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Or asked another way -

How much easier is it (typically) for a player to hit touch AC rather than regular AC?


This is a supporting question for:

Is it a viable tactic to use a flurry of blows monk to mass grapple a single target?


I'm looking for the average difference between creature AC and touch AC at each Challenge Rating level to try and support another question I am trying to get answered.

In this case the question is does targeting touch AC for grapple attempts give an advantage over simply trying to hit the monster with a base attack in the first place. To do that we need to know the average difference between AC and Touch AC at the various levels of play.

I've seen a few questions out there asking for the average AC or saving throws for various monsters at each CR level, but not found one for the average difference between AC and Touch AC.

Is anyone able to generate that data? Or where and how can go about collecting it?

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I believe this Q is mostly useless, because average difference in the monsters party actually encounter vary wildly from table to table. Or from published adventure to published adventure. Also, for sufficiently low or high AC difference might not matter at all, because in 3.5, without bounded accuracy, situation when you only hit on 20, or only miss on 1, wasn't exactly unheard of. Was all too common, that's why bounded accuracy came to be. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Feb 5, 2023 at 23:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ But it is a question that can be answered. There are many examples of questions asking for the average AC of various monsters at each level to determine what a good general measure of a character's attack bonus should be to ensure minimum viability. In this case I'm asking for an extension of those questions that are not deemed entirely useless. The difference in AC to Touch AC may be a vaible tactic within a certain CR range or party level group - and become more or less effective outside of that range. It's why I'm asking. ^>^ \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2023 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Seems like a legit question to me. If you think the most straightforward answer is going to be not-so-useful due to some aspect of the game mechanics or the variety of the game's antagonists, I think finding a more useful way to represent similar information would just be part of crafting a smarter answer. (Stuff like "we should use the median, not the mean" or "this information only works if you present both absolute AC and Touch AC instead of deltas" doesn't even qualify as a frame challenge, tbh.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex P
    Feb 6, 2023 at 0:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would it be appropriate to ask what the average Touch AC of monsters at each CR level instead? Then extrapolate down from there? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2023 at 0:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PlayPatrice Personally, I think the spirit of the question is the same regardless your exact wording. imo, the overall thing you're trying to solve is okay, how much easier is it (typically) for a player to hit touch AC rather than regular AC? — which is a theorycrafting problem I've definitely run into in D&D3.x-adjacent contexts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex P
    Feb 6, 2023 at 1:50

1 Answer 1

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Normal AC is 7.489 points higher than Touch AC.

That represents, in general, about 37.445 % higher chance to hit.

I calculated these means (=average() in excel) from this file: Creature Catalog 3.5.

Here is a table:

Type AC - Touch AC
Aberation 8.631578947
Animal 3.138461538
Construct 8.340425532
Deathless 8
Dragon 25
Elemental 8
Fey 2
Giant 9
Humanoid 4.821428571
Magical Beast 6.961538462
Monstrous Humanoid 8.071428571
Outsider 9.611111111
Ooze 0.875
Plant 6
Undead 5.873015873
Vermin 5.5
Overall Mean 7.489
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you Kaimo! I'm honestly floored by how wide the gap is overall... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2023 at 3:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ When you say “average” do you mean median, mean, or mode? Also, is the “Average” an “average” (whatever that means) of all creatures or an average of averages? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Feb 6, 2023 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I started to be surprised that it was so low, but then I remembered the lower CR enemies don't tend to have that high armo/natural armor bonus. I suspect if you filter by CR the difference grows as CR goes up, since armor/natural armor scale so much more than other things \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Feb 6, 2023 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM Honestly - I'm not a math person so I don't know whats best - So I was looking for numbers to help articulate how easy it was to initiate a grapple compared to a hard attack. When I have the time perhaps we can look at the difference for the monsters of Large and smaller as thats the target range for grappling (Huge and above don't qualify) - but THIS awnser does a great job of giving a functional awnser for the question given for either grappling or ranged touch attacks. As usual I wait a few days before posting "Checkmarked" awnsers in case others chime in. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2023 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM I used =average() from excel. \$\endgroup\$
    – kaimo
    Feb 10, 2023 at 2:50

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