Do magical armor enhancement bonuses increase the maximum DEX mod allowed for an armor?

If so, awesome! If not, are there other ways to optimize AC through a DEX driven character?



The magical enhancement bonuses on armor do not affect the Maximum Dexterity Bonus (MDB) the armor has.

There are a couple of ways to get a better MDB.

  1. Special materials for example. Darkleaf and Mithril both allow another +2 to MDB for armors made from those substances.

  2. Feats which somewhat link off DEX such as Two Weapon Defense but they have prerequisites. There is also Dodge, and Low Profile, though you need to be a small character (or smaller) for that last one.

You could also look at Combat Expertise which will trade off Attack bonuses for Dodge bonuses. Fighting defensively also works with the trade of sacrificed Attack for Dodge bonuses. Not strictly speaking just for Dexterity high characters... more for BAB high characters.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It is worth noting that AC, particularly non-touch AC, is the worst defense in the game. Optimizing it is usually a mistake. None of these feats are worth the feat slot for their own use (as prerequisites, they might be, but for their own sake, never—no, not even then). +1 darkleaf or mithral armor and/or shield (and only +1; otherwise get special armor properties) and as much Dex as you can get is usually the best approach to AC. If you still need defenses from attacks beyond that, consider miss chances, like mistmail or nightmare boots. Feats, ring of protection, etc. are overpriced. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 3 at 3:53
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Whoops, in my haste to point out all the problems with AC and the things that increase it, I missed a major error in your answer—masterwork armor has improved armor check penalty, not improved max Dex bonus. You need darkleaf or mithral for that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 3 at 3:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @KRyan, the MDB is not increased via Masterwork. \$\endgroup\$
    – niekell
    Aug 4 at 6:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also Lightning Stance gives conditional 50% miss chance and is down the Dodge Feat Tree branch. \$\endgroup\$
    – niekell
    Aug 4 at 6:55

No, it does not increase Maximum Dexterity directly.

I won't re-iterate the other (high-quality) answer, but I will note a few additional things to keep in mind:

Armor Training (Fighter Only)

Armor training lets you add another +4 to maximum dex, as well as reducing Armor Check penalty by as much. It also lets you wear Medium and Heavy armor without speed reduction at levels 3 and 7 respectively.

Pick a high Dexterity armor.

For example, the Celestial Armor has a maximum Dexterity bonus of +8. It also starts off with a 6 base armor bonus and +3 Enhancement. It's an excellent choice for characters having/expecting to get high Dexterity bonuses. If you have 20+ Dexterity, it's strictly superior to Full Plate. 24+ Dexterity will make it superior to Mithral Full Plate.

Given sufficient Dex, it will beat everything under normal circumstances (though if you have 40 or more Dexterity, armors like Ceremonial Silk without Dex cap can outpace it.)

I found the RPGBot guide on this to be some excellent reading. He also does some of the math, if you're into that sort of thing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does that celestial armor reduce the move speed like typical medium weight armor? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3 at 11:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ No, it explicitly mentions "It is considered light armor", which means that it even counts as Light for things like proficiency. Compare to Mithral: "Most mithral armors are one category lighter than normal for purposes of movement and other limitations. [...] This decrease does not apply to proficiency in wearing the armor." \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Aug 3 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @FrancisJohn More on celestial armor (like who can wear it). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 4 at 6:58

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