About Armor

Your armor protects you in combat, but it can also slow you down. See (Armor) for the list of armors. The information given on this table is for Medium-size creatures. The time it takes to get into or out of armor depends on its type (see Donning Armor).

Armor Qualities

What armor you wear isn't the only fashion statement you can make, but it's a big one. In addition, depending on your class, you may be proficient in the use of all, some, or no armors, including shields. To wear heavier armor effectively, you can select the Armor Proficiency feats, but most classes are proficient in the armors that work best for them. When choosing armor, keep in mind these factors:

Cost: The cost of the armor.

Armor Bonus: The protective value of the armor. Bonuses from armor and a shield stack. This bonus is an armor bonus, so it does not stack with other effects that increase your armor bonus, such as the mage armor spell or bracers of armor.

Maximum Dex Bonus: This number is the maximum Dexterity bonus to AC that this type of armor allows. Heavier armors limit your mobility, reducing your ability to dodge blows. For example, chainmail permits a maximum Dexterity bonus of +2. A character with a Dexterity score of 18 normally gains a +4 bonus to his AC, but if he's wearing chainmail, his bonus drops to +2. His final Armor Class would be 17 (10 + 5 + 2 = 17), assuming he has no other modifiers. (The +5 is the chainmail and the +2 is his maximum Dexterity bonus.)

Even if your Dexterity bonus drops to 0, you are not considered to have lost your Dexterity bonus. For example, a rogue can't sneak attack you just because you're wearing half-plate.

Shields: Shields do not affect your maximum Dexterity bonus.

Armor Check Penalty: Anything heavier than leather hurts your ability to use some of your skills. Some characters don't much care, but others do. The barbarian, in particular, faces a trade-off between heavier armor and better skill checks.

Skills: The armor check penalty number is the armor check penalty you apply to certain skill checks. If you're wearing any armor heavier than leather, you can't climb, sneak, or rumble as well as you would if you weren't wearing such heavy armor. This penalty applies to Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, and Tumble checks. Swim checks face a similar penalty based on the weight of the gear you are carrying and wearing.

Shields: If you are wearing armor and using a shield, both armor check penalties apply.

Non proficient with Armor Worn: If you wear armor with which you are not proficient, you suffer the armor's armor check penalty on attack rolls and on all skill checks that involve moving, including Ride.

Sleeping in Armor: If you sleep in a suit of armor with an armor check penalty of -5 or worse, you are automatically fatigued the next day. You suffer a -2 penalty on Strength and Dexterity, and you can't charge or run.

Arcane Spell Failure: Armor interferes with the gestures that you need to make to cast an arcane spell. Arcane spellcasters face the possibility of arcane spell failure if they are wearing armor, so wizards and sorcerers usually don't wear armor. Bards have a hard choice because they're more likely to get into combat than wizards and they cast fewer spells, so getting some armor makes more sense for them than it does for a wizard.

Casting an Arcane Spell in Armor: When you cast an arcane spell while wearing armor, you often must make an arcane spell failure roll. The number in the Arcane Spell Failure column on the table below is the chance that the spell fails and is ruined. If the spell lacks a somatic (S) component, however, you can cast it without making the arcane spell failure roll.

Shields: If you are wearing armor and using a shield, add the two numbers together to get a single arcane spell failure chance.

Speed: Medium and heavy armor slows you down. It's better to be slow and alive than to be quick and dead, but don't neglect to give speed some thought. The number on the table below is your speed while wearing the armor. Humans, elves, half-elves, and half-orcs have an unencumbered speed of 30 feet. They use the first column. Dwarves, gnomes, and halflings have an unencumbered speed of 20 feet. They use the second column.

Shields: Shields do not affect your speed.

Weight: The weight of the armor. Armor fitted for Small characters weighs half as much.

Getting Into And Out Of Armor

The time required to don armor depends on its type (see Donning Armor).

Don: This column records how long it takes you to put the armor on. (One minute is 10 rounds.)

Don Hastily: This column records how long it takes you to put the armor on in a hurry. Hastily donned armor has an armor check penalty and armor bonus each 1 point worse than normal. For example, if Tordek donned his scale mail hastily it would take him minute (10 rounds), the armor would provide only a +3 bonus to his AC (instead of +4), and his armor check penalty would be -5 (instead of -4).

Remove: This column records how long it takes you to get the armor off (especially important to know if you are suddenly submerged; see the drowning rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide).

Donning Armor
Armor TypeDonDon HastilyRemove
Padded, leather, hide, studded leather, or chain shirt 1 minute5 rounds1 minute*
Chitine web, nightscale, spidersilk, tentacled hide1 minute*3 rounds1 minute*
Breastplate, scale mail, chainmail, banded mail, or splint mail4 minutes*1 minute1 minute*
Half-plate or full plate4 minutes**4 minutes*1d4+1 minutes*
Stonemail4 minutes*1 minute1 minute*
Feeler plate, heavy plate8 minutes**8 minutes*2d4+1 minutes
Shield (any)1 move actionn/a1 move action
Gnome twist cloth, mammoth leather1 minute5 rounds1 minute*
Interlocking scale, tumbler's breastplate4 minutes*1 minute1 minute*
Heavy plate, stone plate, interlocking plate4 minutes**4 minutes1d4+1 minutes*
Battle plate, mountain plate6 minutes**4 minutes1d6+1 minutes*
*If you have some help, cut this time in half. A single character doing nothing else can help one or two adjacent characters. Two characters can't help each other don armor at the same time.
**You must have help to don this armor. Without help, you can only don it hastily.

Armor For Unusual Creatures

The information on Table: Armor is for Medium-size creatures. Armor for Tiny or smaller creatures costs half as much as that for Medium-size creatures (provided you can find an armorsmith who can even make it), provides half as much protection, and weighs one-tenth or less as much. Armor for Large characters costs double and weighs twice as much, and for Huge creatures it costs quadruple and weighs five times as much. Armor for even larger creatures must be specially made and has no standard price or weight.

Armor for a nonhumanoid creature costs twice as much as the same armor for a humanoid.


Shield Bash Attacks: You can bash an opponent with a shield, using it as an off-hand weapon. A Medium-size character deals 1d4 points of damage (x2 crit) with a large shield or 1d3 (x2 crit) with a small one. (You cannot bash with a tower shield.) A Small character deals ids points of damage (x2 crit) with a large shield or 1d2 (x2 Grit) with a small one. Used this way, the shield is a martial bludgeoning weapon. For purposes of attack penalties, treat a shield as a light weapon. If you use your shield as a weapon, you lose its AC bonus until your next action (usually until the next round).

Maztican Armor

Even if the Mazticans could make metal armor, the tropical heat that pervades the area makes such protection impractical. Most Maztican characters wear either padded armor or stiffened fiber armor (treat as leather). Eagle and jaguar knights (see above) have earned the right to wear heavier armor specific to their orders. Knight armor comes in two varieties, one for each type of Maztican knight. The two armors have the statistics of masterwork hide armor but differ in appearance and construction. Both types cover nearly all of the wearer's body, exposing only the face, hands, and feet. Each suit of knight armor is fitted to the wearer by a master armorsmith. Only a knight of the appropriate order is allowed to wear knight armor. The punishment for wearing armor one is not entitled to is death.

Dragonhide Armor

Armorsmiths can work with dragon hides to produce masterwork armor or shields for the normal cost. The armor created has no special properties other than its masterwork quality (An armorsmith who also has the Dragoncrafter feat can imbue even greater powers into the armor created; see Dragoncraft Items, below)

Dragonhide Armor shows the types and sizes of armor a dragon's body can supply. The terms on the table are defined below.

Armor Type and Size: These four columns show which kinds of armor can be made from dragonhide, and the largest size a single set of armor can be if made from a dragon of a certain size. For example, a Medium dragon's hide is large enough to make one suit of hide armor for a Small creature, or one suit of banded mail for a Tiny creature.

A single hide can yield more than one set of armor if the armor is sized for creatures smaller than the size given on the table. For each size category of the finished armor smaller than the size given on the table, double the number of sets of armor can be made. For instance, when making banded mail from the hide of a Colossal dragon, an armorsmith can make one suit of Huge armor (as the table indicates), two suits of Large armor, four suits of Medium armor, eight suits of Small armor, sixteen suits of Tiny armor, thirty-two suits of Diminutive armor, or sixty-four suits of Fine armor.

Shield?: A "Yes" entry in this column indicates that enough hide is left over after the armorsmithing process to create one heavy or light shield or a buckler sized for a character the same size as the dragon. An armorsmith can choose to make shields instead of armor out of all or part of a dragon's hide. Creating a tower shield uses up as much hide as a suit of hide armor. Creating two heavy shields or two light shields or two bucklers uses up as much hide as a suit of hide armor.

Special Properties of Dragonhide Armor: Many characters favor dragonhide armor simply because it looks good. In combat, dragonhide armor isn't any better than normal armor; however, the armor itself remains immune to energy damage of the same type as the breath weapon of the dragon that supplied the hide. For example, red dragon armor is impervious to fire. The character wearing the armor does not benefit from this property.

Dragon Hide Armor
Armor Type and Size
Dragon SizeHideBanded MailHalf-PlateFull Plate or BreastplateShield?

Elven and Wildwood Armor

Elves are famous for lightweight armor that provides good protection and considerable freedom of movement. Unlike dwarves, who typically innovate in armorcrafting by inventing new exotic types of armor, elves learn to use the materials available to them - often augmenting them through alchemy or the simple application of skill - to create extraordinarily supple and flexible suits of armor. Indeed, the armor popularly called elven chain is nothing but a regular suit of chainmail made from mithral.

Over the years, these inventions have spread to halfling and raptoran armorsmiths, whose customers typically have similar needs regarding a suit of armor's weight and encumbrance.

Each suit of armor described below represents an existing kind of armor with a special material used in its creation.

In addition to their innovations with special armor materials, the races of the wild have also created armor modifications tailored to their needs.

Armor of the Wastes

It is arduous to wear even light armor in the blazing heat of the waste. Restricted motion, combined with stiff and heavy material, produces rapid overheating and dehydration. People who make their home in this environment have developed special forms of protection that don't cause this sort of problem. Inhabitants of the waste also produce more typical forms of armor and shields using local materials.

Aquatic Armor

Wearing any sort of armor in the water is burdensome, even for aquatic peoples, since it interferes with swimming. Heavy armors are particularly impractical, since the wearer must fight the tendency to sink. Even beings that breathe water usually do not want to drift into the blackwater depths where untold horrors lurk.

Even if you're not in the water, wearing armor in an aquatic setting is risky, whether on board ship or fighting to defend a bridge. There is an ever-present danger of falling, or worse, being pushed into the water by an enemy's rush. Generally aquatic inhabitants and seafarers wear light armor or no armor at all. Heavy armor is often magically treated to reduce its weight or increase its flexibility, or uses special materials whose benefits make up for the disadvantages. Shields larger than bucklers are very uncommon, since they don't allow free movement of the arm for swimming.

Most kinds of metal armor do not fare well in water, especially seawater, so aquatic peoples use alternative materials, such as coral, stone, or plates from large crustaceans. Typical leather armors also don't hold up in a watery environment, and might be replaced with sharkskin, kelp, or fish scales.

Magic Armor Abilities

Stores, Gear & Treasure