AC of 80 at 20th level? - Myth-Weavers


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AC of 80 at 20th level?

   
AC of 80 at 20th level?

So, a charging Tarrasque has a +59 to hit with its bite. How do I get a level 20 character's AC high enough that it'll never hit on anything but a natural 20?
(I know, you can just fight it at range or use invisibility or whatever to stop it attacking you in the first place, but I want it to try to attack and fail. With Freedom of Movement applied just in case.)

For armor/shield, there's either using +8 Bracers of Armor and the Shield spell, or +5 Mithral Full Plate and a +5 Animated Mithral Tower Shield. The former gives +8 armor and +4 shield, while the latter gives +13 armor and +9 shield.
But, using the full-plate and tower shield limits Dex bonus to +3, and prevents the use of the Monk's Belt or other AC bonuses that activate when no armor/shield is used (such as the Duelist's).
So if you can get a total Dex+Wis modifer of +13 or higher (Periapt of Wisdom and Gloves of Dexterity can provide +6 of that, and remember, the Monk's Belt gives an additional +1), the bracers and spell are better, otherwise, go with the armor+shield.
+5 Full-plate and +5 tower shield with +3 dexterity bonus (because mithral) adds 25 to AC, so let's assume the unarmoured option is at least that effective.

With either no shield or an Animated shield, both hands are free, and can be used to dual-wield +5 Defending shortswords. Both of those are untyped bonuses that stack with everything, so that's another +10 to AC.
Combat Expertise can trade up to 5 points of BaB for AC, so that's another +5 AC there too. I think that Combat Expertise and fighting defensively might be stackable (if they aren't the same thing), so with a boost from Tumble, that's another +3.

On top of that, there's the Amulet of Natural Armor (or Barkskin) for +5, and a Ring of Protection (or Shield of Faith) for another +5, and the Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone is a +1 insight.
And Dodge (the feat) can be used to get a +1 dodge bonus, with (an Extended?) Haste giving another +1 dodge bonus.


How much is that now?
Uhh...10 base, a minimum of +25 from armor/shield/dex or dex/wis/belt, +10 from dual-wielded Defending weapons, +8 from Combat Expertise+fighting defensively, +5 natural armor, +5 deflection, +1 insight, +2 dodge....

Um, that's up to 66. What else can we do?
Looking at the Duelist again, they can add their Intelligence bonus to their AC when unarmored/unshielded. With a Headband of Intelligence, this might be +5 or +6.
And, they get a large dodge bonus to AC when fighting defensively (or using total defense), up to +10 at 10th level.

So with both of those, we might be past the 80 AC mark! Yaaay!

As an alternative to Duelist levels, the use of Polymorph to get a larger natural armor bonus could also be an option, though it'd need to be a form with hands to use the aforementioned Defending weapons, so that limits your options a bit.
The Stone Giant is within the 15 HD limit, has +11 to natural armor and (unlike most giants) has a good Dexterity, so it could be an option if your Wisdom is high enough to cover the difference (ballpark? I think about 24 Wis before a Periapt, 30 Wis after).

Alternatively again, with a Greater Planar Binding spell, maybe you could call a Planetar Angel to help you and give them all the AC-boosting items; with their natural AC, Dexterity and Wisdom they'll handle it easily. Though it might be a hard sell to convince them to stand underneath a tap-dancing Tarrasque...

Any other AC-boosting possibilities I might have missed?

(Hmm, note to self: +8 Bracers of Armor, 64,000 GP. A Monk's Belt, 13,000 GP. Two +5 Defending Shortswords, 144,610 GP. Amulet of Natural Armor +5 is 50,000 GP, Ring of Protection +5 is 50,000 GP. And the Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone is 5,000 GP. Oh, and +6 Gloves of Dexterity are 36,000 GP, and a +6 Periapt of Wisdom is 36,000 GP...and if you go Duelist with a Headband of Intelligence, that's another 36,000 GP...
398,610 GP or 434,610 GP total, when a 20th level character is expected to have items worth 760,000 GP...kind of a big chunk of the budget, especially those defending weapons.
If you go up and over 80 AC, you can probably reduce the shortswords to +4 Defending, that'll save you 44,000 GP, and if you have friends willing and able to cast Barkskin or (Extended?) Shield of Faith, you can skip 50,000 GP on either the ring or the amulet, possibly both...)

If you're happy to build the whole character around this, essentially, that should be pretty doable as there are various ways to boost AC quite high (Inertial Armour, Monk's Belt, other X stat to AC like Mystic Wanderer, Arcane Duellist, Ascetic Mage, etc, Abjurant Champion, spells - Polymorph, Reserves of Strength, etc - and so on). It's not normally worth doing, but if all you want is to hit some kind of record or benchmark, that's what I'd go for.

I don't think that you can just get an AC that high for any general character, however.

One actually viable character with a high AC would be an Abjurant Champion who uses Greater Luminous Armour and Draconic Polymorph or PaO to become a Pit Fiend (+23 NA - though you'd have to be an outsider). You could dip Monk or similar and use Ascetic Mage to get a high AC bonus (as a Sorcerer) or just buy a Monk's Belt. The feat prereqs are horrid but you could also dip Arcane Duellist for +Cha to AC that way. Cast Sirine's Grace (via a Drake-Helm?) and you get +Cha as a Deflection bonus, or just use a Ring +5. You could also use Reserves of Strength to be able to cast some AC-boosting spells (e.g. Dragonskin) for another +1 AC. You could also dip some other PrCs (Argent Savant, Paragnostic Apostle) to boost your AC a little further. Most of these are not great choices otherwise but you will still be a L9-spell-casting gish. Actually I think you can probably hit AC 80 without pulling out all of those stops.

A PsyWar with Inertial Armour (especially if boosted by Overchannel or Wild Surge via a dip and/or Anarchic Initiate, ML boosts, Earth Power, Midnight Metamagic, Torc of Power Preservation, etc) can get at least a +14 to AC from that, and a Monk's Belt to add their probably-high Wis to AC too will get you a long way. Thicken Skin goes to at least +7, and if you can prebuff, Defensive Precognition (+7) and/or Force Screen (+9) will get you way up there (or use Def Precog as a swift action for only +5). Mental Barrier is possibly too expensive for a PsyWar but can in theory beat a Ring of Protection, too. A Wilder can also accomplish similar numbers - not being Wis-based hurts, but you get more Wild Surge - or a Psion - use Ascetic Psion to get Int to AC.

One more obscure idea would be Argent Savant, the Monk|Paladin dual-progression PrC. You struggle because neither of those base classes is great, but the PrC is OK - and notably gives you Monk AC bonus whilst in heavy armour.

Finally, I'd probably think about Bard with Arcane Duellist, Sirine's Grace and Ascetic Mage - though that might be too much dipping. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure you can make that still be a viable character, perhaps using Sublime Chord, and perhaps focusing more on the martial side of things (using Snowflake Wardance and/or Inspire Courage). Don't know if you will quite hit the heady highs of some of the others without too much effort, but maybe.

While not exactly a bonus to AC, having a shield guardian (runic guardian is better) on hand will help with an effect that actually works on the terrasque. Not sure what else that there might be.

Generally buffs are superior to a sky-high AC. High AC, Displacement, Mirror Image...

Armor/Shield Spikes + defending, iirc, stack up for more AC.

Edit: vs Big T, Flight is a massive advantage, assuming its unmodified from the MM.
Edit2: as a DM, I don't mess around. If you're fighting something like the Tarrasque, it is going to have things you may not expect. Such as wraithstrike or blood wind... 'cause by the book is boring and super easy for even mid level characters with decent tactics. So... if you're relying on AC, make sure your Touch AC is high too. YMMV.

I think the scenario is not the point. Avaday is looking for the min/max challenge of 'what is the highest RAW AC that can be achieved given 20 levels and 20 WBL'.

Wasn't their a combo at one point with Algid Enhancement and +CL shenanigans that resulted in +ungodly high AC? That. That would be the highest achievable armor by RAW...but those roads always lead to a double named kobold we all know and possibly hate.

Actually, the scenario is important; the question is 'How do you get your AC to a sufficient point that a monster of equivalent CR cannot hit you (except with natural-20 auto-hits)?'
It doesn't need to be an AC-as-high-as-possible, it just needs to be 21+enemy attack bonus high. Bonus points if you can still be effective in a fight while being tap-danced upon by a Tarrasque.

So if you were fighting a Purple Worm, the goal would be AC 48 at Level 12. Vs a Remorhaz, AC 36 at Level 7. And so forth. Vs a pair of orcs, uh, is it even possible to get 29 AC at Level 1?

(Edit: On the pair of orcs; kobold with 20 dexterity (with help from racial modifier). Dex bonus +5, Size bonus gives +1, natural armor is +1. Heavy shield for +2, friendly castings of Mage Armor and Protection from Evil give +4 armor and +2 deflection. Use full defense for +4. That's 29 AC at level 1. 28 if you want to (try to) attack with Combat Expertise/fighting defensively, 27 if your Protection From Evil casting runs out.)

Race: Lizardfolk (+5 natural AC, +1 LA)
Class: Shield Bearer (Dragon Magazine #310), at least 8 levels
Feats:
L1. Exotic Armor Proficiency (Mountain Plate)
SB2. Armored Grace (Mountain Plate), increases max Dex +1
L3. Dodge
SB4. Heavy Armor Optimization (Mountain Plate)
L6. Armor Optimization (Mountain Plate)
SB6. Armor Optimization (Tower Shield)
Sb8. Greater H.A.O. (+2 AC)
At level 9, Dwarven Ironclad (Ultimate Prestige Classes vol. 2) for all ten levels. Dual-wield shields. Use feats to obtain the Two-Weapon Defense tree, which further augments your Shield bonus to AC for using two weapons (which your shields technically count as, given that you can bash with them). Augment your touch AC with half your total armor bonus. Laugh at the paltry beings who think they can successfully attack you.

I don't remember the calculations I ran off the top of my head, but I built this as a thought exercise once all the way out to twentieth level and it broke 100 AC, with a touch AC that even the tarrasque had trouble with. If you have access to a spellcaster who can augment your gear, paying half the market price for enchantments makes it very viable to focus exclusively on defense and let the rest of the party focus on damage (in the UPC volumes, there is a "Knifemaster" class who, when combined with the base-Fighter variant Kensai and a little bit of Rogue, can put out 1100 damage with a standard attack; I'd never actually play these characters, but they're interesting proof-of-concept designs).

That lizard folks also has two racial HD, and is "Ultimate Prestige Classes" a real book? It's have to be a hell of a weird PrC to make dual shields stack or Two-Weapon Defence be any good.

And yeah, obviously things like Mirror Image would be excellent defences to have, but the pitch already said that flight/invisibility/whatever aren't of interest and that starts to get into that territory. Actually, a high AC is a pretty good defence - if it's high enough, it will block 95% of attacks against you. Miss chances usually come in 20%s or 50%s, and Mirror Image is one over the number of images until you're hit in a round and goes down if the images get popped. The best way not to get hit is, of course, not to get attacked (Flight and Invisibility can do this, or my favourite option which is "not standing next to the bad guys"), and AC is generally considered a less important defence because you can stack all of those together and because those other defences are independent of the enemy's attack bonus, but it's far from useless.

I wouldn't recommend actually playing a theoretical "max AC ever" build, but with some characters you can get quite a high AC without compromising your effectiveness in other respects.







 

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