Armor increases your defenses, but some medium or heavy armor can hamper your movement. If you want to increase your defense beyond the protection your armor provides, you can use a shield. Armor always protects you while you’re wearing it, but you have to spend an action to Raise a Shield in order for it to improve your AC for that round.
Your Armor Class (AC) measures how well you can defend against attacks. Your Touch Armor Class (TAC) protects against attacks that need only to touch you.
Your Armor Class equals 10 plus your Dexterity modifier (up to your armor’s Dexterity modifier cap) plus your proficiency modifier for any armor or shield you are using plus the armor’s item bonus to AC. If you’re using both armor and a shield, apply the lower of the two proficiency modifiers. If you’re not wearing armor, substitute your proficiency in unarmored defense. Your Touch Armor Class uses the same calculation, except you add your armor’s item bonus to TAC instead of its bonus to AC. Some spells, magic item, and abilities give your character a bonus or penalty to AC. These also apply to TAC unless stated otherwise.
Table 6–3: Armor lists all suits of armor that can be purchased (as well as the statistics for wearing no armor), organized by armor type. The columns in the table provide the following statistics.
AC Bonus and TAC Bonus
These numbers are the item bonuses you add to your Armor Class and Touch Armor Class, respectively.
Dexterity Modifier Cap
This number is the maximum amount of your Dexterity modifier that can apply to your AC and TAC 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, the amount of your Dexterity modifier you apply to your AC and TAC while wearing that armor is capped at +2.
You take this untyped penalty to Strength-, Dexterity-, and Constitution-based skill checks, except for those that have the attack trait. Armor that is better than standard quality has a lower check penalty.
Table 6–3: Armor Unarmored Price AC Bonus TAC Bonus Dex Modifier Cap Check Penalty Speed Penalty Bulk Traits No armor — +0 +0 — — — — —
Light Armor Price AC Bonus TAC Bonus Dex Modifier Cap Check Penalty Speed Penalty Bulk Traits Padded armor 2 sp +1 +0 +5 — — L Fragile Leather 15 sp +1 +0 +6 — — 1 — Studded leather 30 sp +2 +0 +5 –1 — 1 — Chain shirt 45 sp +2 +1 +5 –1 — 2 Noisy
Medium Armor Price AC Bonus TAC Bonus Dex Modifier Cap Check Penalty Speed Penalty Bulk Traits Hide 20 sp +3 +0 +4 –3 — 2 — Scale mail 35 sp +3 +1 +4 –2 –5 ft. 2 — Chain mail 60 sp +4 +1 +3 –3 –5 ft. 2 Noisy Breastplate 80 sp +4 +2 +3 –4 –5 ft. 2 Clumsy
Heavy Armor Price AC Bonus TAC Bonus Dex Modifier Cap Check Penalty Speed Penalty Bulk Traits Splint mail 125 sp +5 +2 +2 –3 –10 ft. 3 Clumsy Half plate 175 sp +5 +2 +2 –4 –10 ft. 3 — Full plate (level 2) 300 sp +6 +2 +1 –5 –10 ft. 4 Clumsy
Shield Price AC Bonus TAC Bonus Dex Modifier Cap Check Penalty Speed Penalty Bulk Traits Light wooden shield 5 sp +1* +1* — –1 — L — Light steel shield 10 sp +1* +1* — –1 — L — Heavy wooden shield 10 sp +2* +2* — –1 — 1 — Heavy steel shield 20 sp +2* +2* — –1 — 1 —
* Gaining a shield’s circumstance bonus to AC and TAC requires using the Raise a Shield action. A shield’s check penalty applies whenever you’re holding the shield, regardless of whether you have it raised to gain its bonus.
While wearing a suit of armor, your Speed is reduced by the listed amount, to a minimum of 5 feet. This applies to all your Speeds in any movement types you have, such as a climb Speed or swim Speed, as well as your land Speed.
This entry assumes you’re wearing the armor and distributing its weight across your body. A carried suit of armor usually has 1 more Bulk (or 1 Bulk total for armor of light Bulk). This adjusted Bulk is increased or decreased for armor of nonstandard sizes following the normal rules.
The traits for each suit of armor appear in this entry.
Armor can have the following traits.
Clumsy This armor’s Dexterity modifier cap also applies to Reflex saves and to all Dexterity-based skill and ability checks that don’t have the attack trait.
Fragile If fragile armor takes a Dent, it’s automatically broken.
Noisy This armor’s check penalty increases by 1 on Stealth checks.
A shield requires the use of one of your hands. It grants its bonuses to AC and TAC only if you use an action to Raise a Shield. This grants the shield’s bonuses to AC and TAC as a circumstance bonus until your next turn starts. The shield’s check penalty applies whenever you’re wielding the shield, regardless of whether the shield is raised.
While you have a shield raised, you can use the Shield Block reaction to reduce damage you take by the shield’s Hardness (3 for wooden shields or 5 for steel).
Attacking With A Shield
If you attack with a shield, treat it like an attack with an improvised weapon. This deals the heavy shield bash damage or light shield bash damage (as appropriate to the shield’s type) listed on Table 6–5: Martial Melee Weapons.
If you want to reliably use your shield to attack, you need to buy and attach a shield boss or shield spikes to the shield. These work like other weapons, and can even be etched with runes.
Most suits of armor and weapons are made from ordinary, commonly available materials like iron, leather, steel, and wood.
Some special materials have inherent supernatural properties, such as cold iron, which harms fey, or silver, which can damage werewolves and other lycanthropic creatures.