I'm currently building a multiclass Healer/Paladin in D&D 3.5.

My Armor Class is suffering because healers are forbidden from using shields and medium/heavy armors (they "suppress [my] healing powers", according to the Miniatures Handbook). I can partially offset this issue with my mediocre dexterity modifier.

What I really need is a feat that will let me add my charisma or wisdom modifier to my AC. Both of these abilities are already high (+4) for my character because of their roles in divine spellcasting. I'm hoping someone can point me toward an official 3.5 feat that suits my needs.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you interested in options other than feats? \$\endgroup\$
    – A_S00
    Aug 9, 2018 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


Feats are a no-go...

I'm not aware of any feats that will do what you want. A couple options that won't work for you:

  • Divine Shield (Complete Warrior, p. 106): Healers aren't allowed to use shields. This is dumb, but true. If your DM is willing to relax this restriction, it becomes an OK option, but you still have to spend standard actions activating it, which isn't great.
  • Ascetic Mage (Complete Adventurer, p. 105): You have to be a Monk or Ninja first, and spontaneously cast arcane spells.

The best feat option I know of for you would be Combat Panache (Player's Handbook II, p. 93), but it's not great. It requires you to:

  • Deal damage to an enemy
  • Make an Intimidate check against them as a move action on your next turn

...and even then, you only get the bonus against that enemy (technically they take a penalty to their attacks against you, but same diff). Probably not a great choice for you.

...but you have other options.

If you're willing to consider options other than feats, there are lots of things that could work.


  • Monk 1: The classic way to get your Wis bonus to AC. Straightforward, but costs you a level.
  • Ninja 1 (Complete Adventurer, p. 5): See Monk 1, but darker and edgier.
  • Swordsage 2 (Tome of Battle, p. 15): Pretty much the same deal as the Monk dip. Costs an extra level, but works with light armor (which the Healer class typically uses), and several Swordsage maneuvers could be useful for your character, especially the Shadow Hand school.
  • Monk's Belt: Basically the Monk 1 dip without spending a class level. 13000 gold.
  • Saint Template (Book of Exalted Deeds, p. 185): A +2 LA template that gives Wis-to-AC, along with several other excellent bonuses. Generally regarded as one of the stronger templates. Comes with alignment baggage. Check with your DM about both balance concerns and the ridiculousness of BoED content in general before you take this.


  • Battle Dancer 1 (Dragon Compendium Vol. 1, p. 26): Works like the Monk dip, but for Charisma.
  • Red Falcon 2 Paladin Substitution Level (Champions of Valor, p. 48): Cha-to-AC for one round as an immediate action; replaces Divine Grace. Probably not worth it, but it exists.
  • Risen Martyr 2 (Book of Exalted Deeds, p. 68): Charisma bonus as Deflection bonus to AC, always active. All the caveats about BoED apply double for this class. It's stupid and its capstone is you become an NPC. Work with your DM to make it less dumb if you're interested.

Most of the info in this answer was found by scouring the X stat to Y bonus thread, one of the all-time great 3.x optimization resources (along with the Lists of Stuff). If you bookmark anything about 3.x char-op, bookmark these two threads.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for both thorough and citing a forum that could be invaluable for related things. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9, 2018 at 7:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @A_Soo Thank you for directing me to the swordsage class. It suits my multiclassing needs perfectly (martial weapon proficiency, maneuvers, AND Wis bonus to AC). I ultimately decided to take levels in swordsage instead of paladin. Since I only need the two levels in swordsage to get all of those features, I can put more levels into healer. I'm sacrificing some abilities in this regard, such as smiting and turning, but at least there's no pesky LG alignment restriction. \$\endgroup\$
    – Axiom Sage
    Aug 10, 2018 at 21:19
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ One does not just simply bookmark a reference... SAVE a copy of the thread offline. One never knows when one's online references will unexpectedly gleemax. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Aug 11, 2018 at 12:58

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