Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Armoires and Armors and Initiative

Armors in 5e fill very specific niches. Light, medium, heavy.

Apologies for the formatting

For players who want their character to have a decent AC, there are only 3 types of armor worth wearing under standard 5e rules: studded leather, breastplates, and full plate. Why?

Well, it's rather self-explanatory using the chart. For Dex-based characters, studded leather lets them maximize their Dex bonus unless they fiddle with half-plate and the Medium Armor Master feat, which Brandes Stoddard goes over in his dissertation on medium armor. 

The breastplate is a better option than the half plate if you have to make any Stealth check throughout your campaign. Could the cleric Guidance you, or the bard Inspire you, or the rogue Cunning Action the Help action to remove the disadvantage and provide a bonus, you ask?
Yes, but they'll likely be helping...

...the fighter in plate armor who already has disadvantage and a meh Dex score because he put a good score in Strength. Seriously, though, 18 AC is really neato. Who cares about the enemy noticing the mobile metal statue when it's hard to get at his meaty insides?

This, for me, is part of the Dexterity imbalance of 5e. What with initiative modifiers, saving throws, and attack stats, Dex is a strong temptation for those positively modified ASI's. 

Here's my proposal: link Str to AC and initiative the same way that Dex is. The ASI used for initiative depends on the armor type you're using. 

Armor
Cost
Armor Class
Weight
Dex Armors (category)



Leather (type)
10 gp
11+Dex mod
10 lb.
Studded leather
45 gp
12+Dex mod
13 lb.
Breastplate
400 gp
13+Dex mod
20 lb.
Str Armors



Half chain
10 gp
11+Str mod
20 lb.
Chainmail
100 gp
12+Str mod
55 lb.
Plate
1,500 gp
13+Str mod
65 lb.
Mage Armor



Mage armor
0 gp
12 + spellcasting mod.
-
Shields



Shield
10 gp
+ 2
6 lb.

Right now, there're three categories of armor: light, medium, and heavy.

Let's abolish these three categories and replace them with two categories: Dex armor and Str armor. If you're not wearing armor, use Dex. Each individual kind of armor (leather, chainmail) is now an armor type.

Dex armor users will use their Dex score for initiative because its what helps them move faster in their armor. And Str armor users will use their Str score for initiative because Strength is what's moving that heavy armor, not Dexterity. 

(If you like the armor idea but not my initiative revamp idea, don't use the initiative stuff. I use a hacked version of Greyhawk Initiative because I like it better than the 5e standard.)

Mage Armor is a special case. Yes, this does mean that spellcasters who have access to Mage Armor will reap the rewards of not being encumbered by armor and be able to use their spellcasting modifier for initiative. But, I counter, they'll have to burn a spell slot for this privilege, and the best AC one can have with Mage Armor is only 17. Never as good as a breastplate or plate armor.

There are only 6 types of armor besides shields and mage armor, yes, but a lot of types on the standard 5e armor table weren't being used. You can reflavor your leather as hide or your chainmail as ring mail. Say that your plate armor looks like splint armor. Fluff is up to you. 

What armors do you get access to at level 1, you ask? 

You can be proficient in, at minimum, 2 types of armor if your race/class combo has access to only 1 or 2 5e standard armor categories. 

So, if you're a bard with access to light armor, then you get to choose 2 types of armor to be proficient in. If you choose the College of Valor as your subclass, you get access to 1 more armor type of your choice and shields.

If your race/class combo has access to 3 or more 5e standard armor categories then your armor proficiencies are equal to the number of standard armor categories you have. 

So, if you're a human fighter with access to light, medium, and heavy armor and shields, you get proficiency in 3 armor types of your choice and shields. That seems to be a good number.

Shields count as an armor category, and you can't pick up shield proficiency unless you have access to it through your race/class.

No double counting: if you're a mountain dwarf with Dwarven Armor Training and you're a fighter, you only get 4 proficiencies, not 6.

Optional rule: you gain another armor proficiency (if your class can access armor at 1st level) at 6th and 10th level. I think that's late enough in an adventurer's career to reflect accumulated experience and training. Alternatively, you can exchange ASI's for 1 armor proficiency (like a feat) or perhaps only give access to armor profs through training, which requires money.

You don't have disadvantage on stealth checks in any kind of armor. Yes, that does mean one can sneak around in plate, but plate armor doesn't become good until Strength hits 18 or 20. 

So how does one avoid munchkinry and a level 1 scrub waltzing away with a plate proficiency +plate?. Simple. Make your players make their characters the way the PHB tells us to. Either you're given limited funds (which is why a chain shirt and leather cost the same) or you're told to pick equipment and spells from a short list at the front of the class page. Basically Adventurer's League standard. I have all my players use the standard array to avoid munchkinry.

What if you're wearing armor you aren't proficient in? Well, one, you don't get to add your ability score modifier to its AC. Two, you have disadvantage on every check, attack roll, and saving throw. Three, if you're a spellcaster, your spells (this includes cantrips) run the risk of failing. 

Base AC:                
11 - 25% chance spell failure
12 - 50% chance spell failure
13 - 75% chance spell failure

I think that all the spellcasting classes that get no armor proficiencies (sorcerer and wizard) have Mage Armor on their spell list, so everyone's covered in terms of armor types. 

Obviously, this renders all class features based on "light, medium, and heavy armor" irrelevant. 

Fixes:
Barbarian's Rage: Instead of "no heavy armor", "no breastplate/plate armor". 

That's all the fixes I can think of? I covered "feats for armor proficiencies" above. Let me know if I missed a class feature that depends on armor type so strongly. 

I think this levels the playing field for all armors. If you use my initiative idea with this, then 5e D&D becomes less MAD overall. Would my initiative idea make Dexterity a dump stat for Strength fighters? Absolutely. But Dex saves are still among the most common in the entire game. 

This fix also gives barbarians more leeway with armor. Str barbarians can wear chainmail and use Strength for their initiative. Yes, their AC is boosted once they hit level 20 with that +4 to Str and Con, but the maximum AC a barb can have with chainmail and the capstone is 19.

If you're worried about too high initiatives, check out the Greyhawk Initiative UA. It's what I use with a few modifications. Put simply, it's weapon dice as initiative. 

I hope this clears up the issues people have with medium armor. 

Oh, you're wondering where the armoires are? Well, an armoire is a wardrobe that's larger than a person's wingspan. It's a good size for your best suit of armor. 

Treat your armoires well.

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