Can a character intentionally lower their AC?


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If a character decides to allow an enemy or ally to hit them with a melee or range attack, can they intentionally forgo some or all of their AC?

If the answer is yes, which parts? Dex to AC, Armor, Shield, Natural, luck, morale ?

I couldn't find anything on it. If I were to guess I would say yes, but only things like Dex, shield, morale. Armor and Natural probably wouldn't be easy to just stop gaining.

Any actual rules stating this?


I can't find anything on it, either, but I'd just do it simply; if you want to get hit, you get hit. No attack roll required on the part of the other party.


No roll is necessary to touch a willing target in combat. By extension, I'd rule the only things you can't drop are your touch AC.


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As far as I am aware, there is no RAW that allows it. I would generally allow a character to forego the portion of their AC that they actively control. Unless they could somehow strip out of their armor, they couldn't voluntarily lose its benefit; ; natural armor would be the same, except they couldn't ever take it off. They could lower their shield (as they could choose not to actively block the attack); they also could hold still for the attack and thereby negate their DEX bonus to AC.

Natural armor, luck, morale, and the like are not normally actively under the person's control, so I wouldn't allow those to be dropped voluntarily.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The easiest things to do would be to look away from your ally (so that you are basically flat-footed against him) and turn your shield so that it offers no protection. That would eliminate dexterity, dodge, and shield bonuses from your AC.

If you have more time, you can strip off protective items and thus lose their bonuses. Whether you can get rid of your natural armor bonus depends on whether it comes from your thick hide or from an easily removable item such as an Amulet of Natural Armor.


Hmmmm... I'd say that you can drop to your flat footed AC if you wanted.

This is because armor and natural armor is meant to demonstrate how hard it is too to get a clean hit off on you. Just because you are standing still does mean it is any easier to pierce your armor (well, excluding criticals, which I generally assume would be things like attacking exposed points). You also can't decide to have a less tough hide, but it also usually lacks the obvious option of 'not wearing it' seen with regular armor.

Shield AC can be dropped though, since defending with the shield is semi active.

Let's see....luck seems like something that is generally out of your control.If you are getting sacred bonuses or something (are those for AC? I forget, since they are somewhat rare to see anywhere usually), then that might also be out of your control.

Moral...well, your moral is not exactly high enough to convince you to actually fight properly, so sure, drop it.


David knott 242 wrote:
The easiest things to do would be to look away from your ally (so that you are basically flat-footed against him) and turn your shield so that it offers no protection. That would eliminate dexterity, dodge, and shield bonuses from your AC.

The problem here is that per RAW, there is no 'facing' in Pathfinder. Also, flat-footed does not mean that you're simply looking away from the creature; it means that you're unaware of the creature's location. So by RAW, even if you say, "I look away from Tim," it does nothing to your AC.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jayder22 wrote:

If a character decides to allow an enemy or ally to hit them with a melee or range attack, can they intentionally forgo some or all of their AC?

If the answer is yes, which parts? Dex to AC, Armor, Shield, Natural, luck, morale ?

I couldn't find anything on it. If I were to guess I would say yes, but only things like Dex, shield, morale. Armor and Natural probably wouldn't be easy to just stop gaining.

Any actual rules stating this?

As a GM, I wouldn't bother looking up rules. If you actually and deliberately say you allow yourself to get hit, you will. I see absolutely no reason to take any other approach.


LazarX wrote:
Jayder22 wrote:

If a character decides to allow an enemy or ally to hit them with a melee or range attack, can they intentionally forgo some or all of their AC?

If the answer is yes, which parts? Dex to AC, Armor, Shield, Natural, luck, morale ?

I couldn't find anything on it. If I were to guess I would say yes, but only things like Dex, shield, morale. Armor and Natural probably wouldn't be easy to just stop gaining.

Any actual rules stating this?

As a GM, I wouldn't bother looking up rules. If you actually and deliberately say you allow yourself to get hit, you will. I see absolutely no reason to take any other approach.

Because that level 1 Commoner wielding a gardening hoe might whiff the blow entirely (I mean, 0 BAB, penalties for nonproficiency or improvised, maybe a negative strength modifier, and heck, considering that this might be for a fake battle, they might be trying to deal nonlethal damage. This might easily be a -9 to hit). That leads to the hilarious situation where they are trying for 10 rounds to hit you and they missed every time, despite the fact that you were actively trying to get hit.

Although, no thing about it, how about making dexterity and dodge bonuses into penalties since you are trying to into their weapon? That could help to simplify things, and seems to make sense.


Your AC represents you actively trying not to get hit. I would rule that yes you could stand there and be helpless any time you want... I am not sure why you would want to though?


thanks for all the input, and keep it coming. The main reason I thought up the idea, was a way to hit an ally with a spellstored blade to give them a buff.


Jayder22 wrote:
thanks for all the input, and keep it coming. The main reason I thought up the idea, was a way to hit an ally with a spellstored blade to give them a buff.

Why not just... buff them? Are wands not a thing in this campaign?


The idea isn't horribly optimized, but it has advantages over a wand. The melee character can use it as an offhand attack, the spell stored can change depending on the day haste,heroism,enlarge person, invisibility are some options.

If it is used as an offhand or iterative the weilder can continue attacking other targets without wasting a full action. It also allows a class that normally might have trouble using a wand a chance to fire off a spell mid combat, unlimited charges as long as the party has a wizard


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I would think you should be able to stand still and take the -5 dex modifier.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jayder22 wrote:

The idea isn't horribly optimized, but it has advantages over a wand. The melee character can use it as an offhand attack, the spell stored can change depending on the day haste,heroism,enlarge person, invisibility are some options.

If it is used as an offhand or iterative the weilder can continue attacking other targets without wasting a full action. It also allows a class that normally might have trouble using a wand a chance to fire off a spell mid combat, unlimited charges as long as the party has a wizard

Ahh... now we see the problem here. If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.


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LazarX wrote:
Ahh... now we see the problem here. If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.

Rules citation for that?


I'm also interested in anyone agrees to that, This was always an in combat example. I understand out of combat the rules could vary widely.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Basically, there is no rule that presents such an action so anything remaining is (very reasonable) house-ruling.

Let's see how this should work, if allowed...

armor bonus This shouldn't be dropped; your armor is what it is.
shield bonus You don't lose your shield bonus to attacks you aren't aware of, so this shouldn't be dropped.
deflection bonus Again, this works against attacks you can't see, so shouldn't be dropped.
dexterity bonus This is obviously something you actively use to avoid getting hit, so I'd allow it to be variable.
dodge bonus This goes with dexterity, so it should GO with dexterity.
insight bonus Like deflection, this stays.
luck bonus Same here.
size bonus Like armor and shield, you don't control this.

I think that's about it, I think. Ultimately if house-ruled I'd think it just works out to allowing a friendly to hit your flat-footed armor class.

Jayder22, just remember that when you use that spell-storing weapon on a friendly, you're going to damage them. You can't waive that part of attacking them away.

Shadow Lodge

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LazarX wrote:
If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.

This isn't right.

Think of the way spell resistance works. When you cast a harmful spell on something with spell resistance, it protects them. When they (or anyone) cast a helpful spell on themselves, they're able to voluntarily drop their spell resistance for that helpful spell - it doesn't just automatically resist. There's a level of control there. On the next turn, their spell resistance is still in play for the next harmful spell.

CRB, Magic chapter wrote:
Voluntarily Giving up a Saving Throw: A creature can voluntarily forego a saving throw and willingly accept a spell's result. Even a character with a special resistance to magic can suppress this quality.

The same applies with a dex or dodge bonus to AC, on a per-turn basis.


Zhayne wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Ahh... now we see the problem here. If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.
Rules citation for that?

Well, although I don't believe that there's RAW that explicitly states that you can lower your AC, I'd rule at least partially the same way. If you're standing still so an ally doesn't have to deal with your DEX bonus to AC, then you can't also be moving to actively dodge a foe's incoming attacks. I'd probably allow a shield bonus to apply since you could actively try to block a foe's attacks without interfering with your ally.


In an actual combat, I would say that a character who wants to get hit is hit unless the enemy rolls a natural 1 on the attack rol as normal.

The player/character may want to get hit but the enemy is still in a combat and has no reason to trust the 'gimme' that the character is giving.

Plus, s@@+ happens in combat.

I would state that any magic or effects that would give protections like imrror Image, Displacement or Blur etc. or magic items that give constant cover or concealment still would defend the player unless the player has a way to end them before the enemy's attack.


There is a feat or Class ability I've seen that allows you to reduce your AC rather than your To Hit for Power Attack.

Otherwise I would agree with the previous poster who said you could drop your Dex Bonus to -5. Basically standing still. Although a GM could reasonably require a Will save. It's not easy to take a blow and avoid flinching to some degree when you are talking about a serious weapon.

Grand Lodge

I would be inclined to believe that you can voluntarily allow someone to hit you with any attack, as an extension of the rule for touch spells that allows you to touch an ally without making an attack roll.

It isn't explicitly stated, because normally you wouldn't use a weapon attack to transfer a beneficial effect to someone, but it seems reasonable that since you can willingly allow someone using a touch spell to "touch" you without lowering your defenses against any other attacks, that you can do the same against a weapon attack. You just would find a lot less circumstances where you would do it.


Thanks for the responses, as I thought it seems to fall entirely into gm discretion, with some general ideas that certain AC bonuses would be easier to discard than others.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I don't see a reason why a PC could not just choose to be hit.

No need to "lower AC", just be hit.

PCs can already choose to fail a save, so there is a precedent.


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Xaratherus wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Ahh... now we see the problem here. If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.
Rules citation for that?
Well, although I don't believe that there's RAW that explicitly states that you can lower your AC, I'd rule at least partially the same way. If you're standing still so an ally doesn't have to deal with your DEX bonus to AC, then you can't also be moving to actively dodge a foe's incoming attacks. I'd probably allow a shield bonus to apply since you could actively try to block a foe's attacks without interfering with your ally.

That's at best oversimplifying and at worst defying credibility. Properly applied dexterity lets you not only avoid blows, but actively maneuver into them. Think of a game of dodgeball. At least under the rules we played it, you wanted to catch balls while avoiding being hit. No one had any problem with that conceptually, and the good players had no problem with it in practice.

Simply dodge out of the way of your opponent's blows and into the way of your ally's.


We are not talking about 'touching' as part of a friendly spell. We are talking about hitting with an attack that do (normally) something bad to the target. Under normal conditions everybody wants to avoid being hit. Lowering defenses is houserule territory and not supported by RAW.

A and B fight agains Z.

A and Z try to hit B for some reason. B wants to be hit by A but not by Z. How do you rule that ?

Lowering defenses is not supported by RAW. Is it an action ? What kind of action? How long do you lower your defenses (one action, one round,..) ? Do you need an action to raise your defenses ?

And the most important question: Why do your player want something that is not supported by RAW?

Answer all these questions and then it is time for a GM call.


Eridan wrote:

We are not talking about 'touching' as part of a friendly spell. We are talking about hitting with an attack that do (normally) something bad to the target. Under normal conditions everybody wants to avoid being hit. Lowering defenses is houserule territory and not supported by RAW.

A and B fight agains Z.

A and Z try to hit B for some reason. B wants to be hit by A but not by Z. How do you rule that ?

How do I rule it? If it's a melee attack, A hits and Z needs to roll. If it's a ranged attack, things like cover and concealment come into effect and I'd have to think harder.


Avatar-1 wrote:
LazarX wrote:
If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.

This isn't right.

Think of the way spell resistance works. When you cast a harmful spell on something with spell resistance, it protects them. When they (or anyone) cast a helpful spell on themselves, they're able to voluntarily drop their spell resistance for that helpful spell - it doesn't just automatically resist. There's a level of control there. On the next turn, their spell resistance is still in play for the next harmful spell.

Not exactly correct... If I'm reading what you're saying correct, spell resistance can be voluntarily dropped the moment they are targeted by a helpful spell. However, it takes a standard action to lower your spell resistance, meaning you must either lower it on your turn or prepare an action to lower it when your ally casts the spell. If they don't take this action to lower it, then they do resist any and all spells and SLAs from other casters than themselves, even if it is a beneficial spell.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor

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By choosing to make yourself helpless, you could go to an effective -9 from your flat-footed AC (less if you have a negative dex Mod). A potential -5 lower than flat-footed for 0 Dex, +4 to hit for helpless.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Xaratherus wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
The easiest things to do would be to look away from your ally (so that you are basically flat-footed against him) and turn your shield so that it offers no protection. That would eliminate dexterity, dodge, and shield bonuses from your AC.
The problem here is that per RAW, there is no 'facing' in Pathfinder. Also, flat-footed does not mean that you're simply looking away from the creature; it means that you're unaware of the creature's location. So by RAW, even if you say, "I look away from Tim," it does nothing to your AC.

Facing is relevant only if you are trying to apply your AC in some directions but not others. Trying to stand absolutely still and refusing to dodge out of the way of incoming attacks should negate dexterity and dodge bonuses, and holding your shield in a way that prevents it from providing any protection is also quite easy. It turns out that it is only a move action to stow your shield, so that would be an action that would negate your shield bonus.


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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Anguish wrote:
insight bonus Like deflection, this stays.

I might quibble about this one. Going by the common english definition of insight as " an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing", an insight bonus to AC is information about one's attacker or one's own defensive abilities that can be used to avoid an attack. If you're trying to be hit, you'd discard your insight into the situation.

That said, this still isn't RAW.

EDIT: fixed missing double quote


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
How do I rule it? If it's a melee attack, A hits and Z needs to roll. If it's a ranged attack, things like cover and concealment come into effect and I'd have to think harder.

Ah, but part of the AC (your armor bonus, at least) is a simplification of the armor protecting you from damage - which it won't stop doing because you aren't trying to avoid the blow.

As for ranged attacks... don't forget things like size and range. If not trying to evade a ranged attack would result in an auto-hit, archery contests vs. immobile targets would be quite... boring.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

I don't see a reason why a PC could not just choose to be hit.

No need to "lower AC", just be hit.

PCs can already choose to fail a save, so there is a precedent.

Unfortunately, using the spell in a spell storing weapon requires that the target be damaged by the weapon not just touched with it.

Spell Storing wrote:
Spell Storing: A spell storing weapon allows a spellcaster to store a single targeted spell of up to 3rd level in the weapon. (The spell must have a casting time of 1 standard action.) Anytime the weapon strikes a creature and the creature takes damage from it, the weapon can immediately cast the spell on that creature as a free action if the wielder desires. (This special ability is an exception to the general rule that casting a spell from an item takes at least as long as casting that spell normally.) Once the spell has been cast from the weapon, a spellcaster can cast any other targeted spell of up to 3rd level into it. The weapon magically imparts to the wielder the name of the spell currently stored within it. A randomly rolled spell storing weapon has a 50% chance to have a spell stored in it already.

I think I'd rule that a friendly character could forgo all bonuses except for armor bonus.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Choosing to put yourself at someone's mercy is clearly defined in the condition helpless. It is though unclear whether you can choose to be helpless to one opponent but not others.


I'd say a PC can declare themselves helpless at anytime. I don't see why you couldn't, but I also don't see how you can make yourself any easier to hit than if you were under Hold Person or tied and bound.

On a DEX 10 PC this would mean an attacker would get +9 to hit if using a standard action or an attack action. And Would hit automatically if using a full round action (coup de grace).


Does allowing yourself to be hit make you helpless? Something you may want to work out with your dm before hand.


lemeres wrote:


Because that level 1 Commoner wielding a gardening hoe might whiff the blow entirely (I mean, 0 BAB, penalties for nonproficiency or improvised, maybe a negative strength modifier, and heck, considering that this might be for a fake battle, they might be trying to deal nonlethal damage. This might easily be a -9 to hit). That leads to the hilarious situation where they are trying for 10 rounds to hit you and they missed every time, despite the fact that you were actively trying to get hit.

Although, no thing about it, how about making dexterity and dodge bonuses into penalties since you are trying to into their weapon? That could help to simplify things, and seems to make sense.

That same level 1 commoner will auto hit a helpless target with a coup de grace regardless of how much armor/natural armor the target has or how much of a penalty to hit the commoner has.

Jayder22 wrote:

If a character decides to allow an enemy or ally to hit them with a melee or range attack, can they intentionally forgo some or all of their AC?

If the answer is yes, which parts? Dex to AC, Armor, Shield, Natural, luck, morale ?

I couldn't find anything on it. If I were to guess I would say yes, but only things like Dex, shield, morale. Armor and Natural probably wouldn't be easy to just stop gaining.

Any actual rules stating this?

helpless wrote:


A helpless character is paralyzed, held, bound, sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise completely at an opponent's mercy. A helpless target is treated as having a Dexterity of 0 (–5 modifier). Melee attacks against a helpless target get a +4 bonus (equivalent to attacking a prone target). Ranged attacks get no special bonus against helpless targets. Rogues can sneak attack helpless targets.

I would say that intentionally letting someone hit you is basically the same thing as putting yourself "completely at an opponent's mercy", so helpless seems like the best fit for the situation rules wise.

If you use the Helpless condition, the attack auto hits if they take a full round action to deliver it(as per coup de grace rules) otherwise treat the target as having an dexterity of 0 and prone(+4 to hit with melee).

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor

Note that if you just want to be flat-footed, you can turn your back on an opponent, as described under gaze attacks. A GM would be free to rule that affected other attacks coming from the same general direction.


What would the difference be if you had to touch them to buff them? If you are exploiting a loophole in the spell storing of a blade, I personally would rule that its an auto-success, but I might have you roll with negatives to see if you hurt your comrade too. Your party members know what you are doing and it would be no different than if you were going to lay on hands or touch them for the buff.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What's the difference between someone who is sleeping, and someone is actively trying to be hit?

The difficulty should be the same.

Or, you could pretend to be asleep, if that meets some sort of metaphysical law of fairness that being awake makes it harder to be hit by something they choose to be hit by.


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blackbloodtroll wrote:

What's the difference between someone who is sleeping, and someone is actively trying to be hit?

The difficulty should be the same.

Easier, I'd say. The person actively trying to be hit can move to assist you.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Orfamay Quest wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

What's the difference between someone who is sleeping, and someone is actively trying to be hit?

The difficulty should be the same.

Easier, I'd say. The person actively trying to be hit can move to assist you.

Why are so many trying to make the mechanics of this waaaaaay more difficult then?


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Because people .... never mind, forum rules and all that.


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Our GM has for some time allowed people to intentionally treat their CMD as 1, for instance in the case of wanting to allow a bull rush to work. (Because we have a faerie dragon who knows hydraulic push, and can use it for positioning.)


blackbloodtroll wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

What's the difference between someone who is sleeping, and someone is actively trying to be hit?

The difficulty should be the same.

Easier, I'd say. The person actively trying to be hit can move to assist you.
Why are so many trying to make the mechanics of this waaaaaay more difficult then?

Probably for a variety of reasons:

1. If someone wants to do something surprising, it's quite possible they have discovered a Bug In The Rules and wish to exploit it.
2. Habit. We love us some rules and rules make things more Interesting And Challenging. The more rules the better!
3. Who knows. People are weird.


Thymus Vulgaris wrote:
Avatar-1 wrote:
LazarX wrote:
If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.

This isn't right.

Think of the way spell resistance works. When you cast a harmful spell on something with spell resistance, it protects them. When they (or anyone) cast a helpful spell on themselves, they're able to voluntarily drop their spell resistance for that helpful spell - it doesn't just automatically resist. There's a level of control there. On the next turn, their spell resistance is still in play for the next harmful spell.

Not exactly correct... If I'm reading what you're saying correct, spell resistance can be voluntarily dropped the moment they are targeted by a helpful spell. However, it takes a standard action to lower your spell resistance, meaning you must either lower it on your turn or prepare an action to lower it when your ally casts the spell. If they don't take this action to lower it, then they do resist any and all spells and SLAs from other casters than themselves, even if it is a beneficial spell.

It is actually worse than that. Spell resistance does cost a standard action to lower. If you do so, then it remains lowered untill your next turn. That means all enemies get 1 round to target you with your spell resistance down. Readying to lower your resistance doesn't take enemies 1 round to hit you with spells away, because readying actually changes your initiative counter.

Shadow Lodge

Thymus Vulgaris wrote:
Avatar-1 wrote:
LazarX wrote:
If this is something you want to do in combat the person you want to target can't lower their defenses to you without lowering them to EVERYONE.
(comparison to spell resistance)
Not exactly correct... If I'm reading what you're saying correct, spell resistance can be voluntarily dropped the moment they are targeted by a helpful spell. However, it takes a standard action to lower your spell resistance, meaning you must either lower it on your turn or prepare an action to lower it when your ally casts the spell. If they don't take this action to lower it, then they do resist any and all spells and SLAs from other casters than themselves, even if it is a beneficial spell.

Sorry, I'm thinking of saving throws only. I didn't realise spell resistance requires that standard action.

The book actually calls out spell resistance as spell resistance being like AC but for magic. So I'd be more inclined to rule it the same way as spell resistance rather than saving throws - requiring a standard action to "prepare yourself for the blow".

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