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I like most standard table top role playing games and how their armor systems work, at least I like how it works in DND. It’s simple, easy, intuitive, and makes sense and allows for combat to move quickly, but it’s not very realistic. I got bored and decided to spend too much time trying to fix and refine it.

So this is my attempt trying to create the most realistic tabletop armor system while still keeping it as simple as possible.

So trying to keep my criteria simple I don’t want there to be any additional actions or turns that are required to make the armor function. There can be variant rules that allow for extra actions or rolls to be made for the armor but I want to keep it like the standard dnd system. One turn, one action, and one roll. In the standard rules there are no rolls to defend, only an attacking roll against a defending number.

How D&D armor works for context

For those who don’t understand how armor works in D&D I will explain everything in this section. I will be using 5E rules and standards. This is mostly to provide context on the system this rework is based off of.

In D&D all characters have a base 10 AC. Putting on armor changes this AC and sometimes this can have a bonus. Some armors allow for your dexterity modifier to give you bonus ac on that set amount (up to +2) Armor however does not provide an additive bonus to your base ac.

Plate armor gives you 18 AC. But this is not +8 AC on your base 10, it is a set 18. So if you have a natural 5 AC (for whatever reason) putting on normal plate armor will give you 18 AC. The exception to this being the aforementioned armors that specify additive bonuses and shields which gives (at base) a +2 to your current AC.

In order to hit something you make an attack roll against an enemies AC. Say an enemy has 12 AC. You have to roll a 13 in order to hit the enemy. A natural 20 hits an enemies AC no matter what (assuming you’re playing by the books.)

For the sake of this project i'm not changing how shields work. I think they're good enough on their own.


Onto the actual information that matters.

First thing I want to bring up would be unarmored defense. I feel like all classes, or at least martial classes, should have some kind of unarmored defense. It makes sense that a talented fighter, ranger, or rouge should be able to defend themselves with their weapon. Same with clerics and paladin. But this also does not make armor obsolete for armor would still be able to provide attributes to defense.

Damage types

D&D already has damage types but they are almost never used outside of the barbarian rage feature and a few rare feats and items. Other than that it simply doesn’t matter most of the time. With this new combat system damage types would matter as the different damage types change how the weapon effects the armor.


This is how I would do damage types.
Slashing: Slashing damage is a type of damage that comes from bladed weapons, most often in the form of a cutting motion that will slice through objects.
Piercing: Piercing damage is damage that is focused on a single point and thrusted into the target. Examples of this would be thrusting with a rapier or shooting a bow.
Blundening: Blundening is a type of damage that results from the blunt force trauma of a dulled or blunted object such as a mace or hammer.
Cleaving: cleaving is a new kind of damage type I would axe purely for axes. An axe is much heavier than a sword but doesn’t really slice, though it’s also not a dulled or flatted object like a mace. The axe is somewhere in between. Cleaving can also be seen as a variant rule and instead a small axe could be slashing or blunt damage.

Damage resistance: Damage resistance is taking half damage from an attack. To gain damage resistance you must be wearing three pieces of armor that have a damage resistance quality or two pieces with immunity to that damage type.

Damage immunity: Being immune to a damage type means you do not take damage from that type of attack. You gain immunity by having 4 pieces of armor with damage immunity.

Bypassing resistance and immunity: It can be easy to see how allowing resistances and immunities be allowed commonly can get out of hand rather quickly. My solution to this is to handle it the same way it’s handled for normal monsters. Most notable magic attacks. It’s reasonable to believe a magical sword would be able to slice through an armor that’s normally immune to slashing damage because of its magical properties. Plate armor might be impressive against a sword, but could it protect from a ghostly specter that can pass through physical objects?

Another possibility is size category. A creature of size category large is able to ignore damage resistance that is gained based on your armor. If you have immunity to that damage type you’re instead resistance to damage of that type coming from a large sized creature. Furthermore if a creature is size category huge than armor alone won’t be enough to protect you. Even if you’re wearing full plate armor a 10 foot troll or 20 foot giant will likely have the raw physical power to attack through your armor.

Another thing to consider is other elements that can come into play while on an adventure like poison attacks or environmental hazards. Water is by far one of the most dangerous things in D&D to someone in heavy armor. It does give the players more options to defend themselves but it also gives the dungeon master more ability to plan encounters around their party. Perhaps instead of it being a hack and slash style combat it could become much more roleplay based to try and defeat a heavily armored opponent. Also, armor only gives these resistance bonuses against physical damage, So it won’t defend from a firebolt or a magic missile attack.

Armor and Armor values.
Armor would be separated into individual pieces that combine together to gain their attributes. Typically armor would come in 4 main pieces. Helmet, torso (includes arms and hands) leggings, and boots. Each piece has its own attributes and can be worn together. Some people might say it might be confusing at first to try and keep track of all of this but it’s something you only need to really calculate once. Unless you’re changing your armor every 5 minutes it shouldn’t be a big problem. Once it's sorted out on your character sheet, you're good.

Armor will be split into individual pieces for the sake of the system.

Light armor


Padded armor
Padded armor is a form of textile armor often referred to as a gambeson. Most commonly this armor is made of linen or silk that has been sown together or and sometime soaked in black wine. The armor is light, affordable, and easy to repair. This armor often comes with a coif or cap to cover the head, leather gloves, and leather boots. The padded armor comes as its own set, taking parts from the padded armor does nothing and will gain no benefits or bonuses. Padded armor counts as leggings and armor.
11 AC + dex modifier

+3 slash resistance (Gain slashing resistance)


Leather armor

Leather armor was a little difficult to keep true to the base game without changing anything drastic, so what I did for the leather armor is give it protection based on dex for individual pieces maxing out at +5 for the whole set. Seeing as in D&D you're highest dex stat is 20 (+5) allowing for an AC of 16. You are still able to get 16 AC in this new system. I do want to stress though that the Dex bonus is not blanket. If you have a +2 to dex you don't max out all pieces of armor. You can allocate those points to the individual pieces. You can give 2 pieces +1 or the chest piece +2. So you need the +5 to get the maximum value out of the armor.

Leather armor is a lightweight armor made of rigid and hardened leather strips and planes shaped to fit the body. It comes with a full leather harness that covers the wearers torso, arms, and hands. Along with this leather leggings and boots to protect the wearer.

Leather helmet (Up to +1 AC based on Dex)
+1 slashing resistance
Leather harness (Up to +2 AC based on Dex)
+1 slashing resistance
Leather leggings (Up to +1 AC based on Dex)
+1 slashing resistance
Leather boots (Up to +1 AC based on Dex)
Wearing full set gives player base 11 AC.
Wearing full set gives slashing resistance.


Linothorax

(My replacement for studded leather because studded leather is stupid and makes no sense.)
Linothorax is a kind of armor that covers the wearers torso. Made from multiple layers of cloth that have been glued together to form a rigid plate this armor is highly cost effective when protecting the wearer. This armor can be worn as just a chest plate and even comes with a legging variant that is made in the same style as the chest plate. This style of armor does not come with a helmet or boots.

Lino armor functions much the same way as leather armor where you have to allocate your Dex modifier to be able to get the maximum use out of it. So if you only have +1 dex you can't get the bonus on both pieces of armor, only 1. This is to keep the maximum and minimum AC values the same as to not make balancing the game completely stupid.

Lino harness +1 AC (Up to +1 AC based on Dex)
+1 slashing resistance
+1 piercing resistance
Lino leggings (Up to +2 AC based on Dex)
+1 slashing resistance
+1 piercing resistance



Medium armor
Chain shirt
Mail armor is made from thousands of rings that have been looped and riveted together in order to form a flexible although heavy mesh of protective rings that cover the body without inhibition movement. The chain shirt covers the torso and midway down the biceps.

Chain shirt.
+1 slash resistance

Hauberk

The hauberk is a single piece of chain armor that covers the wearers torso, arms, and legs. Often worn over pattern this armor is highly protective and effective against a wide array of weaponry found on the battlefield. (This armor takes up the torso and leg slots)

+2 slash immunity
+2 piercing resistance



Scale
Scale
Scale armor is unique kind of armor made from multiple metal scales that overlap a mail backing. Flexible and sturdy this armor is also quite elegant and beautiful. Like leather armor you need to allocate points. You can't get the +1 bonus on both pieces if you only have +1 dex. You need at least +2 dex

Scale helmet: +1 AC (Up to +1 AC based on dex)
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
Scale harness: +2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
+1 cleaving resistance
Scale leggings +1 AC (Up to +1 AC based on dex)
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
+1 cleaving resistance


Half plate
Half plate is the armor of the conqueror, the man at arms, and the well off guard. This armor comes with three main pieces with the full set. Of course each piece can be taking out or be replaced with a new piece. This armor does not come with boots. Also I just lopped in the breast plate in as a piece of the half plate armor.

Open helm: Open helm is a blanket term for helmets that don't cover the entire face. Helmets like the viking helmet or the nasal helm fall under his category. Often these helmets are mostly open in the face allowing the user to easily see and breath as a loss of protective ability.
+1 AC
+1 slashing immunity
+1 piercing resistance

Breast plate: The breast plate is a metal armor that covers the torso and shoulders, this armor however does not protect the arms and is somewhat open at the sides. this armor leaves the wearers arms unencumbered allowing them to move them quickly and nimbly.
+2 AC
+1 slashing immunity
+1 piercing resistance
+1 cleaving resistance

Faulds: The faulds hang off the breast plate in order to protect the legs. This armor however can only be worn along with a breastplate as the breastplate is require to fashion the faulds to.
+2 AC (Up to +1 AC based on DEX)
+1 slashing immunity
+1 piercing resistance
+1 cleaving resistance

Heavy armor

Ring mail makes no sense so i'm just removing it.

Chain mail suit
The Chain mail suit is an old armor used by the knights of ages long pass. Flexible and heavy this armor protects the entire body providing good protection, at a loss of resistances.
Requires strength of 13 to wear.

Chain coif: The chain coif is like a chain hood that protects the head, face, and neck of the wearer.
+1 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
Chain shirt: A mesh of riveted chain links that covers the wearers torso, arms, and hands.
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
Chain leggings: A mesh of riveted chain links that covers the wearers legs.
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
Chain boots: A mesh of riveted chain links that covers the wearers feet.
+1 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance

While wearing full set gain immunity to slashing damage and resistance to piercing damage.

Lamellar (splint)
Lamellar (splint) is a type of armor made from multiple lengths of metal stripes against a backing of leather. Sturdy and covering this armor is highly effective against most forms of attacks. Kind of armor however does not come with it's own helmet.

Splint harness
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
+1 cleaving resistance
Splint leggings
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
+1 cleaving resistance
Splint boots
+1 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing resistance
+1 cleaving resistance

Full plate
Full plate armor is the ultimate in self defense and protection on the battlefield. Heavy and covering the entire body a solider in full armor is an imposing figure that can seem impervious to nearly all forms of physical attack.

Full helm: The full helm protects the entire head and face, often times this armor will even come with a gorget or bevor in order to protect the neck. It is not uncommon for full helms to come with visors that can be lifted in order to allow the warrior to breath or see the battlefield.
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing immunity
+1 cleaving resistance

Knightly Harness: rounded and fitted to the wearer the knightly harness protects the wearers entire torso, arms, and hands in metal plates. The harness is also worn over a layer of mail armor and padding in order to protect the gaps so that the wearer is difficult to stab even in their openings.
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing immunity
+1 cleaving resistance
Plate leggings: Full metal leggings over a layer of chain protect the legs and the knee. Surprisingly light plate leggings are rather easy to run in, although exhausting.
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing immunity
+1 cleaving resistance
Sabbaton: The footwear of the experienced warrior the sabbaton is fitted over a warriors boots in order to protect their feet from incoming damage.
+2 AC
+1 slash immunity
+1 piercing immunity
+1 cleaving resistance


How to make it not complicated and ensure combat moves quickly.
This doesn't have to apply just to these armor rules though, this can apply to any game you want to run or be apart of.

There are a few ways to make sure the new armor doesn't stop combat entirely.
This is mostly on the side of the dungeon master. As a dungeon master I would make sure I know what armor everyone is wearing. Write down all their AC's on a notepad and what they're resistance and immune to. That way you know at a glance what kind of damage a player is going to take and how much damage they will take from an attack.

Furthermore instead of rolling for damage just use the average damage of an enemy and use that instead. If you're fighting orcs with hammers and they normally do 1d12 damage maybe when they hit they just deal 7 damage on every hit. Maybe a little less on a weaker orc and maybe a little more on a stronger orc. This way you only have to roll to hit, if you hit you tell the player how much damage and of what type, and then move on without rolling and calculating damage.

This one might be a bit controversial but lowering hitpoints. If you have a smaller party it's not as big of a deal, but if you have a large party then it can take a while for combat. But if you're fighting large groups of enemies all with a bunch of hitpoints combat is going to slow down as you start hacking against a large wall of meat. There's an easy way to do this. When calculating health, you don't get any bonus from your constitution modifier. Players no monsters gets their con bonus as health every level. Now this isn't nerfing the players, it's as much a hit to the monsters as it is the players and his allows combat to go by a lock quicker. It also can make the armor all that much more valuable and armored enemies more intimidating.

And remember, any situation can be solved with good roleplay if you have a good DM. Even if someone is in full plate armor, nothing it stopping you from turning your sword around and beating them to death with the pommel of your weapon. Nothing is stopping you from wrestling them to the ground and stabbing them in the face, or dropping a rock on them. Or dropping them down a hole, or even throwing them into a river. It is a roleplay game and I think there should be mechanics in the game that are best beaten with good roleplay instead of just rolling dice at it.

Feel free to debate me in the comments section, but please, keep it civil.

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