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5E Unarmored Defense as a Feat?

Dausuul

Legend
At roughly level 10, a dex fighter would have 20 AC and about 114 HP without a fighting style which is ahead of the curve defensively.
At level 10, you can get Dex 20 and Con 18. If you play variant human and use your free feat on Unarmored Defense, that gets you AC 19. A fighter without the feat at that level would have AC 17.

You can add a shield if you like, but the fighter without the feat can add a shield too. It doesn't change anything--you're still only getting 2 points of AC from the feat. And that's for a fighter. Non-fighters have to wait till level 12 to get even +2 AC.

It isn't hard to get 20 con by level 8 as a fighter, and I'm excluding variant humans which can afford a feat for free.
Wait a minute, you're excluding variant humans? And you are proposing to have 20 Con, 20 Dex, and a feat by level 8? That's five ASIs. Fighter gets you three. Where are you getting the other two?
 

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Honestly I think this is even more a half feat.

In most cases, your going to get a +1 AC...to classes they don't have the best AC to begin with (aka your not breaking bounded accuracy). It gets a little better scaling later on, but if your game allows any magic items that will already be compensated for.

Its an ability that seems cool, but its lack of stacking with other options keeps it in check. I think its perfectly fine, even a bit weak, as a feat.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
At level 10, you can get Dex 20 and Con 18. If you play variant human and use your free feat on Unarmored Defense, that gets you AC 19. A fighter without the feat at that level would have AC 17.

You can add a shield if you like, but the fighter without the feat can add a shield too. It doesn't change anything--you're still only getting 2 points of AC from the feat. And that's for a fighter. Non-fighters have to wait till level 12 to get even +2 AC.


Wait a minute, you're excluding variant humans? And you are proposing to have 20 Con, 20 Dex, and a feat by level 8? That's five ASIs. Fighter gets you three. Where are you getting the other two?
+2 to dex, +1 to con. That would start you at 17 dex, 16 con. Asi1 gets you to 19 dex 16 con, asi2 gets 20 dex, 17 con, asi3 does 20 dex, 19 con. I was slightly off but I consider level 14 to be a midlevel fighter still.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I encourage people not to thin of feats, but instead think of boons. If you make it a feat, everyone looks for ways to max it out. If you give it to a PC as a boon, then it is specific to that PC and can be crafter to not be too powerful.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I don't think I'd let it use ANY ability score, that is to me a bit too liberal (I have a hard time envisioning how Cha would work - "Not the Face!" ? ), but overall I think it's a good feat.

I'd probably limit it to Int, Wis or possibly Con myself.
I have a bard subclass I made that is a dancer. They get Dex/Cha to AC to reflect thier dancing as both a performance that distracts foes and uses thier grace to avoid blows.
 

dmhelp

Villager
For an unarmored defense feat I would use:
AC 9 + proficiency + dex modifier

At level 1 AC = 11 + dex mod
At level 20 AC = 15 + dex mod

So at high level it gets similar to a high stat monk. At mid level it is similar to draconic sorc. At low level it is similar to leather.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
Moreover, I'd like to see Proficiency somehow add into AC - make AC calculation 8 + proficiency mod + dexterity mod for regular AC and Unarmored Defenses.
Pretty sure they deliberately didn't do that in order to prevent AC creep with level, which leads to low-level monsters not being able to even hit higher-level PCs, and bounded accuracy was one of the bedrock design goals of 5E.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Pretty sure they deliberately didn't do that in order to prevent AC creep with level, which leads to low-level monsters not being able to even hit higher-level PCs, and bounded accuracy was one of the bedrock design goals of 5E.
Proficiency goes from +2 (at 1st level) to +6 (at 17th level). I think the system can handle that without falling apart, and if the game designers are worried that a goblin can't hit the plate armored 17th level fighter, well, that's a trivial concern.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
Proficiency goes from +2 (at 1st level) to +6 (at 17th level). I think the system can handle that without falling apart
I think it would make a bigger difference than you think it would. A +6 is an extra 30% chance to hit.

Sure, you can up the ACs to compensate, but why get into that arms race?
 

Stormonu

Legend
I think it would make a bigger difference than you think it would. A +6 is an extra 30% chance to hit.

Sure, you can up the ACs to compensate, but why get into that arms race?
I think you missed that starting AC would be 8, not 10. So the +6 is only a +20% chance bonus. Also, for Unarmored Defense at least, this would offset the lack of magical gear that increase AC at higher levels.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
So, say this feat existed, is it too good?

Unarmored Defense
Choose an ability other than Dexterity. When not wearing armor and not using a shield, your AC is equal to 10 + Dexterity modifier + the chosen ability modifier.
Simply too good.
At level 8 a wizard with 20 int and 14 dex, which is quite usual, would gain a 17 AC.
much better than taking the actual light armor and medium armor feats.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Simply too good.
At level 8 a wizard with 20 int and 14 dex, which is quite usual, would gain a 17 AC.
much better than taking the actual light armor and medium armor feats.
The same wizard using mage armor has AC 15. A feat for +2 AC and one 1st-level spell slot is solid but hardly excessive.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Simply too good.
At level 8 a wizard with 20 int and 14 dex, which is quite usual, would gain a 17 AC.
much better than taking the actual light armor and medium armor feats.
Being better than the light armor and medium armor feats is a pretty low bar, as those feats are crap.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
The same wizard using mage armor has AC 15. A feat for +2 AC and one 1st-level spell slot is solid but hardly excessive.
At low level the difference is small, the problem will occur at higher level, especially if a stat get over 20.
 


Quartz

Adventurer
Unarmored Defense
Choose an ability other than Dexterity. When not wearing armor and not using a shield, your AC is equal to 10 + Dexterity modifier + the chosen ability modifier.
You might want to allow use of Proficiency Bonus instead of a stat or instead of Dex.

But really, this is a feat that every fighting class will take and become a feat tax. I think it's better to grant it as a class feature.
 

Vael

Adventurer
You might want to allow use of Proficiency Bonus instead of a stat or instead of Dex.

But really, this is a feat that every fighting class will take and become a feat tax. I think it's better to grant it as a class feature.
I thought of proficiency bonus, I'm not against it. But my reasoning is that using a stat is that this is a lower powered version, because it does mean a PC that takes it will feel like they have to up their two AC stats, while proficiency autoscales. The AC caps out lower too, a PC with maxxed out DEX and stat gets 20 AC, 21 with Prof.

As for the second part, yeah, but I'm not rewriting every class, just offering a feat.

I'm also less worried about "Feat taxes" these days, because both as a DM and a player, I'm willing to offer feats as alternate rewards. Sure, any wizard, non-Draconic Sorcerer, and probably most Druids really want this, but I don't feel like other classes are desperate for this feat.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
Proficiency goes from +2 (at 1st level) to +6 (at 17th level). I think the system can handle that without falling apart, and if the game designers are worried that a goblin can't hit the plate armored 17th level fighter, well, that's a trivial concern.
No, it is a core concern.

In raw 5e, fighting orcs/goblins at level 20 can be a threat. You have to expend resources (like spells) to kill them en-mass, and they can threaten in aggregate.

A non-magic item using L 20 fighter has 21 AC with defensive fighting style. A CR 1/2 orc has +5 to hit, hitting 1 time in 4.

With magic armor/shield, they become near-immune to the orc (only crits hit); or, with proficiency scaling, it is free.

With proficiency scaling, that fighter hits 31 AC base. Make it an EK with shield spell and we are talking a 36 AC to reliably hit the fighter. This shuts down even CR 20 foes.

---

A level 20 wizard has something like 16 AC (mage armor, 16 dex). With a staff of power and ring of protection, they have 17 AC.

The orc hits on a 12+ (45% of the time).

Toss in 4 points of proficiency scaling, and that orc hits 25% of the time and is barely half as effective at attacking a low-AC high level player.

---

Basically, hyper-scaling of defences makes low level monsters into trivial threats, even on low AC players. Already high level fighters can get AC sufficient to make high-level threats often miss; with proficiency scaling, they could make high level vsAC threats trivial.

A side effect of that is monsters will stop attacking AC, in practice.
 

auburn2

Explorer
I feel like it is stepping on the toes of 2 classes and a subclass a bit too much ( Monk, Barbarian, and Bladesinger ). Straight up power-wise it is pretty powerful but shouldn't be game breaking in most cases.
This is my main concern with it. Pick one of these classes/kits instead.

I think it would be better as part of a homebrew kit.
 

But really, this is a feat that every fighting class will take and become a feat tax. I think it's better to grant it as a class feature.
I am actually not sure any fighting class would take this. At best it gives you AC 20, and that is only at very high levels when you have two stats at 20. Otherwise there are plenty of ways to get your AC that high through basic magic items... so if your willing to spend a feat for it, than by all means enjoy!

To me the best class for this seems to be the rogue, who can eek out +1 or +2 AC at higher levels. I mean sure that's useful, but there are other feats that are good for the rogue as well.
 

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