Damage assignment with armor & shield


General Discussion


It is unclear how damage is assigned with a fighter wearing metal armor and a raised shield.

The character has a light steel shield (hardness 5) and half plate armor (hardness 9).

an attack does 4 points of damage - character takes no damage and no equipment takes any dents.

an attack does 7 points of damage - character takes no damage and the shield takes 1 dent, the armor absorbs 2.

an attack does 13 points of damage - character takes no damage, the shield takes 2 dents and is broken, the armor absorbs 8.

an attack does 15 points of damage - character takes 1 point of damage, shield takes 2 dents and is broken and the half plate takes 1 dent.

an attack does 29 points of damage - character takes 15 points of damage, shield takes 2 dents and is broken, armor takes 2 dents and is broken.

IS THIS RIGHT?

Grand Lodge

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Since when did armor absorb hits like that?


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Armor doesn't mitigate damage at all, and frankly, at this point nobody knows how shields are supposed to work exactly...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There hasn't been an OFFICIAL statement on how Shields work exactly but the most likely way is that: Your shield takes damage up to it's hardness when you do the shield block reaction. If it equals the hardness then it takes one dent. You take the rest of the damage. So your shield cannot take more than 1 dent. Armour does not come into play to this at all. You cannot block damage with your armour, it just gives you more AC.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
There hasn't been an OFFICIAL statement on how Shields work exactly but the most likely way is that: Your shield takes damage up to it's hardness when you do the shield block reaction. If it equals the hardness then it takes one dent. You take the rest of the damage. So your shield cannot take more than 1 dent. Armour does not come into play to this at all. You cannot block damage with your armour, it just gives you more AC.

Yep, this.


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ALSO, remember you have to have spent an action to raise your shield each round(page 309, 'Raise a Shield' Action) in order to be able to do this, AND you have to spend your reaction that round to do a 'Shield Block.' (also page 309).

But Dire Ursus has the rest correct. There is some confusion on the number of dents a shield can take in one round, but it's something the developers are aware of and said would be addressed in the future as soon as they were able.


Quote from the book pg. 175 section Item Damage subsection Broken:

"broken armor is an exception. It still grants its item bonuses, but ..."

How in the heck does armor get broken if it does not take DENTS?

If it does not function as an item that takes damage then why have a call out "Materials" on pg. 177 and a hardness guide on pg. 354

If shields can take dents so can armor. You are going to have to address this.

Any other way would be inconsistent game mechanics.


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Even if armor doesn't take damage in the normal course of combat, it can be damaged in other ways. For example, you might find broken armor in the course of adventuring, or you might get into a fight with everyone's favorite propeller-tailed monstrosity.


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KATYA OF VARISIAN wrote:

Quote from the book pg. 175 section Item Damage subsection Broken:

"broken armor is an exception. It still grants its item bonuses, but ..."

How in the heck does armor get broken if it does not take DENTS?

If it does not function as an item that takes damage then why have a call out "Materials" on pg. 177 and a hardness guide on pg. 354

If shields can take dents so can armor. You are going to have to address this.

Any other way would be inconsistent game mechanics.

Page 372, corrosive rune.


Exactly my point. If armor can be dented, then it can take damage away from the wearer. Exactly as I pointed out in my initial post. It's an all or nothing. You can't have shields take damage and be dented if armor can't absorb damage, because they can be dented as well...


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Just because something can be dented does not mean you can interpose it between you and an attack.
Shields only get damaged in this way if you actively shield block.
There is no way to "armour block".

Armour and shields are still items and can therefore be damaged in other ways - although the lack of an explicit sunder manoeuvre makes it unlikely that that will happen in combat.


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KATYA OF VARISIAN wrote:
Exactly my point. If armor can be dented, then it can take damage away from the wearer. Exactly as I pointed out in my initial post. It's an all or nothing. You can't have shields take damage and be dented if armor can't absorb damage, because they can be dented as well...

It’s all good to debate whether it should or not, but if you are looking for they way the rules actually work, then no, armor does not absorb damage in the way that a shield block does, that only applies to shields, and only if you used the “raise shield” action and “shield block” reaction,


dragonhunterq wrote:

Just because something can be dented does not mean you can interpose it between you and an attack.

Shields only get damaged in this way if you actively shield block.
There is no way to "armour block".

Armour and shields are still items and can therefore be damaged in other ways - although the lack of an explicit sunder manoeuvre makes it unlikely that that will happen in combat.

I believe some forms of persistent Acid damage also apply damage to armor but I'd have to double check.

Additionally, your first sentence is factually, and physically incorrect. Armor, by the very definition of it being worn, is interposed between you and an attack. I'm OK without armor reducing damage, but I see where the OP is coming from.

I believe that the confusion is caused by the existence of verbiage that implies armor can take damage, with no mechanical method of damaging armor outside of specific spells.


I am certain that none of the developers have actually fought in melee combat. As a knight's-marshal and many years of SCA combat, I can attest that my armor was banged up far more seriously than my shield. If fact, I would have to repair my armor several times in a weekend long tourney. Where I might have to "fix" my shield once every three tournaments. The shield was meant to be bashed, the armor is meant to protect when the shield misses. The role of the opponent it to make maneuvers that bypass the shield. Therefore, the armor needs to be the first line of defense not the shield.


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KATYA OF VARISIAN wrote:
I am certain that none of the developers have actually fought in melee combat. As a knight's-marshal and many years of SCA combat, I can attest that my armor was banged up far more seriously than my shield. If fact, I would have to repair my armor several times in a weekend long tourney. Where I might have to "fix" my shield once every three tournaments. The shield was meant to be bashed, the armor is meant to protect when the shield misses. The role of the opponent it to make maneuvers that bypass the shield. Therefore, the armor needs to be the first line of defense not the shield.

I wouldn't make that assumption, and in fact, one of the experiments in the Pathfinder Unchained hardback was "armor as Damage Resistance." It's just that as a core part of the game, it hasn't been accepted very well by players as a whole in the past, not necessarily for realism, but for speed of playability. The Shield Block mechanics may well be a stepping stone to seeing how the community reacts to it, in an evolution to the game rules that leads toward doing something similar for armor.

Personally, I don't like armor and weapon repair, because it leads to too much extra bookkeeping, but I do enjoy the idea that it gives martial characters a bit more dynamism in their turns, to have to make the judgment to use a shield or not from round to round, rather than the previous editions of "strap in on and forget about it."


I'll concede the speed of play issue. And, I'll grant the martial dynamism bit. But then I would say if you have spent an action to "raise a shield" it should be doing its job. You should not have to use your ONE reaction to "shield block". What is a shield for, sitting on? A shield blocks, thats its job.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So if there is a light steel shield which folks here assume has a hardness of 5 (what page is this explicitly stated btw?)

Then that assumes there is a 'heavy steel shield' which has a hardness of what? ?? >>> 9???

Where is the page that explicitly states this and why is everyone assuming a hardness of 5?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
larsenex wrote:

So if there is a light steel shield which folks here assume has a hardness of 5 (what page is this explicitly stated btw?)

Then that assumes there is a 'heavy steel shield' which has a hardness of what? ?? >>> 9???

Where is the page that explicitly states this and why is everyone assuming a hardness of 5?

Page 354 light and heavy shields both use the "thin" hardness. So they both are hardness of 5.


larsenex wrote:

So if there is a light steel shield which folks here assume has a hardness of 5 (what page is this explicitly stated btw?)

Then that assumes there is a 'heavy steel shield' which has a hardness of what? ?? >>> 9???

Where is the page that explicitly states this and why is everyone assuming a hardness of 5?

It's on page 176 to 177. 176 has the armor list that includes shields, giving +1 AC for a light shield and +2 AC for a heavy shield, specifying that you need to Raise the shield in order to get that bonus. 177 has the text description of shields, specifying that wooden shields have hardness 3 and steel shields 5.


KATYA OF VARISIAN wrote:
I'll concede the speed of play issue. And, I'll grant the martial dynamism bit. But then I would say if you have spent an action to "raise a shield" it should be doing its job. You should not have to use your ONE reaction to "shield block". What is a shield for, sitting on? A shield blocks, thats its job.

As of now, it makes you harder to hit when just protecting yourself in general and it can absorb damage per reaction if you chose it to do so and actively block.

If your AC is high enough including shield it blocks 100% of the damage if your opponent would otherwise hit you you can prevent some damage with shield block.


KATYA OF VARISIAN wrote:
I am certain that none of the developers have actually fought in melee combat. As a knight's-marshal and many years of SCA combat, I can attest that my armor was banged up far more seriously than my shield. If fact, I would have to repair my armor several times in a weekend long tourney. Where I might have to "fix" my shield once every three tournaments. The shield was meant to be bashed, the armor is meant to protect when the shield misses. The role of the opponent it to make maneuvers that bypass the shield. Therefore, the armor needs to be the first line of defense not the shield.

I think the problem here is that the developers have previously said that equipment damage tends to be unfun for players (see the Sunder mechanic). I'd also add that there is probably a balance issue with martial gear taking damage from normal use and requiring money+time to repair, while casters are unlikely to have to worry about the same and will spend the same money+time to get more gear/toys. It's probably better for gameplay if gear maintenance gets handwaved as being part of an hour preparation at the beginning of the day like casters preparing spells, etc. (I personally view proficiency in an armor/weapon to mean you know how to properly maintain it in addition to using it.)

That said, I agree that the current rule runs into the immediate thematic issue of why armor and weapons don't take dents/need maintenance from being used while shields do. While I do like that shields require a bit more interaction from the player rather than just being a passive bonus you forget about, I really hope this gets addressed by the official release.


Charon Onozuka wrote:
KATYA OF VARISIAN wrote:
I am certain that none of the developers have actually fought in melee combat. As a knight's-marshal and many years of SCA combat, I can attest that my armor was banged up far more seriously than my shield. If fact, I would have to repair my armor several times in a weekend long tourney. Where I might have to "fix" my shield once every three tournaments. The shield was meant to be bashed, the armor is meant to protect when the shield misses. The role of the opponent it to make maneuvers that bypass the shield. Therefore, the armor needs to be the first line of defense not the shield.

I think the problem here is that the developers have previously said that equipment damage tends to be unfun for players (see the Sunder mechanic). I'd also add that there is probably a balance issue with martial gear taking damage from normal use and requiring money+time to repair, while casters are unlikely to have to worry about the same and will spend the same money+time to get more gear/toys. It's probably better for gameplay if gear maintenance gets handwaved as being part of an hour preparation at the beginning of the day like casters preparing spells, etc. (I personally view proficiency in an armor/weapon to mean you know how to properly maintain it in addition to using it.)

That said, I agree that the current rule runs into the immediate thematic issue of why armor and weapons don't take dents/need maintenance from being used while shields do. While I do like that shields require a bit more interaction from the player rather than just being a passive bonus you forget about, I really hope this gets addressed by the official release.

I think the big issue may be player agency. Because shields require player interaction to be damaged, and as written (and probably as intended) they can't actually be destroyed by usage. Armor would not-- it would just get dented when you get hit. Players could have their armor wrecked, potentially before they even act, and there wouldn't be anything they could do about it.

Players get upset when their characters get taken out before they can even respond, and they get more upset about their gear getting wrecked than their character dying. So they REALLY won't like it if their gear gets taken out sans their input.

Now, weapons at least get USED by the player, but I can't see weapon degradation being fun to track, can you? I like your idea that while the casters are preparing their spells, the martials are maintaining their gear and just hand-waving that dents get hammered out of the armor, blades get sharpened, etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the clarifications on my question. Indeed its 3 and 5.

We do not yet have 'tower' shields which if I remember were usually fighter only.


KATYA OF VARISIAN wrote:
I am certain that none of the developers have actually fought in melee combat. As a knight's-marshal and many years of SCA combat, I can attest that my armor was banged up far more seriously than my shield. If fact, I would have to repair my armor several times in a weekend long tourney. Where I might have to "fix" my shield once every three tournaments. The shield was meant to be bashed, the armor is meant to protect when the shield misses. The role of the opponent it to make maneuvers that bypass the shield. Therefore, the armor needs to be the first line of defense not the shield.

This might be hard to accept, but your experience of combat and your idea of how things should work doesn't mean anything for how the rules of PF2 work. I don't say that to be mean, it's simply the truth.

Shields only take dents and block damage when actively using the action to do so. Otherwise they add to your AC, don't block damage, and don't take dents. Why? Because the rules explicitly outline this is how they work.

Armor has no such rules. The fact that armor has a number of dents it can take doesn't mean it blocks damage. It just means if you find a way to damage the armor (currently no rules for sundering) that it has X number of dents before it's broken/destroyed.

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