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View Full Version : Armor Class, Is it Worth the Trouble? [D&D 3.5]



Scoot
2010-05-24, 08:57 PM
My group has recently begun to debate the value of Armor Class and Armor itself.

One side says that one should ditch armor, and instead focus only on Dex. You don't have to worry about what can't hit you, and that armor only limits a character.

While the other side claims that at high levels, AC dosen't matter anymore, and that the body is just another slot for a magic item. (Magic Armor)


Now I'm interested as of to what the Playground has to say about the issue, it's always fun to hear new sides, or evidence towards/against old ones.

This question spans all classes and power levels, although we have come to a sort of agreement that AC is great at low levels, other levels are... Iffy.

Also, can anyone link me to that build with insane AC? I recall seeing one with around 80-100+ AC at some point. If I'm mistaken, darn. :smallannoyed:

Douglas
2010-05-24, 09:00 PM
It depends very much on how much and what kind of optimization is involved. I don't have a link handy, but with good optimization it is possible to get AC so high that pretty much everything will need a natural 20 to hit you, even without sacrificing competence in offense and other areas. Such high AC can be obtained with or without armor. Whether using armor or ditching it is better depends on what kind of build you're going for.

Scoot
2010-05-24, 09:05 PM
It depends very much on how much and what kind of optimization is involved. I don't have a link handy, but with good optimization it is possible to get AC so high that pretty much everything will need a natural 20 to hit you, even without sacrificing competence in offense and other areas. Such high AC can be obtained with or without armor. Whether using armor or ditching it is better depends on what kind of build you're going for.

The way the conversation went, it sounded like someone who would be spending more time on the front lines.

And that sounds like a page I should read.

Jack_Simth
2010-05-24, 09:08 PM
The value of AC is relative to the level of optimization of opponents, and what types of attacks opponents use.

If almost all opponents use touch attacks, then obviously, anything that doesn't amp up your touch AC is rather useless (so Rings of Protection are useful, but Full Plate is not).

If almost all opponents use area attacks, then AC is completely irrelevant (no attack rolls).

If almost all opponents use targeted effects (e.g., Charm Person), then AC is irrelevant (no attack rolls).

If almost all opponents use standard attacks, then AC is highly relevant (either as a defense against Power Attack - you don't deal damage if you can't hit, so you can't Power Attack as much - or as a miss chance if they don't have power attack and can't always meet your AC)

Is a 50% miss chance worth sacrificing five points of AC? Sometimes, not always. If an opponent hits you exactly on a 20 (E.g., your AC is exactly 20 points higher than his attack bonus), then he hits you on 1 in 20 attacks (5%). If you sacrifice 5 points of AC to get a 50% miss chance, he now threatens to hit you on a 15, but half of those fail - it goes from 1 in 20 attacks hitting you to half of 6 in 20 attacks hitting you (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20), or 3 in 20 attacks - 15%. Any given relative change in attack bonus vs. AC to purchase a miss chance will have a different break-even point. So it depends on your opponent.

Vaynor
2010-05-24, 09:09 PM
Well if you're a fighter-type without any reason to prioritize Dex except for AC and initiative (and a few skills that probably aren't relevant either), it can be much better (at high levels) to get a nice set of +5 mithral full-plate. That is, unless you have a +16 Dex mod. All you'd need is at least a +3 Dex bonus.

The Glyphstone
2010-05-24, 09:09 PM
As mentioned, with a bit of care and optimization, you can max out your AC to the point where it's almost impossible to hit you, but it takes work and can be quite expensive. At really high levels, AC isn't valuable so much as miss chances.

The White Knight
2010-05-24, 09:12 PM
If your DM is my DM, spend your money elsewhere. His opponents either hit 95% of the time or 5% of the time, and those that fit in the latter group get dispatched promptly anyways.

Scoot
2010-05-24, 09:16 PM
Thanks for the info on Miss Chance. I had forgotten it when considering magic.



If your DM is my DM, spend your money elsewhere. His opponents either hit 95% of the time or 5% of the time, and those that fit in the latter group get dispatched promptly anyways.

I had a DM like that once, he used cheat dice.

Was either a crit, or a miss. :smallsigh:

Curmudgeon
2010-05-24, 09:23 PM
As douglas pointed out, you can get high AC with or without armor. With armor you're looking at mountain plate (Races of Stone), with associated feats for its use, and include the Segmented template (Dragon # 358, pages 42-43) for +1 to Max Dexterity Bonus, and Reinforced template (Dragon # 358, page 42) for +1 armor bonus. Add a (preferably animated) shield.

Cloistered Clerics particularly can benefit from a nice wrinkle in the rules for the no-armor approach.

1) Start with the right clothing.
Scholarís Outfit

Perfect for a scholar, this outfit includes a robe, a belt, a cap, soft shoes, and possibly a cloak.2) Next, enhance the robe with an armor bonus (up to +8), as per Magic Item Compendium page 234. This works exactly the same as Bracers of Armor; the "Adding/Improving Common Item Effects" table allows armor bonuses in both Arms (bracers) and Body (robe) slots.

3) Next, you can add an armor enhancement bonus on top of the armor bonus if you cast Magic Vestment:
You imbue a suit of armor or a shield with an enhancement bonus of +1 per four caster levels (maximum +5 at 20th level).

An outfit of regular clothing counts as armor that grants no AC bonus for the purpose of this spell.4) Finally, realize that your armor boost (up to +13 already) isn't from actual armor at all, and thus you can still wear a Monk's Belt to get (1 + WIS bonus) more AC!

Regardless of which approach you take, you add all the usual embellishments (deflection, natural armor, & c.) on top. Dexterity of course is always useful, though limited to +3 for the extra-heavy armor approach.

Scoot
2010-05-24, 09:32 PM
The fancy robe approach looks beastly, I'm tempted to try that out in my next game.

Thanks.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-24, 09:45 PM
The fancy robe approach looks beastly, I'm tempted to try that out in my next game.

Thanks.
Glad you like it. Add Divine Power and Knowledge Devotion, and Cloistered Clerics become scholars of slaughter. :smallcool:

For Valor
2010-05-24, 09:51 PM
There actually was a system (from UA, I believe) that changed the AC system to some AC and some DR, and there have been homebrew attempts to change the whole "Avoid damage" thing to Reflex saves, and make armor all about DR, but the game really breaks down here. Reflex saves were meant to be completely different from the to-hit and damage system. At high levels, the Reflex-based classes with High dexterity will be nigh untouchable, and normal amounts of DR won't help the people who are supposed to be tanks. Of course, you could bring up the DR to something ridiculous, but then games at low levels would be strongly angled towards lots of armor.

No matter what you do, one end of the game gets unbalanced.

There's really nothing wrong with losing the AC system at higher levels; keeping it in means making things based more on "I TRY BREAK THE RNG", and that's just not fun.

IonDragon
2010-05-24, 09:57 PM
If you're high enough to stack the Outsider type, you can Polymorph into a Horned Devil for +19(!!!) Natural Armor. Stack Dragon Skin for +5 Natural Armor, then Scintillating Scales and presto! That's +24 Deflection bonus to AC. Of course, I think that requires CL 15 for the Horned Devil bit. Getting your AC over 50 isn't that hard by level 15, and to use the Horned Devil example again: CR 16, +25 to hit. If your AC is over 44, it requires a natural 20 for him to hit.

None of this precludes stacking miss chance by the way.

gorfnab
2010-05-24, 10:08 PM
Well to really pump a wizard's AC without armor I usually recommend
Greater Luminous Armor (BoED) - +8 AC, enemies take -4 to hit you
1 level of Crusader or Martial Stance Iron Guard's Glare (ToB) - -4 to hit you and your allies
5 levels Abjurant Champion - +5 bonus to any Abjuration spell that gives you an AC bonus, plus quicken lower level abjuration spells for free
So thats:
Base of 10
+13 Armor bonus to AC (Greater Luminous Armor + Abjurant Champion)
+9 Shield bonus to AC (Shield spell + Abjurant Champion, also free quicken)
And enemies take a -8 penalty to hit you.
That is basically an AC of 40 before adding in Dex or magic items, well actually AC 32 with enemies taking a -8 penalty to hit.

An easy build for this would be Crusader 1/ Wizard 5/ Eldritch Knight 2, Jade Phoenix Mage 2, or Ruathar 3/ Abjurant Champion 5.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-24, 10:21 PM
Polymorph into a Horned Devil for +19(!!!) Natural Armor. Stack Dragon Skin for +5 Natural Armor, then Scintillating Scales and presto! That's +24 Deflection bonus to AC.
You've just used 3 fairly short duration 1 standard action spells just to get your AC up. Hope you're not dead already. :smallwink:

Scoot
2010-05-24, 10:59 PM
There actually was a system (from UA, I believe) that changed the AC system to some AC and some DR, and there have been homebrew attempts to change the whole "Avoid damage" thing to Reflex saves, and make armor all about DR, but the game really breaks down here. Reflex saves were meant to be completely different from the to-hit and damage system. At high levels, the Reflex-based classes with High dexterity will be nigh untouchable, and normal amounts of DR won't help the people who are supposed to be tanks. Of course, you could bring up the DR to something ridiculous, but then games at low levels would be strongly angled towards lots of armor.

No matter what you do, one end of the game gets unbalanced.

There's really nothing wrong with losing the AC system at higher levels; keeping it in means making things based more on "I TRY BREAK THE RNG", and that's just not fun.

We've played with armor being pure DR before.

I don't believe any of the fighters took any damage for the first 2-3 levels. I myself enjoy the idea of DR instead of AC, but it dosen't didn't work very well in practice. (Although I now need to read up on this half/half variant, and the Reflex)


Thanks for the input.

IonDragon
2010-05-24, 11:00 PM
Self buffs are a Free Action using a Glyph Stone on your Spell Component pouch in the morning.

EDIT: Also, Dragon Skin is 10 min/lvl and Polymorph is 1 min/lvl. That means by the time you can use these buffs they are just shy of 3 hours, and 15 minutes respectively.

EDIT2: @gorfnab: Alter Self (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/alterself.htm) into a Trogolodyte (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/troglodyte.htm) for +6 Natural Armor.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-25, 12:49 AM
Self buffs are a Free Action using a Glyph Stone on your Spell Component pouch in the morning.
What's that? I've never heard of a Glyph Stone.

Vaynor
2010-05-25, 12:58 AM
What's that? I've never heard of a Glyph Stone.

Well, for starters, he's the sixth poster in this thread. But I don't think that's what you meant.

IonDragon
2010-05-25, 01:03 AM
Glyph Stone: Magic Item Comp, 1000g. Allows the user to set up a Glyph of Warding (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/glyphofwarding.htm) with a spell they cast at the time of set up Maximum spell level 3.

Glyph Stone, Greater: As above except 4000g, minimum spell level 5.

Hendel
2010-05-25, 01:20 AM
I had a rogue/swashbuckler/duelist with a high Int and I fought defensively most of the time and I had an AC in the sixities most of the time and that was from about 15th to 18th level. It can be done.

I have a sorcerer with his own crafted epic spells, Epic Mage Armor and Epic Natural Armor (using the same Armor seed), and his AC is about 101 most of the time. His touch AC is still only 30, so that is a problem but he is a 30th level Sorcerer/Argent Savant.

I do agree that for the most part AC does not scale as much normally as the ability to hit that AC seems to do. However, when a party puts their minds to it, they can do wonders. It has caused a small "arms race" in some of my groups where the players jack their AC way up and the DM has to make things that can still hit them. Then they jack it up some more and the DM increases the monster's to hit, etc.

The problem is when one or two party members do it and not the whole party. Then the bad guys can always hit some and never others. I have found that good DM's can get around this by area effect spells, swarms, touch, and ranged touch attacks, etc. They probably should not be used all the time, but spreading them throughout an encounter or two is nice.

Gralamin
2010-05-25, 01:40 AM
Glyph Stone: Magic Item Comp, 1000g. Allows the user to set up a Glyph of Warding (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/glyphofwarding.htm) with a spell they cast at the time of set up Maximum spell level 3.

Glyph Stone, Greater: As above except 4000g, minimum spell level 5.

Actually called a "Glyph Seal" not Stone.

Lev
2010-05-25, 01:50 AM
Depends how your DM and how your group handles things, for instance if your DM is lobbing grenades at you it's a good idea to have armor, but if he is throwing knife fighters at you then you probably want dex instead.

If your group has low initiative, spot, listen, you might want more armor, if you have a very cautious perceptive group you might want to handle it with just clever positioning and dodging.

Personally I DM contextually, so my players usually armor anything they don't want hit, as I take dmg medically literal to it's effect.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-25, 01:58 AM
Self buffs are a Free Action using a Glyph Stone on your Spell Component pouch in the morning.

Actually called a "Glyph Seal" not Stone.
OK, now I know what to look for, but I think you've got the action wrong:

Activation: Standard (manipulation) If you're intending to have it pre-activated on the inside of your spell component pouch, it's normally going to go off the first time you access the pouch regardless of your intent. If you want to disable it to access the inside of your pouch for some other purpose, that's going to take a successful DC 30 Search check and a full-round action to find it, then a standard action for deactivation. Multiply the above if you want to use multiple Glyph Seals.

Doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

Edit: You also can't use this with spells of 3rd or 4th level. The Glyph Seal only works with "any arcane or divine spell of up to 2nd level", and the Glyph Seal, Greater only works "with any spell of 5th level or higher".

Kaiyanwang
2010-05-25, 02:19 AM
If almost all opponents use touch attacks, then obviously, anything that doesn't amp up your touch AC is rather useless (so Rings of Protection are useful, but Full Plate is not).


It's expensive and cause the risk of stepping into Githyanki, but Astral Driftemal makes your full plate useful for touch attacks too.

Moreover, against wraiths and similar monsters, enjoy the combo with armor crystals!

IonDragon
2010-05-25, 02:34 AM
If you want to disable it to access the inside of your pouch for some other purpose, that's going to take a successful DC 30 Search check and a full-round action to find it, then a standard action for deactivation.

Actually, you can set a safe word so you simply say the safe word when you need to get into it out of combat without detonating your glyphs.


Edit: You also can't use this with spells of 3rd or 4th level. The Glyph Seal only works with "any arcane or divine spell of up to 2nd level", and the Glyph Seal, Greater only works "with any spell of 5th level or higher".

That is correct, I was AFB. You can however use Arcane Fusion with the Greater in order to put Shield and a Dragon Skin, and the 'lesser' one to cast Scintillating Scales.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-25, 03:41 AM
Actually, you can set a safe word so you simply say the safe word when you need to get into it out of combat without detonating your glyphs.
OK, but then there's the problem of how not pay for new Glyph Seals every day.
Once activated, the now-empty glyph seal can be retrieved (though it requires a successful DC 30 Search check to find) and used.
Restriction: While anyone can use Search to find a trap whose DC is 20 or lower, only a rogue can use Search to locate traps with higher DCs. (Exception: The spell find traps temporarily enables a cleric to use the Search skill as if he were a rogue.) If you're an arcane caster a Glyph Seal is going to be really hard to find, and you can't use it again until you accomplish that task.

You'd better be especially nice to the Rogue in your party. :smallsmile:

Greenish
2010-05-25, 04:51 AM
1 level of Crusader or Martial Stance Iron Guard's Glare (ToB) - -4 to hit you and your alliesIron Guard's Glare only protects your other allies, not yourself. It's explicitly spelled out in the description.

IonDragon
2010-05-25, 03:05 PM
OK, but then there's the problem of how not pay for new Glyph Seals every day. If you're an arcane caster a Glyph Seal is going to be really hard to find, and you can't use it again until you accomplish that task.

You'd better be especially nice to the Rogue in your party. :smallsmile:

I don't see why the Rogue would care. It takes something like 2 min to take 20 on the required Search Check, so they can do that while they wait for the Cleric/Wizard to refresh spells.

The Glyphstone
2010-05-25, 03:18 PM
Well, for starters, he's the sixth poster in this thread. But I don't think that's what you meant.

:smallbiggrin:

Godskook
2010-05-25, 03:40 PM
1.Power Attack is a very common feat on enemies, especially the ones you'd be most concerned about hitting you with their pointy sticks(Fighter 20 will still shred you to pieces if you don't protect yourself against him). For example, a Pit Fiend has +30 on attacks. If your AC isn't 31 or better, you're offering him free power attack damage. 50 will stop him from power attacking almost at all, or for very little.

2.Dex is not the end-all be all of AC providers. Many, many effects remove Dex to AC, as well as more that make you flat-footed(bye-bye dex).

3.Dex is a dump stat for a lot of fighter-types, due to the lack of synergy between some standard melee options and dex, such as enlarge person and full-plate. Dwarves in particular essentially encourage wearing full-plate even more by their 'no encumbrance penalties to movement' rule. There's also the fact that in low-point-buy games, reducing MAD is vital to melee success, and outside of primarily Swordsage tricks(Shadow Blade, specifically), Dex is not an easy stat to designate as 'primary'.

jiriku
2010-05-25, 04:03 PM
AC is always of use, although it's not the only form of defense and it's not necessarily the most important.

Armor is an obvious way to improve your AC, but it's far from the only method. Light armor in particular imposes very few restrictions and is often a cheap way to boost your AC when compared to the other options available which costs thousands of gold (magic items) or combat actions (spells).

If you want to optimize your AC, a good rule of thumb is that an AC of level+13 is decent, while level+23 is highly optimized and any more is getting to be a bad idea. More is a bad because you're either a) wasting resources with excess protection that you don't need because the monsters already can't hit you, or b) encouraging the DM to include beefed-up monsters that can hit you, and those monsters will auto-hit and quickly kill any fellow party members who haven't optimized AC.

The above rule of thumb may need to be adjusted to match the optimization temperature of your particular game.

As others have mentioned, however, defenses need to contemplate more than just AC. You also need to boost:


touch AC
incorporeal touch AC
miss chance (better than AC in some ways, because it will stop crits and sneak attacks)
saving throws
blanket immunities
"panic buttons" (a panic button is any effect you can activate as an immediate action to avoid impending harm)


AC DOES become less relevant at high levels of play because attacks that can kill you or knock you out of a fight with a single hit or a single failed saving throw become much more common. Blanket immunities and panic buttons are more important at these levels and successful high-level characters will try to accumulate many of them.

Siosilvar
2010-05-25, 05:38 PM
1.Power Attack is a very common feat on enemies, especially the ones you'd be most concerned about hitting you with their pointy sticks(Fighter 20 will still shred you to pieces if you don't protect yourself against him). For example, a Pit Fiend has +30 on attacks. If your AC isn't 31 or better, you're offering him free power attack damage. 50 will stop him from power attacking almost at all, or for very little.


50 AC will just mean he power attacks for full, because he needs a 20 anyway.

Which is one of the problems with Power Attack and auto-hit on a 20.

Scoot
2010-05-25, 06:26 PM
Awsome, this survived over night.


Thanks to everyone for the new input, I hope my group reads this. I know my opinion has shifted from only reading this.

Runestar
2010-05-25, 06:29 PM
How would the monster in question know exactly how much to PA for anyways? Is the DM supposed to metagame like that? For example, a DM easily knows that a tarrasque can easily PA for 15 and still hit a fighter with AC43 on a roll of 2 or better, but is he justified in using such knowledge? :smallconfused:

Anyways, I suppose you can always take elusive target (complete warrior) to negate the effects of power attack on your low-AC PC. :smallsmile:

The Cat Goddess
2010-05-25, 06:32 PM
50 AC will just mean he power attacks for full, because he needs a 20 anyway.

Which is one of the problems with Power Attack and auto-hit on a 20.

Keen Falchion... Threat on a 15-20. Go-Go Power Attack!

Krazddndfreek
2010-05-25, 06:33 PM
Auto hit is only on a natural 20, not a threatened critical.

tyckspoon
2010-05-25, 07:23 PM
How would the monster in question know exactly how much to PA for anyways? Is the DM supposed to metagame like that? For example, a DM easily knows that a tarrasque can easily PA for 15 and still hit a fighter with AC43 on a roll of 2 or better, but is he justified in using such knowledge? :smallconfused:


Intelligent foes can dial in their Power Attacks exactly the same way players do; start with -5 or -2 or whatever is a modest reduction for their total to-hit, attack a couple of times to find out the enemy's approximate AC level (ie, 'low', 'medium', 'oh god why did I waste my life learning to use a weapon', etc), adjust PA value accordingly. Unintelligent ones will usually just use a particular value and probably not change it much (later monsters with Power Attack often have a typical value pre-figured into their stat blocks, in fact, with a little note that says 'Monster is PAing for X' in case you want to stop using it.) The Tarrasque, in particular, probably Power Attacks for 20 or so on everything because, hey, Tarrasque. Trouble hitting things is *not* among its problems.

Fawsto
2010-05-25, 07:59 PM
You can use a old trick: Be a Cleric/Divine Caster/Have one in your party if you are the fighter.

Buy any armor that can have armor spikes attached to them, ask for masterwork versions of them (the spikes). Go and have someone enhance them as +1 defensive armor spikes.

Last step? Ask any caster with access to Greater Magic Weapon to enchant it. Now you have (depending on CL) a set of +5 defensive armor spikes for 20 hours. Have the bŰnus apply to your AC. +5 to AC for 2000 gold and a spell.

You can go even further depending on how your DM is fond of you. Do the same to an Animated Shield's spikes. More AC for another set of 2000 gold pieces and a spell.

Optimator
2010-05-25, 08:14 PM
Greater Stone Golems (effectively) ignore armor.

taltamir
2010-05-25, 08:19 PM
Glad you like it. Add Divine Power and Knowledge Devotion, and Cloistered Clerics become scholars of slaughter. :smallcool:

heh, scholar of slaughter sounds awesome..
"I have a PHD in kicking your ass!"

Curmudgeon
2010-05-25, 10:49 PM
Buy any armor that can have armor spikes attached to them, ask for masterwork versions of them (the spikes). Go and have someone enhance them as +1 defensive armor spikes.
...
You can go even further depending on how your DM is fond of you. Do the same to an Animated Shield's spikes. More AC for another set of 2000 gold pieces and a spell.
Your DM would need to also ignore the text of the rules.
Defending

A defending weapon allows the wielder to transfer some or all of the swordís enhancement bonus to his AC as a bonus that stacks with all others. Wizards of the Coast have never issued an erratum on this point, so if you want a defending bonus to stack with your AC, it's got to be on a sword. So no armor spikes, shield spikes, or whatever. But you're free to use a dancing, defending sword to add to your AC; that stacks.

Fawsto
2010-05-26, 08:54 AM
Your DM would need to also ignore the text of the rules. Wizards of the Coast have never issued an erratum on this point, so if you want a defending bonus to stack with your AC, it's got to be on a sword. So no armor spikes, shield spikes, or whatever. But you're free to use a dancing, defending sword to add to your AC; that stacks.

And that's a draconic interpretation of the rules.

I makes no sense to make it a "swords only" enhancement. It is a mistake, seriously.

Quietus
2010-05-26, 09:13 AM
I don't see why the Rogue would care. It takes something like 2 min to take 20 on the required Search Check, so they can do that while they wait for the Cleric/Wizard to refresh spells.

They can't take 20 on a search check when there is an associated risk of failure. If you're looking for something on the inside of a small bag filled with bat poo, you either find it and avoid setting it off (Meet the DC) or you don't find it and it goes off (don't meet the DC). Essentially it's like hitting every number from 1-20, in order, so if someone insisted they could do it, and they can't meet the DC on a 1, they'd fail and it would go off.

Irreverent Fool
2010-05-26, 09:36 AM
And that's a draconic interpretation of the rules.

I makes no sense to make it a "swords only" enhancement. It is a mistake, seriously.

And you're suggesting that having defending armor spikes that never get used to attack is RAI? You can't have it both ways, mate. Live by the RAW, die by the RAW.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-26, 12:31 PM
I don't see why the Rogue would care. It takes something like 2 min to take 20 on the required Search Check, so they can do that while they wait for the Cleric/Wizard to refresh spells.
It's actually the arcane spellcaster who should care, because using a Spell Glyph more than once is something they can't do without help. So if the Rogue is expending their skill for a full round to pull off a Search that the spellcaster can't, a fair trade would be a full round of spellcasting to help the Rogue. That'll be 1 swift plus 1 standard action spell to buff the Rogue, please. It's only fair. :smallsmile: (Repeat for each Spell Glyph.)

Irreverent Fool
2010-05-26, 12:44 PM
I'd like to point out that the item itself is not a trap, especially not once it has been triggered. It is merely a very small item that is difficult to find, thus anyone who can make a DC 30 search check will be able to locate it, especially if they know which square to search in.

Personally, I'd just use sovereign glue to stick it to something easier to spot, like an unassuming rock.

Foryn Gilnith
2010-05-26, 01:16 PM
And you're suggesting that having defending armor spikes that never get used to attack is RAI?

RAI: Defending on most weapons, not on armor/shield spikes.
RAW: Defending on swords only (interesting catch, BTW)
Rules-as-I'm-likely-to-encounter: Defending on armor/shield spikes, or N/A (issue doesn't come up).

Gnaeus
2010-05-26, 01:20 PM
If you want to optimize your AC, a good rule of thumb is that an AC of level+13 is decent, while level+23 is highly optimized and any more is getting to be a bad idea.

I like your statistic Jiriku. I find it helpful. Where did you find it and what is it based on (Printed monster to hits, or price effective AC)? Is that generally true for all optimization levels?

I am about to play in a combat heavy game with optimized players and monsters and I am wondering how much I can rely on it. 34 AC at level 11 doesn't seem that high.

JaronK
2010-05-26, 01:20 PM
Who knows what RAI is? I've always allowed Defending Armor Spikes. They're pretty expensive for what they do, honestly. If you really want to dedicate that much cash to AC, go for it.

I'd really prefer +1 Eager Armor Spikes of Warning. +7 Initiative, low cost.

JaronK

Machiavellian
2010-05-26, 01:24 PM
With all of that DEX, just focus on Initiative

Lord Vampyre
2010-05-26, 01:30 PM
And that's a draconic interpretation of the rules.

I makes no sense to make it a "swords only" enhancement. It is a mistake, seriously.

I'll agree that the defending enhancement makes no sense as a "swords only" enhancement; but trying to use it on armor or shield spikes is such blatant cheese I would be hard pressed to allow it in any game I ran.

I might consider making an exception to an axe or something, but not armor spikes.

Machiavellian
2010-05-26, 01:33 PM
I occasionally play a Spiker who wears Spiked Fullplate, spiked gauntlets, and a spiked shield. All I need is a REALLY big hill...

jiriku
2010-05-26, 01:46 PM
I like your statistic Jiriku. I find it helpful. Where did you find it and what is it based on (Printed monster to hits, or price effective AC)? Is that generally true for all optimization levels?

I am about to play in a combat heavy game with optimized players and monsters and I am wondering how much I can rely on it. 34 AC at level 11 doesn't seem that high.

I get the level+13 number from the monster creation guidelines in the back of MM1, which recommends a monster have an AC of approximately CR+13, and an attack bonus of (CR*1.5)+2. I find depending on the monster's role, the numbers may need to vary by +/- 2, but the rule of thumb works pretty well. And hey, what's good for the goose (NPC) is good for the gander (PC).

My figure of level+23 as the upper bound of optimization is based on the assumption that if a decent AC of level+13 means an attack will hit you on an 11+, then level+23 means you'll only be hit on a natural 20.

The AC rule of thumb is very campaign-sensitive. I have played in campaigns where AC was irrelevent, because the DM would metagame against the players and build monsters that could easily hit the highest-AC party member, regardless of what his AC was. In my own games, I adhere to MM guidelines quite closely and so it's very reliable for my players.

The rule of thumb is also optimization-sensitive. If you're joining an existing group, I'd say your best bet is to reverse-engineer the rule. Check the AC of the best-protected member of the party you're joining. If your AC is more than 10 points lower than his, you're probably in for a world of hurt. If your AC is more than 4 points higher, you're probably spending too much of your WBL on AC.

It is worth noting that because hit bonus scales faster than AC, the game's assumption is that low-level AC is intended to stop primary attacks, while high-level AC is only really intended to stop secondary/iterative attacks and discourage power attack on primary attacks.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-26, 02:01 PM
I'd like to point out that the item itself is not a trap, especially not once it has been triggered.
It is a trap, and the rules don't make any distinction between an active and an inactive magic trap (see Dungeon Master's Guide, pages 67-70); in both cases a Rogue (or similarly enabled class such as Scout or Factotum, or Cleric using the Find Traps spell) is required to locate it with a Search check. That skill limitation still applies to a manually reset trap that's been triggered.
A glyph seal allows you to convert any arcane or divine spell of up to 2nd level into a symbol similar to a glyph of warding.
...
Once activated, the now-empty glyph seal can be retrieved (though it requires a successful DC 30 Search check to find) and used.


Note: Magic traps such as glyph of warding are hard to detect and disable. A rogue (only) can use the Search skill to find the glyph and Disable Device to thwart it. The DC in each case is 25 + spell level, or 28 for glyph of warding.

JaronK
2010-05-26, 02:19 PM
I'll agree that the defending enhancement makes no sense as a "swords only" enhancement; but trying to use it on armor or shield spikes is such blatant cheese I would be hard pressed to allow it in any game I ran.

I might consider making an exception to an axe or something, but not armor spikes.

Why? Why is it cheesy to pay a ridiculous amount of money for +5 to AC? I mean, you have to pay at least the cost of a +6 weapon for it. That's actually pretty steep.

JaronK

lsfreak
2010-05-26, 02:19 PM
Why? Why is it cheesy to pay a ridiculous amount of money for +5 to AC? I mean, you have to pay at least the cost of a +6 weapon for it. That's actually pretty steep.

JaronK

No, you pay for the cost of a 3rd/4th level Pearl of Power.
EDIT: Not even that if the wizard or cleric was going to cast Chained GMW anywho.

Endarire
2010-05-26, 02:21 PM
I prefer miss chance. Blur, displacement, and- my favorite- mirror image all say that a targeted attack against you that would have landed has a chance of missing you anyway.

These miss chances work against targeted spells and touch attacks!

Gnaeus
2010-05-26, 02:30 PM
The AC rule of thumb is very campaign-sensitive. I have played in campaigns where AC was irrelevent, because the DM would metagame against the players and build monsters that could easily hit the highest-AC party member, regardless of what his AC was. In my own games, I adhere to MM guidelines quite closely and so it's very reliable for my players.

The rule of thumb is also optimization-sensitive. If you're joining an existing group, I'd say your best bet is to reverse-engineer the rule. Check the AC of the best-protected member of the party you're joining. If your AC is more than 10 points lower than his, you're probably in for a world of hurt. If your AC is more than 4 points higher, you're probably spending too much of your WBL on AC.

Convention game, so I can't look at other players AC, and the DM will have pre-set encounters run at random so can't really metagame against me. On the other hand, I expect to be fighting under-CRed monsters with pre-cast buffs (or pre-drunk potions), so in that context the rule of thumb is probably low.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-26, 02:55 PM
Why? Why is it cheesy to pay a ridiculous amount of money for +5 to AC? I mean, you have to pay at least the cost of a +6 weapon for it.
No, you pay for a bunch of +1 defending weapons, and get tremendous boosts from a Greater Magic Weapon + Chain Spell casting, as lsfreak noted. That's a single 6th level spell (less with metamagic cost reducers) affecting up to 20 weapons, so most of them would be those bargain 8,000 gp (+1 defending) items. +5 to AC, repeated for armor spikes, boot blades, shield spikes*, and an actual off-hand weapon gets you +20 AC for 32,000 gp and one daily spell.

That's what I call a ridiculous amount of money -- ridiculously low.

Really, the best way to avoid such cheese is to simply follow the strict letter of the RAW, and have defending stack with your AC only when it's on swords.

* - The cost is just for the shield spikes themselves. You pay for the animated shield separately. This discussion is only about the defending cheese medley.

Greenish
2010-05-26, 03:05 PM
No, you pay for a bunch of +1 defending weapons, and get tremendous boosts from a Greater Magic Weapon + Chain Spell casting, as lsfreak noted. That's a single 6th level spell (less with metamagic cost reducers) affecting up to 20 weapons, so most of them would be those bargain 8,000 gp (+1 defending) items. +5 to AC, repeated for armor spikes, boot blades, shield spikes*, and an actual off-hand weapon gets you +20 AC for 32,000 gp and one daily spell.You forgot NI amount of braidblades.

JaronK
2010-05-26, 03:30 PM
No, you pay for the cost of a 3rd/4th level Pearl of Power.
EDIT: Not even that if the wizard or cleric was going to cast Chained GMW anywho.

You're assuming there's a Cleric or Wizard in the party. That's not a guarantee. If there isn't, it's prohibitively expensive (you could use a Tooth of Lereje, but that means not using said item on your primary weapon, which is foolish). And if there is... they still won't be able to give you +5 AC until level 20 (or a little earlier with caster level bumps), by which point +5 AC hardly means much and they could have PAO'd you into something awesome anyway if we're counting their buffs. Chained GMW at level 12(ish) giving you +3 AC is hardly a game breaker, and certainly not very cheesy.

@Curmudgeon: The question was whether defending armor spikes were cheesy, not whether wielding 20 weapons via some ridiculous method (usually a rather cheesy one right there!) and using Chain GMW with Defending was cheesy. The latter? Sure. But defending armor spikes themselves? I'm not seeing it.

JaronK

Curmudgeon
2010-05-26, 03:48 PM
@Curmudgeon: The question was whether defending armor spikes were cheesy, not whether wielding 20 weapons via some ridiculous method (usually a rather cheesy one right there!) and using Chain GMW with Defending was cheesy.
Not, that's not 20 weapons for one person; that's 20 weapons for the whole party -- including those used as actual weapons -- boosted to the maximum via a single casting of a spell. Once you need more than 2-3 castings of Greater Magic Weapon (i.e., you're buffing the whole party) it makes sense to use Chain Spell on it. But that means in most cases (excepting thrown weapon combatants) you're already doing something that will leverage defending weapons into abuse territory.

Because the potential for abuse is always there, and in fact is easily made from potential to actual abuse in the typical party which includes a spellcaster, I say: stick to the letter of the RAW. It's the saner approach.

Irreverent Fool
2010-05-26, 04:13 PM
It is a trap, and the rules don't make any distinction between an active and an inactive magic trap (see Dungeon Master's Guide, pages 67-70); in both cases a Rogue (or similarly enabled class such as Scout or Factotum, or Cleric using the Find Traps spell) is required to locate it with a Search check. That skill limitation still applies to a manually reset trap that's been triggered.

It's not a trap. It's an item that creates a trap. You may as well say that a wand is a spell or that a sword is an enchantment or that a rogue is a sneak attack.

The description notes that an active glyph seal can be detected and disabled as a magic trap. The bit about retrieving the item itself once the glyph is no longer active makes no such stipulation.



An activated glyph seal functions as the spell glyph function of a glyph of warding and can be detected and disabled as a magic trap (DC 30).

A glyph seal is unaffected by the spell within it. Once activated, the now-empty glyph seal can be retrieved (though it requires a successful DC 30 Search check to find) and used.


RAI: Defending on most weapons, not on armor/shield spikes.
RAW: Defending on swords only (interesting catch, BTW)
Rules-as-I'm-likely-to-encounter: Defending on armor/shield spikes, or N/A (issue doesn't come up).

Rules-as-you're-likely-to-encounter don't really make for a meaningful discussion though, since we've all got different DMs/DMing styles. I'm just saying that if you intend on pulling cheese by the RAW, expect to be foiled by the very types of loopholes you expect to exploit. I would agree that RAI are that defending isn't meant to be applied to armor spikes, shield spikes, or shields. I would probably go so far as to say you don't count as the wielder for the purposes of the enchantment if the weapon is animated, but again, different DMs will allow different things.

JaronK
2010-05-26, 05:33 PM
Not, that's not 20 weapons for one person; that's 20 weapons for the whole party -- including those used as actual weapons -- boosted to the maximum via a single casting of a spell. Once you need more than 2-3 castings of Greater Magic Weapon (i.e., you're buffing the whole party) it makes sense to use Chain Spell on it. But that means in most cases (excepting thrown weapon combatants) you're already doing something that will leverage defending weapons into abuse territory.

So let me get this straight... it's cheesy, because if you had a Wizard or Cleric with the right metamagic feats casting an already very powerful spell, you might get an additional 2 or 3 to AC? What's next, Rogue sneak attacks are cheesy because a Wizard can Polymorph them into Hydras for tons of attacks?

And letter of RAW is that Defending can come up for any melee weapon.

JaronK

jiriku
2010-05-26, 05:59 PM
I'm tending to see things JaronK's way here.

In my current campaign, one player has a 12th-level cleric and has used moderate optimization to cheese his AC up to the point where 80% of the opponents he faces can only hit him with a natural 20. I'm hardly worried -- he's spent so much of his spell and WBL resources (and his think-about-my-character time!) on defense that he's only marginally effective in combat.

He's hardly a balance problem. In fact, he could cheese up another 10-15 points of AC if he felt like it and the game wouldn't change any -- he'd still have ironclad protection from normal attacks, decent saves in everything but Reflex, and little impact on encounters outside a support/buffing role.

It's common to shout "cheesy!" whenever a player uses an unusual method of obtaining numbers that are better than you're used to for his level, but I find it's rarely a serious concern unless the player is finding ways to create wealth from nothing or acquire permanent items/benefits without paying the listed gold, time, and experience costs.

JaronK
2010-05-26, 06:18 PM
Indeed. Cheesy is using Mirror Mephits to get unlimited copies of yourself. Cheesy is doing so much damage that you one hit kill everything out there. But making yourself hard to hit via direct AC attacks by spending some money and metamagic feats, thereby gaining an extra +2 or 3 to AC? What's cheesy about that? What's unbalancing? Where's the problem? AC is hardly the only way to hit someone (what about saves?). Heck, if that Cleric had ignored Chain Spell and gone with DMM:Persistant he could have put up Persistant Recitation and gotten a much better buff without needing to bother with buying 20 +1 defending items. And then he could have used an actually good spell, like Righteous Wrath of the Faithful.

JaronK

Tehnar
2010-05-26, 07:07 PM
I would like to point out that by RAW miss chance is capped at 50% regardless of how many sources you have that are granting it. There is even a argument if blinking grants miss chance (in which case it does not stack) or chance to miss (in which it does).

Mirror image is a way around this, but mirror image is pretty easy to counter even without magic. So I am of the opinion you can't rely on miss chance alone to protect you.

Curmudgeon
2010-05-26, 07:09 PM
So let me get this straight... it's cheesy, because if you had a Wizard or Cleric with the right metamagic feats casting an already very powerful spell, you might get an additional 2 or 3 to AC?
Greater Magic Weapon already very powerful? It's level 3. Even with Chain Spell it's only level 6 (assuming no metamagic cost reducers). With CL boosters you might get an additional +20 to AC, not 2 or 3. That difference is major, moving you into the "natural 20 only" AC range, and it also pretty much wipes out any chance of a critical hit by your enemies (down to a piddling 0.25%). Their expenditures on vorpal, burst, and other weapon enhancements that work on critical hits have been rendered worthless.

Now, this is all done with a fairly minor investment in goods (the cost of one +4 weapon: 32,000 gp), and a single buff spell that's pretty standard daily fare for an adventuring party anyway. The result: an AC boost that, with normal armor enhancement pricing, would cost you 4,000,000 gp. And that same daily buff spell can do this to all the defending weapons in the whole party.

That's cheesy.

Irreverent Fool
2010-05-26, 07:22 PM
20 +1 defending items

Defending makes reference to the wielder, implying that the character needs to be wielding the weapon, not just carrying it. This is where the armor spikes come in, in that they are considered to be wielded because they are always ready. Arguably gauntlets would fill the role as well. A normal two-armed character could potentially have 5 defending items wielded at once

Defending armor spikes
Defending shield spikes
Defending weapon
2 Defending gauntlets

Unless we're adding a bunch of dancing weapons to the equation, but do those count as wielded while they are 'dancing'?

Curmudgeon
2010-05-26, 07:35 PM
I would like to point out that by RAW miss chance is capped at 50% regardless of how many sources you have that are granting it.
You'll need to point to your RAW source for that, because it seems like a house rule to me. Mirror Image can make 8 figments appear, giving the caster a 1 in 9 chance of being hit: that's an 89% miss chance.

Rules Compendium, in addition to collating rules, did change some of them. One change was to lump concealment and other miss chances into the same category so that they don't stack (see page 32):
Multiple concealment conditions donít stack. If a creature receives miss chances from multiple sources, such as from being incorporeal and having concealment, only the highest miss chance applies. However, it also added this:
It usually isnít worth differentiating between more degrees of concealment. However, the DM can rule that certain situations provide more or less than typical concealment, and modify the miss chance accordingly. As a DM, I always adjust the miss chance to be exactly what it would have been without this first change. :smallsmile:

Tehnar
2010-05-26, 08:16 PM
As you pointed out the RAW source is the Rules Compendium. I just extrapolated the 50% miss chance total, as the largest possible miss chance that I know of grants 50% miss chance.

I do not count Mirror Image as a source of miss chance, since miss chance is a defined in game turn, which Mirror Image does not provide.

Mirror Image per RAW is not Bioware's versio of Mirror Image. I have a feeling that is why most people are confusing it that it grants miss chance.

IonDragon
2010-05-26, 08:18 PM
As you pointed out the RAW source is the Rules Compendium. I just extrapolated the 50% miss chance total, as the largest possible miss chance that I know of grants 50% miss chance.

I do not count Mirror Image as a source of miss chance, since miss chance is a defined in game turn, which Mirror Image does not provide.

Mirror Image per RAW is not Bioware's versio of Mirror Image. I have a feeling that is why most people are confusing it that it grants miss chance.

No, I think most people say it gives miss chance because it gives you further chance to be missed. It gives you miss chance, it does not give you Miss Chance.