One of my personal bugbears (everyone should have a personal bugbear. Mine makes the tea in the morning) about Dungeons & Dragons is after all these years, armour is still treated like this vague amorphous and ill-defined “thing” which protects your hero from harm but is only defined in the broadest of sweeping terms. It is listed on your character sheet simply as “leather”, “chain” or “plate” without detailing exactly what and where it covers.
You’d think after 30 years D&D would finally get around to caring whether the PCs wore a helmet or not. Sadly though, apparently not. Countless supplements, third-party submissions, house rules and the like have attempted to fix this omission (with varying degrees of success), but the core rules themselves stay stubbornly silent on the matter.
I can’t fix the core (though if enough people gripe loudly enough, perhaps D&D Next will gain an official module. Who knows?) but I can humbly submit my own take on piecemeal armour for D&D Next, and open it up for comment, feedback and ridicule.
The goal is to add a little more detail and customization options without too much complexity. While they are not necessarily historically accurate, they should be historically accurate enough for use during play. I hope you like them!
Armour covers five locations – chest, hips, arms, legs and head. Armour which covers the arms may include the hands and leg armour may include the feet, depending on the style and how you visualize the character.
Each location might be covered by an individual piece of armour (a breastplate covering the chest, for example), several sections of armour (rerebrace, vambrace and gauntlet to cover the arms) or be one piece of armour that covers several locations (eg. leather trews covering the hips and legs, or a studded leather tunic that protects the chest, arms and hips).
Each different type of armour (leather, scale, plate, etc) has a fractional Armour Class value. Add up the values for all protected areas, and round down to find the total Armour Class bonus.
Light (DEX modifier applies)
- Leather 0.25
- Hide 0.5
- Mithral chain 0.75
Medium (DEX modifier applies, maximum +2)
- Studded leather 0.75
- Scale 0.85
- Dragon scale 1
Heavy (No DEX modifier, -5 Speed, Disadvantage to Stealth)
- Ringmail 0.85
- Chainmail 1.25
- Banded 1.5
- Splint 1.5
- Plate 1.75
Where one type of armour can be worn over another (chainmail under a leather surcoat, for example) use the highest fractional AC for that location.
The weight of the heaviest piece of armour (Light, Medium or Heavy) dictates whether the character can apply their Dex modifier to their AC, Speed modifier and Stealth modifier. There is a reason why Rogues do not usually wear Plate Helmets!
Your hero’s final Armour Class is 10 + total Armour Class bonus + DEX modifier (if applicable).
The cost of the armour is the price of a full suit (as per the Equipment guide) divided by 5, multiplied by the number of locations it covers. For example, a pair of Leather pants that cover hips and legs will cost (10gp/5 x 2) 4gp while a Dragon Scale Helm costs (5,000gp/5 x 1) 1,000gp.
Arynn the Rogue is wearing a red leather shirt (chest and arms), grey leather trews (hips and legs) and a black leather hooded cloak (head). Her total AC bonus is 1.25, which rounds down to 1. As this is all Light armour, she can apply her full Dex modifier to her AC.
Flyn the Fighter has a Plate Breastplate (chest) over a leather tunic (arms) and Studded Leather pants (hips and legs). His total AC bonus is 3.5, rounded down to 3. Because of his Heavy breastplate he is at -5 speed and has Disadvantage to Stealth checks.
As a part of their adventures, Flyn slays a cave bear and fashions a Hide Helm (head) from its head. His AC bonus is now 4 (3+5 + 0.5).
Rowena the Stereotypical Female Barbarian is wearing a Chainmail Bikini (chest and hips). Her total AC bonus is 2.5, rounded down to 2.
Caerwyn the Ranger has a Scale hauberk (chest and hips), leather trews (legs) and studded leather vambraces (arms). His total AC bonus is 2.7, rounded down to 2.
Till next time!