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The Bracers of Armor are described to "surround the wearer with invisible but tangible field of force", which essentially is an invisible suit of armor.

My question is: Can Magic Vestment be cast on this "invisible but tangible field of force"?

The idea is to make a Cleric that runs around foes to trigger their opportunity attacks, so that his allies can move around more freely. He'll be wearing the Bracers, an Animated Shield, and a Monk's Belt, with Magic Vestment on the Bracers and the shield.


I apologize for not clarifying the scenario because I was so intent on the primary question. Here is a bigger picture:

  • I am sort of a powergamer/munchkin that is rolling with a casual group; my Cloistered Cleric is too powerful for the rest of the group. This is why I'm toning it way down and trying to not steal the Paladin's and the Barbarian's thunder (instead opting to boom up their thunder). I also don't think the DM is quite aware of my power level relative to the group; I guess I just RP the goofy cleric that well. :)
  • The Monk's Belt + Animated Shield combo is a non-issue with the DM; he's ruled that the Animated Shield does not interfere with anything except carrying another shield. As such, he's given me the green light to stack the two.
  • Relevant equipment are traveler's clothes, Bracers of Armor +4, Animated Shield, and Monk's Belt (he's a generous DM). The Human is Cloistered Cleric 5/Dweomerkeeper 2/Divine Disciple 2 and his current stats are Str 10, Dex 14, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 20, Cha 18 (like I said, a generous DM, even with the point-buy).
  • The question of Magic Vestment on the Bracers only arose in our last game session (because we were forced into a gauntlet scenario, and the Barbarian's AC is pitiful, the Paladin's is alright, but not optimal), and he ruled OK on it off-hand, although he seemed unsure. I just wanted a clarification so that he at least gets some peace of mind. I don't really mind if the general consensus or RAW is advantageous to me or not; our game is fun enough for me to not really be concerned about a couple of points to AC. ^_^
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that you can't benefit from monk's belt and shield, animated or not. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Nov 8 '15 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah! Cloistered Cleric, this certainly changes your options since you are limited to Light Armor (as neither Dweormkeeper nor Divine Disciple add armor proficiency). \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 9 '15 at 18:44
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Bracers, no. Shield, yes.


The description states, as you have pointed out:

They surround the wearer with an invisible but tangible field of force...

(emphasis: bold) The bracers themselves emanate this invisible tangible field of force and would have to be the target of any other special effect.

Magic Vestment, for a target, states:

Target: Armor or shield touched

There is no "suit of armor" - just a "force field."


The shield, however, would be fine as a target.

Note: An animated shield would already have an enhancement bonus1 (since its cost is a +2 bonus), and your spell would merely over-right, or if your caster level isn't high enough, or have no effect on the enhancement bonus the shield already has.


1Magic Armor: A suit of armor with a special ability must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus.

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These items appear to be wrist or arm guards. They surround the wearer with an invisible but tangible field of force, granting him an armor bonus of +1 to +8, just as though he were wearing armor.

 

Target: Armor or shield touched

You imbue a suit of armor or a shield with an enhancement bonus of +1 per four caster levels (maximum +5 at 20th level).

An outfit of regular clothing counts as armor that grants no AC bonus for the purpose of this spell.

  1. This can be implied to work due to the 'just as though he were wearing armour' clause of bracers of armour. If it works 'just as though wearing armour', there's no reason magic vestment shouldn't work.

  2. Even more simply, bracers are themselves part of a suit of armour. There's not really an argument that they are ineligible as targets for the spell themselves. If they can't be an eligible target for Magic Vestment, neither can a Breastplate.

  3. Finally, 'enhancement bonus to armour' explicitly stacks with regular ol' armour bonus. Casting Magic Vestment on your clothes? Will stack with bracers of armour. Bracers of armour do not grant an enhancement bonus to armour. They grant a normal armour bonus. Exactly the same as wearing armour. Just like the Mage Armour spell. Cast Magic Vestment on your clothes, wear bracers of armour, you get the benefit of both bonuses.

You can safely assume any GM that doesn't allow this is houseruling it rather than using any sort of RAW.


Shields and Armour Class

You are correct that a Monk's Belt is generally the path to maximum AC. However, you are incorrect that shields (animated or otherwise) factor in. An animated shield counts as carrying it - and disables the wisdom-adding effect of the Monk's Belt, as it works 'as a monk', and monks lose their AC bonus if wearing armour or carrying a shield.

That's not really a... big issue, though? Shield, the Sorcerer/Wizard spell, is easily wanded via UMD - it also lasts for minutes/level. There's also cleric spells that give a shield bonus. All of that said the absolute largest source of AC is Natural Armour. Which is granted by Alter Self, Polymorph, and any number of cleric spells (there's one with Tortoise in the name). Scintillating Scales will turn it into a Deflection bonus, which is largely better. Various spells will also increase Dex, from the humble Cat's Grace to regular ol' Grace and Divine Agility (or some such) gives a +10.

There's also stuff like Recitation and so forth that give sacred bonuses to things. Sirine's Grace is a go-to, although somewhat difficult to cast for a cleric (only from scrolls, it's a large reason to play a bard actually).

Top 10 Divine Persistent Spells (By Level) is a good starting point for buffs, although it's not exhaustive (as there are some good buffs that are not persistable). Have a read.

You can also stack various stats to AC. Getting wisdom four or five times to your AC is rather nice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My concern here is the Magic Vestment on the clothes while wearing Bracers. That would result in two separate armor bonuses (from enchanted clothes and from the Bracers). Wouldn't that be like wearing armor while wearing the Bracers (and thus be forced to use only the higher bonus, i.e. no stacking allowed)? \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Nov 9 '15 at 7:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Finally, 'enhancement bonus to armour' explicitly stacks with regular ol' armour bonus." - This is correct, but the phrasing seems to run on a popular misinterpretation. Enhancement bonuses to armor don't carry over to your AC and then stack with the armor bonus to your AC. The enhancement bonus to armor directly applies to your armor, and increases its armor bonus to your AC. I suggest rephrasing would be helpful to not perpetuate the misinterpretation. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 9 '15 at 7:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ The enhancement bonus to Armor applied to regular clothes enhances the AC of the clothes, so casting Magic Vestment as a Cleric 12 on a shirt would give you a shirt with +3 Armor bonus to AC. The bonus from this shirt would not stack with the bonus from the bracers, however, as they are both Armor bonus to AC. You have to apply Magic Vestment to the Bracers for its Enhancement bonus to increase the Armor bonus offered by the Bracers. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 9 '15 at 8:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. - You're incorrect by RAW. An enhancement bonus to armour class applies to the wearer of any item providing that bonus - it doesn't stack with other enhancement bonuses, but does do so with several other listed bonuses. The 'clothes' themselves are a worn item - they do not have their own AC, except as modified by size for purposes of a Sunder attempt. As the spell says to 'treat them as armour with a bonus of +0', they can't even be Sundered - the Sunder rules have an exception for armour. \$\endgroup\$ – user2754 Nov 9 '15 at 12:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JackLesnie: This is the first time I hear this interpretation, so I am a bit surprised. Reading Enhancement Bonus from the SRD I cannot see what would support it; it seems to treat armors and weapons the same way: the enhancement bonus applies to the object itself, not the person/creature. I found this discussion on the topic where opinions go back and forth but which seems to end with "cannot add Bracers & Magic Vestment", do you have any other ruling? \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 9 '15 at 12:53
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Edit: revised with the OP's classes and stats in mind; oh, and the house rule on allowing the Animated Shield for a monk which considerably changes things.

No, Magic Vestment cannot be applied on the Bracers of Armor.

The simplest way to get a good Armor Class is to wear an Armor (and wield a Shield), and spells such as Magic Vestment build on this, restricting their improvements to Armor (or clothes) and Shield.

There are classes that allow adding your Wisdom bonus to AC (in place or on top of your Dexterity bonus), however for a full caster the synergy would be poor.

The generic way is to use:

  • A good armor, a Mithral Chain Shirt costs 1,100 gp and grants +4 AC/+6 Max Dex/0 ACP, you can go one step further with a Mithral Breastplate thought it costs 4,200 gp for only +1 AC at +5 AC/+5 Max Dex/-2 ACP. I would personally opt for the Chain Shirt because 3,100gp for just +1 Armor AC (and -2 ACP to boot!) is costly.
  • An Animated Heavy Shield +1 gives you a +3 Shield bonus to AC.
  • Some Gloves of Dexterity +4 for 16,000 gp give you +4 to Dexterity, which translates to +2 Dexterity bonus to AC.
  • You can use Magic Vestment on both Armor and Shield, remember that it adds an Enhancement bonus, and thus overwrites the existing +X and does not add to it.

With this (simple) basis, you get:

  • an Armor bonus to AC of +5
  • a Dexterity bonus to AC of +4 (+2 increase)
  • a Shield bonus to AC of +3

For a total of +12 AC. As a 9th level Cleric, casting Magic Vestment (+2 Enhancement bonus at this level) on both Armor and Shield bumps this to +15 AC.

Let's compare:

  • 17,100 gp / +8 AC (compared to running naked) with Mithral Chain Shirt (+4) + Gloves of Dexterity +4 (+2) + Magical Vestment (+2)
  • 20,200 gp / +9 AC (compared to running naked) with Mithral Breastplate (+5) + Gloves of Dexterity +4 (+2) + Magical Vestment (+2).
  • 29,000 gp / +9 AC (compared to running naked) with Bracers of Armor +4 (+4) + Monk's Belt (+5)

Note: I purposely ignore the Animated Shield and its enchantments as your generous DM allows it in both cases.

While your setup is fun, it is a needlessly costly basis. Starting from the Mithral Chain Shirt gives you 11,900 gp to increase your AC.


Now that this is done, let's see the bonuses:

  • You should start by getting some Natural Armor, Insight, Deflection and Dodge bonuses; see http://aaronwiki.us/index.php?title=Armor_Class_Guide for the most cost efficient ways to increase your Armor Class: it suggests that at level 12 you could be looking at +1 Dodge, +2 Deflection, +2 Natural Armor and +1 Insight (for a total of +6 AC)
  • The domain Balance from Player's Guide to Faerun, p. 84 has for specific bonus the ability to, once per day, get your Wisdom bonus to AC for 1 round/Cleric level.
  • The feat Expeditious Dodge from Races of the Wild, p. 150 grants +2 Dodge bonus to AC whenever you move 40 ft. or more; it also counts as Dodge for the purpose of fulfilling pre-requisites
  • The feat Mobility from Player's Handbook, p. 98 grants +4 Dodge bonus to AC to avoid Attacks of Opportunity when moving (and has Dodge as a pre-requisite). Do remember that Dodge bonuses to AC stack.
  • The feat Protection Devotion from Complete Champion, p. 61 grants, once per day, a +2 to +7 Sacred bonus to AC against evil to you and every ally within 30 ft for 1 minute. You can use it one extra time per day for each 3 Turn or Rebuke uses that you expend.
  • The spell Barkskin from Player's Handbook, p. 203 grants +1 Enhancement bonus to Natural Armor, and +1/3lvls (up to +5), for a total of +4 at level 9, is accessible through the Plant domain.
  • The spell Sirine's Grace from Spell Compendium, p. 191 grants, among other things, a +4 Enhancement bonus to Charisma and a Deflection bonus to AC equal to your (newly adjusted) Charisma bonus for 1 round/level; it can only be cast by a Bard or Druid and has a target of Personal, however it could be used as a basis for a custom item.

Alright, let's I don't see you changing your domains and feats overnight, however:

  • Amulet of Natural Armor, 2,000 gp, +1 Natural Armor bonus to AC
  • Ring of Protection, 2,000 gp, +1 Deflection bonus to AC
  • Ioun Stone, Dusty Rose, 5,000 gp, +1 Insight bonus to AC (very costly, not included below)

That is, for 4,000 gp, you can get +2 AC.

  • 21,100 gp / +9 AC (compared to running naked) starting from Mithral Chain Shirt
  • 24,200 gp / +10 AC (compared to running naked) starting from Mithral Breastplate

Those are, of course, the permanent items; you can also use temporary buffs (items, spells, potions, ...) to have a higher spike AC if it still matters.

However, let's check the total AC:

  • 26 AC with Mithral Chain Shirt and the bonuses
  • 27 AC with Mithral Breastplate and the bonuses (3,100 gp more expensive, and -2 ACP)
  • 25 AC with Bracers of Armor (7,900 gp more expensive)
  • 28 AC with Bracers of Armor and the bonuses (16,900 gp more expensive)

This seems like a good permanent AC; at this level the Armor Class guide is only at 29 AC.


With that being said, I feel the need to warn you: a character is NEVER obliged in any way to use its Attack of Opportunity on the first opportunity it has. An intelligent character, unless specifically goaded, is thus quite likely to ignore the running fool and keep its sole Attack of Opportunity for a worthy target... or one it feels it has a chance to actually affect.

I thus feel the need to mention that:

  • should you optimize your character's AC without optimizing the rest of the party's AC, then your tough character runs the chance of being ignored by mundane foes (who have little chance of affecting it), which is detrimental to the goal you are attempting to achieve
  • should you optimize the whole party's AC, then you will force the GM's hand into either looking for heavier hitters or switching strategies, so as to keep your party challenged; after all, with no challenge it would be boring

If your goal is to protect your party, I thus advise you to spend a bit more time selecting disabling spells; it will be more effective.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You’re ignoring the monk’s belt mentioned in the question. A cleric should expect Wisdom to be quite high, so that’s fairly substantial. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 8 '15 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: I've thought about speaking about the expected amount of AC but without the character's stats it's quite annoying to go around speculating from thin air so I preferred to cut the answer short and remain factual; giving all the points to the OP. Also, I am unclear on whether one can benefit from the Wisdom bonus to AC from the Monk's Belt and use an Animated Shield (the Armor we know is out of the equation), which makes comparing both course of actions harder, so I just compared costs. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 8 '15 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Magic vestment can be cast on ordinary clothing, as well as armour. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Nov 8 '15 at 23:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. The spell's description broadens its target: "An outfit of regular clothing counts as armor that grants no AC bonus for the purpose of this spell." \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 9 '15 at 8:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. It "counts as armor... for the purpose of this spell," not for anything else. Magic is inconsistent. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 9 '15 at 8:32

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