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I want to know if my GM is being too harsh on us, as this is our first adventure, so none of us are sure.

My party just became level 9. I feel that as a party, our AC is low all around. For example, our tank's AC is 20 and they have no passive abilities to improve it. To make matters worse, the DM keeps forcing him to lose his shield.

I as a rogue, have an AC of 16. I've had the same armor since level 1, and the only thing I have to improve it are Defensive Duelist.

So the simple question is this - Should we have had any improved armor, e.g. plate + 1 for our tank, or other items such as rings of protection.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by nitsua60, Tritium21, DuckTapeAl, Miniman, GMJoe Oct 8 '15 at 0:27

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ with the different playstyles and run-styles that groups and GMs may embrace, I think this is really broad. How do we know what's an acceptable level of challenge for you and your group? Are lethal encounters off the table? What do you enjoy? Does the GM see you as just charging into every encounter headlong without considering alternatives? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Oct 7 '15 at 21:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't really get what your question is here. Is it "Should we have magic items by level 9?". Is it "Is 20 AC too low for a level 9 tank?". As it is, this question is vague and impossible to answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 7 '15 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ As of now, it seems like the question is about the intended availability of magic items, which is broad but answerable (with Good Subjective answers). \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Oct 7 '15 at 22:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possibly related Are peoples' competencies really as flat in D&D 5e as its math suggests? \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Oct 7 '15 at 22:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd originally VtC'ed as opinion-based, but really I think my concern is "unclear". I think the lack of described play-style and expectations hamstrings the ability to answer other than "why I would/wouldn't find this DM too harsh" \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Oct 8 '15 at 0:32
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You should forget everything number-related, and ask yourself this question:

Are the encounters we're facing at this point too much for us to handle?

If the answer is no, then everything's fine.

Signs that the answer is "yes" include:

  • one or more people have had to roll up a new character
  • encounters aren't really resolved by the party, but by NPCs with better statistics

If you realize that you find the game boring because there are a lack of options that would normally be provided by fancy magical items, express that to your DM. He can probably solve that problem and still leave you magic-item-free.

If you're simply dissatisfied because you don't have +1 items, well... I suggest you return to a previous edition. Just kidding -- of course it's possible to play 5e with more magical items in the party, but the balance between PCs and monsters was crafted with the lack of magical items in mind. Just take that into consideration if your DM ends up running something very high-magic.

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D&D 5e is premised on the idea of bounded accuracy.

... bounded accuracy means your attack bonus/defenses don't automatically increase with level ... bounded accuracy lets you take a monster (say, an orc) and pit him against pretty much any level of hero, knowing that the monster will still have a decent chance to hit and dodge.

magic weapons and armor typically won't give more than a +1, with +3 being the cap and representing things of artifact power.

Your DM is playing the game as it was intended.

The difference between a 1st and 20th level character is not primarily in their AC, ability to hit or saving throws but in their hp, damage output, available options and methods of "pushing" the action economy.

As for magic items, +1 armour is a rare item under the DMG. On p.38 it suggests that 9th level characters in a low and normal magic campaign should have no magic items at all and in a high magic campaign they might have one uncommon magic item - they might get a rare item by level 11 in a high magic campaign or level 17 in a normal magic campaign.

Based on the same table, each player should have starting equipment plus 525-750gp - not enough to afford non-magical plate armor anyway. They should be able to afford that by level 11.

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