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I've built my wizard using the Frozen Lance build, but the armour recommendation is a bit hard to stomach. Considering best in slot according to that build is the Vengettia Rugia and literally at the final level of the endless paths, that seems like a pretty late if not FINAL thing in the game to acquire. Are there any close seconds or chest pieces to use in the meantime that work well for a melee wizard?

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Basically any armor would work for a melee wizard. It's just so that more DR makes you slower. In early to mid game high DR has more impact than in the late game (because DR doesn't grow at the same rate as your health/endurance pool and enemies' damage output will grow). So best would be to start with the thickest armor like plate (unless you are not in the front line: then thin armor or no armor is okay) and gradually reduce it. What also works well is to use a high AR armor and boost it even more with Spirit Shield or Iron Skin or Llengrath's Safeguard. Of coue you only need that if you get hit frequently, not if you attack from the second ranks with the Lance or so. 

Good armor for melee wizards imo:

The last two don't really look like something a wizard would wear though.

My preferred heavy armor for melee wizards is https://pillarsofeternity.gamepedia.com/Argwes_Adra

 

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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So often I run into gear being useful on more than one character. All these builds have items that are called for by both so sometimes I'm at a loss for how to distribute them or what to use INSTEAD of optimal +4 stat boosting items.
Durance is currently wearing the Raiment robe, Grieving Mother was gonna use Argwes Adra and currently wearing Wayfarer's Hide. Wizard is currently wearing Angio's Gambeson mainly for the 2 casts of DAOM but it would also be useful on Durance to actually get buffs out quickly.
The auto cast of mirror image from Raiment seems nice, but I would think it'd become redundant when you get your second spell mastery and pick mirrored image instead of merciless gaze. 
Aloth's leather armour is currently being used by Aloth himself (party with two wizards!) as I figured he'd want the extra AOE instead of on a ring to make use of his debuffs and CCs he puts out.
That leaves Blaidh Golan, but at this stage of the game I've already defeated all those ogres in WM1, so is there really that many enemies this would be helpful against?

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