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My favorite class in Pathfinder is a Magus. I'm considering playing a reckless, Dex-based, magus who regularly carries out combat maneuvers. However, I don't want to allocate so many feats to improved combat maneuvers just so I can avoid attacks of opportunity.

I know Spell Shield won't take away the risk entirely, but in general, how effective would it be at reducing the chances of receiving a hit from an attack of opportunity?

Benefit: The magus can expend a point from his arcane pool as an immediate action to grant himself a shield bonus to AC equal to his Intelligence bonus until the end of his next turn.

Relevant stats:

  • The players are starting at level 7.
  • My Intelligence is +4.(+5, next level)
  • My Dex is +3.
  • My AC is 21 - 25 after applying my Int from spell shield. I'll also be upgrading to medium armor soon after the campaign starts.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 23 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems a little open-ended. Are you looking at comparing it to other abilities that might protect you? Or are you looking for math relating to chance to hit at AC 21 vs AC 25 for you current CR enemies? \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Feb 23 at 4:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because I don't have the time to delve into an answer, for those of you guys who are looking to use math in your answer, here's the Benchpress Take 4 spreadsheet for you. \$\endgroup\$ – willuwontu Feb 23 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusao I guess I just want to know how good an idea this is. how much would people recomend (or recomend against) the idea? how much of a difference would it make? is it worth spending the arcane points? would I be better off avoiding unnecicary combat maneuvers entirely? any major concerns? any good reason to try it other than style points? \$\endgroup\$ – Dilly the great Feb 23 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @willuwantu thanks for that resource I'm sure it will be very helpful. it seems that getting close and personal with CR7 enemies would neceitate raising my AC to 25, which is good to know. As a magus, I should likely aim for the green benchmark, right? though late-game numbers seem pretty high for 10+medium armor+shield(int)+dex. I suppose I could look into other "survivability options." Also, the document assumes full attacks are being made, (right?) which an attack of oppertunity is not, Preventing them from making any other actions in the round of combat. \$\endgroup\$ – Dilly the great Feb 23 at 16:53
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It decreases the odds that you'll be hit by about 20%.

If we take a look at the Benchpress Take 4 spreadsheet, we can see how the various levels of AC for a level 7 character do vs the average monster.

AC Value % Chance of Being Hit
High (Blue) 33 5%
Medium (Green) 28 30%
Low (Orange) 24 50%

Given that your AC is 21 prior to the application of Spell Shield, the odds of a monster hitting you on an attack of opportunity is roughly 65%. When you use spell shield, this decreases the odds down to a 45% chance instead (40% next level), not really a stellar thing.


Is it Actually Worth it

Not really. Magus utilizes a lot of swift actions already for Spell Recall and their Arcana already, not to mention any swift action spells. While this may be decent to have as a back-up option, if you have other Arcana you're looking to pick up for your build (like wand wielder or spell Blending), you may be better served picking them up instead.

Additionally, as a Magus, it's far better to utilize your attacks for actually making attacks, rather than trying to perform combat maneuvers and needlessly provoking AoOs. The CMD of monsters tends to outscale its AC, not to mention the various immunities vs maneuvers that they receive, and Magus's only source of boosting their CMB is with the Maneuver Mastery Arcana, and only for a particular maneuver. Overall, it's far better to pick up the feats if you're going to try and utilize combat maneuvers, or utilize spells that can make those maneuvers for you.


On Using the Spreadsheet

The thing to remember is that blue numbers on the benchpress sheet are not realistic numbers for a character to meet overall. Casters tend to focus on hitting the numbers for save DCs and hitting touch, while putting their AC and Saves as a secondary focus, whereas martials tend to focus on their EDV (Estimated Damage Value) and their To Hit instead.

As a Gish (a mixture of caster and martial abilities), a Magus focuses on a mix of the two. They don't need to work on their EDV (instead their spells do that for them), but they do need to work on their To Hit. Meanwhile, like a caster, their AC and Saves aren't a primary need, instead upping their DC's and the number of spells they get takes a primary focus, though they do need to keep a closer eye on their defenses than a wizard would. Spells like Bladed Dash become their bread and butter, moving them out of dangerous positions and getting them to the enemy as part of their spell combat full attacks.

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