DnD Armor: AC as Your First Defense Against Not Dying

You didn’t really think you could rock up to a fight naked did you? Or in your street clothes perhaps? If you’re hoping to get your hands dirty in combat, you’re going to need some way to keep your opponents from pounding you into the ground or smearing you into a fine paste.

Wear dnd armor, keep yourself from getting hit so much, defeat those that seek to kill you, and live to fight another day.

How do you calculate armor class? 

Without armor, your base AC is 10 + your dexterity modifier.Wearing armour will grant you the AC according to the types of armor this table:

Armor Cost Armor Class (AC) Strength Stealth Weight
Light Armor
Padded 5 gp 11 + Dex modifier Disadvantage 8 lb.
Leather 10 gp 11 + Dex modifier 10 lb.
Studded leather 45 gp 12 + Dex modifier 13 lb.
Medium Armor
Hide 10 gp 12 + Dex modifier (max 2) 12 lb.
Chain shirt 50 gp 13 + Dex modifier (max 2) 20 lb.
Scale mail 50 gp 14 + Dex modifier (max 2) Disadvantage 45 lb.
Breastplate 400 gp 14 + Dex modifier (max 2) 20 lb.
Half plate 750 gp 15 + Dex modifier (max 2) Disadvantage 40 lb.
Heavy Armor
Ring mail 30 gp 14 Disadvantage 40 lb.
Chain mail 75 gp 16 Str 13 Disadvantage 55 lb.
Splint 200 gp 17 Str 15 Disadvantage 60 lb.
Plate 1,500 gp 18 Str 15 Disadvantage 65 lb.
Shield 10 gp +2 6 lb.

Does your armor class increase? 

It increases when the relevant stat goes up (dex). It will also increase when you wear better kinds of the armor you’re proficient in. For instance, hide is medium armor, but it only grants a max 14 AC; half plate, also medium armor, grants a max of 17 AC.

Does AC increase with level? 

It can, but only if you armour receives a dex bonus and you invest in dex as you level. The bonus you get depends on your ability score, and the bonus only increases on the even numbers. So when your dex score goes from 12 to 13, you still get the +1 bonus you got to dex like when it was only 12.

However, when your dex score goes from 13 to 14 (an even number), your dex modifier bonus goes up to +2.

You receive +1 bonus for every 2 points of dex after 10 and you receive a -1 bonus for every 2 points of dex under 10.

Some Armors like medium armour  only lets you use your dex bonus up to +2 though, so increasing your dex ability score beyond 14 will not affect your AC, as you get +2 when you hit 14.

However Light armour allows you to add all your dexterity bonus on top of the armour’s own AC.

A super agile rogue with a dex score of 20, wearing studded leather has an armour score of 12+5 for a total of 17. Damn! That’s not bad.

Unarme Dupper

What is a good AC for D&D?

The best offense is a good defense, right? A good base AC is an important thing to help you not die. At the very least you should be having an AC of 14 at low levels, but more is better, and if you can get some scale or a breastplate you’re looking at 16.

Those extra two points go a long way to making your enemies fail to hit their rolls.

Can sorcerers wear light armor? Do sorcerers get armor? Why can’t wizards wear armor?

Some classes like sorcerers and wizards do not have any proficiency in mundane armour, but they do have other options available to them.


How good is mage armor?

Mage armor is good to cast on things that aren’t already wearing armor, or creatures (allies) whose AC has somehow taken a hit and is lower than it should be.

Mage armor makes the targets base AC 13 + dex, so it’s essentially like throwing a chain shirt on someone, and they don’t need to know how to wear medium armor.

If you’re thinking of going unarmored and using mage armor, using the super agile rogue example, you could achieve an armour class as high as 18!

Do shields count as armor 5e? 

Shields are shields, but they contribute to your armor class. You wield it in one hand and it gives you a +2 to your AC. Hey you there in the back, put that second shield down; no, you cannot dual wield them.

Using a shield can be more than just hiding behind a piece of wood strapped to your arm. Visualize how you may move differently with such a thing attached to you, how you’ll have to account for its extra size and weight, how you can use it offensively if push comes to shove.

A shield is AC, but I bet you can think of some creative ways of using it for more than just a shield.

Does medium armor give disadvantage on stealth? 

For the most part, no. Medium armor is pretty stealthy if you know how to move in it, with the exception of two specific kinds: scale mail (clinky jingly rings) and half plate (clanky clunky plates).

Medium armor is a pretty safe bet if you’re still trying to be stealthy while maintaining a good level of protection.

What does it mean to be proficient in armor?

Anyone can strap on a pair of greaves or tuck their melon into a helmet; wearing armor isn’t enough to be protected by it, you must understand how it works, how to move in it, how to effectively use it as protection, and what its limitations are. In other words, you must be proficient at wearing armor.

Because armor varies so wildly, it’s not a catch-all category; you cannot be proficient in studded leather (light) armor and expect to know how to don (and doff) a suit of armor made of full heavy platemail!

Light armor, medium armor, and heavy armor all have their different demands, and you’ll have to decide which your character is going to be proficient in.

The Players’ Handbook (5e) states “If you wear armor that you lack proficiency with, you have disadvantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll that involves Strength or Dexterity, and you can’t cast spells.”

Some Armor


Heavy armor

So you want to be a tank. If you don a suit of armor that’s made of plate, aka a type of heavy armor, first off, you have to buy it.

Did you really drop 1,500gp on a suit of plate? Or, if you found it, surely it needs some modifications to fit you specifically, or repairs and maintenance (Oh this blood? No it’s fine, it’s not mine).

Secondly, you need a strength of 15 to even put it on. Okay, maybe you can put it on, but you can’t stand up, let alone move around in it… this is serious business. You are literally strapping plates of metal to your body; you need to have the strength to pull it off, both figuratively and literally.

You are lugging around an extra 65lbs with plate heavy armor on. Other kinds of heavy armor weigh less; chain mail weighs 55lbs and requires you to have str 13 to wear it; splint heavy armor weighs 60 lbs and you still need the same strength as with plate.

Also keep in mind how long it actually takes to don/doff your armor, and with heavy armor it’s real doozy. You can’t just throw it on and be battle ready.

Donning and Doffing Armor

Armor Type Don Doff
Light Armor 1 minute 1 minute
Medium Armor 5 minutes 1 minute
Heavy Armor 10 minutes 5 minutes
Shield 1 action 1 action

Once you have it and are actually able to wear it, both with the heavy armor proficiency and the strength needed, you are taking disadvantage on stealth rolls.

The advantage? You have an AC of up to 18. Throw a shield over one arm and you have fully twenty points of armor class. You will be the toughest thing to hit your opponents have ever had the misfortune of attacking.

Can you wear armor without proficiency? 

I mean, you can wear a suit made of banana peels. But like, it won’t do anything other than prevent being charged with indecent exposure (your mileage may vary; banana peel suits may or may not be legal where you live).

You can wear it, and you will receive some added protection, but you suffer from disadvantages on a bunch of stuff, and keeps you from being able to cast spells. So probably don’t do it.

If you put the time into understanding armor for what it is, a tool, your character will be able to move in it and use it to help you keep from dying.

Arguments can be made for spending time making repairs to your armor, maybe even adding embellishments, and generally making sure you value this important piece of equipment which will save your life over and over again without almost a second thought.

Take good care of your armor, and it will take good care of you.


No Comments

Post A Comment