D&D 5E Heavy Armor Master VS higher Constitution

ECMO3

Hero
I am building a Shaddar-Kai Fighter (Zhentilar's Finest)/Ranger (Fey Wanderer) for a level 3-20 campaign.

My three physical stats without racial bonuses are Str 15, Dex 13, Con 12

1. I can put +2 in Str and +1 in Dex and start with 17Str, 14Dex, 12Con and get Heavy Armor Master at level 4 to boost Strength to 18.

OR

2. I can put +1 in Str and +2 in Con and start with 16Str, 13Dex, 14Con and take a Strength ASI at level 4.


I want to get strength to 20 as fast as possible. Either way I have a +3 Strength to start and an 18 Strength at level 4.

The first option gives me damage reduction, a better dex save, better dex skills and better initiative

The second option gives me 1 more hit point per level and a better con save

Other details:
Progression is Fighter 7 then Ranger 7 then Fighter 12 then the last level in Ranger. Her fighter fighting style will be Defense initially, then switch to Superior Technique with Menacing Attack at level 6, then at level 9 pick up Defense again as a Ranger. She will start out using a two-handed Spiked Chain but transition to whatever magic melee weapon we find.

FWIW she also gets damage resistance PB times a day from blessing of the Raven Queen. Her 7th level Fighter ability (Intimidation Tactics) lets her use a bonus action to pretty much trash an enemy's first attack PB times per day and she has several ways to frighten enemies (Instill Fear, Menacing Attack, Cause Fear, and Beguiling Twist) - that will either keep them away from her or make them attack with disadvantage. The combination of these things means she should take less damage than similar builds with equal AC.

First few feats are going to be:
Level 4 (F4) - either HAM or ASI (boost Strength to 18)
Level 6 (F6) - Str ASI
Level 11 (R4) - Shadow Touched with Cause Fear and +1 Wisdom

The rest of the feats/ASIs depend on the campaign and what equipment we find. Possibilities include - Martial Adept, GWM, Tough, Gem Dragon, Mettallic Dragon, Wisdom ASI, Crusher, Lucky and Resilient.


Which option would you do?
 

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Heavy Armour Master doesn't scale with level, whereas monster damage does. So unless you know you will only use that character at low level, it's pretty much trash.

As noted, fixed in OneD&D.
 

Heavy Armour Master doesn't scale with level, whereas monster damage does. So unless you know you will only use that character at low level, it's pretty much trash.

As noted, fixed in OneD&D.
As human extra feat at level 1, it is not bad actually. But that is all the use I can see.

Also: @ECMO3 you can't take defensive fighting style twice.
 

Most NPCs don't deal magical attack damage (less than 4%) and they scale both in damage and in volume of attacks. So YMMV depending on game theme. The more you see lots of relatively lower CRs compared to that since big bad the better it gets.

HaM isn't flashy but it does mitigate a ton of damage if you can maintain threat. Never once have I seen a PC take it and it's not in the running for being the highest mitigation factor.
 

ECMO3

Hero
As human extra feat at level 1, it is not bad actually. But that is all the use I can see.

Also: @ECMO3 you can't take defensive fighting style twice.

I am going to take it to start at level 3 and then trade it away for Superb Technique at level 6 using the Fighter martial versatility feature. So I won't have it when I take it again at Ranger level 2 (total level 9).

I think this is legal, is it not?
 

ECMO3

Hero
Most NPCs don't deal magical attack damage (less than 4%) and they scale both in damage and in volume of attacks. So YMMV depending on game theme. The more you see lots of relatively lower CRs compared to that since big bad the better it gets.

HaM isn't flashy but it does mitigate a ton of damage if you can maintain threat. Never once have I seen a PC take it and it's not in the running for being the highest mitigation factor.

I guess from a math point of view it goes into number of hits before you die.

HAM provides 3hps per hit, where higher con provides 1 hp per level. So if you will take level/3 hits from non-magical PBS before you die HAM would be better.

That is 1 hit at level 3, 2 hits at level 6, 4 hits at level 12 and so on. At level 12 I have 88hps with 12 con and 100hp with 14 con.

So two examples:

If I am fighting an adult red dragon it has 3 attacks that do a total of 51 damage total on average. So I would die on the 6th attack that hit without HAM but with a 14 Con and I would die on the 7th attack that hit with HAM and a 12 Constitution.

If I am fighting a Balor on the other hand he would have magic weapons doing 93DPR so the feat would do nothing, the character with a 12 con would go down on the 3rd hit, the character with a 14 con on the 4th hit.
 

I am going to take it to start at level 3 and then trade it away for Superb Technique at level 6 using the Fighter martial versatility feature. So I won't have it when I take it again at Ranger level 2 (total level 9).

I think this is legal, is it not?
I thought you take the feat for an extra fighting style. You are totally correct.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
You have to really ask yourself how much damage HAM is going to soak up over your career. Let's say that you're a melee combatant that is often the target of attacks.

Now, let's assume the average number of combat rounds per encounter is 3.5 (I'm just pulling numbers out of my head, no arguments please!). And that you're attacked in each of these turns.

Then we assume you actually have 6.5 combats on average per session, and your DM uses milestones so you level every 3.5 sessions. This means that by level 10, you will have been attacked 796.25 times.

Now, if 40% of those attacks are hits, that's 318.5 attacks that deal damage. Which means that HAM by itself, has potentially reduced your taken damage by 955.5, very close to a thousand points of damage.

By the same token, that extra 2 points of Con, giving you 10 more hit points by this point, has probably mattered only a fraction of an attack per combat. Let's say about half at 10th level (looking at a random CR 10, the Stone Golem, who does 19 damage on average per hit).

So that's one half of one attack per combat, of which we've determined you've engaged in roughly 205 of by the time you're level 10. This is also a pretty big number, but it comes at a cost; you need to recover those hit points each battle.

What that cost is, depends on your class. A Short rest and a Hit Die or use of something like Second Wind? A spell slot from a caster? A Healing potion? A use of a healer's kit via the Healer Feat?

The resource allocation might seem trivial for your party, or quite large; it really depends on your playstyle. If your DM is little stingy on money, or likes to run you ragged every session, I think HAM gets a lot better. If they aren't strict about number of encounters, only have a few set piece combats, and give out standard loot, then go with the Con (which has the nice side benefit of increasing Con saves and checks).
 

ECMO3

Hero
You have to really ask yourself how much damage HAM is going to soak up over your career. Let's say that you're a melee combatant that is often the target of attacks.

Now, let's assume the average number of combat rounds per encounter is 3.5 (I'm just pulling numbers out of my head, no arguments please!). And that you're attacked in each of these turns.

Then we assume you actually have 6.5 combats on average per session, and your DM uses milestones so you level every 3.5 sessions. This means that by level 10, you will have been attacked 796.25 times.

Now, if 40% of those attacks are hits, that's 318.5 attacks that deal damage. Which means that HAM by itself, has potentially reduced your taken damage by 955.5, very close to a thousand points of damage.

By the same token, that extra 2 points of Con, giving you 10 more hit points by this point, has probably mattered only a fraction of an attack per combat. Let's say about half at 10th level (looking at a random CR 10, the Stone Golem, who does 19 damage on average per hit).

So that's one half of one attack per combat, of which we've determined you've engaged in roughly 205 of by the time you're level 10. This is also a pretty big number, but it comes at a cost; you need to recover those hit points each battle.

What that cost is, depends on your class. A Short rest and a Hit Die or use of something like Second Wind? A spell slot from a caster? A Healing potion? A use of a healer's kit via the Healer Feat?

The resource allocation might seem trivial for your party, or quite large; it really depends on your playstyle. If your DM is little stingy on money, or likes to run you ragged every session, I think HAM gets a lot better. If they aren't strict about number of encounters, only have a few set piece combats, and give out standard loot, then go with the Con (which has the nice side benefit of increasing Con saves and checks).

Thanks! This is really good analysis and it would appear it is a solid methodology. I just need to put some numbers and context based on our DM and play style.

Usually this particular group is about 4 combats per Short Rest and usually 1 short rest a day. We also generally play an experience point sandbox. The DM uses generally random treasure and we rarely have time for crafting. As far as the amount of treasure and the ability to buy stuff; that has varied depending on the campaign with some go to high level without 2 coppers to rub together, others have plate and purchased uncommon magic items at level 2, still others we have piles of Gold but no magic is available for purchase. We are starting at level 3 with level 1 equipment so this one is probably on the leaner side I think.

One other thing to consider is magic attacks and AOEs. I need to work them in somehow since HAM has no effect on them but higher Con will help with that.
 

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