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Armour class: The nitty-gritty

Disclaimer: Funny mix of ranting and genuine questions ahead. Even I cannot clearly tell which parts are ranting and which genuine questions.

As I was reviewing the armour sets I have collected troughout the game, trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to sell, I became so confused with all the numbers and modifiers. I know the basic idea: The lower the AC, the harder you are to hit. However, the specific details are so confusing.

I attach a saved game that contains several confusing details:

My bard (charname) isn't wearing anything that improves his AC. Still, he has a -2 modifier to his AC vs. missiles. Where does this come from?

Minsc is wearing:
A red dragon scale: AC -1, -4 vs. slashing, -2 vs. piercing and missile. The Destroyer of the hills: AC +4 vs. crushing attacks. As a result, his AC is -3. However, he has modifiers for all four types of damage: crushing, slashing, piercing and missile. So what does the -3 mean? Vs. what does he have AC -3?

Keldorn is wearing the Firecam Armour, AC 0, and nothing else that affects his AC. However, he has bonuses to his AC vs. slashing, piercing and missile. Where do these come from?

Apart from that, the descriptions of the items seem wrong. The descriptions of shields, for instance, say their ability (weird that a shield has an ability, but that's a different story) is AC +1, when it really is AC -1.

Finally, what does the word "modifier" exactly mean? The Destroyer of the hills modifies the AC vs. crushing. The Ring of the princes modifies the AC in general. Why is only the former listed under modifiers?

lolien
«13

Comments

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited June 2016
    The user and all related content has been deleted.

    Post edited by [Deleted User] on
    loliensemiticgoddessmf2112jackjack
  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 2,136
    There's a minimum AC of -20, but certain bonuses (including damage type modifiers) can go beyond that by up to another -20. I don't understand all the nuances of this.

    Beamdog adopted a convention of "+" always meaning bonus, and "-" always meaning penalty, even though THAC0, AC, and saves are all better when they're lower. I think this still hasn't been 100% uniformly applied, but it's a lot more consistent than it used to be.

  • kjeronkjeron Member Posts: 2,222
    Alonso said:

    My bard (charname) isn't wearing anything that improves his AC. Still, he has a -2 modifier to his AC vs. missiles. Where does this come from?

    I can not tell you where it came from, but it is directly on the creature file, meaning it was a permanent change and not from equipment.
    Alonso said:

    Minsc is wearing:
    A red dragon scale: AC -1, -4 vs. slashing, -2 vs. piercing and missile. The Destroyer of the hills: AC +4 vs. crushing attacks. As a result, his AC is -3. However, he has modifiers for all four types of damage: crushing, slashing, piercing and missile. So what does the -3 mean? Vs. what does he have AC -3?

    Minsc has AC:-3 against touch attacks(damage type = none), which nothing actually uses in an unmodded game.
    Alonso said:


    Keldorn is wearing the Firecam Armour, AC 0, and nothing else that affects his AC. However, he has bonuses to his AC vs. slashing, piercing and missile. Where do these come from?

    The Firecam Armor is a proper Full Plate Mail, with a +4 bonus vs Slashing, +3 bonus vs Missile, and +3 bonus vs Piercing, it's just not listed in the description.
    Alonso said:


    Apart from that, the descriptions of the items seem wrong. The descriptions of shields, for instance, say their ability (weird that a shield has an ability, but that's a different story) is AC +1, when it really is AC -1.

    When an item is intended to set your Base armor class, it uses the final AC value it provides for each specific type (which may be less than 0 and display (-), but will never display a (+) for positive values).
    When an item is intended to adjust armor class, its uses a (+) for bonus's and (-) for penalties.
    Specific AC types (Slashing, Piercing, Missile, Crushing) cannot actually be "Set" to a value like generic AC, only incremented/decremented, so they do not always display as expected.
    Alonso said:


    Finally, what does the word "modifier" exactly mean? The Destroyer of the hills modifies the AC vs. crushing. The Ring of the princes modifies the AC in general. Why is only the former listed under modifiers?

    The Modifiers section represent the cumulative adjustments to each of the 4 specific AC types (Slashing, Piercing, Missile, Crushing), regardless of where the modifier comes from. Add these values to your generic AC to get the final values of each.

    [Deleted User]mf2112joluv
  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 2,136
  • AlonsoAlonso Member Posts: 806
    edited June 2016
    Thank you for the comments, guys. I already knew the basics. Regarding the nitty-gritty:
    joluv said:

    Beamdog adopted a convention of "+" always meaning bonus, and "-" always meaning penalty, even though THAC0, AC, and saves are all better when they're lower. I think this still hasn't been 100% uniformly applied, but it's a lot more consistent than it used to be.

    In other words, Beamdog adopted a convention of "+" meaning "minus" and "-" meaning "plus". Yep, this part is definitely ranting.
    lunar said:

    In item descriptions, bonuses are with +, a ring of protection says it gives ac+1 bonus. Don't look at the plus, look at the word 'Bonus'.

    I can't. The word "bonus" doesn't appear in the descriptions.
    lunar said:

    Note that specialist mages also add another -2 to target's save vs spells of their chosen school.

    Good to know. That inspired me to create a thread on information missing in the manual.
    kjeron said:

    Minsc has AC:-3 against touch attacks(damage type = none), which nothing actually uses in an unmodded game.

    Exactly! Which is a long way of saying he doesn't have a -3 AC at all. It doesn't make sense that his AC stat says "-3" when he just doesn't have that AC.
    kjeron said:

    The Firecam Armor is a proper Full Plate Mail, with a +4 bonus vs Slashing, +3 bonus vs Missile, and +3 bonus vs Piercing, it's just not listed in the description.

    Redmined here.
    kjeron said:

    The Modifiers section represent the cumulative adjustments to each of the 4 specific AC types (Slashing, Piercing, Missile, Crushing), regardless of where the modifier comes from. Add these values to your generic AC to get the final values of each.

    No, it doesn't. If you wear, say, plate mail and nothing else, your AC is 0 vs. slashing and 3 vs. crushing, piercing and missile. However, the modifiers section says "-3 vs. slashing". That's not an adjustment. That -3 doesn't adjust anything.

    Wouldn't it make a bit more sense that the Modifiers section listed, uh, let me think... modifiers? I mean, seriously, I laughed so much when I read in the v2.2 notes "The AC heading is now organized more intuitively".

    Does the bard have Shield active?

    Nope. I even cast a (successful) Dispel Magic on the group beforehand just in case.

    Post edited by Alonso on
  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,962
    And this (2E armor class) is a big reason I like 3E. It ditched THACO and negative bonuses being desirable for more clear to understand positive bonuses

    semiticgoddess
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

    joluvjackjackKilivitz
  • AlonsoAlonso Member Posts: 806
    edited June 2016
    I'd like to clarify that my questions/rantings are not about AD&D 2E. 2E is what it is and is not going to change, whether we like it or not. My questions/rantings are about the way 2E is implemented in these games, which is something that is changing as we speak, although not always for the best. My aim, as usual, is to highlight the areas of the games where I see room for improvement.

    Off topic note: I love 2E because it brings great childhood memories. I find it way too nerdy, but for me that's part of its charm.

  • PteranPteran Member Posts: 388
    Alonso said:

    *snip*In other words, Beamdog adopted a convention of "+" meaning "minus" and "-" meaning "plus". Yep, this part is definitely ranting. *snip*

    Now I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure this backwards math was in the original game as made by Bioware/Black Isle. Beamdog simply carried it over for the EEs, and it's likely they weren't allowed to change that per their contract. I'm not saying that I particularly like how it's calculated, but I don't think Beamdog is to blame.

    mf2112semiticgoddessjackjack
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    Alonso said:

    kjeron said:

    The Modifiers section represent the cumulative adjustments to each of the 4 specific AC types (Slashing, Piercing, Missile, Crushing), regardless of where the modifier comes from. Add these values to your generic AC to get the final values of each.

    No, it doesn't. If you wear, say, plate mail and nothing else, your AC is 0 vs. slashing and 3 vs. crushing, piercing and missile. However, the modifiers section says "-3 vs. slashing". That's not an adjustment. That -3 doesn't adjust anything.

    Wouldn't it make a bit more sense that the Modifiers section listed, uh, let me think... modifiers? I mean, seriously, I laughed so much when I read in the v2.2 notes "The AC heading is now organized more intuitively".
    That is a modifier. You have a base AC of 3, and then a -3 modifier vs. slashing, which is added to your base AC to give you a final AC of 0 vs. slashing. I'll grant that it'd probably be clearer for it to just say "AC 0 vs. slashing", but I'm not sure I see how what's listed there is in any way not a modifier.

    jackjack
  • magisenseimagisensei Member Posts: 316
    Does your bard (charname) have single weapon style or any style like that? Another possibility is your dex is it higher than 18?

    If totally unequipped than it is either a weapon style or your dex that is giving you this modifier.

    Remove the weapon just in case it is equipped and then what happens to do modifier?

    If you still can't figure it out - open EEkeeper and check resistances tab and see what is there.

  • PohjanmaalainenPohjanmaalainen Member Posts: 35
    edited June 2016

    Oh come on it's really not that hard to figure out. I find that the people who rant about it tend to make themselves out to be even more math-illiterate than they really are, just to make their complaining sound more valid. Eliminating a little bit of subtraction isn't worth all the other cheesy junk they added in 3E...

    Problem is that 3rd edition had exactly the same equation in much more sensible arrangement. Yes, Thac0 (or attack bonus rather) and AC scale upwards not downwards (which feels more intuitive for most I presume) and some variables have been moved around but otherwise

    Thac0 − AC = roll needed to hit

    and

    AC - attack bonus = roll needed to hit


    are exactly the same. There just isn't those nice moments where you have a negative Thac0 where from you deduct another negative number that is enemies AC. Also 3rd edition version can put it like this

    You hit if:
    AC =< roll + attack bonus

    and you have defenders variables on one side and attackers on the other without having to deduct anything. Compared how it would have worked in 2nd edition

    You hit if:
    − AC =< roll - Thac0

    where you have not one but 2 additive inverse.

    EDIT: Didn't remember this: have you checked with EE Keeper or NearInfinity or something that you don't have any strange effects on your character(s). I just cleared a few these today but I run a heavily modded game.

    JarrakulsmeagolheartYamcha
  • AlonsoAlonso Member Posts: 806
    Pteran said:

    Alonso said:

    *snip*In other words, Beamdog adopted a convention of "+" meaning "minus" and "-" meaning "plus". Yep, this part is definitely ranting. *snip*

    Now I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure this backwards math was in the original game as made by Bioware/Black Isle. Beamdog simply carried it over for the EEs, and it's likely they weren't allowed to change that per their contract. I'm not saying that I particularly like how it's calculated, but I don't think Beamdog is to blame.
    You might be right, although it would be odd for Bioware to request that Beamdog follows a rule that they were not following themselves back in the day. I can't remember myself, but according to others the original game was quite inconsistent with this.
    Jarrakul said:

    Alonso said:

    kjeron said:

    The Modifiers section represent the cumulative adjustments to each of the 4 specific AC types (Slashing, Piercing, Missile, Crushing), regardless of where the modifier comes from. Add these values to your generic AC to get the final values of each.

    No, it doesn't. If you wear, say, plate mail and nothing else, your AC is 0 vs. slashing and 3 vs. crushing, piercing and missile. However, the modifiers section says "-3 vs. slashing". That's not an adjustment. That -3 doesn't adjust anything.

    Wouldn't it make a bit more sense that the Modifiers section listed, uh, let me think... modifiers? I mean, seriously, I laughed so much when I read in the v2.2 notes "The AC heading is now organized more intuitively".
    That is a modifier. You have a base AC of 3, and then a -3 modifier vs. slashing, which is added to your base AC to give you a final AC of 0 vs. slashing. I'll grant that it'd probably be clearer for it to just say "AC 0 vs. slashing", but I'm not sure I see how what's listed there is in any way not a modifier.
    This is not even a gaming issue, it's a language issue. A modifier is something that modifies something. If a fridge modifies the temperature by -3 ºC and it becomes 0 ºC, that means that the original temperature was 3 ºC. Likewise, if a plate mail modifies the AC vs. slashing by -3 and it becomes 0, it means that the original AC vs. slashing was 3. But that is not the case, there is no "original" AC 3 vs. slashing which was modified and became 0. Therefore, there is no -3 modifier. It's a bit like if you say "I have 6 apples, I've eaten 3 of them, and now I only have 3 oranges". You cannot substract oranges from apples.

    Does your bard (charname) have single weapon style or any style like that? Another possibility is your dex is it higher than 18?

    If totally unequipped than it is either a weapon style or your dex that is giving you this modifier.

    Remove the weapon just in case it is equipped and then what happens to do modifier?

    If you still can't figure it out - open EEkeeper and check resistances tab and see what is there.

    Only the two-weapon style proficiency. Dexterity is 18. Hmmm... I've never used EEKeeper. Might give it a go tomorrow, I hope it's not difficult to use.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,772
    For the record, in BG, plate mail's 0 AC vs. slashing is in fact the result of a separate modifier. There's one AC effect that sets base AC to 3, and another AC effect that modifies AC vs. slashing by -3. There are two separate effects on a suit of plate mail with opcode 0. That's how the game engine handles it.

    FinneousPJJarrakulAlonsojackjack
  • AlonsoAlonso Member Posts: 806
    Oh, my, so you mean that there IS a -3 modifier after all, but you need to be proficient in programming and read the source code of the game just to understand what that means?!!! Wow. I mean, just WOW.

  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,962

    Oh come on it's really not that hard to figure out. I find that the people who rant about it tend to make themselves out to be even more math-illiterate than they really are, just to make their complaining sound more valid. Eliminating a little bit of subtraction isn't worth all the other cheesy junk they added in 3E...

    I prefer 3E over 2E's systems and a good example of an improved area to me is armor class. In 2E If you put on armor you get a lower armor class. Why wouldn't your armor class be greater - you are harder to hit - you are adding something - getting better armor. It's just more intuitive.

    And then you don't get things like the negative bonuses with armor class either. You find armor that is -4 to slashing. So that's a good thing right? As mentioned, there are times when it's described one way and the other in Baldur's Gate. Just makes more sense to give positive bonuses. +4 vs slashing in 3E would be a better armor. I'm not saying it's harder or something, I like things to be sensible and as a mod maker and coder yourself I would think you'd agree logically laying out things is nice. Sure 2E's way can make sense. Maybe it's a kind of glass half empty vs glass half full type thing too.

    Another thing I really liked in 3E is multiclassing and class restrictions being a lot looser. Halflings could be paladins and things like that. You could take a couple classes of fighter a few mage a few cleric on the same guy. I'm not sure what you feel are cheesy additions, maybe you are talking about Pen and Paper but mainly I'm going off my experience with Neverwinter Nights. After the campaigns did nothing for me, I played online worlds back in the day and had a blast.

    I still love some classic 2E and Baldur's Gate especially but I feel you lose a lot of freedom you gain in 3E.

    FinneousPJ
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,772
    Alonso said:

    Oh, my, so you mean that there IS a -3 modifier after all, but you need to be proficient in programming and read the source code of the game just to understand what that means?!!! Wow. I mean, just WOW.

    No, you just need Near Infinity to see the effect.

    Understanding it doesn't require anything: intuitively, it makes sense that plate mail would be better against slashing weapons than blunt weapons, so one would assume that the AC vs. slashing was a bonus, not a penalty.

    FinneousPJJuliusBorisovjackjack
  • kjeronkjeron Member Posts: 2,222
    Alonso said:

    Oh, my, so you mean that there IS a -3 modifier after all, but you need to be proficient in programming and read the source code of the game just to understand what that means?!!! Wow. I mean, just WOW.

    This is something that the Original Game manuals explained, which Beamdog has entirely omitted from some of their manuals and displayed differently in others.
    Here is the table from the original game Manual:

    Armor Types
    Armor | Armor Class
    Leather Armor | 8
    Studded Leather | 7
    Chain Mail | 5
    Splint Mail | 4
    Plate Mail | 3
    Full Plate | 1

    Armor vs. Weapon Types:
    Armor | Slashing | Piercing | Crushing
    Leather Armor | 0 | +2 | +2
    Studded Leather | -2 | -1 | 0
    Chain Mail | -2 | 0 | +2
    Splint Mail | 0 | -1 | -2
    Plate Mail | -3 | 0 | 0
    Full Plate | -4 | -3 | 0

  • userunfriendlyuserunfriendly Member Posts: 39
    Just use Hardiness and Wish Spell Hardiness. Also use items that specifically adds RESISTANCE to slashing, blunt, etc.

    AC matters very little after TOB. You're better off using resistance to damage, resistance to magic, etc for protection. By then, your mages and sorcerers will be able to cast the massive spells to strike first, and your warriors should be at least partially resistant to damage, and have access to the hardiness feats, which makes all the difference in the world. :wink:

  • PohjanmaalainenPohjanmaalainen Member Posts: 35
    It seems that most of these problems just boil down to a somewhat bad UI in a game that works with complex rules. That and the old days of gaming when playing with manual open in front of you was not that strange. How the times change. Luckily Beamdog is in a position to tinker with the UI for us strange millenials.

  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    Alonso said:

    This is not even a gaming issue, it's a language issue. A modifier is something that modifies something. If a fridge modifies the temperature by -3 ºC and it becomes 0 ºC, that means that the original temperature was 3 ºC. Likewise, if a plate mail modifies the AC vs. slashing by -3 and it becomes 0, it means that the original AC vs. slashing was 3. But that is not the case, there is no "original" AC 3 vs. slashing which was modified and became 0. Therefore, there is no -3 modifier. It's a bit like if you say "I have 6 apples, I've eaten 3 of them, and now I only have 3 oranges". You cannot substract oranges from apples.

    So, your problem is that there is no original AC vs. slashing to be modified. But it's perfectly reasonable to have conditional modifiers to the base value of a large category. To use your refrigerator example, it's perfectly reasonable to say "my kitchen is 3º, but the inside of my fridge is 3º colder than that." Note that there's no base temperature given for the fridge, but there is a base temperature given for the kitchen, which the fridge is one part of. To speak more mathematically, the set kitchen includes the set fridge, so if I list a baseline value for kitchen, I inherently also list a base value for fridge because fridge is a subset of kitchen.

    AC modifiers work the same way. You have a base AC that covers everything (the kitchen), and then in certain situations (inside the refrigerator) the AC changes. That's a modifier. And I dunno, it seems to me like that's how the game presents it. It gives you an armor class, and then it says "vs. slashing, your AC is 3 points lower than that". There are probably clearer ways to convey that information, but I'm just not seeing how the information the game presents is in any way wrong here.

    Pteranjackjack
  • magisenseimagisensei Member Posts: 316
    edited June 2016
    Modifiers kept simply are things that make your AC better or worse when facing certain weapon damage. A positive modifier makes it worse and a negative one makes it better.

    Logically a set of leather armor protects less well against blunt weapons - its after all leather when compared to lets say chain mail. So a modifier adds or subtracts to your AC to the type of damage you are facing while wearing a certain type of armor.

    So if you have lets say a modifier of -2 vs missile weapons, means that when monsters have to hit you with missile weapons and your base is AC 0 then your AC against missile weapons is AC -2.

    That's all a modifier really is - it helps or hinders your AC.

    Another simple example would be to make a monk - when he reaches level 3 or something like that he gets a modifier vs missile weapons giving the character a bonus to AC vs missile weapons. So if the character had a normal AC of 6 then with his modifier vs missiles would mean that when facing a missile attack his AC would be 4.

    Still confused then think of it as a magical weapon bonus given the right situation. Daystar is a +2 weapon but it is +4 vs evil creatures. When wielding this sword against non-evil things Daystar would act as a mere +2 weapon but when faced with an evil monster its modifiers kicks in making it a +4 weapon.

    Yes, some armor/items will provide multiple modifiers depending on the damage it is facing.
    ------------------------------------------------

    My half a cent about AC - comparing 2nd ed vs 3rd ed.

    In 2nd edition rules generally -20 was the max you could reach. There was a maximum defense that armor could provide to you - generally it should not be possible to reach more than -20. Yes going up makes more sense since you are adding things like armor to your body but if you think about it is about the damage you are receiving - so a negative armor class means you are taking less damage and therefore harder to hit.

    In 3rd edition rules - your AC was positive meaning it could continue to go up and up. Which for me made sense but was also a bit strange. Could you get AC to 50+ or 100 or some crazy number. But the real oddity of 3rd edition was that a high dex gave you better AC then full plate armor. Another oddity was that AC totally unclothed was still 10 and moved up from that - wouldn't it make more sense to be naked and have a AC 0 and then putting on clothes and armor make it better.

    smeagolheart
  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,962


    In 3rd edition rules - your AC was positive meaning it could continue to go up and up. Which for me made sense but was also a bit strange. Could you get AC to 50+ or 100 or some crazy number. But the real oddity of 3rd edition was that a high dex gave you better AC then full plate armor. Another oddity was that AC totally unclothed was still 10 and moved up from that - wouldn't it make more sense to be naked and have a AC 0 and then putting on clothes and armor make it better.

    3E missed out on THN0 acronym (to hit naked zero). :).

    But seriously, I think the 10 naked AC was like well, you are not immobile even naked you have *some* ability to evade attacks or to resist blows you can't evade. Your skin and skeleton and clothing provide protection. Maybe 0 would be like if you were unconscious or paralyzed.

    I think the high Dex being better than plate armor is mostly only a thing if you get the really really high Dex going on. And a super high Dex like that I guess you are so quick it's really really tough to hit you. Like Yoda bouncing around in the prequels.

  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,736

    AC matters very little after TOB.

    AFTER Throne of Bhaal?

    semiticgoddessjackjack
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    I mean, it's true. After Throne of Bhaal, your armor class really doesn't matter anymore. Not that anything else matters either, of course.

    I'm assuming that was meant to be "after the start of TOB" though. :P

    jackjack
  • mf2112mf2112 Member, Moderator Posts: 1,919
  • AlonsoAlonso Member Posts: 806

    If you still can't figure it out - open EEkeeper and check resistances tab and see what is there.

    OK, EE Keeper shows a -2 in Resistances -> Missile. But that doesn't clarify much for me. I've checked my very first saved game, which is at the very beginning, in the first room of the Irenicus dungeon, and my protagonist already had that -2 bonus. Any idea of where this might come from?

  • AlonsoAlonso Member Posts: 806
    Regarding the modifiers, allow me to insist: This is not a game mechanics issue, it is a language issue. Actually, it's not just that -3 is not a modifier in this case. -3 is not a modifier at all. Not in Baldur's Gate, not in my fridge, not in quantum physics. -3 is a bonus (or a difference in temperature in my fridge, or who knows what in quantum physics). (I have to admit I also said it wrong in a previous post).

    A modifier, to be precise, is "a person or thing that modifies" (Collins dictionary). For instance, the ring of the Princes is a modifier, a thing that modifies your AC by -1.

    My point is that a section called "Modifiers" should display a list of modifiers, like the ring of the Princes. Alternatively, there could be a section called, say, Bonuses, which lists (obviously) bonuses, like the -1 bonus to AC provided by the ring of the Princes. What doesn't make sense is to have a section called modifiers which lists things which are not modifiers.

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