What is the touch AC of an attended object?

Larry the Lizard Wizard casts darkness and tries to touch his opponent's armor. darkness has a range of "touch" and targets an "object touched". Larry's medium sized opponent's touch AC is 14. What is his opponent's armor's touch AC? If Larry were instead to try to touch his medium sized opponent's one-handed weapon (which is a small object) would it have a different touch AC than his opponent's armor?

The "touch" range for spells says only that

Touch: You must touch a creature or object to affect it...

The combat rules specify how spells with a range of touch work in combat.

Touch Spells in Combat: Many spells have a range of touch. To use these spells, you cast the spell and then touch the subject. In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) as a free action. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target. You can automatically touch one friend or use the spell on yourself, but to touch an opponent, you must succeed on an attack roll.

Touch Attacks: Touching an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The act of casting a spell, however, does provoke an attack of opportunity. Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks and ranged touch attacks. You can score critical hits with either type of attack as long as the spell deals damage. Your opponent's AC against a touch attack does not include any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. His size modifier, Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) all apply normally.


The rules for touch attacks add nothing relevant. The rules do specify an armor class to use when smashing an object.


2 Answers 2


The RAW doesn't specifically say.

As you note in your research, none of the rules related to hitting objects have any information about what to do if the object is attended.

That said, you can use existing rules to figure out a reasonable alternative. The rules for smashing an object that you link say:

An object's Armor Class is equal to 10 + its size modifier (see Table: Size and Armor Class of Objects) + its Dexterity modifier.

If you try to use the spell rusting grasp on someone's armor:

You may employ rusting grasp in combat with a successful melee touch attack. Rusting grasp used in this way instantaneously destroys 1d6 points of AC gained from metal armor (to the maximum amount of protection the armor offers) through corrosion.

You can similarly touch a weapon with rusting grasp:

Weapons in use by an opponent targeted by the spell are more difficult to grasp. You must succeed on a melee touch attack against the weapon. A metal weapon that is hit is destroyed. Striking at an opponent's weapon provokes an attack of opportunity. Also, you must touch the weapon and not the other way around.

It says that weapons are harder to grasp, but it doesn't actually give any rules for how you should determine the AC of the weapon.

With this in mind, one reasonable ruling would be to apply this rule to attacks against attended objects, but let the object use the attending character's Dex bonus instead of its own, as well as any other modifiers that the character has that apply to touch attacks, like deflection bonuses or a monk's Wisdom to AC. If you try to touch an attended weapon, you provoke an attack of opportunity. This means that it's a little bit harder to hit an object that a character is attending than it is to hit the character, since most objects are smaller than their users.

Another reasonable ruling would be to say that it's a Combat Maneuver, like any other. In this case, I'd say that touching an object that's being attended by another creature would work like Sunder. In this case, you'd simply make a CMB check against your opponent's CMD, provoking an AoO if you don't have Improved Sunder. The drawback of this approach is it means that it's basically impossible for casters to touch an object being attended by a creature except at very low levels, since the CMB of a caster goes up very slowly, but the CMD of most other creatures goes up very quickly.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying touching the armor counts as a touch attack against the wearer, and touching the weapon counts as Sunder? (because that's how I'd rule it) \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 2:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm saying that the rules support is barely existent, and that doing either of those is probably reasonable and has some rules support. Making anything a Sunder means that casters can't do it, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 2:24

I would treat this as a standard touch attack, but then apply the Called Shots rules.

Called shots are divided into three basic difficulty groups: easy, tricky, and challenging. Easy called shots represent large areas of the body, and are made at a –2 penalty. They have relatively minor effects unless a critical hit is scored or massive damage is dealt. Tricky called shots represent either smaller areas, like a hand, or areas a creature protects well, like its head. Tricky shots receive a –5 penalty, and inflict more serious consequences. Challenging called shots represent very small areas like eyes, fingers, or creatures' necks. They receive a –10 penalty, and successful hits cause significant short-term impairment. Beyond these challenging ratings lie almost impossible called shots that receive a –20 penalty. For called shots against non-humanoid creatures, use common sense and the categories above as guidelines. For example, a flying creature's wings are treated as arms.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You forget the part where a called shot takes a full-round action. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 22:01

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