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This page explains armor class and lists all armor in the 5e ruleset. We have made some changes to the armor types available to bring 5e armor closer in line with real world armor. Click here to read about our changes.

Armor Class

Armor Class

Armor class is an abstract concept that represents how difficult it is for a creature to damage you with an attack. It is usually abbreviated as AC. Every creature has an armor class, which is usually calculated with a combination of their dexterity and the armor they wear.

If a creature is wearing no armor and has no abilities that increase their AC, their AC is calculated as follows:

10 + dexterity modifier

Abilities such as the monk's Unarmored Defense provide an alternative way to calculate AC. 

When a creature makes an attack, their attack roll must be equal to or higher than the AC of their target in order to hit. On a hit, the creature deals damage. A miss usually does nothing.


Armor can be worn by player characters or by monsters. The most common kinds of armor in most fantasy worlds range from light armor like leather to heavy armor like plate. NPCs (nonplayer characters) will sometimes have a form of armor called natural armor, which allows them to have a higher AC than is normal.

Your character may not be proficient in all kinds of armor. For example, a sorcerer is normally proficient not proficient with any armor, and a ranger is proficient only with light and medium armor.

If you wear armor you are not proficient with:

  • You cannot cast spells

  • You have disadvantage on attack rolls 

  • You have disadvantage on strength and dexterity saving throws and ability checks, including skill checks



Shields are carried by many humanoid and monstrous creatures. Shields can be made from metal, wood, or fantastical materials like hardened basilisk hide.

Shields add to the AC of the creature holding them, but occupy one of their hands in combat, preventing them from using that hand to fight with a weapon or cast spells.


All shields count as either Small or Large shields. Small shields require light armor proficiency to wield effectively, and large shields require medium armor proficiency. A creature can only gain the bonus from one shield at a time.

If you use a shield you are not proficient with, you suffer the same penalties as wearing armor you are not proficient with (listed above).​

Armor Characteristics

Armor Characteristics

Below is a list of all armor types. 

Where the armor class of a given armor type is listed, 'dex' means dexterity modifier. The maximum listed on medium armor refers to the total armor class armor can provide when combined with this dexterity bonus.

If the armor has a strength requirement listed, the character wearing the armor must have a strength score equal to or greater than the number to wear the armor without penalty. If the character has a lower strength than the requirement, their speed is reduced by 10.

If the armor indicates 'yes' on stealth disadvantage, the wearer of this armor type always has disadvantage on stealth checks while wearing the armor.

The armor's cost is the armor's normal cost when sold at a good price. Some regions or merchants may charge more than this value.

Light Armor

Light Armor

* Light armor in other 5e sources appears differently.  Click here for a list of changes.

  • Padded armor usually consists of thick quilted layers and cloth. This is the cheapest form of armor, and is usually worn by infantry in large armies or by adventurers at the beginning of their career. It may also be worn as a fashion choice for those wishing to look like a warrior while off the battlefield.

  • Leather armor consists of either layers of leather or a single thick layer of leather. The leather is hardened, often by boiling it in oil or coating it in a hardening compound. This armor usually only covers the torso, and provides more mobility than heavier armor, making it the choice for most archers or warriors who depend more on dodging and fast movement than tougher armor.

  • Small shields are made of wood or metal, and cover little more than the hand or arm of the wielder. Some are bucklers, and require a hand to hold, and some allow for limited hand movement (enough to open a door or hold something, but not enough to make an attack or use the material or somatic components of a spell). 

Medium Armor

Medium Armor

  • Hide armor consists of thick furs, pelts, and other animal skins that have been layered thick. Unlike leather armor, this armor is heavy, harder to maneuver in, and significantly cheaper. It is usually worn by hunters, druids, or groups without access to better armor.

  • A chain shirt is a partial suit of chain mail, meant to be afford protection to the wearer's vitals without slowing them down as much as a full suit of mail would. This shirt is made of interlocking metal rings, and is usually worn underneath an outer layer of clothing.

  • Scale mail is made of overlapping scale shaped metal plates attached to a cloth or leather backing. It is extremely rare to see a suit of scale mail made of actual animal or monster scales, but such things do exist where the monster's scales are thick and durable, like those of dragons. Mundane scale mail is iron, bronze, or steel.

  • While worn without any other pieces of plate armor, a breastplate consists of a single piece of plate mail that covers the torso. It is usually worn with padded or leather underneath to provide padding and some protection to the parts of the body the breastplate doesn't cover.

  • Half-plate is a step up from a breastplate, and usually includes gauntlets, shoulder, arm, and leg plates, and possibly a helmet. The plates do not cover the whole body and the gaps are usually protected with padded or leather armor underlayers.

  • Large shields can be made of metal or wood, and provide substantial protection to those carrying them. They typically extend to cover one flank of the creature carrying them, though they are not so large that they hinder movement. Unlike with small shields, the wielder of a large shield has little to no ability to manipulate objects with the shield hand.

Heavy Armor

Heavy Armor

  • Chain mail is made with interlocking metal rings that cover most of the body, forming a dense mesh. Most suits of chain mail come with a metal helmet and gauntlets. Underneath the mail suit is a padded layer.

  • Splint armor is made of vertical strips of metal joined with rivets to a backing of leather, further padded with cloth. For the joints, sections of chain mail allow flexibility. Splint includes arm and leg armor, and is supplemented with a metal helmet.

  • Plate armor is made of metal plates that cover the entire body, from a closed helmet to heavy gauntlets and plates to cover thick leather boots. Thick padding is used underneath to cushion blows, and leather straps hold everything together and distribute the weight.

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