Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dexterity As Armor Class


I'm regularly baffled at the disinterest afforded to the prime attributes in Dungeons and Dragons. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of Dexterity.

With the switch (for many) to ascending AC, Dexterity acts as a perfect stand-in for Armor Class, for those players who want to play a swashbuckling character. DMs could allow players to use the higher of their character's Dexterity score or the AC provided by the character's armor.

11 comments:

phf said...

Back in the day, there used to be Adjusted AC which was 20 - DX. I think that came about from an article in White Dwarf 1 or 2 - about that time anyway.

Stuart said...

The problem I have with Dexterity is that (depending on the rules / house rules) it affects AC and Missile Attacks and "finesse" attacks and initiative and the DM tells you to make a "Dexterity check" more than any other attribute check in the game.

If it's fighting skill (photo from The Princess Bride) that's not Dexterity -- that's the Fighter's level.

Timeshadows said...

Or, and Ability named Fighting. ;)

JasonZavoda said...

I like the idea that dexterity makes it harder for you to be hit but easier to be damaged while armor makes it easier for you to be hit but harder to be damaged. In the past I toyed with Armor HP as well. Eventually I found that I prefered the 1e AD&D surrealistic combat and armor class system as written.

Stuart said...

@Timeshadows: A rose by any other name... ;)

Tedankhamen said...

Yes, this is exactly what I do in my homebrew, and it makes sense! Dexterity as AC allows the unarmored swashbuckler type to exist, whereas traditional AC penalizes anyone not wearing armor. You swap out Armor Class for Defence class.

To balance it out, however, you need to do something else to represent armor. Chaosium's method of rolling an armor dice to reduce damage fits the bill here. In fact, wearing armor could reduce your Defence Class, so you're slow moving and easier to hit, but harder to damage.

Works for me!!

Zzarchov said...

I make agility a bonus to a defense roll (think AC with a 10 penalty and a d20 bonus, gives you something to do when its not your turn). Straight up making it the be all end all of avoiding pain makes it the the stat everyone has maxed all the time. Its too valuable.

I also make armour give a penalty and absorb damage.

The Jovial Priest said...

They are all exciting possibilities that get the mind racing and ideas jumping.

If the goal is to emphasise unarmoured combat then the simplest, if one doesn't wish to redo the whole monster manual, to hit tables etc, might be to emphasise the negatives to armour as others have done so previously.

1. Movement rate and encumbrance
2. Noise
3. Perhaps leather armor max dexterity bonus +2, chain +1, plate mail +0.
4. Weapons vs AC (even a simple system which is what I use

That said, some of the possibilities above raise so many possibilities of moving to Dexterity protects from bein hit. Armor and shields prevent damage.

I'll add this post to Links to Wisdom. (when I get home)

JB said...

While it is a cool, simple, and elegant idea, using DEX as AC has the unfortunate side-effect of over-emphasizing one ability score over the others. I really don't want that.

Especially if actual armor worked as a sort of "add" (like DEX is base AC plus armor type, or DEX is base AC and armor type applies as damage reduction), the ability score becomes all the more important.

And doesn't this skew prime requisites? Wouldn't thieves end up being the master combatants, as opposed to the fighters?

No, for D&D anyway, I don't particularly like the idea.

For a swashbuckling adventure game based on B/X though, I can see it as a fantastic gem of an idea. Maybe we need a variant edition of En Garde!
; )

Wymarc said...

@JB Thieves would be the hardest to hit but I think the idea of having armor mitigate damage would compensate for the fact that someone in plate gets hit all the time. Wesley in the picture would run circles around Fezzik but let the giant land one punch and Wesley is a goner.

So Dex becomes AC, AC becomes damage mitigation level and Strength would not add a To Hit but add to damage and perhaps have a damage mitigation reduction factor.

More than .02 worth but not sure its worth more than that in value.

Reynaldo said...

The other posters make really good points - I feel like the original idea is really good, and would work perfectly with a few tweaks to other scores here and there.

The risk that the change may make the system something different entirely...