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

samursus

First Post
Barkskin is a 2nd level spell that lasts up to an hour (no scaling). I would rule it acts as armor only, allowing Dex, shield and whatever other bonuses one would stack with armor.
 

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Kobold Stew

Adventurer
Barkskin is a 2nd level spell that lasts up to an hour (no scaling). I would rule it acts as armor only, allowing Dex, shield and whatever other bonuses one would stack with armor.
Of course, you as DM can rule it thus, but that is not what the spell description says, however.

This. Or look at the unarmored AC boosts for barbarian and monk.

Barkskin isn't just a slight difference in phrasing, that can be chalked up to natural language. It's dramatically different. As I interpret it, then, anything that adds to your AC simply has no effect while you're barkskinned until it exceeds 16. Thus:

Barkskin = AC 16.
Barkskin + Dex 20 = AC 16.
Barkskin + shield = AC 16.
Barkskin + mage armor = AC 16.
Barkskin + shield + mage armor = AC 17.
Barkskin + mage armor + Dex 20 = AC 18.

IOW, your AC is either determined by barkskin or by everything else, whichever is higher.
This, however, is.
 

Mistwell

Legend
Druids just don't have good AC, especially the ones who focus on spellcasting. Sure, they're better off than a wizard who doesn't have Mage Armor going, but worse off than anyone who would actually want to be in melee combat.
They're better than a Lore Bard. At least Druids have shield proficiency. I am thinking I need to be human and take Moderately Armored.
 


MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Well, quite frankly I have no idea where Merric's getting the idea of "Base Armor Class" from... because in the 4 sections in the Index of the PH where Armor Class is mentioned... pages 7, 14, 144, & 177... it only talks about 'Armor Class' There's no mention of a 'Base'... let alone that a 'Base Armor Class' is or would be different than just 'Armor Class'. So I have no idea why Barkskin would be seen as anything other than just a natural armor that mimics the strength of chainmail, and thus you could add and use all the other AC-raising items and conditions on top of it.
The terminology of Base AC is mainly drawn from concepts of earlier editions, plus two references: Mage Armour and page 144: "The armor (and shield) you wear determines your base Armor Class."

Note also page 14. "Some spells and class features give you a different way to calculate your AC. If you have multiple features that give you different ways to calculate your AC, you choose which one to use."

Cheers!
 

Saelorn

Hero
As I interpret it, then, anything that adds to your AC simply has no effect while you're barkskinned until it exceeds 16.
A shield would, because shields never factor into your AC. There is no formula for calculating AC which takes a shield into account.

Then, when you're done calculating AC based on whatever formula, you can add a shield on top.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
A shield would, because shields never factor into your AC. There is no formula for calculating AC which takes a shield into account.
Strangely enough, shields are included in the Base AC, per the wording on page 144. It's the only modifier that is, as far as I can tell.

Cheers!
 

CapnZapp

Legend
It says 'Until the spell ends, the target’s skin has a rough, bark-like appearance, and the target’s AC can’t be less than 16, regardless of what kind of armor it is wearing.'

It it worked on your 'Base AC' rather than your 'AC', it would probably have said so.
Agreed. I find the phrasing really easy to understand.

Let's take a few Druids that have cast barkskin:

Druid A is wearing padded leather, have Dex 12, and a shield. Her regular AC is 11+1+2=14.
Druid B is unarmored, have Dex 20. His regular AC is 10+5=15.
Druid C is wearing hide armor, have Dex 16, and a shield. Her regular AC is 12+(max 2)+2=16.
Druid D is enjoying the Mage Armor spell, have Dex 16, and wears a Ring of Protection. His regular AC is 13+3+1=17.

Now, let's see how each of these characters are affected by Barkskin. Remember, the spell's only effect is to say your AC can't be less than 16.

Druid A can't have an AC less than 16, so her AC becomes 16.
Druid B can't have an AC less than 16, so his AC becomes 16. (See how easy this is?)
Druid C already has AC 16, so Barkskin has no particular effect on her: AC 16
Druid D has an AC higher than 16, and Barkskin certainly doesn't lower or restrict your AC, so: AC 17.

Mouseferatu got it right. Only way to be confused is to read things into the spell that isn't there.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Even though maybe Barksin + shield is AC 16 RAW, but for me, that does not matter. A shield is using up your hand you could use for a second weapon, twf etc, and it is the same as always: use a shield and do less damage. I don´t see a reason, why in that particular case you can´t use a shield for extra protection lowering your damage output.
And AC 18 is not too high. Even a druid will usually only get a bonus of +2 out of it.

I can rationalize barkskin not allowing dexterity, as you are not as agile when your skin is rough as bark.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Agreed. I find the phrasing really easy to understand.

Let's take a few Druids that have cast barkskin:

Druid A is wearing padded leather, have Dex 12, and a shield. Her regular AC is 11+1+2=14.
Druid B is unarmored, have Dex 20. His regular AC is 10+5=15.
Druid C is wearing hide armor, have Dex 16, and a shield. Her regular AC is 12+(max 2)+2=16.
Druid D is enjoying the Mage Armor spell, have Dex 16, and wears a Ring of Protection. His regular AC is 13+3+1=17.

Now, let's see how each of these characters are affected by Barkskin. Remember, the spell's only effect is to say your AC can't be less than 16.

Druid A can't have an AC less than 16, so her AC becomes 16.
Druid B can't have an AC less than 16, so his AC becomes 16. (See how easy this is?)
Druid C already has AC 16, so Barkskin has no particular effect on her: AC 16
Druid D has an AC higher than 16, and Barkskin certainly doesn't lower or restrict your AC, so: AC 17.

Mouseferatu got it right. Only way to be confused is to read things into the spell that isn't there.
If you all want to really interpret it that way, more power to you... but I find this to be completely against K.I.S.S. in my opinion, which is how I interpret pretty much all the rules in the game.

When I read the spell as-is... without trying to compare and contrast it to the words used to describe Mage Armor, and Unarmored Defense and then trying to make verbal equivalencies based on which words did and didn't appear in all these entries... at its base, Barkskin is giving you an AC of 16, the equivalent of chainmail armor. Just like it says... your skin becomes hard like bark for an AC minimum of 16. Your skin becomes the armor... you now have Natural Armor Class of 16 (to use the 3E parlance). So if the druid is standing there naked and gets Barkskin cast on it... its skin becomes like AC 16 armor. The spell's not looking at whether you have a DEX mod or not... it's not looking at whether you currently have a shield on or not... it's not looking at any other AC-modifying things that may or may not be present. Naked druid + Barkskin = AC 16.

And then it adds that it can't be less than that regardless of the armor it may be wearing. So even if the druid was to put on leather armor which gives an AC of 11... the natural Barkskin armor would supercede it. But then it's also important to note that the spell doesn't say that the druid's AC has a maximum of 16 either... which to me simply means that the druid's AC wouldn't drop down to 16 even if the druid was wearing other better armor that gave it an AC of 17 or higher. So for instance if there's something like +3 dragonscale armor in the DMG (just making up an armor for the sake of argument) that would grant a person wearing it an AC of 20... the druid's AC wouldn't drop back down to 16 just because they had Barkskin on. Like in 3E... you'd compare the AC granted by natural armor to the AC granted by regular armor, and the person would use whichever was higher.

And then once Armor was taken care of to generate the druid's AC... all the other things that could modify that AC come into play-- DEX mod, wearing a shield, cover etc.

Isn't the fact that people are questioning why cover and shields wouldn't seem work with a Barkskinned druid... thereby going against all common sense... a pretty good indication that making these weird verbal equivalencies to the wording of Mage Armor and Unarmored Defense probably is unnecessary, and also not intended? Because why wouldn't a druid in cover get a bonus to AC? Or wouldn't gain the benefit of a shield? To me it makes no sense to suggest they would suddenly stop working just because the druid now has a natural armor class.

Now I would willing to grant one thing in this conversation... the argument that a Barkskinned druid would not get to add his DEX modifier to his AC. That might be the only one that maybe I could be convinced shouldn't apply. 1) because the spell doesn't say you can add your DEX mod to AC unlike MA and UD (but admittedly I have to go against my own instinct to not have to do detective work comparing and contrasting other different spells/effects, but so be it)... plus more importantly 2) because your skin becomes the numeric equivalent to chainmail, and since chainmail is a Heavy armor (and thus doesn't add DEX mod), I could see considering Barkskin functionally the same as chainmail and thus shouldn't gain a DEX mod bonus either. Combining these two points together, then yeah... I'd be willing to buy that argument that the druid might not get to use its DEX bonus to raise the AC.

But you'll never convince me that a Barkskinned druid no longer gains the benefits of a shield or cover just because they have the spell on them. That's going way past my sniff test and I find it makes absolutely no logical sense. But your mileage may vary.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You seem to be mixing up two completely different things here, defcon:

a) me telling you how to run your game
and
b) me discussing the rules as written

I am in no way shape or form trying to tell you how to think about barkskin, or how you should run barkskin in your game.

I am, however, saying that your barkskin isn't the one described in the rulebook. But that is all I'm saying. Your barkskin might be better, it might be more logical; all that's beside the issue, however.

Cheers and have a good game!
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
If you all want to really interpret it that way, more power to you...

That's going way past my sniff test and I find it makes absolutely no logical sense. But your mileage may vary.
I'm not sure anyone is saying the spell is particularly well designed, but I think the intention is clear.

If you don't like it, the play test version (straight +2 AC, which would stack with cover, shield, etc.) is always available to use.
 


77IM

Explorer!!!
And I hate that it's notated as a parenthetical on the proficiency line. "(Druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal)."

Why are they telling me what my character will and won't do? Isn't that mine to decide? (It's really the only thing I get to decide.) What happens if my druid changes his mind after seeing how effective breastplate and half-plate are? Do I have to stop being a druid?

They should have either 1) explained the consequences of wearing metal armor (even if it's soft roleplaying consequences, like, "you are breaking your oath and other druids will not like you") or else 2) just given druids proficiency in padded, leather, studded leather, hide armor, and shields. I think I'll house rule option 2, since the parenthetical restriction is on the proficiency line and could be interpreted as a limit on proficiency, with the odd "will not" phrasing meant to explain why the druid's armor training is so lopsided and not as a dictate of future behavior.
 

Saelorn

Hero
Why are they telling me what my character will and won't do? Isn't that mine to decide? (It's really the only thing I get to decide.) What happens if my druid changes his mind after seeing how effective breastplate and half-plate are? Do I have to stop being a druid?
I think they left it intentionally vague, to give DMs maximum latitude in interpreting it, because the most obvious consequence would be too hard-core for new players to deal with.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
If you don't like it, the play test version (straight +2 AC, which would stack with cover, shield, etc.) is always available to use.
I realize you're just summarizing, but based on what you're saying, that play version is brokenly unbalanced. A +2 stacks-with-everything bonus is clearly too powerful for such a low-level spell.

To me, it would be much more interesting if the spell explored as-of-yet untested, but fairly safe, waters.

Example:
Barkskin: Your base AC is 13 + Con.

This way, most complaints would be settled (the spell would stack with shields etc), and there would not be any unexpected side effects.
 



UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
I guess the spell should be rewritten as:

Your skin becomes barklike, stiffening so that it protects and hinders your movement like a suit of chain mail. (Base AC 16, no dex modifier) Shield and cover bonuses apply.

Even not RAW, seems like the best solution.
 

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