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Alright, strap in because I've got an overly complex homebrew that I want to see how it compares to RAW. The problem is that I don't really know where to start this comparison or how to make it easier on myself except running individual examples by hand. On top of that, I want to compare two different versions of my homebrew to find which is better "balanced." Any help in anyway, even pointing me towards tools that can help simplify my comparison would be great. I'll post both of the homebrew below they are pretty similar with really only one key difference.

General idea for Homebrew:

Players now have EC (evasion class), and AR (Armor reduction) as well as their AC. EC represents the ability of a player to completely avoid an attack. AR represents how well your armor can block damage when hit. AC represents a point at which your armor stops being effective.

EC = 10 + Dex Mod allowed by armor + shield mod.

AR = AC from Armor + AC from shield -10

AC = calculated same as base game.

Homebrew #1 (simple):

  • Any attack roll below EC is a complete miss.

  • Any attack roll above EC, but below AC is a glancing blow and AR is applied.

  • Any attack above AC is a solid hit and damage is applied like RAW.

now the reason I'm not using this simplified set of rules is because someone pointed out that the loss of EC from wearing armor with dex limitations wasn't worth the AR gained from using the heavier armor. (Although that does bring up the question how much DR is each point of AC worth. A question for another day.)

Homebrew #2 (Complex damage scaling)

  • Any attack roll below EC is a complete miss.

  • Any attack over EC hits the players and their AR is applied. Hits over AC also have AR applied.

  • If a hit lands between EC and AC, the damage is scaled based on how close the hit was to AC using the formula (AttackTotal - TargetEC + 1)/AR. After the damage is scaled, AR is applied.

Optional caveats to the complex homebrew:

  • hits may never be reduced to 0 from AR.
  • Critical Hits ignore all damage scale and AR.

I know that this homebrew is like super convoluted, but I'm not concerned about that right now. I'm mostly concerned about balance.

I know this is complex and some people are concerned about slowing down the game, but I assure you it won't in my instance. I play online and can automate all of the calculations so they happen as the player rolls an attack and rolls damage. As for "realism," I actually don't care about realism. What I'm trying to accomplish here is having a heavily armored player feel, with mechanics, the blows they are shrugging off. Yes this could be accomplished with descriptions, but having the mechanics back up and inform my descriptions only leads to a further sense of immersion.

For a more exact example of what I'm looking for than "balance." I'd like to have a way to compare damage taken over a period of time at different attack bonuses with different damage die. Like after 4 rounds, after 6 rounds with a +5 attack/damage bonus dealing 1d8 1d10 2d6.... etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack Joshua, take the tour when you have a moment. I’m not quite sure what the question is here, “is this balanced?” isn’t much to go off of in this case. With something like a homebrew class or magic item, we can compare it to similar features and items, but I’m not sure what “balance” means here. What does it mean to you? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 7:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ How are you defining balance? I assume you are making this because you have a problem with the existing ac rules, but you need to define that problem before we can tell you if the solution works for you. And if you are trying to balance it exactly against the current ac calculations, I would say 'why are you bothering with this?' \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 7:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Please note that we have specific guidance for helping people ask a good homebrew review question. A question being closed is temporary, a way to protect it from getting cluttered with bad answers; you can edit your question to get it into a state that provides the information others will need to give you good answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I like the update, so you are looking how to calculate expected damage using your method? Comments about pros and cons aren't needed, just the maths or tables / graphs however people think is best? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm still not clear on what you want by balance. Different RPGs are tuned to be more or less lethal, depending on the feel the designers are aiming at. As a quick example, Pathfinder 2 vs D&D 5 -- Pathfinder is more 'heroic fantasy', and is slightly more reliable, while D&D is relatively speaking 'realistic fantasy', and is slightly more chaotic. Balance is whatever you as the designer are aiming at. Are you trying to keep the balance the same as base D&D? \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 9:44

2 Answers 2

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According to the title of your question:

I want to know how my 5e homebrew compares to RAW

I can tell you out of the hat that it's going to be slower in any case. A rule of thumb for game designing is that abstraction allows speed, and accuracy might not be as important as one might think. Consider how important it actually is to keep track of armor reduction on each blow and how it will impact your hombrew. You are not only going to rework the AC system, but also the whole of the rules on how damage apply. Damage Reduction is already a buff in D&D 5e and it is not designed to take into account for each and every attack. If your players are going to have Armor Reduction, looks to me that they are constantly under a Damage Reduction buff effect, the monster's attacks are not going to be as dangerous as they should be, which ultimately is going to impact the CRs of every encounter you design. As of RAW, AC might look too simplistic, but that's only meant to speed up combats. Think of an encounter where every participant has 100+ HP, you're going to keep track of AR and EC for each and every one, besides calculating damage escaling for each attack.

Concerning your two options, though I am not very sure what are you looking for, I would go with the simpler one to allow for faster combats.

BUT, and this is a big BUT, if you and your players are looking for a more accurate way for combat, maybe you should also consider lowering HPs or even change it into a "wound level" system a la World of Darkness or Zweihander. Ultimately, armor is meant to reduce damage because a single hit could be potentially lethal, so maybe, you could keep a damage threshold, affected by AR, which if surpassed becomes a wound. But then again, it wouldn't be D&D 5e, this system would require an absolute overhaul of the rules as a whole.

I'm just throwing in some ideas, Idk if that's what you look for.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 brilliant concept: "abstraction [mostly] allows speed, and accuracy might not be as important as one might think". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 9:06
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Your changes slow down the game

I'm not going to comment on how balanced this is, you probably have to run some example combats at different levels and with different builds to get a feel for that.

I do want to ask you: what do you want to achieve with these changes? If the answer is that they will make the game more realistic, I recommend this article, by DM Dave. Focus on realism is generally a trap for novel designers, and one that many games fell into trying to improve on D&D. You can never fully achieve it, and it tends to make things slower, more fiddly, and less fun.

D&D, in any edition, is by nature of the increasing hit points more heroic than realistic. If you are looking for a good system that plays more realistically, with heavy armor buffering damage and light armor supporting agility and evasion, there are many options. I can recommend the Basic Role Playing system, which you can try out for free to see if you like it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Zweihander is also a very good option to achieve gritty realism, but keep in mind that combats are much deadlier. \$\endgroup\$
    – user75209
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 10:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ As much as I like this answer, having to ask a question here means the original question is unclear. We should comment and vote to close until we get the answers rather than attempt an answer. The op specifically doesn't care the rules are complex \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 10:08

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