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Stormreach Chronicle - The Academy: Armor Class

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Originally posted on Stormreach Chronicle (01-19-09).

The Academy[edit]

For many users, DDO offers very unique armor options. In some cases, these options are different than traditional MMO equipment. There are pros and cons to various types of armor, and you must weigh your choices carefully. In some cases, it is not that one piece of armor is "better" than another, but a matter of what your personal character goals are. This week at the Academy, we take a short look at three basic aspects of armor:

Armor Class: This indicates how well the armor protects you against physical attacks. The higher the number, the harder your enemies have to work to land a hit on you.

  • PRO: Armor with a high armor class can help you avoid getting hit. If a monster can't hit you, it can't deal damage to you! There are many ways to keep monsters from hitting you, but Armor Class is a basic and straight forward one.
  • CON: Very often armors with a high armor class are heavy! They also can suppress some classes special abilities, such as Monk's being centered. Often, they have penalties associated with them affecting your physical and casting abilities.

Armor Check Penalty: This indicates how much of a penalty you'll take to some of your more physical activities, such as jumping, swimming, balancing, and tumbling. The higher the penalty, the more these skills are affected. They can also come with an Arcane spell failure chance, which causes arcane spells to not work randomly when cast in the heavier armor types.

  • PRO: If you like your character to be more active, you may want to select armor that has a lower armor check penalty so you don't impact your physical skills. This armor also can be lighter weight, meaning less weight you have to carry around!
  • CON: The trade off is often that the armor is more mobile, but not as good at preventing enemy attacks from piercing it, having a lower armor class bonus. Your character will need to mitigate damage in other ways as a result if you select this kind of armor.

Max Dex Bonus: This impacts the amount of bonus AC you can receive from your dexterity score. It does not affect your dexterity itself or its bonus to anything except AC. For example, if you have a 16 dexterity score, you are granted a +3 bonus to things such as reflex save, balance, and more. If your armor has a Max Dex Bonus of +2, however, you only receive a +2 AC out of your Dexterity bonus, rather than the full +3. Note also that your Max Dex bonus can also be limited by your shield if your using a Tower Shield.

  • PRO: If your character is a very active character, or relies heavily on bonuses provided by your dexterity, you may want to select armor that has a high Max Dex Bonus. Depending on how you build your character, you may even have a higher armor class using your dexterity alone than the actual armor can grant! The armor can also be lighter and thus make your character's encumbrance smaller. That means you have more room for other treasures!
  • CON: The trade off is that armors with high Max Dex Bonuses often have low base AC. If your character was not made to take extreme advantage of your dexterity bonus, you might be better off relying on the protection of a higher armor class bonus.
  • Mithril: Typically a Mithril version of an armour type will have a higher Max Dex bonus for its armor type. Also, the armor will be classed as the next weight class down, Heavy->Medium->Light. As the Evasion feat only works in light armour or less, Mithril types of medium armours are highly sought after. They also have a lower Arcane spell failure chance.
  • Adamantine: Adamantine armor also gives 3 DR/- which can mitigate a lot of incoming damage when you are hit by physical attacks.
  • Enhancements: If your character is a fighter and/or a dwarf, you can take Armour and Shield mastery enhancements which increase the base Max Dex bonus for the armour you are using.

Ultimately how you want to protect your character from harm is up to you, and you have a lot of choices available! Always be sure to investigate your options when you're presented with a choice of armors.