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D&D 5E Block, Dodge, and Armor as DR

Stalker0

Legend
It's true...

Though, full disclosure: I'm thinking of doing this for -players- only. With NPCs retaining a singular AC and no additional DR.
Then the primary issue is the rebalance of monsters, aka high attack number low damage vs single attack high damage monster.

though that said, frankly I think the death save rules of 5e already make more attack monsters generally deadlier than single attack monsters (once PCs are 5thish level).
So pushing the needle bsck a bit might be a good thing
 

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Laurefindel

Legend
I was remembering fondly playing d20 Conan, one of my favorite d20 games. I was thinking about what it would look like to port something from d20 Conan into 5e.

In d20 Conan, your character had two defenses: Block and Dodge.

Block = 10 + Strength Modifier + Shield
Dodge = 10 + Dexterity Modifier

Armor then served as Damage Reduction instead of a bonus to Armor Class.

I believe there were some restrictions on when you could Block instead of dodge, such as against Ranged Attacks.

The other important rule was Massive Damage. When characters received 20 or more damage, they had to make a Constitution Saving Throw (I believe it was against half the damage) or die. It was a pretty brutal system.

So what would this look like ported over into 5e?

  • Overall, characters would get hit more often. However, they would take less damage. But effects that happen on a hit, such as a snake's grapple or a drow's poison, would occur more often.
  • Strength builds could still have solid Defense.
  • Armors would lose their AC but gain DR.
    • This could also be a neat opportunity to add some more flavor to armor, such as Double Damage Resistance that only effects some kinds of damage. For example, one kind of armor could have Double-Damage Resistance against piercing, and other slashing.
  • If the Massive Damage system were ported over, characters would be saving against Massive Damage quite often from spells, though not often from weapon attacks.
    • I also think in 5e this kind of Massive Damage system would send characters to 0 HP instead of outright killing them. OR a failed Saving Throw versus Massive Damage could result in a failed Death Save, even as the character is still conscious and fighting.
What are your thoughts?
I’d love to hear from your experience should you playtest this with your group.


A few things to watch for…

PCs recover hp easily in 5e. DR effectively give PCs more hp. More attacks that hit mitigates that, but it may still be an issue at higher levels.

It may make combat longer

It may penalise lightly armoured characters disproportionately, unless wearing light armour has its own benefits.

Changing PCs is easy. Changing monsters require more work (or constant work)

It may benefit PC with resistance to damage disproportionately.

It makes shields more useful in general but useless for high-Dex low-Str characters. I’m still debating whether this is actually a good thing.

It may change the dynamics of Dex save spells that usually bypass armour altogether.
 


dave2008

Legend
My issue with armor as dr is it tends to unbalance weapons, which while realistic also removes aspects of versatility. Throwing a dagger doesn’t work very well when dr drops the damage to nigh 0
That is why it is best to make it situational IMO. Make it DR only come into play on "confirmed" hits (AKA critical hits or hits at +10 or whatever value you want)
 



Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Do you see certain attacks targeting specific defenses or does the defender choose the defense.
9/10 it's a choose situation. You decide whether to dodge or parry a swing.

But specifically have some spells that currently target AC instead target specific defenses like Block or Dodge. Maybe make it so certain combat maneuvers can, likewise, target specific defenses. Like a charging attack from the mounted combat school that you can -only- dodge because you can't parry a horse.
 

I played a campaign of Conan d20. The mechanics . . . worked. We laughed a bit at some of the oddities, but overall it was okay. I mean, there was the scene where we pissed off a cult, and we literally had to kill 100 people to escape the temple, which was possible because most of their attacks didn't overcome our DR. But that stuff was balanced out by the eldritch god we called the Scorptopus, which was a creature made up solely of segmented tentacles ending in scorpion stingers, which had DR that we could barely bypass. We killed it by fleeing into a vertical shaft, clambering up for our lives as it squeezed up after us, and when we were 100 feet up, the highest-HP member of the party dropped on it with a spear, since the GM let the 'set a spear against a charge to double damage' rule apply to the falling damage the Scorptopus took.

I went through a couple characters. My final one was basically Danny Trejo's Machete. Quick-draw, two-weapon fighting, and the maneuver where you stab someone and leave the weapon in them so they take bleed damage every time they act.

We ended up dying because we tried to sell a magical orb that held a two-headed tyrannosaur in stasis, and the sorcerer who was our buyer had a traitorous apprentice who wanted our help to kill his master. Well, in Conan, it turns out that when spellcasters die with unused spell slots, the magic explodes outward.

And there were five apprentices. When the first one went down, the chain reaction obliterated us all.

It was a fun campaign.
 

As for the actual mechanics, and whether I'd use them again, I agree with what others have said that Armor-as-DR doesn't work as well in a game where HP scales with level. If you had, like, fairly static HP and fairly static damage-per-attack, you could model heroic survivability by having your Defense score scale with level. But that's a big hack for D&D.

A simpler option might be a once-per-encounter "dent your armor to halve an attack's damage" ability. Maybe light armor can only do it once, and only for critical hits; medium armor could do it once and for any type of hit; and heavy armor could do it twice per encounter. A shield could do it an additional time. (But then you'd have to ensure the trade-off of offense for defense is at least something of a choice, or else everyone would have shields, which as much as it makes sense, might not fit genre conventions.)
 

Stalker0

Legend
A simpler option might be a once-per-encounter "dent your armor to halve an attack's damage" ability. Maybe light armor can only do it once, and only for critical hits; medium armor could do it once and for any type of hit; and heavy armor could do it twice per encounter. A shield could do it an additional time. (But then you'd have to ensure the trade-off of offense for defense is at least something of a choice, or else everyone would have shields, which as much as it makes sense, might not fit genre conventions.)
You could do that with crits:

If you take a critical hit, roll a D20. On a 20, the crit is negated. Bonuses are as follows:

Medium Armor: +2
Heavy Armor: +5
Shield: +2

This doesn't affect the core math but it doesn't give your armors a bit of key damage reduction right when you need it.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Worth noting, @RangerWickett and @Stalker0: Level Up/A5e allows you to negate crits by sacrificing your shield.

So denting your armor to negate a regular hit would work well. Maybe use the armor's Bonus as how many hits it can negate before it is ruined, and let people repair armor during Long Rests and/or Downtime, paying a set amount to repair each point of Bonus, then have Shields sacrificeable to negate Critical Hits.

It would certainly make heavy armor -very- valuable as you can negate a lot of hits with it.

No roll, mind you. Just a straight up "I'd like to negate this hit" declared when something gets past your Block, Dodge, or Parry.
 

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