I admit I'm a bit confused about the way how "Star Wars - Saga Edition" handles it's defenses, especially because of the addition of the heroic level.

Reflex Defense: 10 + [your heroic level or armor bonus] + Dexterity modifier + class bonus + natural armor bonus + size modifier

Alright, assuming I get this right, I see this Problem for my DEX build: Armor is actually BAD for me.

Let's assume a human Scoundrel (+2 Reflex Defense) with 18 DEX (+4 DEX modifier) at lvl 1 and no feats that give Reflex Defense, wearing a Combat Jumpsuit ( +4 Reflex Defense, 4 Max Dex Modifier):

Level | DEX | DEX-Bonus | Arm Ref-Bonus | Lvl/Arm? | Arm Gain? | Ref-Def
1       18    +4 / 4 max  +4              Armor      +3        =  20
2       18    +4 / 4 max  +4              Armor      +2        =  20
3       18    +4 / 4 max  +4              Armor      +1        =  20
4       19    +4 / 4 max  +4              Equal       0        =  20
5       19    +4 / 4 max  +4              Level      -1        =  21
6       19    +4 / 4 max  +4              Level      -2        =  22
7       19    +4 / 4 max  +4              Level      -3        =  23
8       20    +5 / *      NO ARMOR        Level      NO ARMOR  =  25

By level 4, the Armor itself has no advantage. By level 8, wearing NO armor is better, or you need armor with higher Max Def Modifier that still doesn't add any amount of Defense (becaue as far as I can tell, most Light Armor with Max Def Modifier of 5 adds 2 or 3 Reflex Defense).

Either I completly missunderstand something, or the addition of "heroic level" to the Defense stats makes Light Armor completly useless for mid- and lategame, except maybe for some special benefits coming from the armor itself.

Am I calculating it wrong, or is armor really of that little use past level 8 for a DEX based Character?

If it is, wouldn't I just be better of to not get Armor Proficiency (Light) in the first place? After all, it's a wasted Feat for no (or negative) gain later in the game.

Not to mention, that "wearing nothing" is for free!


You are absolutely correct that light armor becomes less useful at late-game. I suspect this is a deliberate design choice, as it fits with the tropes of the setting, things like Armored Villains, Unarmored Heroes and Armor Is Useless. Remember, in Star Wars, some of the most powerful characters on screen (read "Jedi") run around in their pajamas and bathrobe.

It's worth noting that with both Feats and Talents, SW:SE has a much faster inherent power curve than other D20-based games. I played SW:SE for many years alongside D&D games, and (baring the well-known unbalancing effects of "Tier 1" classes) a Level 7-8 SW:SE character always felt more like a Level 10-12 D&D character.

  • \$\begingroup\$ At least I didn't calculate it wrong then - seems like I just have another idea about the setting than the game, hehe. \$\endgroup\$ – Katai Dec 9 '15 at 17:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps. Your other thought was spot on, though. Some armors have properties that may make wearing the armor (which requires Proficiency) worthwhile. That's one of the reasons that it's best-of the two bonuses, rather than armor trumping, You can take advantage of any special properties of the armor while also taking advantage of your heroic bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Dec 9 '15 at 18:07

While armor is of reduced utility as characters progress in level, armor isn't entirely useless, even for Dex-based characters. The Fortitude bonus provided by the armor is retained.

You can have a Dex-based character who also focuses on armor, taking the armor-related talents. The first of which allows you to take the better of the armor or level bonus, while retaining the fortitude defense bonus provided by the armor. The second gives you your level bonus and half the armor bonus. You'll be even harder to hit and hurt than the 'naked' dex-based character, netting an additional +2 or +3 to your reflex defense (depending on other gear, feat, and talent choices).

Finally, also note that Dex-based doesn't necessarily mean 'starts with 18 Dex, and has 20 Dex by level 8'. (If you roll stats, 18s are rare. If you do point-buy, 18s are expensive.)


Armor, even light armor, becomes useless for DEX-based characters at higher levels. In general, armor is useless at mid-level to high-level unless you invest in talents from the Armor Specialist talent tree. As a scoundrel you wouldn't have access to that talent tree without multiclassing into soldier or Jedi and being DEX-based it would be better to take talents that take advantage of your DEX and being a ranged combatant. Another option that could increase the usability of your armor would be to upgrade them with either of the tech specialist feats, which can, among other things, can increase your max DEX-bonus by 2. If you are worried about wasting a feat on light armor pro., then keep in mind that when you multiclass you gain one of the class's starting feats, one of which for soldier is light armor pro.


Armor as a Reflex increase is often pointless for a very high DEX character. Even with a high DEX Armor becomes less useful as you level up unless you spend character resources to remain good at it.

Your DEX 18 character wearing a Combat Jumpsuit (+4 armor, MAX DEX +4) will only have a REF DEFENSE of 18 + class bonus (which is NOT the same as heroic level) so your Scoundrel will have REF Defense 20 FOREVER with that setup. At 4th-level the armor does him no good for REF Defense at at 5th-level actually starts to hinder him unless he has entered Soldier (which is the normal way to get the armor proficiency) and taking the Armored Defense talent. Were the character to also take Improved Armored Defense the +4 armor bonus would turn into a +2 REF increase which wouldn't start to be helpful until 3rd level.

A DEX based character generally wears only the lightest armors with MAX DEX scores that accommodates his DEX modifier. He wears it for various Equipment bonuses which may be available including increases to FORT. If you want your SWSE character to wear armor you should take levels in Soldier and even Soldier 1 would get you Proficiency in light armor and allow you to take the Armored Defense talent to enable you to wear that armor without the armor bonus holding you down.


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