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The Troubadour
2012-01-09, 06:56 AM
One of the things I dislike about pre-4th D&Ds is that AC, unlike BAB/THAC0, doesn't scale with class levels, but only through wearing magic items. That said, me - and most of the GMs in my group - have always played fast and loose with magic items, so I'm more than a bit fuzzy on what's the expected AC at every level. For instance, my melee PCs always try to go for a Ring of Protection +5, an Amulet of Natural Armor +5, and +5 enhancements on armor and/or shield; am I doing things right, am I investing too much into AC, or not enough?

So, assuming a Fighter PC at the hands of a player with average optimization skills (that is, he won't notice unusual combinations, but within what's expected of the game he'll be reasonably good at it), what would be his expected AC through levels 1-20? (You don't have to mention every single level, of course. :-))

Antonok
2012-01-09, 08:06 AM
Personally, I've found AC in 3.5 near useless above 10th lvl or so since the monsters start getting (stupidly) high amount of to hit.

I usually just spend my money on getting stuff like armor enhancements (energy resistance, fortification), Ring of Blink/Blur, Ring of Regeneration, etc.

Saph
2012-01-09, 08:38 AM
The best way to evaluate AC is to compare it to the +to hit of the opponents you'll be facing.

The baseline AC is 11 plus your opponent's to-hit bonus - so if you're fighting a monster with +10 to hit, an average AC is 21. That means an opponent will hit you 50% of the time. So the full breakdown is:

Hopeless: AC of (2 + opponent's to-hit bonus) or lower: you'll be hit 95% of the time.
Poor: AC of (6 + opponent's to-hit bonus): you'll be hit 75% of the time.
Average: AC of (11 + opponent's to-hit bonus): you'll be hit 50% of the time.
Good: AC of (16 + opponent's to-hit bonus): you'll be hit 25% of the time.
Excellent: AC of (20 + opponent's to-hit bonus): you'll be hit 5% of the time.
Increasing AC beyond Excellent gives no benefit, as you'll still be hit 5% of the time, making investing further resources into AC pointless.

However, decreasing AC below Hopeless does have an effect, because pretty much every melee monster in 3.5 has Power Attack, and every point of AC you lose is an extra point they can Power Attack you for.


Personally, I've found AC in 3.5 near useless above 10th lvl or so since the monsters start getting (stupidly) high amount of to hit.

Disagree here. It's quite possible to get your AC to the point where CR 10-15 monsters have serious trouble hitting you, and if you're planning to spend a lot of time in melee combat it's worth the investment.

DigoDragon
2012-01-09, 09:03 AM
The best way to evaluate AC is to compare it to the +to hit of the opponents you'll be facing.

The baseline AC is 11 plus your opponent's to-hit bonus - so if you're fighting a monster with +10 to hit, an average AC is 21. That means an opponent will hit you 50% of the time.

I'll agree. Saph's breakdown is indeed what I use as a rule of thumb to put together encounters for my game. I find that if the "CR-appropriate" encounters are hitting a bit too often, I can add a bit more AC-type treasure and it evens out fairly well.

Mastikator
2012-01-09, 09:46 AM
+5 natural armor necklace, +5 protection ring, +5 mithral fullplate, +3 dex bonus, +5 defensive stance (with Expertize), +5 mithral towershield and you got yourself an AC of
10+5+5+13+3+5+9 = 50
Not including feats like shield expertize (or whatever it's called).

I guess you can afford that at level 20. Against an Old Red Dragon (CR 20), with an attack "to hit bonus" of +36, it won't have a chance to hurt you in melee. It can grapple you though with its +52 "to grapple bonus".

Edit- I should note that I've never played tabletop at this level of D&D 3.5e, so this his highly theoretical with no personal experience to back it.

W3bDragon
2012-01-09, 10:15 AM
+5 natural armor necklace, +5 protection ring, +5 mithral fullplate, +3 dex bonus, +5 defensive stance (with Expertize), +5 mithral towershield and you got yourself an AC of
10+5+5+13+3+5+9 = 50
Not including feats like shield expertize (or whatever it's called).

I guess you can afford that at level 20. Against an Old Red Dragon (CR 20), with an attack "to hit bonus" of +36, it won't have a chance to hurt you in melee. It can grapple you though with its +52 "to grapple bonus".

Edit- I should note that I've never played tabletop at this level of D&D 3.5e, so this his highly theoretical with no personal experience to back it.

Throw in Shield Ward feat, which applies your full shield bonus to resist grapple, and the combat focus feat line with combat stability, which gives you another +8 to grapple resist, and you'll be sitting at about +20 bab, +13 str, +9 shield, +8 stability, say you're enlarged, another +4, so you're at +54 grapple resist against his +52. Of course it would be much easier to just get freedom of movement.

As for expectations, I'd say that, based on Saph's baselines:

Hopeless AC: Characters that have many ways out of getting hit (abrupt jaunters) and characters that need to get hit (gambiters) and people that do too much damage for AC to matter (leap attack shock troopers).

Poor AC: Characters that shouldn't be in melee at all. Basically the d4 HD classes generally. Some fragile meleers (rogues) fall here as well.

Average AC: Most melee characters without any AC specific optimization, but without ignoring it obviously.

Good AC: Melee tanks and other melee classes with specific AC optimization.

Excellent AC: Characters usually built around reaching that AC number.

Mastikator
2012-01-09, 11:50 AM
It's funny how a single mid-level buff is worth more than a line of feats, considering clerics get more spells than fighters gets feats. (hell, a ranger can do that and they're practically not even casters)

Edit- also goes to show that buffs are more efficient than AC from feats plus equipment. Freedom of Movement vs grapple, improved invisibility vs everything else. Put that and (maybe fly) on a shocktrooper powerattacker and call it a day?

SowZ
2012-01-09, 02:34 PM
It's funny how a single mid-level buff is worth more than a line of feats, considering clerics get more spells than fighters gets feats. (hell, a ranger can do that and they're practically not even casters)

Edit- also goes to show that buffs are more efficient than AC from feats plus equipment. Freedom of Movement vs grapple, improved invisibility vs everything else. Put that and (maybe fly) on a shocktrooper powerattacker and call it a day?

If serious combats lasted long enough for the buffs to wear off, it could make a difference. In most video games, temporary effects are stronger because they will wear off and have to be refreshed. But an 8 round long combat in D&D is long for an encounter, with many being 3-4 turns, shorter if the party knows how to do it faster.

The Troubadour
2012-01-09, 06:12 PM
The best way to evaluate AC is to compare it to the +to hit of the opponents you'll be facing.

I agree, and it's what I usually do in 4th Edition, where it's quite easy to do so. But I've lost nearly all experience with 3.5, which is why I asked for help. :-)

Greenish
2012-01-09, 06:30 PM
Someone had a list of SRD monsters' average, maximum and minimum derived stats (like saves, AC, maybe attack bonus) by CR. I've been trying to dig it up now and then, but can't seem to find it.

Incriptus
2012-01-09, 06:45 PM
Iteravite attacks.

I think that is the main reason why we don't get an obviously scaling AC. If you're fighting a guy with 21/16/11 for attack bonuses. The game isn't designed to continue to have your AC be the main defense against attack one, but rather attack two and three. If you had an AC that scaled similarly to the main BAB the iterative attacks would be devistated.

DoctorGlock
2012-01-09, 07:22 PM
Iteravite attacks.

I think that is the main reason why we don't get an obviously scaling AC. If you're fighting a guy with 21/16/11 for attack bonuses. The game isn't designed to continue to have your AC be the main defense against attack one, but rather attack two and three. If you had an AC that scaled similarly to the main BAB the iterative attacks would be devistated.

Sort of like the way monster scaling AC negates melee's iterative attacks but the monsters get loads of full BAB naturals off of 2x the PCs HD. The designers knew AC was useless and knew scaling was necessary, it was designed off the first attack, why they didn't give it to PCs... heck if I know.

brann miekka
2012-01-09, 10:43 PM
well if you want to get a core book, statistically accurate reading of ac, check the expected wealth by level in chapter 5, from there take the class (lets use fighter for the example) and armor choices, if they have the chance to upgrade each level would optimally be:

1) 18 (+5 for scalemail, +3 dex)
2) 18 (same as above)
3) 20 (+9 for +1 fullplate +1 dex)
4) 20 (same as above)
5) 21 ( +10 for +2 fullplate +1 dex)

and so on and so forth based on the gold by level. honestly though if your pc's are investing this much in AC i pity them, because there are many many many many things that can get around your ac and so many more cost effective ways to get it up, such as defensive fighting (getting the tumble rank bonus to that can easily put your ac far above the npc's to hit) and combat expertise and improved combat expertise are just a few, if you look hard enough you can find more that wont drain your purse so you can use that gold to buff your damage or buy **** tons of magic items that have more utility uses.

EDIT- i left the shield bonuses out of there but that's not a terribly hard to calculate variable.

Greenish
2012-01-09, 11:16 PM
well if you want to get a core book, statistically accurate reading of ac, check the expected wealth by level in chapter 5, from there take the class (lets use fighter for the example) and armor choices, if they have the chance to upgrade each level would optimally be:

1) 18 (+5 for scalemail, +3 dex)
2) 18 (same as above)
3) 20 (+9 for +1 fullplate +1 dex)
4) 20 (same as above)
5) 21 ( +10 for +2 fullplate +1 dex)Of course, how direct a connection to the actual game the theoretical figures have is another matter.

Pulling up some of my old melee characters:
Level 1: 16, 17
Level 2: 21
Level 4: 21
Level 6: 18, 25
Level 9: 21

:smalltongue:

kulosle
2012-01-09, 11:38 PM
Some where in the monster manual it tells you how to design AC for new monsters. I think its something like their CR+15 I think, AFB. I'm sure this would work for PC's as well.

Eldariel
2012-01-10, 01:38 AM
Someone had a list of SRD monsters' average, maximum and minimum derived stats (like saves, AC, maybe attack bonus) by CR. I've been trying to dig it up now and then, but can't seem to find it.

It might be this (tried to format for a Forum Table):
{table=head]|hp|init|AC|touch|ff_ac|bab|fort|ref|will
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 1/10 (2 detail records)
Avg|1.00|1.50|15.50|15.50|14.00|0.00|2.00|3.50|2.0 0
Max|1|2|16|16|14|0|2|4|2
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 1/8 (2 detail records)
Avg|1.00|2.00|14.00|14.00|12.00|0.00|2.00|3.00|0.5 0
Max|1|2|14|14|12|0|2|4|1
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 1/6 (4 detail records)
Avg|4.50|1.75|13.75|13.25|12.00|0.25|2.50|4.00|1.0 0
Max|11|2|14|14|12|1|4|4|2
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 1/4 (8 detail records)
Avg|3.88|1.75|14.50|13.25|12.75|0.25|2.50|2.88|0.3 8
Max|11|3|17|15|14|1|4|5|2
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 1/3 (7 detail records)
Avg|4.43|2.57|15.71|13.14|13.71|0.14|2.29|3.14|1.1 4
Max|6|5|17|15|16|1|4|5|3
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 1/2 (29 detail records)
Avg|6.59|1.41|14.69|11.86|13.38|0.76|2.62|2.00|0.0 3
Max|16|4|18|16|18|2|5|6|3
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 1 (46 detail records)
Avg|12.24|1.54|15.28|11.78|13.80|1.28|3.00|2.85|0. 98
Max|31|7|23|20|18|3|6|6|5
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 2 (51 detail records)
Avg|20.55|2.39|15.76|11.84|13.94|2.33|4.35|4.35|2. 69
Max|42|8|23|15|22|5|8|10|6
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 3 (72 detail records)
Avg|27.26|2.68|16.14|11.51|14.64|3.30|4.58|4.18|3. 31
Max|55|9|23|18|23|6|9|9|7
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 4 (40 detail records)
Avg|48.23|2.23|16.00|10.45|15.05|5.20|6.45|5.10|4. 60
Max|94|6|20|18|20|9|11|9|9
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 5 (51 detail records)
Avg|56.33|3.16|17.16|10.55|15.73|6.08|7.47|5.82|4. 82
Max|95|11|25|16|25|11|12|13|10
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 6 (26 detail records)
Avg|69.12|3.27|18.88|11.00|17.27|7.60|8.08|6.85|6. 08
Max|133|13|29|29|24|12|14|12|12
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 7 (45 detail records)
Avg|86.98|2.91|18.07|10.38|16.44|8.38|8.67|6.98|6. 56
Max|152|13|25|17|24|13|15|19|12
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 8 (31 detail records)
Avg|96.48|3.19|20.00|10.58|18.32|9.43|9.19|7.65|7. 45
Max|180|10|27|20|26|15|16|14|11
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 9 (31 detail records)
Avg|130.65|3.61|21.74|10.45|19.68|11.97|12.13|9.81 |8.58
Max|230|14|29|18|28|18|19|22|13
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 10 (19 detail records)
Avg|136.53|2.79|22.58|9.26|21.42|13.21|11.63|8.58| 9.11
Max|305|8|33|13|33|24|22|19|14
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 11 (24 detail records)
Avg|163.83|3.96|23.71|10.92|21.38|14.25|13.75|10.6 3|10.3
Max|228|15|29|25|27|24|20|25|14
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 12 (12 detail records)
Avg|196.33|1.58|21.75|7.17|21.42|17.00|15.42|9.33| 9.08
Max|300|5|28|13|28|30|25|12|15
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 13 (12 detail records)
Avg|167.00|2.92|27.33|10.25|26.00|14.42|14.17|9.83 |12.4
Max|230|5|32|14|31|20|18|14|16
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 14 (12 detail records)
Avg|180.33|4.50|27.00|11.00|25.17|16.17|15.92|11.8 3|14.0
Max|287|8|35|14|35|23|19|13|18
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 15 (8 detail records)
Avg|224.63|3.50|29.75|8.13|29.50|18.88|15.75|10.63 |15.8
Max|312|5|34|11|33|24|19|14|20
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 16 (11 detail records)
Avg|239.09|4.27|31.91|10.00|30.73|21.18|17.09|13.2 7|16.6
Max|378|8|42|16|42|31|23|16|23
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 17 (7 detail records)
Avg|244.86|3.29|28.00|9.57|26.86|20.14|19.57|11.29 |16.2
Max|337|7|34|13|34|27|25|15|19
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 18 (8 detail records)
Avg|302.25|6.00|32.75|8.50|31.25|24.25|19.50|15.63 |19.0
Max|375|20|37|14|37|30|23|24|23
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 19 (10 detail records)
Avg|355.80|4.80|36.00|9.20|35.20|27.60|22.10|16.30 |19.7
Max|445|12|38|16|38|33|25|20|21
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 20 (9 detail records)
Avg|409.33|6.00|36.44|9.11|34.44|29.56|24.22|18.67 |21.2
Max|858|12|40|17|39|48|38|29|23
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 21 (13 detail records)
Avg|393.00|4.31|38.69|8.77|37.31|27.69|23.31|16.15 |20.5
Max|522|7|51|17|44|36|28|22|25
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 22 (9 detail records)
Avg|452.33|7.44|40.22|11.56|36.33|29.56|23.00|19.6 7|23.7
Max|536|22|47|24|47|37|28|25|27
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 23 (11 detail records)
Avg|480.09|8.27|39.91|12.45|35.27|31.00|26.00|21.8 2|24.6
Max|893|18|46|28|42|38|41|35|28
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 24 (8 detail records)
Avg|622.25|9.25|42.38|12.88|37.75|37.50|29.50|24.2 5|27.3
Max|900|27|44|40|44|48|39|38|38
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 25 (11 detail records)
Avg|600.27|8.55|44.18|18.36|39.82|34.09|27.55|24.0 0|28.7
Max|1105|26|52|50|50|40|45|36|41
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 26 (7 detail records)
Avg|420.29|10.43|44.29|27.14|39.57|27.00|21.14|20. 14|26.2
Max|680|17|50|48|43|40|32|29|32
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 27 (4 detail records)
Avg|625.25|10.00|46.75|19.25|40.25|43.50|31.75|27. 75|32.7
Max|817|20|52|32|45|75|40|37|41
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 28 (4 detail records)
Avg|894.25|16.25|53.50|26.50|43.25|42.50|37.00|37. 00|31.5
Max|1102|25|57|47|57|60|45|44|35
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 29 (2 detail records)
Avg|472.00|12.00|50.50|30.00|42.50|21.50|25.00|25. 50|24.5
Max|814|17|51|38|48|33|40|39|32
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 30 (4 detail records)
Avg|1064.25|2.00|40.75|13.50|40.25|48.25|36.00|26. 25|38.7
Max|1785|6|58|26|58|70|47|37|50
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 31 (2 detail records)
Avg|788.50|3.50|58.00|16.00|56.50|42.50|34.00|24.5 0|33.5
Max|877|4|64|20|64|45|37|25|38
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 32 (1 detail record)
Avg|433.00|18.00|40.00|20.00|30.00|42.00|19.00|29. 00|29.0
Max|433|18|40|20|30|42|19|29|29
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 33 (2 detail records)
Avg|605.50|-2.00|60.00|0.00|60.00|72.00|32.00|30.00|33.0
Max|608|-2|60|0|60|72|32|30|33
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 34 (2 detail records)
Avg|1100.00|9.50|54.00|16.00|50.50|52.50|42.00|32. 50|39.5
Max|1362|15|61|19|61|62|48|42|43
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 35 (5 detail records)
Avg|1011.80|12.60|62.00|13.80|53.20|48.40|41.60|34 .20|31.0
Max|1075|24|67|18|67|50|46|52|43
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 36 (1 detail record)
Avg|1676.00|11.00|58.00|3.00|57.00|72.00|55.00|47. 00|39.0
Max|1676|11|58|3|57|72|55|47|39
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 37 (1 detail record)
Avg|1292.00|4.00|74.00|20.00|74.00|55.00|46.00|29. 00|47.0
Max|1292|4|74|20|74|55|46|29|47
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 39 (3 detail records)
Avg|1430.00|7.00|66.67|18.00|62.33|68.00|55.67|37. 67|45.0
Max|1728|13|81|22|81|96|75|55|52
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 41 (1 detail record)
Avg|1856.00|14.00|58.00|16.00|44.00|96.00|76.00|56 .00|42.0
Max|1856|14|58|16|44|96|76|56|42
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 42 (1 detail record)
Avg|1984.00|12.00|60.00|14.00|48.00|96.00|77.00|54 .00|42.0
Max|1984|12|60|14|48|96|77|54|42
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 43 (2 detail records)
Avg|1516.00|4.00|79.50|21.50|79.50|59.00|50.00|31. 00|50.5
Max|1787|4|88|24|88|65|55|34|56
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 48 (1 detail record)
Avg|1479.00|4.00|78.00|21.00|78.00|58.00|50.00|31. 00|50.0
Max|1479|4|78|21|78|58|50|31|50
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 50 (2 detail records)
Avg|2472.50|7.00|83.50|19.00|78.50|83.00|72.00|44. 50|51.5
Max|2880|10|95|26|95|96|84|52|61
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 52 (1 detail record)
Avg|1732.00|4.00|85.00|23.00|85.00|63.00|54.00|33. 00|54.0
Max|1732|4|85|23|85|63|54|33|54
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 57 (2 detail records)
Avg|1517.00|7.00|81.00|26.50|81.00|60.00|49.00|33. 00|43.0
Max|2006|10|92|28|92|68|59|36|59
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 59 (1 detail record)
Avg|2362.00|4.00|102.00|28.00|102.00|75.00|64.00|3 9.00|65.0
Max|2362|4|102|28|102|75|64|39|65
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 61 (1 detail record)
Avg|2299.00|4.00|99.00|27.00|99.00|73.00|63.00|38. 00|63.0
Max|2299|4|99|27|99|73|63|38|63
Summary for 'challenge_rating' = 66 (1 detail record)
Avg|2613.00|4.00|106.00|29.00|106.00|78.00|68.00|4 1.00|68.0
Max|2613|4|106|29|106|78|68|41|68[/table]
I've got an excel sheet of it if someone wants it.


And generally, you should invest no more than half your wealth to AC. Less if possible but it always isn't. It's usually beneficial to invest some in cheap sources of AC but with some characters it's obviously not worth it (take Shock Trooper for instance; when you're routinely taking -10+ to your AC you should look for alternative defenses).

If you're a spellcaster, maintaining good AC is fairly easy. Mundanes have it harder. Having a Cleric with "Magic Vestment" really helps with the expediture, though. The important thing to ensure is that you don't become a turtle; if you're a non-caster, your biggest contribution to the team is going to be any control effects and damage you can do with your attacks. If you give up on too much offense, all your survivability will be for naught.

The Troubadour
2012-01-11, 06:34 AM
Thanks, Eldariel! Think you could send me the sheet? :-)

LordBlades
2012-01-11, 06:44 AM
+5 natural armor necklace, +5 protection ring, +5 mithral fullplate, +3 dex bonus, +5 defensive stance (with Expertize), +5 mithral towershield and you got yourself an AC of
10+5+5+13+3+5+9 = 50
Not including feats like shield expertize (or whatever it's called).

I guess you can afford that at level 20. Against an Old Red Dragon (CR 20), with an attack "to hit bonus" of +36, it won't have a chance to hurt you in melee. It can grapple you though with its +52 "to grapple bonus".

Edit- I should note that I've never played tabletop at this level of D&D 3.5e, so this his highly theoretical with no personal experience to back it.

The fact that a wizard or druid can almost top that at level 5 and 7 respectively is pretty sad tbh.

More on topic: AC is rather worthless not only due to how fast the hit bonuses scale, but also due to exponential cost. To keep yourself into hit 50% of the time area via AC incurs a progressively larger investment as you level up. Keeping yourself into the same area via let's say Displacement works equally well at level 5 as it does at 20.

Eldariel
2012-01-11, 07:49 AM
Thanks, Eldariel! Think you could send me the sheet? :-)

EDIT: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ag2EmhPga_rkdDJ1dzlOWFVvYUY1SzctNF82b09nS mc&hl=en_US#gid=0

Person_Man
2012-01-11, 11:25 AM
Metagame pro-tip: Do not invest significant resources in getting "Excellent" AC. If you are rarely hit in combat, your DM will eventually notice this and change his enemies and/or tactics to ensure that you are hit more often. Good DMs try to challenge their players some of the time, and bad DMs are spiteful and want to punish you. Either way, you'll still end up being hit.

Instead, aim for "Good" AC (being hit around 25% of the time) with high hit points and defenses which prevent "Save or Lose" effects (buffed Saves, rerolls, Slippery Mind, Mind Blank, etc) capable of absorbing attacks. This way your character is "being challenged" but in reality has less chance of actually being killed.

And most importantly, never brag about how high your AC is or how hard it is to kill your character. Doing so sometimes summons the Tarrasque.

NiteCyper
2012-01-11, 03:38 PM
By the numbers (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=386.0), boys (http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/StarCraft_II_unit_quotations#Marine).

ericgrau
2012-01-11, 04:51 PM
Core fighter AC by level, with shield, no tricks, not focusing on AC:
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8888663&postcount=15
Items used: enhancement bonus, amulet of natural armor, ring of protection, dusty rose prism ioun stone, mithril (at high levels). Don't worry too much about the other notes below the table, they talk about damage, saves and so on.

THF is maybe 3-5 AC behind it (2+5=7 behind at very high levels of course), though around level 13 or so you can afford an animated shield. Likewise mithril becomes affordable. And at around level 15 or so miss chance magic items become cost effective.

Misses average maybe 80% with a shield and 60% without one. Monster AC and attack bonus scale at roughly the same rate as shielded AC, but even without a shield you can be pretty darn effective against secondary attacks (add 25% to misses). Poor optimizers who only use 1 of the 5 above AC increasing methods or those with treasure stingy DMs can fall behind at higher levels and spread bad rumors about AC. But really even with randomized treasure and regular upgrades it could be done ok; normally problems are from people screwing with the system.

World
2012-01-11, 05:36 PM
Metagame pro-tip: Do not invest significant resources in getting "Excellent" AC. If you are rarely hit in combat, your DM will eventually notice this and change his enemies and/or tactics to ensure that you are hit more often. Good DMs try to challenge their players some of the time, and bad DMs are spiteful and want to punish you. Either way, you'll still end up being hit.

Instead, aim for "Good" AC (being hit around 25% of the time) with high hit points and defenses which prevent "Save or Lose" effects (buffed Saves, rerolls, Slippery Mind, Mind Blank, etc) capable of absorbing attacks. This way your character is "being challenged" but in reality has less chance of actually being killed.

And most importantly, never brag about how high your AC is or how hard it is to kill your character. Doing so sometimes summons the Tarrasque.

True Story...

Jade Dragon
2012-01-11, 06:35 PM
50% miss chance. Or at least 20%. Oh, and don't buy Greater Cloak of Displacement over Minor, it's actually worse.

dgnslyr
2012-01-11, 08:04 PM
I don't think it's fair to say AC is worthless, because it stops big, nasty monsters from dumping all their BAB with Power Attack and full attacking you for several times your max HP. A passable AC is mostly good for preventing all-out attacks like that, as well as tail-end iteratives. Really, while AC is less useful than it should be, it still isn't as useless as people say.

Morph Bark
2012-01-11, 08:29 PM
+5 natural armor necklace, +5 protection ring, +5 mithral fullplate, +3 dex bonus, +5 defensive stance (with Expertize), +5 mithral towershield and you got yourself an AC of
10+5+5+13+3+5+9 = 50
Not including feats like shield expertize (or whatever it's called).

I guess you can afford that at level 20. Against an Old Red Dragon (CR 20), with an attack "to hit bonus" of +36, it won't have a chance to hurt you in melee. It can grapple you though with its +52 "to grapple bonus".

Edit- I should note that I've never played tabletop at this level of D&D 3.5e, so this his highly theoretical with no personal experience to back it.

Is mithral Mountain Plate possible? If so, that adds another +1.

Andion Isurand
2012-01-12, 03:33 AM
Each exotic Broadblade Short Sword used via at least 2 BAB worth of Combat Expertise (and/or fighting defensively) provides a +1 dodge bonus to AC (as per errata).

Ranks in tumble also improve the AC bonus gained from fighting defensively (or all out defense).

Feytalist
2012-01-12, 03:42 AM
Is mithral Mountain Plate possible? If so, that adds another +1.

But at the expense of -1 Dex bonus. So it works out the same, all told.

Also mithral mountain plate, as far as I remember, stays heavy armour, with a max move speed of 10ft. Which isn't all that much.

Scottzar
2012-01-12, 05:20 AM
The thing about armour is that above 10th level it's really a question of nat AC from alter self/polymorph vs AC from armour.
Druids are bastards as they don't need ASF reducers and can get both types of AC from wild on their armour AND shield.

Not sure what's normal on a fighter, but the fact that he is a fighter using a shield (and therefore either a non-lockdown or suboptimal kusari-gama variant) implies a low optimisation in the group.

Also a focus on AC, like others have said, is pointless. High to hits are substantially easier to get, and it's really easy to substantially beat it's protection.
IIRC it's little under 100 000 gp to get a ring which makes you totally immune to HP damage until you take it off.
A less cheesy and purely core option is a ring of permanent mirror image, which if taken off and put on again until it caps, is a 80% miss chance which also effects things which ignore AC (e.g. finger of death) and costs 24 000 gp.

On an arcane mage who is lacking in AC I would suggest feycrafted githcrafted thistledown caster armour segmented reinforced lightweight mithral twilight half weight +1 Thaalud Stone Armour for + 13 AC for about 30 000 or slightly higher gp at no ACF and only -4 or something ACP, which counts as light armour even without mithral being considered.

Feytalist
2012-01-12, 05:53 AM
On an arcane mage who is lacking in AC I would suggest feycrafted githcrafted thistledown caster armour segmented reinforced lightweight mithral twilight half weight +1 Thaalud Stone Armour for + 13 AC for about 30 000 or slightly higher gp at no ACF and only -4 or something ACP, which counts as light armour even without mithral being considered.

Sure, if you don't mind being horrifically murdered by your DM.

sonofzeal
2012-01-12, 06:24 AM
On an arcane mage who is lacking in AC I would suggest feycrafted githcrafted thistledown caster armour segmented reinforced lightweight mithral twilight half weight +1 Thaalud Stone Armour for + 13 AC for about 30 000 or slightly higher gp at no ACF and only -4 or something ACP, which counts as light armour even without mithral being considered.

Sure, if you don't mind being horrifically murdered by your DM.
Indeed.

I mean, you can't apply mithral to armors not made of metal! Sheesh, everyone knows that!
:smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:

Morph Bark
2012-01-12, 06:39 AM
But at the expense of -1 Dex bonus. So it works out the same, all told.

Also mithral mountain plate, as far as I remember, stays heavy armour, with a max move speed of 10ft. Which isn't all that much.

No. Mountain Plate has a +10 armor bonus and a +0 Dex bonus. Hence why I said +1, as it ups the armor by 2 and decreases the Dex bonus by 1.

LordBlades
2012-01-12, 06:39 AM
The thing about armour is that above 10th level it's really a question of nat AC from alter self/polymorph vs AC from armour.
Druids are bastards as they don't need ASF reducers and can get both types of AC from wild on their armour AND shield.


Unless you want a specific armor property, it's usually better to go with monk's belt for wis mod+1 to AC.

Scottzar
2012-01-12, 06:42 AM
Actually within it's own description it is essentially fullplate with the plates made of super-stone. It still has metal hinges, rivets, and presumably the chainmail beneath is made of metal.
But let's not get into that right now.

Once again, I will state that a ring or such which mimics the effect of a spell (e.g. my previously mentioned 80% misschance mirror image ring) is vastly superior to standard AC. It also allows for protection from non-standard things, such as energy resistance or immunity.

Really by the time you can have +5 items I could replace each with a form of 50% or better miss chance which likely applies to more things than the AC would. Custom item rules are far better than conventional armour.
Hell, the only standard armour enhancements worth getting is really +1, twilight, and half weight. Anything else either costs too much or are overshadowed by magic item rules.

Edit: druids actually use AC, unlike most classes, because they have difficulty getting magic mimicking items and their combat strategy doesn't use defence mobility. +14 > wis bonus + 1, usually.

Feytalist
2012-01-12, 07:00 AM
No. Mountain Plate has a +10 armor bonus and a +0 Dex bonus. Hence why I said +1, as it ups the armor by 2 and decreases the Dex bonus by 1.

Oh that's right. I'd forgotten it has a AC of +10. Still, it severely limits movement speed.

Need_A_Life
2012-01-12, 07:18 AM
I worry more about keeping my touch AC high, as spellcasters tend to not care about normal AC and defend against fighters with my HP :smallamused:
(Not quite true, but closer to the truth than you might think)

Playing a spellcaster with mirror image, displacement, blur, blink, invisibility or similar will do a lot more to save your hide than any amount of fullplates or rings of deflection. Summoned monsters can be almost as efficient, if you can place them just right. Finally, Wall of [Stone/Force] can prevent you from being attacked at all, though each has trade-offs.
Wall of Stone blocks line of sight and line of effect, which means that most enemies won't even be able to target you. Dungeoncrashers will just waste an action on it, though.
Wall of Force doesn't block line of sight, so you still need to worry about enchantment spells etc. but it'll keep all of those big, dumb fighters from doing anything.

Finally, preventing the opponents from acting is an art. Nauseated enemies can't attack, neither can panicked foes, paralyzed foes or flat-footed foes.
Between fly and (earlier) Spiderclimb, you can prevent melee attacks (mundane melee attacks are a much greater threat than mundane ranged attacks IME).

Yes, I've played a high-level (halfling) sorcerer once or twice, why do you ask? :smallbiggrin: