Is Wizard AC Worth The Money?


Advice


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm just hitting level 9 with my wizard and my AC is just about as low as it can be. We're talking 15 WITH mage armor on all day. Just awful. So of course it might as well be 0, and I'm wondering if it's cost effective to put down money on the Rings of Protecton/Amulet of Natural Armor, etc. that it will take to push it into the 20s or so. I haven't played that many games at this level so I'm not sure if AC is a good investment. It it feasible to get to an amount that will actually protect me from some hits? Or are monster attack bonuses going to increase so much that any money I put into AC will not actually result in real avoidance?


Attack bonuses increase faster than AC bonuses. Thus, as you advance AC bonuses become less and less useful.

As a wizard, you should be using magic to avoid hits entirely. Invisibility, mirror image, etc.,


Agree with Whale, it's very challenging to keep AC high enough to really prevent attackers from hitting you. In addition to the spells already mentioned have a look at blur, fly, greater invisibility or (blood money plus) stoneskin. Or, for your entertainment, buy an elephant or similar critter (1000gp) cast antropomorhpic animal (hours duration) and (MM rod extendeded) marionette possession/ magic jar. Instant new body with lots of defense and hit dice. GM might hate you, though :P


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That... that would actually be awesome. But I think my GM would wiggle his way out of that one pretty quickly. "Ok, you're an anthropomorphic elephant now, huh? Well, your wife didn't sign up for THAT, so she's divorcing you and taking half of your character's wealth. She gets your spellbook in the divorce proceedings. Care to try any other tricks?"

I'm mostly worried about situations in which I don't have time to prepare, like surprise rounds, stealth attackers, etc. Situations in which I won't have a ton of time to buff, or ways to increase spell durations. Overland Flight is a given, of course. Stoneskin's a pretty expensive cast right now. My GM would almost certainly disallow Blood Money and would call it cheesy, and it's hard to blame him for that. But it looks like spending money on Rings of Protection and Amulets of Natural armor would be a waste of cash at this point then.


Ring of invisibility is a high level wizards first line of defense.


If you are worried about ambushes and traps invest in Emergency Force Sphere. If very paranoid take Preferred Spell (Emergency Force Sphere).

If looking to boost AC a +3 Mithral Buckler gives the same benefit as a Shield spell at significantly less cost than the +2 Ring and Amulet combo and saves you an action in casting shield.

Also consider investing in more buff spells. Reduce Person alone gives you +2 AC. Elemental Body 1 (air elemental) can give you +6ac but you may want to check your GM's views on whether you can cast while in elemental form (and make sure to drop a component pouch before casting).


Generally speaking, a 'good' AC starts somewhere around 20 + your level. If you don't think you can get it that high with items and buffs, I probably wouldn't bother, and I'd lean on Mirror Image and Displacement and the like harder than usual.

Scarab Sages

You cannot make AC a halfway investment.

Either you go balls to the wall or don't bother.

That said, a wizard that truly wants to be hard to hit can be.


Trying to maintain a high AC for a wizard is nigh impossible. As others have noted, your best defense is to not get targeted in the first place. Invisibility is one means to avoid taking hits, but there are others, including illusions, flight, mirror image, gaseous form, polymorphing, etc.

I wouldn't call AC boosting items a "waste of cash" though, there are always the attacks of low level minions that your wizard will have to deal with, and a better AC can help with that.

In general the best way for wizards to deal with just about any problem is with spellcasting.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'll tell you this, at PaizoCon I ran a game for a 13th level PC with an AC of 10.

Yes, base 10 and nothing else.

He survived by relying on a ring of blink.


Just keep diversifying your defenses.
It is true that you can't win the AC race, but I would not rely only on illusions as a unique line of defense.

Spoiler:
At level 9, Erinyes is a very probable encounter (by itself or summoned through Summon Monster VI by the evil wizard/cleric/whatever). You will not like the [ranged attacks + True Seeing] stuff.

Sovereign Court

SO, I'm assuming your AC is
10 = base
1 = dex
4 = mage armour

The first thing that leaps out, to me, is that wizards normally have higher dex. You could consider saving up for a belt of dex (and, eventually, dex+con). That dex will give you +1 AC, +1 to reflex saves, +1 to hit with your back-up crossbow, +1 to hit with your rays, +1 to a bunch of skills which includes fly.

You also have other straight AC spells to drop: shield, protection from X...

That gets you AC of 22
10 = base
2 = dex
4 = mage armour
4 = shield
2 = protection from evil

And you're also immune to magic missiles and mind control. And summoned foes find you trickier.

At level 9 you can probably afford a few level 1 spells. I can't imagine you're still relying on Grease now.

As has been said, magic is your armour. That said, my wizards still tend to carry a ring of AC because they crop-up so often on the dead fingers of Paizo AP bad guys. It might not be worth paying 2k for but keeping it only sacrifices 1k.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

I'll tell you this, at PaizoCon I ran a game for a 13th level PC with an AC of 10.

Yes, base 10 and nothing else.

He survived by relying on a ring of blink.

That sounds about right, actually.

And that's basically outlining the point, actually. If you're relying on your AC as a defense, it better be good, but if you're not then it doesn't really matter how low it is.

Sovereign Court

Mirror Image is my go-to defensive buff, though Displacement is quite excellent as well. Invisibility is very good to have access to but you're probably starting to run into a lot of enemies with See Invis by now, and sadly Mirror Image is worthless against foes with True Seeing, which you'll see more of soon. Shocking Image is a nice way of encouraging enemies to attack someone other than you if they don't, though.

For non-illusionary defenses (read: true seeing proof), I would recommend fickle winds (for all things ranged) and/or Stoneskin (for melee).

Oh, and you have to get Contingency as soon as you reach 11. Heyoooo action economy! (Also putting "Break Enchantment if I get feebleminded/dominated" on contingency has saved my butt a few times at higher levels.)


Something else I don't think others have mentioned yet is a Dex belt. It won't help if you're caught flat-footed, but it still increases your AC and your initiative. Everyone knows that if a wizard goes first, there's less of a chance they will get hit at all by ending the battle. Unless there are survivors... then they all go after the wizard. (Speaking from experience.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yup, I do have a low dex. I actually put points into Wis/Cha (14/14) rather than Dex/Con (11/12) for character concept reasons. I recently gained a Snakeskin tunic as a random treasure that boosts Dex (and AC, I suppose, but it doesn't stack with Mage Armor). My party has access to a Wand of Shield of Faith as well that I can give to my Arbiter familiar. Of course, at this level his UMD roll won't be astoundingly high (9 ranks UMD from an INT item +2 CHA bonus for Arbiters), but better than nothing.

In prepared encounters I'm alright. At this level there's also Overland Flight, so this gives a lot of protection against stealthed monsters. I'm also close to level 10, when I'll pick up Quicken Spell to be able to buff in surprise scenarios with things like Mirror Image, and Contingency will help for that as well. Are there any items that will help with preferably non-illusion buffs? As was mentioned, it can be dangerous to rely too much on one school.

(I also took evocation as a barred school before I realized that Emergency Force Sphere was a thing. =/)


Taking EFS as a Preferred Spell wouldn't require you to sacrifice two spell slots when casting it. Cheesy, yes very much so but legal.


Also when you hit level 11 consider Repulsion. It is potentially incredibly powerful at keeping melee brutes away from you, even ones which can fly. Beware that it can also affect your allies.


Illusion is nice, but conjuration is an awesome school, too. Summon creatures to create a body between you and the enemy. Webs, clouds, certain walls, and even dimension door fall under conjuration. Lots of "get out of jail free" spells.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, one problem at high levels will be opponents with True Sight/See Invisibility and Fly. Those can turn into a real problem for characters which rely on the usual Wizard defenses.


A Cloak of Minor Displacement is very nice to have. A constant 20% miss chance is great. I realize that level-appropriate enemies will still hit you about 3/4th of the time (assumed guaranteed hits on rolls of 2-20 and a 20% miss chance equals a 76% hit rate), but that's a lot better than 95% of the time. I have a character who went through an extended battle with that miss chance coming up each and every time.

Another very nice thing to have is a cohort who acts as a bodyguard, with the appropriate feats (and, face it, no PC is ever likely to take them, so that's what they're for).

For a certain kind of character, a Hat of Disguise that allows your mighty wizard to look like an unimportant porter or lanternbearer might pay dividends.

And as others have already said, don't let the enemy get close in the first place. Grease, Web, Dimension Door, Fear, Black Tentacles, Wall spells, etc.

If you know you're going into a bloodbath, use Stoneskin. You'll still get hit, but DR 10/adamantine is going to take a lot of the edge off.

Finally, let your party members know you depend on them. It's a piss-poor party if you can't. Everyone has a role. One role that is perfectly valid and worthy is "damage sink", but that is not a role a wizard is well suited to play.

Sczarni

False Life and Greater False Life can really add to your durability as well. Those spells have kept my wizard alive through more encounters than I care to mention. Plus they have hour per level duration!


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So, one of the least-informed, least-thought-out things on these forums is the following idea:

"AC is only worth it if it renders you unhittable."

There are actually only 2 things to factor in, here:

1.) Does an opponent miss you on anything except a natural 1?

2.) Does your opponent hit you on anything except a natural 20?

For ALL CHARACTERS for whom (1) and (2) are true, a +X to AC bonus means that 5X% of attacks that WOULD have hit you, now do not.

That's it.

-------------

"Don't put any points in AC, because you will never be attacked if you position correctly" is a viable argument against wizards putting points into AC.

"Don't put any points into AC because you will get attacked infrequently!" Also viable.

"Don't put any points into AC because you either have to have super high AC or none at all" is not a mathematically sound argument.

--------------

Want a fun fact? In terms of how often they negate hits, a Cloak of Minor Displacement is in every way identical to a +4 AC bonus.

So, to conclude:

If you can upgrade your AC for cheap, it is well worth it. You probably don't NEED AC that much because you're not _attacked_ as much, but don't fall victim to the "super high AC or nothing!" fallacy.

-Crosss


The mithril small shield is pretty popular (no spell failure) as a carrier for the fortification effect. You see, what KILLS most people aren't hits, but rather crits. Fortification is a really nice enchantment.


EWHM wrote:
The mithril small shield is pretty popular (no spell failure) as a carrier for the fortification effect. You see, what KILLS most people aren't hits, but rather crits. Fortification is a really nice enchantment.

Yes. It can be put on bracers of armor as well.

Liberty's Edge

Djelai wrote:

It is true that you can't win the AC race, but I would not rely only on illusions as a unique line of defense.

At level 9, Erinyes is a very probable encounter (by itself or summoned through Summon Monster VI by the evil wizard/cleric/whatever). You will not like the [ranged attacks + True Seeing] stuff.

That's true, but a casting of wind wall or fickle winds will probably help you there better than a couple of points of AC.

Having said that, I would invest in some items that would raise your AC. A Belt of Incredible Dexterity will also increase your attack rolls with ranged touch spells, and your initiative. A Ring of Protection will raise your Touch AC and your CMD. And any increase to AC may help your mirror image spell survive being taken down by lower level minions.


You don't need super AC for AC to be effective. In any game with a shred of verisimilitude, not everything that attacks you will be CR within 2 steps of your level.

So if you're a 9th level wizard, with AC15 that 3rd level Warrior with a shortbow is still hitting you fairly regularly. Said 3rd level Warriors are pretty common in any world.

I'd recommend being economical in your choices. Dumping 'all the moneys' into AC is a pointless exercise, but you can economically add +1 or +2 AC onto a lot of other items (Ring of Sustenance AND Protection +2) to creep up your AC to reasonable levels.


Helic wrote:

You don't need super AC for AC to be effective. In any game with a shred of verisimilitude, not everything that attacks you will be CR within 2 steps of your level.

So if you're a 9th level wizard, with AC15 that 3rd level Warrior with a shortbow is still hitting you fairly regularly. Said 3rd level Warriors are pretty common in any world.

I'd recommend being economical in your choices. Dumping 'all the moneys' into AC is a pointless exercise, but you can economically add +1 or +2 AC onto a lot of other items (Ring of Sustenance AND Protection +2) to creep up your AC to reasonable levels.

There is considerable truth to that, but those 3rd level warriors aren't terribly likely to get more than one or two attacks at most before they are cleared from the field by area effect magics or cleaving fighters. Circumstances in which lots of 3rd level warriors will have the opportunity to concentrate attacks on a 9th level wizard over multiple rounds should be relatively rare.

What higher level wizards more frequently have to worry about from much weaker opponents are attacks that inflict conditions, which generally either target touch AC (nets) or CMD. The average 3rd level warrior won't be deterred by Bracers of Armor or Amulets of Natural Armor when he tries to trip or grapple a 9th level wizard. In this circumstance, improved Dex and deflection bonuses are helpful and worth getting, but at WBL aren't likely to amount to more than a minor boost unless they make up a major part of the wizards total wealth.


Hey all,

Sorry for the thread necro but I am currently playing a Lore Oracle (soon to hit 9th) with a similar issue, yes I can wear armor but my AC is still "Meh" at best.
Looking forward, to use my whole dex bonus (cha in my case) will cost quite a bit and still not make it that good.
Add in the cost of ring of prot, amulet of blah, blah, blah.
Anyway I would rather use the whole "don't get hit" method.

How is it with the cleric list?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David_Bross wrote:
Ring of invisibility is a high level wizards first line of defense.

Until he finds out the hard way that his foes either see invisible, have invisibility purge up, or are using true seeing.

The High Level wizard's first and last line of the defense is the party he brings with him. Or the intelligence not to be on the front lines in the first place.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thefurmonger wrote:

Hey all,

Sorry for the thread necro but I am currently playing a Lore Oracle (soon to hit 9th) with a similar issue, yes I can wear armor but my AC is still "Meh" at best.
Looking forward, to use my whole dex bonus (cha in my case) will cost quite a bit and still not make it that good.
Add in the cost of ring of prot, amulet of blah, blah, blah.
Anyway I would rather use the whole "don't get hit" method.

How is it with the cleric list?

In order of spell level:

1)
Doom - Your enemy being at -2 attack is even better than having +2 AC, because it helps your friends too.

Hide From Undead - As it says, but how useful it is depends on your campaign.

Sanctuary - Never leave home without it.

Shield of Faith - Stacks with physical shields!

2)
Cloud of Seasickness - Besmara's pretty great. Enemies who are nauseated can't attack you.

Instant Armor - I know you said you weren't focusing on armor, but this is still a pretty good spell.

3)
Dragon Turtle Shell - If you're facing the right enemies, this is a great buff to protect yourself with, and scales with level. Very situational though.

Hydrophobia - Very situational, but once you get Control Water, this becomes a killer combination.

Magic Circle Against… - Wonderful spell.

Meld Into Stone - Situational, but a good way to hide if you're about to get a beating.

Prayer - Never leave home without it.

Greater Stunning Barrier - Very handy.

4)
Aura of Doom - Very good crowd control.

Control Water - See Hydrophobia, above. At level 9, 90ft. x 90ft. x 18ft. of rising water will ruin your Hydrophobic enemies' day.

Heavy Water - Combined with the above, this is sadistic.


Slightly off topic - what are the options for witches?

It seems that your best defence is obsence debuffing however this is very select (single target) and less effective in groups. They also have a reduced spell list compared to Sorceror/Wizard.


LazarX wrote:
David_Bross wrote:
Ring of invisibility is a high level wizards first line of defense.

Until he finds out the hard way that his foes either see invisible, have invisibility purge up, or are using true seeing.

The High Level wizard's first and last line of the defense is the party he brings with him. Or the intelligence not to be on the front lines in the first place.

Mind Blank + Greater Invisibility + Overland Flight is a rather insanely strong defense against anything lacking Blindsight and two of those spells are on all day.

If that's not enough? Emergency Force Sphere. Negate literally anything coming at you with an immediate action by both giving you a Wall of Force on all sides for physical threats and breaking line of effect for spells.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

You should be able to up your AC to 20 with about 10k gp.

Ring of Prot+1, 2500 gp
Amulet of Nat Armor +1, 2000 Gp.
Mithral Buckler +2, 4000 gp.

You've now gone from 15 to 20 and literally done almost nothing.

A Jingasa is 5k gp for +1 luck.
A rose quartz ioun stone is 5k for +1 Insight.
Another +1 to your Ring, Amulet and Buckler is +7500 gp, +6000, and +5000 respectively.

If you can make any of these for half price, you're even better off, of course.

You'll be casting Mage ARmor until everything you have is +5, so just keep spending gp on the occasional +1 for this or that.

Also note that you can polymorph into forms with some natural armor for even more benefit, using Alter Self if you must.

==Aelryinth

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

It is worth noting for you that 'Miss' Ac, from concealment, illusion and suchlike, actually get less effective as you level, not more effective. Greater and greater numbers of foes have true sight, det invis, blindsight, blindsense, tremor sense or other ways of finding you and neutralizing those spell effects. Mind blank helps if you can keep it up, but only against spell effects, Something with good natural senses can still spot you easily and act accordingly.

==Aelryinth


Thefurmonger wrote:

Hey all,

Sorry for the thread necro but I am currently playing a Lore Oracle (soon to hit 9th) with a similar issue, yes I can wear armor but my AC is still "Meh" at best.
Looking forward, to use my whole dex bonus (cha in my case) will cost quite a bit and still not make it that good.
Add in the cost of ring of prot, amulet of blah, blah, blah.
Anyway I would rather use the whole "don't get hit" method.

How is it with the cleric list?

No reason to have a poor AC as an oracle-

Breastplate +6
Magic Vestment on breastplate +2
Heavy Shield +2
Magic Vestment on shield +2
Charisma/Dexterity bonus +3
Jingasa +1 (+2 if you have fate's favored)

So for 5k gold (for the jingasa) you can have an AC of 26 and ignore crits 1/day. You can up that by 5 with ironskin and 3 with shield of faith. So up to 34AC without much investment.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Lots of good ideas out there.

I have gotten allot of millage out of

1) Wand of Mage armor

2) Wand of Shield

3) Wand of Protection from evil.

Each wand costs 750

I hope this helps


I had a halfling hemotheurge get up into the mid-20s quite easily. Dex, size, mithril buckler, mage armor, ring of protection, all became very effective.

It still doesn't stop top guys from taking you out, but not having to worry about mooks is very handy, and having some chance of iterative attacks missing also helps a lot.

AC and miss chances are synergistic -- each helps the effect of the other considerably.

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