I'm playing a campaign in the Eberron setting with some friends. Currently I have a Goliath warblade Level 3 and although I have plenty of HP, my AC is pretty low right now. I'm looking for tips to improve my AC, because we don't have a tank (we have a Inquisitor, but he is playing a more ranged playstyle).

My stats are 20 10 20 10 9 8. I'm using a greatsword and going sword and board is not much of an option. I also have a breastplate +1, which makes my AC 17, my current max HP is 45, but I get hit a lot (DM gets really nice attack rolls).

What I'm looking for is to improve my AC, my HP I think is fine, and we don't have a healer in the group (just a guy with UMD and a wand of (1d8+1) healing) so getting lots of HP doesn't seem like the best option.

For my saving throws, my fortitude is excellent but the other two are really low, I have a cloak of resistance +1 which I'm going to improve in the future.

We can use anything from 3.5 and Pathfinder.

I don't want to be the team's tank, I intend to be a striker.

How can I improve my AC?

Edit: right now I have around 500 gold pieces, Im looking to improve AC with Equipment and/or Feats.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's... a really tight budget (like, 1 potion tight). What feats does the character already possess and is the character allowed to retrain them? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 17 '15 at 2:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ My feats are Power Attack and Martial Study, and no, I cant retrain them \$\endgroup\$ – Summoner1337 Mar 17 '15 at 2:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Summoner1337 You should edit that detail into the question, since it's relevant. You should also specify what other resources you have to work with. For instance, how many levels do you expect to gain? That affects the number of feats you'll be able to take. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Mar 17 '15 at 2:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does your DM allow Flaws? \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 17 '15 at 3:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ What's the rest of your party like? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 17 '15 at 3:47

I am going to offer some suggestions for going forward, rather than things you can do right now. You can’t do much of anything with 500 gp, and no feat slots available until 6th level. You might consider discussing the 500 gp with the DM: the total value of your items should be between 2,700 gp and 5,400 gp at your level. While the Dungeon Master’s Guide presents wealth by level as a guideline, and it can be deviated from, it is close to a bare minimum for many classes. Going significantly under WBL is a very dangerous thing to do and should be done very carefully. Of course, if you mean you have 500 gold pieces, but you also have 2,200-4,900 gp worth of assorted other gear, things are just fine. Money is tight at these levels, after all.

Armored AC – some pointers, but most of all don’t worry about it too much

First, keep in mind that AC, particularly armored AC, is of limited value. You have the largest HD in the game, and excellent Constitution. Armored AC protects you almost-exclusively from HP-damage, which you should be equipped to handle.

Second, medium armor tends to be really bad, and burning a feat on Heavy Armor Proficiency is worse. Unless you plan on multiclassing to something that gets that for free, you should probably stick with a masterwork chain shirt. That is, at least until you can afford mithral full-plate, which you cannot with 500 gp. The other option, masterwork breastplate, triples the armor check penalty for just +1 AC; I do not recommend this.

On the other hand, once you can, mithral full-plate offers +8 AC, double the chain shirt, and while it has the same −3 armor check penalty, +4 AC is far more worth that than is +1 AC. Depending on your game, you might instead get mithral hellknight plate; this is, in Pathfinder’s default setting Golarion, something of a uniform for the hellknights, so it would piss them off quite a lot if you (a non-hellknight) were to wear it. But if you are not playing in Golarion, the armor either may not exist, or may exist without the strings attached. Talk to your DM about it when you can seriously consider getting 10,500-11,000 gp armor (not until 7th-8th level, if your DM keeps to the WBL guidelines).

A shield can help; a masterwork heavy shield is +2 to armored AC for a little gold and a minor armor check penalty. A two-hander is usually nearly-mandatory for a melee warrior, but you have maneuvers that can go a long way to resolving that, and even with your great Strength for your level, the extra ½ Strength only represents +2 damage.

With both armor and shield, the mandatory +1 enhancement bonus on each means you’ll get another +2 from that. Talk to your DM before upgrading your masterwork chain shirt to a +1 chain shirt – since you eventually want to swap it out for mithral full-plate, you need to know how he’s going to handle your wealth. By the rules, he’s supposed to make sure your wealth gets back up to the written levels after your sale (by increasing loot in the future to make up for the 50% loss on the sale), but your DM already seems to have drastically reduced the wealth of your game, based on your 500 gp at 3rd level.

Touch AC – more important, much more expensive

Unlike armored AC, touch AC is fairly valuable. It’s also much more difficult to increase, and 500 gold won’t do much for you. Usually, gloves of dexterity are a good idea for a warblade eventually, but are lower priority than a belt of giant strength or amulet of vitality. With your massive Strength and Constitution, but weak Dexterity, I might spring for a bit of that Dexterity early. Eventually, gloves of dexterity +6 will nicely fill out the +3 maxmimum Dexterity rating on mithral full-plate, but that is a long way in the future.

Note that wall of blades could be an option for you here. It’s limited, but once every few rounds you can have a strong chance to negate one attack.

Saving Throws – Diamond Mind is your friend

You really do want to keep moment of perfect mind available... most of the time. Will saves are a weakness for you, and moment of perfect mind is “you will almost-certainly make this Will save” once every few rounds.

Action before thought and mind over matter are far less important, since Reflex is just a less-important saving throw and your Fortitude is already beastly.

Aside from these things, just keep your cloak of resistance up to date; it doesn’t always have to literally be the most expensive version of it you can afford... but you should buy the most expensive version you can afford pretty soon after you can afford it, like in a level or two.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And this is why I don't try to answer 3.5 questions... \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Mar 17 '15 at 3:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Medium armor is really bad in 3.5e, but not as bad in Pathfinder. This guy is presumably using a Pathfinder breastplate which is 6AC. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Nov 4 '15 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB It’s still really bad, and there’s no way to know, with the current information, which version of the breastplate they’re using. The Pathfinder breastplate is still too poor to use, it’s just less obviously so. And Pathfinder mithral is seriously nerfed, which means masterwork chain shirt is just flat-out the best non-heavy armor in the game. Meh. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 5 '15 at 0:01

This can be done, but requires Dumpster-diving and may make you feel icky.

Increasing AC on a 500 gp Budget

  • The armor chahar-aina (OA 75, 76) (75 gp; 10 lbs.) and dastana (OA 75, 76) (25 gp; 5 lbs.) each grant a +1 armor bonus to Armor Class that combines with the armor bonus granted by padded, leather, or a chain shirt.
  • The dwarven injector (Dragon #294 80-1) (150 gp; 2 lbs.), a reskinned ready-drink helm that occupies 1 nonmagical bracers slot (but only 1 can be worn), holds 2 groups of 2 potions; "drinking" (actually, injecting) either or both potions of a group is a free action and rotating to the other potion group is a move action; if the wearer’s rendered prone (e.g. a successful trip attack, landing poorly after falling from a height) each unused potion has a 25% chance being used automatically.

    • A potion of crabwalk [trans] (SpC 53) (1st-level spell at caster level 1) (50 gp; 0.1 lbs.) for 1 min., among other effects, eliminates the −2 penalty to Armor Class from taking the charge action.
    • A potion of foundation of stone [trans] (SpC 99) (1st-level spell at caster level 1) (50 gp; 0.1 lbs.) for 1 round grants, among other effects, a situational +2 bonus to Armor Class. Note: Inefficient and overpriced but an untyped bonus.
    • A potion of protection from evil [abjur] (PH 266) (1st-level spell at caster level 1) (50 gp; 0.1 lbs.) for 1 min. grants, among other effects, a +2 deflection bonus to Armor Class against evil creatures. Note: Adjust alignment to suit the campaign.
    • A potion of shield of faith [abjur] (PH 278) (1st-level spell at caster level 1) (50 gp; 0.1 lbs.) for 1 min. grants a +2 deflection bonus to Armor Class.

    Although the bonuses from the protection from evil and shield of faith effects overlap, there are solid reasons to have access to both. The original ready-drink helm is a fantasy beer hat (like this only with 4 potions instead of 2 beers); the injector, the reskinning of which is endorsed by the article, I find far more palatable.

  • Spend the remaining 50 gp to hire some trained hirelings (PH 129-32) (1 sp/day) and have them rush into combat alongside you and aid another.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am 90% certain that they errata'd the chahar-aina and the dastana into almost worthlessness. They no longer stack with existing armor, instead takes the place of armor/shield. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 17 '15 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut I wish because they're dumb, but neither the OA errata nor the 3.5 update of OA in Dragon #318 mentions those items. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 17 '15 at 8:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Both dastanas and chahar-ainas provide special armor bonuses to AC that stack with other armor bonuses granted by certain forms of light armor. However, it is still the case that only one enhancement bonus can apply to a character's armor bonus at any time." -Skip Williams (Dragon 318 p. 42) \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 17 '15 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ AEG apparently stuck the dastana in the shield bonus category, not "D&D." And the "errata" is that if the chahar-aina and the dastana are enchanted, only the highest bonus applies. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 17 '15 at 9:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut That I knew, which is pretty much why I ban them in my games. While I don't mind the fighter having +2 AC, 18 extra +s available for magic armor special abilities, and (maybe) 2 more slots for magic armor crystals, in my campaigns wizards in githcraft padded armor don't need that nor do the monsters. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 17 '15 at 14:27

Count your Blessings of Stone.

3 levels in Stoneblessed will give you:

Stoneborn (Ex): At 3rd level, a stoneblessed completes the bond with her chosen race. The stoneblessed gains a permanent +2 increase to her Constitution score. In addition, for all effects related to race, a stoneblessed is considered a member of the race to which she is bonded. The stone blessed meets any racial prerequisite for prestige classes and feats as if she were a member of her bonded race.

Which will allow you to take 2 levels of Deep Warden for:

Stone Warden (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, a deepwarden knows how to use his strengths to compensate for his weaknesses. He adds his Constitution bonus to AC instead of his Dexterity, if the character's Constitution bonus is higher. The deepwarden loses this bonus to his Armor Class whenever he would normally be denied his Dexterity bonus to AC. In such a situation, the deepwarden would still be considered flat-footed.

Feats that will also help you immensely in the future are:

Endurance (You could sleep in your armor, and it is a prerequisite for the prestige classes above, and for Steadfast Determination)

Steadfast Determination: You can use your Constitution modifier in place of your Wisdom modifier on Will saves. You do not automatically fail Fortitude saves on a roll of natural 1.

Getting your shield bonus to touch armor class is also another cup of awesome-sauce.

Shield Ward: You apply your shield bonus to your touch AC, and on checks or rolls to resist bull rush, disarm, grapple, overrun, or trip attempts against you.

It requires Shield Specialization, so I would personally pick buckler so you could start swinging a Large Goliath Greathammer. 3d6 damage with a x4 critical can be jaw dropping.

All of this will work within KRyan's advice as well which is a great answer in it's own right. This answer would allow you to further exploit your high constitution score.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This really hurts your initiating. It’s a nice wodge of AC, no doubt, but I really don’t feel that it’s worth it. Steadfast Determination and Shield Ward are solid though. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 17 '15 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan It will... I thought there was a "Practiced Spellcaster" type of feat for Iniating classes. I would have went Barbarian. Mountain Rage is just (wipes saliva off of mouth) delicious. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 17 '15 at 3:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've removed the D&D Tools links from your answer. The mirror is dead, and it's our position that basically all D&D Tools mirrors and sites like it are similarly doomed and a bad idea to link to. You may want to provide some book & page references instead. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 4 '15 at 23:32

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