Bonus Types

Many racial abilities, class features, spells, and magic items offer bonuses on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, Armor Class, ability scores, or skill checks. These bonuses are classified by type, and each type is briefly described below.
Bonuses of different types always stack. So a cloak of resistance +1 (adds a resistance bonus on saving throws) works with a paladin’s bonus on saving throws from the divine grace class feature. Identical types of bonuses do not stack, so a +3 longsword (+3 enhancement bonus for a +3 to attack, +3 to damage) would not be affected by a magic weapon spell that grants a weapon a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls.
Different named bonus types all stack, but usually a named bonus does not stack with another bonus of the same name, except for dodge bonuses and some circumstance bonuses.
Alchemical: An alchemical bonus represents the benefit from a chemical compound, usually one ingested prior to receiving the bonus. Antitoxin, for example, provides a +5 alchemical bonus on Fortitude saving throws against poison.
Armor: This is the bonus that nonmagical armor gives a character. A spell that gives an armor bonus typically creates an invisible, tangible field of force around the affected character.
Circumstance: This is a bonus or penalty based on situational factors, which may apply either to a check or the DC for that check. Circumstance modifiers stack with each other, unless they arise from essentially the same circumstance.
Competence: When a character has a competence bonus, he actually gets better at what he’s doing, such as with the guidance spell.
Deflection: A deflection bonus increases a character’s AC by making attacks veer off, such as with the shield of faith spell.
Dodge: A dodge bonus enhances a character’s ability to get out of the way quickly. Dodge bonuses do stack with other dodge bonuses. Spells and magic items occasionally grant dodge bonuses.
Enhancement: An enhancement bonus represents an increase in the strength or effectiveness of a character’s armor or weapon, as with the magic vestment and magic weapon spells, or a general bonus to an ability score, such as with the cat’s grace spell.
Inherent: An inherent bonus is a bonus to an ability score that results from powerful magic, such as a wish spell. A character is limited to a total inherent bonus of +5 to any ability score.
Insight: An insight bonus makes a character better at what he’s doing because he has an almost precognitive knowledge of factors pertinent to the activity, as with the true strike spell.
Luck: A luck bonus is a general bonus that represents good fortune, such as from the divine favor spell.
Morale: A morale bonus represents the effects of greater hope, courage, and determination, such as from the bless spell.
Natural Armor: A natural armor bonus is the type of bonus that many monsters get because of their tough or scaly hides. An enhancement to natural armor bonus bestowed by a spell (such as barkskin) indicates that the subject’s skin has become tougher.
Profane: A profane bonus represents the power of evil, such as granted by the desecrate spell.
Racial: Creatures gain racial bonuses—usually to skill checks—based on the kind of creature they are. Eagles receive a +8 racial bonus on Spot checks, for example.
Resistance: A resistance bonus is a general bonus against magic or harm. Resistance bonuses almost always affect saving throws.
Sacred: The opposite of a profane bonus, a sacred bonus relates to the power of good, such as granted by the consecrate spell.
Shield: Much like an armor bonus, a shield bonus to AC represents the protection a nonmagical shield affords. A spell that gives a shield bonus usually represents an invisible, tangible shield of force that moves to protect the character.
Size: When a character gets bigger (such as through the effect of an enlarge person spell), his Strength increases (as might his Constitution); that’s a size bonus.

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