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Mage Armor 5e Guide: How It Works vs Regular Armor

The D&D world spellcasters aren’t usually the biggest. They would need to be more focused on their spellcasting abilities than their Constitution and Dexterity scores in order to be successful with their magic. They are also not proficient with many types of armor. The Bard, Warlock are proficient only with light armor. The Sorcerer, Wizard classes don’t even have any proficiency in armor! Even worse, they don’t have any proficiency with shields.

They are often extremely fragile in combat due to this setback. If they don’t want to be hit by their low armor or AC, spellcasters should keep away from their enemies. While classes that are designed for tank builds, such as the Barbarian or Paladin, can protect them from damage, they are not always available to serve as shields.

The good news is that wizards and sorcerers have an answer to this problem: Mage Armor. This handy spell is essential if you are in one of these classes and are being attacked by foes. This spell will allow you to deflect blows and not become the punching bag of your party.

What’s Mage Armor?

Mage Armor, a first-level spell of abjuration, can be found in The Player’s Handbook on page 256. Abjuration spells are D&D spells which focus on protection. Some protect by using physical and magical barriers while others negate harmful abilities. Below are details about the properties of each spell, such as casting time and range.

  • Mage Armor
  • 1st-level abjuration
  • Casting Time: 1 Action
  • Touch – Range
  • Components: V (separate pieces of cured leather), S (macro)
  • Duration: 8 hours

In the following sections, you will find detailed information about how it works and how to use it.

How to Use Mage Armor

Mage Armor, also known as Improved Mage Armor, is a simple spell. It provides protection by magical forces for eight hours for those who don’t have it. It can be used in combat as your action. To use this spell, you only need to do one thing:

  • Touch an unarmored creature that is willing to be placed under this spell. The creature must not wear armor. Shields are considered armor and cannot be cast with this spell. A willing creature is one that agrees to this spell being cast. If the creature doesn’t want it, it will fail.

To make this spell work, you must physically touch the target. The spell will then take care of everything else. The spell will protect the creature with a magical force.

How does Mage Armor function?

The Mage Armor spell works when you touch an unarmored, willing creature. The magic happens as follows:

  • A protective magical force protects the creature for eight hours.
  • Protection changes the target’s AC base to 13 + their Dexterity modifier.
  • The spell will end if the target is wearing armor or if it’s dismissed by the caster as an action.

Eight hours is quite a long time for a spell. It’s great for long adventures such as wandering through wild forests or unpredicted dungeons.

The spell does not require caster to focus for more than eight hours to activate. Mage Armor can also alter the AC of the target; normally, if they are not wearing armor, their AC would be 10 + their Dexterity modifier. The 10 becomes a 13 when Mage Armor has been applied.

This is a significant improvement in one’s AC. In essence, you have added three points. An example: A sorcerer who has a Dexterity modifier (+12) would have an AC of 12. They aren’t proficient in armor or shields and therefore would not normally have an AC higher than 12. Mage Armor makes that AC a 15. The spell changes your base AC from 12 to 13. Add in your Dexterity modifier, +2. This spell increases your base AC by 30%.

This spell can make the magical armor disappear if you wear armor. Be careful if you’re under the spell. It is not something to be concerned about, even though it seems that the ones who benefit from this spell are characters who are not skilled with armor. It can also disappear if the spellcaster dispels it. This would result in a loss of an action when it is used in combat.

Who is eligible to use Mage Armor?


While it is true that this spell can only be used by two classes, there are many other ways to use Mage Armor. The first two classes are listed below:

  • Sorcerer (Player’s Handbook, page 99)
  • Wizard (Player’s Handbook page 112)

These two classes are the only ones that do not have any proficiency in any kind of armor. The Monk is the third. The Monk class has the ability to compensate for their lack of armor proficiency by using their Unarmored Defense feature. However, the Sorcerer or Wizard classes can also cast Mage Armor. It does expend a spell slot but what other options do you have?


Apart from the two main classes, there are three subclasses that can benefit from the Mage Armor:

  • Arcane Trickster Roogue (Player’s Handbook page 97).
  • Clockwork Sorcerer Sorcerer (Tasha’s Cauldron Of Everything, page 68).
  • Eldritch Knight Fighting (Player’s Handbook page 74).

You may be unsure why a subclass is here. It is due to the subclass’s Clockwork Magic ability. You can access additional spells, as shown in Clockwork spells tables. Additionally, you can swap one spell that you have gained through this feature for another spell in the sorcerer’s spell list each level up. This means that if you’ve gained a spell by using this feature, you can convert the spell to Mage Armor when you level up.


Additionally, this spell can be cast by a subrace, the Mark of Warding Dwarf. This is found in Eberron : Rising from the Last War page 51. They can cast Mage Armor with their Wards and Seals races feature. However, they are limited to one per long rest. Due to their arcane focus, they don’t need the spell’s material components. Wizards and sorcerers suffer less from this.

Eldritch invocation

Eldritch invocations are forbidden knowledge that warlocks can access. One of them allows warlocks to cast Mage Armor upon themselves. This Eldritch Invocation can be found on page 110 of the Player’s Handbook. This method does not require you to expend any spell slots or the material components. This is useful for warlocks, who are limited to light armor proficiency.

How effective is Mage Armor?

This spell is especially useful for people who don’t have armor skills or who don’t wear it at the moment. This spell can be cast on other people as well, since you can activate it by touching them. Although it may not seem like much, an additional three points on your AC is 30% more than the unarmored AC that lasts for eight hours.

This spell may not be as useful for characters who have armor and are skilled in using it, such as the Eldritch Knight Fighter. Fighters are well-known for their ability to use all types of armor, even shields. Mage Armor is slightly more effective than regular light armor, since the Studded Leather at 12 + your Dexterity modifier would have the highest AC with light armor.

This table shows the AC that each armor provides compared to the Mage Armor. The “If +3” column represents the total AC for a character whose Dexterity modifier is +3. If the “Stealth” column contains a “Disadvantage”, it means that the armor mentioned grants the user a disadvantage when stealth checks are performed.

Light Armor and Mage Armor

Armor AC If +3 Stealth Mage Armor AC If +3
Padded 11 + Dex mod 14 Disadvantage 13 + Dex mod 16
Leather 11 + Dex mod 14
Studded leather 12 + Dex mod 15

The Mage Armor has a slight advantage over all other light armor types, as you can see. Keep in mind, however, that Mage Armor requires at least a level-one spell slot to cast. It only lasts eight hours.

Regular armor can still be worn indefinitely without consequence, provided that the wearer is proficient with it. Mage Armor should only be chosen if you have an extra spell slot, (2) you require additional AC, or (3) you’re not proficient with light armor.

Medium Armor Vs. Mage Armor

Armor AC If +3 Stealth Mage Armor AC If +3
Hide 12 + Dex mod (2 max) 14 13 + Dex mod 16
Chain shirt 13 + Dex mod (2 max) 15
Scale mail 14 + Dex mod (2 max) 16 Disadvantage
Breastplate 14 + Dex mod (2 max) 16
Half-plate 15 + Dex mod (2 max) 17 Disadvantage

The AC of medium armor is equal to or greater than the AC of Mage Armor, as the Dexterity modifier (a +3) is applied. The maximum number of medium armor can be added to the Dexterity modifier is 2. This means that even if your armor has a +3, you will only get a +2.

The Dexterity modifier would have to be a +2 in this scenario. In this sense, Mage Armor is worn by four of five medium armor pieces.

Heavy Armor and Mage Armor

Armor AC Strength Stealth Mage Armor AC If +3
Ring mail 14 Disadvantage 13 + Dex mod 16
Chain mail 16 13 Disadvantage
Splint 17 15 Disadvantage
Plate 18 15 Disadvantage

Heavy armor is an uncommon set of armor. All of them give the user a disadvantage on Stealth checks and, when compared with other types of armor, your Dexterity modifier doesn’t matter.

The AC is a fixed number that cannot be changed. Perhaps you are curious about the Strength column. You might be wondering what the Strength column is all about. If they don’t, their speed will be reduced by 10 feet

Heavy armor is therefore more focused on having high Strength scores than high Dexterity scores. This is a common use of Spellcasters (e.g. The heavy armor is not required by the Sorcerer or Wizard classes in terms of strength. They don’t even know how to use heavy armor. The Mage Armor is a better choice than the Heavy Armor.

Mage Armor 5e: FAQs

Question – What is Mage Armor’s AC.

Answer: 13 + the Dexterity modifier. If you’re not wearing armor, the Mage Armor spell increases your base AC to 13.

Question – What are the requirements to cast Mage Armor in

Answer: To use a level-one or higher spell slot, you must first have at least one. If you don’t have the material component, or a wizard or sorcerer has, then you need to have it. To activate the spell, you will need to touch your target. They cannot wear shields or armor. The spell will not work if they do.

Question : Is Mage Armor possible to cast as a ritual?

Answer: It cannot be used as a ritual.

Question – Does Mage Armor require concentration?

Answer: It doesn’t. Concentrating for eight hours would be very difficult for casters.

Question – Mage Armor is good for monks.

Answer: The Unarmored Defense feature is available to monks. It increases their AC 10, their Dexterity modifier, and their Wisdom modifier. They work the same way as Mage Armor. However, they can only use it if they don’t have any shields or armor. Mage Armor does not work for monks unless they have a Wisdom modifier of less than 3. Unarmored Defense is better in this instance.

Question – Mage Armor is good for barbarians.

Answer: Barbarians have the Unarmored Defense option. However, they make their AC 10 + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier. This only works if they don’t have any armor. However, a shield is acceptable. The same logic applies to barbarians. Mage armor is generally not recommended if their Constitution modifier is lower than 3.

Question – Can you have Mage Armor + Shield?

Answer: Because shields are armor, Mage Armor doesn’t work if you wear armor. If you cast Mage Armor on a target with a shield, it will fail. Mage Armor that is already on will be removed if you put on a shield.

Question : Is Mage Armor visible in

Answer: Magical forces can be seen, even if it’s not stated in the spell description. It might be visible. The DM can interpret it however they like. It could be a shimmer or a glowing light wrapped around a target’s body. The DM can also rule out the possibility that it is invisible. Your DM can decide.

Question – Is Mage Armor worthwhile?

Answer: If you (1) are not skilled with armor, (2) you have a slot for it, (3) if your enemies are constantly targeting you, then yes. This would be an excellent addition to your arsenal, to boost you up.

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