Advice Needed: Building High AC Character w / No Armor


Advice


I am trying to build a character that has a high AC, but wears LIGHT Armor or No Armor. I know there are options out there that allow you to add different stats to your AC but am wondering if there are more.

What I know now:

All Classes: Adds DEX to AC
Shifter: Adds WIS to AC when unarmored
Monk: Adds WIS to AC when unarmored
Devoted Muse (Prestige Class): Adds 1 point of CHA bonus per level to AC when unarmored/light armor.

Are there other options available? Perhaps there are archetypes that allow you to add a different stat to AC?

Thanks for the assistance!


Duelist prestige class has an ability basically identical to the Devoted Muse except based on intelligence.

Something like a paladin adds their charisma to their AC when smiting.

A lore oracle with sidestep secret adds their charisma to their AC instead of dex.

Osyleth's guile lets you add your charisma to AC when defensive fighting. Bonus points if you stack stuff like crane style, cautious fighter, cautious warrior, etc onto it.

Probably a lot more that I can't think of off the top of my head.


Duelist might work; I will need to look more closely at that.

Also, the Lore Oracle with Sidestep Secret adding CHA to AC; what if I multiclass into a class that can add DEX to AC? Would that be negated because of the secret?

Silver Crusade

A Swashtigator Investigator can have a very good AC, with a mithril chain shirt, dex mutagen, Barkskin and Shield.


I am not looking for spells or magic items, as I could get those as any class combo; I am looking for race/class/archetype/trait bonuses that give a bonus to AC.

Silver Crusade

You can't get a Swashtigator Investigator's AC with any race/class combo - that's the thing. The mutagen alone is +4 AC.


Scaled Fist Monk/Oracle with the Lore Mystery and Sidestep Secret.

Scaled Fist used Charisma instead of Wisdom for all Monk class features.

The Lore mystery's Lore Keeper revelation lets you use CHA for Knowledge checks, so that's a decent option once you've stacked your AC.

Also, there's no class feature that adds DEX to AC; that's a core rule of Ability Scores. Sidestep Secret is a class feature that overrides the core rule of how AC is calculated.


Scaled Fist (Monk) gets CHARISMA to AC instead of Wisdom. You can slap on one of the many other classes/archetypes that adds Wisdom back in to get both scores. Instead of Duelist, you could just take levels in Kensai (Magus) to get the Canny Defense ability (INT to AC).


Water dancer monk beats everybody when it comes to naked AC games, since it (by RAW) adds Charisma to AC twice! Once as an untyped bonus replacing the wis-to-AC monks get, and once as a dodge bonus. With Osyluth's Guile you can add Charisma to AC three times, and theoretically you could get it four times with a CHA up to 30 if you take the Devoted Muse PRC.


Medium of the Master archetype for medium is their 'monk' archetype. The main trade is that you can only use the champion spirit (not a big trade, because you may well specialize in that anyway; you only lose out a sub cleric for emergency use).

It trades out shared seance (+2 to teammate damage) in return for applying spirit bonus to AC when in light/no armor. That is up to a +6 without anything added on, and there are feats and such that can increase the spirit bonus further.

This works as a rather nice dip for any other option in this thread because you can grab the AC bonus starting at level 2, and you can up that with a feat for a nice juicy +2 to AC, melee attack/damage, fort saves, str checks, etc. Also, you still get your own personal seance bonus, so you also get another +2 damage.

Sidenote for personal question- If I am reading it right, you still get martial weapons +1 exotic, right? If so... is this the 'agile light armored martial character' that we always wished for? Pounce style option, option for extra attacks, can get better AC than heavy armor, use any weapon style you feel like, good saves, and you get a fantastic buff filled spell list (long arm, enlarge person, heroism, and haste?). While it is 3/4 BAB, the math once you factor in spirit bonus and power attack only puts it 1-2 attack behind.

Well, even if it doesn't get the "any weapon you want" option, it still has simple weapons for pretty decent use with that great foundation.

Grand Lodge

You want stupid high AC while being unarmored? Go Kitsune paladin, Oath of Vengeance, with a level dip in Unchained Scaled Fist. Max Cha, dex second, dump pretty much everything else. Pick up Weapon Finesse, Dodge, Crane Style, Fox Shape, Piranha Strike and Osyluth Guile as your feats. At least 8 ranks in Bluff and 3+ in Acrobatics. Run around as a tiny fox with flurry of blows and a bunch of smite evils, thanks to being able to trade Lay on Hands for more. Against any single creature, without smiting, you're getting 14+dex+cha, before equipment and buffs. If you fight defensively against that target you're at 18+dex+2*cha (osyluth guile gives a dodge bonus = cha vs single target), and if you smite that target you are at 18+dex+3*cha (deflection bonus = cha vs smite target)

Puts you neatly in the 50s for AC at roughly level 8 and your damage output actually isn't that bad either, considering you're able to make unarmed strikes and flurry as a tiny sized fox. You also have Cha to saves and with a 2nd level dip in Scaled Fist you have Evasion too.


I have a kasatha unchained monk who theoretically has 53AC at 20, without a shield or any armour and he’s still pretty good at fighting and being something worth attacking.

So yeah it can be done. I think we need to know what else you’d like to do :) beside being tanky.


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* Sorry for the long list but there are many ways to get a bonus to AC.

Virtuous Bravo Paladin gets nimble.
Iroran Paladin gets Cha per lv to AC, and insight bonus to AC with Personal Trial (pseudo Smite with no alignment limit).

Nornkith Monk works similar to Scaled Fist.
Water Dancer Monk works similar to Scaled Fist and gets a dodge bonus equal to Cha: that's 2x Cha to AC.

Kapenia Dancer Magus gets Canny Defense as a Duelist.
Magus Circle of Order arcana gives half magus level to AC vs chaotic attacks.
Magus Spell Shield arcana gives shield bonus equal to Int for 1 rd.
Magus Precient Defense arcana gives Int AC and Ref saves vs 1 enemy for 1 rd.

Arcanist Armored Mask exploit gives Mage Armor and Shield of Faith. I know no spells but I mention it cause it's a nice ability.

Kineticist Water elemental defense gives either an Armor or Shield bonus to AC and can potentially give both.

Synthesist Summoner technically gives a Dex bonus to AC (by substituting your score) and it gives an Armor or Nat armor bonus to AC.

Brawling Blademaster Samurai gets Nimble.
Warrior Poet Samurai gets Cha equal to lv to AC.

Spiritualist gets +6 Armor bonus, an archetype might get more.

Brawler gets a few points of bonus AC.

Swashbuckler has Dodging Panaxhe deed and Nimble.

Daring Champion Cavalier gains Nimble and Dodging Panache deed.
Some Cavalier orders give a bonus when fighting defensively or using combat expertise.

Sword-Devil Ranger gets a Cha version of Monk AC.

Warlord Fighter gets a Cha version of Monk AC and can substitute bonus feats for +1 dodge bonus.

****************
Dueling Cloak Adept trait gives +1 AC for 1 rd every time you succeed at feinting and have a cloak.

There are many AC granting traits but they are usually very situational (vs 1 alignment, weapon type, crits, or something).

****************
Tiefling Scaled Skin gives +2 Nat Armor. The Armor of the Pit feat gives you the bonus if you dont have it as trait.

Similar to traits, Races may have AC bonuses but they are usually situational.

****************
Note on Osyluth Guile, it is vs 1 opponent and only vs melee attacks. Still with it you can get like 4-5 times cha to AC.


Btw you can get cha up to like 5-7 times 2 from Water Dancer, 1 from Devoted Muse, 1 from Dodging Panache, 1 from Osyluth Guile, 1 from Smite. With every thing active that's, 10+ Dex+ 6*Cha+ extra monk+ Fighting defensively.

With +5 Cha (aka no headband), that's 40 AC, before looking at anything else.


Synthesist summoner with a dip in scaled fist monk?


Krell44 wrote:
I am not looking for spells or magic items, as I could get those as any class combo; I am looking for race/class/archetype/trait bonuses that give a bonus to AC.

Size Small characters get a +1 AC, so Halfling, Gnome or Goblin, maybe.

Some Races have a Natural Armor Bonus or can take Feats that give them Natural Armor Bonuses.

This is not exactly an AC bonus, but there is a Goblin Feat, Roll with it, that essentially gives you a Saving Throw vs. Melee Damage.

The Druid Wildshape ability gives you a Natural Armor Bonus.

Alchemal Mutagens give you a Natural Armor Bonus. You can take a Dex Mutagen that increases your Dex by +4, and so your AC by +2 (and lowers your Wisdom by 2, so that can be inefficient if you are also a Monk.)

Monk Ki Abilities can improve your AC.

Quinngong Monks have additional abilities to improve their AC.

The Snake Style Feat lets you use your Sense Motive Check in place of your AC.

Combat Expertise gives you an AC Bonus that scales up as you level up.

Dodge gives you a +1 AC bonus.

Mobility gives you a +4 AC Bonus when you provoke an Attack of Opportunity by Moving out of a Threatened Square.

The Panther Parry Feat gives imposes a -2 on your opponents' Attack Rolls when you get Bonus Attacks off of your Provoking Attacks of Opportunity by Moving out of Threatened Squares.

There are Combat Maneuvers that will impose Conditions on opponents that will impose attack penalties on opponents.

Are you strictly looking for AC Bonuses? How about gaining a Miss Chance? How about DR?


Xaimum Mafire wrote:

Scaled Fist Monk/Oracle with the Lore Mystery and Sidestep Secret.

Scaled Fist used Charisma instead of Wisdom for all Monk class features.

The Lore mystery's Lore Keeper revelation lets you use CHA for Knowledge checks, so that's a decent option once you've stacked your AC.

Also, there's no class feature that adds DEX to AC; that's a core rule of Ability Scores. Sidestep Secret is a class feature that overrides the core rule of how AC is calculated.

You do realize that you can't add the same stat bonus to anything more than once, right? You'd get CHA to AC once, not twice.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Water dancer monk beats everybody when it comes to naked AC games, since it (by RAW) adds Charisma to AC twice! Once as an untyped bonus replacing the wis-to-AC monks get, and once as a dodge bonus. With Osyluth's Guile you can add Charisma to AC three times, and theoretically you could get it four times with a CHA up to 30 if you take the Devoted Muse PRC.

And immediately after I said you can't add it twice, PossibleCabbage brings up an exception. One CHA bonus to AC and then another CHA as a Dodge bonus will stack.

But 3 CHA Dodge Bonuses won't stack. Dodge bonuses do stack, but you can't get 3 of them from the same source.


The FAQ answer I keep citing here and why it won't matter how many CHA dodge bonuses you do have, you only get to count CHA once.


That FAQ says that untyped bonuses equal to a stat don't stack. It also clearly says that typed bonuses equal to a stat do stack. And dodge bonuses always stack, even with other dodge bonuses. Also none of the dodge bonuses we mention stacking come from the same ability, so that isn't a reason for not stacking either.


Temperans wrote:
That FAQ says that untyped bonuses equal to a stat don't stack. It also clearly says that typed bonuses equal to a stat do stack. And dodge bonuses always stack, even with other dodge bonuses. Also none of the dodge bonuses we mention stacking come from the same ability, so that isn't a reason for not stacking either.

The greater inference here is that bonuses from the same source won't stack. The example cited is two untyped bonuses from the same stat.

But it should also apply to two typed bonuses from the same stat. Normally all dodge bonuses stack, but two dodge bonuses from the same source would be disallowed by this FAQ answer.

Now if you manage to find a way to add CHA to a different sort of AC bonus (like deflection or luck) that would stack with the AC and the Dodge bonus because they are different types of bonus with the same source.

Otherwise Dodger's draught would offer unlimited AC. Spend 3k to gain +20 AC, -20 to hit for an hour. Most high level casters wouldn't mind. Certainly not boss monsters that mostly concentrate on casting or SU abilities.


That example doesn't apply to this because its the same ability/effect so it's in a weird spot: From same ability doesn't stack, dodge always stacks.

We were using different abilities (which stack), with dodge bonuses (which stack).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There are several unarmored Cleric archetypes, but the only one by Paizo that scales with level is Sacred Attendant.

You do want to have most of your class levels in a class that grants an AC bonus that scales with levels in that class. Monk and Warrior Poet Samurai are probably your best choices in that regard.

The Lunar and Nature Oracle mysteries provide similar Cha for Dex options to the Lore Oracle.

Many other Oracle mysteries have armorless options that kick in at higher levels -- basically a +4 armor bonus for one hour per oracle level, scaling up by +2 at 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th levels. Note that there is no Paizo mystery that grants this as well as Cha for Dex.


This is exactly the information I was hoping for.

As for what else I want to be able to do: decent in combat, good in out of combat situations. So, a class combo that allows CHA to AC is a good start as it would also pump up social skills. Throw in Shifter dip to get WIS to AC, then start stacking DEX, CHA, WIS stats.

A few feats would net DEX to damage, Diplomacy/Bluff solid scores, solid Perception and Sense Motive.

I now just figure out how to get extra skill points. There are ways to get the Human skilled bonus on other races so that might work. I doubt I will be able to bump INT score when I am need DEX, CHA, WIS, and CON. STR and INT will be ignored for most part.


Read over the Water Dancer Monk Archetype and have a couple questions.

First, it appears this option is only available to the original Monk, and not the Unchained Monk. Is this correct?

Second, I see how they gain CHA to AC as a Dodge bonus but am missing where it states they swap WIS for CHA for the AC Bonus. Where is that stated?


My usual go-to for this sort of build is a defensive fighting inspired blade swashbuckler(or virtuous bravo if you prefer). Good dex, good charisma, reasonable int if you go the inspired blade route. Starting with fencing grace. Cautious warrior trait. From there you grab cautious fighter, dodge, osyleth's guile, maybe some crane style stuff.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I had good luck with a high dex Tiefling Kensai magus. Good DEX and INT which both go to AC, Armor of the Pit Feat, Ceremonial Silk Armor with enhancements.


Krell44 wrote:

Read over the Water Dancer Monk Archetype and have a couple questions.

First, it appears this option is only available to the original Monk, and not the Unchained Monk. Is this correct?

Second, I see how they gain CHA to AC as a Dodge bonus but am missing where it states they swap WIS for CHA for the AC Bonus. Where is that stated?

Water dancer is only available to the core monk, because of a trade it makes. It would be easy to figure out how to make an equivalent or worse trade for the UMonk, but you'd need to work with the GM for this.

For the 2nd Cha to AC trade, it's subtle but Nereid's Grace also reads: "He uses his Charisma score instead of his Wisdom score to determine the size of his ki pool and the DC and effects of monk class features." Which includes the monk class feature "armor bonus" which gives Wis to armor class when unencumbered and unarmored, which Nereid's grace swaps to Cha. It's parallel to the Wis/Cha swap the scaled fist makes.

FWIW, I'm of the mind that any number of dodge bonuses stack (even multiple instances of "cha to AC as a dodge bonus" specifically because dodge bonuses can be negated by feinting, etc.


You could look into style feats too, such as using a gauntlet like a buckler or turtle style. Not armoured yet acting as such. Would that be of some interest to you?


I'm also of the opinion dodge bonuses stack, because that is quite explicitly stated in the dodge bonus description.

So a kensai duelist is a very scary thing.


Temperans wrote:

That example doesn't apply to this because its the same ability/effect so it's in a weird spot: From same ability doesn't stack, dodge always stacks.

We were using different abilities (which stack), with dodge bonuses (which stack).

In its most raw form, the FAQ question and answer is:

Q:"Do ability modifiers from the same ability stack? For instance, can you add the same ability bonus on the same roll twice using two different effects that each add that same ability modifier?"

A: "No." Followed by an example.

You want to nit pick the example, but ignore the question, and the answer. So lets draw the FAQ answer back to its most simple form since the example apparently isn't making the answer anymore clear here.

You can't stack ability modifiers from the same ability. Period. As long as the stat is being fed into the same type of modifier, it can only be applied once. So you can get CHA to an untyped bonus once. To a dodge bonus once. To any other kind of bonus once.


Cavall wrote:

I'm also of the opinion dodge bonuses stack, because that is quite explicitly stated in the dodge bonus description.

So a kensai duelist is a very scary thing.

So, dodge bonuses explicitly stack. Nobody is contesting that.

There is a FAQ that says you can't feed a stat bonus into the same kind of bonus twice.

Which takes precedence? The one that says all of these bonuses stack, or the one that says you can't use a stat bonus twice for the same thing?

Considering that according to other posters there are 7 or 8 ways to add charisma to AC, with at least 5 of them being as a dodge bonus does anyone think the devs would say "yes, we fully approve of that."? If a FAQ answer was given, I'm certain they'd give precedence to the part where you aren't allowed to get a stat added to a bonus more than once.

Having such a ruling lets the designers give abilities that feed a stat into a bonus without worrying about breaking the game. Because we can see just how many shinanigans could be managed without that FAQ answer.


Third party, but a Dervish Defender Warder from Path of War gets light armor, plus Int to AC, plus Aegis bonus to Shield AC (Class ability that goes up to +5).

You can switch that to Wis to AC with another archetype.


Krell44 wrote:

This is exactly the information I was hoping for.

As for what else I want to be able to do: decent in combat, good in out of combat situations. So, a class combo that allows CHA to AC is a good start as it would also pump up social skills. Throw in Shifter dip to get WIS to AC, then start stacking DEX, CHA, WIS stats.

A few feats would net DEX to damage, Diplomacy/Bluff solid scores, solid Perception and Sense Motive.

I now just figure out how to get extra skill points. There are ways to get the Human skilled bonus on other races so that might work. I doubt I will be able to bump INT score when I am need DEX, CHA, WIS, and CON. STR and INT will be ignored for most part.

Play a Goblin Monk Master of Many Styles/Rogue Scout. Take Snake and Panther Style Feats. Take Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack. Eventually, take Roll with It. Run around the battlefield like a little green wrecking ball, getting a half-dozen attacks/round that do Sneak Attack Damage. Maybe take Sap Master and Knockout Artist. Huge Damage, high AC, no Armor.


Here's what I'm reading from that FAQ. The most important line.

"An ability bonus, such as "Strength bonus" is considered to be the same source for the purpose of bonuses from the same source not stacking. "

But dodge bonuses do stack. They ARE the exception to bonuses of the same source, arent they? Dodge stacks with dodge.

And if they are the exception then the FAQ may be right. It may apply. But not to dodge bonuses.


4 levels in Monster Trainers Breeder archtype lets you get an anky as a druid companion and you can get its +10 natural armor if u get the Natural Armor trainer perk if you wear no armor so there's an easy base 20 ac as long as its out. Some more levels and it gains another 2 nat armor bonus per druid companion leveling.

Silver Crusade

20 Point buy
Elf
Str 8 Dex 18 Con 10 Int 14 Wis 14 Cha 10
(All level bonus points in Dex.)

Monk (Martial Artist) 1 (Wis to AC, Dodge Bonus feat)
Unchained Rogue 3 (Dex to damage, and evaion)
Magus (Kensai focus weapon Rapier) Int to AC one point per level.

Level 10 Items
Belt of Incredible Dexterity +4
Headband of Mental Prowess (Int/Wis) +2
Potion of Mage Armor (or gain with a Magus Arcana)
Rapier +2 Menacing
Pearls of Power 1 to recast shield, and shocking grasp.


Cavall wrote:

Here's what I'm reading from that FAQ. The most important line.

"An ability bonus, such as "Strength bonus" is considered to be the same source for the purpose of bonuses from the same source not stacking. "

But dodge bonuses do stack. They ARE the exception to bonuses of the same source, arent they? Dodge stacks with dodge.

And if they are the exception then the FAQ may be right. It may apply. But not to dodge bonuses.

So what your saying is that a wizard can drink 20 Dodger's Draught and basically ignore any melee? 6k to be immune to anything but a natural 20 sounds kind of good. Since that is a dodge bonus, and apparently people want to let that stack even if its from the same source.


6k for a +40 dodge bonus for an hour is quite an investment at the levels it will really pay off. Woo, you can do that 5.5 times for the entirety of your wealth from levels 1 thru 8; no other gear, no scrolls written, no extra spells purchased, nothing but 5.5 batches of 20 Dodger’s Draughts. Can you count on only being in combat for 5 hours in spans of single contiguous hours over the course of 8 levels?? There might be a sweet spot in the teen levels where 6k is not an egregious portion of your WBL but, for the most part, by the time this expense becomes trivial, +40 dodge isn’t enough to make your wizard “immune” to anything anyway as attacks scale faster than AC. On the whole, if you think that’s a wise allocation of resources, there’s nothing in the rules to stop you from doing so since dodge bonuses stack.

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