What is the Role of Medium Armor?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Looking at armor and character builders, I am really wondering what niche medium armor fills? Is it just for classes that can't get heavy?

I mean light armor is obvious, for high dex, low strength characters.

Heavy, you get that +1 ac, but just as important you can dump dex if you want to and rely on bulwark.

Medium doesn't really fill either niche. You still have to get some dexterity, and if you want to match the reflex saves of heavy you need more.

There is a reason sentinel is so good. Heavy does have -5 speed, but as your speed goes up later in the game that becomes less and less relevant, and you can even pay for mithril to lose that penalty anyways.

I am thinking of homebrewing that breastplates get bulwark too, so staying in medium isn't such a harsh penalty, but I don't know. What do you all think?


Well, it gets armour specialization unlike light armour.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Guntermench wrote:
Well, it gets armour specialization unlike light armour.

Fair, although that isn't a huge difference. I suppose I am mainly looking at medium vs heavy. I feel like it should be a legitimate choice to make between the two, but if you are a str fighter, or even have 18 str, it is hard to make the case for medium being viable.

I kind of feel like Bulwark on Medium would at least even out the "dump dex" ability of heavy, give medium more of a niche (would still need at least 1 dex)


It's best on Champion or Fighter, or someone with Sentinel for critical specialization, that's going DEX focused.

Or just anyone that isn't entirely dumping DEX, has crit spec, and has medium armour proficiency. Basically trade 3 boosts into DEX for +5 speed.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

You might want access to runes that can only be etched on light or medium armor


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Medium armor's niche is the armor for non-Dex/non-caster classes. Only two classes have access to heavy armor without grabbing feats: fighter and champion. Light and medium armor fulfil the "get your +5 AC through item and Dex bonuses" while heavy gets that to +1. For many classes, the feats (and Strength investment) to get up there isn't worth it.

Your question, I think is, "Why should I as a fighter or champion ever pick light or medium armor?" to which the answer is Dex builds that neglect Strength or gaining access to specific armor runes only available to those armor types.

Liberty's Edge

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I use it a lot on martials I don't want to dump Dex on. Dex 14 is a pretty common place for my barbarians and melee-specc'd rangers to land.


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It works for all the classes that don't have easy access to heavy armour, but don't want to go all out with Dexterity.

Yes above level 10 they probably have 16+ dex and can get away with just light armour. But there is no reason to change, the penalties are probably nothing, so why not just keep in medium. If you get to 20 Dex it is basically a cosmetic choice.

There are a few small differences in the specialization effects. I think medium is better than light in that regard.


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Looks? Sometimes you don't want to wear heavy armor or light armor, so you want that breastplate or chainmail.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Shisumo wrote:
I use it a lot on martials I don't want to dump Dex on. Dex 14 is a pretty common place for my barbarians and melee-specc'd rangers to land.

Well yes, but those classes don’t have heavy, so not like a choice is being made between medium and heavy. Heavy is still a really solid upgrade for a lvl 2 armor feat.

That is kind of what I mean, medium seems to be what you wear if you can’t get heavy, doesn’t really stand on its own.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

So ask yourself these questions:
-Do you not have native access to heavy armor and don't think +1 AC is worth your feats?
-Do you value 5 speed more than 1 AC?
-Do you want to use runes that can't go on heavy armor?
-Are you planning on leaving your Strength at 14?

All reasons you might choose the Medium over Heavy.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:

So ask yourself these questions:

-Do you not have native access to heavy armor and don't think +1 AC is worth your feats?
-Do you value 5 speed more than 1 AC?
-Do you want to use runes that can't go on heavy armor?
-Are you planning on leaving your Strength at 14?

All reasons you might choose the Medium over Heavy.

What runes can’t go on heavy armor that can go on medium?

Might also add do you plan on boosting dec and/or don’t care about reflex damage saves. I feel it is Bulwark on heavy that really makes medium subpar in comparison.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

PF2 doesn't reward dump stats nearly as much as PF1 does. Strength gives almost every build extra damage. Dexterity gives you ranged competency which is super helpful when monster hit as hard they do in PF2. It also helps stealth, which is now a skill the whole party can utilize with Follow the Expert and Quiet Allies.

Heavy armor may still be the better choice for many builds that have some dexterity investment, but that's ok. It is meant to be the strongest option. Fighters and Champions getting it is part of their power budget, and it costs resources for anyone else to get.


Medium armor's for if you can't really afford to invest much in Str or Dex four your character.

If you need like wis/int/cha for your character, then you can wear medium armor and divide the remaining stat up between dex and con.


CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
What runes can’t go on heavy armor that can go on medium?

I believe Shadow is the only one so far. I'm hoping one of the upcoming books (maybe Grand Bazaar?) will introduce more


I like the chain armor specialization. That's unavailable on heavy armor.

Beyond that, heavy armor will always be the best. Even a a dex 24 swashbuckler will have better defense in full plate.

Still, it is an investment for most classes. It might only be a single feat, but it's still a feat. And it locks you out of getting another archetype for a few levels which can make it hard to fit in your build.

Grand Archive

Just because something is not the absolute best choice doesn't mean it is not worth choosing.


From a mechanical standpoint, it is pretty obvious. Plenty of classes who want to have STR as their main stat do not have native access to heavy armour. Barbarian, Magus and Druid come to mind. This part is mostly for the purposes of theme, but that is still a perfectly valid role to fill.

There is also the -5 movement speed penalty, which is probably the main thing. With how massive getting over 30 feet Speed is, this is a significant downside of heavy armour. Yes, you can mitigate it by taking a couple of very specific feats or by buying mithral armour, but that is easier said than done.

All in all, I don't see how medium armour doesn't stand on its own.


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Benefits from wearing a medium armor:

Quote:

-Dex Management ( you can drop it to 1 )

-No speed penalty ( heavy AC has speed penalty until you hit mithril armors ).
-STR requirements ( 16 ) is achievable by all characters from lvl 1
-Wide choice of armor specialization ( vs Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing and even Critical hits ).
-Access to fortification Rune
-Access from Sentinel dedication ( you get either light and medium armors )
-From the sentinel Archetype, Comfort trait by lvl 4 ( excellent against ambushes and dungeoning )

Bonus
- Impenetrable Scale is a medium armor ( my favorite one )


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Dang, I forgot that fullplate sucks on classes that can't get 18 strength until level 5. That screws up my level 3 battle oracle plans.


CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
Looking at armor and character builders, I am really wondering what niche medium armor fills?

The same than light armor and no armor. Depending on your Dex bonus, you take the armor that gives you +5 total bonus. If you can/want, you can get Heavy Armor, which is the best type of armor but at the cost of movement.

I don't see what "niche" medium armor should be filling considering that it already fills the niche of being the armor for Dex 12-14 characters, like light armor is the armor for Dex 16-18 characters and no armor for Dex 20+ characters.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
Looking at armor and character builders, I am really wondering what niche medium armor fills?

The same than light armor and no armor. Depending on your Dex bonus, you take the armor that gives you +5 total bonus. If you can/want, you can get Heavy Armor, which is the best type of armor but at the cost of movement.

I don't see what "niche" medium armor should be filling considering that it already fills the niche of being the armor for Dex 12-14 characters, like light armor is the armor for Dex 16-18 characters and no armor for Dex 20+ characters.

See, that is kind of my issue. Medium really isn’t better for a character for 12-14 dex. That character can slap on some heavy and actually have better reflex damage saves due to Bulwark. In addition to the other benefits.

So I guess the issue is bulwark. If medium had some form of bulwark (maybe at 18 str only?) I feel it would compete with heavy as a viable choice for str characters. As it is now, I feel like sentinel is a massive power upgrade for any strength martial with medium armor, as it lets you dump dex.


Bulwark doesn't really make sense on medium armor. It's only on one set of heavy at the moment, and that's because it covers you entirely.

Medium is for people that can't use heavy, DEX characters that can take advantage of crit spec, style, or wearing because you didn't have long enough to put on a full set of armor.

Liberty's Edge

Medium Armor on a Ruffian Rogue is fantastic, you get to keep max AC despite not being able to fully invest in Dex given that you really want the 18 Str right out of the gate.


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CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
See, that is kind of my issue. Medium really isn’t better for a character for 12-14 dex. That character can slap on some heavy and actually have better reflex damage saves due to Bulwark. In addition to the other benefits.

Wrong. If your character doesn't have 18 strength, it's now a slug. Many characters can't have 18 strength at creation (Alchemist, Warpriest) and will rely on medium armor for quite some time. As a side note, Full Plate is a level 2 item, so you start with medium armor even when you are a full plate user. Not every build can take Sentinel. So, there are lots of situations where a medium armor is nice. And it's the best one for balanced Str/Dex characters.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
Dang, I forgot that fullplate sucks on classes that can't get 18 strength until level 5. That screws up my level 3 battle oracle plans.

You can just nab Splint until then. It's still a +6 armor but has the same Str requirements as a breastplate.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Dang, I forgot that fullplate sucks on classes that can't get 18 strength until level 5. That screws up my level 3 battle oracle plans.
You can just nab Splint until then. It's still a +6 armor but has the same Str requirements as a breastplate.

I'm actually using the armored skirt as a work around because I don't want to invest in Dex. My armor will "just" be at the normal medium standard for two levels, but I get Bulwark to help my saves and don't have to do any awkward armor replacing once my strength hits 18.

Silver Crusade

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Its pretty much the best armor for druids (including those who took the druid archetype). Which means that it is also, in turn, the best armor for anybody planning on playing a wild shaping character (whether druid or martial shifting). This MAY change at some point if we actually get wooden armor into the game.

And Rhino Hide is pretty decent armor for some builds.

But basically, its as everybody else has said. For some characters getting that additional +1 to AC from heavy armor just isn't worth the required investment


CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
I kind of feel like Bulwark on Medium would at least even out the "dump dex" ability of heavy, give medium more of a niche (would still need at least 1 dex)

I kind of feel like Bulwark is an overrated armor trait, but I don't think this houserule will negatively impact your table. Overall, I think Medium Armor's niche is the armor you pay if the price of full plate is too high, adding bulwark to a breastplate won't really change this it'll just make breastplates better for some characters and worse for others.


Yeah, it's not too demanding to get to 18 DEX and have a better reflex save than plate, without the speed penalty and being better at ranged attacks.


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Anyway, Full Plate, Leather Armor and Unarmored are the most common end game armors. The other ones can be considered niche or low level armors, and it's kind of true. But still they are very often used.

Sovereign Court

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I like bulkward a lot less after an encounter where my fighter faced off against a rogue NPC with a whip. Of course it being an NPC its Athletics was pretty high and he was able to reliably trip me with second attacks for five rounds in a row. Really frustrating fight.


Ascalaphus wrote:
I like bulkward a lot less after an encounter where my fighter faced off against a rogue NPC with a whip. Of course it being an NPC its Athletics was pretty high and he was able to reliably trip me with second attacks for five rounds in a row. Really frustrating fight.

Yeah, I'm generally more concerned about the reflex saves that don't do damage than the ones that Bulwark helps against. Parties expect to regularly take damage and are usually more prepared to handle taking damage than they are for other effects.

Grand Archive

SuperBidi wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
See, that is kind of my issue. Medium really isn’t better for a character for 12-14 dex. That character can slap on some heavy and actually have better reflex damage saves due to Bulwark. In addition to the other benefits.
Wrong. If your character doesn't have 18 strength, it's now a slug.

Ish..

Do remember that level 2 longstrider makes up for the speed penalty of full plate without an 18 str.

Don't forget to look at all options.

Like I said previously, just because an option is not the absolute best choice, doesn't automatically make it a useless choice.


For real gameplay IMO. Medium armor is the option for classes that don't have access to heavy armor or don't want to have a speed penalty.

The other main use for medium armor is as a solution for low dex chars that don't yet have money/opportunity to gain access to a heavy armor.

This remember too much the medium armor situation from 3.5/1E (except for mihtril armors).

For initially low dex druids the medium armor is the solution while the char still have a low dex.

Dataphiles

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

-5 speed is easily mitigable with item, general, ancestry and skill feat choices

Trick Magic Item, training in nature/arcana and a longstrider 2 wand is +10 speed

Fleet is +5

(Greater) Boots of Bounding (or any other boots) is +5-10 speed

Nimble X is another +5

So you can usually get +20 speed pretty painlessly, all the way up to +30 if you want. The difference between 20 and 25 speed might be big, but between 40 and 45 not so much.

Comparatively, +1 AC all the time is impossible to get. If you had a 2nd level class feat that said “You gain 1 AC, 2 reflex against damaging effects, an ability boost in a non key attribute but take a -5 penalty to speed” would you take it? Because that’s essentially what sentinel dedication reads to medium armor str characters.

Having a top end medium armor that’s +5 AC/+0 dex with bulwark would still not be that great, but at least it would be more servicable to remain at medium unless you desperately want another archetype.


For purely STR characters heavy is better. For anyone that plans on investing in DEX they're better off, saves wise, with medium. Bulwark forces you to use its bonus instead of your DEX.


Guntermench wrote:
For purely STR characters heavy is better. For anyone that plans on investing in DEX they're better off, saves wise, with medium. Bulwark forces you to use its bonus instead of your DEX.

A character with enough strength for heavy armor and proficiency in heavy armor can grab splint mail or half plate if they get an 18+ Dex to avoid the Bulwark penalty while maintaining the extra AC from heavy armor.


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I actually love medium armor because it lowers MAD. I mostly play casters, and thus my most important stats are [Casting stat], dex, con, wis, but with medium armor, I only need 14 dex and my AC is maxed, which affords my wis and int casters more wiggle room to boost up cha.

Unlike many, I like cha because the skills linked to it are really good, both with filler actions in combat (demoralize and bon mot esp), as well as being really helpful out of combat.

It opens up more stats for odd builds; for example, if I make an illusionist wizard, I can start with 14 dex and str, 18 int, rest into cha and con, and every level up boost int, con, wis, and cha. This lets me have a really powerful deceptive illusion, demoralizes, and bon mots, all of which are good reactions and single action fillers that make me a much more powerful caster

Wild shape druids also like medium armor because it lets them focus wis, str, and con while giving them some wiggle room to boost intimidate without sacrificing AC


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Alchemic_Genius wrote:

I actually love medium armor because it lowers MAD. I mostly play casters, and thus my most important stats are [Casting stat], dex, con, wis, but with medium armor, I only need 14 dex and my AC is maxed, which affords my wis and int casters more wiggle room to boost up cha.

Unlike many, I like cha because the skills linked to it are really good, both with filler actions in combat (demoralize and bon mot esp), as well as being really helpful out of combat.

It opens up more stats for odd builds; for example, if I make an illusionist wizard, I can start with 14 dex and str, 18 int, rest into cha and con, and every level up boost int, con, wis, and cha. This lets me have a really powerful deceptive illusion, demoralizes, and bon mots, all of which are good reactions and single action fillers that make me a much more powerful caster

I have to admit, I am a bit confused on that. You get 14 str and 14 dex to use medium armor? Or, you could use one less boost, get 16 str, use light armor (much easier to get for a caster) and have better reflex saves.

My issue seems to be that medium doesn't really have a purpose. It is at best transitional armor until you switch to light or heavy. If you want to dump dex, or even have low dex, heavy is far superior. Lots of dex, just take light.

Medium has no niche other than "I don't want to spend a feat to get better armor" which is a shame.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Exocist wrote:


Comparatively, +1 AC all the time is impossible to get. If you had a 2nd level class feat that said “You gain 1 AC, 2 reflex against damaging effects, an ability boost in a non key attribute but take a -5 penalty to speed” would you take it? Because that’s essentially what sentinel dedication reads to medium armor str characters.

Having a top end medium armor that’s +5 AC/+0 dex with bulwark would still not be that great, but at least it would be more servicable to remain at medium unless you desperately want another archetype.

This exactly.


Again, medium is good if you have access to it and armor specialization and also go high dexterity. Or if you can't or don't want to spend a feat on heavy, like if your character concept doesn't really fit a heavily armoured bruiser or you want to take other archetypes.

Liberty's Edge

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Why exactly is everyone here still assuming that a Character will either have +0 or +4/+5 Dex mod?!?

Medium Armor is fantastic for Druids, Rogues, Barbarians, Fighters, and Rangers who focus on Strength over Dex, esp considering each of them can get access to it essentially for free with their base chassis selections.
Is the 3.X brain-rot of stacking Dex and nothing BUT Dex still embedded that deep?


Plate lets you save an ability boosts, and gives +3 to reflex saves and +1 to AC. It is, generally, worth grabbing if you want a low to medium dexterity character.

Unless that's just not something you want to do. Then medium armour rocks.


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Themetricsystem wrote:
Why exactly is everyone here still assuming that a Character will either have +0 or +4/+5 Dex mod?!?

Because all chars receives ability boosts for 4 different base atributes at 5,10,15,20 levels. It's unlikely that the chars keeps 14 dex without improve it over time even for casters.

That's why most says that medium armor is a temporary solution while you don't have money or dex to use a heavy/light armor.

If the char have no str the skills and speed penalty applies and probably this char build will never consider to increase the str.

If the char has high str almost all skill penalties are ignored and speed penalty is reduced to 5ft and you will receive a unique +1 item AC that's unable to be gathered by other means.

The only one advantage of medium armor is over light because of Armor Specialization but this is only accessible to Fighters and Champions if you play any other class this don't matter. And with these 2 classes unless speed is very important to you the heavy or light armor simply better.


Also medium is the least DEX investment armor for casters that go Sentinel, without them also using 2 general feats.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Guntermench wrote:
Also medium is the least DEX investment armor for casters that go Sentinel, without them also using 2 general feats.

I mean, not really? You have to invest in strength though. You can spend 3 boosts in dex and be fine in a chain shirt.

If you want hide, the lowest strength medium armor, it needs 14 str and 14 dex. That is 4 boosts for the same AC as 3 boosts get you in a chain shirt, and you would have better reflex saves in light.

Silver Crusade

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CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
Guntermench wrote:
Also medium is the least DEX investment armor for casters that go Sentinel, without them also using 2 general feats.

I mean, not really? You have to invest in strength though. You can spend 3 boosts in dex and be fine in a chain shirt.

If you want hide, the lowest strength medium armor, it needs 14 str and 14 dex. That is 4 boosts for the same AC as 3 boosts get you in a chain shirt, and you would have better reflex saves in light.

A great many characters walk around in medium armor with low STR. The penalty for not meeting the minimum strength is all but irrelevant for many characters.

Sure, medium armor gets less attractive at higher levels. But it takes awhile to get to those higher levels and even in PF2 not all characters and/or characters make it to those higher levels


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CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
It is at best transitional armor until you switch to light or heavy. If you want to dump dex, or even have low dex, heavy is far superior. Lots of dex, just take light.

So, there are 3 armors in the game: Full Plate, Leather and Unarmored. Your criticism is not against medium armor but against the way armors are designed.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Guntermench wrote:


A great many characters walk around in medium armor with low STR. The penalty for not meeting the minimum strength is all but irrelevant for many characters.

You do lose 5 speed? Which isn't something that can't be worked around (see discussion on heavy armor) but I wouldn't call it all but irrelevant.

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