Calculating Armor Class (AC)

Wearing armor increases your armor class (AC), which in turn increases your chance of avoiding enemy attacks. An enemy’s attack roll total must meet or beat your AC to deal damage. So, the higher your AC, the greater your chance of avoiding damage!

A typical PC who isn’t wearing armor has an AC of 10 + their DEX modifier.

When you wear armor, use the AC equation listed with the type of armor you are wearing instead of the typical 10 + DEX modifier equation. See the Armor table for an armor type’s AC equation as well as specific bonuses or limitations it imposes when calculating AC.

Armor Types & Proficiencies

Armor types are categorized into three weights: light, medium, or heavy. You need proficiency in a weight of armor to use it well. For instance, a character with proficiency in light armor can wear any type of armor listed as light armor without penalty.

Your character can wear any kind of armor, regardless of proficiency. However, if you don’t have proficiency, you have disadvantage on all STR and DEX ability checks made while wearing it. You also can’t cast spells while wearing armor you aren’t proficient with.

Light Armor

Light armor provides minimal protection while still allowing its wearer to move with relative ease.

Padded. This full-body outfit consists of quilted layers of cloth and batting.

Leather. The breastplate and shoulder protectors of this armor are made of leather that has been stiffened by being boiled in oil. The rest of the armor is made of softer and more flexible materials.

Studded Leather. Made from tough but flexible leather, studded leather is reinforced with close-set rivets or spikes.

Brigandine. This knee-length coat is made of heavy cloth or canvas lined with small metal plates.

Medium Armor

Medium armor provides more protection than light armor, but it uses bulkier materials that interfere with range of motion.

Hide. This full-body suit of armor consists of thick furs and pelts.

Chain Shirt. A chain shirt is made of interlocking metal rings that are worn between layers of clothing or leather. This armor protects the wearer’s upper body and the
outer layers muffle the sound of the rings rubbing against one another.

Scale Mail. This armor consists of a coat and leggings (and perhaps a separate skirt) of leather covered with overlapping pieces of metal, much like the scales of a fish.

Breastplate. This armor consists of a fitted metal chest lined with supple leather. This armor leaves limbs unprotected but provides good protection for vital organs and allows for easier movement than most medium armor.

Half Plate. Half plate consists of shaped metal plates that cover most of the wearer’s body. It doesn’t include leg protection beyond greaves attached with leather straps.

Heavy Armor

Heavy armor provides the most protection of any armor type, but wearing it demands great physical prowess.

Ring Mail. This leather armor has heavy rings sewn into it. The rings help reinforce the armor against attacks.

Chain Mail. This is a head-to-toe suit of armor made of interlocking metal rings. Chain mail includes a layer of quilted fabric worn underneath the mail to prevent chafing and to cushion the impact of blows.

Splint. This armor is made of narrow vertical strips of metal riveted to a backing of leather that is worn over cloth padding. Flexible chain mail protects the joints.

Plate. Plate consists of shaped, interlocking metal plates to cover the entire body. A suit of plate includes gauntlets, heavy leather boots, a visored helmet, and thick layers of padding underneath the armor. Buckles and straps distribute the weight over the body.


A shield is handheld armor that is wielded instead of worn. This means their AC bonus can be lost if the shield is destroyed or becomes disarmed. Wielding a shield requires the use of one hand, which means a PC can’t use two-handed weapons while holding a shield. You can only benefit from one shield AC bonus at a time, even if you wield multiple shields.

Shield. This broad piece of wood and metal is held by a handle attached to one side.


ArmorCostAC BonusWeightProperties
Light Armor
Leather10 gp11 + DEX modifier10 lb.Natural Materials
Studded leather45 gp12 + DEX modifier13 lb.
Medium Armor
Hide10 go12 + DEX modifier (max 2)12 lb.Natural Materials
Chain shirt50 gp13 + DEX modifier (max 2)20 lb.
Scale mail50 gp14 + DEX modifier (max 2)45 lb.Noisy
Half plate750 gp15 + DEX modifier (max 2)40 lb.Noisy
Heavy Armor
Ring mail30 gp1440 lb.Noisy
Chain mail75 gp1655 lb.Cumbersome (STR 13), Noisy
Splint200 gp1760 lb.Cumbersome (STR 15), Noisy
Plate1,500 gp1865 lb.Cumbersome (STR 16), Noisy
Shield10 gp+26 lb.
* At the GM’s discretion, this armor can have the Natural Materials property. Make this decision when you acquire it and note it on your character sheet.

Getting Into and Out of Armor

The time it takes to don (put on) or doff (take off) armor depends on the armor’s weight.

Don. This is the time it takes to put on armor. You benefit from the armor’s AC only if you take the full time to don the suit of armor.

Doff. This is the time it takes to remove armor. If you have help, halve this time, except for shields, which take 1 action regardless of help.

Donning and Doffing Armor

Light Armor1 minute1 minute
Medium Armor5 minutes1 minute
Heavy Armor10 minutes5 minutes
Shield1 action1 action

Armor Properties

Many sets of armor have properties that affect their use, as shown in the Properties column of the Armor table.

Cumbersome. This armor is heavy and difficult to move in unless you have the required STR score. If your STR score doesn’t equal or exceed the STR score listed in parentheses, your movement speed is reduced by 10 feet while you wear the armor, even if you’re proficient with it.

Natural Materials. This armor is made from materials like wood, leather, or other organic materials. This renders the item immune to the effects of spells like heat metal or features like the rust monster’s Antenna action.

Noisy. This armor imposes disadvantage on any ability checks made to avoid notice, like sneaking, hiding, or otherwise attempting to move silently.

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