I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Friday, April 20, 2018

SCALING ARMOR for 5e D&D

The latest post might have been a bit confusing.

This is easier, I hope. Well, if you want a different idea - even simpler - then let me draw that for you.

If you want crunch... read on!

First, get rid of 5e's armor tables.
Source.
Now you have this:

- A number of encumbrance slots equal to your Strength. If you fill HALF of these, you're half-encumbered. Fill all, and you're encumbered. Less than half means you're unencumbered.
- Armor takes a variable number of encumbrance slots (1 slot for AC 11, 2 slots for AC 12, 5 slots for AC 15, etc).
- Light armor is AC 12, medium 13-15, and heavy 16-18.
- Cost is 10 gp times AC bonus, squared. AC 14 costs 160 gp, for example, and AC 18, 640 GP (yes, it is cheaper, but you need Str 18 to make the most of it). You can get cheap armor for one quarter of the price, but you suffer a -1 penalty to AC.
- AC 15 or higher gives you disadvantage in stealth.
- Dexterity gives you a variable bonus to AC.
- Armor proficiency works as usual.

The bonus is:

* Start with column A.
* If you're using armor, and your armor's AC is greater than your Str, move one column to the right.
* If you're half-encumbered (i.e., half of your encumbrance slots are filled), move one column to the right. If you're encumbered, move two columns to the right instead, and speed drops by 10ft.
* If you're using medium amor, move one column to the right. If you're using heavy amor, move two columns to the right instead.

(The table below is the "smoother" version from last post; remember, column C is the ability modifier you're used to. Notice that there is no column "F"; if you move one column to the right of E, you cannot get a bonus from Dex, but you can still get a penalty).

DexABCDE
8-1-1-1-1-1
9-1-1-1-1-1
1000000
1111000
1211111
1322111
1432221
1533221
1644322
1754332
1865432
1965443
2076543

Some examples:

Unfettered build (AC 17):
No armor, Str 8, Dex 20, unencumbered - use column A, get AC 17. With only 8 encumbrance slots, this PC must travel light at all times to keep the high AC. Light armor would raise your AC to 18; if you're carrying a shield and weapon too, you'd lose the unencumbered status, but raise AC to 20.

Traditional thief (AC 19):
Light armor (AC 12), Str 12, Dex 20, unencumbered - use column A, get AC 19.

Brutish rogue (AC 17):
Medium armor (AC 14), Str 14, Dex 16 - use column C, get AC 17. If you manage to stay unencumbered - not an easy thing to do - your AC is 18.

Heavy and fast (AC 20):
Heavy armor (AC 18), Str 18, Dex 14 - use column D, and you get AC 20. Notice that with 18 encumbrance slots, and 8 of those being filled by armor, is practically impossible for this build to be unencumbered. What this build can do is use a shield - and get to AC 22!

But... I don't like these ABCDE tables!

You can have a similar result by just giving +1 AC to anyone who is unencumbered, provided their DEX is 10 or higher, and -1 to anyone whose strength is smaller than their armor's AC.

What's the point?

As always, we want to give people good reasons to have BOTH Str and Dex. Notice that most of these builds require both, which is suboptimal by RAW, but they get a small AC boost in this system. In practice, PCs will rarely be unencumbered.

Side effects may include:

* Duels! In duels, BOTH sides are more likely to be unencumbered, which makes the fight lasts for a bit longer... perfect!
* Giving a reason to have odd ability scores.
* Making encumbrance more meaningful.
* Making each point of Str/Dex count.
* Making each armor unique (you might be better off with AC 13 than 14, for example, but it all depends on your stats). You might have different sets of armor for dueling, exploring, traveling, etc.

Adverse effects:
* Dex becomes even more useful.
* Barbarians/monks might need fine tuning. Paladins in plate may suffer a little if they have Str 16 or less and low Dex.
* ACs might become higher all around - although the difference is seldom greater than +1 or +2.

7 comments:

  1. Again, I really like the way this is shaping up, nice and round.

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. A few thoughts and a question:

    I like the table, and the fact that it makes both Str and Dex useful. With regards to Monk and Barbarians, could you have their average of Dex and Wis or Con respectively be used for the Dex table? It's a bit fiddly, but only comes up in a few cases. My other thought is that Wis or Con stat equals a general Damage reduction against all attacks, but that makes something better than heavy armour master, even if you use the house rule of HAM DR scaling with proficiency.

    My question is is there a reason the table doesn't scale smoothly at 2 Dex points for every AC increment?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Monk and Barbarians must be dealt with separately, I think... monks would probably be easier, I am a bit way of those Str 14 barbarians.

      "is there a reason the table doesn't scale smoothly at 2 Dex points for every AC increment?"

      Not sure I understand the question - I think that's what column C does, while the other columns are meant to have different effects.

      Delete
    2. Doing a reread, I think I solved my own problem. As far as Monks and Barbarians, their unarmoured defense features require them to travel light. Perhaps they can only use the feature when they qualify for Column A, and can use the higher of their Dex or Wis/Con.

      Delete
    3. Sounds like a good idea - seems to be monks and barbs should travel light anyway.

      Delete
    4. The only problem I can see with this is that Monks and Barbarians cannot get as high of an AC as they could under the normal system. However, this does make them less MAD, making Dex a Stat that comes into play for initiatives and saves, and rarely encumbered AC.

      Delete

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