How do Bracers of Defence affect Base AC in regards to Weapon type vs. Armor type?

I play in a campaign that is centered around the Player’s Option series (which might be considered 2.5th edition) with heavy emphasis on 1st edition. Specifically, I wondering whether a character wearing Bracers AC4 with no armor still has a base AC of 10 in regards to weapon type.


There's nothing conclusive so the DM decides

The DM decides either that a creature wearing bracers of defense is treated as wearing no armor for "to hit" adjustments for specific weapons or that a creature wearing bracers of defense is treated as wearing the armor and a shield appropriate for the bracers for "to hit" adjustments for specific weapons.

That's because there's this from the Dungeon Master's Guide (1977) on Weapon Types, "To Hit" Adjustment Note:

If you allow weapon type adjustments in your campaign please be certain to remember that these adjustments are for weapons versus specific types of armor, not necessarily against actual armor class. In most cases, monsters not wearing armor will not have any weapon type adjustment allowed, as monster armor class in such cases pertains to the size, shape, agility, speed, and/or magical nature of the creature. Not excluded from this, for example, would be an iron golem. However, monsters with horny or bony armor might be classed as plate mail if you so decide, but do so on a case-by-case basis. Naturally, monsters wearing armor will be subject to weapon type "to hit" adjustment. (28)

So in AD&D a monster not wearing armor just gets poked by a weapon much like a person not wearing armor. But the bracers of defense themselves actually say

These items appear to be some sort of wrist or arm guards. Their magic bestows an effective armor class equal to actually wearing armor and employing a shield. Of course, if armor is actually worn, the bracers will not be effective, but they do work in conjunction with other magical items of protection. (139)

Thus the DM may then rule that the "effective armor class" should be treated as the creature "actually wearing armor," making bracers of defense, AC 4 equivalent to chainmail and a shield. Of course, the DM could rule, alternatively, that effective and actually are meant to differentiate the bracers from actual armor, so that instead the wearer is treated as unarmored.

For what it's worth, a 2003 thread on the Dragonsfoot forums raised this exact issue. Many folks just didn't use the armor class versus specific weapons rules, but the majority that did use the rules used the AC 10 rules for bracers of defense.

Note that the AD&D 2E, the description of the bracers remains largely unchanged (DMG (1993) 162), but the rules for Weapon Types vs. Armor Modifiers (PH (1996) 120) become an optional rule that's even vaguer than in AD&D, AD&D, in this case, providing more guidance than its followup.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, it looks like he's asking about 2e rather than 1e. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 6 '16 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, good point. And a good answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 6 '16 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for such great information. I really appreciate it! While my DM will surely stick to his guns on enforcing base AC10 re: BoD, I feel vindicated in knowing that this is somewhat of a controversial issue. BTW, what do you think about Ironskin proficiancy; would this toughened skin help drop to base AC9, much like a troll with his leathery skin? \$\endgroup\$ – user27705 Mar 12 '16 at 0:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh and just for clarification. We actually play more of a 1st edition game with a "heavy emphasis" on Players Options for character development. Now that I think about it this would be more accurate because we roll a d6 for initiative and we don't use the Thac0 system; just FYI. \$\endgroup\$ – user27705 Mar 12 '16 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user27705 I have no idea how the DM should rule on the interaction between the Iron Skin nonweapon proficiency and bracers of defense, but I suspect if you're willing to throw away a rare resource like a nonweapon proficiency on something that very rarely helps your AC a wee little bit that the DM'd probably be okay with it? Totally a guess, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 12 '16 at 1:12

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