You’ve never had is so good – armour and weapons.

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I actually did a sort out the other week and got some of my AD&D books out of a cupboard and actually put them on the bookcase behind me. You will be able to see them on my stream! They certainly brought back loads of very fond memories. The other advantage of getting them out on display is that I started to read them and compare, and believe me, when it comes to armour and weapons in 5e, you’ve never had it so good!


Looking back on the use of weapons and armour, I’m not sure that initially we actually played proficiencies within our game. There was no armour proficiencies, but proficiencies for weapons did exist. It was something which I remember reading up on and then introducing to my own characters as something quite important and, well, advanced! I remember saying, quite proudly, that my characters now used the weapon proficiency rules. These consisted of a list of weapons which the character was proficient in so did not actually gain the ‘-2’ to hit when using weapons not on the list.

I’m aware that there are both weapon and armour proficiencies within 5th Edition, but these actually are so much more encompassing and allow for more variation than the original 1st Edition AD&D game. Why? Well. in the AD&D game there was more restrictions on weapons and armour.

Starting weapons and armour

When you chose your class, one of the major considerations was the armour and weapon you had access to. These were very specific and restricting.

I’ve already mentioned how limited the magic-users where. They were not allowed to wear ANY armour, and weapons were limited to daggers, staffs and darts. Thieves, assassins and druids were only allowed to wear leather armour, with thieves only allowed to wield clubs, daggers, darts, slings and some swords. Druids were allowed to add scimitars, slings, hammers and spears to this list, but were banned from the rest of the swords while assassins were allowed to use any weapon at all. Just on assassins, I do remember someone’s assassin character using a halberd! – backstabbing was a very unique action with a halberd!

Clerics had an interesting choice of weapons. They could don any armour, but the weapons they were allowed to use were not allowed to be edged. That’s correct, you heard that right – no edge. Basically this eliminated the use of swords and daggers etc. But they were restricted even further because they could only use clubs, flails, hammers, maces and staffs. Yet again I remember long and ardous conversations trying to justify this choice. The most popular statement to support this choice was that clerics were not allowed to draw blood – of course, being bludgeoned to death with a hammer drew no blood at all! (smash!).

Man with question mark

What is your favourite weapon for your character to weild?

Add it in the comments below

If you wanted to have no limits, then fighters, paladins and rangers could wear any armour and use any weapons. Yes, rangers in plate Mail wielding a sword and shield once melee range was engaged could have been possible.

Recently I have started to get really interested in playing a monk. I only remember these from the AD&D rules – no armour and only bo sticks, clubs, crossbows, dagger, hand axes, javelins, jo sticks, polearms (!) spears and staffs. I guess fists and feet were not actually classed as a weapon.

Race Proficiencies

The other thing which you need to be aware of, was that races has no proficiencies within specific weapons or armour. I’m not sure how many D&D 5e races do, but I do remember that a dwarf has come race proficiencies in armour which means that these could ‘over-rule’ the class ones.

This was never the case in AD&D. You only had your class proficiencies and that was it! However, there was one way to become a plate wearing mage – you could be multi-classed. But that is definitely a topic for another video/blog post.


Things have definitely change although I do wonder whether they are for the better or not. One issue about the restrictions within AD&D first edition was that characters were very stereotypical. It soon became apparent which was the best weapon for classes to carry. This meant that any variation from these weapons were seen as completely radical!

I am not sure whether there was ever serious consideration to the class choices on their initial armour and weapons but, apart from the stereotypical nature of them, I don’t think it impacted on the actual gameplay at all. I must say, when I started to DM for 5e, I was quite shocked about the weapon and armour choices available and it just made me realise that ‘you’ve never had it so good…