Things to increase a monk's AC.


Advice

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Okay so I know about the bracers of protection, the amulet of natural armor, and monk robes. So what else is there that I can use? I don't mind taking feats to increase it but if at all possible I'd like to avoid it.


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Monks can use Qinggong powers to cast Barkskin, which is like a free better amulet of natural armor.

Are we talking about an existing Monk, or creating one?


Depending on archetype, the dodge feat is usually a free choice. Fighting defensively is not horrible for some monks as getting some style feats to make that better works well for master of many styles and such.


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A Ring of Force Shield will give a +2, but a Buckler with the feat, Unhindering Shield, can get you a +6. Dusty Rose Prism Ioun stones adds a +1 insight bonus. Rings of Protection add +1 to +5.

Grand Lodge

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High Dex/Wisdom, so you can invest in Belt of Dex/Headband of Wis.

Snakeskin Tunic is an 8k item that gets you a +1 AC, +2 Dex Enhancement, and saves versus poison- and is a chest slot item, so you can still use Monk's Robes.

Get weapons with the Defending enhancement, so you can apply the enhancement bonus to your AC


It got ruled you have to attack with a Defending weapon to get it's bonus to AC, so there's that against them.

Defiant is a nice Armor/Shield enhancement you can put on the bracers of armor I think, that gives you an extra +2 against a certain type of enemy, such as Undead or Humanoid(orc).


If you have an arcane caster in the party, buy them a 1st level pearl of power and have them use it to cast mage armor on you. Much cheaper than bracers of armor.


A monk can get a really great AC bonus by the following means:

- Not being stingy with WIS

- Barkskin qinggong power

- Bracers of Armor

- Ring of protection

If you tick all of those boxes, then your AC should stay within the 50%-75% chance to be missed.


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crane style adds a lot to AC


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Snake Style is great if you are willing to put skill points in to sense motive.

Snake Style:

You gain a +2 bonus on Sense Motive checks, and you
can deal piercing damage with your unarmed strikes. While using
the Snake Style feat, when an opponent targets you with a melee
or ranged attack, you can spend an immediate action to make a
Sense Motive check. You can use the result as your AC or touch
AC against that attack. You must be aware of the attack and not
flat-footed.

Grand Lodge

Potion of Mage Armour. +4 AC for 1 hour. Very cost effective.

Potion of Shield. +4 AC for 1 minute. Stacks with Mage Armour.

Potion of Bark Skin. +2 AC for 10 minutes. Stacks with Mage Armour and Shield.

Each potion costs you 50gp and gives you a total of +10 AC which stacks with all of the monks normal AC bonuses for at least a minute. If that isn't enough AC then maybe you should ask your GM to take it easy.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Potions of Shield do not exist

Grand Lodge

Ah personal spell.

I guess you'll have to deal with +6 AC.

Scarab Sages

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My PFS unchained monk (at 11th level) used a combination of:

Spoilered for length:
16 DEX = +3 dex
18 WIS = +4 wis
Snakeskin Tunic = +1 armor
Dodge = +1 dodge
Ring of Protection = +1 deflection (could be higher. Just haven't committed the gold to it)
Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone = +1 insight
Nagaji = +1 natural armor
Monk AC = +2

Total unbuffed AC 24, Touch: 22, Flat: 20

Buffing adds:
Mage Armor = +3 armor (beyond the tunic) Carry a wand or pearl of power, with a couple of potions as a backup.
Barkskin = +4 enhancement to natural armor
Shield = +4 shield He casts this using a Cloak of the Hedge Wizard 1/day for big fights. There's also the Cracked Vibrant Purple Prism Ioun Stone that stores 1 spell level. Carry scrolls or a wand if you GM oks using it to have someone put shield into the stone.

Total buffed AC: 35

He also has Snake Style/Sidewind/Fang and Mobility. I find that I rarely use Snake Style to substitute for AC, since my Sense Motive maxed out around where my AC is anyway. I use it against touch attacks, mainly. What I do often is spend a Ki for +4 AC instead of for an extra attack, because with Snake Fang, that often nets me an extra attack of opportunity when someone misses anyway. Unchained Monk can boost AC as an immediate action, provided they take the Furious Defense Ki Power. Chained Monk can do it as a swift on their turn as a default of their Ki Pool.

Total AC with Furious Defense: 39

On the opening round of a big fight, I'll do something like swift enter Snake Style, Standard cast Shield, Move - Move up to 70 feet (item boosting monk speed) provoking from as many enemies as I can (up to 4) On the opening round, Mobility puts my AC at 39 against those attacks without spending a ki (not enough swift actions). Snake Fang allows me to attack anyone that misses, so I still often get some hits in despite spending the standard to cast.

If I need to move in subsequent rounds, spending a Ki for AC plus Mobility puts my AC at 43 against attacks provoked while moving. That include when making a Flying Kick to essentially pounce up to my Monk Bonus Speed (40 feet at 11th with item boosting it).


Monks can get excellent AC with the right planning/investments.


A potion of Reduce Person would work as well, but lowers the damage you deal and makes it harder to pull off Combat Maneuvers against larger foes.


Dual Talent Human is an easy way to bump up both your combat stat and your WIS. The Toughness feat can make up for lost HP if you start with a lower CON. It's possible to start with 16/18STR, 14DEX, 12CON, 10INT, 14/16WIS, 8CHA on a 20 point buy and take Toughness and bonus Dodge at level 1; so you basically have the HP a 14CON character would have plus 6AC from dodge and ability scores right from the start.


Barskin potions are 300 gp each, second level spell, a bit pricey.

Several good points already made, a mix of feats, proper attributes, and gear can get a quite respectable ac.


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I have been toying with the idea of a monk taking one level of Empyreal bloodline sorcerer (uses Wisdom as casting stat) so you can cast Mage Armor and Shield on yourself at will (or maybe Ki Arrow), and use all the wizard spell wands yourself without putting any points in UMD. With a high enough Wis you'd be able to cast 4 or 5 spells per day, and if you took Magical Knack your Armor would be lasting 3 hours and Shield 3 minutes. You'd be totally self sufficient in having a giant AC boost.

Also a monk with Prestidigitation and Mage Hand. Maaaage Haaand!

Liberty's Edge

Monks should never have AC troubles. They get two stats to AC (one physical and one mental), a scaling class bonus, and can burn ki points for a big boost when necessary.

What's your current build? I have a few monks in PFS and they are nigh unhittable most of the time.


Blind Monkey wrote:
Also a monk with Prestidigitation and Mage Hand. Maaaage Haaand!

Behold.


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Blind Monkey wrote:
I have been toying with the idea of a monk taking one level of Empyreal bloodline sorcerer (uses Wisdom as casting stat) so you can cast Mage Armor and Shield on yourself at will (or maybe Ki Arrow), and use all the wizard spell wands yourself without putting any points in UMD. With a high enough Wis you'd be able to cast 4 or 5 spells per day, and if you took Magical Knack your Armor would be lasting 3 hours and Shield 3 minutes. You'd be totally self sufficient in having a giant AC boost.

If you're looking at going that road, there's also Scaled Fist Monk/ Sorcerer/ Dragon Disciple combos. Draconic Bloodline provides it's own scaling AC bonus, and with a substantial amount of spellcasting you can use things like Mirror Image that go way beyond normal AC boosts (and things like Heroism as well).


BadBird wrote:
Blind Monkey wrote:
I have been toying with the idea of a monk taking one level of Empyreal bloodline sorcerer (uses Wisdom as casting stat) so you can cast Mage Armor and Shield on yourself at will (or maybe Ki Arrow), and use all the wizard spell wands yourself without putting any points in UMD. With a high enough Wis you'd be able to cast 4 or 5 spells per day, and if you took Magical Knack your Armor would be lasting 3 hours and Shield 3 minutes. You'd be totally self sufficient in having a giant AC boost.
If you're looking at going that road, there's also Scaled Fist Monk/ Sorcerer/ Dragon Disciple combos. Draconic Bloodline provides it's own scaling AC bonus, and with a substantial amount of spellcasting you can use things like Mirror Image that go way beyond normal AC boosts (and things like Heroism as well).

Toss in Eldritch Heritage (fey) and Sorcerous Strike for laughing touch abuse.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Use the War kilt of Sarenrae Gives you your natural bonus to AC and frees up you amulet slot for mighty fists. Cape of Bravado slotless insight bonus if you have a free hand.

Scarab Sages

Avoron wrote:
Blind Monkey wrote:
Also a monk with Prestidigitation and Mage Hand. Maaaage Haaand!

Behold.

I mentioned the cloak in my long spoilered text above. It's a really neat item. I went with the Abjuration version, so I could cast shield 1/day. I didn't mention it also gives prestidigitation (all version) and resistance (for the abjuration version) both at will, plus Endure Elements 1/day, or essentially constant due to its 24 hour duration. He's a very clean, very comfortable no matter the weather, Nagaji Monk. And having resistance helped for lower levels to offset not having a Cloak of Resistance. Eventually I started investing in the ioun stones that give a resistance bonus to saves.


Sorry for taking so long to reply everyone. The monk I'm making is a Suli Monk of the Four Winds.

Thanks everyone for the help so far!


Allen Aynes wrote:

Sorry for taking so long to reply everyone. The monk I'm making is a Suli Monk of the Four Winds.

Thanks everyone for the help so far!

Shaitan Style + Monk of the Four Winds is pretty great stuff. With Combat Style Master you can even cross-over with another style.

Are you going with a weapon-using Monk, or unarmed? If you can't use Dragon Ferocity (due to not getting Sunning Fist), a Monk weapon is likely a lot more effective than unarmed strikes.


Mahtobedis wrote:
Potions of Shield do not exist

not entirely true you can not make potions of shield however there are some adventure paths that include shield pots in their loot also some alchemists can give shield to allies

Silver Crusade

Snake Style with a boosted Sense Motive can help block those nasty touch attacks as well. I got my PFS Monk up to minimum 34 Touch AC as a swift action with all his buffs 1/round.


Smitty Hagendarf wrote:
Snake Style with a boosted Sense Motive can help block those nasty touch attacks as well. I got my PFS Monk up to minimum 34 Touch AC as a swift action with all his buffs 1/round.

Snake style is not very good.

Requires a swift action to activate style feats unless you invest in style mastery when you are feats starved as a monk, if you don't then it does nothing for the first round of combat.

Takes up your style when Monks need those more than any other class for damage

Dark Archive

Wand of Mage Armor works pretty well most of the time there is someone else who can use it without needing UMD and is incredibly cost effective compared to Bracers or alternatively it allows you to get +1 Bracers and add other armor enchantments. That said as a Dex Monk and going Wisdom all the way I consistently have the best AC in the group high enough that the extra +4 using Panther style makes provoking a non-issue. Damage was slower to come on-line, but touch ACs in the high 20s is still pretty nice.


Psychic Sensitivity >> Psychic Adept >> Psychic Disciple will allow you to cast shield 2/day as a spell-like ability.


Scaled Fist/Sorcerer is a cool idea, Dragon Disciple is alright but I'd rather grab a more useful Bloodline. The Protean and Ectoplasm abilities have a flat DC15 save (since they let you throw 3+Cha tanglefoot bags) and the Arcane Bloodline gives you a familiar. Even a level 1 familiar is surprising useful if impossibly fragile.

Dragon Disciple is best taken about 4 levels, then you have to sacrifice another point of BAB


Luckily there are Strength boosts built into Dragon Disciple. My front line Arcanist(Spell Specialist archetype for spontaneous casting) had little difficulty hitting things.

You can trade out your claws from Draconic for a Bloodline Familiar, and if you look at the expanded Bloodlines for Draconic, like Esoteric Dragon, you can pick up a total of nine from the psychic class spell list not on the Sorcerer class list and cast them as if they were Psychic(the magic type, no verbal/somatic components) spells.

It's feat intensive and only good for Scaled Fists monks, but using Eldritch Heritage and, taken twice, Improved Eldritch Heritage(Orc) can grab you Darkvision, immunity to fear, more natural armor, and more bonuses to Strength.


ShroudedInLight wrote:
Scaled Fist/Sorcerer is a cool idea, Dragon Disciple is alright but I'd rather grab a more useful Bloodline.

Draconic and Disciple grants a major AC bonus and a major STR bonus, while granting spell levels and continuing Bloodline(s?) at medium BAB instead of low BAB. I'm not sure what the alternative would be to get anything comparable.

Shadow Lodge

Ferious Thune wrote:

My PFS unchained monk (at 11th level)...

...I find that I rarely use Snake Style to substitute for AC, since my Sense Motive maxed out around where my AC is anyway. I use it against touch attacks, mainly. What I do often is spend a Ki for +4 AC instead of for an extra attack, because with Snake Fang, that often nets me an extra attack of opportunity when someone misses anyway.....

Yeah, and it hoodwinks you into dumping a good fraction of skill points into Sense Motive (which maybe you wouldn't take otherwise), and enemy attack-bonus will likely eclipse the player's skill (sans considerable, likely cost-prohibitive dedication). Monks also tend to have pretty good touch-AC anyway (can be best-in-game if DEX-oriented).

Cool character, though. All about bein' a snake.

Scarab Sages

Sir Thugsalot wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:

My PFS unchained monk (at 11th level)...

...I find that I rarely use Snake Style to substitute for AC, since my Sense Motive maxed out around where my AC is anyway. I use it against touch attacks, mainly. What I do often is spend a Ki for +4 AC instead of for an extra attack, because with Snake Fang, that often nets me an extra attack of opportunity when someone misses anyway.....

Yeah, and it hoodwinks you into dumping a good fraction of skill points into Sense Motive (which maybe you wouldn't take otherwise), and enemy attack-bonus will likely eclipse the player's skill (sans considerable, likely cost-prohibitive dedication). Monks also tend to have pretty good touch-AC anyway (can be best-in-game if DEX-oriented).

Cool character, though. All about bein' a snake.

I didn't mind taking Sense Motive. I had to dump Int and Charisma to overcome needing Str, Dex (because of Combat Reflexes), Con, and Wis. So I'm only at 3 skill points/level. But there aren't really that many skills I can be good at. Sense Motive is one. Perception is another. And Acrobatics is the third, since you need that as well as Sense Motive for Snake Style. The occasional point is diverted from Acrobatics or Sense Motive (after level 9) into a knowledge skill or Linguistics or something i need just to be able to do something else. But having Sense Motive gives me something to do in social situations, even if I'm not the one doing the talking.

And yeah, he's a fun character to play. Nagaji with Snake Style and a Snakeskin Tunic. I'd aim for Anaconda's Coils, but I almost never grapple, and I need too many physical stats to give up a multi-stat belt.


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Dexterity/Enhancement, Deflection, Armor, Shield, Dodge, Natural, Luck, untyped, size, racial? There may be more... maybe.

Examples:
Size: Small, Tiny
Luck: Blundering Defense
Enhancement: Cat's Grace
Deflection: Shield of Faith, Ring of Protection.
Armor: Mage Armor
Shield: Ring of Force Shield
Dodge: The feat Dodge
Natural: Armor of the Pit
Untyped: Fighting Defensively
Racial: ?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

My level 7 PFS monk has a pretty impressive AC that is achieved by going Dex to hit/damage.

Grippli. So Small and bonus to dex/wis.
Using Unchained Monk and the Barkskin Ki Power.

I am at 30 AC while buffed.

10 base, 5 Dex, 5 Wis, 1 Monk, 3 Barkskin, 1 Deflection, 4 Armor(mage armor), 1 size = 30 AC, 23 Touch, 25 Flatfooted.

Unbuffed is 7 lower standard and flat-footed.


For DEX-based, a one-level dip in Crusader Cleric of Sarenrae opens up Crusader's Flurry with a Scimitar, which can be used with Dervish Dance. Scimitar Flurry of Blows is pretty cool, and Fate's Favored means you can use Divine Favor for a +2 bonus even at level 1 Cleric.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

The best I have is:
Nagaji DEX 13+1 at 4th CHA 15
Gendarme First Mother Fang Cavalier 2 (Social Grace, Power Attack, Improved Feint / Combat Expertise)
Irorian Paladin 3
Devoted Muse 2

+4 Mithral Kikko (Max DEX 6)
AoNA 2
RoP 2
Dusty Rose
Belt DEX +2
Headband CHA +2
Lucky Horseshoe
2x Cracked Pale Green (Attack and Saves)

AC 34
10 + 9 (armor) + 2 (deflection) + 6 (DEX) + 3 dodge (feat and 2 levels Muse) + 1 insight + 3 natural (1 race + 2 AoNA)

Fort +13 (Con = 10)
Ref +11 (DEX = 16)
Will +8 (Wis = 7)

Burns a lot of feats for muse just for 2 Cha to dodge.

Al this pales in comparison to just equipping mithral heavy armor and a shield on the same character:
AC 39


As far as Monks go though, a plain Monk with that kind of resources could easily be reaching mid 30s AC by 7 with Crane, and a Monk with a strategic 1-level-dip in Cleric to go DEX or WIS attacks could be going even higher.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

BadBird wrote:
As far as Monks go though, a plain Monk with that kind of resources could easily be reaching mid 30s AC by 7 with Crane, and a Monk with a strategic 1-level-dip in Cleric to go DEX or WIS attacks could be going even higher.

Crane requires fighting defensively, which isn't always workable and makes hit chance unlikely. That build has AC 39 all the time, good saves, and good enough to hit that the damage would be sufficient to be a thread and not make them be ignored.

Granted I've heard the Crane Wing suggestion for 2 years I've been trying to build better than "Generic Fighter" without full plate. I've yet to find a build with similar resources that can challenge generic and deal damage.


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At Crane Riposte you are only taking a -1 to hit for +3 dodge AC and another +4 vs the one attack.

Say a Zen Archer with one level of Empyreal Sorcerer. Multiple races let you start with 14 S, 14 D, 14 C,10 I, 18 W, who cares about cha. You can dump int for more str if you want, but it doesn't matter for this. Let's say you are a tiefling and take armor of the pit for 2 natural armor. Take magical knack so mage armor lasts 3 hours.

At level 9 for +2 wis from level, +4 wis headband, dusty rose, and 25K wealth by level left to spend, then the Crane Style chain, I think it is:
dex 2 + wis 7 + monk ac 2 + qinggong barkskin 3 + natural armor 2 + mage armor 4 + shield spell 4 + dodge 1 + crane 3 + dusty rose 1 = 39 AC, possible 43 AC vs one of the attacks. And you are a fully functional archer.

At level 7 you would have 37/41 AC and no Crane Riposte.


As usual, I will suggest increasing your relative AC by debuffing the enemy's attack bonus. Since you're a Monk the Enforcer feat seems like a pretty natural option. The -2 on your enemy's attack roll might not seem like much, but whack him with a Cruel weapon afterwards (easy to do with a flurry) and that's a -4 to attacks along with a -2 to damage. It is also a -4 to saving throws, making Stunning Fist and similar tricks more likely to work. The Trip or Dirty Trick maneuvers can also debuff enemies in various ways.

I've played a Crane Style build (with armor) for a few years now and can say the AC boost is pretty substantial. I suspect that Snake Fang might be more effective in some ways, but even the often maligned Crane Wing can give you a lot of fun defensive options. Halflings have their own set of feats to improve fighting defensively which might be fun if you don't mind having small damage dice. Being a halfling is probably good for 1-2 points of AC itself.


James Risner wrote:
BadBird wrote:
As far as Monks go though, a plain Monk with that kind of resources could easily be reaching mid 30s AC by 7 with Crane, and a Monk with a strategic 1-level-dip in Cleric to go DEX or WIS attacks could be going even higher.
Crane requires fighting defensively, which isn't always workable and makes hit chance unlikely. That build has AC 39 all the time, good saves, and good enough to hit that the damage would be sufficient to be a thread and not make them be ignored.

Full Crane costs a whole -1, and does nothing to interfere with going full two-handed or unarmed flurry. The three feats plus free Dodge isn't all that taxing either, in the grand scheme of things. I was simply pointing out that that heavily AC-specialized build with plate and shield isn't that different from what a Monk can do with just Crane and some planning. The new Unhindering Shield fest also realkg opens up Monk AC possibilities.

For maximizing AC and also dealing heavy damage, I would look at a Speaker for the Past Shaman with Battle Spirit and one level of Unchained Monk, using Crane. Enemies' Bane, Flurry, Divine Favor and Heroism with a two-handed weapon on attack; WIS AC, Spirit Shield, Barkskin, and Crane on defense.

All the rewriting of Crane gave it a bad name, but I ghknk ghey settled it in a good place now. Works brilliantly with Stylish Riposte.


Yeah, the -1 attack penalty is tiny while the +8 AC bonus is huge (though it admittedly goes down to +4 after you get hit). It can be important to avoid getting surprised and act early in initiative though since you only get those boosts once you've had a turn.

Getting a Bodyguard familiar could help. Depending on what sort of Monk you are a kung-fu monkey or bird who helps defend you might be kind of amusing. A lot of this stuff requires feats or multi-classing though, whereas I think the OP was probably hoping more for equipment and magic items.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

My issue with crane is if you get surprised or don't have good init, you lose 8 points of AC.


Crane certainly has its limitations, though the flat-footed issue is no different for Crane than for the whole world of other DEX/Dodge/etc AC bonuses; so saying Crane is weak because surprise/initiative has to be considered in the context of everything else that's in the same boat - and that's a big boat. The build you posted above would lose 9AC from DEX/Dodge until acting (unless there's some kind of Uncanny Dodge feature in there).

The main thing though is that a Monk using Crane isn't completely reliant on Crane for AC. Their WIS bonus to AC and assorted other bonuses from things like Barkskin function just fine. Crane just takes an already 'good-AC' Monk into 'hitting-a-brick-wall-AC' levels.

Of course, there's nothing stopping a full-plate martial from going Crane either if so inclined.


Just a comment on people trying to increase AC very high. The fun in the game is being able to interact with each other, sometimes by covering all defenses what you achieve is the Gm not being able to interact with your character during combat.

As for more ac options, the Gauntlet style gives you a shield bonus, unsure how it interacts with monks.

Have several potions of Shield and Mage armour are the cheapest and one of most effective ways of buffind monk ac. Combine with Divine fighting technique from Cayden Cailean (note, alignment needs certain archetypes) and instead of a tankard skin it as a sake pumpkin - the true drunken monk!


^interesting and valid take.
Potion of Shield, though - I'm pretty sure you'd need a wand for that.

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