balancing, it's worth considering that there are multiple types of Masterworks, as opposed to a flat "+X Masterwork" label to stick on magic armor.
Except neither the materials, nor the process actually exist anywhere in the rules. All the rules say is that the cost of Masterwork armor is included in the enchantment of the appropriate Enhancement level. That's it. Which is where there can't be any non-Masterwork armor of the appropriate enhance. The only place that is ever even suggested is in AV and it basically says "+4 Masterwork Hide will give more AC then +4 Hide.
It is a scaling fix, all armor of the appropriate enhance is Masterwork, and magically becomes that way when it gets that level of enhancement. It has always been that way.
Also, Magic Armor +3/4/5/6 can exist without being Masterwork, even if it isn't encouraged or even wise to do it. I'll direct you once again to that RC 281 example. While it used +5 Black Iron Plate as just an example, it remains a valid armor type, just not a good choice once you understand the Masterwork concept.
The table on page 344 of Forgotten Kingdoms, and the text around it, never mention Masterwork (there are mentions of materials that, in other sources, are defined as Masterwork), and also do not allude to the fact that there are magical armors granting bonuses to NADs/etc. It is a complete resource for anybody running a game solely using the RC/Heroes of books, but because it doesn't mention Masterwork Armors as anything but "fluff", I doubt you could really use it as The Exclusive Guide to Masterwork, as if it trumps every other resource (including my not terribly significant RC reference).
As far as I'm concerned, RC 281's example proves simply that nonMasterwork is perfectly legal, though it's a terrible idea to use it for anything but illustrating concepts.
It isn't a complete resource. It is some rules. All the rules are the complete resource. You can't ignore some because they don't happen to be in a particular book.
1. Precisely, Alcestis. Ignoring the Rules Compendium and/or other Masterwork sources just because Heroes of brought in a passive ACbonus system is suggesting that you should just toss out all the actual Masterwork Armors.
2. My argument doesn't dictate that Masterwork can't exist. It suggests that, for those DMs who feel like recognizing the fluff (because yes, fluff can be a guide to cool stuff sometimes), Masterwork be awarded in treasure/loot rather than crafted by the PCs. Also, there is no particular reason a PC could not simply find Masterwork to purchase, so the only thing inconvenienced is the Enchant Magic Item ritual (this can be bypassed by some DM reasonability for simplicity anyway). I don't think this contradicts the sources any more than your "All magic is masterwork" idea. Both are kind of extreme.
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The quote here directly indicate nonmasterwork armor exist:
D202 Cruel As Desert Wind: If the characters ask for payment
I'm not clear why you think that AV quote is relevant, Plague, when HotFL changed the rule.
HoTFL didnt change the rule about Masterwork armor, it only changed the base AC bonus for magic armor, not the same thing.
Also discussed here.
I'd just like to clarify and revise my earlier statements. I don't really care whether something is called "masterwork" or not, or whether "all magic armor is masterwork" or not. To me, that's just semantics. What I really am trying to explain is that the masterwork types in PHB and AV do not use the armor bonus tables from the Heroes Of books. They are their own cases and use the armor bonuses in their own descriptions. For some types this makes them match the Heroes Of tables but for others it does not and in those cases you (always?) get a benefit of some other sort like a NAD bump or Resist.
IOW, the Heroes Of tables are the general rule on what armor bonus you get and the different masterwork types are the specific exceptions to that rule.
Just going by the explanations in the books is what creates all the confusion on this topic because it's not specifically spelled out how the old masterwork armor types are handled post-Essentials. But the Compendium and the Character Builder show how it really works and no, they are not mistaken on this issue. If you want to believe they are then that's your prerogative. If you don't have DDi and are just trying to figure it out using the books, I can fully understand why you might interpret this differently.
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