Home » Ancient Posts » Ascending AC is Old School: A Rant    
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@Gordon Cooper: My next project, Lords & Wizards, will use both ascending and descending AC. For only slightly more writing effort, both camps can be happy.

Gordon Cooper

Honestly, I wish all OSR games used both ascending AND descending AC in their descriptions of monsters, NPCs, etc.

Vile Traveller

I personally think that OSR has nothing to do with the time in which the original rules were set, and those who dismiss rules because they think (rightly or wrongly) that they weren't used in the day are missing the whole point of old school play. To me it's much more about minimalist rules, an emphasis on ruling-on-the-fly, amongst other things. Ascending AC is consistently the number one choice when you see those threads, "what part of d20 would you use in OD&D / CD&D / AD&D?".

Although I've kept descending AC for BLUEHOLME 1st edition in order to allow it to stand as a true simulacrum of Holmes, I will be releasing a 2nd edition that has ascending AC (amongst other tweaks).

Original rules are not sacrosanct, and there's no reason not to use something new that comes along if you think it improves your game. *That* is a core value of OSR, not descending AC.


My favorite thing back in the day wasn't so much the up or down of it. The tables meant you just needed to hit a target number, with less addition of bonuses involved.


Dave Arneson used ascending AC (going from 1 to 8 for plate) before he invented the alternate combat system. So ascending predates descending. He also used armor as a saving throw. To hit chances were based on comparing level vs HD, so characters got harder to hit as they leveled.

Rachel Ghoul

I maintain it's also more intuitive in general, but that could just be me.

Chad Rose

I was just asking myself recently when the first instance of ascending AC might have shown up and literally days later your blog post shows up. So, at least as of 1980 someone had the idea.

I, myself, really like ascending AC with old school D&D. It just works a little more fluidly with the +/-'s in the game. But hey, if some people prefer THAC0, thats fine too.