Poll: Armour and Energy Damage

There has been some considerable discussion in the Hit Points and Damage thread about whether armour should reduce the damage you take from energy attacks such as fireball. I am going to summarise those arguments here. You can vote in the poll at the bottom of the page.


In HD&D Armour Class works like damage reduction did in third edition. You subtract the armour class value from the damage dealt before applying the damage to your foe. So if you strike an opponent for 20 damage, and they are wearing Plate Armour (AC 9), then they only take 11 points of damage.

Option One: Armour doesn’t defend against energy attacks

My intention was that armour class should only defend against physical attacks from weapons and other solid objects. The game already has Energy Resistance, which works in a similar way but protects against energy attacks such as Fire, Electricity, Thunder, Radiance and so on.

If we allow armour to protect you against a fireball as well as sword swing then we are in danger of making armour too good in the context of the game. It also weakens energy resistance. A tiefling starts with Fire Resistance as one of his class traits. What’s the point if anyone can also get fire resistance by putting on some chain-mail?

D&D has never allowed armour to do this in the past, and I don’t see why we need to do it now. It just seems unnecessary, and will cause too many mechanical issues just for the sake of closing a loop hole that isn’t really there.

Option Two: Amour must defend against energy resistance!

The counter argument is that armour should defend against energy attacks, because in the real world that is exactly what would happen. HD&D strives for verisimilitude, well here is a big fat example that HD&D cannot afford to ignore.

The instantaneous burst from a fireball won’t penetrate armour. Electricity will arc around armoured foes and damage them less. These are scientific facts, and the game should accomodate them.

The Poll

So there are the options. If you’re still not clear what all this is about, go back and have a read of the aforementioned discussions. Get informed and then vote. Your vote counts, you know!

7 thoughts on “Poll: Armour and Energy Damage

  1. this is a hard one to answer

    it’s a split between complexity and realism

    in reality, u don’t wear bomb blast suit during a bomb diffusing procedure because it’s comfortable. it is meant to protect. u could justify, amour can protect u against a fireball….but will it protect u against a sonic attack?

    well going down the realism route seems fine, but at the cost of how u are u going to breakdown how much each amour type give u in bonus for each energy type…and that might be too complex

    but then again if it’s a saving throw, ur reflex is a measurement of ur ability to evade, so it should not measure how much body plating u have when u evade…as for fortitude, it’s based on ur constitution such as energy drain and weakenning, ur amour should not protect…and will is about ur mental ability, so ur helmet wont protect u…

    more complex than first thought?

    yes, well in that case, here are the options

    if u want to keep the realism, i would go amour does not protect u against energy attack, but i may go with amour reducing the energy damage that u take

    leather, minus 2 from total damage
    metal, minus 5 from total damage,

    something like that might work…but HDnD is suppose to simplify the maths so that the game combat can go faster, shall we just assume then it doesnt?

    notice, i havent answered ur question…thats because its too complex for a straight answer…so best then we make it less complex and just ignore the whole blog and thus the impact of amour on energy attacks… :)

    i know, i just contradicted myself, but that was the point :)

  2. But arguably it wouldn’t be -5 from any sort of damage. You might argue that armour protects you against Fire or Electricity, but does it protect you against Sonic damage? Are you wearing a helmet? Would that matter? And what about energy types that have no real world analogue such as Necrotic or Radiant damage? What about Psychic damage? If such a thing exists in HD&D.

    One blanket rule isn’t going to work, because there will always be exceptions. My fear regarding this is twofold:

    1) Subtracting the armour class from the damage dealth is already a bit of a fiddly mechanic. Forcing the attacker/defender to subtract different figures in different circumstances is not at all desirable.

    2) It was pointed out to me that natural armour had to stack with worn armour because if it didn’t all the races that got a bonus to natural armour were being shafted. They weren’t being given a useful advantage. I accepted that. Well, this is exactly the same principle. If armour defends against energy attacks then any race with energy resistance is also placed at an unnecessary disadvantage.

    If I was being brutally honest, I’d rather find another way of adjudicating armour that didn’t use this mechanic at all. Any thoughts on that score?

  3. Will a suit of plate mail protect against an ordinary blast – no. The bomb disposal teams only wear body armour in real life to protect from shrapnel whilst they are walking towards the device, and to keep the bits in if it goes off.

    The concussion from a blast (magical or otherwise) will mash your organs without penetrating the armour. Likewise, if your wearing full metal armour and you get hit by a lightening bolt, shouldn’t you take more damage, not less?

    If you want to get really picky, should different armour have different AC’s against different types of attacks (slashing, crushing, puncturing)? And does it make a difference if your wearing a helm or grieves during an attack?

    Surely one of the benefits of d&d was that it *didn’t* go into this kind of detail. If your worried about such things, there are other games out there which factor them in …

  4. I’m tentatively saying yes to this, even though it seems more complicated than is necessary. I think it could work quite well alongside different armour class vs different weapons. I personally don’t have the first clue how it actually works, but if our scientific community can work out the appropriate bonuses and penalties then I’m fully behind it. I don’t think it would be too complicated during the game if everything is worked out properly beforehand.

    The same goes for weapon types against different types of armour. If the weapons experts amongst us (and I’m slightly concerned by the number of weapons experts there might be amongst us) can get it right then it could be fun. The warrior in full plate might be quite smug with his protection against weapons and electricity until he comes up against a load of hobgoblins with maces that cave his armour in. It would make all those multiheaded polearms very tempting. Town guards with halberds or lucerne hammers would look very different.

  5. Neil replies to Jack:

    Whilst you are mainly correct that the reason for body armour for these people is for protection against shrapnel it is not true to say that it won’t protect the person to some extent. Yes, a big enough blast will indeed mash the organs but we are not talking about such explosions. The lightning point is called Faraday’s cage as Marc pointed out and it should protect the wearer quite well. An example of it was shown in Top Gear where Richard Hammond was blasted with simulated lightning whilst in a car.

    Yes you’re right that armour should have different values dependent on form of attack and indeed Neil is considering this, however, I am simply saying that armour should protect against ALL energy attacks other than those that have no basis in real life, negative/positive energy for example (though that would be up to Neil) Surely that is simpler? As for the disadvantage to those with fire/ice/acid etc resistance, sigh, does no-one read my posts? I have already suggested that you simply make the resistance better than the armour. You could also say that multiple hits would degrade the armour but not degrade the resistance, though obviously this is messy.

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