Full Plate and dex


Rules Discussion


Hi there,

A full plate doesn't allow you to add dex, but what about a character with 8 dex and a full plate?

Does he get -1 or it doesn't count since he has no dex bonus?


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The rules for calculating AC on page 274 of the CRB say to use your dexterity modifier up to the cap.

So an 8 would reduce your AC by 1 regardless of what armor you're in.


Generally, heavy armor will be an upgrade, no matter whether you are high or low dex. It just has a better total of armor and max dex.

Sure, you might be able to get better total AC without armor... but then, you are forgoing armor runes- the 'traveler's clothing' is designed for a 'pure dex' AC, and it still adds on a cap when you use it for runes.

Stat growth is much more restrained in their edition, so it is hard to even get to +8 mod (let alone the mod necessary to make up for the lack of rune boosts to AC). And the runes are also your save booster, so you don't want to avoid them anyway.

Sovereign Court

I'm thinking of houseruling an increase to the Dex cap for Med and Heavy armor, because right now you can almost tank your Dex and still get a +5 or +6 AC in heavy, while an unarmored or light armored person can also get a +5 AC by investing heavily in Dex. So why would someone want to take all the penalties, cost, and Bulk of wearing heavy armor, or even medium armor? I think I'll increase the max Dex for all medium armor by +1, and for all heavy armor by +2. Then there is a reason for a Paladin to still have a decent Dex, even in plate mail.


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The "point" of medium and heavy armor is to provide competitive AC without the same dexterity investment of light armor (with only heavy armor having an extra, not exactly related, get the highest possible AC in exchange for some unavoidable penalties benefit).

If you up the dex cap on medium and/or heavy armors, you are making medium and heavy armors hands-down better than light (which while not "bad" does have particular consequences).

To illustrate: With prime ability scores for the armor option chosen, the rules currently have the following be true:
Explorer's clothing gets you +5 AC, no penalties, and is L bulk
Leather and Studded leather get you +5 AC, no penalties, and is 1 bulk
Scale Mail and Breastplate get you +5 AC, no penalties, and are 2 bulk
Heavy armors get you +6 AC, -5 ft. speed penalty, and are 3 bulk (4 for full plate, but that also gets a fancy trait for Dex saves)

Sovereign Court

thenobledrake wrote:

The "point" of medium and heavy armor is to provide competitive AC without the same dexterity investment of light armor (with only heavy armor having an extra, not exactly related, get the highest possible AC in exchange for some unavoidable penalties benefit).

If you up the dex cap on medium and/or heavy armors, you are making medium and heavy armors hands-down better than light (which while not "bad" does have particular consequences).

To illustrate: With prime ability scores for the armor option chosen, the rules currently have the following be true:
Explorer's clothing gets you +5 AC, no penalties, and is L bulk
Leather and Studded leather get you +5 AC, no penalties, and is 1 bulk
Scale Mail and Breastplate get you +5 AC, no penalties, and are 2 bulk
Heavy armors get you +6 AC, -5 ft. speed penalty, and are 3 bulk (4 for full plate, but that also gets a fancy trait for Dex saves)

Right, but there thus seems to be no reason to wear anything heavier than you Dex bonus cap. There is no more "Melee types in front to block the attackers from getting to our unarmored squishy casters in back". Now everyone has the same AC.

Silver Crusade

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

The Casters are still squishy.


The "squishy casters in the back" still have less HP and often less special abilities to mitigate incoming damage, so they are still "squishy" despite now having the same AC.

And also the ACs aren't actually "the same" so much as just a lot closer to being the same because, for example, wizard proficiency doesn't get as high as fighter proficiency.

The change is that now there is no this-specific-option-is-the-best for armor types.


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Samurai wrote:
Right, but there thus seems to be no reason to wear anything heavier than you Dex bonus cap.

Not entirely true. Heavy armor provides better AC than medium and light armor can period, although most classes are proficiency blocked from leveraging that (they still would be with your houserule)... but an 18 dex paladin is still getting more out of half plate than they'll ever get out of leather.

In fact, really the opposite is more true. Someone who has access to heavy armor is just flat out making themselves worse if they want to wear medium or light armor instead.

Beyond that, uh, I'm sort of confused as to what the actual problem is here. Having different tiers of armor available for characters of different dexterity values without necessarily forcing them to go one way or another because of janky AC scaling seems like a good thing, not a bad thing, especially in 2e where Dex is less important than in previous editions.


A caster like a Wizard only goes up to Expert in Defence so they are 2 AC behind a martial like Fighter/Rogue/Ranger and 4 AC behind a Champion or Monk purely on proficiency.

The Fighters & Champions also get Armor Specialisation which gives them some free DR depending on the type of armor worn. The bonus is stronger on heavy armor and non-existent on light.

Unless you want to be a ranged weapon attacker a fighter or champion can ignore Dex and put those stats somewhere more interesting. They don’t need incentives to boost Dex because they shouldn’t be forced to need Dex when they could get Cha for intimation and diplomacy, wisdom for perception and medicine or intelligence for additional skills and knowledge checks. Raising the Dex cap on heavy armors just makes the Fighters/Champions even better at what they are already the best at but at the expense of something interesting they could be good at.


Well, with the 3-action system and AoOs being few and far between, the back line is more accessible than ever.

But the sense in which martials are better defended than casters has more to do with armor proficiency than "what kind of armor you're wearing" and that's good because sometimes "this character wears [type of armor]" is just an image you have in your head and you shouldn't be worse off for having that image.

Plus "lighter armor demands more dex" forces lightly or unarmored people to invest in dexterity, making them more MAD in general. Whereas the Champion can put on full plate, leaving them free to boost (for example) strength, constitution, wisdom, and charisma instead. But the Wizard isn't going to get the 20 dex they need for their mage armor to cap out until 15th level at the earliest.

Plus the benefits of dexterity past your armor cap are "all the things that dexterity does which don't interact with AC" like reflex saves, stealth checks, acrobatics checks, etc. So if you want to have a Champion who more quietly and can pick locks, he or she will need dex anyway.

Plus "letting medium armor get +6 AC, and heavy get +7 AC" (without magical runes) makes monks less competitive compared to other martials, which isn't something I can support. Right now mountain style monks with 14 dex and the full feat chain match champions in plate mail for "best AC in the game". Other monks who hit 20 dex are going to be 1 above the fighter in plate mail, and 2 above the barbarian and ranger. Monks are supposed to be good at unarmored defense, so they should get something to compensate here.


Samurai wrote:


Right, but there thus seems to be no reason to wear anything heavier than you Dex bonus cap. There is no more "Melee types in front to block the attackers from getting to our unarmored squishy casters in back". Now everyone has the same AC.

Armor specialisation (champion 7, fighter 11) gives you resistance. Which is bigger in heavy armor.

Sovereign Court

Samurai wrote:
I'm thinking of houseruling an increase to the Dex cap for Med and Heavy armor, because right now you can almost tank your Dex and still get a +5 or +6 AC in heavy, while an unarmored or light armored person can also get a +5 AC by investing heavily in Dex. So why would someone want to take all the penalties, cost, and Bulk of wearing heavy armor, or even medium armor? I think I'll increase the max Dex for all medium armor by +1, and for all heavy armor by +2. Then there is a reason for a Paladin to still have a decent Dex, even in plate mail.

Why does the paladin go to the trouble to wear heavy armor? To not need so much Dex. For someone in heavy armor, Dex 10 is decent. Second Edition deliberately set out to make Dex less of a god stat by giving you alternatives.

Samurai wrote:


Right, but there thus seems to be no reason to wear anything heavier than you Dex bonus cap. There is no more "Melee types in front to block the attackers from getting to our unarmored squishy casters in back". Now everyone has the same AC.

I think you need to look at it from another angle: you don't need a higher Dex than your armor Dex bonus cap. And because a paladin can save on not needing a high Dex, he has more points left over for Constitution, making him a lot less squishy than the wizard who needs both.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Samurai wrote:
I'm thinking of houseruling an increase to the Dex cap for Med and Heavy armor, because right now you can almost tank your Dex and still get a +5 or +6 AC in heavy, while an unarmored or light armored person can also get a +5 AC by investing heavily in Dex. So why would someone want to take all the penalties, cost, and Bulk of wearing heavy armor, or even medium armor? I think I'll increase the max Dex for all medium armor by +1, and for all heavy armor by +2. Then there is a reason for a Paladin to still have a decent Dex, even in plate mail.

Why does the paladin go to the trouble to wear heavy armor? To not need so much Dex. For someone in heavy armor, Dex 10 is decent. Second Edition deliberately set out to make Dex less of a god stat by giving you alternatives.

Samurai wrote:


Right, but there thus seems to be no reason to wear anything heavier than you Dex bonus cap. There is no more "Melee types in front to block the attackers from getting to our unarmored squishy casters in back". Now everyone has the same AC.
I think you need to look at it from another angle: you don't need a higher Dex than your armor Dex bonus cap. And because a paladin can save on not needing a high Dex, he has more points left over for Constitution, making him a lot less squishy than the wizard who needs both.

This is starting to hit something that seems to have been glossed over on the "everyone has the same AC" piece. A wizard can't actually have AC as good as an optimized martial without investing in armor proficiency. The wizard can't get their dexterity above 16 until level 5, and only then at great detriment to other stats. The wizard in my Runelords game did this, playing an elf with Max wisdom, dexterity, and intelligence. She also chose to leave constitution at 8 and has been on the verge of death many times. Meanwhile even light armor users can get away with only 16 Dex and still have max AC. But they can also get it up to 20 if they want. In practice, they are going to have 2 higher AC, which is almost as good as 4 higher AC in PF1. And heavy armor users are better still.

At level 5, that wizard can get the same dexterity as a martial, but is still one point behind unless they actually get armor because they can't hit the Dex cap on explorer's clothing until level 15.

So in practice the Squishies still have lower AC than the martials until the last levels of play, and even then the Squishies only catch up if they boost dexterity at every possible opportunity, often at the detriment of stats like constitution. Meaning even if they have the same AC as a ranger or barbarian they have far less hit points. Given how accurate monsters are, it is a very bad call to pretend that is enough.

Champions, heavy armor fighters, and monks meanwhile have AC that it better still, and barbarians at least have their raging resistances and huge HP pools.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:

This is starting to hit something that seems to have been glossed over on the "everyone has the same AC" piece. A wizard can't actually have AC as good as an optimized martial without investing in armor proficiency. The wizard can't get their dexterity above 16 until level 5, and only then at great detriment to other stats. The wizard in my Runelords game did this, playing an elf with Max wisdom, dexterity, and intelligence. She also chose to leave constitution at 8 and has been on the verge of death many times. Meanwhile even light armor users can get away with only 16 Dex and still have max AC. But they can also get it up to 20 if they want. In practice, they are going to have 2 higher AC, which is almost as good as 4 higher AC in PF1. And heavy armor users are better still.

At level 5, that wizard can get the same dexterity as a martial, but is still one point behind unless they actually get armor because they can't hit the Dex cap on explorer's clothing until level 15.

So in practice the Squishies still have lower AC than the martials until the last levels of play, and even then the Squishies only catch up if they boost dexterity at every possible opportunity, often at the detriment of stats like constitution. Meaning even if they have the same AC as a ranger or barbarian they have far less hit points. Given how accurate monsters are, it is a very bad call to pretend that is enough.

Champions, heavy armor fighters, and monks meanwhile have AC that it better still, and barbarians at least have their raging resistances and huge HP pools.

And even if they use Mage Armor, they're sitting below their dex cap.

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