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

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
A spell that gives you an armor class as if you were wearing a certain kind of armor is in keeping with the nature of spells in traditional D&D.

A spell that gives you an armor class based solely on the numeric value of your current armor class, circumstances included, doesn't seem to model the same way.

I'm going to go with "you're wearing chain mail". YMMV, of course.
 

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am181d

Adventurer
Nope, it's not adding of additional armor that is the issue (since that gets covered by the "regardless of the armor you're wearing" statement in the spell itself)... it's the putting on of a shield or going behind cover and whether those "stack" with the Barkskin spell. Take a look earlier in the thread, and you'll see the full conversation about it.

I saw the earlier conversation. I didn't see a justification for the -1 claim.
 

mcbobbo

Explorer
The fact that it provides the same AC value as a chainmail is in no way suggestive that it functions like heavy armor in this respect.

So your position is that Barkskin should be superior to chain mail? Why?

Chain mail is heavy armor and does NOT allow for a Dex bonus. So if you feel it should be treated the same as chain mail, why should it not be treated the same as chain mail?

"It seems to me like setting a mininum AC value to barkskin, to replace the armor's numeric AC value in the armor table, also nullifying Dex as per that same armor, is also reasonable."

To this end, it should probably also give you disadvantage with Stealth, require a Str of 13, and increase your weight by 55 pounds. Because ALL of that comes with chain mail.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Your explanation of how you are parsing the language is very understandable and I agree that the way you are reading it is certainly one way of looking at it. And your idea that the way the spell is written, Barkskin isn't "AC is AC is AC" makes that clear. I thank you for that. :)

I just happen to believe that interpretation makes for a very illogical and stupid spell whose protective bonuses that get applied to a person can change anywhere from a +6 all the way down to a -1 based on how and where the person happens to be standing and what he's holding when the spell is cast on him... and I refuse to believe that was the way it was meant to be interpreted. ;)

So I am quite satisfied with how I am parsing the language in it.
Thank you for your civility. And you are definitely free to think it an illogical and stupid spell - I am certainly not defending the consequences of the spell as written.

However; Barkskin in no way gives negative bonuses. That "all the way down to a -1" is a misunderstanding.

All the spell does, is tell us "your AC can't be lower than 16".

Under no circumstances should the spell be interpreted as reducing your AC.

Simply calculate AC as normal, and after applying everything from shields to cover, if it still lower than 16, assume AC 16. That is all the spell does.

Either your AC is 16 or higher, in which case Barkskin does nothing. Or your AC is lower than 16, in which case Barkskin ups it to 16.

Good luck with your houserule, Defcon! :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
IMHO we're overthinking this one. I don't see any compelling reason not to accept the simplest interpretation: Barkskin gives you the effective protection of chain mail, if you're not already wearing better armor. You can achieve AC 18 with Barkskin and a shield.

I don't think it should matter what the text of Mage Armor says, but note that spell only works on unarmored creatures, allowing it simply to specify the target's new (base) AC. In contrast, Barkskin is intended to be compatible with existing armor, hence the difference in wording.

I think you have to go out of your way to assert that equipping a shield has no effect on your AC if you are unarmored but under the effect of Barkskin. As we have seen, it is certainly possible to construct such an argument, but I think it's odd to dismiss the simple interpretation as a house rule.

To be clear, I wouldn't label the other interpretation a house rule, either. An interpretation is just that, an interpretation. To each his or her own.
The spell is clearly not giving you the equivalent of chain mail. All it does is set your AC to 16, if lower.

That doesn't mean WotC might have intended for something along the lines of your houserule. And it does not mean that your houserule isn't better and cleaner.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I am trying to understand how having barkskin (AC 16) and being in cover (+5 AC) = 17 AC.

If I have 16 AC because my skin turns into bark, and I dive for cover, I should have 21 AC.
Are you asking me, how I came up with my number?

Or are you thinking about any number of houserule suggestions to treat Barkskin as actual armor floating around?

Because in the first case, I can answer:

Assume a Druid with AC 12. Whether this is because he's wearing AC 12 leather, or because his Dex is 14, or because he's using a shield does not matter.

This druid then takes cover. His AC increases by +5 to AC 17.

So far so good.

Now let's repeat this sequence of events, only the Druid casts Barkskin on himself first.

His AC is still calculated to 12, but because the spell tells us his AC can't be lower than AC 16, then so be it. His AC is 16.

Now he dives for cover. Regardless of how he got his AC 12 in the first place... his AC is now 17.
Leather + Cover = 12 +5 = 17.
Dex + Cover = 10 + 2 + 5 = 17.
Shield + Cover = 10 + 2 +5 = 17.

The spell is still only telling us his minimum AC is 16. So we are unaffected by the spell, and our AC remains 17. It is not increased because it is already above the minimum. And it is certainly not decreased, since the spell only talks about a minimum, not a maximum.

Hope this makes my reasoning clear, WarHawke :)

(None of this changes the fact that it would probably be a lot simpler if the spell just said Barkskin acts as magical chain)
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Nope, it's not adding of additional armor that is the issue (since that gets covered by the "regardless of the armor you're wearing" statement in the spell itself)... it's the putting on of a shield or going behind cover and whether those "stack" with the Barkskin spell. Take a look earlier in the thread, and you'll see the full conversation about it.
I don't think anyone is trying to pretend those issues doesn't exist, or that the objections aren't valid.

All some of us is saying is that the spell as written is very simple and very clear.

Whether it makes any sense whatsoever is very valid discussion. However, it does not change what the PHB says.

Myself, I am undecided. If Myers should tweet about it, or WotC issues errata, I'm fine with that.

But as written, I don't see any support for the idea that the spell acts as magical chainmail. That is a very worthy houserule, but still a house rule.

Best regards,
Zapp
 

CapnZapp

Legend
A spell that gives you an armor class as if you were wearing a certain kind of armor is in keeping with the nature of spells in traditional D&D.

A spell that gives you an armor class based solely on the numeric value of your current armor class, circumstances included, doesn't seem to model the same way.

I'm going to go with "you're wearing chain mail". YMMV, of course.
Just let me state on record I agree.

That is, the spell as written is rather strange, and not "keeping with the nature" of the spell from previous editions.
 

brehobit

Explorer
I don't know if Barkskin was intended to stack with shields (I think probably was, but no even a little clear) or Dex (almost certainly not). But I can't imagine it was intended to not stack with cover. That would be _really_ strange and meta-gamey.
 


77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
There's no house ruling going on here; the text of barkskin is just unclear.

Pro tip: if some text seems clear to you, but it is not clear to a lot of other people, then it is unclear.
 

Skyscraper

Explorer
So your position is that Barkskin should be superior to chain mail? Why?

Chain mail is heavy armor and does NOT allow for a Dex bonus. So if you feel it should be treated the same as chain mail, why should it not be treated the same as chain mail?

"It seems to me like setting a mininum AC value to barkskin, to replace the armor's numeric AC value in the armor table, also nullifying Dex as per that same armor, is also reasonable."

To this end, it should probably also give you disadvantage with Stealth, require a Str of 13, and increase your weight by 55 pounds. Because ALL of that comes with chain mail.

I do not advocate that barkskin is similar to chainmail. There is nothing in the text that says so. The only similarity between the two is that barkskin provides the same minimum AC value than the AC value that chainmail provides, 16.
 

mcbobbo

Explorer
I do not advocate that barkskin is similar to chainmail. There is nothing in the text that says so. The only similarity between the two is that barkskin provides the same minimum AC value than the AC value that chainmail provides, 16.
Did I mix up the quotes? I thought it was you who brought up the AC chart for armor?
 

Skyscraper

Explorer
Did I mix up the quotes? I thought it was you who brought up the AC chart for armor?

I brought up the AC chart for armor to illustrate that all armors provide a numeric AC value (e.g. 11 for leather) to which the DEX modifier is added.

I was saying that, likewise, barkskin could be interpreted as written, to provide a minimum AC value that replaces the armor's AC value. The final AC would then be modified by DEX bonuses, shields and other modifiers.

To me, the barkskin spell is unclear. There are however, contrarily to what is being conveyed by most people here, two ways to reasonably interpret the text. One makes little sense (everybody agrees on that), and the other makes sense.

To rephrase what I was saying, people that support the "AC = 16 minimun including all modifiers" position take the position that the "AC" in the barkskin spell descripition, means "AC including all modifiers". What I'm saying is that:

1) in the armor chart, there is a numerica value for AC than will later be modified by DEX modifiers, shields and other modifiers such as cover.
2) the text of the barkskin spell specifically mentions that the mimimum AC value will be 16 regardless of what type of armor the target is wearing. The text makes no reference to "regardless of shields, DEX mods, cover or other modifiers".

To me, the specific including of armor only in (2) and the exclusion of all other bonuses, then points towards interpretating the AC in the barkskin spell description in the way I mention in (1).

This is what I mean when I say that there is a reasonable interpretation for barkskin to provide a bonus like armor would.

However, since barkskin is not armor, and nothing in the spell says it is, there is no reason to provide any penalty (speed or ability checks) to barkskin.
 

Skyscraper

Explorer
On a side note, the "feel free to houserule" way of saying "I'm right because I follow the Rules as Written and you're wrong because you're not" is annoying. Everyone here is trying to simply have a discussion about an unclear spell description - at least I am. Please be open-minded enough to consider everyone's opinion in the light of a discussion, instead of assuming that you own the Truth of the Rules as Written and those that disagree, dont.

See, I believe that there are two reasonable litteral interpretations for this spell; however one makes little sense when applied to the context of the game. But I recognize that the two litteral interpretations seem valid.
 

mcbobbo

Explorer
Can you name any armor with an AC as high as 16 that permits a Dex bonus?

Do you not find it a balance issue to introduce an alternative that does permit this?
 

Tony Semana

First Post
I find it pretty straight forward personally: You're not suddenly wearing chain mail, you're suddenly Colossus (a wood version)!

Barkskin affects your skin. Your skin has an effective AC of 16. It is what gets hit after other defences have been breached.

So, calculate your AC as normal (Dex mod, armour with/without shield, cover) for the circumstance of the attack - if the attack hits (gets through your calculated AC) it lands on your skin BUT it may still be stopped by the skin's effective AC of 16.

eg. For all my moving, dodging, shield wielding and diving into cover, an attack still hits me (gets past my AC) and makes contact with my 'unprotected' neck, without barkskin I would immediately take the damage. With barkskin, if the attack value is less than 16 it glances off taking a few chips of wood but leaves me unharmed, if the attack value is more than 16 it bites true and I take damage.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
That doesn't mean WotC might have intended for something along the lines of your houserule. And it does not mean that your houserule isn't better and cleaner.
To be honest, as a community, we shouldn't be worried about determining RAW at all. Our concern should be determining and promoting the proper RAI.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Can you name any armor with an AC as high as 16 that permits a Dex bonus?

Do you not find it a balance issue to introduce an alternative that does permit this?

Well, that'll be up to Skyscraper to decide. However, I will say that for me personally... even though I am one of the strongest proponents of "Barkskin is like chainmail from a spell"... I can say that while the spell doesn't specify DEX mod should or shouldn't be calculated in it... I agree with you that for balance reasons I am choosing to run the spell a la standard issue Medium or Heavy Armor that gives an AC 16-- whether that be Scale Mail (which allows a +2 for DEX max to reach AC 16), or Chain Mail (which gives an AC 16 and no DEX bonus).

I figure if a druid could ordinarily start with an AC of 16 from armor at 1st level if it wasn't for that pesky "no metal" rule (before then adding in shields, cover, etc.)... getting that AC through the Barkskin spell is a worthwhile replacement.
 

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