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

We've all been doing level 20 builds for fun. But with most campaigns not getting that high, how would you do it with just 10 levels?

Let's assume a single picked uncommon item as a reasonable minimum proxy for a campaign. Which puts the Artificer into a more realistic focus compared to others as well.
Have to be adamantine armor to cancel crits which is the only thing that would still be an issue for all the above builds.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Have to be adamantine armor to cancel crits which is the only thing that would still be an issue for all the above builds.
That's a good one. But the challenge wasn't with the above builds - they are 20th. At 10th you'll still have a lot of headroom. So a protective item can help. Or maybe someone wanting to go Bladesinger with a Headband of Intellect. Let's find out together how our fearless co-posters can stretch a single uncommon item.
 
That's a good one. But the challenge wasn't with the above builds - they are 20th. At 10th you'll still have a lot of headroom. So a protective item can help. Or maybe someone wanting to go Bladesinger with a Headband of Intellect. Let's find out together how our fearless co-posters can stretch a single uncommon item.
I was thinking of my build (lv 10 does take away SSI) reduction of total AC by 1 but turning crits into normal hits would be a good trade.
Adamantine half-plate 17
Shield +2
Enhanced def inf +2
Cloak of protection +1
Warding bond +1 (steel defender)
Warforged +1

24(29 with shield spell) means something need +4/+9 hit modifier to even have a chance to hit you at all. That means anything below CR 10ish can't touch you unless they target (your very high) saves.

*Could squeeze an extra +1 AC with medium armor master by taking headband of intelligence at 10 as well, matching plate.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Cool, that was the spirit I wrote the post - here's some things I haven't seen yet. Glad they inspired some ideas.



Picked up extra attack from Bladesinger, and can use the martial arts die for the unarmed attack needed to trigger Agile Parry. Does better damage then mine did even before Haste action. And with 16 levels of full caster has plenty of slot to be able to Haste (and Shield) as often as needed in an adventuring day.

Evening out the levels got 2 more ASIs, which is quite nice.

Slight change: Bard 8 will only have a d8 for Bardic Inspiration, not a d10. That comes at Bard 10.
Ah, good catch, corrected Bardic inspiration dice.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
At level 10 or less

-Heavy Armor 1-
Standard Array: STR 14, DEX13, CON 8 , INT 10, WIZ 12, CHA 15
Human +1 to all stats
Adjusted: STR 15, DEX14, CON 9 , INT 11, WIZ 13, CHA 16
Strength 15 for Plate AC18 and Shield +2 = AC20
Fighter lvl 1 (Requires Strength 13) - Character level 1
-Defense Fighting Style +1AC while in Armor = AC21
Forge Cleric lvl 1 (Requires Wisdom 13) - Character level 2
-Blessing of the Forge +1AC to Armor
-Shield of Faith +2 AC concentration spell = AC24
Sorcerer lvl 1 (Requires Charisma 13) - Character level 3
-Shield Spell +5AC = AC29
Monk Way of the Kensi lvl 3 (Requires Dexterity 13 AND Wisdom 13) - Character level 6
-Agile Perry +2AC after attacking with Kensai weapon = AC31
Bard Collage of Swords lvl 4(Requires Charisma 13, 20 preferred) - Character level 10
-ASI +2 CHA (18)
-lvl 3 Defensive Flourish (Charisma modifier: 4/short rest): 1d6 = +1AC to +6AC
Total AC24 with spells and temp effects AC32-37
Uncommon magic item Cloak of Protection +1 AC and +1 all saves


-Heavy Armor 1-
Standard Array: STR 14, DEX10, CON 8 , INT 13, WIZ 12, CHA 1
Human +1 to all stats
Adjusted: STR 15, DEX11, CON 9 , INT 14, WIZ 13, CHA 16
Strength 15 for Plate AC18 and Shield +2 = AC20
Fighter lvl 1 (Requires Dexterity 13) - Character level 1
-Defense Fighting Style +1AC while in Armor = AC21
Forge Cleric lvl 1 (Requires Wisdom 13) - Character level 2
-Blessing of the Forge +1AC to Armor
-Shield of Faith +2 AC concentration spell = AC24
Artificer Battlesmith (or Artillerist) lvl 3 (Requires Intelegence13)
Infuse Item lvl 2: Enhanced Defense +1 AC to non-magical Armor or Shield
level 3 Artillerist spell selection: Shield Spell +5AC = AC30
Bard Collage of Swords lvl 5 (Requires Charisma 13, 20 preferred) - Character level 10
-lvl 4 ASI +2 CHA (18)
-lvl 3 Defensive Flourish (Charisma modifier: 4/short rest): 1d8 = +1AC to +8AC
Total AC23 with spells and temp effects 31-38
Uncommon magic item Cloak of Protection +1 AC and +1 all saves


Medium armor builds are the same as heavy switching dex and strength resulting in -1AC total

-Light Armor-
Standard Array: STR 8, DEX14, CON 10 , INT 12, WIZ 13, CHA 15
High Elf +2 Dex +1 Int
Adjusted: STR 8, DEX16, CON 0 , INT 13, WIZ 13, CHA 15
Fighter lvl 1 (Requires Dexterity 13) - Character level 1

-Studded Leather AC12 + 3 dex = AC15
-Defense Fighting Style +1AC while in Armor = AC16
Wizard tadition of Bladesinging lvl 5 (Requires 20 Int and Elf race) - Character level 8
-Wizard lvl 1: Shield Spell (+5AC)
-Wizard tadition of Bladesinging lvl 2: (2/short rest for 1 min, Intelligence modifier): +5 AC
-Wizard lvl 4: ASI +2 Int (18)
-Wizard lvl 5: Haste (+2AC)
subtotal = AC21 (AC28)
Bard Collage of Swords lvl 4 (Requires Charisma 13, 20 preferred) - Character level 10
Bard lvl 4: ASI +2 Int (20)
-lvl 3 Defensive Flourish (Charisma modifier/short rest): 1d6 = +1AC to +6AC
Total static AC21 with spells AC29-34
Uncommon magic item Cloak of Protection +1 AC and +1 all saves


-No Armor-
Standard Array: STR 8, DEX14, CON 10 , INT 15, WIZ 12, CHA 13
High Elf +2 Dex +1 Int
Adjusted: STR 8, DEX16, CON 0 , INT 16, WIZ 12, CHA 13
Wizard tadition of Bladesinging lvl 5 (Requires 20 Int and Elf race)

-Wizard lvl 1: MageArmor 13+3 Dex = AC16
-Wizard lvl 1: Shield Spell (+5AC)
-Wizard tadition of Bladesinging lvl 2: (2/short rest for 1 min, Intelligence modifier): +5 AC
-Wizard lvl 4: ASI +2 Int (18)
-Wizard lvl 5: Haste (+2AC)
subtotal = AC21 (AC28) with +5 for wizard spell attacks and DC
Bard Collage of Swords lvl 5 (Requires Charisma 13, 20 preferred) - Character level 10
-Bard lvl 4 ASI +2 Int (20)
-lvl 5 Defensive Flourish (Charisma modifier/short rest): 1d8 = +1AC to +8AC
Total static AC21 with spells and temp effects AC29-36
Uncommon magic item Cloak of Protection +1 AC and +1 all saves

Band of headband-of-intellect is only a consideration for builds with Artificer and 13 int. For the rest my second choice is Gauntlets of Ogre Power. Third pick / attunement for a tank build is Periapt of Wound Closure for better short rest recovery. Of course admaintine for the armored builds is an option.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
24(29 with shield spell) means something need +4/+9 hit modifier to even have a chance to hit you at all. That means anything below CR 10ish can't touch you unless they target (your very high) saves.
In 5e a 20 always hits and crits, not that crits always hit. (PHB pg 194) Just making the crit into a normal hit doesn't negate the auto-hit part of it. So everything still has a chance to hit the character.
 
In 5e a 20 always hits and crits, not that crits always hit. (PHB pg 194) Just making the crit into a normal hit doesn't negate the auto-hit part of it. So everything still has a chance to hit the character.
True but we are talking about .25% chance to hit for normal damage with disadvantage and 5% normal. It cuts out the one big flaw of AC as a mitigation focus with critical hits dealing double damage.

I am thinking in terms of effective AC vs total AC which might be a little off the mark for the goal of this thread but once you get to only a 20 will hit you might as well cut that damage in half.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
True but we are talking about .25% chance to hit for normal damage with disadvantage and 5% normal. It cuts out the one big flaw of AC as a mitigation focus with critical hits dealing double damage.

I am thinking in terms of effective AC vs total AC which might be a little off the mark for the goal of this thread but once you get to only a 20 will hit you might as well cut that damage in half.
Sure. But I was correcting the claims that they couldn't hit the character without a minimum bonus to hit. That was incorrect.
 

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