When it comes to outfitting your character, there is always a trade-off to take into account.
Heavier Armor makes it hard to move and do all the acrobatics required by some classes, as well as making things a little tough to cast spells that require complex hand motions.
This leads to some characters being what is colloquially known as “Squishy.”
Luckily, there are options for mitigating all of these squishy issues. While you can’t get rid of them completely, there are options to make it not so bad.
One of those options is specifically known as Agile Armor.
What is Agile Armor?
In Pathfinder First Edition, Agile Armor is a method of manufacturing armor to make it more maneuverable. It is not a magical process, and instead more of a process of making the armor, much like the process of creating Masterwork Armor.
Mechanically, this manifests as a few minor things:
- A -1 to the Armor Check Penalty the armor inflicts on a wearer, but only when they are making Climb or Acrobatics check
- A reduction in the armor’s weight by 5 pounds.
- An additional 200 gold in price.
|Armor||Cost||Armor Bonus||Maximum Dex Bonus||Armor Check Penalty||Arcane Spell Failure Chance||Speed 30 Ft||Speed 20 ft||Armor Weight|
|Breastplate||200 gp||+6||+3||-4||25%||20 ft||15 ft||30 lbs|
|Breastplate (Agile)||400 gp||+6||+3||-4||25%||20 ft||15 ft||25 lbs|
|Half-Plate||600 gp||+8||+0||-7||40%||20 ft||15 ft||50 lbs|
|Half-Plate (Agile)||850 gp||+8||+0||-7||40%||20 ft||15 ft||45 lbs*|
*On the SRD, the Agile Half-Plate is listed as 55 lbs, which is 5 lbs heavier than normal Half-Plate. This seems…wrong to me? It should be lighter in theory, so I have listed here what the theoretical weight should be.
On the d20SRD, it only shows the Agile Breastplate and the Agile Half-Plate. While that could be interpreted as only allowing those two to have the Agile quality, there is no reason that you as a DM could not do this for other armors.
If you are not the DM, there is no reason you couldn’t attempt to convince the DM to let you apply the Agile quality to other armors as well.
That Ain’t Much
You are correct in thinking that!
The bonus that the Agile option gives to your character is not really that much of a bonus, but the great thing about Agile armor options is they can stack with other improvements.
Agile armor can also be masterwork armor. Masterwork is armor that has specifically been made to be an improved version of the armor you are wearing.
Masterwork Armor has its Armor Check Modifier for all skills lowered by 1. This can be stacked with the -1 to Armor Check Penalties for Climb or Acrobatics offered by Agile Armor.
All of these materials lessen the Armor Check Penalties, and can stack with the bonus from Masterwork Armor and the Agile bonus from stuff like the Agile Breastplate.
One of the options you can add to that is the Nimble Armor Modification:
Price +1,000 gp; Weight +5 lbs.
Nimble armor is designed for flexibility and ease of use, although this compromises its protective qualities. Nimble armor’s maximum Dexterity bonus is increased by 2, and its armor check penalty is reduced by 1 (minimum 0).
Nimble armor’s armor bonus is reduced by 1.
This modification will weaken the armor overall, but can increase the Agile benefit as well.
Magic can also be employed to help even further reduce the Armor Check Penalty
Aura faint transmutation; CL 5th; Weight —; Price +5,000 gp
Armor of comfort sheds dirt and sweat as they accumulate, and remains as comfortable as weather-appropriate clothing regardless of environmental conditions.
A suit of armor with this enhancement always looks immaculately clean, can be slept in as though it were light armor, and does not cause a penalty to the wearer’s saving throws to resist the effects of extreme heat.
In cold weather, it counts as cold-weather clothing. In addition, the armor’s armor check penalty is reduced by 1 (to a minimum of 0).
The second feat in the Armor Focus Tree, this feat can also reduce a certain piece of armor’s armor check penalty:
Your mastery makes the most of your armor.
Benefit(s): The armor check penalty of the selected armor decreases by 1 (to a minimum of 0). You also use your character level in place of your base attack bonus for the purpose of armor mastery feat prerequisites.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of armor.
Taking this for a certain piece of armor would definitely let you stack the Agile benefit and further reduce the check penalty for climbing or jumping using the acrobatics skill.
Who is this for?
This is a valid question honestly. Who is Agile Armor made for, and which characters would benefit from it?
Agile armor exists for characters who are in need of extra mobility, or the ability to create characters who frequently use their Acrobatics or Climbing skills.
These would be highly mobile characters like Rogues, Monks, and Rangers, who may need to either be constantly on the move to get into flanking attacks for Sneak Attacks or better angles to shoot ranged attacks from.
In addition, you can move through a threatened square without provoking an attack of opportunity from an enemy by using Acrobatics. When moving in this way, you move at half speed. You can move at full speed by increasing the DC of the check by 10.
You cannot use Acrobatics to move past foes if your speed is reduced due to carrying a medium or heavy load or wearing medium or heavy armor. If an ability allows you to move at full speed under such conditions, you can use Acrobatics to move past foes.
You can use Acrobatics in this way while prone, but doing so requires a full-round action to move 5 feet, and the DC is increased by 5. If you attempt to move through an enemy’s space and fail the check, you lose the move action and provoke an attack of opportunity.
|Situation||Base Acrobatics DC*|
|Move through a threatened area||Opponent’s Combat Maneuver Defense|
|Move through an enemy’s space||5 + opponent’s Combat Maneuver Defense|
* This DC is used to avoid an attack of opportunity due to movement. This DC increases by 2 for each additional opponent avoided in 1 round.
This is helpful for Rogues to get into a position to sneak attack, or Monks or Rangers to get into a flanking position. You can even move the Enemy’s space itself if you manage to beat the DC.
Having heavier armor would normally penalize this check, but Agile Armor specifically can benefit a character who uses Acrobatics often in combat.
Stay Fast and Stay Nimble, Pathfinders!