No option not to use armor


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Scarab Sages

It seems to me that there are two sections to the armor deal.

The first being the actual armor bonus, from +1 to +9 for padded through full plate.

The second part would be magical enhancements.

The OP talked about needing either armor, OR magical gear to get a decent ac. That's not entirely accurate. Armor pretty much always ends up being magical over the long run.

A level 1 fighter could have an ac of 20, if he managed to get fullplate from somewhere and had a +1 dex bonus.

A level 1 monk *the unarmed ac guy* would need a dex and wisdom of 20 to pull off the same ac.

The real issue here is that armor provides multiple penalties in order to improve your ac.

Penalties such as:
Armor Check Penalties
Arcane Spell Failure Chance
Speed reduction

Light armor goes from +1 to +4 and imposes up to -2 armor check and 20% Arcane Spell Failure

Medium armor only goes from +4 to +6 and imposes up to -5 armor check penalty, 30% arcane spell failure, and 1/3 movement penalty.

Heavy armor only goes from +7 to +9 and imposes up to -7 armor check penalty, 40% arcane Spell Failure Chance, and 1/3 movement penalty.

Plus, they all require proficiency, and a modest amount of gold.

Creating any series of feats that provide ac bonuses similar to an armored character needs must also incorporate equivalent drawbacks.

There isn't any reason why a character couldn't pay for, and wear fullplate armor, and just look like he's unarmored. It seems like what the OP is really talking about though is avoiding those penalties that come with wearing armor, while retaining an equivalent armor class.

So, for the light, medium, and heavy armor range, we could possibly create one feat for each and come up with somewhat different drawbacks.

I'm going to call these feats:
Unarmored Proficiency Light
Unarmored Proficiency Medium
Unarmored Proficiency Heavy

Creative, no? :D Anyhow, they would be variant plug-ins. As in, either take the armor proficiency feats or the unarmored proficiency feats.

Unarmored Proficiency Light: You may wear a light heroic shirt without penalty.

Unarmored Proficiency Medium: You may wear a medium heroic shirt without penalty.

Unarmored Proficiency Heavy: You may wear a heavy heroic shirt without penalty.

Table 6-6b Heroic Shirts

Heroic Shirts---------------Cost------Armor Bonus------Armor Check Penalty------Skill check penalty

Light armor
Fully Buttoned Shirt---------5 gp-----------1----------------0-------------------------------1
Mostly Buttoned Shirt-------10 gp----------2----------------0-------------------------------2
Partially Buttoned Shirt------25 gp----------3----------------–1----------------------------3
Unbuttoned Shirt-----------100 gp---------4----------------–2----------------------------4
Medium armor
Clean Shirt------------------15 gp----------4----------------–3----------------------------4
Sweaty Shirt----------------50 gp----------5----------------–4----------------------------5
Stained Shirt----------------150 gp---------6----------------–5----------------------------6
Bloody Shirt-----------------200 gp---------6----------------–4----------------------------5
Heavy armor
Damaged Shirt---------------200 gp---------7----------------–7----------------------------8
Torn Shirt-------------------250 gp---------7----------------–6----------------------------7
Ripped Shirt-----------------600 gp---------8----------------–7----------------------------8
Shredded Shirt--------------1,500 gp-------9----------------–6----------------------------7

Pretty much I took out the speed penalty, arcane failure, and weight component, and traded it for a penalty to all skill checks according to the spell failure rate. I felt that a skill penalty would be an appropriate trade-off for the other abilities. Of course, I just made this up off the top, so :P Note that this allows the shirts to be enchanted in place of armor, and that the ac bonus is an armor bonus so you don't have to worry about hokey stacking stuff. Each 5% spell failure equated to 1 skill point penalty. Otherwise, I pretty much copy/pasted the armor stuff, so prices, check penalties, and ac bonuses should be the same.

There HAS to be an equivalent penalty for an equivalent bonus. Skills are a nice overall impact, like speed. I considered tweaking the skill penalty a bit more, but figured I'd leave it there as a base calculation for extrapolation to other armor.

Lots of things you can do with this. For example, you could let masterwork versions reduce both the armor check penalty and the skill penalty. Armor training could work for both types as well.

You could reduce the penalty by 1/3. 1/2 would seem kind of low to me.

Anyhow, I had fun doing it :P


I can't remember which splat book in 2.0 it was in but there was a feat that allowed you to use your shield to Actively Block attacks and keep your Shield AC. We also had a rule that allowed you to block 1 attack / level + your Dex Bonus. This made your sword and board guys very dynamic.

You couldn't bash with your shield or use it in an offensive manner, but our PCs loved the feel and it meant you could wear lighter armor and not get chopped into chutney in every encounter.

Hope some of this helps

Have Fun out there!!

~ W ~


To the issue of "armor becomes useless if the other AC method is higher":

I always determined the Class Defense bonus option as being a Doge Bonus, meaning that it can be lost under the right circumstances. So someone wearing armor still has moments of advantage: they still have AC when surprised or entangled or whatnot.

The Exchange

silverhair2008 wrote:

I believe it was in Green Ronin's Advanced Gamemasters Handbook on page 29 or there abouts where it mentions a Dodge that increases with level according to your class.

Just y 2 cp.

Thanks for that. I have that book, but I missed that! :)

For the OP, here are some other options:

1. Vow of Poverty (Book of Exalted Deeds)
2. Deft Defense - add INT to AC (The Deft Fighter)
3. Take monk track "Flurry of Motion" which gives you the monk's bonus to AC (Character Customization)
4. Be fine-sized
5. Add BAB to AC (Fencing & Firearms)
6. "Shift" your BAB to get a bonus to AC. (You take a penalty to either your attack or damage, in exchange for a bonus to AC.) (Fencing & Firearms)
7. Unarmored Defense Mastery (AEG Feats)

Liberty's Edge

Actually I just revamped the Class Defense Bonus from Unearthed Arcana since it was under the Open Game License and if anyone would like to see it just ask :)

I got sick and tired of the nonsense of "when you level you can hit better but your still an idiot when it comes to defense?"

In essence it worked out, at least in my Game I'm doing, that the AC granted by Armor grants DR instead since I have always hated the whole "it deflects!" nonsense when Armor to me IS Armor it absorbs damage. In it if you wear Armor, depending on your Class Bonus, you get 1/2 your class bonus + DR equal to the Armor in question but the DR is not against Magic UNLESS the armor is Magical in nature for example we'll take a 1st level Ranger

Dex 16 [+3] Class Bonus [+3] Studded Leather [+3 AC]

in my ruling if the Ranger wears the Studded Leather he/she has a AC of 15 [1/2 of 3 round up] with DR 3. If they so chose not to wear Armor their AC is 16 but lose the benefit of Damage Reduction. Yes it slows it down but -shrugs- my friends went for it right away caus they liked how I presented it.


If you want to get AC just for leveling you could do it like that 'game that will not be mentioned because i do not know if it is tradmarked or not' and give everyone half their level to AC, but then where is the fun in that. And personally i would rather spend gold on increasing my AC than feats, feats are much to important for that.

Also another fun way to increase your AC to ridiculous levels is to take one level of Draconic Sorcerer and start down the Dragon Aprentice prestige class after level 5.


This forum topic is super timely for me, because I want to run a "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" type campaign and I'm looking at PFRPG. Some great ideas here.

One of the reasons the "lightly armored hero" is tough to pull off is that AC and hit points represent similar things: dodging, parrying, near misses, etc. So your lightly armored hero in the movies/fiction is having his AC "hit" all the time, he's just losing small amounts of hit points when he dodges, parries, etc.

I doubt it's possible to have the high-AC lightly armored hero exist side-by-side with the high-AC heavily armored hero without there being some weird system effects such as the ones mentioned up-thread.

However, one thing you might try is to make armor add hit points. That creates a system where what you want is high dexterity, but if you don't have it, you might as well wear armor. It would then be possible to create some interesting trade-offs: armor that adds significant hit points, but reduces your max Dex bonus. You might also be able to have small "bits" of armor and other protection that add small amounts of hit points, to model the bracers, arm bands, kidney belts and other paraphernalia that heroes tend to wear in fiction.

If you run a game with a lot of reasons to want good movement or frequent use of skills like acrobatics, etc, suddenly light armor looks a lot better, especially if heavy armor doesn't actually stop you from getting "hit".

Then again, I haven't run the numbers or playtested this idea, so it might totally suck. :) But it has less handling time than DR.


What I've used with good effect is this:

1. Armor adds 1/2 (round down, minimum +1) armor bonus to AC.

2. Other portion of armor bonus converts lethal damage to nonlethal damage and provides that much DR against nonlethal damage.

3. Add BAB to AC as a dodge bonus and cap at +10, or add 1/2 BAB to AC as a dodge bonus.

4. Enhancement bonuses to armor add to damage conversion, not AC.

5. Shield bonuses apply normally.


northbrb wrote:

is it just me or does it seem like you need either armor or magic items to get a descent AC, i just feel like there isn't enough options to play a character with little to no armor without getting hit every round.

i like the dodge feat but is seems to me like there should be more feats to improve your ac that aren't based on armor.

i am probably alone on this but i just wanted to rant a bit.

p.s. i know the monk gains an ac boos but that's not what i am talking about

I think a finesse / swashbuckling build should be an option for fighters. I would add in a few feats to give them some parity with Strength-based, armor wielding fighters.

SWIFT DODGER
You are more agile when not wearing encumbering armor.
Prerequisite: Dex 15, Dodge
Benefit: Your Dexterity modifier to AC is calculated based on 1.5 times your Dexterity modifier when wearing light armor or no armor.
Normal: A character without this feat gains only their Dexterity modifier to AC.

FINESSE STRIKER
When not encumbered with armor you are able to swing your weapon with more lethality.
Prerequisite: Weapon Finesse, No Armor, Base Attack Bonus +3
Benefit: You may add half your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier, to weapon damage rolls when using a weapon which Weapon Finesse applies to, and when wearing no armor.
Normal: A character without this feat only applies their Strength modifier to weapon damage rolls.

IMPROVED FINESSE STRIKER
When not encumbered with armor you are able to swing your weapon with great lethality.
Prerequisite: Weapon Finesse, Finesse Striker, No Armor, Base Attack Bonus +6
Benefit: You may add your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier, to weapon damage rolls when using a weapon which Weapon Finesse applies to, and when wearing no armor. (This feat replaces the benefit granted by Finesse Striker).
Normal: A character without this feat only applies their Strength modifier to weapon damage rolls.

Note: I did waffle on whether to base Swift Dodger on 1.5 x Dex Mod or 0.5 x BAB. I think that 0.5 x BAB would likely still be balanced, especially more-so in the higher levels where you are not able to benefit from magic armor enhancement. Although, since these characters would likely be getting Bracers of Armor, I thought I should be a little cautious and just based it off Dex Mod.


DM_Blake wrote:


No, even one feat is too many.

I agree.

Also, there are other advantages to not wearing armour, for example, being able to climb/swim/use other str/dex skills with no penalty and you don't bake to death in the hot climates.

..besides, anyone can save the world in full plate - doing it naked gaurantees you'll make it into the story books!

Think of it as Hard Mode - the mode of the HERO :)

Spoiler:

''I killed the Dragon NAKED - I AM TEH AWESOME!1!''

''Yeah, so what? With your feats you have an effective AC of Plate... pssh..''


Armor was historically possible and forms part of the basis for the fighting class. It is as simple as a piece of metal between you and an incoming weapon. You are free to reject it but there is no reason to expect you will do as well without it. You have chosen a different path.

At a guess, armor and protection are 30 to 50% of the fighter class.

What will you choose to replace armor that is as simple? What sort of focus will a class that is as good as armor but not armor require? What else will it be good at?

S


Magicdealer wrote:
HEROIC SHIRT

This just about made my day. :D

Someone already mentioned that there is already advantages to be unarmored, and I agree. Its enough to offset the penalties, especially if you have a game where moving around is important. Heavy armor becomes a liability in a desert or in water.

Besides, if you do a whole dodge/mobility/spring attack sort of fighter with high acrobatics, doesn't that simulate a dexterous warrior already? He's not going to stand there and slug it out with another combatant, after all.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I totally agree with regard to the drawbacks people face wearing heavier armors. Swimming in particular...there's a reason sailors, pirates, etc. aren't depicted going around clad in full plate. You may have the AC of a god, but if you slip off the deck and fall into the briny deep, be ready to roll up a new PC.

Don't forget the penalties associated with sleeping in heavier armors too, along with the time it takes to put on and take off heavier armors. Full plate-wearing fighter types face either lack of restful sleep if they refuse to remove their gear at night, or the potential for dealing with nighttime encounters in their PJs.

Even wearing light or no armor, I think there are enough means to get one's AC up to a decent level that the tradeoff in mobility, skill use, etc. adequately compensates for the defensive penalty.

I guess if I had to impose a house rule, it would either be (1) trading off ever gaining armor proficiency for the monk AC progression, or (2) trading each level of armor proficiency for a +1 dodge bonus, both as mentioned by previous posters. I'm always leery of adding a barrage of house rules, new feats, etc., so I would keep any modifications such as these simple and straightforward.


Is it just me? Or is it totally reasonable that you need to wear armor or use magic to get good AC? Lol. On a less sarcastic note, use feats outside of PF core and you will find AC

Dark Archive

karlbadmanners wrote:
Is it just me? Or is it totally reasonable that you need to wear armor or use magic to get good AC? Lol. On a less sarcastic note, use feats outside of PF core and you will find AC

seriously.

[jackass mode]
"it doesn't fit my concept"... um find a new concept?. call the WHAAAAmbulance.

[/jackass mode]

or if people are really hellbent on no armor, just use the class bonus to ac variant from UA in the SRD.

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/defenseBonus.htm


karlbadmanners wrote:
Is it just me? Or is it totally reasonable that you need to wear armor or use magic to get good AC? Lol. On a less sarcastic note, use feats outside of PF core and you will find AC

Should the game be reasonable? I mean, if "reasonable" is a goal, should a human in full plate or no stand a snowball's chance in hell against a dragon?


>Drops troll bait< Damn "R" words, start more troll stampedes...Here they come!

Dark Archive

LilithsThrall wrote:
karlbadmanners wrote:
Is it just me? Or is it totally reasonable that you need to wear armor or use magic to get good AC? Lol. On a less sarcastic note, use feats outside of PF core and you will find AC
Should the game be reasonable? I mean, if "reasonable" is a goal, should a human in full plate or no stand a snowball's chance in hell against a dragon?

they did in mythology. and it helps if its magic armor. anything is more reasonable with magic involved since magic<physics


Name Violation wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:
karlbadmanners wrote:
Is it just me? Or is it totally reasonable that you need to wear armor or use magic to get good AC? Lol. On a less sarcastic note, use feats outside of PF core and you will find AC
Should the game be reasonable? I mean, if "reasonable" is a goal, should a human in full plate or no stand a snowball's chance in hell against a dragon?
they did in mythology. and it helps if its magic armor. anything is more reasonable with magic involved since magic<physics

I seem to remember that, in myth, the heroes were often superior to normal humans.

If they are superior to normal humans, it seems reasonable that their unarmored AC might be superior too.


Name Violation wrote:

[jackass mode]
"it doesn't fit my concept"... um find a new concept?. call the WHAAAAmbulance.

[/jackass mode]

I'm gonna have to agree with you on that, but I tend to be a bit less blunt about it. :P

I guess I've never thought of equipment ( or lack thereof ) as an important part of a character concept. A neat little quirk to add on ( Say if you have an odd weapon or a strange way of dress ) but nothing essential.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Quote:

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A fighter is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with all armor (heavy, medium, and light) and light and heavy shields. Additionally, you gain proficiency in one exotic shield (e.g., tower shield or vambraces).

You can choose to give up your exotic shield proficiency to gain Dodge as a bonus feat instead. You can also elect to give up your light and heavy shield proficiencies to gain Combat Expertise as a bonus feat instead. If you take either or both of these options, gaining levels in a class that normally offers proficiency in shields does not grant you those proficiencies unless you choose to “trade in” the corresponding bonus feats in order to receive them.

Canny Defense (Ex): You can choose to trade your medium and heavy armor proficiencies for the Canny Defense class feature. When wearing light or no armor, you add 1 point of your Intelligence bonus (if any) per fighter level as an insight bonus to Armor Class and CMD. If you are caught flat-footed or otherwise denied your Dexterity bonus, you also lose this bonus. This supercedes the duelist prestige class feature of the same name.
You may substitute your Wisdom bonus instead of your Intelligence bonus; once this choice is made, it cannot be changed.

This is what we use in our games.


josh hill 935 wrote:
is seems stupid to me as the most iconic fantasy of all time has heroes without full plate. in lord of the rings none of the heroes wear heavy armor. i think the problem is there is no system for parying. aragorn rarely has to dodge as he can simultaneously block attacks and slice peoples arms off.

Conan, also, isn't known for wearing a lot of armor.

I think the whole armor thing is a sacred cow from when the game was a military sim, not an rpg.


northbrb wrote:
one reason i felt like posting this was i have seen many movies and tv shows where there are heroes who ware little to no armor and it just hit me that you really cant do this in pathfinder.

Keep in mind that, barring corner cases like contact poisons and such, being "hit" in combat and taking "hit point" damage does not automatically mean that your character now has a gash in their side. HP represent more than just the amount of physical damage a person can take; they also represent luck, resistance to battle fatigue, ability to roll with a hit, and so on. For example, when the movie hero just barely ducks under the bad guy's sword swing, he's been "hit" and takes "hit point" damage, but he hasn't been wounded.


There were a couple of adventures where Conan had a hit taken by armor. He mostly went unarmored in his early days. But anyone wanting to be a ninja is in for some work.

Besides Dodge, you do have some other options;
Combat Expertise and two weapon defense come to mind. You also have some "stances" that grant concealment bonuses.
But yeah, unarmored bites unless you have a GM who lets you have lots of magic items. As GM, I often Let my 1st level players buy potions of Mage Armor. But then to be honest, I have almost never started my players as a GM or started as player at 1st. My groups always start at 5th or higher and are free to buy lots of magic protection.

One thing I am experimenting with is having a second set of ability bonuses. The basic bonus and a "greater"bonus. And when unarmored the PC uses the greater bonus. For example, a character with a dex of 14 would have a +2 base ability bonus they would add to AC when armored as normal. But they would also have a Greater bonus that would be +5. When unarmed they would go with the Greater bonus. They would also be denied their greater bonus anytime they were denied their normal dex bonus. Since that could inhibit the guys who like armor, I do away with max dex for armor. I never liked max dex anyway because real full armored knights were trained to overcome the armor's limitations.

I used a chart for greater bonuses as it is a progression similar to the cleric BAB. I also am using the Greater str bonus for using two hands on a weapon, and may play at replacing size in CMB by dropping size and replacing str bonus with my greater str bonus...mostly so I can have conan like characters grapple with bigger critters.

The Exchange

It seems that the flaw in the system is that armor's benefits are all crunch and most of disadvantages are fluff (or unenforced crunch).

I know I've almost never enforced fatigue rules for tramping about in a jungle or desert in armor, or described the disapproving looks a PC would get (impose a -10 Diplomacy penalty?) for walking into the village tavern in full plate. How do you model the annoyance of having to get out of your armor when you really have to use the chamber pot Right Now?

I'm not trying to use the "R" word, but players can accept fire-breathing dragons whereas they want light-fighters because the mental image of attending the Royal Ball and doing a minuet in scale mail breaks the suspension of disbelief for them

US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan often have to be ordered to wear their armor, even though they're in an active war zone. It's hot, bulky and makes everything harder to do. There's no real mechanic for that, but it's sure real.


well ... here's what I'm planning to release into my games - basically just a feat chain (fully swappable for Armor Proficiencies, IMO, as part of class packaging, too).

In brief:

Dodge ==> unchanged req's, BUT adds +1 dodge bonus and adds +1 more dodge bonus/6 character levels. {+4 total AC boon over 18 levels}

Improved Dodge ==> gain +1 dodge bonus/4 levels, but is NOT usable w/Heavy Armor at all. {+6 total AC boon over 20 levels}

Greater Dodge ==> gain +1 dodge bonus/2 levels, but is NOT usable w/Heavy, or Medium Armors at all. {+10 total AC boon over 20 levels}

Mechanically, Dodge scales - and it's a solid pick, but at 1/6, it's not like you're getting "the farm" for it, either.

For Improved Dodge, you sacrificed the Heavy AC (+10 rating, +5 enhancements, etc), and pick up a total of 6 to AC overall ... it's limiting, but still is better than the base value and can only work w/medium armors at best (and thus work on adding/negating the 2 points lost for the 8 cap in the +2 more dodge boon).

From Greater Dodge, you sacrifice all but light armors to get a +10 dodge boon. Lights only get as high as 4 anyway, and the difference from the base dodge evens itself out with the +/- gains at the higher end.

It's pretty much just a straight feat-chain, though (ie: human fighter *could* just start up with this all in play), as BAB is kind of irrelevant, IMO, to this sort of a thing. You're just a guy trying *not* to get hit ... you can be a real hard target w/out being some sort of combat monster, IMO.

I could care LESS about messing w/existing balance, though - these feats are made to revise their interaction with each other and balance against each other and armor ... which they do just fine.

Just throwing this out there for the OP, though.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LilithsThrall wrote:
josh hill 935 wrote:
is seems stupid to me as the most iconic fantasy of all time has heroes without full plate. in lord of the rings none of the heroes wear heavy armor. i think the problem is there is no system for parying. aragorn rarely has to dodge as he can simultaneously block attacks and slice peoples arms off.

Conan, also, isn't known for wearing a lot of armor.

I think the whole armor thing is a sacred cow from when the game was a military sim, not an rpg.

In the games this one came from, it was one hit, the unit was dead, and then they added survivability by armor and hit points and the rest is history.

Unearthed Arcana did introduce an alternate wounds/vitality system which was implemented in D20 Star Wars but it was never made part of the core rules set. (It is in the D20 SRD though) I think Armor might have been used for DR in that system but I'm not sure.

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