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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    urkthegurk's Avatar

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    Default Shields and Better Armor Class

    We all know that AC scales atrociously. At higher levels, you're not relying on it at all. So what can be done to make AC better? I'm not thinking so much of a 'System Fix' right now- more along the lines of a feat tree, skill trick, what have you. Easily accessible by multiple types of characters.

    On thing that could be done is making armor, and particularly shields, way better. I don't know about you, but IRL I wouldn't want to go into battle without a shield to hold in front of my pretty face to protect it. The idea I had was that you can use any shield like a tower shield, to provide cover, but not total cover obviously. So a large shield would be 50%, a small shield 25%, a bucker 10%. When using them in this way, you'd take a -2 to attack, except for the buckler which'd be a -1. Adjusting the shield would be done on your turn as a free action, but there could be a feat where you sacrifice your next move action to adjust it reactively.

    What do you think? Too powerful? Any other lines of inquiry that I'm missing?

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Using shields as cover is something I've worked into classes before.

    AC does not become useless at higher levels either, it just fails to scale properly. It is not beyond the realm of possibility however, to have a ridiculously high Armor Class at even moderate levels, just difficult.

    I had a Tower giving 75% cover, a large shield 50%, and a Light Shield 25%. With an action allowing you to use them as such, and reducing any area effect damage by that amount. Such as a Dragon's breath weapon. At my table games, I use this rule.

    I have feats that gradually improve the speed with which one can 'brace' their shield, until it finally becomes a free action at level 12. If you take all 4 of the feats.
    First feat: Standard action, ability to use shield for cover.
    Second Feat: Move Action.
    Third Feat: Swift Action, such as a quickened spell (cannot be used in conjunction with a full round action).
    Fourth Feat: Free Action (Usable when not your turn, and after full round action).
    Last edited by Ralasha; 2013-12-16 at 01:57 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Averis Vol's Avatar

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    I realised that Armor class is a poor balancing factor when compared to all the forms of magical protection, and as a practitioner of european martial arts and swordsmanship, I found that the way shield were portrayed were...inaccurate at best.

    So what I did was, in addition to granting ac, make it so shields gave variable miss chance based on their type, and their shield bonus as a bonus on reflex saves.

    So it is something like:
    Buckler 10%
    light shield 15%
    heavy shield 25%
    tower shield 50%

    This makes the trade off of using a shield actually closer to worth it for high sustain builds. You still trade a lot of damage, but with a 1/4 chance of negating attack (on average, seeing as heavy is the most commonly used type) you have a much better chance to stay alive. It's also non magical, so you wont lose it in many of the normal situations like antimgaic fields and dispel magic/disjunctioned areas. It's by no means perfect, but it's a better system overall.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    In my homebrew Fighter feats, I have

    Be Awesome With a Shield
    Take -2 to all attacks, and add 1/2 BAB to your shield bonus.

    The idea is that you're actively using your shield to block and parry, and so you take the penalty for two-weapon fighting (-2 to main hand attacks).

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    You don't want a system fix but you start listing system fixes...

    One thing I've considered is simply increasing the AC bonus granted by the shield. Bucklers are +1, light is +2, heavy is +4 and tower is +6.


    If we're talking feats and not system fix, and not too picky about balance:

    Shield Expert
    Prereq: BAB +1, proficient with shields
    Benefit: Double the AC bonus you gain from shields, including magical bonuses.

    Shield Master
    Prereq: BAB +5, Shield Expert
    Benefit: When successfully struck by an opponent you may make an attack roll with your shield, subtracting off-hand and two weapon penalties and adding the shield's shield bonus. If this roll succeeds, you avoid the attack.

    These would be no-brainers for any shield character, but I really feel shields should be better than they are.

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    On thing that could be done is making armor, and particularly shields, way better. I don't know about you, but IRL I wouldn't want to go into battle without a shield to hold in front of my pretty face to protect it. The idea I had was that you can use any shield like a tower shield, to provide cover, but not total cover obviously. So a large shield would be 50%, a small shield 25%, a bucker 10%. When using them in this way, you'd take a -2 to attack, except for the buckler which'd be a -1. Adjusting the shield would be done on your turn as a free action, but there could be a feat where you sacrifice your next move action to adjust it reactively.
    An attack penalty seems odd. Actual shield use is really active, where the shield isn't just something you hide behind. It's something you use to pin your opponent's weapon in an area, to restrict the motion of their arms and such, to move into various striking positions that would be basically suicide to attempt without a shield. If anything, you should be getting an attack bonus for using a shield.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Here's why AC scales atrociously: if a dragon wants to stomp on you, or a demon wants to rake you with razor-nails, it's gonna happen. Just accept it.

    That said, I did some AC math a long time ago. It turns out, at least in D&D 3.5, that AC can keep respectable pace with attack bonuses if you keep upgrading the magical bonus on your shield AND armor.

    But the main thing is this: AC and HP are fundamentally at odds. Since at "high levels" you also have high hit points, AC loses the fight, and just takes a back seat.

    TLDR: AC, like torches, unarmed attacks, and cantrips, isn't supposed to matter at high levels.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    urkthegurk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    An attack penalty seems odd. Actual shield use is really active, where the shield isn't just something you hide behind. It's something you use to pin your opponent's weapon in an area, to restrict the motion of their arms and such, to move into various striking positions that would be basically suicide to attempt without a shield. If anything, you should be getting an attack bonus for using a shield.
    An interesting point! I thought about it, and here's my take: You don't get a penalty for using the shield in the regular way. You get +2 AC, and you can maybe risk doing manuevers (power attacks, feints) which you wouldn't in any other way. This would fit with what you're describing. I'd also love to design a feat that let you grant your shield bonus to an attack once per turn!

    However, what I'm trying to simulate here is explicitly HIDING behind it-- from a storm of arrows, a dragon's breath, or potentially a melee warrior who really outlclasses you in some way. Such as with a shield wall, where you're fighting a lot of enemies, or if you're fighting a goliath with twice your strength. In this case, if you want to get a hit in at all, you need to avoid dying, and that means focusing on defence rather than offense. You still make that attack, at a -2, which is better than not making the attack at all. That's really the best attack bonus there is!

    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
    Here's why AC scales atrociously: if a dragon wants to stomp on you, or a demon wants to rake you with razor-nails, it's gonna happen. Just accept it.

    That said, I did some AC math a long time ago. It turns out, at least in D&D 3.5, that AC can keep respectable pace with attack bonuses if you keep upgrading the magical bonus on your shield AND armor.

    But the main thing is this: AC and HP are fundamentally at odds. Since at "high levels" you also have high hit points, AC loses the fight, and just takes a back seat.

    TLDR: AC, like torches, unarmed attacks, and cantrips, isn't supposed to matter at high levels.
    But you can put a sword through that things head just as easily? I guess... but I like the idea that if you have a shield, the monster has to at least rip it away from you or break it first, before they REALLY go to town. Or just pick you up and throw you.

    Ok, some things: There's no reason not to upgrade your shield and armor. Of course no one uses a shield... so we still have to find a way to make them useful, otherwise there's nothing to upgrade.

    I like what you said about HP. Since HP is so abstract anyway, I wouldn't object to a feat tree that made your shield add to your HP in some way.



    So the takeaway from the rest of the thread is, people have done this before, and it hasn't broken their games. The reason I ask for system fixes to start is I find its the best way for me to work-- afterwards you can boil it down to feat trees or class features or what have you. And look, some very excellent feat ideas! If we combined those contributions, we'd have a very decent set of options to use with a shield on the go.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Would it be entirely unreasonable to add your BAB to your AC when using a light or heavy shield? BAB is supposed to be your skill/experience in battle anyhow, and you would only be able to use a one-handed weapon alongside it. Perhaps 1/2 BAB for bucklers?
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    urkthegurk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    True, but I think that's a sweet enough ability to require a feat-tax, ya?

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    AC doesn't scale properly.

    Add 1/2 BAB to AC as an untyped bonus for characters, add 1/2 CR to AC for Monsters.

    Should greatly help correct the AC Scaling.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    At higher levels, you're not relying on it at all.
    I'd take exception with this statement, if your using a shield a total AC of 42 vs non-touch attacks is totally within reach. That's enough to induce a not insignificant number of misses from a lot of opponents.

    Certainly AC scales very slopilly TBH, but the main reason it can become an issue is that at high levels there's a really large variance in terms of attack roll's. Some creatures have a HD close to their CR and thus have attack roll's in line with their CR, but quite a few (dragons are a star example), have very extreme HD to CR ratios which combined with their BAB progression and extreme strength scores put their attack roll's way too high. Compare any CR 20 dragon to the CR 20 Demons and Devils for example, the modifier after strength drops from upper 30's to low 40's for the dragon to the low 30's for the Demons and Devil's.

    Overall AC scaling needs a major overhaul IMO, but it's problems at high levels stem from specific monsters and the way their built much more than it does from AC itself. It's just an unfortunate reality that the problem monsters make up a significant percentage of the high opponents available to a DM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Zman View Post
    AC doesn't scale properly.

    Add 1/2 BAB to AC as an untyped bonus for characters, add 1/2 CR to AC for Monsters.

    Should greatly help correct the AC Scaling.
    no. nononnonononnoononnonononnono. just no. you do this, and anyone without a full bab will be hard pressed to hit with even their first attack. trust me i've had a DM that used this atrocious house rule. my rogue couldn't hit anything.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    no. nononnonononnoononnonononnono. just no. you do this, and anyone without a full bab will be hard pressed to hit with even their first attack. trust me i've had a DM that used this atrocious house rule. my rogue couldn't hit anything.
    Is that all, a bad anecdotal story?

    AC does not scale properly.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    yeah, AC doesn't scale properly, i get that. it doesn't need to be 10 points higher, though.
    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    AC can be made to grow quite quickly if you're willing to invest money into it. The problems are (a) Many monsters' to-hit grow even faster, because they get a lot of HD to give them HP, and that has an effect on to-hit, and (b) AC doesn't help you against non-attack effects, which become more important later on. (There's also touch attacks, but a lot of the tricks you can use to boost AC really high are fairly good vs. touch too.)

    But it is not at all difficult to get good AC.

  17. - Top - End - #17
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    Grod_The_Giant's Avatar

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    AC can be made to grow quite quickly if you're willing to invest money into it.
    That's the problem, though-- if you're willing to invest money into it. It's an entirely disproportionate investment compared to to-hit, when they ought to scale at about the same rate, given equal investment in each.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    urkthegurk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Shields and Better Armor Class

    Yes. There should be some way to get a decent AC without all the cash. I guess you'd need to make sure the different strategies didn't all stack, since this could get ridiculous.

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