Unarmored Proficiency


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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Not entirely sure where to ask this, or if it's been asked elsewhere, but is it the intention that it's better for wizards to wear armor than not to? Because as it stands, with no classes (other than the Monk) being Trained in Unarmored, there is no circumstance where not wearing armor would be better than wearing armor. Not sure if this is intentional, a typo, or if I'm missing something. Wouldn't it make the most sense if all classes were at least Trained in Unarmored, so to provide even a small incentive to not wear armor?


This is a big contention I have had with 1e Pathfinder. And one of the things I think 5e D&D does well. Giving Barbarians an unarmored option to really get the bare-chested Barbarian trope as an option. Something that was nearly impossible in PF1e and seems like it'll be impossible in PF2e as well.


Dαedαlus wrote:
Not entirely sure where to ask this, or if it's been asked elsewhere, but is it the intention that it's better for wizards to wear armor than not to? Because as it stands, with no classes (other than the Monk) being Trained in Unarmored, there is no circumstance where not wearing armor would be better than wearing armor. Not sure if this is intentional, a typo, or if I'm missing something. Wouldn't it make the most sense if all classes were at least Trained in Unarmored, so to provide even a small incentive to not wear armor?

The pregen wizard was trained in unarmoured, even though it didn't state it or have any ways of gaining it. I think the missing bit's an error in the book.


It is highly likely that the developers intended for all characters to be Trained in Unarmored Defense and simply forgot to actually state it explicitly.


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Cantriped wrote:
It is highly likely that the developers intended for all characters to be Trained in Unarmored Defense and simply forgot to actually state it explicitly.

Just checked again, it's really not mentioned in the rules. But I thought of it as analogous to 1e "natural armor", so it wouldn't be default for everyone?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Man I hope characters aren't trained in unarmored defense, because that's a huge nerf to the monk.

Or is "I have the same AC as someone wearing the weakest armor in the game, at least until the fighter gets expert with it" really supposed to convince me that not wearing armor is the way to go?

I mean, that's the case either way, but the monk could at least be good comparatively at being unarmored.


MaxAstro wrote:

Man I hope characters aren't trained in unarmored defense, because that's a huge nerf to the monk.

Or is "I have the same AC as someone wearing the weakest armor in the game, at least until the fighter gets expert with it" really supposed to convince me that not wearing armor is the way to go?

I mean, that's the case either way, but the monk could at least be good comparatively at being unarmored.

Monks actually get Expert-level proficiency in Unarmored Defense as a class feature at level 1.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ventnor wrote:
Monks actually get Expert-level proficiency in Unarmored Defense as a class feature at level 1.

Indeed, which gives them +1 AC compared to someone who is merely trained in it.

A fighter wearing the weakest light armor in the game *also* gets +1 AC.

The only advantages the monk has over the fighter is that they don't have to spend 2sp on their armor, and that they can have a Dex bonus higher than +5, which isn't likely to happen at 1st level.

Admittedly the monk also gets +1 TAC, I think, so there's that... until you compare their unarmored defense to a fighter wearing actually decent light armor.

Overall, not a strong argument in favor of not wearing armor, especially at higher levels.


MaxAstro wrote:
Ventnor wrote:
Monks actually get Expert-level proficiency in Unarmored Defense as a class feature at level 1.

Indeed, which gives them +1 AC compared to someone who is merely trained in it.

A fighter wearing the weakest light armor in the game *also* gets +1 AC.

The only advantages the monk has over the fighter is that they don't have to spend 2sp on their armor, and that they can have a Dex bonus higher than +5, which isn't likely to happen at 1st level.

Admittedly the monk also gets +1 TAC, I think, so there's that... until you compare their unarmored defense to a fighter wearing actually decent light armor.

Overall, not a strong argument in favor of not wearing armor, especially at higher levels.

Monks eventually get legendary in unarmored defense, if I'm not mistaken (I don't have my pdf here). Masters, I'm sure.

If they increase their DEX, the difference between fully armored characters and Monks gets slim.


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Megistone wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
Ventnor wrote:
Monks actually get Expert-level proficiency in Unarmored Defense as a class feature at level 1.

Indeed, which gives them +1 AC compared to someone who is merely trained in it.

A fighter wearing the weakest light armor in the game *also* gets +1 AC.

The only advantages the monk has over the fighter is that they don't have to spend 2sp on their armor, and that they can have a Dex bonus higher than +5, which isn't likely to happen at 1st level.

Admittedly the monk also gets +1 TAC, I think, so there's that... until you compare their unarmored defense to a fighter wearing actually decent light armor.

Overall, not a strong argument in favor of not wearing armor, especially at higher levels.

Monks eventually get legendary in unarmored defense, if I'm not mistaken (I don't have my pdf here). Masters, I'm sure.

If they increase their DEX, the difference between fully armored characters and Monks gets slim.

The issue isn't where they end but where they start. If everyone gets training in unarmored, then the wizard or sorcerer could have the same AC as the monk [or very close]. It makes the monk seem... well pretty lame at defending themselves. You studied martial arts to be ever so slightly better at not getting hit than the average librarian. Now face the shame you'll have if you try for a str monk that raises dex later and the guy with robes out evades you...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is an excellent question.


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Jason Bulhman confirmed on one of their Gencon panels (I watched the twitch video after the fact) that it was an oversight - all classes should be 'Trained' in 'Unarmoured' by default.
Said it's #1 on their errata list.

1:54:00 in this stream:

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/293043872

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So looking over the book again, I can’t find any mention of characters being trained in unarmored defense.

So a wizard would be best served by wearing the best armor their money, dexterity and strength score can provide. Mage Armor might last all day, but at 1st level it’s only a +1 bonus and still uses unarmored defense proficiency.

So a 1st level wizard with Dex 16 and Mage Armor has

AC/TAC 13 (10 +3 (Dex)+1 (spell) -1 Unarmored proficiency)

While a wizard with a chain shirt instead:

AC 14 (TAC 13) (10+3 (Dex)+2/+1 (Chain Shirt) -1 Untrained in Light Armor proficiency).

As far as I can see there’s no way to be considered “trained” in unarmored defence.


A monk and a fighter in full plate have the same AC eventually (Fighter in full plate +6, +3 Proficiency, the Monk +6 Dex, +3 Proficiency), but how do Monks keep up with armour potency runes?


The trouble is, even if wizards are trained in unarmoured (as they are intended to be) they're still better off wearing heavy armour. Unless they invest very strongly in dexterity. A second level wizard who has at least one dexterity boost can get +7 AC if he wears full plate (+6 armour +1 dex +0 untrained second level), and suffers no penalty for doing so other than the usual armour check penalty. If he wears robes, his AC is 2+dex modifier, or one higher than that if he burns one of his four spell slots on a mage armour. He needs an 18 in dex and one of his spell slots for this to even equal the full plate, and it's not actually possible for him to get that 18 dex at his level even if he tried.

At higher levels, with ability boosts and the burning of a high level spell slot on mage armour, he may be able to do better than the full plate. But then full plate can be enchanted, and mage armour can't, which slows things down. If I haven't missed anything, it's at level 8 or 9 that it will start being better to go unarmoured: [level]+5 dex + 4 mage armour vs [level] + 6 full plate + 4 enchantment -2. But even then, that's only true if you've been boosting your dexterity for your whole career, with little to show for it until that point. If you decide not to bother raising dex above 12 and to use the boosts one more immediately useful stats, then even a level 9 mage armour won't outweigh a fully enchanted full plate, even without proficiency.

Fundamentally, the trouble is that there's no significant penalty for using an armour you're not proficient in. You take the -2 AC penalty, but if the difference in AC bonus between the armours is great enough, it's still worth using the heavy armour you aren't trained with. In fact this happens quite easily as -2AC is quite a small penalty compared to the differences in armour bonuses, but even if the penalty was greater this system will still lead to issues. Namely that the only way to get people to stick with the type of armour you want them to use is to give them a better AC than they could normally get, as a reward for sticking to that armour. And thus you lose the squishy wizards trope, and end up with either wizards wearing armour, or wizards in robes who have a better AC than they would in armour.

No optimised character can never have an AC that's more than two lower than that of a trained heavy armour user like the fighter. Or four less if the penalty gets doubled after playtesting. The point is, there's a hard cap on how bad your class's optimal AC can be, and it's not too far below that of a trained combatant.

In PF1, by contrast, there are very strong incentives to stick with armour you're proficient in, besides AC. If you're not proficient (and the armour has any ACP) then you take a penalty to basically all your d20 rolls. And that penalty increases for heavier armours, as a general rule. Moreover, wizards also suffer from a spell failure rate, forcing them to stay unarmoured or have their key abilities weakened. Thus wizards will go unarmoured even though their AC would be higher in full plate.


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
A monk and a fighter in full plate have the same AC eventually (Fighter in full plate +6, +3 Proficiency, the Monk +6 Dex, +3 Proficiency), but how do Monks keep up with armour potency runes?

Bracers of Armor, I'd think.


Kung-Fu Joe wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
A monk and a fighter in full plate have the same AC eventually (Fighter in full plate +6, +3 Proficiency, the Monk +6 Dex, +3 Proficiency), but how do Monks keep up with armour potency runes?
Bracers of Armor, I'd think.

Ah, thanks, of course, but not too thrilled at required magic items to keep up with the maths.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Kung-Fu Joe wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
A monk and a fighter in full plate have the same AC eventually (Fighter in full plate +6, +3 Proficiency, the Monk +6 Dex, +3 Proficiency), but how do Monks keep up with armour potency runes?
Bracers of Armor, I'd think.
Ah, thanks, of course, but not too thrilled at required magic items to keep up with the maths.

To be fair the problem posed was: "How does a monk keep up with a fighter's magic items."

"Magic items of their own" seems a reasonable solution.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Kung-Fu Joe wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
A monk and a fighter in full plate have the same AC eventually (Fighter in full plate +6, +3 Proficiency, the Monk +6 Dex, +3 Proficiency), but how do Monks keep up with armour potency runes?
Bracers of Armor, I'd think.
Ah, thanks, of course, but not too thrilled at required magic items to keep up with the maths.

To be fair the problem posed was: "How does a monk keep up with a fighter's magic items."

"Magic items of their own" seems a reasonable solution.

Of course, I was just musing in my disappointment on magic item dependancy, I do not like potency runes, either, or magic weapons grating additional damage dice.


There is also the consideration of Bulk, armor check penalties, traits the armors have and the fact that the heavier armor slows you down.

K-Ray


I think it is the -10 to speed that is going to be the thing that ends up pushing wizards towards Dex and away from armor, but it is interesting that bumbling around in Heavy Armor is even a somewhat viable option.

However,
as a wizard, you probably don't want to be spending money on Armor you are not proficient in, that is also knocking your speed down and capping your reflex saves so low, while making yourself the easiest target for any kind of grappling monster.

After all, most offensive magic now requires touch attacks to hit and benefit from critical hits, and melee touch attacks are still finesse. Secretly, Dexterity has almost become a primary attack attribute for casters, so I there are not going to be a lot of casters running around with Dexterity scores less than 14-16, especially by level 5.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
A monk and a fighter in full plate have the same AC eventually (Fighter in full plate +6, +3 Proficiency, the Monk +6 Dex, +3 Proficiency), but how do Monks keep up with armour potency runes?

Good question. Magical tatoos could be a good option to consider.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I built my wizard just last night and ran into this issue when I was trying to figure out how the heck mage armor worked. I couldn't find anything in the book about unarmored defense. Thanks for the additional info.


Unicore wrote:
I think it is the -10 to speed that is going to be the thing that ends up pushing wizards towards Dex and away from armor, but it is interesting that bumbling around in Heavy Armor is even a somewhat viable option.

Why would that push wizards towards Dex, but not push fighters towards it?

Quote:

However,

as a wizard, you probably don't want to be spending money on Armor you are not proficient in, that is also knocking your speed down and capping your reflex saves so low, while making yourself the easiest target for any kind of grappling monster.

If your Dex is higher than your armour's dexterity cap, then you should be able to get the same AC with a lighter armour anyway. The cap being applied to reflex saves is thus irrelevant.

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