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So I have a question concerning the Tower Shield Specialist, and how his abilities work together. Particular in terms of the third level ability Tower Shield Training.
My question is how it interacts with Armor Training, which reduces Armor check penalty by 1 and increases max dex by 1 for armor. From how I'm reading it Armor Training applies specifically to the armor. Now the way the Tower Shield Training is written, How I'm interpreting it is that I get to reduce the ACP of both my armor and shield by another 3, and increase the max dex of both by 2. so when I'm using a +1 Full Plate and a +1 Darkwood Tower Shield, my check penalty for both items is a -4 for each, and for max dex it's a +3 for the full plate and a +6 for the Tower Shield. (+2 base, +2 for darkwood, +2 for tower shield training) Am I correct on this? I've been building my characters in hero lab and it's telling me my full plate has a Max dex of +2, and my tower shield has a max dex of +4. I don't think that's right but Hero Lab has found interactions I had missed before.
Both Armor Training and Tower Shield Training only apply their adjustments to the armor you wear. Not to the shield. They are both worded that way very specifically and neither ability mentions any adjustment to your shield's statistics.
There is only one Armor Check Penalty (ACP) and one Max DEX Bonus (MDB) for your character. When you use armor and shield, you add the ACP of the armor and shield together to get one ACP which is a single penalty applied to STR and DEX ability checks and skill checks. When you wear armor and shield, you take the lowest MDB of the two and that is the maximum DEX bonus that you can apply to your AC.
Your +1 full plate has ACP of -5 and a MDB of 1. Your +1 darkwood tower shield has ACP of -7 and a MDB of 2. When you use both of them together, you combine the ACP for a total of -12 and you take the lowest MDB of 1.
Now you apply your Tower Shield Training at level 3, you reduce the ACP by 3 bringing it down to a -9, and you increase the MDB by 2, bringing it up to a 3. This applies only when you are using your tower shield. If you decide not to use the shield, you only get the normal benefits of Armor Training which is just reducing the ACP by 1 and raising the MDB by 1 which would put you at ACP 11, MDB 2 without the shield.
While I am certain that the MDB works as I described (there is no other way to apply two different MAXIMUM bonuses), I admit that I may be misinterpreting the rule of combining the ACP. It's possible that they are intended to remain separate. But the math works out the same either way until you get high enough level that the Tower Shield Training would give a higher reduction than your armor's ACP. For example, if you keep the two ACPs separate, you still only apply the reduction to the armor's ACP, not the shield's. That AP is only 5. You get -3 at third level, -4 at seventh level, -5 at eleventh level, -6 at fifteenth level, and -7 at nineteenth level. If you were 15th level, your combined ACP adjustment MY way would be -12, reduced by 6 for a total of -6. But keeping them separate, your armor ACP would be -5 reduced by 6 to 0 (as specified, cannot be below 0) and your shield's ACP would still be -7, so the total would be 0 - 7 = -7. A bit worse than doing it my way.
I'm not sure which is right, but this archetype is pretty weak, as a GM I would give it all the help it can get, ergo, my interpretation on ACP helps it a bit more than the other interpretation.
Hero Lab also applies the ACP reduction to the tower shield though, and the core rule book lists the tower shield under Armors in the core rule book, so I do believe the ACP reduction would still apply to the shield. It is called Tower Shield Training after all, it wouldn't make much sense if training to make me better with a tower shield just made me better with my armor. Your ruling I must admit is the only one I've seen too where you do not apply the training to the shield, and you apply it to your ACP AFTER adding them together.
I do appreciate you giving me your interpretation, but I feel I must rephrase my question. I've always been told that the armor training applies to both your armor and your shield. There would be little point in it otherwise, since a Tower Shield's Max Dex is a +2, and not applying it to your shield means you will never get any more than a 2 from Dex. The shield would never improve it's max dex cap, and while that might make sense for a regular Fighter, that wouldn't make sense for an archetype designed to be a paragon user of the tower shield. Shields are listed under Armors in the core rule book after all. Tower Shield Training says when I'm wielding a tower shield, I get a -3 to the ACP, and a +2 to the Max Dex. Do I have this bonus INSTEAD of the bonuses from Armor Training, or do I have them both? It says I still have Armor Training as Normal, which would suggest that both work together, but it also might be that I use the Tower Shield Training bonuses INSTEAD of the Armor Training bonus while I'm holding a tower shield.