5e Armor and Stealth Disadvantage


4th Edition


Has anyone else been able to figure out why padded armor gives Disadvantage to stealth, but Leather and Studded Leather do not?


Padded is bulkier, whereas leather and studded leather can be crafted to a tight fit that won't get in the wearer's way. It's not so much that the padded armor makes noise itself, but picture yourself trying to sneak around in a heavy winter coat and you'll start to understand the issue with it. Basically the bulk of the material plus padding is going to make the wearer clumsier.


that seems weak, but understandable


There was a similar topic on the WotC forums, but I can't for the life of me locate it. I think Mike Mearls said padded is more like that kid from Christmas Story. That it was a lot bulkier and tough to move in, thus giving disadvantage on stealth.

Liberty's Edge

Going back to first edition AD&D padded had a higher encumbrance value than leather, and keeping in mind encumbrance is weight plus difficultly to move in. So really 5e is using the disadvantage mechanic to represent this difficultly to move in. As Blue_Drake mentions.

Sovereign Court

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oh the imagery of adventurers looking like Randy from Christmas story is too funny.


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Ah, so that's it, the need to stare at the awkwardly dressed individual is where the Disadvantage on Stealth comes from...


Disadvantage on stealth from the bulk, but no dex penalty? That's it, this edition is dead to me.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Pan wrote:
oh the imagery of adventurers looking like Randy from Christmas story is too funny.

Did they up the arcane casting penalty too, for spells with somatic components? I can't move my arms!

Sovereign Court

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Move action with disadvantage to stand up from prone.


This is one of very few rules I find to be just plain wrong. Padded armor is just a quilted shirt. Wearing it wouldn't make you look like a tick that's about to pop.

If it's thick and bulky and heavy enough to warrant disadvantage, it should also give much more than 1 AC. As it is, there should be no penalty.


It appears to me they had to come up with some kind of disadvantage(no pun intended) for the category of armour below leather, which is already at the bottom of the line.

Metagamey reasons aside, I still find it a bit odd since I would argue that some kind of padded armour or gambeson would be worn under a chain shirt, which doesn't have disadvantage on stealth (and according to the PHB, chain shirt is covered by another layer of clothing to muffle-off sounds and make it stealty)...

Shadow Lodge

The padding you wear under a chain shirt isn't really comparable to what actual padded armor would be.


Kthulhu wrote:
The padding you wear under a chain shirt isn't really comparable to what actual padded armor would be.

No, it isn't. But in the abstraction that RPGs do of objects and laws of physics, they are close enough.

Perhaps stealth disadvantage comes from all the fleas and lice biting you and the stench of wet warrior reeking through the vest...

But I wouldn't sweat too much over it. Every armour category has a better/expansive option and a worse/cheap option. Padded fills the niche of cheap and crappy, and since it couldn't go down in AC, it went down in mobility. The rest is just a skin. A quality gambeson could be a "studded leather armour". A crappy leather could be "padded".


Laurefindel wrote:
The rest is just a skin.

Beyond the core mechanics, it's all skin.

It's trivially easy to justify a rule based on verisimilitude. Doing so doesn't make it a good design decision. And the opposite is also true. It's trivially easy to criticize a rule based on verisimilitude as well.

That's why it's so easy to argue about rules. Anyone can come up with reasons why this or that should or shouldn't be.

I think the only good way to judge a rule is in a metagame sense. If it's a good rule, you can justify it literally however you want, and it will still be a good rule. If it's not, it doesn't matter how you justify it, because no amount of justification will make it good.


Laurefindel wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
The padding you wear under a chain shirt isn't really comparable to what actual padded armor would be.

No, it isn't. But in the abstraction that RPGs do of objects and laws of physics, they are close enough.

Perhaps stealth disadvantage comes from all the fleas and lice biting you and the stench of wet warrior reeking through the vest...

But I wouldn't sweat too much over it. Every armour category has a better/expansive option and a worse/cheap option. Padded fills the niche of cheap and crappy, and since it couldn't go down in AC, it went down in mobility. The rest is just a skin. A quality gambeson could be a "studded leather armour". A crappy leather could be "padded".

Just replace the word "padded" with "tinfoil" and it makes much more sense. Tinfoil armor: It's cheap and has low AC, but at least it's noisy! :)


You don't have to play if you don't want too!
Just alter to suit your needs. Dnd5 should be played flexibly so don't stress. If you want more realism save your pennies and keep playing other games

I guess in an adventure you could say padded keeps you warmer!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
thenovalord wrote:
I guess in an adventure you could say padded keeps you warmer!

Or for every 10 feet you fall, you take 1 less point of damage (minimum 1).


davrion wrote:
thenovalord wrote:
I guess in an adventure you could say padded keeps you warmer!
Or for every 10 feet you fall, you take 1 less point of damage (minimum 1).

Yeah, stuff like that

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