Why does Armor even need proficiency attached?


Rules Discussion


Why is "training" necessary still? It seems outdated and awkward mechanically.

It certainly doesn't match anything resembling actual armor usage (where you used the best you could afford, and Plate was easier to wear than maille).

Weapon proficiency makes sense, because you actually have to train with weapons to be good with them.
Armor is just whatever you wear. It doesn't have peculiar quirks or attachments that require being knowledgeable - you just gotta put it on and hope you win before the heat stroke gets you.


Consider it a proxy for training to dodge blows - thus explaining why monks are even better at it than fighters.


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If I remember right, armor like coat of plate was designed to deflect blows from vital areas. You know what instinct says to do though when that claymore's aimed at you? Duck, dodge, evade. Armor training makes some sense to me still as you learn to duck dodge less, block that blow with your pauldron more often. The guy in chain mail learns to step back or with blunt strikes, let the broadsword try, and be wary of the one with the poniard. And so on. I can see some point to armor training if I think of it as learning when to take it and when to let it pass by.


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Well, if accuracy advanced with level and defense did not, then we couldn't have a +10/-10 crit system (and no one would miss at high levels). PF1 handled this via having a bunch of different things that added to AC, but it was a headache PF2 decided to do away with most of the mandatory magic items.

So the way we get AC to advance with level is we key it off the proficiency system. If it helps, we can look at it as "you are better at avoiding blows when wearing this armor."


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It could have been defence proficiency. And let the characters str and Dex scores determine which armor is best.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

Well, if accuracy advanced with level and defense did not, then we couldn't have a +10/-10 crit system (and no one would miss at high levels). PF1 handled this via having a bunch of different things that added to AC, but it was a headache PF2 decided to do away with most of the mandatory magic items.

So the way we get AC to advance with level is we key it off the proficiency system. If it helps, we can look at it as "you are better at avoiding blows when wearing this armor."

A better solution would have been to tie your melee defense, to your melee skill, and relegate armor to reducing damage when you ARE struck.

Furthermore, differentiating armor(taking less damage) from defense(avoiding blows) would have seriously opened up the play space, and made monks and rogues much more mechanically distinct from fighters and barbarians.

Evil wizard throwing disintegrate rays everywhere? Get the dodgy rogue or mink out there!

Slow moving stone giant got you down? Bust out a sledge hammer that has a negative modifier to hit, but does a LOT more damage.

Also, a system like this would create an i game reason for iconic movie tropes like throwing away your shield when you are tired, or a bars throwing on full plate for special occasions like when you are about to face an army of enemies, and like it or not, SOME hits are getting through.


Neo2151 wrote:


Weapon proficiency makes sense, because you actually have to train with weapons to be good with them.
Armor is just whatever you wear. It doesn't have peculiar quirks or attachments that require being knowledgeable - you just gotta put it on and hope you win before the heat stroke gets you.

You did and still do need to be trained in armor. Competitive shooters who frequently participate in armored categories, border patrol, SWAT, and military personnel all frequently exercise with their armor on for this very reason.


citricking wrote:
It could have been defence proficiency. And let the characters str and Dex scores determine which armor is best.

I actually happened to comment that in another thread. Might try that as a houserule since AC overall is almost universally the same.

Expert unarmored has same ac as expert medium and matches expert heavy at 20dex.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
citricking wrote:
It could have been defence proficiency. And let the characters str and Dex scores determine which armor is best.

I was pushing for that in the playtest. It just needed a magical defense bonus for unarmored wizards using mage armor, and every character type would have some sort of incentive to go with a particular kind of armor. Something like being unarmored but using Mage Armor grants you a bonus to saves vs spells.


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Well "why" it's needed is because without it, attack accuracy would increase every level while defenses would not, but I don't think that's exactly what the question is.

What would be the point of created a supposedly "universal" proficiency system and leave one of the three most important numbers on the character sheet out of it?

As for the flavor, I've always been of the "Reason to fit rule, not rule to fit reason" school of thought. Armor proficiency is how accustomed a character is to moving around with a certain degree of weight, leveraging an armor type's strongest spots, and so on.

I completely agree, though, that having separate levels of proficiency for each armor type is kind of weird, and does lead to some unfortunate growth situations that other threads have discussed, such as when a human bard gets medium armor prof at 1st level, wears it for a year, and suddenly is better at wearing light armor than medium despite never using it once.


Big Lemon wrote:

Well "why" it's needed is because without it, attack accuracy would increase every level while defenses would not, but I don't think that's exactly what the question is.

Oh, you certainly could increase defense without using the proficiency system - you'd just add it directly without the proficiency structure.

Big Lemon wrote:

What would be the point of created a supposedly "universal" proficiency system and leave one of the three most important numbers on the character sheet out of it?

This is the issue for me. You may have a cool proficiency idea - but is it right to shoehorn subsystems into it that may not make sense just because it's a cool idea?

I don't have a problem with there being required proficiencies to get the most out of armor or at least not be a klutz in it. I do think it's not that great a fit packed into the same system as weapons and skills. They'd have been better off just straight up adding the character level to defenses like Star Wars Sage Edition does.

As it is, I'm sorely considering ditching the whole level addition if I decide to run PF2 for a home game. A gap in proficiencies like lore may make sense as characters level, but the defensive gap for putting on non-skilled armor is insanely deadly.


Bill Dunn wrote:
As it is, I'm sorely considering ditching the whole level addition if I decide to run PF2 for a home game. A gap in proficiencies like lore may make sense as characters level, but the defensive gap for putting on non-skilled armor is insanely deadly.

I feel like bringing back "Level -2" for untrained is going to be a lot less work than "Removing level from proficiency". Not only is it going to be jarring to not increase at things for huge swaths of time, but this models how in PF1 using an nonproficient weapon was a -4 penalty.

You could make it just for armor (and weapons), since the primary complaints about having level -2 for untrained were about skills.


Bill Dunn wrote:
Big Lemon wrote:

Well "why" it's needed is because without it, attack accuracy would increase every level while defenses would not, but I don't think that's exactly what the question is.

Oh, you certainly could increase defense without using the proficiency system - you'd just add it directly without the proficiency structure.

Big Lemon wrote:

What would be the point of created a supposedly "universal" proficiency system and leave one of the three most important numbers on the character sheet out of it?

This is the issue for me. You may have a cool proficiency idea - but is it right to shoehorn subsystems into it that may not make sense just because it's a cool idea?

I don't have a problem with there being required proficiencies to get the most out of armor or at least not be a klutz in it. I do think it's not that great a fit packed into the same system as weapons and skills. They'd have been better off just straight up adding the character level to defenses like Star Wars Sage Edition does.

As it is, I'm sorely considering ditching the whole level addition if I decide to run PF2 for a home game. A gap in proficiencies like lore may make sense as characters level, but the defensive gap for putting on non-skilled armor is insanely deadly.

they all do).

I think it makes fine sense if you aren't at all proficient with a heavy armor to not add your level, buuuUUUUUuuuut I do also wish we still add level -X for untrained proficiencies. I'm considering just giving all characters the feat that does that for free.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Armor proficiency does make sense. To move around and be effective with armor would require training.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

They could actually get away with eliminating specific armor proficiency and still have varied armor based on character stats. Maximum Dexterity limits would push high Dexterity characters towards lighter armor. Similarly, heavier armor could have Strength requirements for full benefits (with reduced bonuses or even penalties for failing to meet them).

Add a proficiency modifier to a generalized "defense" stat, and a specific armor proficiency becomes unnecessary. But of course we are starting to move into homebrew territory here.


All armor should be based on strength to use

all classes should have level+2 bonus to AC with some classes getting improved proficiency; +4/+6/+8


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Igor Horvat wrote:

All armor should be based on strength to use

all classes should have level+2 bonus to AC with some classes getting improved proficiency; +4/+6/+8

You kinda just described the Armour system in PF2


Malk_Content wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

All armor should be based on strength to use

all classes should have level+2 bonus to AC with some classes getting improved proficiency; +4/+6/+8

You kinda just described the Armour system in PF2

not quite, but almost.

Not all classes are proficient with all armour.

And str requirement is only to negate/lessen penalties from armour

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