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

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Perhaps:

"This spell magically protects you when everything else fails, granting you AC 16. If your AC from regular sources (including, but not limited to, Dexterity modifiers, armor worn, shield bonus, and conditional modifiers such as cover) would be higher, use that AC instead."
But does that really feel like Barkskin? That's my secondary complaint about the spell (the first being the odd drafting). It doesn't make sense that a character with tough skin wouldn't benefit from a shield or from ducking behind a wall. Intuitively, tough skin and cover should stack. (And doesn't a focus on naturalistic rules means that we should be able to trust our intuition?) Giving a base AC when you have nothing else going for you feels more like a luck or divination spell, not a transmutation.

I'd write it as
"Your skin becomes unnaturally tough and rigid, like the bark of an ancient hardwood. Functionally, your skin acts as chainmail armor, giving you an AC of 16, and you no longer gain a bonus (or are penalized) for your Dexterity modifier to AC. This armor requires no proficiency, and you do not suffer a penalty to your movement for having a low Strength, as with standard heavy armor. Just as with chainmail, you suffer a disadvantage to Stealth checks."
 

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jadrax

Adventurer
Tbh, given that an Awoken Tree has AC 13, I am having a disconnect with Barkskin being equivalent to chain in the first place.

In the last open play test it (and the leaked alpha for that matter) it was just a +2 Bonus to AC (I.e. close to Studded Leather which seems about right in terms of realism).

Obviously the spell has changed massively since then, in ways that don't really seem to make a whole lot of sense.
 

mcbobbo

Explorer
Intuitively tough skin and armor should stack. Historicly people in full armor took damage from almost any blow. Broken limbs, etc.

Unfortunately D&D is not often intuitive.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
It doesn't make sense that a character with tough skin wouldn't benefit from a shield or from ducking behind a wall.

As has been discussed upthread, it is not helpful to consider these together. Shield, for better or worse, is considered armour and is part of the basic calculation of AC. Taking cover is a situational bonus, for which there are in-game mechanics for bypassing it.

Tbh, given that an Awoken Tree has AC 13, I am having a disconnect with Barkskin being equivalent to chain in the first place.

Well said.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
As has been discussed upthread, it is not helpful to consider these together. Shield, for better or worse, is considered armour and is part of the basic calculation of AC. Taking cover is a situational bonus, for which there are in-game mechanics for bypassing it.
Why not helpful? It makes more sense for Barkskin to stack with a shield than to not. Assuming it's not unbalancing, that should be the primary consideration.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Why not helpful? It makes more sense for Barkskin to stack with a shield than to not. Assuming it's not unbalancing, that should be the primary consideration.

I'll admit, I think I miss your point. Even though we don't agree on what the difference is, you seem to agree that there is a difference between these. But, since we don't agree (i.e. I think it makes more mechanical sense that the shield be part of the intended calculation of AC against which the spell is operating than an element of partial cover), keeping them separate makes sense too.

Your second sentence makes this point:

"Assuming it's not unbalancing, that [i.e. "it makes more sense..."] should be the primary consideration.

unbalancing is a mechancial consideration; that is what Im saying the spell is all about.
making sense (in an in-game world) is, I suggest, simply not possible with the wording of the spell as we have it. There is a necessary element of abstraction here (as, again, with hit points etc.) and I think no one has been able to tie the spell wording to making sense.

So: we are not in a position to assume it's not unbalancing; making (in-game, diegetic) sense of barkskin as worded. And it is not obvious that the shield (part of the armour rules, and part of the basic calculation of armour class) interacts with the spell in the same way (or necessarily a different way) than cover. Each element should be considered separately.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
"This spell magically protects you when everything else fails, granting you AC 16. If your AC from regular sources (including, but not limited to, Dexterity modifiers, armor worn, shield bonus, and conditional modifiers such as cover) would be higher, use that AC instead."

That would be way better than what we have now. It would seem like a weird way for that spell to work, but at least it would be coherent, and fulfill an interesting tactical niche because of not stacking with cover.
 

pemerton

Legend
Perhaps:

"This spell magically protects you when everything else fails, granting you AC 16. If your AC from regular sources (including, but not limited to, Dexterity modifiers, armor worn, shield bonus, and conditional modifiers such as cover) would be higher, use that AC instead."
That woud be wording to achieve your preferred interpretation.

My suggested wording was meant to achieve the "equivalent to magic chainmail" interpretation, which seems to be Mearls' approach.

I hope the designers know which interpretation they had in mind when they wrote and balanced the spell!
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
Perhaps:

"This spell magically protects you when everything else fails, granting you AC 16. If your AC from regular sources (including, but not limited to, Dexterity modifiers, armor worn, shield bonus, and conditional modifiers such as cover) would be higher, use that AC instead."

I think this is close. To me, Barkskin provides natural armor.

But I agree with Mike's tweet that a shield will improve your AC with Barkskin (and I'd add, natural armor). As written (and has always been the case in the game), it provides a bonus to your AC (+2) as is noted on the table and in the text. So if you have a natural armor of 12, then with a shield it would be 14.

This is also in line with the Barbarian's Unarmored Defense class feature. Again, the feature provides a natural AC of 10 + Dex + Con. But it specifically states you can still gain this benefit and use a shield. If using the shield doesn't improve your AC, then there's no point in the shield.

Randy
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
Intuitively tough skin and armor should stack. Historicly people in full armor took damage from almost any blow. Broken limbs, etc.

Unfortunately D&D is not often intuitive.

I'm not sure I fully agree with this (or perhaps I'm misunderstanding you). Armor can deflect a blow, or it can absorb some of the blow. But since it's worn, once those defenses are broken, you'll take damage. If your natural AC is less than that of the armor, then I think if the armor is defeated, then so is your natural armor, thus there isn't an inherent stacking of AC. If your natural armor is higher than a given type of armor, then yes, perhaps it would make more sense if the armor did provide some added protection, at least in the case of absorbing damage. But D&D's AC is based on deflection, not absorption. Either you hit, or you don't. So in that scenario, stacking doesn't make as much sense. Instead, hit points account for some of the absorption, along with combat skill, pain tolerance, and other factors.

The reality is that it's much more complex than even this, but adding that complexity doesn't necessarily improve the simulation of combat provided by the game.

With a shield, it's different. Even if the blow gets through the shield, it still has to contend with your armor, natural or otherwise. And that's assuming it actually gets to the armor. For example, and arrow or spear that pierces the shield may have to fully penetrate the shield and still have enough force to overcome the armor.

So it makes sense to me that a shield provides a bonus to AC (as the rules indicate) even if the AC provided from armor doesn't stack with natural armor.
 

mcbobbo

Explorer
D&D ' s entire combat system has been an abstraction since the beginning. I'm going to need a citation that demonstrates deflection is the only input to AC
 

D

dco

Guest
Why not helpful? It makes more sense for Barkskin to stack with a shield than to not. Assuming it's not unbalancing, that should be the primary consideration.
The power is already badly balanced (underpowered) and badly explained.

For rangers the spell is practically useless and they have a limited selection of spells. Normally they have better armor, perhaps for the animal companion but you lose snaring strike or hunters mark.

Then we have the druids, if the shield bonus stack then a druid using armor could have as best case scenario a +4 bonus if they didn't have better armor than hide (really cheap) or dexterity bonus. If the shield bonus doesn't stack the spells is practically useless except when shapechanging. So it's only interesting for one subclass of the 2 classes with access to it.

In any case if there is a sorcerer or mage in the group Mage armor is far better, it gives you AC 13+dex, lasts 8h and doesn't require concentration. Barkskin requires more level, only last 1h and requires concentration, the bonus is very situational depending on your dexterity, armor and perhaps shield.

I don't know if I'm missing something but after two years to see this kind of balance...
 

CapnZapp

Legend
If the shield bonus doesn't stack the spells is practically useless except when shapechanging. So it's only interesting for one subclass of the 2 classes with access to it.
A dangerous argument for adding power to the spell.

It is far preferable that those two other subclasses simply do not select the spell, than making it OP for the shapechanging druid, just to make it palatable to other subclasses. Always balance a feature at its extremes.

Assuming the spell really benefits shapechanged druids much more than other druids, you would need to accompany any overall improvement with some language to the effect of "this spell acts like regular equipment in that it disappears into the shapechanging druid and cannot be taken advantage of by the caster in shifted form" etc.
 

D

dco

Guest
A dangerous argument for adding power to the spell.

It is far preferable that those two other subclasses simply do not select the spell, than making it OP for the shapechanging druid, just to make it palatable to other subclasses. Always balance a feature at its extremes.

Assuming the spell really benefits shapechanged druids much more than other druids, you would need to accompany any overall improvement with some language to the effect of "this spell acts like regular equipment in that it disappears into the shapechanging druid and cannot be taken advantage of by the caster in shifted form" etc.
Well, adding power is interpretable because the spell is badly explained.
The shapechanging druid doesn't care if barkskin stacks with shield because when he is in animal form he can't use shields or armor, if he could then he would face the same problems, diminishing returns.
 

dwayne

Adventurer
Ok I suffered through almost all the post and still don't see what the difficulty is as the spell is very simple and easy to under stand. as it stated let me break it down "the target’s skin has a rough, bark-like appearance" this denotes the body of the person "and the target’s AC can’t be less than 16" which means it can be more "regardless of what kind of armor it is wearing" so wearing armor of a AC higher will over ride the lower.

Shields: "Wielding a shield increases your Armor Class by 2". so this means it will increase the armor that the person is physically wearing.

Under the armor and shield header: "Many warriors supplement their armor with a shield". this would denote in addition to physical wearing the armor.

So in closing if you wear armor that is more than 16 then it over rides the barkskin, other wise you use barkskin, any thing that increases armor is still effective for you and is not hindered by this spell at all only "armor it is wearing". You carry a shield like a weapon or any thing else and it improves the ac as it states "increases your Armor Class" and the barkskin does not say it can not be more just not less than 16.

As for mage armor: it would me useless for a druid as the barkskin would be better, mage armor can not be worn with armor because that would end the spell. The reason the mage armor denotes dex but also states this too "creature who isn’t wearing armor" so you can not be waering armor of any kind A shield is not armor its a shield and only increases the armor of the person so can be used with a mage armor spell as well as any thing else that's not armor you wear.
 

D

dco

Guest
As for mage armor: it would me useless for a druid as the barkskin would be better, mage armor can not be worn with armor because that would end the spell. The reason the mage armor denotes dex but also states this too "creature who isn’t wearing armor" so you can not be waering armor of any kind A shield is not armor its a shield and only increases the armor of the person so can be used with a mage armor spell as well as any thing else that's not armor you wear.
Tell that to a druid with AC 16 or more, or to the one that wants to cast another spell requiring concentration, etc.
The mage on the other hand has always a +3 bonus unless he spends one of their ability upgrades to gain a feat for armor, 8h duration and no concentration, if they are hit they don't lose the bonus and can use other spells with the concentrate tag, if the guy started with +3 dexterity he gets the same AC as with barkskin. Oh, and first level slot. In my opinion is much better the bonus a sorcerer or mage gets with this spell.
 

dwayne

Adventurer
Tell that to a druid with AC 16 or more, or to the one that wants to cast another spell requiring concentration, etc.
The mage on the other hand has always a +3 bonus unless he spends one of their ability upgrades to gain a feat for armor, 8h duration and no concentration, if they are hit they don't lose the bonus and can use other spells with the concentrate tag, if the guy started with +3 dexterity he gets the same AC as with barkskin. Oh, and first level slot. In my opinion is much better the bonus a sorcerer or mage gets with this spell.

As per mage armor: "The target’s base AC becomes 13 + its Dexterity modifier". Don't see what you are talking about a +3 bonus it does not state this at all just 13 base. Don't understand what you are talking about armor feat but the war wizard if that is what you mean is a useful and it lets you keep the concentration going even if taking damage. and barkskin as I said works under armor unlike mage armor with will not work as it is gone once you put on or wear armor over it.
 

D

dco

Guest
As per mage armor: "The target’s base AC becomes 13 + its Dexterity modifier". Don't see what you are talking about a +3 bonus it does not state this at all just 13 base. Don't understand what you are talking about armor feat but the war wizard if that is what you mean is a useful and it lets you keep the concentration going even if taking damage. and barkskin as I said works under armor unlike mage armor with will not work as it is gone once you put on or wear armor over it.
The mage starts with 10+Dex AC, casting this spell he gains a +3 bonus (13-10) and that bonus only goes away if he uses armor (or dispelled), to use armor effectively he needs a feat unless he wants disadvantages and the impossibility of casting spells. If he has +5 dex he get 18 AC, the spells grows up and stacks with dexterity. Has long duration and allows him to cast other buffs or spells with concentration. It's first level.

A druid with AC 16 casting barkskin gains a bonus of +0 (16-16=0), any druid of lvl 1 with dex +2 can have AC 16 or more. The spells gives a flat AC 16 and the potential bonus you get from it diminishes with dexterity, armor and in some people opinions with shields and cover. Needs concentration so he can not cast other buffs or spells with this requirement and if he is hit he can lose it. It is also a second level spell that is gained at higher level.

I see a great difference of fucntionality for each class.
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
D&D ' s entire combat system has been an abstraction since the beginning. I'm going to need a citation that demonstrates deflection is the only input to AC

Well, I said it was based on deflection, not necessarily the only input, and that was specifically describing AC granted by armor.

But it's implied in the way the rules work. Either you roll high enough to penetrate the armor (AC) or you don't. Penetrate includes a bludgeoning attack that is hard enough to damage through the armor. It doesn't matter if you're wearing padded armor or full plate, nor does it matter what kind of attack is used. Nor do specific types of armor reduce damage against specific types of attacks.

If an armor's AC was based off of absorbing damage, then it would absorb damage. A long sword deals the same range of damage regardless of what type of armor is worn.

An AC bonus granted by Dexterity is based on avoiding the blow, or moving in a way that turns what would have been a hit into a near miss.

Randy
 

dwayne

Adventurer
I think the varies armor bonuses for every thing has been replaced with the saves for example "if its a touch or deflection as in the old system" its now a dex save. Makes it easy with out tracking all those bonuses and having to have different ac bonuses for every thing as now it just uses the saves as per the abilities.
 

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