In Pathfinder 2e, your armor is generally dictated by your class. Even feats that can give you heavier armor, like Armor Proficiency, do not scale beyond Trained. The Sentinel Archetype is one shining exception that not only grants Trained in Light, Medium, or Heavy, but also scales your armor to Expert and beyond based on your own class’ Armor progression. It’s such a strong Archetype that only three classes in the whole game don’t benefit from taking it: Champion, Fighter, and Monk.
So if you’re an unarmored Caster or a light to medium armored Martial and you want something stronger, consider the Sentinel. Consider the freedom of having 10 or 12 Dexterity and still having strong AC. Consider that this is available as early as second level because of how front-loaded the Sentinel Dedication is.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
- Sentinel Dedication 2: This is one of the strongest dedication feats in the game. It increases your armor training from Light or Unarmored to Medium or if you already had Medium it increases your training to Heavy. The thing to remember about Pathfinder 2e is that the Dexterity Cap and Item Bonus from Armor (before Runes) always adds up to +5 (ignore certain Heavy options with a +6 for a moment), so while this doesn’t technically give you more armor than you were already capable of reaching, it redistributes how much Dexterity you need to reach your class’ full potential.
We’ll use a Sorcerer as an example. Let’s start with an Orc, because it helps show off how this works. An Orc gets a boost to Strength and a free boost and no Penalty. So we’ll boost Strength and Charisma. Then for our Background, anything with Charisma works and we put the free boost into Dexterity. Then of course our class boost is Charisma. Finally, we have our four free Boosts. We put one in Charisma for our 18 primary stat and then Strength, Dexterity, and whatever else we want, like Constitution.
- This gives us the required 14 Strength to ignore check penalties from our armor and 14 Dexterity to wear any +3 AC Medium armor with a +2 Dexterity cap. In fact, I chose Orc to show that if we switch that Dexterity in the Background step to Strength, and change nothing else, we have the 16 Strength and 12 Dexterity for any of the +4/+1 Medium armors. When we take this Dedication at Level 2 this gives us an AC of 19: 10 + 4 from Trained and +5 from the Armor and Dex. Compare that to an Unarmored Sorcerer who took three Dexterity Boosts being at only 17 AC at that level. That’s 10% more hits and 10% more crits incoming on the non-Sentinel Sorcerer. Sure, the Unarmored Sorcerer can eventually get enough Dexterity Boosts to catch up, but the Sentinel Sorcerer doesn’t have to spend any boosts on AC.
One last little trick to remember is that a Human can grab the Armor Proficiency general feat at 1st level on a Light Armor class to gain Medium Training before taking this Dedication if you want Heavy Armor on something like a Bard or Investigator. If you want to go all the way overboard, a Human with Versatile Heritage and the General Training Ancestry feat can push an Unarmored class up to Medium in time to get properly scaling Heavy Armor from this feat at level 2. I don’t really recommend this trick, but it’s neat that it’s possible.
- Steel Skin 4: This is actually a nice quality of life upgrade. Not having to take armor off to sleep means never being literally caught with your pants down. If you’re one of the classes that upgrades from Medium to Heavy with the Dedication it might still benefit you to pack Medium Armor as Pajamas until you get Mastery in your Heavy Armor.
- Armor Specialist 6: Outside of the Sentinel, Armor Specialization effects are exclusive to the Champion and the Fighter. The unusual part of this feat is how much earlier the Sentinel gets this bonus: the Champion receives this at level 7 and the Fighter at level 11. Most of the Specialization effects are a small amount of Resistance to different damage types, so it’s not a big bonus, but it is a nice passive benefit to wearing Medium and Heavy armor.
- Armored Rebuff 8: This is a pretty comical feat, but it requires decent investment in your Athletics to land the Shove, so you’ll need to have decent Strength. If you can invest in that properly, this is very nice. Consider that if your foe is Shoved so you’re out of their reach, they have to waste an Action to walk back into melee with you. If you’re our Sorcerer Orc example from above, this might be all you need to make enough space to freely cast a 3-action spell. If you’re built to fight in melee, consider whether or not this will cost you an Action to get back into melee on your turn.
- Mighty Bulwark 10: If you’re relying on the Bulwark trait, this is amazing. Increasing from +3 to +4 is nice, but also applying Bulwark to all Reflex saves creates the incredibly comical rules interaction where your Bulwark applies to the Grab an Edge Reaction. Obviously, don’t take this if you’re not using one of the 4 armors in the game with Bulwark.
- Sacrifice Armor 10: This Champion feat is kind of like using your armor to perform a shield block. It’s actually quite a bit of damage reduction because, “The level of an item with runes etched onto it is equal to the highest level among the base item and all runes etched on it; therefore, a +1 striking mace (a 4th-level item) with a disrupting rune (a 5th-level rune) would be a 5th-level item.” You can’t really use this more than once in a fight and you’ll need to repair the armor right after combat, but it might save your life if you use it against a critical hit. Just remember that Broken reduces your armor’s item bonus to AC, so if you use this early in a fight you’re going to take more damage due to reduced AC.
- Greater Interpose 16: This feat improves the Sacrifice Armor feat in two important ways. It expands the trigger to include damage taken from effects with Reflex saves, which is very handy. But more importantly, any double damage from a Critical Attack or a Critical Failure on a Reflex Save is negated before applying the damage reduction of Sacrifice Armor, further incentivizing you to save it for a critical hit.
Who Should Take This?
Let’s instead talk about who doesn’t benefit from this: Champion, Fighter, and Monk. Champion and Fighter already have Heavy Armor training and Armor Specialization, so they lose out on the benefits of two of the feats. You might consider this as a second Archetype taken later when you can pick up Armored Rebuff and Mighty Bulwark, but otherwise leave this to people who can upgrade to a new armor type. Not Monk, though. Monk has so many features that require being Unarmored and it already begins the game with Expert in Unarmored. No matter what, this Archetype is a downgrade for Monks.
While the Sentinel is an upgrade to almost every other class, Druids should remember that Metal Armor is Anathema and all mundane Heavy Armor contains metal. Eventually, you’ll be able to wear something heavy if it is made of Dragonhide. Aside from that little note, everyone else gets the full benefits of the Sentinel Dedication from second level. Instead of listing all of the classes, with the exceptions listed above, a class scores Blue if it has Unarmored or Light Training and does not have Dexterity as a class boost and is Green if it already has Medium training or if it has the option to start with 18 Dexterity thanks to a class boost (ex: ranger).