Right, you either go exception based design or you have pro/con trade offs to being armored/unarmored. I think thats what things like armor check penalties tried to enforce. Maybe DR stuff too which is used more prevalently in other RPGs.If you use mechanics to make unarmored AC viable for all classes....than that just encourages people not to wear armor.
The specific class features exist to allow those unarmored archetypes to exist as an exception to the rule, but the rule is, more armor = more better.
You're right in that adding +1's every level isn't necessary. It's one of those things that was done for 2 reasons. The first is, that's how it had been done since the very beginning, more or less. You go up a level, your attack bonus increases based on a formula.PF2 did this too. I'm not really a fan and prefer the 5E BA. A lot of this has to do with level creating this challenge band where you have these "must be this tall to ride" limits. I get that for a game where folks want to feel progression, but I prefer a world that makes consistent sense myself. That's more the GM in me speaking than the player I suppose. Though, even as a player I sort of roll my eyes at adding +1 for every level.
Yeah 3E had the advancement template as well. I personally like the idea that a kobold is Childs play to a level 5 character, but 30 kobolds is still a challenge. Paizo design team went with the certain level means 1000 kobolds are not threat. Its a style they deliberately went for. I understand the decision it help differentiate PF from D&D. I just happen to like a little bit of PF and a little bit of D&D instead of being right at home with either.You're right in that adding +1's every level isn't necessary. It's one of those things that was done for 2 reasons. The first is, that's how it had been done since the very beginning, more or less. You go up a level, your attack bonus increases based on a formula.
The second is kind of a failsafe against falling behind. You can see this in action in 5e as well- character A starts with a 14 Strength and has a +4 to hit. Character B starts with a 16 Strength and has +5 to hit.
At level 4, Character A decides to take a feat that sounds cool to him, let's call it, "Iron Chef Cooking Master". It only increases Strength by +1. No change to attack bonus.
Character B decides to use their ASI as the Gaming Gods intended and raises his Strength to 18, now they have +6 to hit. Eventually this problem can fix itself, but it may take a very long time before both characters have the same attack bonus.
Any system that automatically increases numbers as you level is setting a floor. 5e does this more gradually, as proficiency bonus only increases a few times over the course of your career. 5e thus sets the floor pretty low, which is fine if you don't want to repeat the kobold/goblin/hobgoblin/orc/bugbear/ogre/troll/hill giant/stone giant/fire giant, etc. etc. loop.
However! And this is worth pointing out. 4e was perfectly capable of doing exactly what bounded accuracy does. You could just raise monsters a level. Done. I ran a Feywild adventure where my 11th level PC's had to assault a mountain infested by Fey goblins (apparently, I was ahead of my time).
Did I have to create new monsters? Nope, I just went to the DM tools, selected "goblin" and cranked up it's level to 10. Huzzah, 10th level Goblins.
Sometimes I think it would be fun to build a solo game that is basically just a character creation game trying to replicate the feel of a 10 year old in 1984 pouring over the D&D and AD&D books for the first time trying to build the most awesomely broken character possible.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.