Turning Masterwork Armor into Double Enhancement Bonus?

Starfox

Adventurer
I'm thinking of dropping masterwork heavy armor, and instead just grant a bonus to AC equal to twice the enhancement bonus.

With the smoothed-out power curve from AV, basically all magic heavy armor you find in the game is masterwork. And I think the descriptions of the types of masterwork armor are a bit too fancy for my games. It also messes up moving armor enchantments from item to item - especially between different types of armor (using the ritual from AV) - where do you find the appropriate object to transfer the enchantment into?

You move slightly ahead of the power curve this way, giving about +1 AC at levels 5-25, but not giving any bonuses to the other defenses. I can live with this, as I feel heavy armor can use this bonus.

My main issue is that if I get rid of masterwork heavy armor, I also want to get rid of masterwork light armor. Not so easily and elegantly done.

Views? Options? Mathematical proof of why this is madness?
 

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FireLance

Legend
I don't see any real problems with this, although, as noted, you do move +1 AC ahead of the power curve for heavy armor.

For light armor, just have it grant 4/3 of the enhancement bonus (round down), so your progression looks something like +1, +2, +4, +5, +6, +8.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I was toying with this idea for a while. It works very well for heavy armor, and FireLance's suggestion is almost perfect for light armor.

I also came up with the following house rule alternative. It tries to address the same problem (producing a smooth AC progression) while keeping the notion of Masterwork:

1. Masterwork heavy armor only increases AC by 1 for +4 armor and by 2 for +6 armor (so the armor increase is identical between light and heavy armor).

2. When wearing heavy armor, your AC = 10 + 2/3 your level + your armor bonus.

The 2/3 progression produces a relatively smooth curve that is almost in line with the ability increases that the light armor guys have, and doesn't require you to actually find magic armor just to keep up your AC. (Of course 2/3 your level is somewhat inelegant when the entire rest of the system uses 1/2 your level.)

I haven't tried either rule in play. AV kind of obsoleted the issue (I prefer to use a published rule to a house rule where possible and the MW armors in AV smooths the AC curve nicely).

-- 77IM
 

Starfox

Adventurer
I was thinking of this option too. I'd let heavy armor users add 1/5 their level to AC, light armor users add 1/12 their level to AC, and ban masterwork armor.

Closer to the original rules, but basically the same idea.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
While that idea has merits too, I like coupling the AC bonus wholly to the item. Gives me (the DM) more control, and makes finding the armor a happier occurrence. Last but not least, I can avoid fifths and twelfths... :)

Okay, so the bonus for light armor is +1, +2, +4, +5, +6, +8 while the progression is +2, +4, +6, +8, +10, +12 for heavy?
(Or, +1, +3, +5, +7, +9, +12 if you wish to keep true to the "curve")

But doesn't this make the change from mundane armor to magical a bit abrupt? (After all, it wouldn't be uncommon for a level 3 Fighter to still walk around in mundane Platemail (+8). If he then finds a suit of armor four levels higher than him, that would bring him up to a +2 Platemail (+14). That's a whopping +6 increase!)

If nothing else, this makes me wish WotC hadn't used masterwork this way at all, instead simply having magic armor in the full +1 through +18 span (making sure item powers worked accordingly...)
 
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77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
The difference between magical and non-magical armor is the advantage to basing the bonus on the character's level rather than the item's level.

I agree that WotC was sloppy with this area of the maths, in several ways.

-- 77IM
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Here's another variant I thought of.

1. Masterwork heavy armor only increases AC by 1 for level 16 armor and by 2 for level 26 armor (so the amount of armor increase for being masterwork is identical between light and heavy armor).

2. The armor bonus provided by heavy armor is much less:
Chainmail: +2 (instead of +6)
Scalemail: +3 (instead of +7)
Platemail: +4 (instead of +8)

3. When wearing heavy armor, your AC includes either your Strength or Constitution modifier, whichever is higher:
AC = 10 + 1/2 your level + your armor bonus + your Strength or Constitution modifier

Since the bonus scales with ability score increases, we don't need a massive masterwork boost to keep up with the light-armor guys.

This rule seems to match the genre flavor (heavy-armor-users tend to also have pretty good Str and/or Con). It's roughly balanced -- on paper it looks like it might overpower Str, but in practice most characters will wind up within 1 point of the AC they would have under the normal rules. The only characters left out in the cold here are laser-clerics and laser-paladins, but those were kind of odd builds. Maybe they can wear light armor; I have to suspect that most characters will have one of either Str, Con, Dex, or Int at reasonable levels.

-- 77IM
 

Starfox

Adventurer
I've been using this for a few sessions now. What I did was to use the Masterwork Light Armor from the PH only (so there are no alternatives), abolish masterwork heavy armor, and double the enchantment bonus to AC.

The extra point of AC this gives heavy-armor users feels quite significant - but not overpowered (we only have a fighter actually using heavy armor).
 

Starfox

Adventurer
Here's another variant I thought of.

3. When wearing heavy armor, your AC includes either your Strength or Constitution modifier, whichever is higher:
AC = 10 + 1/2 your level + your armor bonus + your Strength or Constitution modifier

-- 77IM

This seems unfair to Paladins, who need neither Strength nor Constitution. It is also unfair to Wis clerics and Int bards. Overall, the idea that heavy armor works irrespective of other build options is fairly important. Also, AC on this level is supposed to have a definite upper limit. Finally, it seems a little silly that chainmail is really only re-attributed leather and scale re-attributed hide. Actually, chain is worse than leather, as it has movement and skill penalties.
 

I too would like to eliminate the "Masterwork" armors from the game too, maybe later repurpose the current ones for unique magic items. This is what I came up with:

All characters gain a +1 bonus to AC and the other Defenses, The AC bonus is tripled when the character is wearing Heavy Armor.


This works out exactly the same as the PHB armors, except you'll (probably) get the bonus a little earlier. Giving the bonus to other Defenses also replicates the effects of the AV armors, plus it just makes sense than Paragon/Epic characters are just plain tougher in all respects :)

Also, I intend to repurpose the current, bland "Magic <whatever>" items as being just unenchanted, Masterwork items. So... you don't get a +1 magic wand you get a +1 masterwork wand. Just seems to fit in with the eliminating of the masterwork armor types.
 

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