Delving into the oft-debated mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), it’s hard to overlook the perennial discussion points: Armor Class (AC) and Hit Points (HP). While they may seem simple on the surface, these fundamental aspects of D&D often engender misunderstandings and heated debates. Armor Class, though instinctively viewed as a gauge of whether a character is struck or not, is in fact a more abstract concept. Following my recent post What are HPs in D&D anyway?, it’s fitting that we now unpack the intricacies of AC and its symbiotic relationship with HP - the two crucial pillars that underpin the game’s combat system.
Rock, Paper, Greatsword!
The Genesis of Armor Class
The conversation around what Hit Points (HP) are and what they represent in Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a cyclical one. It’s a concept that periodically bubbles up in the tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) community, like an ancient dragon in its cyclical slumber, and we seem to be in the midst of another awakening.
Greetings, adventurers! It’s always exciting when the landscape of our beloved game, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), shifts and morphs, opening up new pathways for our collective imagination. The latest errata issued for D&D 5E has brought such a change, one that holds significant implications for how we understand and play our favorite tabletop RPG. Among a host of clarifications, there is one change that stands out: the removal of alignment references for races in the Player’s Handbook.
Using randomly generated ability scores is a recurring topic on many 5e forums. Although, standard array and point buy are the most common method by far, rolled ability scores is the default method for 5e. Indeed, random ability scores were the standard for most of the history of Dungeons & Dragons,. Point buy was introduced with 3rd edition, and the Standard Array didn’t come out until Xanathar’s for 5th edition. While I consider standard array better for ensuring parity between players, the appeal of random ability rolls is still there for many.
I’ve had a few conversations in the passing months about average values on dice and how that relates to hit points in 5e. Word of warning, this is about to lean hard into some nerd stuff. However, as esoteric as this may seem, it directly effects monster design and play frequently. The biggest impact it seems to have is when people try to anticipate the outcome of a roll, worse if they design a rule around it. Also, this can result in either getting player hit points or monster hit points wrong when using average results. The solution isn’t as complex as this is going to make it seem, I’m just laying out the specifics so it’s all apparent.
I recently started aggregating some data I’ve gathered about spells from 5e Dungeons & Dragons. Primarily, this has been for fun and to see if I’d find anything surprising or interesting. Additionally, I wanted to get some numbers to help me assess additional spells or subclasses for my home game. So I hope you’ll find this fun and interesting yourself and I would love to hear any observations you have.
Taking down monsters in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons is arguably what you will spend the most time doing in game. Defeating a creature isn’t just a matter of damage, as many monsters will also have Weaknesses (W), Resistances (R), or Immunities (I). Monster with a particular weakness takes double the amount of damage from that type of attack. Likewise, a foe with resistance will only take half the amount of damage from that particular damage type. And in some cases, an enemy that is immune to a particular effect will take no damage at all from it. Therefore, understanding resistances can be a critical element to surviving as an adventurer or planning as a DM.
Many monsters in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons list a language in their stat block. Aside from its ability to hurl insults in combat, sharing a language can open options for lore or negtiation during play. But which languages to most monsters speak and understand? This isn’t an easy question to answer because DnD does not provide their monster stat blocks in an easily parsable format. So I found The Great DnD 5e Monster Spreadsheet online, cleaned up the data and began to parse out some of the the answers.
Planning for how quickly players gain levels in 5e Dungeons and Dragons is a key element of campaign preparation. Using milestone advancement, the DM can select when and how a party levels up. However, in experience based systems this is generally a matter of the number and difficulties of encounters. Therefore, knowing how quickly players gain levels at different points in the game lets the DM plan better in advance. This means DMs using experience based leveling can anticipate how encounters drive the pace of their campaign.
I have always had a bit of doubt about the overall benefit of the Great Weapon Fighter fighting style and the Improved Critical ability for Champions in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, so I dig into it a bit below.