The Iron Soul Monastic Tradition in Psionic Power includes Mental Arsenal:

Mental Arsenal: While wielding a weapon other than one in the unarmed weapon group, you gain a +1 shield bonus to AC.

Now, "shield bonus" is a mechanical term for a kind of bonus (so it doesn't stack with other bonuses of the same kind), and shield bonuses always apply to AC and Reflex defenses (PH1:213, RC:27:267, HotFK:327, every other shield bonus I've ever seen granted by an item or power or feat or feature).

Does Mental Arsenal grant +1 to Reflex because it grants a shield bonus, and shield bonuses do that? Or does "to AC" imply an exception to the rule (and if so, why not say what it doesn't do instead, and why make it a shield bonus in the first place)?


Mental Arsenal only applies the bonus to AC, and not to Reflex.

As you quote, the rules text explicitly calls out that it applies to AC, and so, presumably, it does not apply to anything else. This is certainly unusual, but they called it out so my presumption would be that it was intentional.

I can only speculate as to why exactly it was made a shield bonus, but worded as it is it would not stack if the Iron Soul monk decided to go sword-and-board or otherwise found an item that did give a shield bonus (though this other shield bonus would likely provide a bonus to Reflex, which would make it superior to Mental Arsenal). Perhaps it was considered too powerful to allow an Iron Soul monk to wield a two-handed weapon and at the same time get the full benefit of an ordinary shield bonus, so the designers restricted it to AC only.


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