It's been a couple of decades since my pal and I played first edition AD&D. We recently rolled characters for a new game, but I'm not entirely certain I did my human Paladin's armour class right; it seems too good.

Having adventured to level 3, I have full plate, a +1 shield, and an amulet that gives +1 dex. I have a base 11 Dex from generation rolls. I calculated my AC at −1. That seems a little too badass for an 3rd-level character. Is that right or did I do something wrong?


You calculated it correctly per 1e AD&D with Unearthed Arcana Supplement

Using the armor tables from AD&D (First Edition) that includes Full Plate Armor, the table on page 26 of Unearthed Arcana (TSR, 1985) shows the following:

Full Plate Armor and Shield = Armor Class 0.
The +1 to your shield improves your Armor Class to -1.

The Dexterity of 11, with the +1 from your amulet, offers no bonus to armor class.

Full Plate wasn't included in the original core books, but was included when the additional rules were released in Unearthed Arcana.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I might be misremembering, but wasn't one of the factors that limited availability of full plate armor that a character had to spend, like, months getting the armor fitted just right? (I bring this up only because that might be another thing that was done wrong, despite the question being more concerned with math.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 28 '15 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yes. Nominal cost was 4000 gp. Page 75 and 76 of UA says that it has to be fitted to the character. You could get it as starting equipment for a highest social class Cavalier (Upper Upper Class). Paladin is a sub class of Cavalier in the UA player character class system. (Social class is rolled by the DM at character creation). UUC is related to royal blood or very high ranking nobles. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 28 '15 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast (This may be 2nd Ed) But I remember Birthright characters were able to start off with Full Plate, War Horse, Lance - the works. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Oct 5 '15 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Birthright was a neat setting, but I didn't run games in it so I am not in a position to speak to that. That was one of those "nobody else is into that campaign" deals that now and again happens. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 5 '15 at 1:14

Pre Unearthed Arcana the rules as written are:

Plate Mail by itself, lowers your AC to 3 (Player's Handbook PG 36)

A shield provides -1 to AC lowering the Paladin's AC to 2

The magical bonus (+1) to the shield lowers the AC one more point to AC 1.

You need a Dex of 15+ to realize any adjustment to AC so there is no adjustment for your character.

As mentioned "Full Plate" was brought into the game with Unearthed Arcana. By the adjustments provided by those rules, your original AC -1 calculation is correct.

BUT, the UA also changes the Paladin to a Sub-Class of Cavalier. In doing so, the UA (Page 16) says, "A paladin must have all the requisite ability scores of the cavalier,"

Checking the UA's description of Cavalier it indicates, on Page 14, that "A cavalier must have the minimum ability scores of 15 in Strength, dexterity, and constitution..."

So, technically, you can't have a Paladin following the UA rules with a Dex as low as 11.

But who gets that technical when playing? We just do that in forums :-)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You don't have to be playing with UA's class rules to use the new equipment it offers. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 28 '15 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ The answer was merely an attempt at rules clarification. UA was not mentioned in the original question so the answer was to address a user of the original ruleset prior to UA's release. As a DM I pick and choose from the rules and equipment lists in the UA but generally ignore the class changes. \$\endgroup\$ – Buckbackup Sep 28 '15 at 21:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Okay, please try to keep answers relevant to the question then. Readers here assume answers are directly answering and not going off on an irrelevant tangent, because we're not a forum. Consider taking the tour to understand what the site is better, and what answers are for. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 28 '15 at 21:34

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