5E Theory Crafting fun: Max AC with Standard Array, without Feats, and without GM provided magic items?

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Just for fun, not saying its a good idea or would fit any campaign. I just enjoy theory crafting. (Done with available options as of 02/07/2020)

It should be noted that the highest "To Hit" I can find in an official source is +19 meaning that any AC39 or higher requires a natural 20 to hit. That makes any AC40+ a useless effort. Once you hit AC34 it is actually better to try and get disadvantage since the likely hood of hit is about the same but the chance of getting a natural 20 is greatly reduced. Also, the highest official Monster armor class I can find is AC25 (Tiamat and the Tarrasque) which is considered to very high. So even matching AC25 should be considered an epic achievement and anything above that is pushing into over kill where you would actually be better off pushing for HP and damage. That said, on to the fun.

Standard Array: Str 15 | Dex 13 | Con 12 | Int 14 | Wiz 10 | Cha 8
Warforged: +2 Con, +1 Int, +1 AC Integrated Protection (You gain a +1 bonus to Armor Class)
Adjusted stats Str 16 | Dex 13 | Con 14 | Int 14 | Wiz 10 | Cha 8
Fighter level 1 (Requires Str or Dex >12, Saving Throws: Constitution, Strength)
Proficiency heavy armor (plate AC18, requires Str >14) and Shields +2AC = AC20
Defensive Fighting Style +1AC
sub total: AC22
Artificer Battlesmith (or Artillerist) multi-class for 14 levels (character level 15, Requires Int >12)
Infuse Item lvl 2: Enhanced Defense +1 AC to non-magical Armor or Shield
level 3 Artillerist spell selection: Shield Spell +5AC
Infuse Item lvl 6: Repulsion Shield +1 AC to non-magical Shield
l
evel 9 Artificer Spell selection: Haste +2AC (concentration spell)
Infuse Item lvl 10: Enhanced Defense (enhancement) +1 AC to non-magical Armor or Shield
Infuse Item lvl 10: Replicate Magic Item - Cloak of Protection +1AC
Infuse Item lvl 14: Replicate Magic Item - Ring of Protection +1AC
Edit: Battlesmith's Warding Bond into Spell storing item given to with Tiny servant (lvl3 Artificer) +1AC
- You only take 1/2 damage but after the first 20 damage hit the Tiny servant dies and you then lose
the +1 to AC, saves, and resistance to damage for any additional attacks that round.
- This is repeatable by casting multiple Tiny servants (which the spell allows) and having them pick it up
when the one in front of the line dies. Chaining is limited to 10 due to Spell Storing item limitations.
- Credit to Coroc for ths cleaver addition.
>>>Static AC28 with character spell Buffs AC35<<<

Ally Bonus Shield of Faith +2 (concentration spell) can't add it and Haste by yourself, however you could craft potions of speed which doesn't use your concentration and multi-class Forge or Knowledge Cleric for shield of faith for +2... but that seems a little out of scope because your GM has to let you make potions of speed which are very rare quality making room for debate if that qualifies as a "GM provided magic item". On top of that, The amount of crafting time makes this unreliable. Though I do allow for plate armor because while not every GM has allowed me to craft very rare potions, I have always been able to buy the standard non-magic weapons and armor without any restrictions given this is a level 15 character and opportunities they could have had on the way to achieve this even if it was pulling it off the body of a dead enemy.

[[[ Edit: added for discussion points
Potion of Speed (non-concentration haste) and Magic initiate Cleric: Shield of Faith for net +2AC
3/4 Cover +5AC
Attacker's Disadvantage effective +5AC (your unseen, dodging which an artillerist can do while using there bonus action to fire their turret, etc.... does not change there max roll requirement but after AC39 it does mean they would have to roll 2 natural 20s to hit instead of 1)
>>>Static AC28 with character spell Buffs AC47<<<]]]

Considering the fighter multi-class only adds +2 (one for plate 18 over half plate + 2 dex with an ASI for AC17) The artificer really has AC nailed down. Even with a second 1 level dip in cleric shield of faith and haste from a speed potion really there is not much more you can grab without the GM handing you an Ioun stone of protection and +3 armor/shield. Then your looking at static AC31 and buffed of AC40 but I have never seen a +3 piece of gear in an actual game or a GM that was okay with a multi-class split of more than two for the cleric pick up.

Anyone have better build? Something to add that I missed?
 
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TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
My impulse as DM would be to say ring of protection and cloak of protection don't stack, but that's a reflex from 3E days and not 5E RAW.

How would a Forge cleric splash interact with the artificer infusions? I'm away from books and can't check the exact wording.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
My impulse as DM would be to say ring of protection and cloak of protection don't stack, but that's a reflex from 3E days and not 5E RAW.

How would a Forge cleric splash interact with the artificer infusions? I'm away from books and can't check the exact wording.
The Level 1 Blessing of the Forge is non-magic items and so does not stack with Infuse Item lvl 10: Enhanced Defense +2 (armor) or Infuse Item lvl 6: Repulsion Shield +1 AC , which both do more. The Soul of the Forge bonus at level 6 does stack but the 6 level requirements means not multi-classing into anything else or losing Infuse Item lvl 14: Replicate Magic Item - Ring of Protection +1AC or losing the protection fighting style. This means your paying -1AC for +1AC for a net 0 gain and more complication in ether case.

-- Start of long tangent looking for some other way to do better with forge cleric.---

If you ignore magic items received from the artificer class because you can get magic items then the artifice infusions are all mute because you can't infuse magic items. At that point you only get shield and haste from Artificer Battlemaster or Artillerist, which you can also get from 3 levels of sorcerer or wizard. Also, you only get shield of faith and soul of the forge from Forge Cleric because Blessing of the Forge is also only on non-magical items.

The total bonus form Forge Clerics features is +2
The total you get form Artificer is +5
If you allow magic items a +3 shield and a +3 Armor, the only of these 7 that you can still use is the level 6 Cleric feature.

So....
Forge Cleric 6 | Hunter Ranger 7 | Sorcerer or Wizard 5 | Total character level 18
Plate +3 = 21
+3 Shield (+5) = 26
Soul of the Forge = 27
Defensive Fighting Style = 28
Ring and Cloak of defense +2 = 30
Staff of Power (wizard/sorcerer) = 32 Base
Spells shield of faith form cleric and shield form sorcerer/wizard = 39 with magic
Then if you take a hit from a creature with multi-attack it triggers the Hunter subclass Defensive Tactic: Multiattack Defense which adds +4AC to additional attack = 43
Drink a potion of speed for haste +2 AC without concentration for hour = 45
3/4 Cover for +5 = AC50

However, The +3 Armor is legendary, +3 Shield very rare, +2 from Staff of power is very rare, and potion of speed (+2AC) is very rare. The Hunter Ranger Defensive Tactic +4AC only works on attacks from the same enemy on the same turn after it already hit you. If they don't attack you more than once or miss your AC with all but their last attack it does nothing, where all the other effects are continual or in the case of shield effect that attack that hit you and all attacks that follow form any source that round. 3/4 Cover (+5) is only availability and allowed at the GM discretion, not by any player choice. This means 19 out of 50AC is basically GM generosity choosing to give you a high amount of very rare items and a legendary item, the GMs play style to attack you more than once instead of spreading attacks among a party, or provide cover you can use and act from other then full. This leaves you with 31AC that was actually your choice, where as the above build is 34AC that is your choice. (There is a more silly answer that puts Max at AC57, but its involves getting a minimum of 9 of the very rare Manuals of Quickness of Action and Manuals of Bodily Health on the same dex build barbarian.) Alternatively in the same vain of thought, the GM could give you full cover on wheels with a one way flap and you could never be targeted or injured with attacks that require attack roles.

--- End long tangent of looking for some other way to do better with forge cleric.---

So no, pretty much (unless I missed something else), 6 level of Forge Cleric for +1 AC is not really useful when it prevents a level 1 dip in fighter that also gives you a +1AC bonus that does stack with artificer Infuse Item and allows the same heavy armor proficiency.

… Unless there is another option that gives an additional +1AC in 3 levels or less so that you can use the 4 level drop from artificer 14 to 10 for 1 level of fighter and 3 for X. But I can't think of anything ...
 
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Coroc

Adventurer
Nice brain exercise, manuals are 1 time use only as far as I can remember.

I might be confusing this with prior ediditons, but I think in a given campaign a manual of a kind vanishes for 100 years if used and there only exists one of each kind.
Either that or it is somewhere in the 5e rules , ah there it is, in 5e it looses its powers for 100 years after reading and since it is very rare, I do not think you find a second one in your PC life with a reasonable probability. You could burn wish spells to get them, but as a DM I would intervene, so if you already got one and wish for it again, then it makes plop and takes the used up from your inventory and puts it in your hands :),

Edit: fun thing, you could actually send a player 100 years to the future if he thinks he is the wiser and wishes for a working manual the next time....

The more I think about it... if there would be a high level player trying to boost his characters AC to permanent-headache-for-the-DM levels in a real game... I normally am generous with wish spells but in this case .. I just say nasty things can happen with a wish spell, especially if it is not formulated carefully. :p
 
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ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Nice brain exercise, manuals are 1 time use only as far as I can remember.

I might be confusing this with prior ediditons, but I think in a given campaign a manual of a kind vanishes for 100 years if used and there only exists one of each kind.
Either that or it is somewhere in the 5e rules , ah there it is, in 5e it looses its powers for 100 years after reading and since it is very rare, I do not think you find a second one in your PC life with a reasonable probability. You could burn wish spells to get them, but as a DM I would intervene, so if you already got one and wish for it again, then it makes plop and takes the used up from your inventory and puts it in your hands :),

Edit: fun thing, you could actually send a player 100 years to the future if he thinks he is the wiser and wishes for a working manual the next time....

The more I think about it... if there would be a high level player trying to boost his characters AC to permanent-headache-for-the-DM levels in a real game... I normally am generous with wish spells but in this case .. I just say nasty things can happen with a wish spell, especially if it is not formulated carefully. :p
Its massive cheese, but ... getting 9 manuals or time traveling with 2 at least 5 times.

The DMG hard locks abilities at 30 or less. So ...
Barbarian Unarmored combat 10 + 10 Con bonus + 10 Dex Bonus = AC30
+3 Shield (total +5) = AC35
+1 cloak of protection. +3 Defender Sword (legendary), = AC39
1 level sorcerer/wizard multi-class +5 shield spell, Staff of Power +2= AC46
1 level cleric multi-class +2 shield of faith = AC48
+4 Hunter Ranger (7 levels) multi-target defense = AC52
3/4 Cover = AC57
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I hope the Barbarian has more than two arms to wield the sword, shield, and staff simultaneously.
Thats fair, I was using someone else's example and my well have copied there mistake. If you reduce it ti AC56 and change the +2AC from the staff of power out for a ring of protection or Ioun stone of protection it fixes that. Then I suppose their math was off by one and you unless I missed something else, AC57 is not possible dispite there claim.

That said, if your GM is kind enough give you multiple legendary items, hell maybe you do have a third arm or your staff is also the handle for your shield because after being allowed 10 manuals so you can max out your stats to make that build work, why is the GM holding back now?

Oh, wait. Warforged Barbarian... back to AC57... got it. makes my skin crawl a little though.

Again, that is why I restricted the GM out of mine in the original post with the one concession that you have at some point the ability to buy any mundane armor you might want. I generally use feats at my table, but have used standard array, point buy, and rolled stats under different GMs. Without feats and with standard array you could consider this at more restrictive tables. That's great because it eliminates all the "that's why I don't allow feats", "that's why I don't allow point buy" and "that's why I don't let players roll for stats" out of the the way. ... still AC34 is higher than I expected when I started this post. I could see "no warforged" and "no artificers" at tables but usually I think thats more about setting than anything else. Then if you restrict to no multi-classing you have nothing interesting to talk about.
 
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Coroc

Adventurer
Thats fair, I was using someone else's example and my well have copied there mistake. If you reduce it ti AC56 and change the +2AC from the staff of power out for a ring of protection or Ioun stone of protection it fixes that. Then I suppose their math was off by one and you unless I missed something else, AC57 is not possible dispite there claim.

That said, if your GM is kind enough give you multiple legendary items, hell maybe you do have a third arm or your staff is also the handle for your shield because after being allowed 10 manuals so you can max out your stats to make that build work, why is the GM holding back now?

Oh, wait. Warforged Barbarian... back to AC57... got it. makes my skin crawl a little though.

Again, that is why I restricted the GM out of mine in the original post with the one concession that you have at some point the ability to buy any mundane armor you might want. I generally use feats at my table, but have used standard array, point buy, and rolled stats under different GMs. Without feats and with standard array you could consider this at more restrictive tables. That's great because it eliminates all the "that's why I don't allow feats", "that's why I don't allow point buy" and "that's why I don't let players roll for stats" out of the the way. ... still AC34 is higher than I expected when I started this post. I could see "no warforged" and "no artificers" at tables but usually I think thats more about setting than anything else. Then if you restrict to no multi-classing you have nothing interesting to talk about.
Ok, let us see now what AC might be realistic without magic items, just feats and MC and then one more just single class no feats, maybe in the reverse order that is more easy. Since this is the minimum available at any table, it would be very interesting.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Banning Artificer and Warforged you can still get way higher than I expected, though less reliable base due to how the Hunters ability activates.

Forge Cleric 6 | Hunter Ranger 7 | Sorcerer or Wizard 1 | Total character level 14
Plate (18) shield (+2) = 20
Forge Cleric lvl6: shield of faith +2, Blessing of the Forge +1 and Soul of the Forge +1 = 22 (24)
Hunter Ranger lvl7: Defensive Fighting Style +1 and Defensive Tactic: Multiattack Defense +4AC= 23 (29)
Sorcerer/wizard: Shield Spell +5 =
>>> AC23 Base and AC34 with spells and temporary effects <<<

And really even banning Forge Cleric your only dropping it by 2 because in cleric or paladin can add shield of faith back in with 2 levels.
 
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Coroc

Adventurer
Let us start with one candidate Barbarian level 20, raging, this is fair game since he will rage whenever AC is needed aka combat situation.

So this is Con24 dex20 for 22 unarmed defense, a shield and he gets 24, pretty impressive already.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Ok, let us see now what AC might be realistic without magic items, just feats and MC and then one more just single class no feats, maybe in the reverse order that is more easy. Since this is the minimum available at any table, it would be very interesting.
Challenge Excepted, but to be clear my main post fits all those requirements because the artificers "magic items" actually are not. If they artificer dies they fade away because they are part of its class features not actual items, the feature refers to them as "prototype magic items". Banning the artificer I did above.

Shield of Faith or Haste are important, but so is shield but sorcerer 5 or wizard 5 can get you shield and haste.

Hunter (Ranger) 7 / Sorcerer 5 (shadow?)
Str 10 Dex 15 Con 12 Int 8 Wis 14 Cha13 + race modifiers something with +1 dex is all you care about
Warforged +2 con, +1 (one state of your choice, dex) +1 AC
Hunter Ranger lvl7:
- Medium Armor (half plate 15) + Shield (2) + Medium Armor master Feat (Dex bonus +3) = AC21
- Defensive Fighting Style +1 and Defensive Tactic: Multiattack Defense +4AC= AC26
Sorcerer 5:
- Shield Spell +5 and Haste +2 = AC33
Since all you care about is shield and haste, Spells DC not important so minim 13 cha is fine. Maybe shadow sorcerer for some cool abilities that a ranger might enjoy. Warfroged is not just an AC bonus here, since it you need the dexterity from the free choice and the constitution will help you maintain concentration on haste.

Hunter Ranger lvl7:
- Medium Armor (half plate 15) + Shield (2) + Medium Armor master Feat (Dex bonus +3) = AC20
- Defensive Fighting Style +1 and Defensive Tactic: Multiattack Defense +4AC= AC25 (no spells)
 
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Iry

Adventurer
FRIENDIFICER
Rune Knight 7/Artillerist 11
The Goal: Boosting SOMEONE ELSE to ridiculous AC.
+6 Defensive Runes
+2 Haste
+2 Enhanced Defense Infusion
+1 Repulsion Shield
+1 Cloak of Protection

So you show up in a group and give someone +12 AC whenever you want. You can imbue Blur into an object so they can give everyone else disadvantage to attack them. Your turret gives them 1d8+5 Temporary HP every single round, and you can still throw out fireballs if you want.
 
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remember once you reduce the chance of being hit below 10%(crits) its better to find ways of causing disadvantage on incoming attacks VS adding more AC. lets do a fighter 2/ battle smith 14+
  • warforged/simic hybrid 1 AC
  • plate 18 AC
  • shield 2 AC
  • def F style 1 AC
  • enhanced def infus 2 AC
  • repul shield 1 AC
  • cloak of prot 1 AC
  • ring of prot 1 AC
  • warding bond SSI + tiny servant 1 AC and resistance to all damage
that is 28 AC before casting shield, blur or haste.
Could dip cleric for SoF to add 2 more but I would go pure artificer until at least 14 then cleric and finally fighter.
 
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FRIENDIFICER
Rune Knight 7/Artillerist 11
The Goal: Boosting SOMEONE ELSE to ridiculous AC.
+6 Defensive Runes
+2 Haste
+2 Enhanced Defense Infusion
+1 Repulsion Shield
+1 Cloak of Protection

So you show up in a group and give someone +12 AC whenever you want. You can even imbue Shield into an object to increase that to +17 at the cost of their action. Your turret gives them 1d8+5 Temporary HP every single round, and you can still throw out fireballs if you want.
shield cannot be put into the SSI because it doenst have a caasting time on an action
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
remember once you reduce the chance of being hit below 10%(crits) its better to find ways of causing disadvantage on incoming attacks VS adding more AC. lets do a fighter 2/ battle smith 14+
  • warforged/simic hybrid 1 AC
  • plate 18 AC
  • shield 2 AC
  • def F style 1 AC
  • fighter lv 1 +
  • enhanced def infus 2 AC
  • repul shield 1 AC
  • cloak of prot 1 AC
  • ring of prot 1 AC
  • warding bond SSI + tiny servant 1 AC and resistance to all damage
that is 29 AC before casting shield or blur
You never know what your going to fight, so you go with the highest. +19 to hit is the highest I can find +20 for the roll 39AC to only hit with natural 20s. So anything 40 or higher is pointless but less than that could still be useful.
 
You never know what your going to fight, so you go with the highest. +19 to hit is the highest I can find +20 for the roll 39AC to only hit with natural 20s. So anything 40 or higher is pointless but less than that could still be useful.
Part of the parameters was not to include DM handing out magical items so as I know getting to 38 isn't an option.
Soi if had to pick between 30 AC with disadvantage(blur) on incoming attacks or 32 AC(shield of faith) i'd take the prior Everytime.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Part of the parameters was not to include DM handing out magical items so as I know getting to 38 isn't an option.
Soi if had to pick between 30 AC with disadvantage(blur) on incoming attacks or 32 AC(shield of faith) i'd take the prior Everytime.
This is true but you can't stack disadvantage with disadvantage. You can stack disadvantage with shield of faith or Haste, also mirror image and blink Though I am not sure how to translate them into AC values.

If you character is in darkness (aka unseen) attacking an opponents who is standing in the light (aka seen) the opponent would gain disadvantage on attacks against you. This can be done with prestidigitation putting out the torch at your end of the hall or the candle at the table on your side of the room. Then, you could move to 3/4 cover behind your flipped table or hall corner and take your potion of speed ...

Forge Cleric 6 | Hunter Ranger 7 | Sorcerer or Wizard 5 | Total character level 18
Standard Array: Str 15 | Dex 10 | Con 12 | Int 13 | Wiz 14 | Cha 8
War forged +1 AC
Race Adjusted Stats: Str 15 | Dex 10 | Con 14 | Int 14 | Wiz 14 | Cha 8
Plate (18) shield (+2) = 20
Forge Cleric lvl6: shield of faith +2, Blessing of the Forge +1 and Soul of the Forge +1 = 22 (24)
Hunter Ranger lvl7: Defensive Fighting Style +1 and Defensive Tactic: Multiattack Defense +4AC= 23 (29)
Sorcerer 5: Shield Spell +5, Blink, Mirror Image =
>>> AC23 Base and AC34 with spells and temporary effects <<<
3/4 Cover +5AC
>>> AC21 Base and AC39 with spells and temporary effects <<<
Opponent's disadvantage on attack for attacking an unseen target +5AC (effectively) however, disadvantage does not change the 39 total only 20s hit, it does decrease the chance of a 20.
Blink adds 50% chance of "full cover" preventing an attack against you at all
Mirror image adds about a 1 in 3 chance your attack at the target is at an illusion....

= how to really piss of a GM aka Falling object randomly kill this character. lol
 
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This is true but you can't stack disadvantage with disadvantage. You can stack disadvantage with shield of faith or Haste, also mirror image and blink Though I am not sure how to translate them into AC values.

If you character is in darkness (aka unseen) attacking an opponents who is standing in the light (aka seen) the opponent would gain disadvantage on attacks against you. This can be done with prestidigitation putting out the torch at your end of the hall or the candle at the table on your side of the room. Then, you could move to 3/4 cover behind your flipped table or hall corner and take your potion of speed ...

Forge Cleric 6 | Hunter Ranger 7 | Sorcerer or Wizard 5 | Total character level 18
Standard Array: Str 15 | Dex 10 | Con 12 | Int 13 | Wiz 14 | Cha 8
War forged +1 AC
Race Adjusted Stats: Str 15 | Dex 10 | Con 14 | Int 14 | Wiz 14 | Cha 8
Plate (18) shield (+2) = 20
Forge Cleric lvl6: shield of faith +2, Blessing of the Forge +1 and Soul of the Forge +1 = 22 (24)
Hunter Ranger lvl7: Defensive Fighting Style +1 and Defensive Tactic: Multiattack Defense +4AC= 23 (29)
Sorcerer 5: Shield Spell +5, Blink, Mirror Image =
>>> AC23 Base and AC34 with spells and temporary effects <<<
Potion of Speed (Non-concentration haste spell for 1 hour) +2AC
3/4 Cover +5AC
>>> AC23 Base and AC41 with spells and temporary effects <<<
Opponent's disadvantage on attack for attacking an unseen target +5AC (effectively) however, disadvantage does not change the 39 total only 20s hit, it does decrease the chance of a 20.
Blink adds 50% chance of "full cover" preventing an attack against you at all
Mirror image adds about a 1 in 3 chance your attack at the target is at an illusion....

= how to really piss of a GM aka Falling object randomly kill this character. lol
Personal favorite is actually the artillerist warforged artificer. They can use their action to dodge and bonus action to use cannon. Having 1/2 cover constantly and freeing up concentration for haste.

*Can SSI work with the additional action provided by haste? It's definitely not casting a spell but is it 'use an object'?
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Personal favorite is actually the artillerist warforged artificer. They can use their action to dodge and bonus action to use cannon. Having 1/2 cover constantly and freeing up concentration for haste.

*Can SSI work with the additional action provided by haste? It's definitely not casting a spell but is it 'use an object'?
Using dodge would be another way to combine haste and enemy disadvantage an it is character controlled to its better than putting out a light. As far as "SSI" I am not sure what you mean by that. It likely obvious but its late here and my mind is not connecting the dots.
 

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