Magic vs Technology – Armor

Behind the Screen – Magic vs Technology – Armor

Behind the Screen is an article series designed to give information to the Dungeon Masters/Game Master. So they can make an informed decision on what campaign they want to play next.

In my previous article in the Magic vs Technology sub-series, Magic vs Technology – Weapons, I went over modifying weapons and comparing them to spells and current weapons in the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Universe.

Lexicon

Here are some of the terms I will be using, their abbreviations, and some examples.

  • Low Tech  (LT) –  Technology is at its most basic
    • Armor
      • Leather Armor, Plate Mail
    • Transportation
      • Horse, Walking, Cart, basic Sea Vessels
  • Medium Tech (MT) – Pre Industrial Area Tech to Modern Technology
    • Armor
      • Body Armor
    • Transportation
      • Car, Air Plane, Advanced Sea Vessels, Early Space Flight
  • High Tech (HT) – Postmodern Tech saw in Science fiction
    • Armor
      • Personal Shielding Technology
    • Transportation
      • Advanced Land Transportation, Advanced Air Transportation, Advanced Space Transportation
  • Low Magic (LM) – Magic is almost non-existant except by the faithful
    • Cure Light Wounds
  • Medium Magic (MM) – Magic is Uncommon but can be obtained through vast studying or genetics
    • Fireball
  • High Magic (HM) – Magic is common, classes are taught almost everywhere to study it.
    • Teleport, Time Stop

Armor

When you think of armor, Plate mail jumps to mind but here are some other examples.

Examples of Armor

  • LT –  Leather Armor, Chain Mail
  • MT –  Body Armor, Bullet Proof Vest
  • HT –  Personal Shield
  • LM – 1st to 3rd Level Spells, Magic Items
  • MM – 4th to 6th Level Spells, Magic Items
  • HM – 7th to Legendary Spells, Magic Items

For our example we will be using Platmail [AC 18, Disadvantage on Stealth] as our base Armor and a Long Bow (1d8 Piercing/ Range 150) [Average 6 Damage], Pistols (1d10 Piercing / Range 30) Loading [Average Damage 8], Automatic Pistol (2d6 Piercing / 50) Reload(15 Shots) [Average Damage 8], Laser Pistol (3d6 Radiant / 40) Reload(50 Shots) [Average Damage 18] as our base weapons.

These will be wield by a level 1 fighter (Proficiency bonus +2, STR 15 +2 / DEX 10+0 . CON 10 +0, HP 10, Ranged +2/+2 Damage ). Also for these examples, we will be assuming that the fighter is proficient in all weapons used.

We will be also using a 5th Level Wizard [INT 11 +0, Profeciency Bonus +3, Spell Attack +3: , Spell Save: 11, HP: 30 ] and Fireball (3rd level spell) (8d6 Fire /Area: 20 FT/ 150 Feet) [Average damage 32] and Mage Armor (Level 1 Spell)[AC 13 + Dex] for our Magic User.

Armor comes in many forms through a standard campaign, from improvised fighting positions to enchanted items you wear. The idea behind it is straight forward, take less damage or no damage at all by enhancing your Armor Class [AC] (in D&D). If they can’t hit you they can’t kill you.

Converting more science fiction or modern items can be a little more difficult. It also can be problematic in-game balancing.

Early Armor

Platemail is the most expensive yet biggest AC bonus in the non-magic item armor selection. It is also some of the most cumbersome armor out there. No Dexterity Bonus means less agility which is the trade-off for higher AC. In AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) it was the armor to wear as a starting fighter, in most recent editions Players often trade down for some of that Agility needed (Dexterity in D&D).

vs Fighter

Versus the current weapon Selection in 3 rounds and average die roll of 15 on a d20 it looks something like this:

Manufactured Weapons: Roll 17 (15 bases +2 for Proficiency versus AC 18, Attack Misses)

FireBall: Roll 18 versus 18, Area Damage is applied, Fire Ball Hits on Save 1/2 Damage (16, Fighter is dead), on Fail ( 32, Fighter is still Dead)

Overall at the Early Stage, it is well balanced versus rolls even with more advanced weapons. Magic users are very feared in this case.

vs Wizard

Versus the current weapon Selection in 3 rounds and average die roll of 15 on a d20 it looks something like this:

Manufactured Weapons: Roll 17 (15 bases +2 for Proficiency versus AC 13, Attack Hits)

  • Bow: 18 damage (Wizards Survives)
  • Pistols: 16 damage (Wizard Survives)
  • Automatic Pistol: 24 damage (Wizard Survives)
  • Laser Pistol: 52 Damage (Wizard Dies)

FireBall: Roll 18 versus 13, Direct Hit and Area Damage is applied, Fire Ball Hits on Save 1/2 Damage (16, Wizard Survives), on Fail ( 32, Wizard is dead)

In the Early armor days, Casters are even more deadly versus other casters. Since casters trade damage output for Armor, this is to be expected. Since we are only looking at manufactured items in this section this will be the only comparison for the wizard.

Modern Armor

Modern Armor comes often in lightweight formats and still holds a very big AC, we will use Forced Entry Unit Armor[AC 18, No Dex bonus] from D20 Modern as an example, converted of course. Until we get a D20 5th Edtion Version of D20 Modern (hint, hint WotC).

Versus the current weapon Selection in 3 rounds and average die roll of 15 on a d20 it looks something like this:

Manufactured Weapons: Roll 17 (15 bases +2 for Proficiency versus AC 18, Attack Misses)

FireBall: Roll 18 versus 18, Area Damage is applied, Fire Ball Hits on Save 1/2 Damage (16, Fighter is dead), on Fail ( 32, Fighter is still Dead)

Modern era armor works as well as early armor when it comes to weapons but the Wizard’s fireball still penetrates due to the area damage. This means even in modern ages magic-users still have the advantage when it comes to a surprise.

Future Armor

Future Armor comes often in small packages with high AC or massive armor that holds weapons, we will use Unisoldier combat armor [AC 20 + Dex Bonus up to +1] from D20 Future as an example, converted of course. Until we get a D20 5th Edtion Version of D20 Future.

vs Fighter

Versus the current weapon Selection in 3 rounds and average die roll of 15 on a d20 it looks something like this:

Manufactured Weapons: Roll 17 (15 bases +2 for Proficiency versus AC 20, Attack Misses)

FireBall: Roll 18 versus 20, Area Damage is applied, Fire Ball Hits on Save 1/2 Damage (16, Fighter is dead), on Fail ( 32, Fighter is still Dead)

Even in the future manufactured weapons still, depending on the proficiency of the user. That means at a high technology weapon they might kill you faster but they could be harder to use. Magic-Users are still on top when it comes to hitting with spells due to the Fire ball’s Area Effect it will still take down a platoon of high-end armor using fighters.

Damage Reduction, Immunity, and Resistances

Damage Reduction: In 5th Edition, all damage reductions have been converted into resistance for the damage type below (see below for more). In the 3rd Edition, the damage was applied then reduced by  Damage reduction unless it met the criteria for overcoming the reduction.

Damage Immunity: Damage is reduced to 0 if it matches the immunity type.

Resistance: All damage from the source is reduced by 1/2 if it meets the resistance type.

What this means, there other types of “armor” that can be helpful when converting over your Armor from one source to another. If the Unisoldier combat armor from above had immunity from fire damage, the fireball would not affect the user inside of it. With resistance to fire, on save they would take (8 Damage, Fighter Survives) and fail (16 damage, Fighter is dead). It may not seem like it but it is better odds than just having the plain armor.

Magic, Magic Items and Armor

Magic Items and Armor

in the world of even low magic, there are magic items (often seen as Myths and Legends). These items often have properties that allow better damage evasion than their normal counterparts.  Some of the items we will go over are: Leather Armor +3 [AC 14 + Dex], Platemail Fire Resistance [AC 18, Fire Resistnace], Bracers of Defense[AC +2], and Ring of Fire Resistance [Fire Resisance]. Alone some of these items might be able to handle the damage of the modern and future weapons and spells. In conjunction with other items, we can see the possibilities of our PCs surviving more.

 

Spells

When it comes to magic overtaking technology, the Armor category is a bit lacking. Sure, spellcasters are the artillery of the group but some modifications might need to made to the armor side of things. Luckily, the Dungeon Master Guide (page 283) Goes over an outline on how to modify spells. So taking our base spell of Mage Armor (Level 1 Spell)[AC 13 + Dex] and modifying it a bit so that level 5 wizards could survive better we could get: Archon’s Mage Armor (Level 3 Spell [AC 14 + Proficiency Bonus + Dex) Example Given: AC 17

Modifying spells will help level the playing field against weapons of higher technology rating. Also changing the way magic works (using the prior example in Magic vs Technology – Weapons Article) we could make the AC go up depending on how much HP the wizard is willing to spend.

 

Converting 3E D&D to 5E D&D

Converting Armor in D&D is not hard for the D20 Modern and D20 future versions you add the AC bonus to base 10 and apply any negatives. So AC 8 Armor would be 18. With other gaming systems, it might be a little more difficult but the basics are the same find out how the AC is calculated and take the base bonus and add it to 10.

Summoning it all up

Whether you are using advanced technology in your campaign or not, it is important to keep in mind the damage dealt versus the AC and HP your PCs have. We want to make the campaign difficult but not unbalanced or impossible.

As always if you have questions, suggestions, or concerns leave a comment below.

-Archon Del Noche

The Sauce:

  • Wizards RPG Team (2014) Player’s Handbook. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC
  • Wizards RPG Team (2014) Dungeon Master’s Guide. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC
  • Perkins, C., Thompson, R., Wilker, J.D. (2004) D20 Future: A d20 Modern Rules Supplement, Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC
  • Slavicsek, B., Grubb, J., Redman, R., Ryan, C. (2004) D20 Modern Role Playing Game: Core Rulebook, Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast LLC

 

Other Articles and Reviews:

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
Dungeons and Dragons Monsters – Adjusting CRs
Volo’s Guide to Monsters
Magic vs Technology – Transportation
Ghosts of Saltmarsh
Magic vs Technology – Armor
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Magic vs Technology – Weapons
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
RPG Dice, The basics
The Basics of Creating a Custom Adventure
The Storm King’s Thunder
Dungeons and Dragons Editions
Out of the Abyss
Princes of the Apocalypse
What is a RPG?
Critical Hit – Dealing with exceptional Rules
Buying Cheap Books online – Finding your RPG Books
What You Need to Play Dungeons and Dragons
Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures – What to use starting out
Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheet – Breaking it Down 5E Style
Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook, The Fifth Edition
Dungeons and Dragons Classes
Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, The Fifth Edition
Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide, The Fifth Edition
Dungeons and Dragons Alignments
Dungeons and Dragons Monsters – 5 Classics Revisited
List of Dungeons and Dragons Books, Wizards of the Coast

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