On a Flattened Power Curve

One of my players is a fighter.
Oh, look a module with +1 Plate mail!
Oh, heck, is that a Ring of protection +1?
A medium shield, with a +5 bonus? What are the chances?!
Armor Class of the mages? 12
Armor Class of the alchemist? 15
Armor Class of the Fighter? 27

Clearly we have a bounds problem. I very much like the option of level-scaled combat, but in a system with someone having an almost 30 armor class, it is very much infeasible. Here are my proposed level scaling changes.

Fighters receive +2 to hit at 1st level.
Experts receive +1 to hit at 1st level .
Sages receive a +0 bonus to hit and a +1 per level when attacking with spells.
Alchemists receive a +0 bonus to hit and a +1 per level when attacking with alchemical items.
Psionicists receive a +1 bonus to hit.
Monsters receive +2 to hit at 1 hit die, +1 per additional hit die, +1 per +3 hit points.

There are three categories of armor.

People with no armor have an armor class of 8.
Padded, leathers, and other light armors provide a +2 armor bonus to AC.
Hide, Scale, Chain, Breastplate, and other medium armors provide a +4 armor bonus to AC.
Splint, Banded, Plate and other heavy armors provide a +6 armor bonus to AC.

Bucklers raise AC by 1 versus 1 opponent.
Light shields raise AC by +1 shield bonus to AC.
Heavy shields raise AC by +2 shield bonus to AC.
Tower shields raise AC by +3 shield bonus to AC, and provide cover (+4 cover bonus) versus arrows.

An item with an Enchantment provides an increase in the value of protection of 1 of the type.

When creatures or characters attack each other, compare their Attack Bonuses+Weapon Skills, and subtract the lesser one from the greater. Magical bonuses and physical prowess are not considered in this calculation. The one with the greater initial AB gets this difference as a positive modifier to his attack roll.  The lesser rolls unmodified. Note that the player must only calculate their new attack bonus, then they read their d20 roll + AB as normal.

Proficiency selection Proficiency with a weapon removes penalties for using the weapon and gives 1 attack a round. Weapon proficiencies can purchase both proficiency and focus for any character. Specialization and up require ability picks.

Weapon focus gives + 2 to hit.
Fighter only: fighters who take weapon focus gain 3 attacks every two rounds.

Ability picks
Level 3 + or fighter class
Weapon specialization gives + 1 / + 2. (+ 3 / + 2 total) Gain 2 attacks a round.

Level 5
Weapon mastery gives another + 1 to hit (+ 4 / + 2) and allows five attacks every 2 rounds.

Level 8
Weapon grandmastery gives another + 2 / + 4 (+ 6 / + 6) and gives three attacks a round.

The old fighter had a base attack bonus of +6, and a modified bonus of +7 after strength. She had an armor class of 27.
The new fighter has a base attack bonus of +2 and a  modified bonus of +3. She now has a base armor class of 8, + magical plate +7, + magical heavy shield +3 + Ring of Protection +1 deflection for an armor class by 19. This seems reasonable for a fighter in magical plate with a magical shield and a ring of protection.

EDIT: I meant to mention that these posts were inspired by these posts at The Dragon's Flagon: Level-scaled combat and analysis, and Untimately: Evasion and Armor

I meant to come edit this post before publication and never made it around to it. Thanks be to them!


  1. Alternatively, ascend the shield into an artifact with evil tendencies or drop some charm-based monster that makes the fighter go against their own team, drop a rust-based spell or weapon to one of their team mates, and voila! Shield is no more in a elegant way.

  2. I see a few possibilities here.

    First, in my campaign, years ago I dropped enhancement bonuses. Haven't particularly missed them. This goes a long way toward sorting out the differences in attack bonuses and Armor Classes.

    Second, Falling off the RNG (Random Number Generator) isn't necessarily a bad thing if you can apply the differences somehow.

    Third, I could be wrong and bringing the combat stats closer together could be a good thing. On the other hand, have you seen that fighter-teleportation trick? The rogue-wish ability looks excellent! The barbarian-raise dead ceremony is totally cool.


    If you want to balance combat numbers, you should probably also look at balancing the things the combat monkeys can't do at all without help.

    This might not be such an issue in OSR games because the opportunity cost to casting a high-level spell (50 minutes to prepare teleport means you might not use it too casually, even apart from the 'could die instead of arriving where you want to' thing) makes it more prohibitive than in 3.x... but it's still something to consider.

    1. Though your comments may be applicable to 3.x in general, I run a much more fluid game. I have 3 "classes" of character, and they are less limited then you think. The ability of the wizards to cast spells limits them to one ability every three levels. Fighters get an ability every level.

      Only abilities aren't feats. They are, functionally, powers. From fighting styles to animal companions, my players just basically tell me what they want.

    2. It sounds like you do address that concern, then. The ascending AC and differences you were seeing in AC looked like D&D 3.x, which has bigger problems than the one you mentioned.

      I'm taking a similar approach in Echelon, where characters get 'Talents' that I aim to have comparable in (power, applicability, effectiveness, scope).


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