If I read this correctly then it means that the armor I choose will affect my Dex and Str based skills.

Any armor heavier than leather, as well as any shield, hurts a character's ability to use Dex- and Str-based skills. An armor check penalty applies to all Dex- and Strength-based skill checks. A character's encumbrance may also incur an armor check penalty.

So if I have a character with hide armor that has a Armor Check Penalty of -3 then, for instance, I would take a -3 on my Climb skill which is based on strength and also on Stealth which is based on Dexterity. Am I understanding this correctly?

If I am correct then I assume that there are Combat Feats that will allow characters that have them to ignore a portion or all of the penalty. Is this a correct assumption?


2 Answers 2


Yes, you are understanding this correctly. For your convenience every skill states explicitly whether it suffers from armor check penalty.

There are ways to partially avoid this penalty - masterwork/special material armors primarily. And there's occasional class abilities (like the Metal Oracle or the Phalanx Soldier and Corsair fighter archetypes) which reduce ACP. There aren't any combat feats per se that affect it, however there is the Armor Expert combat trait that does. And the spell Effortless Armor.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I had not noticed that column before. Thanks for pointing it out. \$\endgroup\$
    – etank
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 1:53

Yes, Armor Check applies to all skills based on Dexterity or Strength.

If you're wearing armor with an armor check penalty of -2, you take a -2 penalty on: Acrobatics, Climb, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Swim.

Notice that these skills are marked with an asterisk in the Skill Summary table on page 89 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook (and in the SRD) to indicate that armor check penalty applies to them.

There are no feats, combat or otherwise, that allow characters to ignore any of that penalty.

There are some other ways to reduce it, though.

Masterwork armor/shields have a penalty 1 lower than normal for the armor/shield type.

Armor/shields made of certain special materials have this penalty reduced further: 2 less for darkwood (shields only), and 3 less for mithral.

There is also a trait that reduces armor check penalty by 1 for any armor you wear.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thinking about it in the real world it makes sense that it would affect these skills. A heavier armor would make these types of actions more difficult. This does allow for a more masterfully crafted set of armor to be lighter and move more freely and allow for less of a penalty. \$\endgroup\$
    – etank
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 1:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yep; in D&D 3.5e, which Pathfinder is heavily based on, you took double your armor check penalty for Swim, which is realistic but hard to remember since everything else was just 1x your penalty. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 2:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I have not run across that rule yet. Not that I doubt you but I just have not seen it yet. \$\endgroup\$
    – etank
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 2:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Like I said, that was in 3.5; they took it out in Pathfinder, presumably to make armor check penalty simpler. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 2:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see. I read your comment as to say that it was still valid in Pathfinder. That explains why I have not seen it. Thanks for the clarification. \$\endgroup\$
    – etank
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 2:14

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