[B/X, R-Clones] Low Armor Setting Hacks?


No, not THAT Xylarthen.
All it means, most fundamentally, is that combatants score hits more often and so fights don't take as long to resolve. Only a difference in relative chances to get hit would change the average hit-point cost of a given fight.

The most obvious difference in that regard may be the lessening of the Fighter's and Cleric's advantage over the Magic-user and Thief.

Any monsters still running around with ACs that are now notable would be notably tougher because they would dish out more damage before going down. For example, suppose it takes 10 rounds to fell an Ogre. If it does 3-8 damage, and hits 40% of the time, that's an average of 22 points it deals. If its hit chance goes up to 60%, that means 1.5x as much damage, or 33 points.

(Of course, a fighter with only 21 points is in trouble either way! Better to team with another, for an average of only 5 rounds and just 5.5 or 8.25 points each. In the second case, either one fighter actually takes two hits and the other just one, so it's more like 11 and 5.5, or one fighter takes all three for 16.5. The AD&D DMG suggested that targets in melee should be randomized.)

That makes increasingly less difference as higher level combatants hit more often anyway (so that 1 chance in 20 is a smaller fraction of the total).

Depending on the nature of your game, and the tastes of the participants, it might be meet for instance to add an AC bonus for all fighters and clerics. The original AC bonus for dexterity (in D&D Supplement I) was for fighters alone, but of course helped only those with high scores (15+ in OD&D).

It might also be meet to make magical protection not permitted Thieves or M-us more common than otherwise. In OD&D, that category apparently included all enchanted armor and shields. Even in AD&D, magic leather armor is only 8% of magic armor and/or shield finds.
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Vehement atheist
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What I do is have the base AC vary by class. Fighters are 5(14), Clerics/Thieves 7(12), and MUs keep the standard 9(10). Light armor (defined however you want) improves AC by 1, medium armor by 2, and heavy by 3. Shields add 1. I use the "splintered shields" rule mentioned upthread as well.

This has the added bonus of allowing you to do away with armor restrictions. Anyone can wear any armor, but a Fighter in Leather + Shield will have a better AC than a Wizard in Plate + Shield, with a respectable AC of 3(16).

If you want to take it a step further, you can resolve initiative by having everyone roll 1d6 and add their armor class (note that this only works if you're using descending AC); those wearing less armor will usually act first.

Philotomy Jurament

Registered User
Validated User
I was wondering if anyone had ideas for how to run these games in settings with lower than normal amounts of armour available. Places where really, leather and shield is pretty much the most anyone ever wears, or maybe a breastplate and helm, and even that is pretty rare. Chainmail of various forms and plate mail might exist, but they're really meant for full on wartime.
Limit PC access to armor (through price or availability). That's it. You don't need to change any rules.


No, not THAT Xylarthen.
Limit PC access to armor (through price or availability). That's it. You don't need to change any rules.
It appears to me that just the opposite is a fundamental premise here.

There is of course no literal "necessity" in a matter of taste -- and no argument against it, either, except, "My taste is different".

So, apparently, was that of the game's designers.

One might as well say, "Allow more armor [or weapons, or whatever] to Magic-Users and Thieves. That's it. You don't need to change anything else."

It all depends, does it not, on which game balance one happens to prefer? The whole history of the game from Supplement I through the DMG was one of adjusting things generally to the improvement of the Fighting Man and the detriment of the Magic-user.

When it comes to B/X, I think the Elf gets too much vs. the M-u. The Fighter, however, also has not so much to commend it vs. the non-human types. Reducing the Fighter's kit to the Thief's may shift the balance -- and thus the reasonable mix -- of character types in ways the OP does not desire.


New member
one option is to figure out the expected AC of a character of X level and the best armor you expect to see in game.

Give the difference as a level based bonus to AC.


Does the math.
Validated User
You could substitute in quilted cloth armor at AC 7, and move the other armors up a notch. Then you can take out plate or leave it in as very rare and AC 1.

To keep all ACs above 0, you could then say that using a shield has no effect if you're already covered in solid metal.

Which I think is true, as I understand it knights in plate armor didn't bother with a shield unless they were jousting.
I'd guess it's less that shields had no effect and more that plate provided enough protection that using two-handed weapons was worth more than a shield. Shields can protect you from getting hit on the head and concussed, which can happen even in plate, so can't be worthless.

I'd say give shields back their dignity. Available armours still do their thing, but shields get the shield bonus increased so that 'shield plus heaviest legal armour' is the same maximum AC.
Yeah, D&D and many other games totally don't give shields realistic power and appeal. At a first stab I'd say +5 AC and the ability to absorb a crit by losing AC bonus or shattering, though that raises the question of what to do with magic shields. Rules for shield bashing would be nice but above my paygrade.

Of course, there's the unanswered question of what the OP is trying to accomplish, what genre or feel is being emulated or created? Are we trying for realistic simulation of combat in a world poor in metal armor?

If most armor is leather, the damage reduction rather than AC alternate rules might be considered. Check the SRD.


New member
Limit PC access to armor (through price or availability). That's it. You don't need to change any rules.
I agree with this, but it clearly also counts as changing the rules.

The blogger I linked mentions that he is "too conservative" to make major changes to the prices of metal armors.


social justice witch
Validated User
Where its just a matter of aesthetics (which is of course,not what the OP is suggesting, but may be the issue for others), I go with the "pants" rule.

That is, if I want my dwarf berserker to be aesthetically shirtless but get the AC of chainmail, I write "chainmail pants" on his character sheet and describe him however I wanted to describe him anyway.
"Look at my shiny skin! Oh, the muscle oil? Yeah, oddly enough it cost the exact same amount as your suit of plate. How bizarre."

Random Goblin

Validated User
"Look at my shiny skin! Oh, the muscle oil? Yeah, oddly enough it cost the exact same amount as your suit of plate. How bizarre."
Exactly. And coincidentally the oil is largely ferrous, so a rust monster can eat it. Also, it's reusable. And stiffens the joints just so.
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