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I'm creating a character for a new D&D 5e campaign soon. We'll be starting at level 3 to reduce PC mortality, and I don't expect the campaign to run long enough for more than a couple level increases. I plan to play a Sorcerer, with a Draconic Bloodline and Bronze ancestry, using mostly electrical/lightning based magic where sensible. This allows an increased maximum hit points, +1 per level, as well as improving unarmored armor class from 10 to 13.

This DM has us generate ability scores by rolling 4d6, reroll any 1s, then take the best three, six times and arranged as desired. I arrived at Str 15, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 14, and Cha 17. The human ability increase (+1 to each ability score) in this case gives +3 AC bonus due to Dex, bringing me to AC 16.

The party, however, will be smaller than the "standard" count (two or three PCs -- my Sorcerer, likely a Ranger, and possibly a Minotaur of some Fighter flavor), so combat roles can't be divided in the usual ways. Because of this, I'm concerned about the relative fragility of a Sorcerer in combat, with limited healing and limited protection from other PCs.

As I understand it, Mage Armor won't be any help for this build, because it can't be stacked with the Draconic Bloodline armor class of 13 + Dex bonus. How else can I improve the armor class of this low level sorcerer, whether via gaining the ability to wear armor, or otherwise?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: What is the highest AC for a sorcerer? \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Feb 16 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited, should now be specific enough to avoid "too broad". \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Feb 17 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ How are you generating stats? Point buy, rolling (if so, what did you roll?), standar array, or other? \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Feb 17 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruse We rolled 4d, rerolled any 1s, then dropped the low die. Edited in. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Feb 17 at 20:37
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You have several options to increase your AC.

Spells

Shield will increase your AC by 5 for a round and it's a life saver if you suddenly get swarmed. Though if you are not careful it can quickly eat through your few spell slots.

Honorable to mention blur and mirror image. Although neither increases your AC they both make you much harder to hit. Mirror image doesn't even require concentration.

Racial Traits

Mountain Dwarfs have medium armor (but not shield) proficiency through Dwarven Armor Training trait.

Tortles from TTP have AC equal to 17 through their Natural Armor trait. That just speaks for itself.

Loxodons from GGR have AC equal to 12+Con through their Natural Armor trait. At first glance this seems less than 13+Dex, but being able to scale both your AC and HP simultaneously with Con, while disregarding Dex can make you quite tanky.

Simic Hybrids from GGR can gain a +1 bonus to AC while not wearing heavy armor at level 5 through their Natural Enhancement trait.

Warforgeds from WGE have the Integrated Protection trait, which offers a variety of AC options, some of which require proficiency in armor: unarmored 11+Dex+ProfBonus, medium 13+Dex(max 2)+ProfBonus, heavy 16+ProfBonus (and disadvantage to stealth). This trait is very powerful, but it won't edge out other options until the proficiency bonus becomes a +3.

Armor and shield

If you want heavy armor and shield, you will have to multiclass, the typical choices being a dip into either Fighter (which also gives you the Defense Fighting Style) or Clerics of certain domains.

For medium armor and shield you have a greater variety of choices.
On one hand, you could multiclass, the typical choices being again a dip into Fighter or Cleric.
On the other hand, you could get the Moderately Armored feat at level 4. However, to take that feat you need to have proficiency in light armor, which you could acquire from your race: Variant Human to start with the Lightly Armored feat, Hobgoblin for their Martial Training trait, and Mountain Dwarf for their Dwarven Armor Training trait.

What to choose

Each of these options come with costs, so which you choose depends on what you want to prioritize:

  • Sorcerers have few spells known, so you may not want to learn too many defensive spells, but I really recommend taking shield regardless of any other choice you make.
  • None of the playable races I have mentioned will boost your charisma, with the exception of an optional +1 from Variant Human, Simic Hybrid, or Envoy Warforged.
  • Taking the Medium Armor feat will leave you relatively vulnerable at level 3 and will replace your Charisma increase at level 4. Moreover, although I personally prefer the Medium Armor feat I do not think it is a good option for you because it works best if the Dex is 13, which is impossible in your case.
  • Dipping into a fighter will delay all your sorcerer features, while dipping into Cleric will delay all your sorcerer features except for the number of spell slots.

In your case, because your stats are all very high and you don't have to worry about being MAD, I think that dipping Cleric with a domain that grants heavy armor is the most effective option. You could do just fine with any race, but to maximise further I would pick the Envoy Warforged whose Integrated Protection beats out starting armor, and even surpasses plate armor at level 5.

In this case, your AC would be 16+[proficiency]+[shield]+[optional shield] = 20 to 25 AC at level 3.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm. Going to be vulnerable at the start, anyway, because of how the campaign is starting (escaping from enslavement, starting with rags and unbreakable collars, either no Weave or the collar suppresses spellcasting). Wouldn't Medium Armor require me to have Light Armor first => two feats swapped out? \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Feb 18 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon yes, that it why I only recommend Moderatly Armored if your race choice gave you light armor prificiency, like a Variant Human (Lightly Armored), Hobgoblin, or Mountain Dwarf. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Feb 18 at 1:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon The Tempest Cleric domain gets access to Heavy Armor and their Channel Divinity option (needs two cleric levels though) allows you to maximise Lightning damage, so it would be a pretty good fit for this particular character. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicolai Feb 18 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I might consider a Tempest Cleric dip for the future (5th-6th or so), but sometime around there I get lightning related abilities from Draconic Bloodline anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Feb 18 at 12:22
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Consider multi-classing into a College of Valor bard. For a three-level investment, you gain Medium Armor (though that doesn't work with Draconic Bloodline) and shields. You lose some high level spells known but actually end up ahead on total spells and retain full progression. That said, keep in mind you cannot use the same Focus for both spellcastings.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Three levels to get something that's no improvement over Draconic Resilience? \$\endgroup\$ – Zeiss Ikon Feb 18 at 12:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Shields and caster progression and more spells and bardic features. \$\endgroup\$ – vonBoomslang Feb 18 at 12:31

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