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As far as I can tell, a sorcerer in padded armor has to apply a check penalty to attack rolls and all DEX and STR based skill checks… but padded armor has check penalty 0. Does that mean that a sorcerer in that armor doesn't suffer any other penalties, even if he is not proficient with it? Just a 5% failure check on spells?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

So, a couple things.

An arcane spellcaster suffers from the listed spell failure chance while casting spells - but only those that have somatic components; see Arcane Spells and Armor in the SRD.

Anyone wearing armor takes the Armor Check Penalty to all STR and DEX based skill rolls. However, nonproficient characters (like your sorcerer) also take that penalty to attack rolls and all skill checks involving moving, see Armor Check Penalty and Light Armor Proficiency in the SRD. But yes, in this case the penalty is 0. You could go up to leather with an ACP of 0, though you do go to 10% spell failure.

Of course, if you choose a sorcerer build that has a lot of non-somatic spells and spells that don't require hit rolls, you're good with even heavier armor. This is likely to be a very low level workaround as that armor won't stack with Mage Armor, Bracers of Armor, or all the other tricks most mage types use to have a decent AC.

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Its little weird i think, cause if he is not proficient, he could have more penalties then just 5% cast failure with that padded armor, but ok. Thank you for fast answer. –  Ryoto Sep 8 '12 at 17:17
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Padded armor (gambeson is apparently the historical term) is effectively just a thick jacket. In fact, in d20 Modern a leather jacket provides the same armor bonus. –  starwed Sep 8 '12 at 17:41
    
Interesting; so does this mean the new armour in Ultimate Equipment with ac 1, no armour penalty and no spell casting penalty is a freebie 1 ac for mages? –  Rob Sep 9 '12 at 9:42
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@Rob yes, a non-stacking one. –  Zachiel Sep 9 '12 at 13:40
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@Julix Correct. Armor nonproficiency isn't all that bad for armor without AP. –  mxyzplk May 23 '13 at 23:05
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