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If I wear Hide armor (Check -1) and use a Heavy Shield (Check -2) is my check -2 or -3?

In other words, do the checks stack or do I use the highest negative?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

They do stack. You won't find any help in the rules for Armor or Shields, but the Rules Compendium (p 314) has a general entry for penalties:

Penalty
A number subtracted from a die roll. Unlike bonuses, penalties don’t have types. Penalties add together, unless they’re from the same named game element (such as a power or a trait).

Shields and Armor are different game elements, so the penalties stack.

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The short answer is the penalties stack.

Source: page 275 of the player's handbook states:

Penalties: Unlike bonuses, penalties don’t have types. Penalties add together, unless they’re from the same power. If two monsters attack you with the same power and each causes you to take a penalty to a particular roll or score, you don’t add the penalties together; you take the worst penalty.

On this page, it also separates out armor bonuses and shield bonuses (or conversely penalties).

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+1, the PHBs are the only books I have access to currently and I couldn't find this for the life of me; thanks! –  Truebrooks Apr 17 '13 at 19:27
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