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I have a dwarf with full plate armor and a tower shield with dex of 16 (+3). Full plate grants a max dex bonus of +1 to AC and the tower shield +2. Now, can I get both the +1 AND +2 to get a +3 dex bonus, or do I only get to take one and only have a dex bonus of +2 AC?

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You take the lowest of the two maximum dex bonuses.

As GMJoe noted, they aren't giving you a dex bonus, they're setting a maximum on your dexterity bonus to AC. As in, you cannot have a higher dexterity bonus to AC while using that item. If you have armor with a max dex of +1 and a shield with a max dex of +2, then the highest dexterity modifier your AC can benefit from is +1. Even if your dexterity bonus is +9, your armor gets in the way and limits the benefit to your AC to +1.

From the SRD:

This number is the maximum Dexterity bonus to AC that this type of armor allows. Heavier armors limit mobility, reducing the wearer’s ability to dodge blows.

The armor and shield bonuses to AC do stack, however; if your armor gives a +9 armor bonus to AC and your shield gives a +2 bonus to AC, you would get a combined +11 to AC from them, in addition to other bonuses or penalties (the bonus from dexterity being capped at +1, as previously mentioned).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My answer was in the same vein but less explanatory, this is far better said. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vethor
    Jul 14, 2016 at 21:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it helps, note that the armour and the shied aren't giving you "bonuses to your max dex bonus," they're "specifying the maximum possible value for your dex bonus." \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jul 14, 2016 at 23:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer. You might want to clarify that only dex bonus /to AC/ is limited. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jul 15, 2016 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth mentioning that the OP might want to invest in a Mithral Fullplate and Mithral Tower Shield as being made of Mithral raises the Maximum Dexterity bonus by 2 points. The OP's character would then have a Maximum Dexterity bonus of 3. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 17, 2016 at 15:22
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No. You get the bonus to AC from your dexterity (+3) once, and the shield and armor both place a maximum on that value. You apply these caps to your bonus (in either order, it won't matter), then you get the final result (+1).

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