Armor increases your character’s defenses, but some medium or heavy armor can hamper movement. If you want to increase your character’s defense beyond the protection your armor provides, they can use a shield. Armor protects your character only while they’re wearing it.
Your Armor Class (AC) measures how well you can defend against attacks. When a creature attacks you, your Armor Class is the DC for that attack roll.
Use your proficiency bonus for the category (light, medium, or heavy) or the specific type of armor you’re wearing. If you’re not wearing armor, use your proficiency in unarmored defense.
Donning and Removing Armor
Getting in and out of armor is time consuming—so make sure you’re wearing it when you need it! Donning and removing armor are both activities involving many Interact actions. It takes 1 minute to don light armor, 5 minutes to don medium or heavy armor, and 1 minute to remove any armor.
Table 6–3: Unarmored Defense provides the statistics for the various forms of protection without wearing armor. Table 6–4: Armor provides the statistics for suits of armor that can be purchased and worn, organized by category. The columns in both tables provide the following statistics.
The armor’s category—unarmored, light armor, medium armor, or heavy armor—indicates which proficiency bonus you use while wearing the armor.
This number is the item bonus you add for the armor when determining Armor Class.
Dexterity Modifier Cap (Dex Cap)
This number is the maximum amount of your Dexterity modifier that can apply to your AC while you are wearing a given suit of armor. For example, if you have a Dexterity modifier of +4 and you are wearing a suit of half plate, you apply only a +1 bonus from your Dexterity modifier to your AC while wearing that armor.
While wearing your armor, you take this penalty to Strength‐ and Dexterity‐based skill checks, except for those that have the attack trait. If you meet the armor’s Strength threshold (see Strength below), you don’t take this penalty.
While wearing a suit of armor, you take the penalty listed in this entry to your Speed, as well as to any other movement types you have, such as a climb Speed or swim Speed, to a minimum Speed of 5 feet. If you meet the armor’s Strength threshold (see below), you reduce the penalty by 5 feet.
This entry indicates the Strength score at which you are strong enough to overcome some of the armor’s penalties. If your Strength is equal to or greater than this value, you no longer take the armor’s check penalty, and you decrease the Speed penalty by 5 feet (to no penalty if the penalty was –5 feet, or to a –5‐foot penalty if the penalty was –10 feet).
This entry gives the armor’s Bulk, assuming you’re wearing the armor and distributing its weight across your body. A suit of armor that’s carried or worn usually has 1 more Bulk than what’s listed here (or 1 Bulk total for armor of light Bulk). An armor’s Bulk is increased or decreased if it’s sized for creatures that aren’t Small or Medium in size, following the rules on page 295.
Each type of medium and heavy armor belongs to an armor group, which classifies it with similar types of armor. Some abilities reference armor groups, typically to grant armor specialization effects, which are described on page 275.
The traits for each suit of armor appear in this entry. Armor can have the following traits.
Bulwark: The armor covers you so completely that it provides benefits against some damaging effects. On Reflex saves to avoid a damaging effect, such as a fireball, you add a +3 modifier instead of your Dexterity modifier.
Comfort: The armor is so comfortable that you can rest normally while wearing it.
Flexible: The armor is flexible enough that it doesn’t hinder most actions. You don’t apply its check penalty to Acrobatics or Athletics checks.
Noisy: This armor is loud and likely to alert others to your presence when you’re using the Avoid Notice exploration activity (page 479).
Armor Specialization Effects
Certain class features can grant you additional benefits with certain armors. This is called an armor specialization effect. The exact effect depends on which armor group your armor belongs to, as listed below. Only medium and heavy armors have armor specialization effects.
Chain: The armor is so flexible it can bend with a critical hit and absorb some of the blow. Reduce the damage from critical hits by either 4 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for medium armor, or 6 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for heavy armor. This can’t reduce the damage to less than the damage rolled for the hit before doubling for a critical hit.
Composite: The numerous overlapping pieces of this armor protect you from piercing attacks. You gain resistance to piercing damage equal to 1 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for medium armor, or 2 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for heavy armor.
Leather: The thick second skin of the armor disperses blunt force to reduce bludgeoning damage. You gain resistance to bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for medium armor, or 2 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for heavy armor.
Plate: The sturdy plate provides no purchase for a cutting edge. You gain resistance to slashing damage equal to 1 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for medium armor, or 2 + the value of the armor’s potency rune for heavy armor.
Each type of armor is described in more detail below. Breastplate: Though referred to as a breastplate, this type of armor consists of several pieces of plate or half‐plate armor (page 276) that protect the torso, chest, neck, and sometimes the hips and lower legs. It strategically grants some of the protection of plate while allowing greater flexibility and speed.
Chain Mail: A suit of chain mail consists of several pieces of armor composed of small metal rings linked together in a protective mesh. It typically includes a chain shirt, leggings, a pair of arms, and a coif, collectively protecting most of the body.
Chain Shirt: Sometimes called a hauberk, this is a long shirt constructed of the same metal rings as chainmail. However, it is much lighter than chainmail and protects only the torso, upper arms, and upper legs of its wearer.
Explorer’s Clothing: Adventurers who don’t wear armor travel in durable clothing. Though it’s not armor and uses your unarmored defense proficiency, it still has a Dex Cap and can grant an item bonus to AC if etched with potency runes (as described on page 581).
Full Plate: Plate mail consists of interlocking plates that encase nearly the entire body in a carapace of steel. It is costly and heavy, and the wearer often requires help to don it correctly, but it provides some of the best defense armor can supply. A suit of this armor comes with an undercoat of padded armor (see below) and a pair of gauntlets (page 285).
Half Plate: Half plate consists of most of the upper body plates used in full plate, with lighter or sparser steel plate protection for the arms and legs. This provides some of the protection of full plate with greater flexibility and speed. A suit of this armor comes with an undercoat of padded armor (see below) and a pair of gauntlets (page 285).
Hide: A mix of furs, sturdy hide, and sometimes molded boiled leather, this armor provides protection due to its layers of leather, though its bulkiness slows the wearer down and decreases mobility.
Leather: A mix of flexible and molded boiled leather, a suit of this type of armor provides some protection with maximum flexibility.
Padded Armor: This armor is simply a layer of heavy, quilted cloth, but it is sometimes used because it’s so inexpensive. Padded armor is easier to damage and destroy than other types of armor. Heavy armor comes with a padded armor undercoat included in its Price, though it loses the comfort trait when worn under heavy armor. You can wear just that padded armor undercoat to sleep in, if your heavy armor is destroyed, or when otherwise not wearing the full heavy armor. This allows you to keep the armor invested and benefit from the power of any runes on the associated heavy armor, but no one else can wear your heavy 1 armor without the padded undercoat.
Scale Mail: Scale mail consists of many metal scales sewn onto a reinforced leather backing, often in the form of a long shirt that protects the torso, arms, and legs. Splint Mail: This type of armor is chain mail reinforced with flexible, interlocking metal plates, typically located on the wearer’s torso, upper arms, and legs. A suit of this armor comes with an undercoat of padded armor
(see above) and a pair of gauntlets (page 285).
Studded Leather: This leather armor is reinforced with metal studs and sometimes small metal plates, providing most of the flexibility of leather armor with more robust protection.