A player in my game has a Strength score of 33. I don't think that full plate armor will slow him down. Are there possibly other rules, that would allow him to ignore the speed penalty?

The encumbrance rules state to choose the worse type of encumbrance.


4 Answers 4


Armor is inherently restrictive

The Armor section says:

Medium or heavy armor slows the wearer down.

No reason given; it's just what armor does.

The Carrying and Movement section says:

Like armor, a character’s load affects his or her maximum Dexterity bonus to AC, carries a check penalty (which works like an armor check penalty), reduces the character’s speed, and affects how fast the character can run...

If your character is wearing armor, use the worse figure (from armor or from load) for each category. Do not stack the penalties.

Though the mechanic for armor encumbrance and encumbrance from weight are the same, they are separate systems; the one does not inform the other. Chainmail, a medium armor, weighs more than banded mail, which is heavy. Indeed, if verisimilitude is a factor, the very musculature of such a strong character might encumber it.

Ignoring it

You can remove the penalty:

  • A dwarf:

    ...can move at [his] speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load (unlike other creatures, whose speed is reduced in such situations)

  • A binder (Tome of Magic, p9) binding Aym (ToM p25) gets Dwarven Step:

    You can move at normal speed (without the usual reduction) in medium or heavy armor.

  • And any character equipping the Tooth of Savnok (one of the Teeth of Dahlver-nar, ToM p79)

    ...move at your normal speed when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load (unlike other creatures, whose speed is reduced in such situations)


Really ignoring it

Ignoring or altering the mechanic is not significantly game-breaking, but would reduce the value of any mitigating factors, such as those above, and enhance mobility.


Not inherently for high Strength

This is just not a feature that was ever written for high Strength itself. I agree that it would make sense, but Wizards never wrote anything like that.

On the other hand, they did write a 2,000-gp slotless magic item in Tome of Magic, a tooth of Dahlver-Nar that is associated with the Savnok, the Instigator vestige and grants the ability to ignore movement speed penalties in the heavier armors, like a dwarf. At only 2,000 gp and being slotless, Wizards of the Coast clearly didn’t value this ability too highly.

So I think it entirely reasonable to say something like, for Strength scores above 20, reduce the armor speed penalties by \$\left(Strength\ bonus\right) - 5\$, so by 30 they’re all gone.


It would not allow him to ignore the speed penalty as its not fully a weight thing. Its part weight and part motion limiting. If you look under weight encumbrance you will see that the full armor is well under what the player can carry, and yet armors have penalties which do not mention anything about strength. Sorry to go real world here, but in fencing the neck protection does not weigh much but still limits movement between the neck and shoulder. If there are other rules I do not know of any.



I would say the penalty still applies, as it is not just the weight of the armor slowing your character down in full plate. Even if the character is so strong that they don't notice the weight of the armor, they would still have a limited range of motion compared to someone wearing no armor. That's just something inherent to Heavy Armor in D&D 3.5.

I don't know of any other rules that would allow him to ignore the penalty, but there are magic items that would, as well as the possibility of specially made armor (Mithral, etc.).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe just add a small note to the answer that the rules are an abstraction that isn't (and doesn't need to be) fully realistic? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 7, 2016 at 16:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RobertF When using comments, concentrate on making them offer practical courses of action that the author can take regarding their answer. Otherwise it is very easy to get distracted by debating immaterial points that are tangential to the actual question and answer, as has happened in the previous comments. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 7, 2016 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie If you would like to add a note like that, I am fine with that. I can't really think of a way to word that without feeling condescending or off topic. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 7, 2016 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, that's fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – RobertF
    Sep 7, 2016 at 16:49

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