5e Capping AC and to hit
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  1. #1
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    5e Capping AC and to hit

    After a few years running 5e at high level I think AC needs to be capped at 30, equivalent to -10 which was an official cap in some pre-3e editions. Looking at to-hit, a cap is less vital but I have decided to cap at +20 so that AC 30 is always a good defence. It is a lot easier to get AC into the 30s than to-hit over +20 though. My son's bbn-20 currently has AC 27 and attacks at +18. If he had levels in wizard he could make that 32 with Shield, 34 with Haste etc.

    I was wondering if anyone else has done this? Am I the only one with a bunch of level 20 PCs?
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  2. #2
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    How do you get AC 27 and +18 to hit?

    For the attack bonus, +6 prof +6 str +3 magic weapon... I'm not sure where the other +3 is coming from.

    For the AC... +5 from Dex, +5 Con, maybe +5 from a +3 shield...? Where's the other +2 from?

    Not saying it isn't possible, I'm just curious.

    But to answer the question in the OP, no, I haven't limited any of the numbers like you suggest, but I haven't seen them jacked up like you are having. The 20th level character in my game (only one so far) has an AC around 18 or 20, and the 19th level paladin is AC 17 and around +11 to hit. Even if I were to see numbers like you do, at extreme high levels, I'm okay with that. Let epic pcs be epic, that's what I say.

  3. #3
    barbarian 20? +4 str/con capstone. lets see... 24 con (+7) 20 dex (+5), +3 shield (+5) is AC 27. you could go higher with a ring of protection, and/or a cloak. or an ioun stone of protection. an AC 30 is possible, but thats 3 attunement items.

    to hit... str 24 is +7, proficiency is +6, and the weapon is probably +3, but thats only +16. a belt of storm giant strength would give a +9 however, and that would do it.

    by comparison a defense-style fighter in +3 full plate with +3 shield is also AC 27.
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    So something like Plate +3 (+21), Shield +3 (+5), Ring of Protection +3, Defensive Style +1? Throw in some magic item I'm probably missing and a Shield Spell for +5, or a cloak of displacement and yeah, it's a little nuts.

    I'm sure there are other ways to get there. Attunement limits things a little bit, but perhaps not enough.

    My solution? Limit what magic items are for sale or house rule that anything that adds more than a +1 bonus to AC requires attunement. The alternative of course is to just up the attack bonus for the bad guys or give them advantage. Use attacks that target things other than AC.

    Ultimately the question is: are the people at the table having fun or are they bored? If the former, it can be a little frustrating, if it's the latter I can see why you want to change things.

  5. #5
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    Might be obvious to most, but worth mentioning that a nat 20 will always hit regardless of AC or to hit. High level monsters with multi-attack and perhaps advantage are going to crit at some point. If not, try some different dice.

    Piggybacking on @Oofta's point: High AC characters can be challenged by spells or other monster attack abilities that require saves. No character is going to have proficiency in every save, so choose certain monsters for some encounters accordingly.

    Also, I agree with this sentiment:

    Quote Originally Posted by the Jester View Post
    Even if I were to see numbers like you do, at extreme high levels, I'm okay with that. Let epic pcs be epic, that's what I say.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    After a few years running 5e at high level I think AC needs to be capped at 30
    Why? Are you starting from the premise that a max-level character should be virtually unhittable, or are you seeing level 20 characters getting chewed up more than you think they should?

    If the former, how do you square that with bounded accuracy?

    If the latter, what are these level 20 characters fighting that are roughing them up so much?

    ETA: Or am I reading this backwards, and you think AC levels for max-level PCs are too high?

  7. #7
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    imo, problem solved by not giving out +3 magic items. Unless of course you give your NPC the same types of items. Then they become really common...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oofta View Post
    So something like Plate +3 (+21), Shield +3 (+5), Ring of Protection +3, Defensive Style +1? Throw in some magic item I'm probably missing and a Shield Spell for +5, or a cloak of displacement and yeah, it's a little nuts.
    ... there are no rings of protection +3 in 5e, right? I think that it's +1 and that is it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    Am I the only one with a bunch of level 20 PCs?
    Possibly.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ancalagon View Post
    ... there are no rings of protection +3 in 5e, right? I think that it's +1 and that is it.
    D'oh! You're right. Hmm, then I do have a problem getting to a 30 AC without multiple attunement items or spells.

    If spells are an issue than I'd recommend 5-10 fights between long rests, even if that means implementing the alternative rest rules.

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