Armor Revisited (5e Variant Rule)

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Armor Revisited[edit]

Warning
This variant rule changes the meta of 5e. Implement with caution.

With this rule, armor becomes more focused on reducing damage rather than making you harder to hit. The basic formulae of AC don't change, but armor does. Shields do not change. Because 5E's rules attempt to apply bounded accuracy to hitting things but not to damage, this makes combat at higher levels much more dangerous, as the reduction in AC is significant, and the increase in damage reduction is not.

Damage Reduction
When a feature or item provides damage reduction, a creature that benefits from that feature or item reduces any damage taken by the damage reduction provided. DR in all capitals is like AC in that it does not stack with itself - if you have multiple ways to calculate your DR, you can use any one of them. DR is damage reduction that can only be used to reduce damage delivered by an attack or that allows a Dexterity save to reduce or eliminate it, and to reduce magic missile.

Armor[edit]

Armor determines how you calculate your AC and provides you an amount of damage reduction (DR).

The tables below denote the AC and DR provided by each set of armor:

Type Name AC DR Strength? Disadvantage?
Light Padded 10 + Dex 1 - No
Leather 11 + Dex 0 - No
Studded Leather 11 + Dex 1 - No
Medium Hide 12 + Dex (max 2) 0 - No
Chain Shirt 12 + Dex (max 2) 1 - No
Scale Mail 12 + Dex (max 2) 2 - Yes
Breastplate 12 + Dex (max 2) 2 - No
Half Plate 13 + Dex (max 2) 2 - Yes
Heavy Ring Mail 12 2 - Yes
Chain Mail 13 3 13 Yes
Splint Mail 14 3 15 Yes
Plate Mail 14 4 15 Yes

Class Feature Changes[edit]

Unarmored Defense (Barbarian)
While you are not wearing any armor, you gain damage reduction against damage delivered by magic missile, an attack, or mitigated or prevented by a Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution save equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of 0). You can use a shield and still gain this benefit.
Unarmored Defense (Monk)
While you are neither wearing any armor nor wielding a shield, you gain damage reduction against all damage equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of 0).
Mage Armor (Spell), Draconic Resilience (Draconic Sorcerer), etc.
When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity modifier, and you gain 1 DR.
Barkskin (spell)
The target's AC can't be less than 13 and its DR can't be less than 3, regardless of what kind of armor it is wearing.
Ceremony (spell), Shield of Faith (spell), Haste (spell), Tasha's Otherworldly Guise (spell)
The target gains a +1 bonus to AC and DR for the duration.
Slow (spell)
The target takes a −1 penalty to AC and DR.
Shield (spell)
Until the start of your next turn, you have a +3 bonus to AC and a +2 bonus to DR.

Racial Feature Changes[edit]

Natural Armor (Lizardfolk)
You have tough, scaly skin. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity modifier, and you gain 1 DR. You can use your natural armor to determine your AC and damage reduction if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower AC or DR. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Natural Armor (Locathah)
You have tough, scaly skin. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 11 + your Dexterity modifier, and you gain 1 DR. You can use your natural armor to determine your AC and damage reduction if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower AC or DR. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Natural Armor (Loxodon)
You have thick, leathery skin. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 11 + your Constitution modifier, and you gain 1 DR. You can use your natural armor to determine your AC and damage reduction if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower AC or DR. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Natural Armor (Tortle)
Due to your shell and the shape of your body, you are ill-suited to wearing armor. Your shell provides ample protection, however; it gives you a base AC of 14 and a DR of 3. You gain no benefit from wearing armor, but if you are using a shield, you can apply the shield's bonus as normal.

NPC Feature Changes[edit]

Natural Armor

If an NPC has natural armor, see how much AC it adds. For example, the basic statblock for a Lizardfolk NPC has AC 15, +2 from its shield and +3 from its natural armor. Take the bonus to AC from natural armor and apply half (rounding up) to AC and half (rounding down) to DR.


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