I’ve been wrestling with how I want to handle Armor Class. I don’t like the all or nothing hit, because the point of armor is not to dodge but to deflect injury. I also don’t like the idea that even a little armor can protect you from most attacks. Still, armor is worthwhile, so I didn’t want to nerf it unduly.
How do I get to a place where armor doesn’t make you invulnerable, but does help? I think I finally cracked it as I lay in bed awake one night last week! This one is easier to display on a chart than explain.
So, in effect, the better you roll to hit the more of your target’s armor you ignore. If you just barely get a high enough roll to hit, then you’re trying to hurt them through their armor. If you get a great shot in, you avoid most or all of the armor. The damage reduction scales with the skill of the hit, but it’s a small chart that will easily fit on a reference card or a 2 page rules reference.
I think this can work for swords and sandals, medieval fantasy, survival horror, modern games, and science fiction. (Here is my clunkier previous effort.)