Poll: Armour Class

I think that it is time to make a decision on what we are going to do with Armour Class in HD&D. The discussion that followed my recent update on the subject, was largely of one mind. You liked Damage Reduction, and you didn’t like Damage Conversion. Very well, I’m convinced. Armour Class in HD&D works in the same way that Damage Reduction works in Third Edition. That’s sorted. The question now is how we implement this.

If we’re going to go down the Damage Reduction route, I think there are three easy options for play testing. Of the three, my preference would be option 2. Have a read of the options and see what you think. If necessary, please go back and read the update on Armour Class. Then when you’re ready you can vote below.

Option 1: Translate Armour Class directly from Third Edition

Plate armour gives you +8 to your armour class in third edition, therefore it gives you +8 to armour class in HD&D. The only difference is that in third edition, the +8 was applied to the DC of hitting a target in combat, while in HD&D it’s going to be subtracted from the damage inflicted. This is by far the easiest way to convert things, and I’m willing to give this a go, but you have to be aware for the following problems:

  • A longsword only does 1d8 damage. Physical assaults will often bounce off even lightly armoured opponents. This may be believable, but it will extend combat against heavily armoured opponents.
  • Because AC from armour stacks with Natural AC there is the possibility of doubly potent creatures. Brack Ogrebane’s natural AC is 8. Put him in full plate and it’s 16. Can you imagine fighting a creature that ignored the first 16 points of damage from all physical attacks?
  • Some creatures have ludicrously high natural armour: +39 for a great wyrm red dragon. Is there any point in having a figure that high if even high level characters will have difficulty punching through it?
  • A very high AC in HD&D penalises characters that fight with weapons, and it doubly penalises two-weapon fighters. It doesn’t affect spellcasters at all, as a magic missile is just as likely to damage someone in full plate as if they were just wearing their boxers.

Option 2: Follow Third Edition, but treat monsters differently

With this option we translate the AC of manufactured armour directly from third edition. Chainmail is still AC 5. However, we adjust the natural armour of creatures downward. I’ve already presented these rules in the armour class update, but I’ll reitereate them here.

Take the third edition statistics. Divide natural armour by 5, and divide Damage  Reduction by 2. Add the results together to find the new level. This way a great wyrm red dragon has an armour class of 18 (not 39), a pit fiend has an armour class of 12 (not 15) and Brack has an armour class of 5 (not 8). It just seems a bit saner, and brings natural armour more in line with manufactured armour. It also takes into account damage reduction, which we’d otherwise be ignoring entirely.

However, this option may be seen to shaft creatures that have a high natural armour but no damage reduction. However, I won’t be imposing this formula blindly. It’s just a guide that gets tried and tested and weighed against other monsters. If I think the hide of a giant should grant more than +2 AC then I can change it.

Option 3: Reduce the AC value of all armour

This wasn’t popular in the last post, but it may get more traction here. We can reduce the value of natural armour (probably using the same method as in Option 2), and also the value of manufactured armour. Refer to the table in the previous post for an indication of what the new armour values would be. The disadvantage here is obvious: the difference between the AC values is very similar. There may be no mechanical advantage in choosing one armour over another, for example.

So there we have it. I’m looking at the equipment tables (particularly weapons and armour) as I type, so please vote on this one as it will make my life much easier.

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4 thoughts on “Poll: Armour Class

  1. Neil says:

    Hmmm armour. Well IMHO great wyrms should be impenetrable to all but the hardest of the hard (or spell casters). You want to kill it then you have to find a special weapon, a vorpal blade for example or magical artefact. However, I agree that an ogre with AC 16 is a bit silly. I think the minimum damage should be the damage bonus of the character (as James has suggested twice now), whether that is actual or temporary I don’t know.

    It does throw up an interesting point though, one that you did mention, spells will ignore all armour. Presumably a dragon will have magic resistance or something that will effectively negate this advantage, but what about creatures which are just hard, not magical? You will have to be very careful when you decide upon damage ratings for spells compared to weapons as this could destroy party balance (and yes, it is needed).

    At the moment I am yet to be convinced of the merit of playing a martial character but I will wait and see.

  2. Well, I think Armour Class 18 for a great wyrm dragon is silly enough. At least as a place to start. I hadn’t quite equated James’s idea with the minimum damage inflicted on a successful strike. I’m not sure why. Maybe I don’t read things properly? :)

    Anyway – that does open up some interesting possibilities. If a character’s strength bonus was the minimum damage inflicted by the weapon, then I would probably lean toward making it real damage. This is only because subdual damage would just be another layer of things to take into account in combat.

    There won’t be any spell resistance per se in HD&D, but large dragons will have very high Fortitude and Will defences to avoid spells. Their Reflex will be low, but they are likely to have some sort of energy resistance. Although they won’t be resistant to all energy, and might indeed be vulnerable to some.

    The Fighter is going to be the first class I take a crack out, so you’ll see if it’s for you or not.

  3. i am not entirely convinced this is the right way to go…but i am moving on from here….

    think monsters and PCs should have the same rule…why should it be any different considering HDnD is supposed to be simplified in the first instance.

    how much AC u want to give a character should translate to how much damage can be dished out to be considered a fair fight….if L14 Brack has AC 8, then any character of L14 should have a chance at taking down Brack assuming that character has taken the necessary talents to ensure he is a worthy opponent for Brack.

    so what do u do with silly creatures that have high AC like ur dragons of AC39 or AC18, well yes they are meant to formidable, but if a party has the right CR for a battle to take down a dragon, then it should be a fair fight with chance that a dragon can be defeated…

    all i am saying your damage dice and AC should be balanced…and u may end tweaking it during your playtest.

  4. Hi INdran. The rest of reality wasn’t privy to our recent conversation. Suffice to say, that you thought that armour as damage reduction unfairly penalises:

    a) characters that cannot wear armour
    b) characters that can inflict only moderate damage

    Both categories include the Monk.

    Now, in the broadest sense: you’re right. If you have a character who cannot wear armour (or even heavy armour) like a monk, a rogue or a wizard then the character will be at a disadvantage. The key is in creating class based talents that help him overcome this disadvantage. The same applies for weapon damage.

    That said, we don’t want to create a monk that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the fighter taking the same punishment and inflicting the same pain. The monk must be functionally different to the fighter (otherwise there’s no point having the monk). Therefore he must fight differently, and his strengths must also be different. However, without having an HD&D monk on paper in front of me, I can’t tell you how it will work. I’m confident that you won’t let me come up with a sub-par monk, though!

    Onto your other points:

    1) I haven’t done these maths yet. All my sums thusfar only take into account unarmoured opponents. However, there is an argument for not bothering. Make armoured characters harder to bring down, don’t make unarmoured characters easier. Feats, talents, fighting styles and choice of weapon could be the way to approach armoured characters – not simply relying on the damage you can dish out.

    2) I agree that a party the same level as a dragon should have a chance of taking down that dragon. However, an AC of 39 is just too much for HD&D. The variation being the lowest result you can get with a skill check and the highest is not as great. AC 18 is a saner figure. Still formidable, but not completely overwhelming.

    3) I may wind up tweaking everything during the playtest! I reserve the right to be wrong on every point made on this blog.

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