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5E Touch AC in 5E

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm playing around with the idea of adding back the Touch AC mechanic from 3.X Edition. Not as a global change (at least, not at the moment) but rather as a special ability of a certain monster. This creature uses an attack that needs only to touch a target, and it doesn't matter whether this touch penetrates the target's armor or not. In fact, it's even better if the attack only hits the armor or shield of its target. Think "rust monster," but worse. :devil:

Has anyone done something similar in their games? How did you rule it? (I was going to go with something akin to TAC = 10 + Dex mod, just like in the days of yore, but I'm open to new suggestions.) And if you did this, how did it work? Was it as game-breakingly terrible as I imagine some folks will say? Or was it as laughably inconsequential as I imagine others will say?

Like I said, I'm only planning on implementing this as a single monster's attack ability. But if I like it, I might try to integrate it further.
 

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MarkB

Legend
I'd probably go with something a little simplified - like, if the creature misses on its attack by a margin of, say, 3 or less, it hits the armour and has a different effect. That doesn't require the player to track a separate Touch AC.
 


The devil will be in the special cases. As it's a monster ability rather than a general mechanic, that cuts down a lot of the permutations, but there's still a few you want to think about. Mage armour? A monk's Wisdom bonus to AC? An unarmoured barbarian's Con bonus to AC? Shield of faith?
 


Zaukrie

New Publisher
The problem with Touch AC is the notion that your level 12 Fighter with a Sword in his hand which he is exceptionally good at but with Dex 10 (Cos Heavy Armour) can't actually defend himself with any competence.
Isn't that a feature of touch attacks, not a problem?
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I'd personally make it a Dex save against a DC of 10 + attack's mod, to keep in theme with the idea of dodging an attack that needs only touch to inflict an effect.

Or yeah, if you want to keep it as an ''attacker rolls'' thing, attack roll against 10 + dex might be the easiest way of doing it.
I agree with this kind of approach. Dex save. Or the second way.
 

Hriston

Hero
I think touching a shield is a different question than touching the person wielding it, since the idea of a shield is to put it in the way of an attack. I would say the "attack DC" to hit (touch) the shield is 10 plus any bonus from cover. To touch the person, I would say the DC is 10 + cover bonus + shield bonus + Dex mod.
 


Isn't that a feature of touch attacks, not a problem?
How is drawing attention to a point where the system breaks down a feature?

It seems obvious to me that it should be harder to touch a Highly trained Fighter than a peasant - and it should be even harder if that Fighter is holding a great big sharp piece of steel in his hand which he is an expert in using.

(At the very least Touch attacks ought to have disadvantage against armed opponents).
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'd personally make it a Dex save against a DC of 10 + attack's mod, to keep in theme with the idea of dodging an attack that needs only touch to inflict an effect.

Or yeah, if you want to keep it as an ''attacker rolls'' thing, attack roll against 10 + dex might be the easiest way of doing it.
Yeah, I'm leaning toward using "10 + Dex mod" just out of simplicity.

I'd love the "dexterity save" option, too, if it weren't for the various abilities in 5E that trigger and/or negate based on dexterity saves. And that's fine, except when it doesn't make sense (for example, using the Shield Master feat to cause that attack to hit your shield instead and therefore miss your shield. Somehow.)

I briefly considered just giving the creature a discrete bonus or Advantage on attack rolls against armored targets, since (as @humble minion pointed out) there are a ton of different bonuses added to AC besides just armor or shields. But it feels really complicated and fiddly, and that's why I'm soliciting feedback from folks who might have done this before. Where did you draw the line? Which bonuses did you use and which did you omit?
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
How is drawing attention to a point where the system breaks down a feature?

It seems obvious to me that it should be harder to touch a Highly trained Fighter than a peasant - and it should be even harder if that Fighter is holding a great big sharp piece of steel in his hand which he is an expert in using.

(At the very least Touch attacks ought to have disadvantage against armed opponents).
I suggest you look up warhammer frpg 2nd edition if you want a more realistic feel on how armor and skills at arms should work.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Building it into a game when it was not envisioned as part of the rule set is going to be problematic. The game is not balanced for it, and it would be more likely to cause player arguments. Also, a heavy armor PC may feel like you're adding it just to screw with them, and that doesn't go well.

I'd stick with the Dex Save.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Dex is already overpowered, so I would say no. Besides, I envision touch attacks having to hit either flesh, or at least flesh with minimal cover.
 



MarkB

Legend
Yeah, I'm leaning toward using "10 + Dex mod" just out of simplicity.

I'd love the "dexterity save" option, too, if it weren't for the various abilities in 5E that trigger and/or negate based on dexterity saves. And that's fine, except when it doesn't make sense (for example, using the Shield Master feat to cause that attack to hit your shield instead and therefore miss your shield. Somehow.)

I briefly considered just giving the creature a discrete bonus or Advantage on attack rolls against armored targets, since (as @humble minion pointed out) there are a ton of different bonuses added to AC besides just armor or shields. But it feels really complicated and fiddly, and that's why I'm soliciting feedback from folks who might have done this before. Where did you draw the line? Which bonuses did you use and which did you omit?
The basic idea is that, the heavier your armour, the less it factors into your protection against Touch attacks. So how about this: Your Touch AC is equal to your total AC minus a value depending upon the type of armour you're wearing.

No armour-0
Light armour-1
Medium armour-2
Heavy armour-3
Heavy armour + shield-4

That way you don't need to worry about how special AC-boosting effects factor in, because you're not trying to deduct anything for them. The only adjustment you're making is based upon the target's armour.

EDIT: You could even keep this all on the attacker's side, by instead giving them a bonus to their attack based upon the above values.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Hey @MarkB that's not bad...I might go with a variation of that, except I would break out the shield separately (Light -1, Medium -2, Shield -2, Heavy -3). You know, for folks who use a shield without armor, or use a shield with light or medium armor.
 

MarkB

Legend
Hey @MarkB that's not bad...I might go with a variation of that, except I would break out the shield separately (Light -1, Medium -2, Shield -2, Heavy -3). You know, for folks who use a shield without armor, or use a shield with light or medium armor.
Yeah, I realised about two minutes after posting that shields should be a separate floating penalty. ☺️
 

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