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.