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August 18th, 2008, 15:51
Out of interest I did some research and I can as well post my comparision:

Regular armor give between 5-9 AC.

Type Armor/Dex (Max)
Padded +1/+8 (9)
Leather +2/+6 (8)
Studded +3/+5 (8)
Chainshirt +4/+4 (8)
Hide +3/+4 (7)
Scale +4/+3 (7)
Chainmail +5/+2 (6)
Breastplate +5/+3 (8)
Splint +6/+0 (6)
Banded +6/+1 (7)
Half-Plate +7/+0 (7)
Full Plate +8/+1 (9)

Regular shields give a max of +2 with the exception of Tower Shield.
Tower Shield give +4 with max dex +2.

For comparision: As a general DM rule, enhancements are /4 of the characters level rounded down (meaning +1 at level 5 and +5 at level 20). A character who uses shield have the potential to gain double the amount of AC.

As a general rule, a character who reach level 20 will most likely have 20 in their primary ability, meaning 20 dex as a dex-based class (Rogue).

There are four "builds" among regular classes:
1. Armor based with shield
Armor 8 Shield 4 Dex 1 + double enhancement = 11 + Enhancement x2

2. Armor based
Armor 8 Dex 1 + enhancement = 9 + Enhancement

3. Dex based
Armor 3 Dex 5 + enhancement = 8 + Enhancement

4. Dex based with shield
Armor 3 Shield 2 Dex 5 + double enhancement = 10 + Enhancement x2


Monks have no cap, but we can assume that their willpower scale up along with dexterity and that their dexterity begins high. They probably begin at 14 or 16 at level 1, meaning that they begin with +4-6 AC. They receive no enhancement but they get +1 AC bonus each 5 levels (compare with the /4 enhancement) above). If we assume that a monk pumps abilitypoints in wisdom and dexterity and reach 18-20 in each, they will have a total bonus of +11-13 at level 20. In addition to this a monk can use bracers of armor, so their only missing AC bonus really is the shield enhancement.

Now if we assume that they use the pile of money that a fighter would use on a big sword and armor, and instead waste that on an amulet of wisdom +8 and an equally good bonus to dexterity, then that bonus would be equal to what can be assumed by the armor+shield enhancement that a regular tank would get.

So in short, their AC will be better than a fighter carrying shield+armor. Their disadvantage is hitpoints. Their advantage is a great resistance against attacks that will deal full damage on a fighter. They will also deal more damage than a fighter using shield.

As a final note: Tower Shield generally needs the character to buy the proficiency. Fighters do get alot of feats but it might be painful for a paladin or barbarian to do so.
It should also be noted that a Barbarian do not get Heavy Armor proficiency either, meaning it's unlikely they will ever get an armor with +9 ac. In fact, they are more likely to have +6-7. While they will probably have a high dex, it will probably be less than a Rogue of the same level. And when they rage they drop AC anyway. All in all; a Barbarian is meant to take damage, which will ultimately wear them down unless they are healed and with the now nerfed "Heal" spell, healing 3-400 hitpoints during combat is unlikely.
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Okay, now roll sanity.

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