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Armor and shields can take damage from some types of attacks.
Here is the format for armor entries (given as column headings on Table: Armor and Shields, below).
Each armor grants an armor bonus to AC, while shields grant a shield bonus to AC. The armor bonus from a suit of armor doesn’t stack with other effects or items that grant an armor bonus. Similarly, the shield bonus from a shield doesn’t stack with other effects that grant a shield bonus.
Maximum Dex Bonus
This number is the maximum Dexterity bonus to AC that this type of armor allows. Heavier armors limit mobility, reducing the wearer’s ability to dodge blows. This restriction doesn’t affect any other Dexterity-related abilities.
Shields do not affect a character’s maximum Dexterity bonus.
Armor Check Penalty
Any armor heavier than leather hurts a character’s ability to use some skills. An armor check penalty number is the penalty that applies to Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand, and Tumble checks by a character wearing a certain kind of armor. Double the normal armor check penalty is applied to Swim checks. A character’s encumbrance (the amount of gear carried, including armor) may also apply an armor check penalty.
If a character is wearing armor and using a shield, both armor check penalties apply.
Nonproficient with Armor Worn
A character who wears armor and/or uses a shield with which he or she is not proficient takes the armor’s (and/or shield’s) armor check penalty on attack rolls and on all Strength-based and Dexterity-based ability and skill checks. The penalty for nonproficiency with armor stacks with the penalty for nonproficiency with shields.
Sleeping in Armor
A character who sleeps in medium or heavy armor is automatically fatigued the next day. He or she takes a –2 penalty on Strength and Dexterity and can’t charge or run. Sleeping in light armor does not cause fatigue.
Arcane Spell Failure
Armor interferes with the gestures that a spellcaster must make to cast an arcane spell that has a somatic component. Arcane spellcasters face the possibility of arcane spell failure if they’re wearing armor. Bards can wear light armor without incurring any arcane spell failure chance for their bard spells.
Casting an Arcane Spell in Armor
A character who casts an arcane spell while wearing armor must usually make an arcane spell failure roll. The number in the Arcane Spell Failure Chance column on Table: Armor and Shields is the chance that the spell fails and is ruined. If the spell lacks a somatic component, however, it can be cast with no chance of arcane spell failure.
If a character is wearing armor and using a shield, add the two numbers together to get a single arcane spell failure chance.
Medium or heavy armor slows the wearer down. The number on Table: Armor and Shields is the character’s speed while wearing the armor. Humans, elves, half-elves, and half-orcs have an unencumbered speed of 30 feet.
They use the first column. Dwarves, gnomes, and halflings have an unencumbered speed of 20 feet. They use the second column. Remember, however, that a dwarf’s land speed remains 20 feet even in medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.
Shields do not affect a character’s speed.
This column gives the weight of the armor sized for a Medium wearer. Armor fitted for Small characters weighs half as much, and armor for Large characters weighs twice as much.