Battle Trance and the elusive "armor bonus"

The following 3 feats grant a GUARD bonus in the form of an armor bonus:

  • Defensive Mastery
  • Natural Defense
  • Two Weapon Defense

The following 2 feats grant a Guard bonus but does not refer to an armor bonus:

  • Extraordinary Defense
  • Armor Mastery

There is one feat that has restrictions based on armor bonus:

  • Battle Trance

Now that the summary is out of the way, here is the issue. This is the relevant text of Battle Trance:

If your armor bonus is less than 3, it becomes 3.

In current standing, that means that if the bonus from the armor you are wearing + benefits for the first 3 feats listed above is less than 3, it becomes 3. The second two feats would stack.

So, the question is, does this interaction become unnecessarily muddy and confusing for a person building a character because of the use of the term armor bonus rather than Guard directly, and are these interactions what we want?


I can’t say the differentiation between your Guard and the bonuses applied to it has ever tripped me up. The distinction in Chapter 1 Step 3 made it seem pretty clear up front.


Also, the way that Armor Mastery and Extraordinary Defense implies that it tacks on another modifier and the formula becomes:


It might be helpful to alter the base guard formula at some point later on in the rules to include these extra non-agility/might/armor bonuses to establish that armor bonus is but one bonus that you may apply to your character’s guard.

GUARD = 10 + AGILITY + MIGHT + ARMOR ( + Additional Bonuses from feats/banes/boons)

When I read the question by @ucffool , I agreed that this is muddy. To mention a guard bonus as an armor bonus in one place, but not another seems confusing/inconsistent.

But then when I read @honeybadger’s response of “GUARD = 10 + AGILITY + MIGHT + ARMOR ( + Additional Bonuses from feats/banes/boons)” - this confusing was lifted.

I think the issue for me is that what @honeybadger wrote is not how I understood the rules or how these bonuses work, UNTIL I read that that’s how it should be. So I do think that altering the guard formula accordingly would be extremely useful.

Also, this came up because in the character builder I put all ARMOR bonuses for Guard from Feats under the feat/other section, rather than altering the armor value. This is strictly for readability and understanding HOW a character got to their GUARD total.
Sometimes, as a character levels up, people get so use to their character’s stats that they lose track of how they are made (D&D 5e this happens for instance), especially when something unexpected changes things.
This happens more often than it should because people are people, and thus why I think the issue I outlined could become an issue not during character creation, but in the future when people are trying to figure out the why.

So, not entirely true. Natural Defense states:

When you are not wearing armor, you gain an armor bonus to your Guard defense.

This is a restriction as well. Both Battle Trance and Natural Defense are meant to have restrictions so that they can not be stacked with armor.

Whereas Defensive Mastery, Two Weapon Defense, Armor Mastery, and Extraordinary Defense are meant to ADD to your armor bonus.

That being said, there might could be a clarity of terms made across the board. I know for Extraordinary Defense, it does add directly to Guard, and hence shouldn’t mention armor or bonus for it.

Whereas all the rest do interact more or less directly with your armor in some respects for it to make sense to have it mention armor bonus.

I think the thing that needs to be changed the most would be Armor Mastery mentioning Armor Bonus instead of Guard, in this case.

Also, Armor Bonus is further mentioned in weapons & equipment when talking about the defensive property of weapons (including shields):

Defensive - A defensive weapon grants advantage equal to the listed value when its wielder takes the defend action. Additionally, you gain a +1 armor bonus when wielding a defensive weapon (regardless of the defensive value listed).

What DOES need clarifying is Battle Trance. Instead of saying Armor Bonus, it should say “Armor Bonus from Armor”, as if you have a defensive item, you should still get the additional bonus(es) from those while in the trance, just not from your actual armor.

In fact, I think originally it was worded as Armor for actual armor and the armor bonus for things that added to it for that very reason, but perhaps somewhere it got muddled up.

@brianfeister help with my rambling thoughts here.

1 Like

Yes and yes.



Yes. This is the only change I see that needs to happen.

I think this is actually best written the way it is now – if your total armor bonus is less than 3, it becomes 3. This feat is actually fine without needing the armor bonus to stack +3 to Resolve, Toughness, and Advantage 1 on attacks is a great benefit and doesn’t need the help of stacking with “non-armor armor bonuses”. Basically, the idea is that you are resistant to attacks to a degree, however if your existing feats + equipment are giving you a bonus greater than 3, then we just don’t give you any bonus. I guess this could be clarified with:

If your total armor bonus is less than 3, it becomes 3

So then does Extraordinary Defense or Armor Mastery, which DO NOT mention ‘armor bonus’, stack with Battle Trance? I don’t care either way, I just want to be clear on the intention of these feats based on costs.

Not Armor Mastery. I said that’s the one bit that’s incorrect. Armor Mastery should give an armor bonus. Extraordinary Defense stacks with everything.