I am reading the Goblin Slayer light novel. In it the main character wears leather armor over plate or chain to both stack his AC and to confuse his (not very intelligent) enemies into hitting where leather is vulnerable but plate or chain is not.


Can one wear multiple types of armor and get an AC stack?

I found a few other Q&As that don't address this issue:

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    \$\begingroup\$ I won't downvote but I will ask; have you read the 5e rules? We do expect people to do their own bit of research (in the sense of at least reading the rules) before asking here and it helps if you can describe what about the rules (if anything) is confusing you. Secondly, the 2 questions you've linked that aren't about D&D 5e are completely irrelevant because you're asking about D&D 5e so I would suggest removing them. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2020 at 3:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Second, you're asking two separate questions here: "Can I layer armor to stack their AC bonuses", and "Can I fool an enemy into thinking I'm wearing different armor than I actually am, to some mechanical benefit". For Stack Exchange to work properly, each post needs to be a single question, and this one is likely to get closed until that happens. Consider removing one of those questions from this post, and asking it in a separate post. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2020 at 4:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related meta: Why is an answer being downvoted without any comments? (it talks about answers but is equally applicable to questions). Short story: requesting comments re downvotes mostly just generates arguments. Anyone who was gonna give good, constructive feedback would have done so without the request. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Oct 2, 2020 at 11:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your revision shows research effort, but not the kind which is relevant to 5e. What aspect of the 5e rules have you read through and what part of them indicates to you that stacking should be allowed? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2020 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've edited out the secondary question (see this Q&A on meta: Is there a rule or guideline stating that each post should only ask a single question? about "fooling an enemy". The answer to either of your two questions isn't reliant on the answer to the other one. Feel free to ask about the secondary issue as a separate question. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 3, 2020 at 0:20

2 Answers 2


The armor won’t stack

In the Player’s Handbook, the rules for Armor Class:

If you have multiple features that give you different ways to calculate your AC, you choose which one to use.

Additionally, the Sage Advice Compendium says:

These methods — along with any others that give you a formula for calculating your AC — are mutually exclusive; you can benefit from only one at a time. If you have access to more than one, you pick which one to use.

This means that, unfortunately, you can benefit either from the leather armor or the chain mail, but not both.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, the reasoning is incorrect. Different methods--such as Unarmored Defense, Natural Armor, and so forth--do not stack. But this is not two different methods; they both use the same method; referred to as "Armored" in the Sage Advice. Wearing armor gives a single method for determining AC, depending on the type of armor it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Oct 2, 2020 at 19:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott: Two different armors give two different methods to calculate your AC... as evident from the fact that different armors have different AC calculations. "11 + Dex modifier" isn't the same method as "12 + Dex modifier". \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 3, 2020 at 0:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast, per the Sage Advice I referenced: "Armored: Use the AC entry for the armor you’re wearing (see PH, 145). For example, in leather armor, you calculate your AC as 11 + your Dexterity modifier, and in chain mail, your AC is simply 16." It's all lumped together as one calculation method. In this case the calculation is use the base AC listed and possibly add Dex bonuses. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Oct 3, 2020 at 0:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott: Just because they're lumped together in one row in the SAC doesn't mean they're not different ways to calculate your AC. It just means there's no point in repeating the entire "Armor and Shields" table in the SAC. Even the quote in your comment says you calculate your AC in one way in leather armor, and calculate your AC in a different way in chain mail. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 3, 2020 at 21:41

If a ruling trivializes magic items that cost thousands of gold, the ruling is suspect.

First, I must mention that Bardic Wizard's answer is exactly correct, so I won't be repeating the rules here - just read and upvote their answer for that. However, I do want to approach this from another direction by applying an interpretation principle that I have found quite useful as I read the rules and make rulings.

The idea is this: does this ruling make something else in the game entirely pointless?

With this question, it absolutely does. Chain Mail gives an Armor Class of 16 and costs 75 gp. Leather armor costs 10 gp. This question is really asking something like "Can I get Chain Mail +1 for 85 gp?" And the answer to that question should be obvious: of course not. +1 Armor is classified as "Rare", and going by the Magic Item Rarity table in the Dungeon Master's Guide has a value of 500 gp on the low end, up to 5000 gp on the high end. If wearing some cheap leathers under your chain shirt were just as good as enchanted armor that fetches thousands of gold at the market, there is no point to having magic armor at all.


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