Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

D&D 5E – Armor Class (AC)


There are a lot of different things that can affect your character’s AC. New players sometimes struggle with this and even experienced players can sometimes get it wrong. Here is a checklist that might help.

How to calculate your Armor Class (AC)

First you calculate what armor class you get from your armor, then add your shield and lastly add any other bonuses or penalties you may have.

A) Figure your Base Armor Class. This depends on what type of armor you are wearing.

No Armor
• Start with 10.
• Add your Dexterity Modifier. Note that this can be a negative number.
• If you are a Barbarian you also add your Constitution Modifier.
• If you are a Monk you also add your Wisdom Modifier.
This total will be your base armor class.

Light Armor
• Start with your Dexterity Modifier. Note that this can be a negative number.
• If you have Padded or Leather armor add 11.
• If you have Studded leather armor add 12.
This total will be your base armor class.

Medium Armor
• If your Dexterity Modifier is 2 or higher, Start with 2.
• If your Dexterity Modifier is 1 or lower, Start with your Dexterity Modifier. Note that this can be a negative number.
• If you have Hide armor add 12.
• If you have Chain shirt armor add 13.
• If you have Scale mail or Breastplate armor add 14.
• If you have Half plate armor add 15.
This total will be your base armor class.

Heavy Armor
• If you have Ring mail armor your base armor class is 14.
• If you have Chain mail armor your base armor class is 16.
• If you have Splint armor your base armor class is 17.
• If you have Plate armor your base armor class is 18.

B) Add your shield if you are using one.
• If you have a Shield add 2 to your base armor class.

C) Add any magical adjustments.
• If you are using magical armor add it’s magical bonus.
• If you are using a magical shield add it’s magical bonus.
• If you have any other magical items or magical adjustments to you armor class add those.

D) Add any miscellaneous adjustments.
• If there are any rules or features of the game that add or subtract from your armor class add those.

The total of all of this will be your armor class (AC).

5 responses to “D&D 5E – Armor Class (AC)

  1. Anonymous March 23, 2021 at 11:20 am

    What’s the logic that mere padding makes you less stealthy?

    Like

    • Ronny March 23, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      You could justify it by saying that it is bulky and makes you clumsy, but I believe that the real reason is that it cost half as much as leather armor but gives you the same armor class. Everyone would agree that leather armor is better than padded armor but if there was no disadvantage, everyone would buy padded instead of leather.
      The entire armor class table should be re-written. With no armor your armor class is 10 + Dex modifier, so the cheapest armor (padded) needs to be what it is now, 11 + Dex modifier. But if we drop the disadvantage to stealth then leather would need to be 12 + Dex modifier and all of the other armor would need to be increased as well. I wouldn’t want to do this in any game I ran, but you could. I trust that the designers play-tested all of this and came up with this as the best compromise.

      Like

      • Oz Me March 23, 2021 at 5:16 pm

        Then it should just be eliminated as an armor type or be the same as no armor but give ties to the defender instead of the attacker. That would make it worth 1/2 point of AC.

        Armor in general has some issues imo. The weights should be halved when worn versus carried, (with maybe the exception of ring mail.) And disadvantage for stealth should be based on noise and maybe shine. Not weight. Most armor doesn’t make noise unless it’s plate on plate.)

        Thanx for the answer though!

        Liked by 1 person

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