In D&D5eE - I want some homebrew rules involving calculating AC and their modifiers when mixing different materials of armor.

If a player has on a plate mail chest piece and studded leather gauntlets, maybe they find a set of boots that are of a different material make up. What are some good homebrew rules for calculating the overall AC of the player and their different gear?

For example:

A fighter starting out has Studded Leather armor on. Should this fighter run across plate gloves that give some bonus to AC, they should be able to wear those, along side say plate helm or scale boots, along with the rest of their armor being Studded Leather.

The standard rules only give calculated AC for overall armor type sets ONLY, not individual types. What are some good homebrew rules for mixing armor types?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This appears to be two questions: (1) are there mixed AC types in 5e? and (2) what do you think of the way I would do it? I would encourage you to split these up and add the 'homebrew review' tag to the second one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 16, 2023 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt I have edited the question so it has a more specific question to start with, thanks for the assistance. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16, 2023 at 19:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Do I have to worry about individual armor pieces? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 16, 2023 at 20:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ You added the homebrew tag, what do you want to express by doing that? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Apr 16, 2023 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dalelandry I didn't downvote, but would speculate that you got downvoted because it appears that you're asking what happens according to the Dnd rulebook when you ignored the rulebook and did homebrew things. Which doesn't really make sense. The top comment splits this into two possible questions that make sense, but you don't appear to have aligned with either option. (1 - book question) are there mixed armor rules in 5e? and (2 - homebrew question) What are good homebrew rules for mixed armor rules? It appears as though you really want to ask the the second question. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17, 2023 at 17:07

2 Answers 2


The space you’re looking for is occupied by magic items.

This doesn’t really exist for mundane armors. Without magic items, your AC is determined by your armor, and whether or not you are wearing a shield, and that is all. Mundane armor is a “just pick one and move on” sort of exercise. There is no going to the blacksmith to upgrade your pauldrons or to add steel gauntlets to your leather kit.

What 5e does have are magic items of various kinds that provide a bonus to your AC. There are several magic items that you can wear in addition to your standard armor that provide a bonus to your AC, such as the ring and cloak of protection, or the watchful helm. And of course, there are also +X versions of most mundane armors that provide some bonus to AC. Whether or not these items are common, rare, or in your game at all is up to your DM.

And because this space is reserved for magic items, implementing this sort of system where AC bonuses are cheap and easy to acquire is inherently unbalanced. I elaborate on this in my answer to a similar question about stacking different armors for AC benefits (Can a character wear both chain mail and leather armor to get a higher AC?):

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.

The space you’re looking for is already filled with magic items, and implementing cheap and easily accessible boosts to AC trivializes those magic items, which is wrong, it’s just something to be aware of should you choose to do so in your games. There is a reason AC bonuses are very expensive: they’re deceptively powerful.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you Thomas, you have given me much to think about in my approach. All in all I think you have answered my question as to whether this is an implementation in the DND5E rules as my research was unable to find anything on using specific different armor types on the same player and how that affects their AC. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16, 2023 at 21:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ My party assumes that leather or gambeson is actually a part of chainmail armour set. Because irl it was, and it seemed reasonable to say that just the metal part can be worth 65gp, but shops only sell matching 75gp sets. Thus, upgrading by a blacksmith can be implemented without imbalancing the game. +5gp for an added effort and you have an exact equivalent of selling leather armour and buying chainmail one, just different flavours. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Apr 17, 2023 at 12:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ While this is true, of course you should be free to dress this up narratively whichever way you want it. A +1 breast plate could be one made from regular mild steel but with magic runes on it, but it could also be made from a very special metal that just happens to cost the same as your magic. \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    Apr 17, 2023 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ One way in which a non-magic armor with the equivalent AC of chain +1 for 85gp is different from magic armor is - it's not magic. That means it is less resistant to damage. Now, you would need a pretty idiosyncratic setting, with object damage in every encounter and gray oozes lurking in every dungeon for that to justify the huge difference in price, but it is there as a possibility in the rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 18, 2023 at 0:21

Is this even allowed in DND5E?

"Allowed" is maybe not the right category.

There are no rules for this. There also is no need for this in the rules. Because for different types of armor protecting different body parts to be useful, there must be rules for hit zones. There is no point in a character wearing a loincloth and a plate helmet, when there is no system that indicates whether something struck the head or the body. D&D is no simulation and one of the many simplifications to make the game easier to play is that every hit is just "a hit" and every part of the body is protected by the armor equally. This is not only in the current edition, but has been a theme through all editions of D&D.

I personally don't know any addons, rules editions or magazine articles that would introduce hit zones or partial armor. Other RPG systems have this, but it was never something that people felt was "missing" from (A)D&D of any edition. At least not enough to publish a successful alternative.

If you think it would be fun for your group, you can add it. There is nothing "forbidden" about it. However, I would suggest you look at other systems that do that already and decide what is "more fun" about them. And then port those parts over. Many people like the simplicity of D&D compared to systems that need more bookkeeping and dicerolling.

Just to send you down a rabbit hole: If a plate helmet gives +1 AC and plate legs give +2 AC, can an Ogre with two heads (commonly called Ettin) wear two plate helmets, for +2 AC? How about a giant centipede with 100 leg armors? So... what I want to say is, this is not only about a leather glove for a PC. This is a system. You would need to reinvent the whole system. You can. But it will be a lot of work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As someone who has developed rules covering similar stuff for ttrpg, I can only second this. The thing I would add is that even if you redesign your entire attack/defence/armour system and it works fine, there is one more big question left to answer: does your new system fit the genre at all? D&D has a certain "vibe" and your more realistic blood and guts system may easily turn out not fit with that vibe. \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    Apr 17, 2023 at 12:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, D&D had a hit location option in the Blackmoor Supplement early on but by AD&D and Moldvay Basic that had gone the way of the plains buffalo. And for good reason. We tried the hit location scheme for a bit and found it to be very clunky. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17, 2023 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt You make some great points!! I am actually starting a web app that will allow users to create a character, assign a race and class, roll for attributes and everything else will be baked in. At some point the character will go through a sort of choose your adventure campaign. I wanted to stay true to D&D as much as possible, many of these rules and algorithms are already written, hence why I wanted to use the DND5E set up as it has an API and is well documented. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2023 at 0:44

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