Does the armor check penalty apply to Reflex saves?

Nonproficient with Armor Worn: A character who wears armor and/or uses a shield with which he is not proficient takes the armor's (and/or shield's) armor check penalty on attack rolls as well as on all Dexterity- and Strength-based ability and skill checks. The penalty for nonproficiency with armor stacks with the penalty for shields.

Are Reflex saves considers a dexterity-based ability?


2 Answers 2


Armor Check Penalty does not apply to Reflex Saves.

This one is a little difficult to prove, but the gist is that there are types of rolls you perform; certain effects and abilities call out which they pertain to. Unless otherwise stated, they do not cross-affect, even if it would make sense.

The primary types are

  • Ability Checks - Any roll based solely on an ability score and specific related bonuses (this included Initiative)
  • Skill Checks - Any roll based on a Skill that you could spend skill points on, which includes an Ability bonus but is not an Ability check
  • Saving Throws - Fortitude, Reflex, and Will
  • Attack rolls - any d20 roll to cause an offensive action to "hit" (including Combat Maneuvers)

And some secondary roll types include

  • Caster Level Check - A special roll that is a d20 and your CL for the spell/ability you are attempting to use (most often used to affect creatures with Spell Resistance or when casting Dispel Magic)
  • Concentration Check - A special roll that is a d20 with your CL and Casting ability, used for a variety of reasons during spellcasting (usually to cast Defensively or maintain a spellcast when being injured)

No, Saving Throws are not an ability or skill check.

Although you add your Dexterity modifier to the Reflex saving throw, it is its own mechanic separate from a standard Dexterity ability check or Dexterity-based skill check like Acrobatics.

These saves test your ability to dodge area attacks and unexpected situations. Apply your Dexterity modifier to your Reflex saving throws.

Note that the wording simply says "Apply your Dexterity modifier"; if it said "Make a Dexterity check", it would have been subject to the armour check penalty.

Further evidence that they're separate courtesy of @Sdjz:

You apply your character’s Dexterity modifier to:

  • Ranged attack rolls, including those for attacks made with bows, crossbows, throwing axes, and many ranged spell attacks like scorching ray or searing light.
  • Armor Class (AC), provided that the character can react to the attack.
  • Reflex saving throws, for avoiding fireballs and other attacks that you can escape by moving quickly.
  • Acrobatics, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth checks.

As you can see, the skill checks you roll against Dexterity are listed separately from the saving throw point, indicating that they are not the same thing.

There is also:

Ability Damage: Damage to your Dexterity score causes you to take penalties on Dexterity-based skill checks, ranged attack rolls, initiative checks, and Reflex saving throws.


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