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Me and my friends have started playing D&D 4e recently, and we are still total newbs, still struggling with all the rules and so on. After our last session I gained some items, specifically Dwarven chainmail +1. My character is a dwarf warlock and as far as I know I can't wear chainmail armor. Ok, so if I took a feat, (armor proficiency:chainmail), I could wear it. The question is, does it affect my arcane spells, is there some kind of penalty to attack rolls or something? I haven't played previous editions of D&D, but I have played Pc games like Icewind dale 2 and Neverwinter Nights, and I remember that in those there was something like 15% spell failure to arcana if you were wearing heavier armor than cloth.
The question is, does it affect my arcane spells, is there some kind of penalty to attack rolls or something?


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No, there is no penalty related to casting spells for wearing any specific type of armor, unless you are not proficient in the armor, but that's a general penalty to applies to everyone, not just spellcasters.  Forget what you learned from prior editions.

The way armor proficiency works is that anyone can wear any type of armor whether you are proficient or not, and you gain the benefits of wearing that armor including armor and enhancement bonuses to AC and any other powers or properties of that armor.  However, if you are not proficient in that armor, you will suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls and a -2 to your REF defense.  If you are proficient, those penalities go away. 

Shields, on the other hand, can also be wielded by anyone whether they are proficient of not, but if you are not proficient you don't gain the Shield bonus to AC and REF.  You can, however, use any powers or other benefits that the shield might grant. 

Also keep in mind that if you want to take proficiency in a certain type of armor as a feat, pay attention to the prerequisites for that feat.  To take armor proficiency in chainmail you need to have at least a STR and CON of 13 and proficiency with leather or hide armor.  Leather armor is no problem for a warlock since you get that proficiency automatically, but make sure both your STR and CON are at least 13.

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Short answer as people have said: No!

If you don't have proficiency. Then you can still wear the armour but you take a penalty of -2 to all attack rolls (so with spells or weapons) and a -2 penalty to your reflex defence.

The reason Wizards and many other arcane spell casters in 4E don't often wear heavy armour:
1) They don't start with proficiency so would want to take the feat so they don't suffer the attack and reflex penalty. This could be a feat spent on something more blasty.
2) The requirement for armour feats involve having higher strength and con. than most spellcasters will have.
3) Chainmail and similar heavy armour don't allow you to add your Int. or Dex. modifier to your AC whilst light armour does, lots of Arcane spell casters will have high Int. or Dex. or some similar benefit when wearing light armour. I could see why a warlock might find heavy armour more beneficial however.

Rules As Written are rules as they are written.

Rules as they are written might still be contradictory, incomplete, confusing or unbalanced.

The right interpretation of the rules is the one that works for you and your gaming group.


A DM's judgement is the final authority in the game.

But if the DM is not running the game for the enjoyment of their players, then why are they running it at all?

On top of what Illithidbix said about Arcane spellcasters-

The sorcerers that have Strength as a secondary score (Cosmic and Dragon) both have a class feature letting them use that for AC rather than DEX or INT, as does the Elementalist with CON.

Warlocks don't get that, but they do have leather armor, and they do get Armor of Dark Majesty, which provides a defensive bonus against anyone under your curse.
Thanks for the answers, this helps a lot!

I was thinking since I'm lvl 3, at next lvl add +1 to streangth so I could take proficiency and use the armour. But now I really have to reconsider this choice because I totally forgot about the DEX/INT bonus.
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