View Full Version : Armour as Damage Reduction

2007-03-18, 03:43 AM
Has anyone tried using the alternate rules for armour that give it a combination of AC and DR which are featured here: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/armorAsDamageReduction.htm ?

The idea always made a lot of sense to me, since the advantage of using bigger, heavier weapons is generally more in their ability to get through armour than to do damage (since you can kill people fairly easily with light weaponry if you know what you're doing).

However, I get the feeling that this would further over-reward the two-handed weapon fighter vs two-weapon fighter, one-handed weapon fighter or weapon-and-shield fighter. How would you balance this? The obvious choices to me either seem to be a weapon-speed system that represents how a character should be able to attack more often with a lighter weapon, or maybe feats that allow characters to bypass this damage reduction, like the following:

Find the weak point
Requirements: Weapon Finesse
When using any weapon which may apply Weapon Finesse other than Chain weapons, the character may precisely target weak points in the opponent's armour.
Bonus: On critical hits, ignore damage reduction from armour or Natural Armour.
Normal: Damage reduction applies as standard to critical hits.

2007-03-18, 05:14 AM
I currently play a d20 variant that uses armour as damage reduction. It works very well, and it has feats that do things like the feat you proposed.
I think it works very well and I also think it'd work in D&D very well with that modification.
Do consider that that a creature's AC will drop significantly and as a result power attack becomes a way better feat.
To counter that you can introduce a Base Defense Bonus, like the Base Attack Bonus. It'll take some tweaking what BDB to give to what classes though...

2007-03-18, 12:31 PM
I use a homebrew fairly close to that:

7) Armor Modifications (these bonuses are in addition to normal AC bonuses from wearing armor)
A) Light Armor=DR 1/-
B) Medium Armor=DR 2/-
C) Heavy Armor=DR 3/-
D) Special Materials
1) Adamite provides +2 DR
2) Dragonhide provides +1 DR
3) Mithril provides +1 DR
E) Magic Bonuses
1) Add the magic bonus (divided by 2, rounded up) to the armorís DR.
F) The following damage types are not subject to being reduced from armor-based DR: force damage (magic missile, et al), falling damage, drowning damage, psionic damage, coup de grace damage.
G) Critical Hits bypass armor-based Damage Reduction (as do coup de graces).
H) Magic weapons bypass armor-based DR if the weapon enhancement bonus is greater than the magic enhancement bonus to the armor. Do not apply weapno/armor qualities to this. (eg: a +3 ghost touch longsword will bypass armor-based DR if the armor is a +2 enhancement bonus or less).
I) Natural weapons
1) A creature with natural weapons and no inherent damage resistance will suffer standard DR on attacks against an armored opponent.
2) A creature with natural attacks AND inherent damage reduction treats its natural attacks as if they have an enhancement bonus equal to what it would take to defeat thier own inherent damage reduction.
J) Only armor recieves these bonuses (that is, you must be wearing protective clothing to get them, and taking an armor check penalty - even if that penalty is zero). Items like cloaks of protection and bracers of defense do not grant armor-based DR, and neither do spells that duplicate armor effects, such as Mage Armor.

It's worked pretty well. Fighters in full plate no longer care about dagger-wielding opponents, and have something to make up for the whole "I have no mobility" thing. I used to grade every weapon with an armor-piercing stat, which allowed some weapons to ignore mundane armor DR, but with the amount of magic items in use, it got pointless after level 4 or so.

2007-03-18, 04:59 PM
Yes, I like the idea of Armour as Damage Reduction, but I don't like the result, which is that Daggers suddenly suck a lot more. Armour does three things. It protects some areas better than others. It deflects attacks. It reduces the impact of blows on the wearer. Consequently, I advocate a combined AC and DR system for Armour.

What I ended up with was keeping the original AC Bonus for Armour, but giving each type of Armour a DR Rating of 1-3. As a rule of thumb, Light Armour = DR 1, Medium Armour = DR 2, Heavy Armour = DR 3. I wasn't happy with that in the end, so I ended up changing it to Light Armour = DR 0, Medium Armour = DR 1, Heavy Armour = DR 2.

2007-03-18, 05:31 PM
Daggers should suck. Against a person wearing even a modicum of period armor (studded leather, or even a stiff aketon/gambeson), they completely lose thier ability to do damage based on slashing attacks, and thrusting attacks are severely blunted.

And god help the dagger-fighter if his opponent is in full plate. His only hope should be to knock the guy down and shove the dagger through a gap in the armor. However, that's more of a coup de grace than an actual attack.

2007-03-18, 06:09 PM
Nah, not in a Grapple they shouldn't and not against Mail. Maybe against Plate, but then so should Swords if we're going to get into that.

2007-03-19, 12:44 AM
Thanks for the advice. I think this sort of rule change will take some thinking about...

2007-03-19, 12:50 AM
I'm using these rules for a high-seas campaign with firearms; it works great, I'd say.

A couple things to consider about this: Might want to alter the rules for Touch Attacks. With a poor BAB, Wizards suddenly suck at throwing spells at their targets; a good solution is to discredit defense bonus for touch attacks. The system also doesn't allow for stacking of defense bonuses, you use whatever's the best. I might make a variant of this rule along the lines of Star Wars d20; that is, add both together and -2 class, except the first.

Ultimately, hitting enemies become easier, and sometimes it's easier for them to hit you, but the damage you take in the long run is less.

2007-03-19, 10:50 AM
The biggest practical problem with armour as DR is that it ends up making certain characters/weapons completely unable to harm a target wearing sufficient armour. I usually mitigate this in the following ways:
I use variable DR instead of fixed. My homebrew setup uses hit locations, but it would be just as effective to change DR X due to armour to DR 1d(2X) or something similar instead.
Critical hits can, at the attacker's option, bypass armour DR.
With weapons like daggers (and any other weapon that I deem has an extremely narrow "attack surface" that can wedge nicely between weak spots in armour), I usually allow characters to, as a standard action, make a special attack that partially ignores the DR due to the armour.
More skilled warrior-types (and some rogue-types) have maneuvers that permit them to be more effective at bypassing armour.
Magic weapons are often "armour-DR-reducing" - but magic armour does the opposite, of course.

2007-03-19, 12:09 PM
I call such manoeuvres, like getting between the plates of the armor or the rings in the armor, with a called shot; a successful hit bypasses the DR. Of course, most of my party members go into battle guns a blazing and throwing bombs around. So there's not so much precision combat.

mabriss lethe
2007-03-19, 11:39 PM
I was toying with an idea a little while back that gives partial DR to armor in addition to AC. I never got very far beyond the basic theory, but it goes something like this.

Light armor DR 1/Piercing or Slashing
Medium armor DR 2/Piercing
Heavy armor DR 3/Bludgeoning

My reasoning runs something like this:
Light armor is usually pliable to one degree or another. Against things that punch and slash, it's not so great, but that flexibility can soak up the shock from weapons that inflict blunt trauma.

Medium armor is a lot stiffer, so more of the blunt force from an attack will be transferred to the character wearing it, but is flexible enough to still absorb some of the impact. That stiffness also helps catch slashing attacks, unfortunately for the character wearing it, medium armor will still give under pressure from a sharp point.

Heavy armor, being mostly composed of metal plate and other dense, rigid materials, will be better at stopping blows from any sort of edged weapon, but will do little to absorb the concussive force of a bludgeoning attack, the shock transfers directly through the plates and into the hapless wearer.

In most cases, magic bypasses this DR in mundane armor, but the DR from a set of magically enhanced armor still applies.

Alternately, I suppose you could simplify it, give each class of armor a DR of 1 against attacks from 2 of the three damage types.

2007-03-20, 12:25 AM

I'd go with the SRD rules, with something added to balance out weapon types.

You could balance out light weaponry (like daggers) with some kind of a weapon speed system. For example, a character using light weapons, or a one handed weapon with one hand free, gets his second attack at BAB 5 (and 3rd at 9, etc.). A character using a one-handed weapon with a shield, a one-handed weapon with a light weapon or a double weapon gets his second attack at BAB 6 (and 3rd etc. as normal). A character using a two-handed weapon gets his second attack at BAB 7 (and 3rd at 13, etc). It doesn't really affect low-level characters, however... so an alternative might be that, since two-handed weapons are slower and hence easier to avoid, characters get a bonus to their dex modifier for AC (1.5x?) against some or all two-handed weapons, up to the maximum dex bonus permitted by their type of armour. So nimble fighters remain hard to hit. Or am I overcomplicating things?

2007-03-21, 04:51 PM
Maybe you should make it so that weapons give you a penalty to initiative. Somthing like a -1 with medium weapons and a -2 with large weapons would make sense.