5E House rule for Victorian era aesthetic - no armor

If you were playing in a steampunk game, what would you think of this house rule?

Armor Proficiency and Defensive Training
Armor is less common in the this era than typical fantasy settings, and in polite society clanking around in plate would be quite improper. But character classes that would normally rely on armor have adapted to society's norms. In this setting, any character who has Light, Medium, or Heavy Armor Proficiency gains an equivalent Defensive Training, and anyone with Shield Proficiency gains the Shielding Defense Training.

Light Defensive Training. You actively defend yourself in combat. When you are wearing light or no armor, you can spend an action to adopt a light defensive style, or to drop that style. In that style, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity modifier.

Out of combat, characters proficient in these styles can stay in whatever defensive style they want, and when combat begins they start in that style.

Medium Defensive Training. You can prepare yourself mentally as well as prepare your outfit to provide greater protection, relying more on blocking than agile dodging. If you are wearing clothes that cover your vitals, or armor no heavier than medium, you can spend an action to shift into a medium defensive style. This style ends if you take off those clothes or spend an action to drop that style or switch to a light defensive style.

In medium defensive style, your AC is 15 + your Dexterity modifier, to a maximum of +2. However, you have disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.

Heavy Defensive Training. You can adopt an even more resilient defensive posture. If you are wearing clothes that cover almost your full body - leaving perhaps head and hands exposed - or wearing armor that covers an equivalent amount, you can spend an action to shift into a heavy defensive style. This style ends if you take off those clothes or spend an action to drop that style or switch to a medium or light defensive style.

In heavy defensive style, your AC is 16. If your Strength is at least 15, your AC is 18 instead. You do not add any Dexterity modifier in heavy defensive style, and you have disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.

Shielded Defense Training. If you are holding a sturdy object - anything from a cane or umbrella to a sword or musket - you can choose at the start of your turn to wield it as a shield. If you do, it provides +2 AC but can be used for nothing else until the start of your next turn.

Note - Magical Armor. It is still possible to come upon magical armor, though most of it is antique. These days, however, magic-users often enchant formal attire, such as longcoats or saris. This grants the wearer an enhancement bonus to AC or may grant other powers, much like traditional magic armors. For example, a longcoat of invulnerability would function similar to armor of invulnerability, granting resistance to nonmagical damage while worn, and the ability once per day to become immune to nonmagical damage for ten minutes.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Might I recommend that with Heavy Defensive Training your AC be 16 + your Strength modifier, to a maximum of +2? Same range of AC with a bit more granularity, and parallels Medium Defensive training a bit better.
 
I like it, but I worry I'm already getting too fiddly compared to normal 5E mechanics. I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, from my history of writing for 3.5, 4E, and PF.

You don't think it's too complex? Or too obvious of a 'kludge' to make D&D mechanics fit the setting?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I like it, but I worry I'm already getting too fiddly compared to normal 5E mechanics. I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, from my history of writing for 3.5, 4E, and PF.

You don't think it's too complex? Or too obvious of a 'kludge' to make D&D mechanics fit the setting?
I don’t think so, I think it’s a pretty simple, straightforward alternative to armor. I suppose you could instead give everyone the Warforged Integrated Protection feature, but I think in terms of complexity your rule is about on par with that already.
 
I would be inclined to only replace heavy armour, and limit the availability of other types. Breastplates wouldn't be out of place in a Victorian setting - cavalry regiments still wore them; nor would protective clothing (studded leather).
 

S'mon

Legend
Maybe replace medium armour prof with a parry bonus giving base AC 14+DEX vs melee attacks, and heavy armour prof with a dodge bonus giving base AC 16+DEX vs all attacks? That looks about right to keep Fighters attractive. Alternately medium armour prof could give a base AC13+DEX vs all attacks, which is simpler.

I don't see any reason to have 'stances' rather than always-on bonuses.
 
Honestly, I really don't like the "spend an action" rule. IMHO it is just annoying, and then in most cases you won't even use it because characters will choose to be in a "stance" all the time, so why having this rule in the first place? I don't see the point of an extra cost to pay once in a while. I would just replace armor proficiency with a base AC that is valid all the time. Much simpler and already balanced.
 
...
You don't think it's too complex? Or too obvious of a 'kludge' to make D&D mechanics fit the setting?
Too complex - no.
"kludge" - yes.
Why not keep it as is?
In a world with guns dexterity becomes even more important.

This - basically keep it as is:
I would be inclined to only replace heavy armour, and limit the availability of other types. Breastplates wouldn't be out of place in a Victorian setting - cavalry regiments still wore them; nor would protective clothing (studded leather).
 

Vaslov

Explorer
The rule tweaks could be ok. For some reason what came to mind when reading the title was some of Kazimierz Żegleń work around silk body armor from the early 1900's. Plenty of lore around silk stopping blades as well in earlier dates. A simple 1:1 change between medium and heavy armors with some variation of silk armor could be a rules light way to address it. If you have magic or alchemical processes in the setting that could be used to explain away the nature of the materials. For some reason after seeing this the image caught in my mind is a silk parasol being used as a shield. Practical and stylish!
 

Quartz

Explorer
KISS: say that all combat classes get some variant of the Barbarian's Unarmoured Defence

Fighters may use their Proficiency Bonus instead of their Dex modifier when calculating AC and Initiative. So they get a UD AC of 10+ Prof Bonus + Con Bonus.

Similarly, Paladins can use their Cha modifier instead of their Dex modifier when calculating AC and Initiative. So they get a UD AC of 10 + Cha Bonus + Con Bonus.

And so on.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I have to agree that the action cost to adopt a style which you are able to maintain permanently seems an uneccessary added detail.

I like the magical armour subsitutions - long coats, and the like.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Honestly, I really don't like the "spend an action" rule. IMHO it is just annoying, and then in most cases you won't even use it because characters will choose to be in a "stance" all the time, so why having this rule in the first place? I don't see the point of an extra cost to pay once in a while. I would just replace armor proficiency with a base AC that is valid all the time. Much simpler and already balanced.
Perhaps it should be a movement action? Like, if you're bolting across the field, you don't have time to parry, etc.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
KISS: say that all combat classes get some variant of the Barbarian's Unarmoured Defence

Fighters may use their Proficiency Bonus instead of their Dex modifier when calculating AC and Initiative. So they get a UD AC of 10+ Prof Bonus + Con Bonus.

Similarly, Paladins can use their Cha modifier instead of their Dex modifier when calculating AC and Initiative. So they get a UD AC of 10 + Cha Bonus + Con Bonus.

And so on.
hmm....why Con Bonus? With guns in the mix, I think Dex is where I would stay (unrealistic, but fantastic). I would see the Con bonus already baked into the HP total.
 
hmm....why Con Bonus? With guns in the mix, I think Dex is where I would stay (unrealistic, but fantastic). I would see the Con bonus already baked into the HP total.
Strength + Dex for fighters, Cha + Dex for paladins, Con + Dex for Barbarians, Wis + Dex for monks. Everyone else can make do with breastplates, leather and studded leather.
 

Quartz

Explorer
hmm....why Con Bonus?
Because that's what the Barbarian's UD uses.

With guns in the mix, I think Dex is where I would stay (unrealistic, but fantastic). I would see the Con bonus already baked into the HP total.
Dex is already the uber-stat. Do you want every PC maximising Dex? And you're already using it, you're just providing an alternative. Just because you can substitute the other bonus for your Dex bonus doesn't mean that you have to. Your Dex 18 Fighter with a Proficiency Bonus of 3 gets Unarmoured Defence of 14 + Con Bonus, not 13 + Con bonus.
 
In a gun setting it makes sense for dex to be far more important than strength.

Although you might want to push up fisticuffs as a common form of combat, and make strength key to that.
 

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