My knowledge of D&D is primarily 3.5. In that edition, there were many modifiers that affect AC, Natural Armor, Deflection Modifier, Dodge Bonus, Insight Bonus, Luck Bonus, and Sacred Bonus. I have not been able to find any of these rules in any core rulebook. My question is whether or not these are still official rules?


5e does not have the concept of typed bonuses as 3.5 did. All such modifiers in 5e are effectively untyped, and the only rule about stacking is that bonuses provided by the same source do not stack, e.g. you can't get a +2 bonus from wearing two rings of protection, or double a bonus by casting the same spell on yourself twice.

However, many effects confer improved AC by allowing the use of an alternative formula to calculate your base AC, the most notable of which being that this is now how wearing armour works. Since you can only use one formula to calculate your AC even if effects mean you have a few choices available to you, this is a way of preventing some stacking effects. Mostly it seems effects which would have provided Armour or Natural Armour bonuses in 3.5 now work in this way.

In general in 5e it's harder to get as many bonuses going at once to stack with, because most useful magic items require attunement; typing the bonuses and preventing them from stacking as well would be overkill. This is part of the general simplification of 5e; you might also note (if you haven't already) that 5e has no such thing as a touch or flat-footed AC, where the types of AC bonuses you had were very relevant.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer would be improved if you mention that a lot of "bonus to AC" rules where replaced with "alternate way to calculate AC" rules. So instead of saying "you can replace your dex bonus with your charisma bonus", it says "you may choose to calculate your AC as 12+Cha" or whatever. \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Jun 13 '17 at 14:54

Yes, there are plenty

You can stack many distinct sources of AC on top of one another. There are many, many modifiers of AC in 5e.

  • Base Armor Class: This is 10 + Dex modifier (unarmored), or a different formula if wearing armor or granted by a class feature. This is all you really need to know coming in new to 5e, but it doesn't stop here

  • Shield: +2 AC, can only benefit from one shield at a time

  • Magic armor: Can range from +1 (uncommon) to +4 (legendary) per item, so you can have a +4 shield and wear a +4 armor. Note that bounded accuracy in 5e means a +4 bonus from any item should be so legendary, it probably shouldn't exist

  • Magic trinkets: There are rings of protection for +1 AC, cloak of protection for +1 AC, or ioun stone, protection for +1 AC. You also have the animated shield for +2 AC and the Defender sword for between +1 to +3 AC

  • Spells and potions: Haste grants +2 AC for 1 minute, shield of faith grants +2 AC for 10 minutes, and the shield spell grants +5 AC for 1 round (6 seconds)

  • Class features and optional feats:

    • The Dual Wielder feat grants +1 AC when both your hands have weapons, but it means you can't use a shield

    • Defensive Duelist allows you to add your proficiency bonus to your AC against one attack

    • The Defense fighting style gives +1 AC when wearing armor

    • The Mariner fighting style, from the Unearthed Arcana, gives +1 AC when wearing light, medium, or no armor

    • The Battlemaster Fighter's Evasive Footwork allows you to add 1d8 to your AC while moving during your turn

    • A Bladesinger Wizard (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide) can use bladesong to add their Intelligence modifier to their AC for 1 minute

    • A Wild Magic Sorcerer's surge result can give you a spectral shield that gives +2 AC

    • A Ranger's Multiattack Defense lets you add +4 AC against one creature's attacks against you, starting with their 2nd attack

  • Spellcaster magic items:

    • A Robe of the Archmagi sets your AC to 15 + Dex

    • A Staff of Power grants +2 AC

  • Blessings: The Blessing of Protection grants +1 AC

  • Situational Modifiers: You can add +5 to your AC when you have 3/4 cover, or +2 when you have 1/2 cover


Such categories are not defined in 5e and for most creatures and situations only the armor it wears and its Dexterity have an effect on AC.

Spells and abilites can still provide boons to AC, but the rules for these are detailed in the description of the particular effect. They are not grouped mechanically and thus there are no rules that would effect a given subset of them as such.


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