View Full Version : AC and: "It's you, not your items"

2008-04-20, 06:21 AM

I've long tried to make my games more geared towards the "It's you, not your items" idea. My players receive less magic items, never tens of thousands of gold coins in cash, and the game feels more like a traditional fantasy story. To compensate, I'm of course adjusting challenges carefully and providing more feats (one every odd level) and more ability adjustments. However...

I am stumped now that it has come to Armor Class. It is silly; how an unarmored level 1 commoner can be harder to hit than an unarmored level 20 fighter, if he only has higher Dex, but AC really is all about items (and spells, and transfiguration cheese, alright). How can I make it matter more?

I have looked at various systems in the meantime... Star Wars Saga has a "use your level or your armor" idea. Similarly for Unearthed Arcana variant. Conan RPG has a "use your class bonus, and armor is DR" idea. But I am not a fan of "armor as DR" variants, and if your level-based AC does not work with armor, what is the point? I am not easily giving magic armor, and want something that will stack. It will demonstrate martial skill, blocks and parries, so it will probably work with armor/shield but not for touch AC.

So what would be a good number? +1 every 5 levels? Every 4 levels? Half your base attack bonus? Has anyone played around with any level-based AC bonus?

The Vorpal Tribble
2008-04-20, 06:40 AM
I've had a problem with this sort of thing for a long, long time. I like to use the Defense Bonus system (http://dndsrd.net/unearthedDefence.html) from Unearthed Arcana, though all it does is replace normal armor. Personally I think it should work with armor.

2008-04-20, 08:39 AM
Problem is that it's clearly too high.

2008-04-20, 08:59 AM
If you think that those are too high, use let's say 1/4 BAB bonus. It should be okay, although I imagine it can be a bit hard to calculate (but I guess rounding down would work pretty OK).

Alternatively give full BAB classes additional AC progression identical like weak Save bonus progression (from + 0 to + 6). 1/2 BAB classes won't have those bonus, and 3/4 BAB guys can have it halved (from + 0 to +3).

In such case multiclassing would be a little tricky:

- your AC is suffering, as any 1rst level in any class would interrupt progression.
Example: Brutus, 8th level barbarian, have AC bonus +2, he take 1 level of fighter, so instead of +3 he has still +2.
- or in case of multiclassing your AC is still progressing normaly (Brutus takes figter level and still have +3). Which can cause problem when someone mixes full and 1/2 BAB classes.

Just my few quikc ideas.

2008-04-20, 09:33 AM
Class defense + Armor as DR (with 1/2the AC bonus) woprks ok for me. Maybe sometimes it would be better to stay with core rules, but on an average I'd say unearthed arcana gives you the best flavor.

I also liked a lot the concept of vitality as opposed to wound points of Star Wars RCR, matched with Armor as DR. Worked fine for me and kept the players on the edge of their seats.


2008-04-20, 09:45 AM
The class defense bonus is better or as good as armor in the end, so stacking them would be problematic. You would basically have to reduce armor values; or in some 3rd party stuff, make it a feat or a class ability to allow armor to stack with class defense bonus.

2008-04-20, 12:10 PM
Well, the class defense bonus and the AC bonus from armor don't stack. It states that right in the description. You take either the AC bonus from armor or the class defense bonus, whichever is higher. That combined with less GP earnage to limit the other defensive items that a character can get leaves you with a balanced system.

2008-04-20, 12:18 PM
I've got a simple one for you: BAB = +armor bonus. Of course, low gear doesn't mean no gear, so when you add plate mail and a shield on top of that it may be too high. Perhaps 1/2 BAB.

2008-04-20, 01:54 PM
Its fine the way it is.

While the 1st level commoner can be harder to hit, the 20th level fighter can AFFORD being hit, he has far more hitpoints the the former, and can survive with ease attacks that would kill the commoner even on lowest roll.

In any case, you will note that some classes DO provide bonuses to AC, monk is the first to come to mind, caster can spell up armor and such. a fighter (other then monk) is simply not designed not to be well-equipped. they relay on their equipment and their ability to use even the most basic weapons and armor better then others. (see knight for example of armor and shield expert, and fighter with his specialty feats for weapons.)

Besides, in low-equipment you will see how its easier to make save throws on spells as they get no fancy +x to spellcast, and how your experts will be less successful due to the fact they lack the superior item bonuses.

Face it, with less equipment-all characters get hurt.
Some characters are less effected, mainly the low-equipment ones (monk, draconic-based sorcerer and such) or the ones that get more from their equipment (knight, fighter and such.), and the nice part is, this characters are mostly underpowered in normal games! in low equipment they get a chance to shine!

2008-04-20, 04:42 PM
I think I'll go with 1/2 BAB, the problems Spiryt mentioned are avoided and it is not too high. A level 20 fighter will still get a big +10, but he would have 2x +5 items for sure if I was following the GP per level guidelines.

2008-04-21, 06:54 PM
You gain a hit die every 4 levels Instead, add, your level for a d10, 1 and one quarter for a D12, 7/8 for D8, you get it.

2008-04-22, 03:27 PM
i've been doing 1/2 bab for a little bit now, and while not entirely realistic (not that this matters so much in a game where i can jump on a magic carpet and shoot rainbows that petrify and planeshift people), it satisfies some of the need-for-inherent-defense anxiety.