Some skills become difficult when wearing bulky armor or shields, so such armor and shields give characters an armor check penalty. When characters attempt to use affected skills, the game adds the penalty, which is either zero or a negative number, to their roll.

The penalties from armor and a shield combine. As such, wearing a tower shield and splint mail or half-plate would give an armor check penalty of -17, the worst achievable and one that would make parrying attacks nearly impossible.

Armor made of mithral has an absolute armor check penalty three points less than other armor of the same type (with a minimum of 0). No other item properties affect the armor check penalty.

The skill bonuses listed in the character sheet take the armor check penalty into account.

Affected skills[]

The armor check penalty affects the following skills:

These skills all depend on dexterity. In fact, the only dexterity-based skill that ignores armor check penalty is open lock.

Armors and shields[]

Here is a table of the armor check penalty of all equipment:

Equipment Armor
TYPE Armor
Cloth 0 0 Light 0
Padded armor +1 +8 Light 0
Leather armor +2 +6 Light 0
Studded leather armor +3 +5 Light -1
Chain shirt +4 +4 Light -2
Hide armor +3 +4 Medium -3
Scale mail +4 +3 Medium -4
Breastplate +5 +3 Medium -4
Chainmail +5 +2 Medium -5
Banded mail +6 +1 Heavy -6
Full plate +8 +1 Heavy -6
Splint mail +6 0 Heavy -7
Half-plate +7 0 Heavy -7
Light shield +1 N/A Shield -1
Heavy shield +2 N/A Shield -2
Tower shield +4 N/A Shield -10

DnD 3.5 Comparison[]

  • Some excluded skills are also affected by the armor check penalty.
  • Armor without a check penalty can be worn without the appropriate proficiency with no penalty in PnP, equipping armor without proficiency is not possible in NWN2, even if it has no ACP.

Gameplay Notes[]

  • Use of a Tower shield incurs a -2 Attack Penalty with all weapons, except unarmed attacks.

See also[]