Armor Check Penalty

The type of armor you wear and how much loot you are hauling around the dungeon affect your ability to perform a number of tasks. Armor Check Penalty (ACP) is the way that the Porphyra Roleplaying Game simulates this reduction of performance.

In general:

  • ACP from armor and shields stack.
  • ACP for encumbrance overlaps.

If you ACP from your armor and shields is -4 but your ACP from encumbrance from a heavy load is -6 then your overall ACP is -6.

Armor Check Penalty applies to any of the following actions:

  • Melee and ranged attack rolls*
  • Dodge bonuses to AC (cannot be reduced below zero)
  • Reflex saves.
  • Skill Checks (Acrobatics, Athletics, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Ride*, Sap*, Sleight of Hand, Stealth)
  • Caster checks for spellcasters

* Does not apply if the user has proficiency in the armor.

11 thoughts on “Armor Check Penalty

      1. At one point I would have agreed… and then it was pointed out to me that if I wanted to make an energy-resistant suit using medieval technology, it would probably look a lot like full plate. The padding helps against heat and cold (and sonic), the conductive shell helps protect against heat and electricity by diffusing it, and by helping acid sheet off.

        I’ve also seen arguments that heavy armor was described as full cover (full _coverage_ might be more accurate, but work with it), which should help as well.

        A fireball lasts only a brief amount of time. Full plate does nothing to help you dance aside, but it does give you a lot to protect yourself with. Allowing the full Dex bonus to apply against fireballs doesn’t mean you get out of the way in time, it means you tuck and button up well enough that you get less charred than you otherwise might.


      2. Hmm. Actually, come to that, that’s a Reflex save rather than AC anyway. Does dodge bonus apply to Reflex saves? I thought dodge bonus was just to AC and Dex bonus — unmodified by Max Dex — is used for Reflex saves. (In PF at least; I haven’t seen where your rules change this but I imagine they might.)


      3. Right, dodge bonus is on AC… so what does it have to do with skipping out of the way of fireballs? Or do fireballs have attack rolls now? (Honest question; you’re changing the system and there are games that have attack rolls for area effect spells.)


      4. Sorry, yeah, I was so far in the comments away from the OP I forgot.

        I’m still pretty okay with armor not interfering with saves against energy attacks. As I said, if you wanted to make a fireproof suit in ‘fantasy medieval times’ and didn’t have magic available, it would be a lot like heavy armor. A nice hard fireproof shell filled with insulating material. You don’t so much ‘get out of the blast’ as ‘button up so it sheets off you’. This applies pretty well to the other energy types.

        I know that if I were to be exposed to a very hot flame for a very short time, I’d much rather be in full armor than naked.

        Even against physical blast rather than energy blast (looking at HERO System) I’d probably rather have the armor — it might mean I’m more likely to be hit at all, but it also means that a hit might be entirely negated.

        Overall I think armor would be a benefit to avoiding things you’d use Reflex saves for. From a ‘realism’ point of view, From a playability point of view, you’re already paying more money for heavy armor than light armor, it eats up your encumbrance, and it cuts your mobility, both overland and tactical.

        I’m pretty sure I would not apply ACP against Reflex saves, at least for those proficient with the armor.

        … I think I have stated my case. What you have planned is not a bad rule and I understand why it’s there, but I would not do it that way myself.


  1. This list looks good, but how about caster level checks for divine casters? It would seem that the formerly divine casters have lost their ability to cast spells in battle – but only offensive spells. Have I got this right? That would work for me, offensive divine spells were never a big thing.

    Previously, non-proficent armor wearer got a penalty on attack rolls, that kind of made sense to me.

    Have you made any attempt to look at armors/shields whose armor check penalty can be reduced to zero? In PF1 its quite possible to use a masterwork buckler or mithral chain shirt without proficiency – there is no penalty involved. I don’t have an easy solution for this, its
    something I feel is a problem.


    1. Its a traditional piece from elves. In the past elves could wear elven armor without penalty to their spellcasting. Elven chain is really just mithral chain mail and then it got extended down to mithral shirts.

      I am all for people wearing lighter armor to avoid ACP penalties.


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