In pathfinder I'd like to give my wizard the option to have an improved armour class when he's not got mage armor up (For those surprise night-time encounters)

What easy options for increasing AC that don't increase arcane spell failure are available?

Preferably as cheaply as possible as we're on a severe budget! Hence the "without magic items" unless they're super cheap!

Available books are any of the core or "ultimate" books, but no regional/campaign setting ones.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related but for 3.5: How do I handle Arcane Spell Failure? \$\endgroup\$ – Dakeyras Jan 7 '13 at 16:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rather than trying to give your character a defense that doesn't require time to set up when startled awake at night, perhaps look into methods of gaining extra time in which to set up? The Alarm spell, for instance, can be quite useful, especially if camping in a dungeon. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 3 '13 at 7:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I seem to recall our Witch had an armored skirt, which is separate from regular armor and has no spell penalty associated with it. I might be misremembering though. \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Oct 3 '13 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Armoured pieces info here: paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/ultimateCombat/variants/… (Alas, doesn't seem much help) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Oct 3 '13 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zibbobz you're thinking of the armored kilt \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Feb 28 '15 at 8:57

A mithral buckler (1,015 gp) has 0% ASF and grants +1 AC. It also has 0 Armor Check Penalty, so you take no penalties for using it if you’re non-proficient.

A mithral chain shirt (1,100 gp) has 10% ASF, and grants +4 AC. It also has the 0 ACP thing. Unfortunately, a 10% chance of failure in an emergency is a very bad idea, and I can’t find any great way of reducing it further. Pathfinder does have some feats for this, but they are unbelievably awful. Don’t take those.

There’s also, apparently, a few different Celestial armors, like this Celestial Chain Mail, which if you back-calculate its costs and bonuses and things, reduces Arcane Spell Failure by 15% for 1,200 gp. If you can then apply this to Studded Leather or Parade Armor, you get 0% ASF and 3 AC.

Celestial armor, mithral, bucklers, studded leather, and chain shirts are all part of Pathfinder core as well as on the PFSRD. Parade armor is from Adventurer’s Armory, apparently, but also appears in the PFSRD in the Armor Section.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the mithral buckler but he specifically mentioned "suprise nightime encounters" (I took to mean sleeping) did pathfinder get rid of penalties for sleeping in armor? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Jan 7 '13 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin: A good point. In 3.5, I'd use a restful crystal to handle that, but I'm not sure if Pathfinder has any solution. Ultimately, AC just isn't that important; a wizard can and should have other defenses. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 7 '13 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin pathfinder has Bed of Iron, which generally makes that moot. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Feb 28 '15 at 8:59

If you have access to ultimate equipment, than a decent non-magical armour for a caster without proficiency is Darkleaf Cloth Leather armour. It is a light armour with a AC bonus of 2, a max dex bonus of 8, an armour check penalty of 0, an arcane failure of 5 and is 7.5lbs. It costs 760gp. It gives the highest AC with low chance of spell failure.

If you don't want to take any risk of spell failure, than the Haramaki or Silken Ceremonial are ideal. Both are AC+1, no max dex bonus, armour check penalty or arcane failure rate. The Haramaki is 3gp while the Silken Ceremonial is 30gp(no actually difference between the two beside cost and flavour). In addition, if you have 5000g at hand, getting the Haramaki made of Adamantine, makes for the truely best caster friendly armour as it adds a DR1/- which lets you ignore one point of damage from every non energy attack.

Darkleaf cloth is a special form of flexible material made by weaving together leaves and thin strips of bark from darkwood trees, then treating the resulting fabric with special alchemical processes. The resulting material is tough as cured hide but much lighter, making it an excellent material from which to create armor. Spell failure chances for armors made from darkleaf cloth decrease by 10% (to a minimum of 5%), maximum Dexterity bonuses increase by 2, and armor check penalties decrease by 3 (to a minimum of 0).

An item made from darkleaf cloth weighs half as much as the same item made from leather, furs, or hides. Items not primarily constructed of leather, fur, or hide are not meaningfully affected by being partially made of darkleaf cloth. As such, padded armor, leather armor, studded leather armor, and hide armor can be made out of darkleaf cloth (although other types of armor made of leather or hide might be possible). Because darkleaf cloth remains flexible, it cannot be used to construct rigid items such as shields or metal armors. Armors fashioned from darkleaf cloth are always masterwork items; the masterwork cost is included in the listed prices.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. And once you have 20+ rep, feel free to join the chat! \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Oct 3 '13 at 6:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice! Thanks for that, but wouldn't it reduce the spell failure to 5% not 0%? \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Oct 3 '13 at 6:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, missed that. That's what I get for being still up at 2 in the morning. On related armour without any spell failure, the Haramaki and Silken Ceremonial both qualify, with a AC+1, no check penalties, and no max dex limit. \$\endgroup\$ – Guest Oct 3 '13 at 6:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ 5% ASF makes the armor worse than no armor at all, IMO. The Haramaki and Silken Ceremonial are quite solid, though; this’d be the best answer if they were the ones touted as best. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 3 '13 at 17:06

Look into purchasing, finding, or stealing any of the following: (Although they're all a wee bit expensive, from 1000–2000gp for a +1 bonus, they help. Plus, they're in the PH.)

  • Bracers of Armor. These give an armor bonus, don't stack with other armor, and provide no penalties, besides weighing a pound. 1000gp
  • Amulet of Natural Armor. Grants a natural armor bonus that stacks with ordinary armor. 2000gp
  • Ring of Protection. Grants a deflection bonus to armor that stacks with just about everything. 2000gp

Also, think about taking Dodge as a feat at level 5, because that gives an automatic +1 dodge bonus to your AC.

Sources: About a year of playing armorless classes (Monk, Sorcerer, and Wizard) and good old d20pfsrd.com

Have fun slinging spells!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless you need it for a requirement or prerequisite, Dodge is usually badly overpriced at the cost of a feat slot. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 3 '13 at 17:07

I'm not entirely sure if this is a house-item or one from a book somewhere, but I swore I had seen a Clothborn Full Plate item - the AC bonus of full plate, but with the encumbrance ( i.e. Max Dex, Spell Failure, weight, etc.) of a shirt ( not chain, just a shirt, as in, no armor at all) and could be decorated/embroidered as necessary. I think the formula was a Stone to Flesh spell on a suit of Dwarven Stone Plate or similar. Fairly expensive, but it is an extremely popular armor in any game I've played in.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe that was back in 3.0/3.5 rather than pathfinder, the requisites were Stone to Flesh and Craft Arms/Armour - I don't see any mention of making armour in Stone to Flesh (paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/spells/stoneToFlesh.html) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Jan 7 '13 at 16:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ There was no mention of making armour in 3.5e Stone to Flesh either. Remember that spell effects on magical items are sometimes a little different than their actual, base spell effects. \$\endgroup\$ – Phill.Zitt Jan 7 '13 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough; the spells a bit off limits to my character at the moment anyway, he's level 3 :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Jan 7 '13 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd certianly hope the spell effect on the magical item was different - my adventurers get bloody enough without wearing suits of meat. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jan 8 '13 at 5:15

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