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

mcbobbo

Explorer
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?
As I understand it, to a druid metal is repugnant. It would be like you wearing human skin to work. "Why does society tell me what to do? What happens if I change my mind after seeing how effective human skin is at repelling water?" Just as that phrase (hopefully) boggles you mind, so it is for anyone able to become a druid. If you like metal, make a nature cleric.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
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.
Do note this is better than the original spell. Much better in some cases.

And as I understand it, the complaint wasn't that the spell was too weak, but that it was too difficult to explain.

So if I were to replace it with armor, I would probably use AC 14 or AC 15.

Not AC 16, which trivially becomes a whole +2 better than RAW. (just pick up a shield)
 

zicar

First Post
FWIW, in the class summary table on p45 of the PHB it lists druids as proficient with "light and medium armor (non-metal) and shields (non-metal)"
 

Saelorn

Hero
FWIW, in the class summary table on p45 of the PHB it lists druids as proficient with "light and medium armor (non-metal) and shields (non-metal)"
For all practical purposes, that means the exact same thing. They're really not caught up on formalities in this edition.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
The druid armour restriction is interesting to me because of the change since the play test -- before, it was simply a question of proficiency (druids were proficient in certain armours, but if they got proficiency in metal armours in other ways, then they could be worn). What appears in the PHB by contrast is this clear parenthetical statement -- that's a regression in some ways (to the way things were done in previous editions), and it decides not to use the dials that they're using in 5e (armour proficiencies). And it means that there's less overall flexibility in druid concepts.

A specific example: I am playing a Mountain Dwarf druid -- in the play test, he had a Wisdom bonus (good for druids) and had proficiency in light and medium armours. Not only has the attribute bonus become strength, but as I read it the dwarves armour proficiencies do not change the restriction on druid armour use (since it is simply stated that "druids do not..." despite having proficiency.

It's an odd change, but it seems pretty clearly a deliberate one.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
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!
And all I'm saying is that I don't happen to agree that what you are saying is in fact "Rules As Written". Because you and the others aren't using the rules that appear in the Barkskin spell... you are using the rules in the Barkskin spell *plus* are pulling in the rules from a completely different spell and a completely different class function and comparing and contrasting their language in an effort to try and come up with a ruling. That's not "Rules As Written".. that's "Rules As Interpreted".

So what we have here are two camps that are both taking basic generic language and trying to figure out what they think is the correct answer. You've come up with yours, I've come up with mine.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Last night I was thinking about it, and I came up with exactly why MerricB's interpretation of Barkskin just doesn't sit right with me-- that shields and cover do not grant additional AC points over the 16 from Barkskin. Here's why:

We have a guy standing around completely naked and has no DEX modifier. Right now he has an AC of 10.
He puts on a shield (+2 AC). Now, he has an AC of 12.
He goes behind 3/4ers cover, say behind an arrow slit (+5 AC). Now, he has an AC of 17.

A druid now walks up behind him and casts Barkskin on this guy... and his AC now drops a point because of it to AC 16?

How do we explain that? The shield hasn't changed-- he's still wearing it and thus it's still granting a +2 to his AC. The cover hasn't changed-- he's still behind that arrow slit and it's still granting a +5 to his AC. Thus the only thing we can say is that by making his skin tough like bark, it's actually now making him more able to be hurt than when he was just standing there naked. His "natural armor" AC has dropped from AC 10 to AC 9... because that's the only way you get back to AC 16 when you add in the unchanging shield and 3/4ers cover. Basically, the Barkskin spell is making things worse for the guy than if he had been left alone.

That just sounds crazy to me. And I cannot fathom the idea that this is actually how Barkskin is supposed to work or why you'd interpret it that way-- a spell that in fact can make things worse for you by getting it applied... regardless of how differently they wrote Mage Armor or Unarmored Defense in comparison to it.

So I'm going to go with my instincts on this one. Barkskin turns your skin into what is functionally chainmail armor (AC 16). I'm not going to include any DEX bonus, because you don't get a DEX bonus when wearing chainmail so that makes sense to me. But any other things that increase your AC when wearing chainmail will also work when under the Barkskin spell. That includes shields and cover.
 

jadrax

Adventurer
Last night I was thinking about it, and I came up with exactly why MerricB's interpretation of Barkskin just doesn't sit right with me-- that shields and cover do not grant additional AC points over the 16 from Barkskin. Here's why:

We have a guy standing around completely naked and has no DEX modifier. Right now he has an AC of 10.
He puts on a shield (+2 AC). Now, he has an AC of 12.
He goes behind 3/4ers cover, say behind an arrow slit (+5 AC). Now, he has an AC of 17.

A druid now walks up behind him and casts Barkskin on this guy... and his AC now drops a point because of it to AC 16?

How do we explain that?
Why would it drop?

It makes your minimum AC 16, if your AC is higher than that it has no effect. Honestly, the wording in this case could not be any less ambiguous.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Why would it drop?

It makes your minimum AC 16, if your AC is higher than that it has no effect. Honestly, the wording in this case could not be any less ambiguous.
It would drop because by the way you all are reading it-- that you don't gain the bonus AC from a shield or cover when you have Barkskin on-- the guy's AC wouldn't go up to match it if the order in which the guy received the stuff went differently.

Guy stands around naked. AC of 10.
A druid casts Barkskin on him. His AC rises to 16.
He is handed a shield. Shield has no effect, his AC remains at 16.
He walks behind an arrow slit. 3/4ers cover has no effect, his AC remains at 16.

So by the rules you all have in place for the way you are ruling it... the shield and cover count when they are given to the guy first (but the Barkskin spell drops his AC from 10 to 9)... but they don't count when he received the spell first, and the spell now gives him a +6 bonus to AC. You're saying he gets to keep his AC of 17 when he's already behind cover and holding his shield when the spell is cast... but only has an AC of 16 when he receives the Barkskin spell first, before being handed the shield and walking behind cover.

That makes absolutely no sense.
 

mcbobbo

Explorer
I could actually see a drop if it made you more stiff. And bark is typically not meant for the same movement as skin...
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I could actually see a drop if it made you more stiff. And bark is typically not meant for the same movement as skin...
So you're saying that the purpose of the Barkskin spell is to make the recipient's armor class worse?
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
So I'm going to go with my instincts on this one. Barkskin turns your skin into what is functionally chainmail armor (AC 16). I'm not going to include any DEX bonus, because you don't get a DEX bonus when wearing chainmail so that makes sense to me. But any other things that increase your AC when wearing chainmail will also work when under the Barkskin spell. That includes shields and cover.
I'm going with your interpretation. Barkskin is magical chainmail. The other way leads to stupid corner cases, which I don't like.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
It would drop because by the way you all are reading it-- that you don't gain the bonus AC from a shield or cover when you have Barkskin on-- the guy's AC wouldn't go up to match it if the order in which the guy received the stuff went differently.
This is mistaken -- it's simply not what I and others are saying.

The AC stays at 17 in your example. No one is saying different.

That makes absolutely no sense.
The effect of the Barkskin spell sets a minimum AC regardless of what else is happening.

Does it make sense? No -- again, I'm not sure anyone is saying this is a particularly good rule. We are saying it's not unclear, however:

If (barkskin) and (AC is <16), then AC=16.

The effect is purely metagamey, depending on character stats and not the in-world fiction. Again, I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it is what they've done.

If your AC is 10 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, your AC becomes 16.
If your AC is 14 (By whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, your AC becomes 16. 
If your AC is 16 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, it stays at 16.
If your AC is 18 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, it stays at 18.

Does this "make sense" no, not really. But that's what the rule is saying. House rule away.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
This is mistaken -- it's simply not what I and others are saying.

The AC stays at 17 in your example. No one is saying different.



The effect of the Barkskin spell sets a minimum AC regardless of what else is happening.

Does it make sense? No -- again, I'm not sure anyone is saying this is a particularly good rule. We are saying it's not unclear, however:

If (barkskin) and (AC is <16), then AC=16.

The effect is purely metagamey, depending on character stats and not the in-world fiction. Again, I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it is what they've done.

If your AC is 10 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, your AC becomes 16.
If your AC is 14 (By whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, your AC becomes 16.
If your AC is 16 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, it stays at 16.
If your AC is 18 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, it stays at 18.

Does this "make sense" no, not really. But that's what the rule is saying. House rule away.
Actually I am not even sure anymore that this is RAW. The spell explicitely refers to the Armor: "... regardless of what kind of armor you are wearing"

And a shield says: "increases your AC by 2"

So I do read it RAW as First dtermine AC from Armor, check for barkskin and then apply shield and cover. Magical chainmail it is.
 



DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
This is mistaken -- it's simply not what I and others are saying.

The AC stays at 17 in your example. No one is saying different.



The effect of the Barkskin spell sets a minimum AC regardless of what else is happening.

Does it make sense? No -- again, I'm not sure anyone is saying this is a particularly good rule. We are saying it's not unclear, however:

If (barkskin) and (AC is <16), then AC=16.

The effect is purely metagamey, depending on character stats and not the in-world fiction. Again, I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it is what they've done.

If your AC is 10 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, your AC becomes 16.
If your AC is 14 (By whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, your AC becomes 16. 
If your AC is 16 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, it stays at 16.
If your AC is 18 (by whatever means) and you cast Barkskin, it stays at 18.

Does this "make sense" no, not really. But that's what the rule is saying. House rule away.
But again... the rule and the spell doesn't say that.

The spell says:

"You touch a willing creature. 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."

Where exactly in those two sentences does it state that your AC cannot go higher than 16? Or that bonuses to that AC can not be used or do not apply? The fact is... in those two sentences it doesn't. You are only coming to that conclusion by pulling in how the wording of Mage Armor and Unarmored Defense are written, and adding those interpretations to those two sentences in the spell.

...the target's AC can't be less than 16. That's it. That's all it's saying. It does not reference an AC maximum. It does not reference your AC going up and then stopping. It says nothing about your DEX mod, the use of a shield, the addition of cover, or any other AC-modifying thing-- either that you definitely can use them, or that you definitely can't use them. It doesn't say anything Specifically one way or the other.

So with no Specific trumps General rule written here in this spell... there's no reason to suggest a shield wouldn't work (because the General rule is anyone with proficiency can use a shield for a +2 AC bonus) and there's no reason to suggest cover would no longer apply (because the General rule is everyone gains the benefit of cover for increased armor class except in the specific case of the ranged attacker who has a specific rule that allows him to ignore cover.)

Besides that... Mage Armor says your AC becomes 13 + DEX mod. It says nothing about cover applying, just like Barkskin says nothing about cover one way or another. Do you rule that someone with Mage Armor doesn't get a cover bonus to AC since the spell doesn't specifically say that it can? If you do rule it that way, I'd smile because at least you'd be consistent. :)
 
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jadrax

Adventurer
So with no Specific trumps General rule written here in this spell... there's no reason to suggest a shield wouldn't work (because the General rule is anyone with proficiency can use a shield for a +2 AC bonus)
Well, for starters, I am not sure this is technically correct. A shield does not give you an Bonus to Armour Class.

Page 144.

'Armor Class (AC). Armor protects its wearer from attacks. The armor (and shield) you wear determines your base Armor Class.'

'Shields. A shield is made from wood or metal and is carried in one hand. Wielding a shield increases your Armor Class by 2. You can benefit from only one shield at a time.'

There is nothing there about it being a '+2 AC bonus'. It is explicitly part of your base Armor Class.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Defcon, are you advocating a base AC of +6 on a spell of this level?
Yep.

Any character proficient with Medium Armor can spend 50 gold pieces to buy Scale Mail, which (when you add in a potential DEX bonus), gives the character an AC of 16.

A druid would be one of these characters... except for fluff reasons they aren't allowed to have an armor better than Hide. The Barkskin spell is a way for druids to get what should be their rightful AC if the game didn't prohibit metal armors.

And do characters who wear scale mail get to also wear shields and use cover? Absolutely. So to suggest that a druid doesn't get to because of a spell that only gives them a natural armor class is really kind of ridiculous in my opinion.

But in any case... Kobold Stew admits that they way he's ruling it is metagamey and makes no sense... but if he's comfortable with that... then so be it. I'm fine with that too. But I'm just trying to make it clear (especially for all those people reading this who might not have made up their mind yet) that what I am stating here is not a house-rule to a completely accepted and unambiguous rule... rather it is my opinion of how this spell could (and personally should) be understood as written.

It's obviously ambiguous, since we are arguing the language about it. Now it's up to everyone else to decide what way makes the most sense for them and their game.
 
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