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A few of my players think I am handling the Dodge Bonus incorrectly. I make all the dodge bonus apply only to a single designated target. After doing my research I am not so sure anymore. What is the RAW understanding?

Dwarf: “+4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against monsters of the giant type. Any time a creature loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class, such as when it’s caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too.”

Dodge Feat: “During your action, you designate an opponent and receive a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against attacks from that opponent. You can select a new opponent on any action. A condition that makes you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) also makes you lose dodge bonuses. Also, dodge bonuses stack with each other, unlike most other types of bonuses.”

Rogue’s Uncanny Dodge: “Starting at 4th level, a rogue can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She retains her Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if she is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, she still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.”

Only one of the above states that your dodge is only effective against a single designated opponent. The other two either don’t mention designating your opponent at all or imply that the player doesn’t even have to be aware of the threat. What would a 4th level Dwarf Rogue’s (Dex 16 with Leather Armor) AC plus dodge bonus be if two Hill Giants melee him toe to toe?

Base: 10 Leather Armor: +2 Dex: +3 Racial Bonus: +4 Size: +1

...20?

How about if one of the giants Flanked him?

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You’re running afoul of some major name conflicts here: there are multiple different things that are called “dodge.”

So, three instances of the word “dodge” that are not actually the same:

  • Dodge bonuses. This is just a type of bonus, almost-always to AC. For clarity, the rest of the answer will refer to these as “dodge-type bonuses.” Dodge-type bonuses stack with other dodge-type bonuses (unlike most types of bonuses), and you lose dodge-type bonuses to AC any time you would lose your Dexterity bonus to AC.

  • The Dodge feat. This is a feat that gives a dodge-type bonus to AC, but only against one chosen target.

  • The Uncanny Dodge class feature. This is a class feature that allows one to keep one’s Dexterity bonus to AC in more situations. Since you don’t lose your Dexterity bonus to AC, you also don’t lose any dodge-type bonuses to AC that you may have (since you usually lose those when you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC). However, the Uncanny Dodge class feature itself does not grant any bonus, dodge-type or otherwise, it just affects when you lose any bonuses you may or may not already have.

Note that the restriction of applying only to one target is a facet of the Dodge feat; it does not apply to any other source of dodge-type bonuses, nor does it have anything at all to do with Uncanny Dodge.

So, for example, the dwarven dodge-type bonus to AC against giants applies to any and all giants, all at once. You do not have to pick one. If a dwarf has the Dodge feat, he can apply the Dodge feat’s dodge-type bonus against the attacks of any one creature. If that creature is a giant, the dwarf gets to stack his racial bonus alongside the bonus from the feat, for a total of +5. His dodge-type bonus against other giants remains the same +4.

If he does not have Uncanny Dodge, he loses all of these dodge-type bonuses when caught flat-footed or attacked by an invisible attacker, since he loses his Dexterity bonus to AC and dodge-type bonuses are tied the to Dexterity bonus. However, if he does have Uncanny Dodge, then he gets to keep these dodge-type bonuses in this case, because Uncanny Dodge lets him keep his Dexterity bonus.

So, for your example:

  • Dex-16 4th-level dwarf rogue with leather armor: basic armored AC of 15. Note that dwarves are Medium creatures, and therefore have a size bonus of +0, not +1. (Only Small creatures get a +1 size bonus to AC.)

    • Touch attacks ignore the leather armor, so against those his AC is 13.

    • Since he is a rogue with Uncanny Dodge, being flat-footed does not cost him his Dexterity bonus to AC, so his flat-footed AC is the same as his regular AC. It is still possible to lose one’s Dexterity bonus to AC with Uncanny Dodge, however (balancing is a big one); if that happens, his AC is 12.

  • He gains a +4 dodge-type bonus against any and all giants, so that includes our two hill giants. For this fight, against only giants, his AC is 19. Uncanny Dodge means he keeps those dodge bonuses even if caught flat-footed or the hill giants are invisible (but not if he is balancing or otherwise does lose Dexterity to AC; then his AC is back down to 12 since it takes out the dodge-type bonuses as well as the Dexterity bonus).

  • He may designate one of the hill giants for his Dodge feat. His AC against that hill giant only improves to 20. Against the other hill giant, his AC remains 19.

  • Flanking doesn’t affect AC. If the hill giants are flanking him, they get a +2 bonus to their attacks. If they are also rogues, they would also get to add their Sneak Attack damage to their attacks, as appropriate.

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Of the things listed, only the Dodge feat has the effect of defending against a single opponent. Also, being flanked does not affect AC bonuses at all - instead it grants a +2 bonus to attack (and may enable use of other effects, such as Sneak Attack).

The AC calculation of 20 is not quite correct. Dwarves are Medium sized, so do not get a size bonus to AC.

So the Dwarf's AC vs two Hill Giants is Base: 10 Leather Armor: +2 Dex: +3 Racial Bonus: +4 -> 19.

The AC remains 19 if the Dwarf is flanked. However in that case the Hill Giants each get +2 to attack. Note that if the Dwarf Rogue was higher level and also had Improved Uncanny Dodge then he or she cannot be flanked.

Finally, if the Dwarf had the Dodge feat, then he or she could choose one of the giants to have AC of 20 against. That does not change when flanked, either.

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