Monday, May 2, 2011

About Armor Class

Dave Arneson is supposed to have once said, "Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!" What I've noticed on this blog and elsewhere is that, whenever the discussion of D&D's armor class mechanics comes up, it seems as if most referees tell the players the armor class of the opponents they're facing. I find this odd, as I don't do this and never have. At my table, the player rolls 1D20, applies the appropriate modifiers, and then tells me the highest AC his character hits. Then I, consulting my notes, determine whether or not he rolled high enough to score a damaging hit. Is this procedure unusual at most game tables nowadays?

I'm genuinely curious.

91 comments:

  1. You know where I stand.

    Once in a while, DM's should reverse the numbers needed to hit ... if the player needs 17+ on a d20, change it to 4-, to keep players on their toes, and to discourage metagaming and 'creative dice-roll reporting'.

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  2. I never tell them the AC at first. After a couple hits, they get to know. I've always played this way. Even with 3x and 4e, I kept the AC/DC(!) secret until they've confirmed a few hits.

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  3. My take: fighters know the enemy's armor class usually, nobody else does.

    Since hardly anybody here plays a fighter, it's a meaningful mechanic. In a standard party it might not be.

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  4. Nowadays, I don't know, but back in the day, we didn't have to tell the players the AC number, because describing the armor the monsters were wearing told them what it was. Granted, that wasn't true of many of the non-humanoid critters like oozes, but even then it could usually be inferred.

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  5. I usually run it the way you do, James, but astute players invariably will announce the foe's AC after a few rounds, and I'm okay with that.

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  6. I have always tried to keep the rules in the background and dislike the notion of announcing any stats, especially AC. The mechanics should take a backseat to game play during a session.

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  7. This is how we do it and I agree it's the superior way (playing Moldvay).

    Of course, players will often presume to figure out the target AC as combat progresses. That said, it's a major mindbender when players roll something that "should hit" and does not - what else is going on here? This often forces players to think in context of the narrative, rather than pure numbers.

    I've played a good bit of 3rd Ed+ and find that frequently DM's will outright tell you the target, I suspect this is a function of the proliferation of multipliers and bonuses, at some point you just stop trying to add up more plusses. I suspect this tradition has encouraged the creep of announced AC.

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  8. I play (and DM) multiple flavors of D&D and none of the DMs involved announce the AC. Occasionally, when running 4e, I'll alert the players of the "to hit" number after a few rounds, because the combat tends to slog on forever. It saves me a bit of time if they can determine if they've hit. If I'm running Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry, I never let out the AC info, though.

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  9. "You do not truly know someone until you fight them." ~ Seraph, The Matrix Reloaded

    The characters in the game world would know more about the relative skill of their adversaries than any of us will adequately relay via description at the game table. The best way for the players to make informed decisions on behalf of their characters is for them to know more about these things... so I'll let them know both AC and Hit Points -- once they've started fighting.

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  10. tells me the highest AC his character hits.

    Don't you mean lowest? I thought you liked descending AC :p

    Seriously though, my method is more or less the same as yours even if I do use Ascending AC. If I used descending I would do it the same way.

    Sometimes I'll let it slip after they've fought for a couple of rounds.

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  11. I definitely tell them their AC. My reasoning is that more often than not when you are in a fight, you'll know by subtle means how difficult it will be to land a hit on your opponent.

    While this information can and should be conveyed through descriptions, it is not the most effective tool to do so.

    A description of exactly how difficult it will be to hit the opponent, along with the AC only adds fuel to players imaginations. It makes it easier to picture fighting styles, and for the players to improvise upon that information.

    Here is a good example:

    I played with a DM did not let any of us know ANY stats whatsoever. His descriptions were not always on the ball, but this is not to put down his ability to describe things, as he was really good at it.

    The players expectations as to what the descriptions translated to mechanically threw off many players at times. The immersion was not worth the effort to stamp out meta gaming.

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  12. I don't think I've ever played with a DM who gave out the AC of monsters. Excepting to speed up a long running combat at the point at which the players could've already figured it out themselves. In fact, this is probably almost always the DM merely confirming the group's deduction rather than telling them something they didn't already know.

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  13. I used to have players tell me what they rolled until very recently (a few months ago.) However, I realized that it was quicker to let the players know what the AC was and then have them just tell me whether it was a hit or miss. Smart players would figure it out within a few rounds of combat anyway. Now, I often write the monster's AC on a card and hang it on my DM screen during combat. That way, people can quickly look at it, let me know whether they hit, and for how much damage, and we can move on.

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  14. Although it's a bit of meta-game information, I think it's perfectly sensible to tell the players their opponent's AC. Otherwise you get things like:

    DM: "Roll to hit."
    Player: "I hit an AC of 7."
    DM: "You miss."
    Other Player: "I hit an AC of 6."
    DM: "You hit."

    ...and everyone's going to know the number from that point on anyhow. Better to let them know beforehand and speed up the interaction.

    I don't reveal this information before combat is engaged, however. That's giving away too much, too soon.

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  15. I generaly don't tel AC. With my new table - total newbies sent in FFC! - I don't even give them their own hp's. They just jave their abilty scores on a sheet. By the way, they don't know their own armor class, but they still have no armor except ione with a helmet found in a grave.

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  16. I never tell my players the AC of the monster/opponent they're fighting. But I do let them know if there are environmental factors influencing how likely they or the opponent are to hit. (e.g., "The hobgoblin knocked you down to one knee last time, making it hard to bring your large shield to bear--the AC bonus from that will be reduced by one until you can get upright again.")

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  17. In the 3e and 4e worlds, most games I've played used secret AC. Of course the calculation is simple addition, d20 + modifiers = best AC hit.

    Back when I was playing 2e and THAC0 was the rule, it was generally messy. THAC0 - (d20 + modifiers) = best AC hit never clicked for too many people. When playing with new players, or more casual/social games, it was a constant stumbling block. Now, knowing the target AC didn't actually help anything (THAC0 - AC - modifiers = target number), but the general confusion seemed to lead to people expecting it.

    This is the core of why I dislike decreasing ACs; it leads to subtractive math. And while the difference between 10+3 and 18-(10+1) isn't much, it's enough to create a bit more of a barrier. With both 3e and 4e, I've observed increasing numbers of casual players who moved from "announce their roll and let someone else calculate the result for them" to "calculates their own results."

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  18. I have come to the decision over many years that players should (most of the time) know what they need to roll to succeed. Rolling blind all the time can really be unnerving as a player, I have found, as you really have no sense of how powerful you are or how powerful your opponent is. For all you know, the DM could just be making stuff up every round, making your decisions as a player pointless.

    The times when I do go for blind rolls, however, is when the whole point is that the player doesn't know something. If you're rolling to find a trap or to see a stealthy character, you just roll and I tell you what happens--anything else would give the answer away, regardless of whether you succeeded or failed.

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  19. @amp108: I always viewed the players discovering the AC through attack results a feature. I picture it as the characters sizing up their opposition through the fires of combat.

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  20. Similarly, I have my players roll a d20, factor in modifiers. I factor in AC and tell them if they hit or not.

    When using (my homebrew) weapons vs. AC modifiers, I have the players tell me the lowest AC they hit and tell them whether or not to roll damage.

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  21. Your way seems the default among the New York Red Box crowd, but I'm the exception when I run. More transparency = faster mechanical processing + sharper tactics, and I figure it's not that hard to get a read on how difficult your opponent is to kill. I feel fine making exceptions to that when there are hidden factors, or outright lying at first when the AC is way out of line with the appearance. I even do this with hit points in some battles.

    @Nicolas Dessaux : Searcher of the Unknown is awesome and I had a lot of fun with it. Thanks!

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  22. Never really thought about it. I guess I've never told people as a matter of habit a particular armor class. Most times, players know approximately what the AC is anyway based on the creature or armor that the opponent is wearing.

    I guess like amp108 said, it could basically become a game of "Battleship" where players could figure it out on their own as they roll, so why not tell them?

    I suppose "in-game" one might be able to "tell" an oppenent's armor class after an attack or two, sizing up your attack skills and opponent's defense and armor. You'd know roughly if you have a realistic chance of damaging him or not or if it's time to consider discretion as the better part of valor

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  23. I don't tell my player's the AC, and I've never played in game were anyone told me. You roll, add your mods and give the Dm the number, then you get told whether you hit or not.

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  24. Hidden mechanics that is somewhat unrealistic and impractical to enforce. An experienced adventurer will be in the ballpark as to a creature's capabilities after having fought them.

    This point was driven home while I was playing NERO live action. Unlike tabletop D&D, NERO doesn't have a published monster manual. So throughout the game we never know what the actual stats are.

    But it only a factor when you first face something. After I fought the creature, it became pretty obvious roughly what stats they possessed.

    My solution is I don't worry about it and game in the way that resolves things the fastest. I don't allow the referring of monster manuals at the table. But neither do I intentionally hid the stats.

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  25. It is an interesting question though, and it brings up how GMs and players handle all that "meta" information.

    Do you let/play your characters as automatically "knowing" monster weaknesses (ie that pile of goo is green slime so break out the torches while the glop behind it is grey ooze...fire is useless there!). Or do you play them as having to find out the hard way? Charge headlong into the wraith without silver/magic weapons and not "knowing" about level draining because your character has never seen or heard of one before?

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  26. I've never ever told players the Armor Class, ever. I mean-- conceivably they could have a spell or a feat or a power or a widget or something that let them know, but as a default? No way. Some of the more math savvy players figure it out-- though conditional bonuses can throw them off-- but I never tell ACs or DCs-- roll, & I'll tell you if that was enough.

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  27. I don't tell the players a foes AC and don't think I ever have. It adds some mystery when some attacks hit and some don't.

    @rob, re: NERO monsters, unless you spend a lot of time volunteering as a monster. There was also an air of mystery because monster players would forget their stats a lot of the time.

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  28. I don't tell; the players have to figure things out from a combination of description and trial-error, and it doesn't slow the game down appreciably. One last vestige of the "mysterium tremendum" of DMing that once concealed the combat charts and ringed round the DMG with terrible imprecations.

    Likewise, I give clues to relative HP among monsters of the same ilk, but not the full monty.

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  29. Cyclopeatron posted about this a while back. He noticed that his players were much more engaged and excited when they knew what target number was trying to be reached. It was like gambling, with the non-rollers rooting the roller on.

    My own experience bears this out. I might let players whack at a creature a time or two to see how difficult it is. Then I just tell them, "okay 16 or above."

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  30. I prefer to have the players roll and give me the roll (I have all the modifiers already written down for each player along with any additional modifiers based on the environment at the moment that they may not be aware of) so I add the modifiers to the roll and know if they hit or not.

    I also don't allow players to "know" a monster unless their character has... I mean many people have played the game for years and a new character can not possibly know what all the monsters are since he is "new", and yet the character seems to already know the strengths and weaknesses of something ... this will cost you in my work... that "divine" knowledge obtained from somewhere can be dangerous to your character and possibly others with you.

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  31. I don't let the players know the AC of whatever they're fighting. They tell me their modified roll to hit, and I look it up on the combat table.

    That way I can add whatever unknown modifiers may apply. I don't mind the extra 2 seconds, and it doesn't seem to slow things down too much.

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  32. I always tell ACs. The PCs have a much clearer idea of their environment than the players do, and it's never set right with me to negate the kind of feedback the PCs would be getting with one-minute combat rounds. For Stars Without Number I enshrined this in the default combat roll of 1d20+attack bonus+target AC beating 20 to hit. I just don't get enough extra game utility from the additional obfuscation.

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  33. "Is this procedure unusual at most game tables nowadays?"

    I do it the way you do it and always have.

    However, I had one player in my 3E game who bitterly, bitterly complained about not telling him the target number. There's a passage I found in the 3E DMG explicitly saying not to do that, and still he wasn't very happy.

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  34. Alan De Smet said: "This is the core of why I dislike decreasing ACs; it leads to subtractive math."

    Not necessarily. Instead do the equivalent d20+level+bonuses+AC >= 20.

    http://superdan.net/oed/target20/

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  35. Delta:

    Interesting! My players have never complained about that--but I let them know that they are welcome to interrogate me on what kind of success rate their character believes he or she might have based on analysis of conditions, and I will provide them with a general sense.

    It's just unfair to present them with a situation that they might think their character can manage but which has an infinitesimally small chance of success mechanically speaking.

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  36. They tell me the highest ac they hit. If the combat lasts long enough that they're able to deduce the opponents ac, I'll confirm it.

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  37. Yup, I don't tell them but once they guess it I confirm it.

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  38. I've refereed both old-school 1st Edition AD&D and Pathfinder recently (within the past month).

    For neither game did I ever tell the players the AC of any of the opponents they are facing. That seems to take the fun out of it to me and just turn it into a numbers game.

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  39. I think I'v always told them the A.C or they figure it out pretty darn Quick. ;0)

    I'v got a Question for you all.

    Do you let the player pick which monster they hit if fighting more than one??

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  40. I don't tell them before combat, but when they enter combat, I drop it on them. Makes for some fun situations ("Ok, I attack the fighter, what do I need to hit?" "He's AC0" "WHAT!!! You said he's only got chainmail on?????!!!" "Yep, that's right, you figure it out, meanwhile you need a 20 to hit...")Whatever makes things easier for me as DM, and as already pointed out, players figure it out after a round or two anyway.

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  41. Yeah I try to keep it a secret at first but as many have pointed out, that secret is not a long lived one.

    O'Flux: Yes I do allow them to decide which monster to hit. Only seems to make sense, sure I could try to hand wave some fog of war thing but that just seems like going so far to the point of being arbitrary to be.

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  42. I tell 'em whether the target's defenses look the shit, so they can approximate in their own minds, and if they get within one point or so I'll often say something like "a solid hit but while he may flinch he does not take damage," to let them know, "Hey, that swing nearly did it, maybe if I grip the sword like this/strike juuust here"....i.e. roll just a bit better...

    But I don't ever say AC 21 or anything like that unless after extended combat they seem to openly challenge me about it. At that point I step out a little and just point out the facts, as I would if we were playing Scrabble and I was challenged on a word.

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  43. I never tell my players the AC but...um...can't they just look it up their own selves? ~_^ Most old school players I've encountered have the stats of the most commonly encountered creatures in the Monster Manual memorized.

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  44. All I give them is a description of the critter and its actions. Once they attack it and see how it reacts to their blows they get an idea of how tough it is and whether or not it's time to run away.

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  45. Started playing with Melee & Wizard; so knowing what one needs to hit seems normal to me.

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  46. I don’t really see amp108’s scenario as a problem. I think it’s good that more information about opponents comes out as the combat progresses.

    That said, it is easier for warriors in our game to know what they need to hit, because Gods & Monsters lets player characters use “mojo” to affect die rolls if the roll is archetypal, and fighting is archetypal for warriors. So the hypothetical warrior who rolls enough to hit AC 7 and is told that they’ve missed might say, “I’m willing to spend 4 mojo to hit him.”

    If the roll was just off by one, then I tell them, okay, you spend one mojo. And now (a) they hit, and (b) they know what they need to hit.

    Letting them figure things out as the combat progresses is one of the reasons I always roll in the open, too. That way, they can objectively see how easy it is for their opponent to hit them.

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  47. I prefer playing and running games where the target number is not announced up-front. It's not in the least important to me that it doesn't remain secret forever, that feels both realistic and engaging - after the fight has gone a few rounds, the fighter thinks to himself "I took a couple of good swings, and he didn't flinch at all; this guy is tough".

    I especially remember that feeling in "Village of Hommlet" when a party member was jumped by the giant tick. We thought "no problem, hit it till it's dead", and were shocked at how hard that was. If we knew right away that we would struggle to damage it, we would have looked for other ways to deal with it - instead we spent several futile rounds trying to mash it and it killed it's victim. To my mind, that was a cool result (albeit upsetting for the player in question).

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  48. I don't tell the players the Armor class of an opponent until after the first round. That way there is a little bit of a surprise but then afterward we can get down to the business of combat.

    As the DM, i have enough crap to deal with including descriptions of the world and everything in it so I don't need to be dicking around with math let the players do the math.

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  49. I have never told my players the AC of their opponents. Having a very mathematical mind, I never had a problem handling THAC0. I would ask for the players' THAC0 scores at the beginning of game and figure what they needed to hit their opponents before they rolled the dice. Never had an issue with people trying to figure the opponent's AC. They just wanted a yes or no answer to "did I hit?"

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  50. I've given out ACs and I've kept them secret, but I've never asked people to tell me what AC they hit. I just ask what they roll, then tell them if they hit.

    I noticed that "tell what AC you hit" is a frequent phrase when discussing 2e (pro or con.) To me, it makes a simple process sound complicated. Maybe that's why some people are so anti-THAC0.

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  51. Depends on the game and the opponent. TYPICALLY, I stick with doing it the way you do - roll, modify and then tell me the best AC you hit. But in a bulk fight against Gobbos or something, then I'll just throw out the AC.

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  52. I don't tell my players nuthin. Things they don't know: enemies AC, what level of the dungeon they are on (usually), what type of monster they are facing (I like it that my players think the wight that they fought and ran from at 1st level was an uber powerful lich lord).

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  53. I actually had to think about this for a moment. I currently run Pathfinder, but typically, even in older editions of the game when I do/did run them, I almost never announce AC up front during combat. I may tell the players after a few rounds (usually about the same time they deduce what it is) but I don't announce it. My players never seem to have a problem with it. Most GM's I play with don't announce it either. It's so ingrained in my noggin' that, that I don't even really notice it consciously during play.

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  54. Nope not unusual, it is how I run things. Players roll and then tell me what AC they hit and I tell them if that is good enough to strike whatever they are fighting.

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  55. For what it is worth, my not announcing AC really doesn’t have anything to do with keeping it secret, per se. I can agree with the arguments of those who do announce it.

    Rather, I think it has more to do with the fact that I don’t want players to feel like they have to know anything about the rules. And I encourage those who know the rules not to think in mechanics.

    And I don’t find telling them the AC to really speed things up either, so there’s not any incentive for me to do it differently

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  56. I can't remember if I've ever played in or DMed a game in which an AC is known.

    Revealing what's needed to hit takes part of the fear factor ergo part of the fun.

    Joy is throwing AC 0 "toughskin" kobolds at a party and getting that vet player to go, "WTF?"

    Or a variable AC creature. Fun. Fun. Fun.

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  57. I have everyone's THAC0s calculated per weapon, including two-weapon use, specialization, STR bonuses, elf bonuses, DEX bonuses, magic item bonuses, etc on the player's character sheets.

    That way, in the usual case, I say "roll a d20 and subtract it from that THAC0 - what AC do you hit?"

    @James - is this post so we can all get it out of our systems? :-)

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  58. @PCB: That giant tick battle is definitely the most memorable we've had so far IMO. It was like a scene out of ER.

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  59. @Delta “I do it the way you do it and always have.”
    “Not necessarily. Instead do the equivalent d20+level+bonuses+AC >= 20.”
    How can they do that is you don’t tell them the AC? I was under the impression that you told you players the AC.

    I have always keep AC (and DCV in Champions) secret but have recently decided it’s not worth the effort. I think people would figure it out quite quickly in real combat anyway. I think any suspense involved is overwhelmed by tedium and frustration, just telling them after the first swing provides enough suspense.

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  60. @O'Flux aka SteveEG - I have everyone announce who they're attacking before rolling for initiative.

    If the opponent dies before the PC attacks (melee or ranged) they can just pick someone else.

    I don't allow spell-casters to choose a new target unless it's a spell which is "released" after casting. e.g. Charm Person would be forfeit if the victim dies partway through.

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  61. I roll in the open and don't tell anyone a thing! But they do tend to creep out, depending on the game being played, but I don't think I've ever played with a to-hit style roll in the open in a GM'd game.

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  62. My players roll their dice and announce what AC they hit. Then I tell them if it's enough. Eventually they'll guess or deduce what the actual AC is, but I'm fine with that. Surely a bunch of dungeon-delving badasses would have an approximate idea of their chances.

    As for bonuses and penalties, I usually let the players handle the obvious ones their characters would be aware of. I adjust AC's behind the screen for the rest as appropriate.

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  63. With armour class in D&D it's generally fairly obvious what the actual AC is going to be. If players can observe their opponents in action they can determine their approximate AC. If they are fighting an opponent they can soon tell for themselves. Particularly when their blade keeps magically turning on the armour of their opponent.

    Despite this I generally keep it secret for creatures they have never met before. Players generally tell me the AC they hit. That's because you have to realise that the reality is not as mechanical as the game system. That's why there is a d20 roll to act as random chance. Is your opponent hard to hit because he's good (high AC) or because you can't find an opening (low rolls)? It's when their characters know that there was a good opening for a strike, and that they were not able to make the most of it (rolled high and missed), that they might be in serious trouble.

    This is what I consider to be one of the advantages of the fighter class. The ability to judge the combat potential of an opponent. Just as a thief can judge a mark, or a magic user the complexity of magics.

    In other games, such as Ironclaw, I'm more open and tend not to conceal the rolls of their opponents. [By seeing the dice they are rolling against they have a good idea of the capabilities of their opponent.] In Runequest I generally inform people as to whether their abilities are within 20% of their opponent (superior or inferior), or vastly superior or inferior (more than 20% difference). [Then again I use variable dice for Runequest with escalating difficulty, rather than assigning difficulty modifiers.]

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  64. I just composed an excellent, well-reasoned comment that I forgot to save before posting, and received the message, "Error performing your request," so it is now lost forever. Instead of trying to reconstruct it, I'll just say I've always revealed AC once combat has started, but not before.

    That is all. :-[

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  65. It seems mostly everyone commenting above do reveal the AC to the players once an arbitrary factor has been met.

    Based on the comments, I think the earliest point in which AC should be given out is when the PC first hits an opponent.

    I think most players are more than capable of separating mechanics from role playing, and once they begin to understand those mechanics, the math actually serves to construct their descriptions more vividly.

    Rather than the information exchange being about math, it is all kept in the background as everyone does their own calculations resulting in more time for descriptions.

    Ex:

    player: I got a 15. Do I hit?
    DM: no sorry...

    becomes

    player: I slash at the bastard wildly but he's too quick. Stay still damn it!!!

    I think it is quicker to reveal stats for that reason, and trust that players are not going to take advantage or cheat while you play.

    I rarely look at my players rolls, I just let them know what they need to get upfront and ask them to describe it rather than tell me what the exact result was.

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  66. I just tell the players whether or not they've hit. I try to do it descriptively as often as possible - "Your arrow grazes the goblin's fur, but misses" or "Your arrow is so wide to the right that the goblin doesn't even notice it" - but sometimes lapse into the standard "you hit/you miss." My players don't have the to-hit numbers printed on their character sheets, so although they eventually figure out the number they need to hit a given monster, they never translate that to an AC value.

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  67. Any smart player will eventually figure out what the opponent's armor class is, based on what hits and what doesn't. A DM should never tell the player's what their opponent's AC is because it completely shatters the suspense of combat. What I should have said on the previous post is that ascending AC is convenient because "what did you roll?" "15" (DM checks AC and sees that it is 15). "You hit".

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  68. @Tom: the suspense lies in the roll of the die, mechanics are illusionary to the fictional realms of the mind....

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  69. My players tell me what they hit. Eventually they figure out the monsters AC.

    Sometimes in the event of a 19 or 20 rolled they will just claim I hit, I'll often as for more details at which point they say I rolled a 19 that hits and AC of "negative ....) and I then agree they hit.

    If I'm playing 4E or 3.X I generally assume a 16-20 on the die hits assuming it is level appropriate.

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  70. Player rolls d20, adds modifiers and/or consults their character sheet as appropriate, announces what AC they hit; GM announces whether they hit or missed, adding a "your swing goes wide" or "almost got him" or "clang against the shield" as the GM deems appropriate.

    By the time the combat is up, the players will usually have figured out what AC the opponents/monsters had - same as their characters would have gotten the measure of their foe.

    Only time the GM should announce the AC is if a player has poor math skills and needs the help, or on the first game session for someone who has never played before.

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  71. During play, I never tell players anything about any game mechanics. I tell them only what their characters know and sense.

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  72. I play 3.5 and I never announce the AC. Never have since my 1e days.

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  73. As a young player, I was always told what the TH number was. I liked that--gave some sense of meaning to the random numbers generated.

    I DM for my two daughters (age 9 and 7) and I always tell them what they need to hit.

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  74. I rarely tell them what they need to hit; my players don't always describe their actions, while I tend to be more descriptive, so I use words to give them an idea of how well they've hit, and let them work out the AC based on that and whether they do any damage.

    We also used to play with the DM keeping track of PCs hit points, rather than the player, and using words to give them an idea of how wounded they were. Don't do that anymore, but it did help create atmosphere.

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  75. Depends. Back when I was into playing the most current edition (0e and 2e in the 90s, 3e thereafter), I always kept AC secret. It was like HD or HP: you just didn't give that info up.

    Nowadays, I don't see the point. My rule is this: as soon as a player has definitely declared that he's attacking a particular monster, the monster's AC is revealed. It saves time and lets the player do all the math before rolling to hit.

    Unless, of course, I'm running a game geared towards pure immersion (usually a good option for total newbies). But in this case, I'll even be concealing the PCs' own ability scores and hit points, never mind monster stats.

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  76. I generally (not always) tell the players what they need to hit. There is nothing like having a group of adventurers huddled around the attacker collectively rooting for that 'magic number' to enable a successful attack.

    Makes the game more fun - and fun is the point, isn't it?

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  77. I usually tell them after they've hit it a few times. Especially once they've barely hit and barely missed.

    Of course, my game is high level Pathfinder, so when the fighter is making 8 attacks with his two scimitars, it does help to let the player do all the math.

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  78. With my boys I generally tell them to roll and then tell them if they hit or not.

    By not telling them the AC I can adjust for cover, terrain, or (in the past dealing with very young kids) throw in a free +1 to hit because they really need to get a hit in about now.

    When I am a player in my normal game my DM never tells us the AC. We do have rules lawyer in the group that I think has every monster's AC memorized so sooner or later he tells us, but otherwise we are on our own.

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  79. I tell them the AC because often they will deduce the the number needed after a hit or two.

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  80. Michael said: "How can they do that is you don’t tell them the AC? I was under the impression that you told you players the AC."

    Players tell me the total of their d20+level+bonuses. I mentally add the AC and any other bonuses they don't know about.

    If the player starts by uttering the word "twenty..." anything, I can almost always abort the process and just say "you hit".

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  81. I've played every version of D&D and have never given the players the AC. However, I've seen other DM's do it but it just isn't my cup of tea. For some reason, I just don't want players thinking about monsters in terms of AC and hit points but whether or not they should fight or run!

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  82. I run an ADnD2 campaign.
    My players tell me what they roll, I tell them if and how they hit.
    The combination of descending AC and THAC0 really make combat more "magical".

    When you give players a Base Attack Bonus, that modifier is in the forefront of their mind. Players tend to be very conscious of bonuses and penalties. But THAC0 is just a value, and not directly applied to the attack roll.

    Thus, a player is suddenly amazed when she can hit the orc with an attack roll of 8.

    It feels like your character is just somehow better than it was before, which is far more charming, to me, than being able to "see" all the nuts and bolts by having to add up bonuses I get just for being a certain level.

    ...um, so, I prefer descending armor class because it works with THAC0. It what I started playing with, and it just feels right. Ascending armor just feels... video gamey.

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  83. @Joe: "Ascending armor just feels... video gamey."

    Yes!

    Plus, descending armor class is what I first learned. So that's the right way. :)

    Actually, though, at the *very* beginning, I was using Basic D&D where armor classes only ranged from 9 to 2...oh well.

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  84. I don't ever announce target numbers for AC or any other kind of check difficulty, but players know that they can expect a 14 or better on the die to hit the vast majority of the time, just because that's how the game is designed and they pay attention to that kind of thing. Sometimes, though, they're still surprised when they hit on a 6 or something like that.

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  85. You do as Dungeon Master try and avoid telling players what the Target Armour Class is because they cant possibly know what that Ugly faun looking fellow has as an AC, but at some point there is at some point a development of the DM's Degree of Trust in the Ethics of the Player that they are able to check their own TO HIT chart and tell you whether they got the minimum roll required to Hit Orcus in the male parts with a magically enchanted diamond...

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  86. Zak sez:

    My take: fighters know the enemy's armor class usually, nobody else does.

    Damn, that's clever. Consider it pilfered - though class-specific adaptations seem appropriate (i.e. magic-users should know some of the defensive capabilities of magical beasties, etc.).

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  87. My group never actually says the AC... at least not until a few rounds into combat. Like most of the other comments here our combat rolls usually go something like this:

    Player: I hit AC 4
    DM: your shortsword bounces off his brestplate.
    Player: I hit AC -1
    DM: A solid hit! Roll your damage.

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  88. With 'NPC' numbers like this in rpgs (target numbers in Traveller or enemy % to hit) I tend to work as you do at the beginning of an unclear situation and as it proceeds the players either work out the opposition or maybe by the end I may have revealed all. It's like the 'fog of war' in my mind's eye and it can clear partially with time.

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  89. I like to keep it secret at least at the beginning of a fight. If they have never fought the monster before, how do they know how difficult it will be? If it's a physical test, such as leaping across a gap, I generally tell them their chances. In combat, there are too many variables and not enough time to think.

    I prefer to let them tell me the total roll, because there may be hidden modifiers. What about the cursed sword he doesn't know about? What about the bonus this creature has because it's near enough to the Toad Idol?

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  90. In my games, AC isn’t discussed at all...

    DM: Dave, roll your attack!
    Player: 17!
    DM: Hit! Roll damage!

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  91. "Is this procedure unusual at most game tables nowadays?"

    No, that is how my group and the one or two other "old school" type games I have played with in my city play.

    I had a "new school" player I play with us a few times and he asked directly for AC once or twice but I just responded by describing their armour, relative speed and fighting skill/style.

    I don't see it as a big dewl but I prefer a "mechanics in the background behind the fluff" style if possible.

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