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Armor Proficiencies

coolAlias

Explorer
I tend to agree with @BookBarbarian, though, that it would be rare indeed to want to boost a tertiary score at level-4 at the expense of a primary score. I think that generating scores randomly and the limitations imposed by standard array call into question whether that’s always the case.
Definitely - the primary stat (or a game-changing feat) is usually the focus at level 4, as it should be.

That said, 16-14-14 is very doable both with the standard array and point buy, so if having a high AC is important to your character and they have medium armor proficiency, chances are they will wind up with a 14 Dex at 1st.

Of course not all players will choose to maximize AC and so may prioritize other secondary / tertiary stats, but I've yet to meet one of these players at any table I've been at. I imagine the major role of combat in most D&D games has just a wee bit of influence on this. ;)
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Of course not all players will choose to maximize AC and so may prioritize other secondary / tertiary stats, but I've yet to meet one of these players at any table I've been at. I imagine the major role of combat in most D&D games has just a wee bit of influence on this. ;)
True. I think the majority of characters will either have a DEX 14 or CON 14 as secondary/tertiary. For example, I could easily see a Cleric with WIS and STR as first and second, and then going either CON or DEX third depending on their focus. I can't recall ever seeing a character where DEX and CON were both past the third spot consideration. IME either one or both of DEX and CON are in the top three always, no other ability scores are so focused as being vital.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
True. I think the majority of characters will either have a DEX 14 or CON 14 as secondary/tertiary. For example, I could easily see a Cleric with WIS and STR as first and second, and then going either CON or DEX third depending on their focus. I can't recall ever seeing a character where DEX and CON were both past the third spot consideration. IME either one or both of DEX and CON are in the top three always, no other ability scores are so focused as being vital.
I always try to aim for at least 14 in both Con AND Dex... :D
 

S'mon

Legend
Of course not all players will choose to maximize AC and so may prioritize other secondary / tertiary stats
Only time I made a barbarian without DEX 14, he had DEX 10 CON 16 - so 1 less AC but 1 more hp/level - and he used a halberd from 10' reach with polearm master & didn't get hit much. :)
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I have 14 Dex, 14 Con, and 14 Wisdom on my current Barbarian, Strength Ranger, and Battlesmith Artificer.

I once had a UA Scout Fighter that had no stat higher than 14, but through the UA skill feats had expertise in Athletics, Stealth, Investigation, and Perception.

I may have unhealthy obsessions with stats of 14.
 

Mistwell

Hero
But that’s the thing. I have no doubt that you can build an array using point-buy that gives you a tertiary score of 14, or even 15. I’m not even looking at point-buy arrays because it’s a variant rule and some of its outcomes are very unlikely using the default score generation methods. So I’m using the standard array except with a 16 as the top score as my baseline because that’s actually the most likely result of 4d6 drop lowest.

I’m also not considering racial ASIs. I don’t think the mini-game of matching your class with the most optimal race is one with which you need to engage in order to properly play the game. Truthfully, I think racial ASIs are in the game more to satisfy Simulationist, rather than Gamist, goals of play. An analysis of how armor proficiencies are designed needs to consider all race-class combinations, not just the most optimal ones. Racial ASIs are in the game, and players are going to optimize, but I’m not sure how to account for that except to just ignore the whole thing. I don’t think armor proficiency is designed around the most optimal race-class combinations, so I’m reluctant to start with that assumption.
The odds are, no matter what method you use, your Dex is likely to be a 14 or better after racial bonuses for those who use medium armor. You don't have to "optimize" anything for that to happen - you're getting two racial bonuses one of which is a +2, and the odds are one of those (at least) will result in an array that allows for Dex to be at least a 14 for the medium armor classes. And as you can see from replies in this thread, almost everyone's experience is that it's pretty normal.

I think the armor section was built to assume your typical game can in fact involve a 14 Dex for anyone using medium armor. You're free to not choose to do that for your character, but typical characters will be getting that 14 dex, and it's built with that average in mind. And that average isn't "optimal" it's just normal odds.
 
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Harzel

Explorer
What I mean by “balanced” is that, all things being equal, one type of armor is as good as another.
You say that as if it is a good thing. Interesting. Your analysis certainly indicates that that is at least roughly the case, and it does explain why I have been occasionally scratching my head over how my players AC values stack up against each other. I had always assumed that access to heavy armor was supposed to be a perk. But if I understand what you have said/shown correctly, basically the classes that get it need it just to keep up.

Without thinking it about it at length, it seems like that makes Moderately Armored* and Heavily Armored feats sort of trap options.

Also, if the design intent was to allow all characters wearing armor to have the same AC for the same investment, it seems like you could have done it much more simply based on just having, mechanically, one thing called 'armor' that you could reskin to suit your fancy. I guess maybe it would not have 'looked like D&D', but it would have been more honest.

I'll have to ponder that a bit more, but my knee-jerk reaction is to want to nerf light armor and/or buff medium and heavy. I'm likely missing something; what would that screw up or at least what effects would it have that I might not anticipate?

* Which name in any case has always sounded to me like it should be an underwhelming feat - kind of like something that might pop up in a Monty Python sketch. I am Sir Mediocreson, the Moderately Armored knight.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
Also, if the design intent was to allow all characters wearing armor to have the same AC for the same investment, it seems like you could have done it much more simply based on just having, mechanically, one thing called 'armor' that you could reskin to suit your fancy. I guess maybe it would not have 'looked like D&D', but it would have been more honest.
While all avenues of AC can be close to comparable, it's not quite the same investment.

With Heavy Armor, all a character needs is some coin and they can have AC 18 at any level, 20 with a shield. Best if you also have Str 15+, but it's not required if you're fine with losing 10 speed (or you're a dwarf).

Medium Armor and Dex 14 the best you can do is AC 17 (19) without taking the Medium Armor Master feat, and then you need Dex 16 Dex to match the heavy armor wearer. This is essentially 2 ASIs worth of investment for 1 extra point of AC.

Light Armor is typically on primary Dex users. Assuming Dex 16 at 1st and the best light armor, that's only AC 15 (17). They need to reach level 8 in most cases and use all ASIs to increase Dex to reach parity with Medium Armor, and they'll always be 1 point behind Heavy.

For only 200 gp and no hard stat requirement (Str 15 or dwarf if you don't want a speed penalty), the heavy armor user gets AC 17; a medium armor user has to purchase a 750 gp suit of half plate and have a Dex of 14+ to match that, and a light armor user has to reach Dex 20.

Characters that have a feature granting 13 + Dex are generally better than Light Armor, with potential to match Heavy with a Dex of 20, but often characters with such a feature want their ASIs for things other than boosting Dex.

Barbarians and Monks can achieve a natural 20 AC but it requires having 2 stats at 20 each. Unless you rolled really well, that's probably going to take almost all of their ASIs.

TLDR is that Heavy Armor allows you to achieve close to the best AC in the game with little to no investment (assuming you gained the proficiency via class or race). It isn't until the very high levels where barbarians and monks finally start to surpass your AC, and most other characters will never even reach parity.

I'd say that's a pretty good reason to use Heavy Armor if you can.
 
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coolAlias

Explorer
Without thinking it about it at length, it seems like that makes Moderately Armored* and Heavily Armored feats sort of trap options.
Moderately Armored does also give proficiency with shields, which is nice.

Also, both feats increase a stat by +1, so if your character concept involves wearing armor that your chosen class and race don't grant proficiency in, and you either can't or don't want to multi-class, they aren't completely bad.

But yeah, outside of some very niche builds, they are probably best avoided.
 

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