The trouble with unbounded accuracy

My AD&D campaign is in trouble. After three years of play, it’s getting towards the stage of being an elderly campaign and – quite frankly – I need a break from it. Yes, I know some AD&D campaigns go for year after year after year and by those standards this campaign has only started, but this particular campaign is feeling tired.

There are many reasons for this, but it is worth noting that one element that is contributing to the problems is that one of the characters now has an armour class of -8! (In newer editions of the game, this corresponds basically to an armour class of 28). It’s insanely good and most monsters can’t hit that character. This, of course, leads to a lack of tension in the game.

The character in question, a fighter, has an 18 Dexterity and effectively magical platemail +3 and a shield +3. (I could be wrong on the specifics of which magic item has which bonus). Jesse’s magic-user is quite happy to cast the strength spell on all the fighters at the beginning of each day, so they tend to be in the upper percentiles of 18 strength for most fights. This is good play, and this level of equipment can be expected in a long-running AD&D campaign.

Except that it causes problems, especially when other members of the group have normal armour classes (between 2 and -2, mostly).

AD&D is a funny game. The monsters, for the most part, keep their ACs between 2 and 9, with notable exceptions being devils and demons, but there is a certain level of inflation going on with the player’s abilities. In original D&D, the random tables allowed for an Armour Class of 0, with only a 1/3 chance of the +3 shield catching the blow and giving the AC of -3. (Dexterity did not originally improve Armour Class). The Greyhawk supplement gave the game the form it would take in to AD&D: Armour and Shields to a possible +5, and Dexterity reducing Armour Class (albeit for fighters only). Thus, an Armour Class of -12 was possible.

With such armour classes, the chance of being struck drop to 5% or 10%, and only if the greatest (12 HD or more) monsters are attacking. Dungeon Masters through the years have dealt with these problems by making the armour vulnerable – rust monsters being the classic solution, but forcing the armour to make saving throws against attack forms such as fireballs and lightning bolts has also been popular. (Item saving throws are a fascinating topic; exactly when they should be employed differs from table to table. In my case, I prefer not to use them).

The adventure I’ve been running the group through isn’t really built for such high armour classes; it’s certainly for higher-level characters, but not to such an insane degree.

So, what now for the campaign? As I said, this is just one of the problems besetting it, and – eventually – a relatively minor one. I could deal with it if I really wanted to. Rather, I expect that I soon press pause on the campaign until I feel enthusiastic about it again, and instead attempt something different. Most likely Call of Cthulhu, for which I have a number of adventures I’d like to run.


  1. Mike W

    One good breath of a dragon, or an acid trap and a failed save and all that sweet +3 armor is gone.

    High level play runs through equipment like low level folks run through healing potions.


  2. Sukh

    I DMed a D&D adventure where the party had (well I say had) to fight a Will-o’-the-wisp which in 2E D&D has a AC of -8…and this was a adventure for 4-5th level adventures (I think it was The Sentinel or The Gauntlet). No one in the party could hit the damn thing, the Fighter needing a 18 or something.

    In the end the party just left 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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