Stability weights (Underdark 66) (160 gp; 30 lbs.), in addition to other effects, lower an armor's maximum Dexterity bonus by an additional −1, making it so, for example, if installed on half-plate (Player's Handbook 123, 125) (600 gp; 50 lbs.), that armor may have a maximum Dexterity bonus of −1.

I say may because I don't know if that's really possible. No published armor—even the most grotesquely heavy armor, thaalud stone armor (Anauroch: Empire of Shade 108) (2,800 gp; 180 lbs.)—has a maximum Dexterity bonus of less than +0, but the Armor and Weapon Template hellforged says, "The maximum Dexterity bonus granted by hellforged armor or a hellforged shield is reduced by 1 (minimum +0)" (Dungeon Master's Guide II 278), and that parenthetical minimum 0 leaves me wondering.

Can armor's maximum Dexterity bonus be less than 0?


1 Answer 1


There is no specific statement to that regard in the rules, but a couple of considerations lead to the conclusion that an armour should never have a maximum Dexterity bonus in the negative.

The first and most important one is that "maximum Dexterity bonus" is defined in terms of "bonus," not "modifier." If it became -1 it would effectively stop being a potential bonus and become a minimum penalty. But, since it defines the bonus that you can apply to your AC, it wouldn't make sense for it to impose a minimum penalty instead (notice that not even heavy encumbrance will impose a penalty on AC). So, since the quality is defined in terms of "bonus," it only deals with Dexterity bonus, as opposed to Dexterity modifier (which would deal with both bonus and penalty).

The second consideration is that, as you mention, other armour templates specifically indicate that the maximum Dexterity bonus cannot be reduced beyond +0. So having it missing in stability weights is probably an oversight or it assumes that it is understood that it can't go below +0.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I think the first point is the most important: D&D draws pretty clear distinctions between a "bonus", "modifier", and "penalty", and is pretty consistent in using the one it means. \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Aug 7, 2018 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass That's right. I've edited my answer to reflect your comment that the first one is the most important. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 7, 2018 at 16:05

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