|Plate Armor with FABULOUS neck-protection|
When men were men, and men used charts!
Attack MatricesIn the first editions of DnD, in order to determine if an attack hits, each class came with an attack matrix showing, for each level/AC, what number you needed to roll to score a hit. So the process is:
- Calculate To Hit Value=(chart lookup)
- Roll=d20 + bonuses
- Compare values
THAC0The idea of a chart that each player needed to have available at all times got old pretty fast, such that the DMG in 1e already mentions calculating a character's THAC0 or "To Hit Armor Class 0". So here the process is:
- Calculate To Hit Value=THAC0-AC
- Compare values
Now this is a subjective improvement, some players prefer charts, but my impression is that THAC0 was eventually widely adopted and that most players, including myself, prefer it.
DnD NextDnD Next changed the AC system so that a character's AC IS the To Hit value. As such the process to determine a hit is:
- Compare to AC
First, in the THAC0 system, I need to calculate and remember two values for each attack, which for my notoriously bad short-term memory, is a bit clunky. I didn't realize how much the 5e version is an improvement until the 5e playtest. It's nice not having to calculate the to-hit value for each specific monster.
The second reason this is an improvement is that the DM need not reveal the monster's AC to the players. The player just states his roll and the DM compares to the AC value. This is more immersive, since the player doesn't know objectively how hard the monster is to hit. Monsters should be mysterious and an unknown quantity. Once they become just a list of numbers in the players' mind, then the game becomes less immersive.
Actually, this AC as the to-hit value may have already been present in 4e, but 4e combat is so Byzantine and complex that I didn't notice how great it is until now!
Anyway, I still won't be giving up Labyrinth Lord as my choice version of DnD to run, but I might just swipe 5e's Armor Class rules when I do run my next DnD game.