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5E What armor can druids wear? Is there a way to get a decent AC?

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I don’t follow. Combining multiple sources of deflective protection reduces and eventually overcomes the disparity. Why can’t that be the case?
So what are shields and cover worth then? There has to be a number, right? If a barkskinned druid doesn't see any AC boost from a shield by itself (implying its bonus is less than +1, because that's the only way a barkskinned druid can wield a shield but gain not extra AC from it), nor any from cover (also implying its less than +1 while barkskin is active)... what are they worth?

They HAVE to be worth something in AC value, right? Because you are telling us that when you combine the two together they at some point boost the effect of the barkskin. The barkskin gives an AC 16... shield and cover together produce an AC of 17. Which means that either barkskin shuts itself off when you pick the shield and go behind cover (and the entire +7 AC bonus come from those two sources)... or the barkskin stays in effect to give the AC of 16 to start with, and the druid then gains the extra +1 bonus from the shield and the cover.

So what are they worth? +0.5 AC each? Or are we doing in proportions? The shield is worth +2/7ths a point of AC and the cover +5/7ths of an AC point?

Oh, but wait...

This other naked druid over here has a 16 Dexterity, normally a +3 bonus to AC. But with the barkskin on, obviously they're too slow to gain any bonus from the Dex, just like someone in chainmail is. The druid's AC is 16 from the spell. That makes perfect sense. And when they pick up a shield for what should be an extra +2, that doesn't help! A shield doesn't speed them up, why would it? So of course their AC is still 16 from the spell.

But hold on... this druid now goes behind the wall with the arrow slit... and their AC JUMPS to AC 20?!? Wait, what? How?!? Where did the druid get these +4 extra points of AC from over from what they get from the barkskin? I mean... their Dexterity obviously didn't suddenly start to actually now work... that would be ridiculous! Did the shield suddenly start learning how to block attacks and two of those points now come from the shield? That seems unlikely! Where did we get the +4 bonus AC points from? What happened within the game world to accomplish this?

Wait... did the 3/4ths cover of the arrow-slitted wall decide on its own to arbitrarily drop its AC bonus from a +5 down to a +4 in order to reach that AC 20? Can it do that? Does the wall get to decide that? How does it know what bonus to give these druids?

That's why what I said above was... "There's no other situation in the game where AC bonuses don't grant their bonuses normally and instead you just make up some number that they do give. " The game has made up this scenario where 3/4ths cover grants a +4 instead of a +5. And guess what? If by some chance that druid's Dexterity modifier was only a +2, that means going behind the wall would only give the druid an AC value of 19. And that means when you take the AC of 16 from barkskin into account... the cover is now only granting 3 points of bonus AC. 3/4ths cover is arbitrarily granting +5, +4 or +3 bonus points of AC to druids, apparently on a whim, depending on the druid's DEX modifier.

And this is why the fluff of the spell and the way it works in the game world make absolutely no sense. And attempts at trying to justify its mechanics are fruitless and a fool's errand. Because after all, you had to eventually say this:

The difficulty of hitting the Druid is represented by their normal AC value. The difficulty of penetrating the bark is represented by the 16 from barkskin. If the difficulty of hitting the Druid is less than the difficulty of penetrating the barkskin, then you use the 16, because any attack forceful enough to break through is also accurate enough to hit. If the difficulty of hitting the Druid is greater than the difficulty of penetrating the barkskin, then you ignore the barkskin, because any attack accurate enough to hit is also forceful enough to break through.
You are trying to narrate the type of hit that happened after the hit occurs... based entirely on what the druid's AC was at the time. "Well, the druid might have had a +2 DEX bonus and a shield, but because they had barkskin on... the hit obviously wasn't dodged or blocked, it just penetrate the druid's skin!" Versus "The druid might have had barkskin on, but that didn't matter because their DEX was +3, they had a shield for +2, and they were behind half-cover for +2, so obviously the hit was just so accurate nothing could stop it, not even the barky skin!"

Really? The shot was so accurate that the skin protection didn't matter? And what was the attack roll total? A 17! Hmm. And what was the AC to hit? 17! Really? THAT was the "super-accurate" attack? The one that just barely hit? I see. Yes. Yes, that is completely understandable. Makes perfect sense. How could I possibly have thought the narrative of barkskin didn't align to the mechanics? :)
 
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A contrary opinion: If you want better AC, play a fighter or a paladin.

Every class has limitations and tradeoffs and balancers. Asking "how can I play this class without the limitations?" just seems, I dunno, greedy to me.

Druids have low AC. This balances their incredible amount of Hit Points (a level 2 moon druid could have 80+ HP in a day, as well as slots to cast healing spells).
 

PsyzhranV2

Adventurer
A contrary opinion: If you want better AC, play a fighter or a paladin.

Every class has limitations and tradeoffs and balancers. Asking "how can I play this class without the limitations?" just seems, I dunno, greedy to me.

Druids have low AC. This balances their incredible amount of Hit Points (a level 2 moon druid could have 80+ HP in a day, as well as slots to cast healing spells).
Then don't do this whole metal armour song and dance. Either they have Medium Armour proficiency or they don't.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
Supporter
A contrary opinion: If you want better AC, play a fighter or a paladin.

Every class has limitations and tradeoffs and balancers. Asking "how can I play this class without the limitations?" just seems, I dunno, greedy to me.

Druids have low AC. This balances their incredible amount of Hit Points (a level 2 moon druid could have 80+ HP in a day, as well as slots to cast healing spells).
No actually. They have medium armor proficiency & can obtain heavy just like any other class via feat or MC. There is also the fact that absolutely nothing unique to a 5e druid that does not apply to any other 5e class if a 5e druid wears a type of armor not approved by Mielikki for druids. I've highlighted the relevant portion for you unless you can find some mechanical effect that applies to proficient druids wearing one of the highlighted types of armor from a 5e source. If you can please cite book title & page with a relevant quote
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tetrasodium

Adventurer
Supporter
No actually. They have medium armor proficiency & can obtain heavy just like any other class via feat or MC. There is also the fact that absolutely nothing unique to a 5e druid that does not apply to any other 5e class if a 5e druid wears a type of armor not approved by Mielikki for druids. I've highlighted the relevant portion for you unless you can find some mechanical effect that applies to proficient druids wearing one of the highlighted types of armor from a 5e source. If you can please cite book title & page with a relevant quote
I'm confused. Some of those items you've highlighted are armour suits that a druid won't wear. It is pointless for a druid to gain heavy armour proficiency because they won't wear any of those heavy armour suits.
Fixed your partial quote, the omission changes the meaning of what was said pretty badly. You wanna try again & cite what happens when a druid with free will who does not worship the FR specific god of nature known as Mielikki & instead chooses o follow one of the many other druidic sects already brought up in this thread? If you can please cite book title & page with a relevant quote for what happens.
 




Harzel

Adventurer
You are trying to narrate the type of hit that happened after the hit occurs...
The narration occurring after the mechanical outcome is determined and being dependent on it is what always happens in D&D, isn't it?

based entirely on what the druid's AC was at the time. "Well, the druid might have had a +2 DEX bonus and a shield, but because they had barkskin on... the hit obviously wasn't dodged or blocked, it just penetrate the druid's skin!" Versus "The druid might have had barkskin on, but that didn't matter because their DEX was +3, they had a shield for +2, and they were behind half-cover for +2, so obviously the hit was just so accurate nothing could stop it, not even the barky skin!"
While I am definitely not a fan of either the way the spell is written or Crawford's (most recent) interpretation, I think what @Charlaquin is suggesting can be boiled down to the notion of a layered defense. As long as one is willing to accept the somewhat abstracted notion that an attack either penetrates a defense unimpeded, or does not penetrate at all, and that there is no synergy between the layers, then keeping them separate up to the point of combining them with max( ) is an appropriate computation.

Now as you have observed, if you insist on a narration that takes into account what we know IRL about how physical defenses - shields, armor, cover, DEX, etc. - protect people, then you can make a case for that abstraction still being unsatisfying. However, a lot of (most?) DMs don't spend a lot of time on narrating exactly how a hit hits or how a miss misses. And, even if you want that kind of detail, I think you can almost get there. (And again, I think this is essentially what @Charlaquin was suggesting, restated a bit.) If you narrate Barkskin as defending against the force of an attack (which seems pretty reasonable), and all the things that make up your "non Barkskin" AC as being about avoidance, then you have more or less the situation that I described above - if an attack misses due to your avoidance defenses, then Barkskin doesn't matter, and if an attack gets by your avoidance defenses, then it's up to Barkskin to stop it (or not).

The additional assumption needed is that the force of a blow and its accuracy are perfectly correlated. And that seems to be what you are objecting to here.

Really? The shot was so accurate that the skin protection didn't matter? And what was the attack roll total? A 17! Hmm. And what was the AC to hit? 17! Really? THAT was the "super-accurate" attack? The one that just barely hit? I see. Yes. Yes, that is completely understandable. Makes perfect sense. How could I possibly have thought the narrative of barkskin didn't align to the mechanics? :)
The attack barely got by your avoidance defenses, but a 17 is a pretty forceful blow, and so it was able to penetrate your Barkskin. It's subjective, but the correlation doesn't seem to me to be that big a thing to handwave. Most people seem ok with abstracting the role of armor in defense in a way that seems more like avoidance than damage mitigation, so the (accuracy vs. avoidance) vs. (force vs. toughness) situation is already muddied quite a bit.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
Sure there are. Monks’ Unarmored Defense, for example, doesn’t stack with armor or shields.
Um, sort of? It's not so much that it doesn't stack with armor or shields - you can't use it at all if you are wearing armor or using a shield. So, for example, if a monk with 16 DEX and 14 WIS puts on leather armor, they cannot use UD and their AC actually decreases from 15 to 14. So having armor or a shield gets in the way of using the defensive techniques you learned in monk training. That's a lot different than trying to explain Barkskin.

Barbarian Unarmored Defense is likewise inoperative when wearing armor. Armor gets in the way of barbarian training, but a shield doesn't. Eh, ok.

A tortle’s natural armor doesn’t stack with manufactured armor.
An explanation is provided.

Tortle said:
Due to your shell and the shape of your body, you are ill-suited to wearing armor.
Now of course that would make you think that you might be able to pay a smith enough to make you some awesome tortle-shaped platemail. But, RAW, you'd be disappointed.

Tortle said:
You gain no benefit from wearing armor
Yeah, not supported very well by the fluff, but again it's also not really like Barkskin in that it's a blanket prohibition. Something about tortleness inhibits the effectiveness of armor. Period. It's just a base AC calculation that you cannot use. It's not weirdly situational and all AC bonuses work as expected.

Mage Armor is another one that just doesn't work if you are wearing armor - again, not a stacking issue.

There are several instances where you must choose the higher of two armor sources.
But are there really? Despite the note in the PH that if you have more than one way to calculate AC, you get to choose which to use, none of examples above actually result in a dynamic choice, that is, a choice between two AC calculations that are operative simultaneously. It is very possible that I'm forgetting some. (?)

Barkskin happens to be the only one that doesn’t stack with any other armor source,
Yes, and, in fact, I realized while writing the stuff above that it is the not-stacking-with-bonuses for reasons that are either hard or impossible, depending on your take, to explain in the fiction that is, I think, the most unsettling. The most illustrative example I can think of is cover. Whether to seek cover is a fairly common choice facing players during combat, and it's not uncommon for there to be a trade-off between seeking cover and some other move that is gives a different advantage. One (or at least, I) would like that decision to be able to be made largely by just engaging the fiction. If Barkskin is in play, the player will have to engage the rules just to see if cover will, qualitatively, be any benefit at all.

So maybe it is a little bit more nuanced (and, maybe, arguably, pickier) that just "this is hard to justify in the fiction". It's the kind of situation and decisions that are affected. Other situations that I can think of are less dynamic than cover, but it's still weird to have to do arithmetic to figure out whether an AC bonus will do you any good at all.

and is also the only one that represents a source of protection that doesn’t involve an element of the difficulty of hitting the creature.
Yes, which makes me wonder if there were more instances in which such a mechanic were used, if it would be less confusing/objectionable. That wouldn't exactly be rational, but it could be understandable.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The narration occurring after the mechanical outcome is determined and being dependent on it is what always happens in D&D, isn't it?

While I am definitely not a fan of either the way the spell is written or Crawford's (most recent) interpretation, I think what @Charlaquin is suggesting can be boiled down to the notion of a layered defense. As long as one is willing to accept the somewhat abstracted notion that an attack either penetrates a defense unimpeded, or does not penetrate at all, and that there is no synergy between the layers, then keeping them separate up to the point of combining them with max( ) is an appropriate computation.

Now as you have observed, if you insist on a narration that takes into account what we know IRL about how physical defenses - shields, armor, cover, DEX, etc. - protect people, then you can make a case for that abstraction still being unsatisfying. However, a lot of (most?) DMs don't spend a lot of time on narrating exactly how a hit hits or how a miss misses. And, even if you want that kind of detail, I think you can almost get there. (And again, I think this is essentially what @Charlaquin was suggesting, restated a bit.) If you narrate Barkskin as defending against the force of an attack (which seems pretty reasonable), and all the things that make up your "non Barkskin" AC as being about avoidance, then you have more or less the situation that I described above - if an attack misses due to your avoidance defenses, then Barkskin doesn't matter, and if an attack gets by your avoidance defenses, then it's up to Barkskin to stop it (or not).

The additional assumption needed is that the force of a blow and its accuracy are perfectly correlated. And that seems to be what you are objecting to here.



The attack barely got by your avoidance defenses, but a 17 is a pretty forceful blow, and so it was able to penetrate your Barkskin. It's subjective, but the correlation doesn't seem to me to be that big a thing to handwave. Most people seem ok with abstracting the role of armor in defense in a way that seems more like avoidance than damage mitigation, so the (accuracy vs. avoidance) vs. (force vs. toughness) situation is already muddied quite a bit.
You hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly what I was attempting to express. And I agree, the idea that accuracy and force of a blow are directly correlated in D&D is weird, but it’s also a core conceit of D&D’s AC and to-hit system. If you can’t suspend disbelief about that, you’re going to have trouble mapping a lot more than just Barkskin to the narrative. Other examples of things that won’t make sense are Strength to hit (and Dexterity to damage on Finesse and ranged weapons), Dex to AC with light armor but not heavy armor, and the possibility of “missing” inanimate objects.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
The attack barely got by your avoidance defenses, but a 17 is a pretty forceful blow, and so it was able to penetrate your Barkskin. It's subjective, but the correlation doesn't seem to me to be that big a thing to handwave. Most people seem ok with abstracting the role of armor in defense in a way that seems more like avoidance than damage mitigation, so the (accuracy vs. avoidance) vs. (force vs. toughness) situation is already muddied quite a bit.
It's not a matter of handwaving... we all know we can just ignore it all and not put any thought into it. The question has always been in these last few posts for myself and Charlaquin whether there's an actual logical explanation for what is happening in the fiction to explain why cover and shields do not work with barkskin... until they suddenly do work with barkskin and override it. They claimed there was... I said there wasn't. And I've noticed that no one has tried to counteract or counterclaim the math I put up explaining how shields, DEX, and cover don't work and have no effect at one AC point but then suddenly pop into reality when enough of them get combined together and reach a new AC point.

The only explanation has been to remove the math and bonuses of what protections actually have in their entirety, and wait until after a hit has been declared to then explain away why stuff now suddenly "works":

If the druid only has a shield, then the druid has an AC of 16 and every hit is only of the "really hard" type that gets through barkskin... and the shield never not once comes into play (because if it did, it should have contributed to the AC of the druid.) But since the spell somehow keeps a shield from ever getting in the way of any attack and instead they are all really hard... it doesn't.

But if the druid has the shield and and is behind 3/4ths cover (and now the AC of 17)... then now all of a sudden the shield does start getting in the way and helps protect the druid. And now every hit somehow changes over to only the "accurate" ones that get by the shield deflecting, and the cover blocking. But no more worrying about the really hard attacks.... those don't happen anymore since the druid moved behind cover. Funny that... outside of cover every attack is hard, which is why shields don't work.. but behind cover every attack is now accurate and thus the shields have an affect on the AC. And never the twin shall meet. We will never an accurate attack out of cover, and never a hard one behind it.

But of course, you're right... none of this actually matters in the slightest, but like I said originally I just enjoy debating the attempts to align fiction to mechanics in this case. Which as far as I'm concerned, I've still succeeded in proving that they ARE none. :)
 

Maestrino

Explorer
I'm confused. Some of those items you've highlighted are armour suits that a druid won't wear. It is pointless for a druid to gain heavy armour proficiency because they won't wear any of those heavy armour suits.
My last druid's only objection to metal equipment was the impact of mining operations on the environment. They wouldn't buy new, but they'd damn sure re-purpose a nice set of half-plate they took off a baddie. Up-cycling for the win.
 


tetrasodium

Adventurer
Supporter
My last druid's only objection to metal equipment was the impact of mining operations on the environment. They wouldn't buy new, but they'd damn sure re-purpose a nice set of half-plate they took off a baddie. Up-cycling for the win.
as he should, he's wearing it into battle with people who want to kill him not leading the druid equivalent of Easter mass
 


ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Hello all,
My reading of the druid is that of the PHB armors, they can wear leather, padded and hide for certain. Studded leather is unclear (is "made of metal" the same as "has some metal"?)

This seems really painful for a druid--it's hard to build a casting (one who is generally not wild shapped), even with armor feats or multi-classing. The AC is just really low and even barkskin doesn't help much (concentration). Is there anything other than wild shapping that helps? Am I understanding the armor rules correctly?
Druid's are proficient with medium armor and shields so...
Dragon Scale Mail (very Rare) AC14 +1 Magic bonus, +3 Dex Bonus with Medium Amor Master Feat = AC18
-or-
+3 Hide Armor (Legendary) AC12 +3 Magic Bonuss, +3 Dex Bonus with Medium Amor Master Feat = AC18
+3 shield (wooden) = +5AC (Vary Rare) or +1 (uncommon), +2 (Rare), and Arrow-Catching Shield +2 (Rare)
Cloak of Protection +1AC (Attunement 1 of 3, Uncommon)
Ring of Protection +1AC (Attunement 2 of 3, Rare)
Ioun Stone of Protection +1 (Attunement 3 of 3, Rare)
lvl 5 Circle of Land (Grassland) spell: Haste +2AC
Total = AC26, or AC28 with a concentration spell
(You can still use 3/4 cover for +5AC & take the dodge action for an effective +5AC for a Theoretical AC38)
You may not get all of these, but knowing that they are out there and finding some combination that reaches a number you consider "descent" should be possible. Tiamate has AC25 so lets go ahead and say that as the highest monster AC in the game, that it is more than descent it is very good. Since you can easily hit AC20-22 a number of ways... you should be fine as per AC as a druid. That said, the reliance on allowing feats and handing out magic items means that if you having problems getting a "Decent" AC give these options to your GM and see if they will give you an appropriate bump in game.

Edit: Adding uncommon item only build

Leather Armor AC11 + 5 Dex Bonus = AC16
Wooden +1 Shield = +3AC
Cloak of protection +1AC
Total = AC20 with just two uncommon magic items.
Not sure how you define "decent AC" but it uncommon to see a majority of players at a table with 20+ AC and when I do see one its generally filling a tank role. Since Druids have the shillelagh cantrip, you can melee with a staff one handed or club building with only dex and wisdom for spell casting. You might want to pick up the war-caster feat in that case (assuming your GM allows feats) so that you can cast with a shield and weapon in hand as well as giving advantage on concentration spells like say... lvl 5 Circle of Land (Grassland) spell: Haste +2AC , for AC22 without needing to invest heavily into constitution.

If your worried about HP Hill Dwarfs are +2 con and +1 Wisdom and have "Dwarven Toughness" (Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.). This makes them a good choice for druid, but their low dex makes a medium armor build with a lower dex requirement a better choice. Of course the Typical Wood elf or Ghostwise Halfling tend to be better for the light builds. However, Half-elf and Standard human could work for either. If your worried about falling behind your group that is.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Can’t reasonably assume a +5 Dex when talking about builds for a caster. Unlikely they’ll have that before the point where most campaigns end. More like +3 Dex, which with studded leather that uses bone to reinforce leather, you’ll be 1 AC down from that 20 AC “uncommon magic items only” build.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Can’t reasonably assume a +5 Dex when talking about builds for a caster. Unlikely they’ll have that before the point where most campaigns end. More like +3 Dex, which with studded leather that uses bone to reinforce leather, you’ll be 1 AC down from that 20 AC “uncommon magic items only” build.
There is no assumption of casters capability requirement of using attack spells with to hit or DC since the request is for AC. If for example, a tanky caster who buffs allies, you may not need higher than a 13 Wisdom since you don't have to roll to hit allies nor do they need to fail a save to gain the buff.

There is no assumption of how they are gaining stats. If they use point buy or rolling they could buy a 16 +2 race with +2 dex at level 4 ASI for 20 dex, or they could have rolled 18 + 2 Race and have 20 Dex at level 1.

There is no assumption of level requirement or intent, since 0riginal post does no qualify level.
It is just as possible that the OP uses this for level 20 one shot as a guide for a new level 1. It is possible for a single class and 5 ASI to get two stats to 20 and still have one feat so I provided a list of all possible options to there question "what armor can druids wear is there a way to get a decent ac?". Its up to them and their GM to sort out what is useful for them.

If the original poster asks a more specific answer and/or provides more context I am willing to refine my answer.
 
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