# Thread: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

1. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Lord Torath
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.
First, what's the voltage on a Shocking Grasp? It's a touch spell, so don't assume anything about the voltage being that high.

Second, lightning hitting a car doesn't force its way through the tires, it travels through the metal body and frame, then arcs off the car and bypasses the tires entirely, through the air, to the ground, in the same way it traveled through the 5 miles of open air.

2. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Pleh
No reason Physics even needs to come into play here.
None at all I assure you.

Sorry this line just sort of hopped out at me. And I suppose it does depend on what sort of magic you are dealing with. The magic of otherworldly forces, the science of a world that is not our own or hand wave special abilities certainly doesn't. In a more "urban fantasy" setting maybe physics should be taken into account, but that is a setting thing.

3. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy
First, what's the voltage on a Shocking Grasp? It's a touch spell, so don't assume anything about the voltage being that high.

Second, lightning hitting a car doesn't force its way through the tires, it travels through the metal body and frame, then arcs off the car and bypasses the tires entirely, through the air, to the ground, in the same way it traveled through the 5 miles of open air.
It does. not. matter.

The spell is magic and does not inform that an insulating glove would provide any defense against a magically applied voltage of ANY magnitude. Unless the player were wearing a glove that gave a specific mechanical benefit of being resistant to Shocking Grasp or any category of effects under which Shocking Grasp would be considered to be part of, the glove may as well not be there. It does. not. matter. Regardless how much you might think it should matter.

To me, that seems like a problem solved by developing more detailed statistics for mundane equipment: Leather Gloves, comes standard with any full body armor and provides 1 Energy Resistance against Shock damage plus 20% concealment against attacks that deal Shock damage (but if the attack misses from this concealment, only the shock damage itself is negated).

Either way, you're just houseruling, at which point you can houserule whatever you want to begin with, so go crazy.

It is my firm belief that the description of the spell was careful to only be specific about exactly how it is supposed to work within the game structure and intentionally vague about how so that each table can come up with their own unique flavor in explaining exactly how it happened. You can devise literally ANY justification you like about why you only need to touch a person or whatever they're holding for the spell to work, but your answer still needs to justify the spell or else you have to houserule why the spell isn't working according to RAW in this instance.

I mean, think of the poor Catgirls.

4. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Pleh
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.
Isn't it "physics coming into play" when you assert that the spell should travel down the metal blade of the sword?

5. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy
Isn't it "physics coming into play" when you assert that the spell should travel down the metal blade of the sword?
Sure, physics CAN be used to explain things, but if that isn't working, physics isn't the ONLY WAY to explain how it works.

RAW says it does though, so we find a way to explain RAW or start houseruling.

6. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Pleh
Sure, physics CAN be used to explain things, but if that isn't working, physics isn't the ONLY WAY to explain how it works.

RAW says it does though, so we find a way to explain RAW or start houseruling.
Thing is, I didn't think it was me who opened the door and let "physics" into the room.

If going by the RAW, couldn't one just as easily say that because target needs to be touched, a held object would be the touched target (instead of the person holding it) if you touched the sword, and that the spell would thus effect the sword?

As soon as one starts talking about the electricity traveling down the blade to affect the person holding it -- "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" -- isn't that getting into the physics of electricity and the biology of electrocution?

It doesn't have to be about physics, it can operate on magically just-so rules in D&D's special black-box way of treating each spell as its own little isolated section of the rules, I suppose.

But it just seems odd to me to discuss the spell as if the electrical discharge acts like electricity for purposes of affecting the intended victim, but then stops acting like electricity when it presents a complication for that intent.

7. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Pleh
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.
Yeah, I've seen that. But it's not really the Touch AC mechanic's fault. If wanting an armed sword to dissuade being attacked with touch spells, house rule that touch spells grants AoO. If wanting armour not protecting against big thrown boulders, make them ranged touch attacks (or Reflex saves) instead of normal attacks...

8. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy
Thing is, I didn't think it was me who opened the door and let "physics" into the room.
Don't think so. You can replace "sword" and "metal" in that sentence with "Club" and "Wood" without changing its meaning. The Point is that it is a touch attack and touch attacks don't really care where the attacker touches the target and definitely do not require the attacker to touch the target's skin.

9. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by tomandtish
This actually used to exist back in AD&D (1E) days. Not sure anybody actually used it....
It looked good on paper. The *huge* catch was that there was never a good way to determine which AC "type" (and bonus) you would use for any monster's AC (they simply had the AC for the "to hit" table listed in the monster manual, no "AC type").

If you were fighting foes in well typed armor (preferably non-magical armor so AC=AC type) it shouldn't be a problem and was even included in Dragon Magazine's 1e "combat computer" (a circular slide-rule type thing that made THACO* calculations trivial) and showed the bonus for each weapon while doing the calculation.

It might even work if you changed to just a few "armor types"

weak hide [unarmored]
strong hide [leather]
chain [gets its own type, strong with holes seems pretty unique]
steel [plate]

Sword and board was also historically popular and presumably much more effective than most RPG styles. You could have a few bonuses specific to shields if you wanted this to be important. The big catch is dealing with monsters. I remember a product called "claw law" (part of the rolemaster system) that asked "ever see a wolf use a crossbow?". Unless you want to use strictly anthromorporphic monsters, expect to be ready to house rule which claw/bite type each monster has.

AC as a system (never mind what it is trying to model) becomes a huge issue in 3.x. As your character progresses from 1-4 or so, they may upgrade to the best possible armor (a lot depends on if your setting allows full plate). After that they may managed to add up to a +5 to their AC. After that, progress pretty much grinds to a halt. On the other hand the monsters gain roughly a +1 BAB every level, meaning that armor becomes pretty pointless. DDO not only had too much powercreep to push to too far along, they also allowed robes and outfits to have a second magic effect (instead of the +n AC bonus). This lead to years of fighters and clerics running around in "pajamas" and only ended when DDO abandoned the d20 system and replaced it with a system that favored armor-wearing characters.

* I think THACO was somebody at TSR's pet name and not used in the rules before 2e. I think it came up in the premade "player character sheets" or possibly "DM's screen" of the early 1e era.

10. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Zombimode
Don't think so. You can replace "sword" and "metal" in that sentence with "Club" and "Wood" without changing its meaning. The Point is that it is a touch attack and touch attacks don't really care where the attacker touches the target and definitely do not require the attacker to touch the target's skin.
One could still argue over whether held objects count as "part of the target", distinct from worn objects.

And the specific description used seemed to rely on the spell discharging electricity that would then act like electricity.

11. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy
Thing is, I didn't think it was me who opened the door and let "physics" into the room.

If going by the RAW, couldn't one just as easily say that because target needs to be touched, a held object would be the touched target (instead of the person holding it) if you touched the sword, and that the spell would thus effect the sword?

As soon as one starts talking about the electricity traveling down the blade to affect the person holding it -- "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" -- isn't that getting into the physics of electricity and the biology of electrocution?

It doesn't have to be about physics, it can operate on magically just-so rules in D&D's special black-box way of treating each spell as its own little isolated section of the rules, I suppose.

But it just seems odd to me to discuss the spell as if the electrical discharge acts like electricity for purposes of affecting the intended victim, but then stops acting like electricity when it presents a complication for that intent.
I am arguing for the flexibility of AC in D&D. The fact is that *some* physics can plausibly satisfy some gaming groups and tables means that bringing *some* physics in is an acceptable answer (even if only some of the time, that still means it qualifies as acceptable). Proof need not be rigorous, only sufficiently convincing and useful in direct application within particular degrees of tolerance (which will vary based on who is playing the game).

I'm only aiming for "plausible." The fact that counter arguments are equally plausible are irrelevant.

The ability to use a little bit of physics doesn't mean I have to therefore explain EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE GAME through physics. Some tables (most assuredly yours) would require an all-or-nothing inclusion of physics in TTRPGs, but not every table would.

I don't have to convince every table, just the one in front of me. Therefore, I due to the flexibility of 3.5's AC system, I could explain to some groups a physical answer to how Touch AC works with Shocking Grasp. If confronted with an insistence to make ALL THE PHYSICS work, I'll just abandon that one and go back to, "well, then, I guess it's magic, so that's how it works." Because I should never have needed more of an explanation than that to begin with.

Sure, some tables will play Toon and accept anything at all and this is no evidence of AC being a good mechanic or system because they definitively accept even bad systems. But 3.5 is a pretty widely successful system in general while this forum is pretty much exclusively a fringe case from the fan base of 3.5 at large. In general, AC is accepted as a useful and fun mechanic as is.

As it is, 3.5 mechanics can be explained through hard science, pseudo science, or pure inexplicable fantasy. Hard science is just a lot more work, but no less valid.

If we were playing a Hard Science 3.5 game and I tried to use Shocking Grasp to hit you through your sword and you said, "leather gloves," I'd demand to see it written on your sheet and paid for by WBL. Then I'd have to check to see what the actual electrical resistance of leather gloves has been measured to be (since even electricians who wear professional insulated gloves still cut power to their wires rather than trusting the gloves to protect them). Pedantry swings both ways, but isn't always actually any fun to wade through.

But I went to a Science school, so my group likes adding science to the game. We all understand that you can always break that toy by asking for too much scientific validity, but since we all like science in our games, we usually like whatever little bits we can add without murdering the local Catgirl population.

Science in my D&D games is like salt. It adds some great flavor when used in moderation, but too much just ruins the meal.

---

On the subject of "targeting the sword," I'd say that since Touch AC ignores Armor, even if there are literally no openings through which you could touch the person without instead touching their armor and its still not considered to be targeting the armor instead of the person, the magic must be "smart enough" to translate through items worn. If it's smart enough to know what the caster is targeting, why is it limited to items worn vs items held? Sure, magic can be defined any way to Sunday, but I don't see a reason the spell couldn't be used to target either the sword or the swordsman by touching the blade itself. All methods should work the same.

12. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy
But it just seems odd to me to discuss the spell as if the electrical discharge acts like electricity for purposes of affecting the intended victim, but then stops acting like electricity when it presents a complication for that intent.
This ties into the question of how a fireball interacts with a lake which came up a little way back. Also if you want to write 1001 niggling little rules for exactly how spells interact. Does a parka provide any protection against a cone of cold? Can a flying creature be affected by shocking grasp? Hence why it's usually assumed that the spell works as intended unless otherwise indicated by the rules. A fireball will only heat the surface of the water, a parka provides no protection, and a flying creature is affected by shocking grasp even though they really shouldn't be. If we attempt to codify the result then you run into a research segment mid game session and nobody wants that.

My magic system has a little more finesse in that the reason that the electricity runs down the blade but wouldn't run down a connecting piece of metal such as a railing is that the blade is within the outermost area of the defendants aura but that is a topic for another day.

13. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

It just seemed a bit arbitrary to me, to talk about electricity discharging down the sword and into the person holding it and straight to their heart (which seemed a "physics based" argument) and then object to equally applying the physics of the metal being separated from the person by heavy clothing.

As an aside, correctly worn full plate armor should actually make the person less likely to be electrocuted, as the metal armor should have no contact with their skin, and should form the path of least resistance to the ground -- in much the same way a car can channel a lightning strike around those sitting inside it.

14. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy
It just seemed a bit arbitrary to me, to talk about electricity discharging down the sword and into the person holding it and straight to their heart (which seemed a "physics based" argument) and then object to equally applying the physics of the metal being separated from the person by heavy clothing.

As an aside, correctly worn full plate armor should actually make the person less likely to be electrocuted, as the metal armor should have no contact with their skin, and should form the path of least resistance to the ground -- in much the same way a car can channel a lightning strike around those sitting inside it.
Yep, you know what else is arbitrary? Turning someone to stone takes less effort than creating an air embolism in their bloodstream. Try and figure that one out.

15. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Tinkerer
Does a parka provide any protection against a cone of cold?
Depends...

Does Cone of Cold unleash a spray of supercooled air / vapor?

Or does it produce a cone of effect that leaches the heat from anything caught inside that area?

16. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy
Depends...

Does Cone of Cold unleash a spray of supercooled air / vapor?

Or does it produce a cone of effect that leaches the heat from anything caught inside that area?
It produces magical cold damage. A parka, unless enchanted, is probably under "cold weather clothes", which do not protect against magical cold at all, because magic works on a non-physical level, on which the mundane parka does not exist - ghosts can be damaged by magic, and mundane objects do not harm them at all, even if it is energy damage - a lit torch does nothing to a ghost. Therefore, we're working with at least two geographically overlapping but technically distinct planes of existence, are we not?

17. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Tinkerer
My magic system has a little more finesse in that the reason that the electricity runs down the blade but wouldn't run down a connecting piece of metal such as a railing is that the blade is within the outermost area of the defendants aura but that is a topic for another day.
I like that idea: magic targets aura and the blade is "an extension" of the swordsman

18. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Pleh
I like that idea: magic targets aura and the blade is "an extension" of the swordsman
Exactly. It also means that the shocking grasp would have an equivalent effect if the warrior was wielding a wooden club as it does for a metal sword. The system sounds complicated, however once you wrap your brain around it you get fairly predictable effects which are quick to resolve and make sense by the laws of magic.

19. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by 2D8HP
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.
I'll have to tell Steve his name has been changed.

20. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Tinkerer
Exactly. It also means that the shocking grasp would have an equivalent effect if the warrior was wielding a wooden club as it does for a metal sword. The system sounds complicated, however once you wrap your brain around it you get fairly predictable effects which are quick to resolve and make sense by the laws of magic.
Which is perfect for those Roleplaying elements of Casters, so that you have something distinctly unique about how Casters see the world that is rational enough for players to use it as a framework for playing their character.

It's like Yoda saying he sees all things more by how the Force flows through and around them than by their outward appearance (my own paraphrasing this is). Size and weight are insignificant compared to the might of the Force that flows through the object. It's simple and rational enough for a player to latch onto it and play from this perspective, but different enough that another player could use the more general "mundane" mindset and operate just as rationally in the same universe.

21. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Tinkerer
Exactly. It also means that the shocking grasp would have an equivalent effect if the warrior was wielding a wooden club as it does for a metal sword. The system sounds complicated, however once you wrap your brain around it you get fairly predictable effects which are quick to resolve and make sense by the laws of magic.
Originally Posted by Pleh
Which is perfect for those Roleplaying elements of Casters, so that you have something distinctly unique about how Casters see the world that is rational enough for players to use it as a framework for playing their character.

It's like Yoda saying he sees all things more by how the Force flows through and around them than by their outward appearance (my own paraphrasing this is). Size and weight are insignificant compared to the might of the Force that flows through the object. It's simple and rational enough for a player to latch onto it and play from this perspective, but different enough that another player could use the more general "mundane" mindset and operate just as rationally in the same universe.
I ran with this idea for my setting--every living thing has 3 parts:

The spark: This is the self, the creativity, the part that makes the decisions.
The body: This is the spark's interface with material things, including sensation.
The aura: This is the spark's interface with the body and with other spiritual things (including spells/external magic).

So spell-casters manipulate their aura to cast spells, targeting other auras. This is how "auto-targeting" spells like magic missile work (as well as individual saving throw spells like hold person)--they target an aura and so can't miss. Other spells create little bits of energy and then those get thrown (so they have to hit and can be deflected by armor). People like barbarians or monks manipulate the connection between aura and body, juicing their bodies up with the same type of energy as a spell-caster, but having physical effects rather than magical ones. This also explains why spell-casters have less HP than brute-types--they focus on training their auras to interact with the outside magic, instead of pouring that energy into building their bodies.

22. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

on the giving combat realism and metal armor and lightning bolt, a person in full plate should be immune as it acts like a Faraday cage and directs the electricity around the wearer and into the ground. my two coppers.
that said we like to have our lightning bolts fry people like eggs thus the best way to handle arguments of armor in such situations is to pretend the armor is not there.

23. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by vasilidor
on the giving combat realism and metal armor and lightning bolt, a person in full plate should be immune as it acts like a Faraday cage and directs the electricity around the wearer and into the ground. my two coppers.
that said we like to have our lightning bolts fry people like eggs thus the best way to handle arguments of armor in such situations is to pretend the armor is not there.
I'm not sure how much you sweat, but the inner padding might make a pretty decent connection between you and the plate. And it's certainly going to heat up quite a bit--plate armor isn't a perfect conductor. So not immune, but certainly a bit reduced.

I tend to say that it isn't real lightning (because real lightning would short out to ground as opposed to moving horizontally)--it's charged mana that appears like lightning, but behaves like the spell. Same for other evocation spells.

24. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by kyoryu
I'll have to tell Steve his name has been changed.

.
Spoiler: my reaction

25. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Armor Class is a number to determine how likely you are to lose Hit Points, which is a number used to determine when you're dead / unable to take actions. The latter depending on edition. It's not supposed to "make sense" other than that.

Originally Posted by wumpus
It looked good on paper. The *huge* catch was that there was never a good way to determine which AC "type" (and bonus) you would use for any monster's AC (they simply had the AC for the "to hit" table listed in the monster manual, no "AC type").
I thought that it explicitly wasn't supposed to be used with monster ACs, only with Armor? Like weapon speed and weapon reach, it only came into play during some very niche situations. Most of which were probably PvP if you ran a properly Gygaxian multiparty with pickup groups campaign, with some encounters with randomly rolled NPC adventuring groups. (I never ran that type of campaign until later editions. I used armor tables, weapon speed and weapon distances mostly with 1e Oriental Adventures, because most of my bad guys were humans when I ran that.)

The catch I remember was that it didn't distinguish between AC from Armor, and AC from Armor + Shield. In other words, AC 6 modifier was used for both Leather+Shield and Banded (or whatever). That never sat right with me.

Regardless 2e & 2e C&T were a huge relief in terms of simplicity and ability to run a workable game system. Even if they didn't make any 'sense' either. and 3e's touch AC and abandoning weapon speed was even more of a relief. 5e dropping touch AC and just going back to full on abstract is even better. I've yet to see a game that really 'makes sense' that isn't a pain the patootie to run.

26. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Ignimortis
It produces magical cold damage. A parka, unless enchanted, is probably under "cold weather clothes", which do not protect against magical cold at all, because magic works on a non-physical level, on which the mundane parka does not exist - ghosts can be damaged by magic, and mundane objects do not harm them at all, even if it is energy damage - a lit torch does nothing to a ghost. Therefore, we're working with at least two geographically overlapping but technically distinct planes of existence, are we not?
So is the cone of cold then harming your soul?

So you need magical water to put out magical fire?

If magic operates non-physical level and my character exists on the physical level then isn't it logical that he can just ignore magic?

27. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre
I'm not sure how much you sweat, but the inner padding might make a pretty decent connection between you and the plate. And it's certainly going to heat up quite a bit--plate armor isn't a perfect conductor. So not immune, but certainly a bit reduced.

I tend to say that it isn't real lightning (because real lightning would short out to ground as opposed to moving horizontally)--it's charged mana that appears like lightning, but behaves like the spell. Same for other evocation spells.
This sounds all kinds of fabulous but RAW says no!

So either physics in D&D land is just plain different or I can just drop my cold/fire/electricity resistances and just get magic damage resistance instead. The system establishes that these different kind of magic attacks are indeed fire/cold/lightning not some pseudo elemental attacks.

28. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by Arcacius
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.?
There were rules like that in older editions of D&D. Everyone hated them, as it meant looking up a long and detailed table on how each armor was affected by each weapon every time you tried to attack.

29. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

we are running a game system, not modeling real world physics. for that reason, i think simplicity and comprehension take precedent over realism. i think the combat system could be much more streamlined an still present depth and versitility.

30. ## Re: AC and other mechanics that don't make sense

Originally Posted by RazorChain
So is the cone of cold then harming your soul?

So you need magical water to put out magical fire?

If magic operates non-physical level and my character exists on the physical level then isn't it logical that he can just ignore magic?
Not the "soul", but probably the "lifeforce" which is similar but doesn't carry the same connotations as "soul". As in, your soul is relevant to afterlife or raising you from the dead, so it doesn't get damaged, but your body isn't physical only in D&D realms.

Magical fire usually doesn't light stuff on magical fire, and if it is, the interactions with water are either noted or not. In the latter case, I would expect that if the spell explicitly lights stuff on magical fire and not mundane fire (like, say, 3.5e Combust is probably mundane fire generated by magic, and not magical fire like a Fireball), then you cannot just put it out with mundane water, yes.

Your character exists on all relevant levels, because ghosts can still harm you, therefore there is a common plane of existence between you.

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