D&D General Armour class and essentialism

Ixal

Adventurer
No thanks, damm the tropes but armor needs to be useful and the best form of defense to justify putting up with all the disadvatages it has and to break the Dex dominance.
 

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payn

Legend
Which is perfectly fine, everyone has their own preferences. I sometimes find myself missing crufty old school rules systems with hidden gems and odd paths to power buried in pages and pages of text- even though I know that it's terrible game design.
Crufty old school? I guess I see it as entirely tactical at expense of strategy new school.
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
I think it’d be good if the light armours had the dex bonus uncapped representing a better chance to dodge, perhaps with the very light armours some classes (bard rogue ranger, maybe fighter too) getting inherent advantage to AC checks while wearing those lightest armours to represent their talent in dodging (other classes require a feat for advantage), whereas the heavy armours have two AC values, a lower one that functions regularly as it currently does and a second higher AC that alows you to take half damage, indicating a lesser capacity to dodge completely but a higher rate of the armour protecting from receiving serious injuries.
Medium armour functions as it currently does, with a capped dex bonus, it has a higher AC than the lower AC range of a comparable heavy armour but not reaching as high as the half damage AC threshold
 
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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Crufty old school? I guess I see it as entirely tactical at expense of strategy new school.
I hope you didn't take that as a comment about the games you play, it was simply an example of how preferences can differ. I have a soft spot for older games with odd subsystems and are rough around the edges, with interesting things they allow for if you dig into them- your Rolemasters and GURPS and TORG's, if you will.
 

payn

Legend
I hope you didn't take that as a comment about the games you play, it was simply an example of how preferences can differ. I have a soft spot for older games with odd subsystems and are rough around the edges, with interesting things they allow for if you dig into them- your Rolemasters and GURPS and TORG's, if you will.
I didnt, I was just trying to be cute while also sayin it how I see it with modern design.
 


NotAYakk

Legend
The 5e way to fix this problem is to use the game element that is analogous to 4e's builds to do it - the subclass. Subclasses are basically pre-built builds, and so a CHA based Barbarian subclass (that lets you swap any CON-based bonus in the Barbarian class out for CHA) or a STR based Monk subclass would be the 5e way to solve this problem. The downside of using subclasses is that the 5e model is to tie specific flavor to subclasses and so that design space doesn't get explored in the same way that builds (which relied on the player to supply their own flavor to a large degree) did.
5e subclasses have some of that mojo, but not as much.

Tasha's "alternative class features" can be leveraged, especially if you make them packages. Basically, you could have bolt-on subclasses that replace some subset of abilities in the main class.

Tasha's has ones that tweak one series of abilities; there is nothing stopping someone from having a package replaces some other subset of abilities.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The issue here is that class, moreso than race, is completely built on archetypes. While you single out unarmored defense as an example of essentialism, you can quite easily do the same with nearly every class: rogues are always agile and nimble, priests are wiser than other people, arcane magic is reserved for the smart or the charismatic. Bards and paladins are always socially adept, etc. Further, bard, monk, barbarian, druid, even warlock and paladin all have some cultural elements dragged in from the origin of the archetype. You won't escape those tropes without losing those names. (See also: the whole debate on why druids have armor restrictions). Thus, you are looking at a symptom of the larger whole: classes being a fairly narrow archetypes that are dependent on certain ability scores.

If you want to fix the problem of class and essentialism, you must:

  • Remove ability scores from having any influence on class ability. A wizard has the same magical power if he has an 8 or an 18 Int.
  • Remove or rename classes that have strong cultural elements so that they no longer stand in for a specific culture.
I think the real issue here is the racialization of the Monk class. Archetypes, in and of themselves, aren’t essentialist. But, when the nimble martial artist with mystical powers archetype is East-Asian coded, that’s not a great look.
 

Stalker0

Legend
One idea you could go with if you wanted to create a true dichotomy.

Unarmored Fighters have high AC....against a single opponent. Using all of their skill, speed, and cunning, they are able to nimbly dodge out of the way.

Armored fighters are good against a group. Against multiple targets, you can't realistically keep track and dodge them all, and so that is why armor is so important.


This is a bit more realistic as well. The idea that dex helps you dodge is fine and all, but the idea that it lets you dodge 8 people are once is a bit nuts. Armor on the other hand is always working for you.
 




pemerton

Legend
Yes, but my point was those tend to weaken the value of armor in the process, leading to other issues.
Why? You can give a 5e Monk an unarmoured defence bonus that is mathematically and balance-wise on a par with the current WIS bonus, without having that affect the value of armour.

I don't know the maths of 5e, expected stat distributions and advancement, and the like, well enough to posit with any confidence what that bonus should be - perhaps +2 at 1st level and +1 per tier gained?

But designers experienced with the 5e maths could do this fairly easily, the same as they did for the 4e Barbarian.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Why? You can give a 5e Monk an unarmoured defence bonus that is mathematically and balance-wise on a par with the current WIS bonus, without having that affect the value of armour.

I don't know the maths of 5e, expected stat distributions and advancement, and the like, well enough to posit with any confidence what that bonus should be - perhaps +2 at 1st level and +1 per tier gained?

But designers experienced with the 5e maths could do this fairly easily, the same as they did for the 4e Barbarian.
Sure, but that doesn't change the stereotype, you still have to play a monk (or barb) to be good without armor.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
In 4e there was an advanced armor that gave you something like 5 temporary hit points at the start of each encounter. Maybe if armor worked like that, giving you a larger pool of "hit points" that could be repaired, it wouldn't be trivial to have it, but it wouldn't be completely necessary either if classes without the ability to use armor had higher Hit Dice?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Counter Thesis: It's class based essentialism, which ironically is the whole point of having a class based game. The only question is the degree of variation the system supports (and even more constraining, the degree of variation players feel comfortable with).

That said, I think they err in tying stats to too many combat related things. Class instead of stat should be the primary driver for most combat related bonuses (and if you look back to older D&D versions it really was). BAB increased 1 per level for Fighters. Now we start at about +5 and scale to +11. Older versions also had save bonuses increase much faster than now and even your bad save scaled some. 3e D&D gave greater weight to attributes in the name of greater simulationism. To a large degree that's where we've been ever since (even for most of 4e with secondary riders based on attributes for many powers and abilities).
 
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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I mostly agree with two and a half exceptions in AD&D where the benefits of stats were insane. One is a corner case and doesn't affect combat much- Dexterity for Thieves. The benefits for the higher Dex scores could equal having a free level (or more). An argument could be made for the increase to AC as well, but it was unlikely a heavy armor user would also have really high Dexterity (though if they did, it's entirely possible to build a starting character in 2e with an AC of 0).*

And of course, exceptional Strength for the Warrior classes. The scaling got out of control quickly.

Most characters didn't get ability scores this high, but if they did, it really warped things around them- the difference between a Fighter with 17 Strength and one with 18/50 was definitely noticeable, and if someone actually got to the 18/90-00 range, it was like being multiple levels higher, and many early monsters died in a single attack (of which the Fighter could have as much as 5/2 with Two-Weapon Fighting).

Constitution being the last, though again, for Warriors. An extra 9-18 hit points doesn't sound incredible by today's standards, but you could be looking at a 33% increase to your hit points by level 9 (assuming dead average rolls and maximum hit points at level 1).

*18 Dex, Warrior with Swashbuckler Kit, leather armor, and 2 weapon proficiency slots in Single Weapon Style from the Complete Fighter's Handbook.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Or, or... hear me out here...

Fluff it.

Yeah, your character has plate armor on their character sheet and in your chosen artwork is wearing an open white blouse with puffy sleeves and a little red vest because he's a pirate. Mechanically you gain the benefits and penalties of Plate Armor. For RP purposes it's Blouse o'Clock.

You don't have to create a separate mechanic, here, if you're just willing to acknowledge that not every aspect of the system as presented needs to be presented in the game world. You don't have your fighter tell your cleric he's down 13 hit points and only needs a Cure Light Wounds in character. No. Instead he says "I'm alright. The goblin grazed me with the spear and I was bruised by that nasty fall, but you shouldn't expend your greater powers on me!"

Why is armor any different?

And it isn't -new-, either.

tumblr_py7mnkWJEF1xkd9eko1_400.jpg


You think Goldmoon was getting the armor bonus of leather from this loose suede blouse with a cut so low Elvira was checking her out? Heck no! For leather armor to be strong enough to stop any harm more severe than bacon grease spit it's got to be boiled and hardened into shaped plates. That outfit wouldn't protect her from anything while adventuring. Not to mention the -chafing-.
 
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