Armor Class Guide: w/ or w/o Items, Spells and More (5e Optimized Character Build)
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The knight couldn't help but yawn. He was surrounded by 8 enemies, all swinging spears and swords at him, and not a single one could get through his defenses. Sure, there was a bit of magic involved but this was just sad. They just kept swinging like repetition was the key to success. Rolling his arm, he pushed past one of the bewildered thugs and strode over a nearby window. In his reflection he was almost disapointed to see they didn't even manage to scratch the ornate bits of the armor. "See, this is why no one believes I actually go out and adventure." His "assailants" were panting for air behind him. His heart couldn't bring him to finish off these young urchins, too naive to understand their own idiocy. "come along now, you can keep attacking me as we walk to the Temple of Palor over there. You all need a talking to".
Ever want to be unhittable? Well, this guide is going to cover all the various ways you can get your armor class to truly ridiculous heights. IF YOU HAVE A COMMENT, LEAVE IT ON THE DISCUSSION PAGE!!!
The Holy Grail of DnD: The Highest Armor Class Possible
- Elf (required for the bladesinger subclass)
- Warforged - +1 AC (only if your DM lifts the bladesinger restriction as mentioned in the SCAG).
- Monk 3 (kensei subclass) - Unarmored defense to add our Dexterity and Wisdom to our AC. Kensei can also add an additional +2 AC thanks to their subclass features
- Wizard 2 (Bladesinger) - Bladesong to add our Intelligence to our AC. Incompatible with shields but as you'll see, it winds up being better than even a +3 shield.
- Dragon Mask - Add your Charisma to your AC. (from "Horde of the Dragon Queen" series)
- Bracers of Defense - AC +2
- Staff of Power - AC +2
Library of Tomes You're either an elf that has had a lot of reading time over the centuries or you find some deities library of magic tomes
- Tome of Leadership and Influence - Lets you get your Charisma to the max of 30
- Tome of Clear Thought - Lets you get your intelligence to the Max of 30
- Manual of Quickness of Action - Lets you get your Dexterity to the Max of 30
- Tome of Understanding - Lets you get your wisdom to the Max of 30
'The Math AC = 10(Base AC) + 10(Dex, Unarmored Defense Monk) + 10(Wis, Unarmored Defense Monk) +10(Int, Bladsong) +10(Cha, Dragon Mask) +2(Bracers of defense) + 2(Staff of Power) + 2(Kensei Agile Parry) = 56AC!!!
No Magic Items, Spells or Multi-classing
For many people, they can't predict what magic items they will find along their journey. As such, this build will assume your DM deprives you of all those options and you aren't a spell caster (since your likely a tank if your going for this stupidly high AC). This specific build also assumes you don't want to multiclass (most players don't) or your DM doesn't allow you to use that character option.
- Warforged - With a natural +1 to your AC, this is the only Adventures League race that gives you any sort of AC boost
- Simic Hybrid - While questionably balanced, this does also boost your AC by 1.
Class - Barbarian:
- We are after the class feature - Unarmored Defense. By maxing both our dexterity and constitution, we can reach a minimum of 20 AC. This also doesn't limit us from using a shield, which is another +2, unlike the monk.
- At level 20, we get +4 constitution which adds another +2 to our AC.
In total, that leaves our war forged Barbarian with a nice 25 Armor Class. That's without multi classing or any other special trick.
No Named Magic Items
Many of these builds can rely on events or magic items that are campaign specific, such as the dragon mask from "Horde of the Dragon Queen". This build catagory avoids these.
- Paladin 1-2
- Sorcerer/Wizard 3+
- Level 1
Choose Paladin for the Heavy Armor Proficiency, chain mail, and use a shield for a total of 18 AC.
- Level 2
Take a second level in paladin, and choose the defense fighting style for a total of 19 AC. You should also choose the shield of faith spell for a total of 21 AC while active.
- Other Levels
Apply your arcane levels, and multiclass into sorcerer or wizard, I prefer sorcerer, and be sure to pick up the shield spell.
While adventuring, be on the lookout for stronger shields and armor. For example if your base AC is +1 from Protection, with Shield +3 (2+3=5) and a full plate +3 (18+3=21) and also adding a Ring of Protection and a Cloak of Protection you can have maximum AC. Adding now +2 from shield of faith/haste and +5 from shield spell = 36 AC !!!!
If you can use the Unearthed Arcanas, then Eberron lets you pick warforged for an additional +1, and a defender weapon for +3 more, making to a total of 40. Another caster could hit you with the other spell for 42. Obviously, it's the answer - You're Welcome. -Jester
If your DM allows you to be a non-elf Bladesinger, here's an alternative solution:
Go warforged (they get integrated protection) and start off as a Paladin 2 with the Mariner fighting style, which gives you 21 AC with the Shield of Faith spell (we aren't using normal shields). Bladesinger Wizard 2 to add INT to AC (warforged armor doesn't count as armor, meaning the Bladesinger works with it), giving 24, assuming you started off with 16 INT. Now you can be anyone (but fighter is best) for the other 16 levels, and with at least 4 ASIs, get the Dual Wielding feat for another +1 AC, giving 25, Defensive Duelist, allowing for a +6 AC at higher levels, giving 41, and extra INT, giving 43 for the AC. If you are a fighter for the 16 levels, you get 6 ASIs, which give you the lucky feat to negate critical hits, making you impossible to hit unless someone very rarely gets a +24 modifier to their attacks. It also gives you War Caster, because, as someone might point out, you can't cast things that include Somatic components unless your hands are free of weapons. Obviously, it's the highest AC solution and the most practical one out of all of the above. The only drawback is that the DM might not allow non-elves to Bladesing - Jester 2.0
Max AC Without Spells
Barbarian: 10 + DEX + CON for AC.
Dragon Mask (HoDQ): + CHA mod to AC.
Three Step Process, next.
1) Boon of Immortality: Don't age.
2) Read Manual of Quickness of Action, Manual of Bodily Health, and Tome of Leadership and Influence books ten times.
3) Have a 30 in DEX, CON, CHA.
Done with the process.
+3 Shield for +5 AC.
Cloak of Protection for +1 AC.
Defender for +3 AC.
AC of 49 without any spells.
Adventures League - Highest Armor Class
This build is currently empty.
Highest armor Class without Tome abuse
Thanks to unarmored defense and Dragon masks, you can do some pretty stupid things that gets your armor class way higher than is ever practical. While still not plausible, this build is more likely to occure for you. by: Anonymous
So you want stupidly high AC but think barbarians are overrated. Here's how to be a tanky wizard:
First, take 2 levels of wizard, choosing the SCAG blade singer subclass. Half elf will work best for this.
Next, multiclass to a monk. Any monk will do. With the monk's unarmored defense, your AC will be 10 + Dex + Wis, and when you activate Bladesinger, you add your Int (it stacks because it specifically states to add to the AC instead of giving a formula)
Next play Hoard of the Dragon Queen or find a DM who is cool enough to let you find a Dragon Mask. This will let you add your Cha to AC.
Now go out of your way to find some Bracers of Defense and a Staff of Power. These both give a +2 to AC. Now your running total is 10 + Dex + Int + Wis + Cha + 4.
Ideally someone in your party is a cleric, if not go out and find a cleric friend. Have them cast Shield of Faith (+2) and Warding Bond (+1). If you can get a hold of a wizard to cast Haste, do so, otherwise take a few more levels of wizard. This adds yet another +2 to AC. If you have scores of 20 in Dex, Int, Wis, and Cha, your AC while bladesinging and with spells on you will be 10+5+5+5+5+2+2+2+1+2=39.
To put this 39 in perspective, the Tarasque has the highest to hit modifier at +19. It will take a perfect 20 to break your AC, which if following crit rules would hit you anyway regardless of how high your AC is.
Because this build is so reliant on stats, taking ability score increases is recommended over feats, and if you can grab any stat increasing manuals or tomes that will make it even better. Most likely your DM will need to be in on this as it incredibly unlikely for the proper items to fall into your hands if left to chance.
Other combos: Staff of Power can be used as a quarterstaff for monk dice abuse. Get hit by a fireball? No worries, you have evasion from monk, as well as advantage on Dex saves from haste, and a huge Dex mod. Magic Missile? You're a wizard, cast Shield (44 AC). With your speed from monk and haste, you can rush to the front lines and lay waste without fear of...well anything really.
Disclaimer: you have approximately 1 minute of tankiness, use it wisely.
Like all good builds, people come up with many variations to fit their personal needs. List any ideas you have down bellow
Meme Build: Lowest AC Possible
Race: Firbolg (anyone that doesn't increase Your dexterity, constitution, or charisma)
Ability Scores: Str 17, Dex 8, Con 8, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 8
- Unarmored defense works as follows: AC = 10 + Dex + Con
Magic Item: Dragon Mask - Add our charisma to our armor class.
The total: AC = 10 - 1 - 1 - 1 = 7
Congratulations. mouse with a -3 modifier is more likely to hit you than miss you. Yay?
note: if your DM allows non elves to be bladesinger wizards then you can add you intelligence to your AC making your AC 6. Or if you are rolling you stats and happen to get at least 4 of your stats as 3s you can have AC -6...
note: if you are a zombie you can get it even lower, however a few of your stats will be below zero which i'm pretty sure kills you. If you do this go monk not barbarian as zombie Gets a constitution boost and a wisdom negative.
Race: Warforged for +1 AC (+2 to Con and choose the +1 for Dex)
Class: Start with one level of Barbarian. If possible, get your stats to a Constitution of 20 and Dexterity of at least 18. Your armor already is 10+5+4+1=20, and using a shield will grant you an additional +2 to AC. Now, at second level, multiclass into Sorcerer for 1st lvl spells Shield and Shield of Faith. Now, you have an AC of 22+5+2=29 for one round, and leveling up grants you even more rounds. You can even get the 2nd Level spell blur, which means you have an AC of 27 and the Target also has disadvantage on it’s attack.
Your first ASI can either be used to get the Lucky feat, which means more disadvantage attacking you or Increasing Dex by two to get an AC of 30.
You can also choose to go 3 levels in Barbarian (or 4 if you want the ASI as fast as possible) and go with the Totem Warrior Subclass so your damage gets halfed. Notice you can’t cast the Shield of Faith and Blur spell while raging.
high AC variant artificer
Class: start with artificer and get a minimum of 10 levels in the armorer UA subclass, by this level plate amour and a shield should be affordable, use the enhanced defense for a +2 AC, the repulsion shield for a +1 AC base AC is 23. then take 3 levels in kensei monk getting the agile parry for +2 AC, then a level in either fighter or paladin and take the defense fighting style for a +1 AC. your AC is now 26. if you take the bard college of swords you can increase the AC by 1d6 for a minimum of 27 without magic items. for a further increase put 2 levels in war wizard you now have an AC of 29 minimum and a maximum of 34. note you also have the ability to cast shield as a spell but that uses your reaction so you only gain 3 AC for a max for a round hitting 37AC.
Type: No magic items, but uses spells, multiclasses, and features from class that count as magical
Race: Warforged for the +1 AC
Ability Scores: This assumes 20 in Dex and Intelligence and a decent charisma, but you only need a minimum of a 13 in Dex, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma to do it
Classes: 2 Levels in bladesinger Wizard, at least 14 levels in College of Swords Bard, 1 in fighter, and 1 in forge cleric, or alternatively 2 in Bladesinger, 14+ in Swords, and 3 in Kensei Monk
Items: Studded Leather, 2 one-handed weapons.
For spells, you at least need shield and shield of faith. Take the Defense Style for +1 AC. Use blessing of the forge for a +1 to AC. For one of your ASIs, instead take the duel-wielder feat for a to +1 AC if duel-wielding
In combat, use bladesong (+int), cast shield of faith (+2 AC), and use the Defensive Flourish (+d6 or Bardic Inspiration die to AC) when you hit. If you're attacked, use shield (+5 AC)
AC before round durations is 28 (12+5x2+2+1x4), or up to 38 (d10 inspiration, or to 40 if d12) if blade flourish. With shield, an AC of 34-43 AC (or 45)
If you use use the other levels, pick up Mage Armor (or 1 level in draconic Sorcerer), but instead have an AC of 42 Max. If you only use mage armor, you could go kensei monk (3 levels) to have a +2 to AC and have an AC of 37 to 46 using all spells, if not higher due to wisdom