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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    There are many mechanics in games that are worded strangely or ones that feel counter to the tone of the game.

    And then there are ones that make you want to pull your hair out screaming "that's not how the world works!"

    For me that is AC. The actual function of it is fine. The thing that gets to me is how counter it works to reasonablility. The primary factor to it is what armour you are wearing, naturally. The issue comes when a person wants to counter it. Instead of armour reducing the blow by absorbing the shock, it either negates or counters. If you normally have a longsword and there is a guy in huge armour, switching to a warhammer, weapon designed to combat armour, does nothing! Attacks should either have to be made stronger to break through or hit its weak points.

    And a level fifteen something fighter is just as good at parrying blows or dodging as they were at level one. Except for 4th surprisingly.

    Are there any other mechanics you see that make you want to shake their designers until they get a concussion?
    Last edited by Arcacius; 2018-01-07 at 10:02 PM.

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    If this bothers you a lot, I suggest moving to another system. D&D does a lot of abstraction that makes no sense when you apply realistic expectations.

    I'm not going to say how realistic different systems are because none are "realistic" in the sense that they can simulate reality. With that being said you can find systems that will cater to your realistic expectations. Like using a warhammer or a pick on heavy armor, or expecting that somebody gets badly hurts if you hit them in the head with a warhammer and they aren't using a helmet.


    We all know that armor doesn't protect you from getting hit, it can deflect blows and absorbs impact and therefore protects you from getting hurt. This is why you get such a wonky results from D&D as it explains you are harder to hurt and getting hit when wearing armor. This doesn't stand to reason when you take something that delivers overwhelming damage like a Giant Frigging Death Ray that disintegrates everything in it's path. Now you aim it at a guy in plate armor and a guy without plate armor. The result will be that the guy in plate armor will be hit less, therefore D&D introduced touch AC which was just like slapping a duct tape on a bursting dam.

    So if you are looking for realistic expectations from D&D it will not serve your purpose, it doesn't help trying to pick D&D a part because it just doesn't work in that way.
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2018-01-07 at 10:19 PM.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcacius View Post
    There are many mechanics in games that are worded strangely or ones that feel counter to the tone of the game.

    And then there are ones that make you want to pull your hair out screaming "that's not how the world works!"

    (SNIP)
    Are there any other mechanics you see that make you want to shake their designers until they get a concussion?
    In D&D? Most of them. AC, Classes, Hit points, the entire borked economy, alignments.... I can go on at great and tedious length.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    In D&D? Most of them. AC, Classes, Hit points, the entire borked economy, alignments.... I can go on at great and tedious length.
    I agree. D&D is designed for many criteria - playability, creativity, balance, fun, the need to cram in every conceivable trope, the even more pressing need to publish an unlimited number of expansions - but I don't think realism is anywhere on the list. Certainly not on the first page.

    Of all the games I've played, system-wise I'd say D&D has one of the very worst approaches to realism. Heck, Toon is more plausible, once you accept its basic conceit.
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    You could always use THACO >:]
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    With regards to AC, it kind of makes sense. While in reality armour is not an all or nothing affair (kinetic energy would still be transmitted, of course), it could be highly effective, and the primary way to fight against someone in armour is to attack an unarmoured area if possible (this is also why somebody in full plate armour probably didn't carry a shield). Of course, we should give some sort of bonus to weapons that are good at hitting unarmoured sections or sending force through the armour, ideally a whole 'weapons versus armour' table, although that gets complex.

    As a side note, the best system I've seen for Armour is GURPS 3e. Armour has two values, Damage Reduction (which works the same as in D&D, but might vary in value based on the attack) and Passive Defence. PD was essentially a value that you could always use for a defence roll, and added to any other defence roll you made, due to how GURPS worked somebody in plate armour actively defending could easily be flat out ignoring 50% of attacks that 'hit', while only ignoring 10% of attacks with only one of the two, and so 4e dropped it.

    To make AC work without resorting to a DR mechanic, if we switched to a bell curve roll (2d10 or 3d6, for instance) then we could say that every die that rolls it's maximum value on the attack roll means that an extra point or two of damage is dealt, even if the attack misses (if you want to reward characters strong enough to just bludgeon through armour, this damage is based on Strength). Armour Piercing weapons increase the range on which this damage is gained. We should also probably add to AC as we're gaining levels, probably related to scaling attack bonuses (I like increasing the two at the same rate for characters, although I've also enjoyed games where attack scales twice as fast).


    For mechanics that really don't make sense, hit points. Are they meat? If so, why so many? Are they luck? If so why does standing out in the open when a fireball goes off reduce my luck without harming me? Or why does a Cure Wounds spell increase my luck?

    If we move out of D&D for a moment, hp representing your ability to have wounds be nondeliberating starts to make a lot more sense. A lot of systems have hp begin at a higher level than in D&D and not increase as much, and then start inflicting penalties as it goes down (the ever popular 'penalties at half hp' model). There's also generally a lot fewer 20 ft diameter explosions going off, which makes the 'dodge the fireball' problem go away. Some systems go all in on the 'hp as luck/skill' model, having actual harmful wounds come from running out of hp, while others go all in on 'hp is meat', having the loss of hp inflict penalties and start a Death Spiral. Others do mix them in a much better way, having your hp being chipped off 5% at a time leads to just dropping when you hit zero, but if you take a quarter of your maximum/remaining [delete as appropriate] in one hit then you get a persistent bad wound. Or you could do something like Legends of the Wulin, where minor wounds and near misses (a.k.a. Ripples) build up and cause more problematic wounds as time goes on, although that also has the consequence that insulting somebody makes them more vulnerable to sword strikes.
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    D&D doesn't really do weapons with any level of realism, or even anything that looks like realism. This is probably okay, given that it rapidly becomes a game about superheroes and kaiju.

    What bugs me, personally, is that AC, Fortitude saves, Reflex saves, and HP never seem to be able to make up their minds about what they're actually supposed to be. HP loss, for instance, is typically described as constituting bruises, exhaustion, and scrapes ... except when you take rend damage, are swallowed whole, get hit by a damaging knockback effect, etc. It's a pretty pithy complaint, but there it is.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    What bugs me, personally, is that AC, Fortitude saves, Reflex saves, and HP never seem to be able to make up their minds about what they're actually supposed to be. HP loss, for instance, is typically described as constituting bruises, exhaustion, and scrapes ... except when you take rend damage, are swallowed whole, get hit by a damaging knockback effect, etc. It's a pretty pithy complaint, but there it is.
    Believe me, compared to the old "save vs." this system is crystal clear as to what's supposed to be going on there.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcacius View Post
    Instead of armour reducing the blow by absorbing the shock, it either negates or counters.
    Armor-as-DR variant rule

    And a level fifteen something fighter is just as good at parrying blows or dodging as they were at level one. Except for 4th surprisingly.
    Two words: Magic Armor/Items
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Of course, we should give some sort of bonus to weapons that are good at hitting unarmoured sections or sending force through the armour, ideally a whole 'weapons versus armour' table, although that gets complex.
    This actually used to exist back in AD&D (1E) days. Not sure anybody actually used it....
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by tomandtish View Post
    This actually used to exist back in AD&D (1E) days. Not sure anybody actually used it....
    Which is the point for saying it might be too complex. Every system I've seen has billed down to at minimum 'what damage type it's your weapon? I have Armour 6 versus impaling damage, but only Armour 2 against Bashing damage'. Which is why the easy solution is to just now some weapons tend to be armour piercing and give them a bonus.
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    In D&D? Most of them. AC, Classes, Hit points, the entire borked economy, alignments.... I can go on at great and tedious length.
    Which is why I vary between laughing and pulling my hair out when someone tries to claim D&D is "simulationist".
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    Two words: Magic Armor/Items
    That's three (or possibly four) words.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Which is the point for saying it might be too complex. Every system I've seen has billed down to at minimum 'what damage type it's your weapon? I have Armour 6 versus impaling damage, but only Armour 2 against Bashing damage'. Which is why the easy solution is to just now some weapons tend to be armour piercing and give them a bonus.
    Weapons varying vs armor can work with Armor=DR systems. Not that each damage 'type' should vary (I agree - that's one of those things which can work in video games where calculations are done 'behind the curtain', but not in TTRPGs.) but systems where some weapons have Armor Piercing for punching through DR can work with minimal extra work.

    @OP - if you think of HP as parrying/dodging it might make you feel better.
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2018-01-09 at 06:58 AM.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Best rendering I've seen of D&D AC is:

    Roll attack. If attack is less than 10+Dex bonus+dodge bonus (including negative values), you just miss completely.

    If attack is less than AC, but more than 10+dex+dodge, you connect, but connected against the armor's plate and the damage was mitigated. This would be a great place to hybridize the Armor as DR rules.

    Then you meet or beat AC and you deal damage as normal. The weapon found a weak point in the armor.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    D&D hp and ac aren't too bad as long as there is a spread of 15 points in ac, a weapon vs. ac table, and max hit points stay under 25 times the base weapon damage. It works ok then.

    And a better falling damage system. The d6 per 10' cap at 20d may be easy to remember but it's also really weak.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Best rendering I've seen of D&D AC is:

    Roll attack. If attack is less than 10+Dex bonus+dodge bonus (including negative values), you just miss completely.

    If attack is less than AC, but more than 10+dex+dodge, you connect, but connected against the armor's plate and the damage was mitigated. This would be a great place to hybridize the Armor as DR rules.

    Then you meet or beat AC and you deal damage as normal. The weapon found a weak point in the armor.
    So what if I fire at them with a Giant Friggin Death Ray that destroys anything in it's path? Did the plate armor mitigate the damage from Giant Friggin Death Ray that destroys anything in it's path?

    Or a 30' titan grabs a giant boulder at the size of a small truck and throws at you and it connects against the armor's plate and the damage was...mitigated?

    Often the best way to see if mechanics work is to put them under the strain of extreme circumstances.
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2018-01-09 at 12:51 PM.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    @OP - if you think of HP as parrying/dodging it might make you feel better.
    Works great until you get to the rules for Natural Healing.

    Depending on Edition, of course.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Putting aside weirdness like combat skill not actually mattering for AC, it works okay in its original contexts - representations of actual variation in armor quality on naval vessels, and human scale combat. In both of those hits to the armor where it's good generally don't do anything significant, and one good hit where the armor is weak/missing can have catastrophic effects. Having both quality of armor and ability to get out of the way of attacks to where it isn't as factors in AC makes sense.

    Taking that model and sticking it in a very different context full of oversized attacks that aren't likely to care about armor? That's not so great, and D&D did that early.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    Works great until you get to the rules for Natural Healing.

    Depending on Edition, of course.
    Or magical healing. HP is an excellent example of a variable in a lot of simulationist mechanics all awkwardly jammed together, and while it can make sense for any one individually it makes no sense for all of them simultaneously.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    Works great until you get to the rules for Natural Healing.

    Depending on Edition, of course.
    Yeah - that was one thing I liked about 4e

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    So what if I fire at them with a Giant Friggin Death Ray that destroys anything in it's path? Did the plate armor mitigate the damage from Giant Friggin Death Ray that destroys anything in it's path?

    Or a 30' titan grabs a giant boulder at the size of a small truck and throws at you and it connects against the armor's plate and the damage was...mitigated?

    Often the best way to see if mechanics work is to put them under the strain of extreme circumstances.
    You mean hyperbole is justified then?

    Death Ray sounds like it targets Touch AC. Touch AC either hits 10+dex+dodge or it just misses. Saying AC doesn't work when AC should be substituted with Touch AC seems like an insubstantial criticism.

    Titan boulder: yeah, he barely missed, so you were clipped by the boulder's edge and the plate from your armor took the glancing hit. Apply DR if you like.

    Those scenarios almost make the system fall apart more when the attack manages to hit, not when it barely misses. How does HP loss explain surviving being hit by a death ray or a giant boulder?

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    You mean hyperbole is justified then?

    Death Ray sounds like it targets Touch AC. Touch AC either hits 10+dex+dodge or it just misses. Saying AC doesn't work when AC should be substituted with Touch AC seems like an insubstantial criticism.

    Titan boulder: yeah, he barely missed, so you were clipped by the boulder's edge and the plate from your armor took the glancing hit. Apply DR if you like.

    Those scenarios almost make the system fall apart more when the attack manages to hit, not when it barely misses. How does HP loss explain surviving being hit by a death ray or a giant boulder?
    You could apply enough damage to the attack. It was first in 3rd edition that Touch AC was introduced and had all kinds of problems because I can assure you that If I'm holding a sword in front of me and you want to touch me then you're the one who has problems. It also says how hard you are to hit not how hard you are to hurt. With that established we are going to have problems with excessive force. When I'm talking about excessive force I'm talking about attacks that do so much damage that your armor is irrelevant.

    Your armor isn't going to help you when you get hit by a bus and neither is it against the boulder. Touch AC has established that any AC that isnt the base of 10+Dex+dodge is your armor protecting you from harm. You know that you might jump away or dodge the bus and the boulder but that bus isn't going to glance off your armor. This tells us that the AC system is only good for certain circumstances, mostly to simulate man to man combat, not where large monsters are involved.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    My understanding of Touch AC is that it ignores armor entirely (except perhaps the magical bonuses from magical armor), not that it's the AC verses someone literally putting a finger on you. For the big boulder/death ray, you just need to hit the person's silhouette. Dodging protects against that, as do magical protections.

    Of course, all I learned of 3.P and later editions is what I've gleaned from this forum, so my knowledge may be inexact.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    My understanding of Touch AC is that it ignores armor entirely (except perhaps the magical bonuses from magical armor), not that it's the AC verses someone literally putting a finger on you. For the big boulder/death ray, you just need to hit the person's silhouette. Dodging protects against that, as do magical protections.

    Of course, all I learned of 3.P and later editions is what I've gleaned from this forum, so my knowledge may be inexact.
    It's kinda both, depending on if it's a ranged or melee touch attack. Ranged, yeah it's just "drawing a bead on you" or however you want to phrase it, but then stuff like the Shocking Grasp spell or a Rust Monster's well... rust.... at least implies that you have to actualy touch the target

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    "Armor Class" and "Hit Points" were previously used in Dave Arneson's Civil War Naval Combat game Ironclads


    http://pc.gamespy.com/articles/540/540395p3.html


    https://archive.org/stream/gamespy-d...rview_djvu.txt


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    and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Naval combat game

    Don't Give Up The Ship

    Here's early TSR employee Tim Kask on

    .
    What we really meant—Pt. 1--AC

    More combat "realism" was wanted, and in my area, in the late 1970's, we used the "Peering Conventions", from "All the World's Monster's" (a third-party "Monster Manual" published before the Monster Manual.



    The "Perrin Conventions" led to the RuneQuest game, which seemed more realistic than D&D, but the desire for even more "realism" continued and for a time my DM used

    Arms Law

    which became the RoleMaster game.

    I was less involved with RPG's after the 1980's, so someone else has to tell the tale.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    You could apply enough damage to the attack. It was first in 3rd edition that Touch AC was introduced and had all kinds of problems because I can assure you that If I'm holding a sword in front of me and you want to touch me then you're the one who has problems. It also says how hard you are to hit not how hard you are to hurt.
    Fair enough, I've played 3e for 10 years, but never played earlier editions.

    But with Touch AC, I always took Shocking Grasp as the best example of how touch attacks work: You brandish your sword at me to keep my hands away, then I bat the flat of your sword with my palm, discharge the shock through the blade and send it straight to your heart without putting myself in more danger than a regular attack. Touch Attacks get special consideration because they absolutely do not care how or why they connect. Once they do, they apply their effect.

    If one of my players wanted to use their sword to prevent being hit by touch I would ask them to Ready an Action on their turn. D&D combat is turn based, but represents simultaneous action, wanting to use your sword for offense and defense simultaneously is not easy, nor is it totally standard skill for most martial classes. Maybe the Duelist or Swashbuckler has something?

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    With that established we are going to have problems with excessive force. When I'm talking about excessive force I'm talking about attacks that do so much damage that your armor is irrelevant.

    Your armor isn't going to help you when you get hit by a bus and neither is it against the boulder. Touch AC has established that any AC that isnt the base of 10+Dex+dodge is your armor protecting you from harm. You know that you might jump away or dodge the bus and the boulder but that bus isn't going to glance off your armor. This tells us that the AC system is only good for certain circumstances, mostly to simulate man to man combat, not where large monsters are involved.
    A thrown boulder can still miss its mark. A medium creature has a 5ft space to occupy. If a 30ft boulder misses, but only just barely, then 2ft of its mass passed through the occupied square, the tip brushed the armor plate, the rest kept on its way.

    Heck, even on a total hit, if it didn't kill the hero, it probably pinballed them off to the side. You mentioned a titan was throwing this boulder? That's a CR 21, so yeah, most adventurers should be paste. If epic heroes are being targeted, I do kind of expect the Marvel Cinematic Universe interpretation where they just push the boulder off and make a quippy one liner about how they might need to start taking this fight more seriously.

    And I think that's part of what you're struggling with. The more fantastic monsters are meant to scale with these fantastic heroes. At some point, it's not trying for verisimilitude or simulationism. If you want that, you're better off in E6. It's about as close as 3.5 gets.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    What about the leather glove that's maybe insulating the hand of the guy with the sword?
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    It was first in 3rd edition that Touch AC was introduced and had all kinds of problems because I can assure you that If I'm holding a sword in front of me and you want to touch me then you're the one who has problems.
    Isn't that what Attacks of Opportunity are for?

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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    What about the leather glove that's maybe insulating the hand of the guy with the sword?
    What about the rubber tires insulating the car?

    Truth is, if you've got enough voltage, insulation doesn't matter. A lightning bolt that's traveled through 5 miles of open air is not going to be stopped by 6 inches of rubber. If Shocking Grasp just needs to hit your Touch AC, assume it's got enough voltage to go right through any insulation you may be carrying.
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    Default Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    Isn't that what Attacks of Opportunity are for?
    Not exactly. Touch Attacks with Spells are considered Armed Attacks and do not provoke. Casting in Combat, however, typically DOES provoke AoO. So Fighter W/ Sword VS Sorcerer W/ Shocking Grasp gets AoO when the Sorcerer chooses to cast the spell, not when they make the Touch Attack.

    Unarmed Touch Attacks (such as Starting A Grapple without the Improved Grapple feat), DO provoke Attacks of Opportunity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    What about the rubber tires insulating the car?

    Truth is, if you've got enough voltage, insulation doesn't matter. A lightning bolt that's traveled through 5 miles of open air is not going to be stopped by 6 inches of rubber. If Shocking Grasp just needs to hit your Touch AC, assume it's got enough voltage to go right through any insulation you may be carrying.
    This. If the player had an Item described as a Glove that gave some special protection against Shocking Grasp or Shock Damage, all that would matter.

    But otherwise, this isn't just an arbitrarily high voltage necessary to reduce this whole scenario to a simple Touch Attack, this is also a Magical Spell attack. The Spell could be interpreted as hard science fiction that once you release the electricity, normal physics takes over, but there's really no need to do so. The spell could say you only need to touch the target, then magic bombards them with an electrical surge from no particular source. It's an Evocation spell, the electricity can be coming from a plane of Electrons. No reason Physics even needs to come into play here. The spell used targets any creature Touched, which is defined as not caring about armor, so why would it care if you touched an object held any more than an object worn? You're still targeting the creature, you effectively touched them and the magic was conducted to its intended target.

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