View Full Version : ways around AC

2010-10-27, 12:03 PM
In the game i am in the process of DMing (first game ever as DM) my PC's at this point have rather high AC's. (35,32, and 28) with that in mind what would you the playground do to help make a challenging game as i cant hit them without throwing a caster at them who then gets one shotted or a trap which they then proceed to complain about that they don't have a rogue so it isn't fair to be up against traps.

At this point i have also had to throw out the death by massive damage rule out as they average between 46-63 damage in one hit. they are all lvl 8 with some ability to fly or burrow.

Any suggestions??

2010-10-27, 12:05 PM
What's their flatfooted and touch AC? Maybe you can work with that (find ways to always have them flanked or enemies with touch attacks). Other than that, up the CR of you NPCs. If they can handle the appropriate level stuff, give them a challenge with higher level stuff.

2010-10-27, 12:11 PM
Energy weapons FTW.

And what? No rogue = no traps? What whiners, many of traps can be avoided or disarmed without a rogue (through ingenuity), but at the same time I despise players that feel the world should shape around them. I believe players should adapt to the world, not the other way around.

Dusk Eclipse
2010-10-27, 12:15 PM
My only ideas, right now are either spells that force saves, or AOE like breath weapon and the like.

Question, do you tinker with the monsters or do you use them straitght from the MM?

Monsters straight from the MM usually can't keep up with optimized characters, as this seems to be, so you might want to consider that; for example playing a bit with feats (drawing from non-core sources) can make wonders. Though bear in mind that this might chance the CR of the the monster.

2010-10-27, 12:16 PM
No rogue, no evasion, no problem. Fireballs are your new best friend. A buffed (buff?) wizard will kick some ass in this situation. Throw in a few disposable minions, and it'll be a challenge.

2010-10-27, 12:18 PM
First of all, traps are always fair. It's their own fault that none of them was willing to play a rogue, so you don't have to pull all the traps out of the dungeons to compensate. There are other ways of detecting and avoiding traps, ranging from the simple 10-foot pole to the slightly more expensive wand of Summon Monster I.

Now, on to the issue of their collective AC. A little more information would be nice, such as what classes they are, and what equipment they're using. Assuming at least one is using full plate, we can presume 1 (Dex) + 8 (Armor base) + 3 (enhancement) + 10 = 22. Add a +3 heavy shield and that jumps to 27. Ring of Protection +1 brings us to 28, and you've spent 10500 + 9170 + 2000 = 21670 gp spent, before buying items or a weapon. A chain shirt with high Dex looks like: 10+5+4+3=22, and assumes a mithral shirt with a Dex score of 20, costing a total of 10100 gp for the shirt, and 4000 gp for gloves of dexterity +2. Adding in a ring of protection +2 brings us to AC 24, and 22100 gp spent. The point is, if their ACs are that high, it means they've invested a lot of resources into it, to the point of not having resources available for anything else. I'd start throwing monsters with very high ACs at them, which they probably won't be able to hit because their weapons are virtually guaranteed to be behind. If that doesn't help, bump up the CR of encounters. If their ACs are so high that CR 8 encounters can't touch them, CR 9 encounters should barely be able to, and shouldn't be taht much of a challenge.

2010-10-27, 12:20 PM
So for perma flying/burrowing, crazy AC's and ~50 dmg per hit it sounds like you've got some very optimised PC's. The answer is to simply have similarly optimised NPC;s

2010-10-27, 12:21 PM
yeah part of the last encounter i had was a lvl 13 cancer mage (2lvls monk, 1lvl barbarian, 10lvls cancer mage), debuff bot giving -8 to all saves plus extra goodies (hex-blade 4 with dark companion, binder2, paladin of slaughter2, blackguard 4) and a wizard evocation specialist. this fight ended in about 3 1/2 rounds.

i have a lvl6 barbarian/psiwar with race of krician from sandstorm (one shot wonder), a lvl 8 psiwar whos main thing is to take damage from his friends into himself and then unleash that full damage into enemy, and a half-fey healer/marshal/warmage (sure minor for 18)

over all touch AC is low, but alot to contend with.

2010-10-27, 12:23 PM

Also, there's many kinds of AC.

Is it flat or touch or both that have buffs?

If it's only touch then surprise em, if it's only flat then touch em.

LOTS of ways around AC, but high AC is good, it means you can throw heavier hitting monsters at em more than just things to make em run.

2010-10-27, 12:25 PM
another rather annoying pat\rt is that 2 of them have rather high Con so they took the feat that lets them add their Con to their will save, and as for the reflex saves they soak it and then the psiwar transfers his damage to the opponent.

2010-10-27, 12:29 PM
*edit post #8* Cure minor heals for 18

but yes anything thus far that can get to their touch AC normally dies the next round.

and yes they are very optimized. that is what these guys do is troll through the different books till they find something they need.

2010-10-27, 12:33 PM
So what are you asking?
Just ways to debuff em?
No saves?

2010-10-27, 12:35 PM
What use is 50ish damage a hit when you're facing loads of weak opponents. True strike + Touch attack spell (ray of XXX) and voila?

2010-10-27, 12:37 PM
Give them a homebrew trapfinding feat. Then throw traps at them.

2010-10-27, 12:38 PM
I guess the over all question would be what would the most effective way be to get around them. I have a feeling that i will be sending them up against some shades and invisible stalkers rather quick here.

On a side note:

I also just got word that I will be having another player joining soon. He is to be a Fighter/kensi going for duel-wielding repeating hand crossbows and is adding the bursting enchants on them.

2010-10-27, 12:39 PM
The Psywar's shtick has to be leaving him drained very fast. He should only have 39 PP per day, barring a psionic or unusual race. I can imagine ways for him to get his AC up that high, but just for grins, what is his AC and how did he get it there?

I can't help you much with the others, beyond pointing out the Healer's restriction on metal armors and the warmage's spell failure with heavy armor, which can be circumvented.

2010-10-27, 12:49 PM
psi war AC is 28 from full plate +2 (bought), heavy shield+2(Found off white dragon), +1 dex, +2 amulet natural armor (bought). and yes he is drained...but it is still enough after he hits the BBEG as well as the Krucian to take all the damage and nuke boss.

Krucian AC is 35 from +1 dex, +8 natural armor (race), +1 mithril full plate, and truthfully i don't know where the rest comes from, he showed up to session with it. i am still working on getting his char sheet.

healer was a mis post and has the normal AC but uses invisibility pots but that is not had to get around... he is just there to mop up after doesnt really do anything.

2010-10-27, 12:57 PM
Touch attacks.

Think Wraithstrike, Find the Gap, brilliant weapons, ethereal foes, and other naturally touch-attacky people.

Considered countering them in their own manner? Make a character with a nearly untouchable AC? A crusader for extra toughness maybe : )

2010-10-27, 01:01 PM
Major issue: DO NOT permit characters into the game before reviewing their sheets. You create all kinds of hardships for yourself when you do this. The Krucian needs to show you his sheet prior to playing in the next session. Make him sit it out while he writes you a copy if need be. Players need to be accountable to you for what they bring into the game, and you can't maintain that accountability without having an 'eyes-on' with the character sheet.

Options to consider:
gish casters with ice axe, blade of pain and fear, or moonblade.
Spiked-chain trippers (nice because the -4 to AC for being prone helps the accuracy of all opponents).
Vermin totem druids with entangle, accompanied by hunting spider vermin companions. Web and entangle all around, debuffs both AC and mobility.
Necromancers throwing fatigue and exhaustion spells. Again, good debuff to AC that also reduces mobility and melee effectiveness.
Opponents that are both invisible and able to see invisible creatures.
Incorporeal foes.
Dragons and other creatures with breath weapons.
Medusas and other creatures with gaze attacks.

2010-10-27, 01:17 PM
-Use touch attacks--rays, thrown stuff, etc. Goes great with flatfooted.
-(incidentally, 'trip' generally requires a touch attack)
-Use 'aid another.' Have one of your guys summon several waves of 1d4+1 (or whatever) mooks, and instead of attacking, have them 'aid another' to give the real hitter a 2-point bonus to hit, each (and flanking bonus). If they eat some attacks and AoO's along the way, so much the better.
--If they're going to be flatfooted or flanked, use some sneak attack with those rays (ie, a 375 gold wand of 'orb of acid' for 1d3 acid damage + 5d6 sneak attack acid damage, or whatever)

edit: Dex isn't a big part of their AC, so just using touch attacks gives you a target AC of like 11 for both of them. Also, they can fly, so forcing climb/balance checks for flatfooted is even more meh, but trip becomes even more awesome :P

2010-10-27, 01:33 PM
Krucian AC is 35 from +1 dex, +8 natural armor (race), +1 mithril full plate, and truthfully i don't know where the rest comes from, he showed up to session with it. i am still working on getting his char sheet.

Don't forget Crucians have 3 racial HD in addition to the LA, which also count against his ECL (and they're Humanoid, which is a pretty sucky type.) When you do get his sheet, he should only have 3 real class levels to fit into level 8- sure, he's durable, but that's a huge sacrifice to get it.

2010-10-27, 02:00 PM
Sounds like you need to vet your players better. That Krucian sounds either highly cheesed or illegal. And just because something is in a book doesn't mean you have to allow it.

As for defeating high AC... an intelligently played batman/god wizard has no issues with crazy AC. Also look at the various summoning/minion classes like malconvoker, dread necro, uttercold assault necro wizard etc.

Failing that, higher CR monsters, monsters with character levels (suitably optimized of course), armies of mooks with touch/splash weapons (several dozen kobolds with flasks of acid/oil + torches).

2010-10-27, 02:02 PM
Ya, I guess the best advice would be to be a bit more careful in what you allow and make sure everyone is actually accounting for everything.

Are you throwing multiple encounters at them between rest periods? Many optimized builds nova very effectively but have poor staying power.

Just as a nitpick, but that Psiwar's AC looks wrong:
Full Plate +2 = 10
Hvy Shield +2 = 4
Dex = 1
Nat Armor = 2

That comes out to 25 by my math. Unless the 28 is assuming some buffs you didnt mention.

Edit - Also, dont be afraid to put much higher CR stuff against them. The CR's were not based off highly optimized characters and most of the Monster Manual stuff was out well before many of the new classes.

2010-10-27, 02:31 PM
Colossal Monstrous Scorpion could grapple them and hold them in each claw (eating the -20 penalty with ease). You might need to wait a couple of levels before using one though.

2010-10-27, 03:07 PM
First, PC classes are inherently weaker then a monster of a similar CR. Compare an Iron Golem with a level 13 fighter. CR 13 Iron Golem has half again as much health, DR, 1 less attack but much more damage per hit, is immune to will magic, etc.

Same thing with mages, Aboleth versus level 7 mage and the Aboleth tears out the mages heart. So the answer is picking things that have monster classes or have synergy. For instance a pair of Iron Golems and a Warlock. Golems ignore attacks and concentrate on flanking one guy, Warlock flys and zaps people with his ranged touch attacks.

Other options: Use things like Aboleths ans Bargheests which will save or battlefield control magic. Deeper Darkness + Charm= your barbarian friend is now attacking the party in a sphere of darkness.

If your AC has proven to hard to crack, throw a Beholder at them. Even better, have it on the other end of a fissure or ravine, then blast them as they try to make their way across.

2010-10-27, 03:56 PM
Swallow whole.

Edit: Also swarms. Lots and lots of swarms.

2010-10-27, 04:16 PM
You don't need trapfinding to deal with well thought out traps. There are creative solutions or simply eating the damage. I agree you shouldn't withhold traps, spells, breath weapons and so on just because of their classes, but you shouldn't send extra either.

That said most of the normal encounters don't have much chance of harming them which would make 3/4 of encounters pretty dull. So next you need to check why they have so much AC. With 27k gp you can get +3 full plate (~11k, +12 including dex), +3 heavy shield (~9k, +5), ring of protection +1 (2k, +1), amulet of natural armor +1 (2k, +1), dusty rose prism ioun stone (1k, +1) for a total of 30 AC for almost all their money. So either you gave them too much money, they're using splatbook AC feats (often overlooked because "it's just AC"), they're using monstrous races with natural armor, or they're slipping cheese past the noob DM. All of those except monster races need fixing if you want a meaningful game, as the only other options will be either let them stomp over everything or bypass their AC entirely on every encounter. Either way will only make the game un-fun.

In the case of monster races the LA and HD create a major trade-off in terms of HP and AB. So even one minor monster with save or touch AC based attacks will add some threat. For all the beatsticks you'll have to up their CR slightly so they hit once in a while, but not enough to 1 shot the PCs when they do finally land a hit.

2010-10-27, 04:39 PM
I noticed they're level 8. My players didn't start having those numbers until Level 11 or 12 (and they were buffed). Where are their damage bonuses and AC bonuses coming from?

Don't use CR 8 monsters; about all of the Core CR 8 monsters can get dropped in one or two shots. o_O

If you're using Tome of Battle, get Emerald Razor. Touch Attacks + Power Attack.

2010-10-28, 02:35 PM
just switch from meleee based opponents to mages. My players once just to tick me off all bought rings o protection. There i was trying to handle a 10th level party with acs above 30.
just use spells even if just for glitterdust or whatever you can easily use spells for battlefield control and battlefield control can lower ac :)

2010-10-28, 03:11 PM
Don't use CR 8 monsters;
Yarly. If your monsters aren't cutting it, send them back and get some sharper monsters.

Try a CR 12 on them, see how it goes.

2010-10-28, 03:33 PM
this fight ended in about 3 1/2 rounds.

Sounds about right, honestly. Fights lasting longer than 3-4 rounds are *TOUGH* in D&D terms.

Let's see, on a general list:

DFA: No attack roll, and unless these guys all have evasion, its auto-damage every round. Plus, with a single invocation choice, there's no such thing as friendly fire.

Warlock: Touch attacks are generally easier to make and harder to protect against, and warlocks make great mid-range harriers.

Wizard: A single conjurer can really mess with this party with proper minion support. Walls of stone can separate the group long enough to endanger the ones on your side of the wall, especially if its the group's weak-link. Combine this with an otherwise malconvoker build, and you've got *TONS* of minions to wreak havoc with them. Plus, good invisibility protection isn't easy at this level, combined with these tactics being compatible, makes going in invisible a good idea for the malconvoker. Abrupt Jaunt keeps the wizard from being 1-shotted as well.

Sorcerer: Abuse wings of cover to keep yourself alive long enough to dent them with wings of flurry. Combine with self-buffs like Mirror Image, Greater Luminous Armor(requires arcane preperation feat), and shield and such, and you're golden.

Encounter traps: Read dungeonscape for viable traps that are actually meant to challenge parties instead of just rogues. I recommend introducing the party to them with a few that are of a CR a few below the party's ECL so that they aren't too dangerous and allow your party to adapt into expecting them.

General caster advice: Casters are *NOT* front line charcters, so don't play them as such. Your typical level 8 caster is smart enough to be invisible, buffed, and guarded.

For a brief encounter possibility:

2 or 4 of these: http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheetview.php?sheetid=201155

They're CR 5 each, so two of them are CR 7(They're also relatively item-independent). Combine with a bard who has his Inspire courage optimized(I figure at least a +4 or +5 on a level 5 bard), a Druid with a rod of chaining, lesser to cast greater magic fang(CL 8 min) on both of the warforged's natural weapons, and bull's strength all around, will give another +3, so the two warforged will have their worst attacks at +14, +16 on a charge, at the least, more if you spend more time than I did optimizing it. Sure, +14 won't hit that often, but with 14 attacks per round and druid/bard support, they'll be quite scary. And this is all from an CR 9 encounter. If you're willing to bump the CR to 10, or adjust their less important feats, you can snag Knowledge Devotion.

And you've *still* got the Druid and Bard to optimize individually, in terms of fun things like their other spell choices, and individual combat options, since I haven't used much of either's resources.

2010-10-28, 04:09 PM
use ninjas.


start an ambush hiden.

they ranged attack with poison and sneak attack (in 30 fts.), use ki points for go invisible again.
do this in an ambush with some stupid big monster as a distraction, and poke them with the ninjas.