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Friday, December 14, 2012

What AC Is Magic Armor?

Ian asked on the post about fixing armor to make it less focused on raw numbers, "Why not just have all magic armor/shields automatically grant AC 1?" I assume he just meant armor; allowing a fighter equipped with just a magic shield and no other armor to have a better armor class than plate and shield seems kind of extreme, and since bonuses don't stack, no fighter with a magic shield would be so foolish as to wear armor. But even just talking about magic armor, there's a couple reasons why I wouldn't make magic armor a flat AC 1:

  1. The defensive value doesn't stay the same. I proposed the change to magic armor in tandem with a change to magic weapons; magic armor thus doesn't always provide the maximum protection.
  2. The defensive value isn't always the equivalent of AC 1. The 3LBBs only have magic plate, but magic chain and magic leather armor could easily show up. Players expect that they exist.
  3. Plate armor, even magic plate, is not AC 1. I believe in hard armor classes with no overlap; plate armor is AC 3, even if it is magical and has a defensive bonus. This is especially relevant for those using weapon vs. AC rules, since those depend on the real armor class, not the equivalent due to bonuses.
  4. I'm trying to get away from the numbers. Lately, I've been referring to Light, Medium, and Heavy armor instead of AC 7, AC 5, and AC 3. This is so that those who prefer ascending AC can use their own numbers with stuff I've written up.

So, I'd rather say that magic armor provides a 2-point defensive bonus against mundane weapons, since that covers either ascending or descending AC systems as well as different varieties of magic armor.


  1. What about....

    1. Magic armor grants AC of one type heavier than it actually is: Magic Chainmail is treated as Heavy Armor for protection purposes, but it only weighs as much as medium armor.

    2. Magic armor provides a penalty to an opponent's attack roll. (Which I think may have actually been a rule way back in the dim and misty.)

    3. Damage reduction? Magic armor and shields shave off one or two points of damage instead of changing the AC/protection scheme.

  2. I found this to be a interesting way to look at magic armor. If you didn't see it while back when it was first posted, it might give you ideas as well. Another angle on the idea of magical protection that isn't just a bonus number to something.


  3. An ac 1 magic shield would be awesome. You'd wear other armor because you wouldn't want to be effectively nake when surprised or attack from behind.

    one could also record AC as say 7+1, or 2+2, etc.. keeping track of the base Ac related to armor worn and then additonal modifiers to the required hit roll.

    Magic Plate and Magic Shield would be AC 2+2 , an attacker could hit AC 2 on a 17 they need 2 more (ie 19) to hit AC 2+2

    1. An AC 1 Magic Shield might be reasonable as a unique item, but I wouldn't want it to be the default for magic shields.

      That method of recording split ACs doesn't appeal to me, though.