Dust Pan Game Resource Pages

Monday, August 4, 2014

On Armor (some AD&D musings)

Speaking of well traveled ground...
Here is a  quick blog that musts out THAC0

AD&D armor has always been a bone of contention for me.
The way I look at armor and by extension armor class is that AC does not measure how hard your character is to hit but how hard your character is to hurt. Where I think the traditional  AD&D armor starts to loose me is when I have to translate the act of donning plate mail and stomping into battle with the  narrative at the table. Fighters just can't wear the stuff all the time, and sometimes fights happen when a fighter woudl least expect it.
Plate, half Plate, chain-mail, these are not things a fighter even a heroic fighter is going to wear to the bar. They are heavy, hot, tiring and really hard to pee from.

Section "v." Not a pee hatch.
Other folks have pulled apart heavy armor in AD&D and come up with fancy fatigue rules, maintenance rules and the like. 

Where I am more interested is someone I want to call "The casual warrior." When the casual warrior goes to the Inn and tries to source rumors and pick up on the bar maids, I doubt he is dressed in his field plate.   

An add&d second ed GM might look at me and say,  "You dummy that's AC 9 (or 10 depending on who you ask) - dexterity bonus, every one knows that!" Then they would quote some page out of the DMG, and likely reference a specific chart and by that time I would be pouring a second beer.
What this fails to take into account is that Fifth level fighter who's in the bar with nothing on but his  long sword and bad intentions is still a bonafied killing machine, he or she has wadded into battle against all forms of baddies and come out with some scars, some gold, and, goblin blood under his finger nails.

Here is my proposal, and it might even be out there in some splat book that I have either not read or have long forgotten. (I have nothing in front of me right now.)

Create a weapon proficiency called "Unarmored combat."
"As long as the character has at least expertise or specialization in a weapon and has that weapon in hand while wearing no armor they receive a - 2 armor class bonus*. This weapon proficiency may be taken up to three times. The Character uses their skill with their weapon and their combat experience to avoid being  hurt."

I hear some one saying, "ZOMYGOD If I did that I can't send my fifth weapon proficiency at level 12 to gain super secret grand weapon mastery with my great sword!"

Fine I get it, It's not for everyone.
I guess a GM could wrap the bonus into the higher level of weapon specialization, that would work as well, however I feel this is more specific to characters looking to not wear armor and still have better than an 9 AC.

Hey wait though .."A Low Ac comes with hindrances like weight, and noise this  FUBARS all that!"

I agree, but looking more closely  a character  would have to give up a whopping three weapon  proficiency slots to gain a paltry -6 to their unarmored AC. I'm not sure I would do that lightly, those slots don't come often. In most situations the character is still going to want that clunky plate mail and this would make falling back on just a shirt and jerkin only a bit less threatening. It really would be something that a player would take to round out the character, not to min max the character.


Besides At high level magic items of protection and the like will dwarf any bonus granted by this  proficiency. If you really want to mess around with the  balance of armor in a game throw a few +5 rings of protection into the  mix.

Who would this benefit:
  • Fighters who may need to take their full plate armor off to swim, run, or poop.
  • Wizards even though they get too few weapon proficiency slots to ever make this better than the humble mage armor spell.
  • Swash buckler types who really prefer puffy shirts to chain mail shirts. In that flavor game it works.
  • Anyone who has ever seen a rust monster fired from a giant sling-shot by kobolds....
Who would hate this:
  • Players who did the idea but have never taken their armor off so why spend a slot on this.
  • Thieves, who could benefit but will likely be better served by a high DEX and studded leather, they could be left saying, "Hey what about me? I'm the unarmored quiet one!"
  • Players who want to max out weapon mastery.
  • Computer hating commies.
  • Kobolds who shoot rust monsters out of large sling shots.
Things that do similar things:
  • Tumbling gives a character a 4 AC onus assuming they don't feel like attacking.
  • Ferlalan and  Green wood rangers get pretty hefty natural AC bonuses, not that anyone was looking.
  • The "Skills and Powers" book give a fighter or a rouge a one time option to purchase a -2 unarmored AC bonus.
  • Armor proficiency  fools around with encumbrance but not AC.
  • And  "Parry" from " the Combat and Tactics" book. Give up your attack, movement, or spell casting and parry gives a character a bonus to AC = to their level divide by 2 unless you are a fighter in which case the bonus is equal to (level / 2) +1. IN other words you get to put off your death one more round, and hope help arrives.


Far be it from me to preach realism in a game, heck I just offered up a free game where there is a good chance your character will grow a second face from their first face. I am not a paragon of  realistic fantasy. 

I do enjoy a good discussions about options that let player build characters in non traditional ways. Could you build a fighter around this proficiency? Yes I think you could. Get specialization in a weapon then buy "unarmored fighting" a few times along with some interesting skill choices (tumbling) a player could end up with a playable shirtless barbarian named "Hank."

Alright thanks for reading.
hope you enjoyed.
Please leave questions and comments under the stairs at the Adam's family house.




*my original thought was to  propose a flat bonus of 1/2 the characters level while unarmored and holding a weapon with which the character has at least expertise. Then I thought about Monks and what that would create for them, I  started to weep.