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Armor and Magic Don't Mix

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Dredd: I'm wondering when you'd remembered you left your helmet behind.
Anderson: Sir, a helmet can interfere with my psychic abilities.
Dredd: Think a bullet might interfere with them more.

Wizards are often the fantasy equivalent of heavy artillery, capable of wiping out armies by themselves from afar. And like heavy artillery, you don't want them in close combat because they're relatively easy to kill if you can get to them. So why don't they wear armor so they last longer?

Some settings justify this by having the armor apply a penalty to the mage's powers. This may be because magic requires precise Magical Gestures that are made more difficult by armor's weight or limited range of motion. Others use the solution that magic requires such intense study that there's no time to learn how to use armor properly. In still other settings, iron is antithetical to magic by its very nature, or large quantities of metal interfere with the wizard's attunement to the Background Magic Field — though these still leave the question of why mages are rarely seen wearing at least some form of protective leather or even just a gambesson instead of a Robe and Wizard Hat. Some players otherwise assume the Squishy Wizards are so squishy they can't wear armor without tiring themselves out, which would make some sense when applied to the very long-lived Wizard Classic.

In gaming the trope is most commonly used as a way to compensate for Quadratic Wizards for the purpose of game balance, with the intended result being to make magic-users Glass Cannons. In party-based multiplayer, this often results in the heavily-armored warrior's main job being to keep the wizard alive while he casts his spells. It may manifest as spellcasting characters being restricted on which types of armor they can equip, if any, or apply a penalty to the potency of the spell. The trope has been around long enough for that purpose it's arguably achieved Acceptable Break from Reality status.

Closely related to Squishy Wizard. Compare Armor Is Useless. Contrast Magic Knight, the most common manifestation of this trope's aversion.

See also Magic Harms Technology and Science Destroys Magic.

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Video game examples:

    Action RPGs 
  • Although not magic, Gunners in Monster Hunter have long-range attacks and greater versatility through the ammo system than their Blademaster counterparts. In exchange, they are limited to using armor that usually has only half the defense of the sets the close-combat fighters use.
  • Averted in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls; nothing stops you from being a spellcaster wearing heavy armor, but in Demons Souls Armor Is Useless and in Dark Souls, concentrating on the two stats that make you an excellent spellcaster (Attunement for more spell slots and Intelligence or Faith for more powerful spells) tend to leave you with not enough stats to level your Endurance, which increases how much equipment you can wear without being slowed down. It is certainly not unheard of, for sure.
  • Dark Souls II: Some armor will also penalize you for wearing it without sufficient Strength and have its physical defense increased depending on physical defense without armor (which is based on total of Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, and Endurance), giving mages less protection in comparison.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has a Fatigue System, in which the heavier your armor is, the more expensive your skills are. As per the trope, Mages are particularly bad with this (and usually had to sacrifice stats to get the required strength). Averted with the Arcane Warrior sub-class, who actively embrace high fatigue in exchange for the ability to wear heavier armor and use spell-power to determine mundane weapon damage; several armorset bonuses have "reduced Fatigue" in them — some of the bonuses are big enough that the Arcane Warrior ends up with more mana than a regular mage wearing robes. Later games in the Dragon Age series simply limited each class to one armor type, though the disparity in armor values is smaller than you might expect.

    Eastern RPGs 
  • The .hack R1 Games have 3 levels of armour, with Wavemasters only being able to wear the lightest version.
  • Fortune Summoners justifies this In-Universe. The main character, Arche, is the only one who can wear metal armour and use a sword because she doesn't rely on magic (because she can't cast it until the end, where she becomes able to do a Fusion Dance with an air elemental), which large metal objects interfere with.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy set the example that other games in the series have used, subverted, or otherwise zig-zagged on. The black mage and white mage are both lacking in terms of what armor they can equip, though things improve (somewhat) later on with a few decent pieces of equipment they can equip. At the same time, the red mage averts this trope, having decent armor availability compared to the other two casters. The Knight also learns some white magic despite being the heavy armor user, but it's not his strong suit.
    • Zigagged in Final Fantasy II. Most weapons, armor, and shields weaken magic, so armored mages do as little as half the damage they would normally do. But mages excel at blocking magical attacks while shields can let you dodge physical attacks, so ironically the strongest character is a mage dual-wielding shields, as they are Nigh-Invulnerable.
    • Subverted in Dissidia Final Fantasy, as Golbez wears full black armor as in his original game, but is a fully magic fighter. Gilgamesh then lampshades this trope by calling out to him that if he's a wizard, he should dress the part. Likewise, Exdeath is much more the Evil Sorcerer than anything else, and also wears full plate. Possibly played with with The Emperor: While his "canon" costume is a suit of golden armor, it's possible that it's only for show, a trick to make him look more imposing, as he's a Squishy Wizard whose alternate robe outfits reveal him to be quite thin.
    • Final Fantasy Record Keeper turns Exdeath into an inversion. He is capable of equipping heavy armor and helmets as well as lighter outfits and bracers. But he cannot equip a hat, the armor type that is tailored to magicians and grants the highest magic and resistance boosts.
    • The games with a Job System avert it insofar as you can mix and match the job abilities, but the heavy armor wearing jobs usually don't have the MP or stats to cast a lot of spells while the caster jobs are limited to robes and light armor.
  • Played with in Dragon Quest IX: magic classes like the Mage and Sage can wear some medium armor without penalty, but they rely on the stats bonuses only found is magical garments for decent spellcasting strength. So if they aren't Squishy Wizards they'll be mediocre spellcasters.
  • In Etrian Odyssey, the only body armor that mage-type classes can equip are cloth-based armor. Out of the three armor types (alongside light armor and heavy armor), it gives the best magic defense and the worst physical defense.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Played with in Hexen. There are different kinds of armor pickup that give different amounts of armor to the game's three classes. The fighter usually benefits the most from the ones that look more like traditional armor, such as the Mesh Armor and Platinum Helm, while the Amulet of Warding is more useful to the mage and cleric.

  • In Diablo (1997) and Diablo II, this happens in a roundabout way. A character's ability to wear a piece of armour (aside from level and any specific class restrictions on an item) more often than not depends on how many stat points are in STR. The result is that the 'pure' mage classes (wizards in the first game, necromancers and sorceresses in the second) can't wear the heaviest armour because the player has likely put most of their stat points into INT. In other words, they can't wear the armour because they're squishy, and they're squishy because they train their minds more than their bodies. Additionally in Diablo the Sorcerer had the lowest maximum STR, placing another cap on what armors they could equip.
  • Path of Exile encourages this in a couple ways but doesn't enforce it. Firstly, gear that grants armor has a minimum strength score to wear it, and the classes that are most focused on casting spells have lower starting strength and most nodes that boost spells aren't near the ones that boost strength. Secondly, gear that grants armor is inclined to have red sockets, and most spell-related skill and support gems are blue, meaning that getting enough appropriately-colored gem sockets is more difficult if wearing armor. However, it's relatively easy to boost a character's strength high enough to wear armor gear and it's possible, though sometimes expensive, to get enough off-color gem sockets. In addition some spells do benefit from red support gems, such as summon skeletons; a blue spell that likes red attack-boosting support gems. There are also a lot of unintuitive but effective builds. The end result is that while most spellcasters don't wear much armor, many exceptions exist.

    Interactive Fiction 
  • In Guenevere, armor is said to interfere with advanced spell-casting. Morgana eschews it entirely, but Guen's (potential) magic isn't advanced enough to be limited by light leather armor.

  • In EverQuest and EverQuest II, as well as the spinoff Champions of Norrath, all the mage classes are restricted to wearing cloth armor, though EQ2's appearance armor slots have allowed for them to at least appear to be wearing full platemail while wielding giant flaming swords.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the science of aetherology explains that aether, the building blocks of the universe and the basis of magic, is easily conducted through cloth but faces resistance when trying to weave it through metal armor. This explains why mages primarily wear robes and other woven garments in combat despite the lack of protection.
  • Guild Wars: Pure spellcaster classes (Elementalist, Mesmer, Monk, Necromancer) are restricted to lower armor ratings than fighter type classes.
  • Guild Wars 2: Scholar type professions (Elementalist, Mesmer, Necromancer) can only wear light armor.
  • In Rift: Mages can only wear cloth armor. Justified as follows:
    "The art of weaving magic does not favor heavy armors that distract the senses and restrict movement."
  • Star Trek Online has a starship variant of this in space combat, with the "wizard" class being the science vessel family of ships (essentially anything with a Commander Science bridge officer slot). Typically a science vessel mounts fewer weapons and has a weaker hull than a cruiser or escort, though they often have better Deflector Shields. One of the better examples is the popular Nova-class, capable of tremendous Technobabble but with little staying power in a slugging match. It gets played with considerably, though, since the game typically lumps carriers in with science vessels, and escorts often have even weaker hull and shield values than science vessels, at least in theory (equipment makes a big difference).
  • Downplayed in RuneScape. Armor imposes a damage penalty on offensive magics, moreso with armors made of metal, to the point where a lot of spells are useless if you're wearing full plate armor. However, the penalty only applies to Hit Point damage: spells inflicting Status Effects work fine.
    • A common method of training the magic skill saw players use this to their advantage. As melee armor inhibits spellcasting, players with lots of money and time are occasionally seen intentionally failing to cast spells on harmless targets, earning experience for casting the spell without the risk or variety of using magic successfully.
    • This was completely eliminated for a while following the Evolution of Combat update. The penalties for using mismatched weapons and armor were eliminated so it was reasonable to see a fighter running around in magic robes, or a mage in plate armor. Later changes reintroduced penalties for mismatched weapons and armor.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the more Force-oriented Jedi/Sith classes (Consulars and Inquisitors) were only proficient with light armor at first. The game has since added adaptive armor, which once equipped becomes functionally equivalent to the heaviest armor the character can normally wear, which can allow them to wear armor that looks heavier (though a lot of players tend to go the opposite direction).
  • Played with in Trickster Online. Every character can wield any type of equipment provided they're the appropriate level. However, the thief class analogues can't wield guns and shields at the same time, and it's only Guns that are mutually exclusive with shields (which are your main source of defense in the game). Similarly, magic-reliant classes have to choose between hats that can be refined for DP (raw physical defense) and hats that can be compounded for MA (raw magical attack).
  • In World of Warcraft Mages and Warlocks and Priests can only wear cloth armor. Although it doesn't seem to be much of a problem for others - druids and monks can cast spells wearing leather armor, shamans in mail, and paladins in plate. These were all conceived as "hybrid" classes that can fill other roles, while the three restricted to cloth are casters regardless of their specialization. Funnily in earlier expansions it wasn't uncommon to find the other classes wearing cloth anyway, due to a lack of good caster armor of other types.

    Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas 

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Played with in Bungie's Myth universe. Mages have no restriction against wearing armor. They generally still don't since they often have magical protection which would render armor redundant, but some wear armor anyway. For example, Balor The Leveler was an archmage who went full Tin Tyrant for no other reason than it made him look more intimidating. Likewise, Alric would eventually wear a custom suit of Heron Guard armor to signify his possession of the Ibis Crown and ascension to Emperor of Cath Bruig.
  • Varies from caster to caster in Warcraft III. Paladins are heavily armored Magic Knights, while Druids of the Claw can turn into bears (with no armor but their fur and skin).

  • Spells in NetHack are far more likely to fail if you wear metal armor, for no adequately explained reason. Wizards zig-zag the trope: they generally wear metal armor early in the game because they're so squishy without it, and they don't know many spells yet anyway. Eventually dragon-scale mail, divine protection, and armor enchantments make metal armor obsolete, allowing high-level wizards to become Magic Knights.
  • Dungeon Crawl, similarly, has armor increase spellcasting failure proportional to how much it hinders your movement. It's more pronounced on high level spells so a character with mostly low or mid level spells can often get away with medium armor, but a conjurer or summoner will usually avoid anything heavier than leather armor.
  • Applied in Tales of Maj'Eyal in two different ways. Armor requires a certain amount of strength to equip, which a mage would have to spend instead of increasing their magic stat. There is also the fatigue system, which increases the cost of a skill by a percentage equal to the total fatigue rating of all armor equipped. This applies not only to stamina-based physical skills but doubles the additional cost for spells and psionics, making it very unlikely that a mage or psychic will wear anything heavier than leather armor or equip a shield.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • This is used in the Fire Emblem series, with magicians generally drawn in robes and having a low physical defence score. The sword cuts both ways, though: armored units are frequently just as bad at fending off magical attacks.
    • There's nothing stopping a mage or knight from randomly having high defence or resistance, respectively. It's just less likely due to their low growths. At first, anyway - they tend to hit their low caps in those stats, then fall back to the archetype.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which is a game that can allow units to be shaped into about almost any class, the ability to cast magic is restricted to classes that are notable for such, so armored classes (among a number of others) can't cast magic. This is subverted by Thales, one of the major antagonists of the game. He’s primarily a spellcaster, but is never seen without his armour.
  • Likewise, Shining Force follows this trope to a tee, with the exception of Arthur.
  • Downplayed in the Disgaea series. Apart from weapons there aren't any restrictions on what equipment characters can equip, so it's very possible to equip mages with armors without any hindrance to damage output. However, the effectiveness of equipment is determined by the class's Aptitudes. Mages generally have low DEF Aptitudes, and thus get less DEF bonus from equipment. Of course it doesn't take long until even the highest defensive stat boosts are useless.

    Western RPGs 
  • In Knights of the Old Republic wearing any armor other than Jedi robes means that certain Force powers are unusable. The sequel adds a few types of armor specifically designed for Force users that do not have this effect.
  • Downplayed in Pillars of Eternity, there's nothing stopping magic-users from wearing heavy armor, but heavier armor applies a cooldown penalty to the wearer (which affects magic-users disproportionately). Also, in the lore mages have taken to wearing bulletproof plate armor to help fend off the setting's primitive wheel-lock firearms, which are an Armor-Piercing Attack against magical defenses. (In fact, the church of the War Goddess Magran believes gunpowder was a gift from her, meant to level the playing field between Muggles and mages.)
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Downplayed overall throughout the series. Pure mage NPCs typically don't wear armor, as how effective it is depends mostly on your skill level with that armor class, and NPCs typically don't have many skill points outside of their class skills. However there's nothing that actually stops them from equipping it if acquired.note  The series has always had several types of Magic Knights, on up to the heavy armor-wearing Battlemage. In the case of the Imperial Battlemages used by the Septim and Reman dynasties, they're also some of the most fearsome magic-users in the setting.
    • Strangely, the magic restrictions don't seem to apply to enchantments on the armor. In Morrowind, heavier armors allow for stronger enchantments (meaning that ironically, the optimal setup for a mage is full Daedric), while in Oblivion and Skyrim, armor type doesn't affect your enchantments at all. You would think with this trope in effect, it would be the other way around, especially since Daedric armor is technically enchanted already.
    • In theory, Morrowind gives an incentive for mages to not wear armor by having the Unarmored skill, which increases your armor rating while not wearing armor, keyed to the magic specialization (meaning that for a magic-focused character, absent specific skill specializations, it will increase faster than the armor skills, and absent skill specializations and racial bonuses, it will start out higher). In practice, without the unofficial Code Patch, the game is bugged and thinks your armor rating is zero no matter what your skill unless you wear at least one piece of armor.
    • Oblivion imposes a penalty on any spells cast while wearing armor, based on how skilled your character is at wearing that type of armor. Spells cast while wearing an armor your character is completely untrained in will have only 80% effectiveness, while a master of armor will cast at 95% effectiveness.
    • Skyrim changes it up a little. Spells work just as well with armor as without, but the Alteration skill tree has a perk, "Mage Armor," that adds a multiplier to protective spells like Stoneflesh if the caster is unarmored. This perk is typically seen by players as being one of the worst in the game: there is very little reason for a mage not to equip some sort of armor in the late game. The only downside is that it's extremely rare to find armor with enchantments that benefit mages unless you enchant it yourself, and it takes a long time to build up your Enchantment skill to be on level with the mage robes you find.
  • In Drakensang (which is based on The Dark Eye, below), magic users are able to equip anything; however they are completely blocked from casting spells if they wear only one single piece of metal armor (with exceptions).
  • There is no in-game explanation for why, but spellcasting classes in Might and Magic VI to IX tend to have worse armor skills than their more might-focused counterparts, either in simply not getting the heavier armor skills, or in not being able to upgrade the skill as much. Clerical spellcasters tend to be slightly better at this than Elemental-focused spellcasters (for instance, Clerics being able to wear chain when Sorcerors are limited to Leather — although sorcerors do get to wear leather armor with no penalty, so by the standards of this trope they get off lightly).
  • In Mass Effect the greater the character's focus on tech or biotics, the less heavy the armour they could equip. Tali, Kaidan, Liara and Adept/Sentinel/Engineer Shepard could only wear light armour, and Liara and Sentinels don't even have any options for improving their competence with it. Garrus and Infiltrator or Vanguard Shepard start out with only light armour available but can invest skill points to unlock medium armour. Wrex, Ashley and Soldier Shepard, the most combat-focused characters, have access to medium armour from the start and can unlock heavy armour, though Wrex averts this since he actually is a biotic character (presumably his krogan physiology lets him cheat). The later games in the series removed armour classes, though still adhering to the principle, with more power-focused classes and characters usually having less health and shields, as well as fewer and weaker weapon choices.
    • While armor classes have been removed, Shepard can swap out the standard N7 armor's individual components for alternates; each of these has a different effect. A Soldier will tend to go for armor pieces that increase maximum health/shields and weapon damage. Classes such as Adepts and Engineers that are reliant on powers for damage are more likely to equip components that decrease recharge times and increase power damage. Multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 uses a similar system, in that the items that increase power damage, recharge times, and total shield power all use the armour slot - so characters based off of power combos or sheer damage will have to make a trade-off when it comes to powers, weapons, and Hit Points.
  • In the Avernum/Exile series, there are two kinds of Functional Magic: Mage Spells and Priest Spells, and although they're nearly identical in implementation, they're treated as separate kinds of phenomena in-universe. Only the former is called "magic" (the latter doesn't have a distinct in-universe name, but is sometimes referred to as variations on "holy rituals"), and only practitioners of the former are restricted from wearing armor without an appropriate Trait, apparently because only the former uses Magical Gestures, while the latter just requires the caster to stand and pray.
  • Downplayed in Avencast: Rise of the Mage - mages wear armor in battles, but their combat style is focused on fast moving and quick magic gestures, so they use light armor, which weight won't interfere in the process or tire them.
  • Baldur's Gate: Mages are not allowed to wear armor. Dual-classed mages can wear any armor allowed by their second class, but cannot cast spells until removing it. Averted with clerics and druids, who are allowed armor with no penalties to spellcasting.
  • Averted in GreedFall, where not only can you spec into both heavy armor and magic but companion character Petrus is a heavily-armored mage.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • When Momonga used armour to disguise himself in Overlord it only lets him cast five spells out of his usual hundreds.
    • The light novels say that mages usually only wear light armour as anything heavier interferes with flying spells.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fiction 
  • Zigzagged in Metagaming?. Spellcasters on Azeroth don't wear armor for a variety of reasons, including claiming that it would weigh them down too much. Harry and Luna wear the strongest armor Harry can forge and demonstrate the ability to cartwheel even in full plate. Harry himself is outright offended that Jaina Proudmoore goes into battle with her cleavage and midriff on display.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Judge Anderson says in Dredd that a helmet can interfere with her Psychic Powers. Dredd replies that a bullet would interfere more. She doesn't say that helmets totally nullify her powers and Dredd would have been briefed on how those powers work. If a helmet nullified them he'd tell her not to wear it. Whether all psis have this problem or just some isn't mentioned.

  • Legend of Zagor allows you to begin the adventure with four different characters. Should you choose Sallazar the Wizard (the only wizard of the four) you're unable to use any sort of armor, shields, or gauntlets, as such are denied defense bonuses from armor. However, you have the highest default amount of Magic Points and can use every single spell available (and a few exclusive only to wizards), while using either the other three requires a scroll to learn new spells.

  • In The Stormlight Archive Szeth mentions that he can't wear Shardplate because it would prevent him using his Lashings. Both Lashings and Plate run on Stormlight; Shardplate is Powered Armor that stores Stormlight in gems, and Lashings require the user to absorb Stormlight from their surroundings, so anyone who tries using both might accidentally drain the Stormlight from their own Plate, rendering them immobile. The Knights Radiant must have known a way around this, since they've been seen to use both Lashings and Plate at the same time.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, it's explicitly stated that no Sartan or Patryn would ever voluntarily don armor. Since the Sartan require elaborate gestures and even dances to invoke their rune magic, heavy armor would presumably interfere with their ability to use their powers. The Patryns, on the other hand, tattoo the rune directly onto their bodies, which includes protective wards rendering armor superfluous (since any attack that could get through the wards would barely be slowed down by mundane armor).
  • In Delve metal will attract magic like a magnet and absorb it like a sponge until fully saturated. This throws off the accuracy of spells. Most magic users have to keep their hands free of any sort of metal, wearing stat rings in their hair or ears. Naturally, armor is a no-go and they wear enchanted clothing instead.
  • In Dragaeranote , it's mentioned that metal armor attracts sorcery (somehow), effectively like a lightning rod; leather (or wood paneling, presumably) can still be used. Given that one scene makes mention that you could burn your brain out by being too tired to hold an anti-rain/"umbrella" spell together, it can be guessed that you could also end up frying by firing off a spell and forgetting how to focus it away from the metal armor you happen to be wearing yourself....
  • In Fengshen Yanyi, Taoist sages and Immortals never wear armor, with Qingxu Daode at one point specifically telling his discipe Huang Tianhua to never eat meat or wear armor: when he disobeys both orders and faces the Mo Brothers in battle he's nearly killed by his opponent's magic weapon and has to be revived. Justified by the fact that most of these Immortals uses magic and treasures that make all armor redundant.

    Real Life 

    Tabletop Games 
  • As with many tropes common in Role-Playing Games, Dungeons & Dragons is the Trope Codifier, making this trope Older Than the NES.
    • Basic D&D. In the Holmes (1977), Moldvay (1981) and Mentzer (1983) Basic sets and the Rules Cyclopedia (1991), magic users could not wear armor. Elves cast the same spells as magic-users, but had no explicit prohibition from wearing armor while casting them.
    • In 1st and 2nd Edition Advanced D&D, magic users/wizards were simply forbidden to wear armor under the standard rules. There were exceptions made in later supplements, such as 2nd Edition kits which allowed a wizard with that kit to wear armor.
    • In 3.X Edition arcane casters can wear armor if they take a proficiency feat or multiclass to Fighter or the equivalent, but if they do they risk a percentage chance that the spell will fail to cast, justified as the armor interfering with the gestures involved in spellcasting. Add to it, that's one fewer feat or character level they can spend on improving their spellcasting. Bards and the add-on classes warmage and warlock can wear light armor without hitting this restriction, and can take a feat, "Armored Caster", to be able to wear medium armor without risking spell failure. Also, armor made from mithral weighs less and reduces the spell failure chance by 10%. Of course, a wizard with skill in the schools of transmutation and abjuration doesn't necessarily need armor since they can protect themselves quite well with their spells. Also, not all spells require gestures (and many can be modified to not require it) getting around the spell failure chance.
    • Also from 3.X Edition, druids are only allowed to wear armor (and other equipment) made from "natural" materials (wood, hides, stone, etc.) or else their class features are unusable. Assuming default materials, this restricts druids to wearing light armor or the weakest type of medium armor, but the Dungeon Master's Guide and other add-on books added other esoteric materials (e.g. dragonhide in the DMG) that are classified as natural and can be forged into heavier armors.
    • In 4th Edition wizards have the worst armor proficiency, but they can take feats to gain proficiency in heavier armor types, or another feat which essentially gives them protection as strong as leather armor while wearing mage robes. However, because of the way AC works in 4th edition, mages are only marginally more vulnerable to physical attacks to begin with.
    • In 5th Edition, characters cannot cast spells while wearing armour they're not proficient in, which is explained as the caster being too uncomfortable in the unfamiliar armor to be able to properly focus on spellcasting. In addition, gaining proficiencies is more difficult than before. Your spellcasting ability and your armour proficiencies tend to be opposite proportional; wizards and sorcerers have no armour proficiencies but also have easy access to the Mage Armour spell, which is about as strong as medium armour, and sorcerers of the Draconic bloodline have draconic toughness, bypassing that need. With wizards who specialize in protective magic, the justification is codified in the game mechanics: the magic is far more protective than any armor. The Favored Soul variant for the sorcerer gets medium armor proficiency, while the mountain dwarf subrace has a racial proficiency in medium armor.
    • Averted in all editions by clerics, who can cast their spells in the heaviest plate mail with no problems and no chance of armor-induced random failure. This is one of the primary practical differences between "arcane" and "divine" magic in the game (the main other one is access to healing spells).
    • The alternate magic system from Spheres of Power averts this by default, but you can use the Somatic Casting drawback to enforce it.
    • The Dragonlance setting has unusual rules for magic: it's technically divine, as it all flows through one of the three Gods of magic. Those same Gods explicitly forbid the wearing of armor.
  • In The Dark Eye, forged metal interferes with the flow of magical energies (with some rare exceptions) in such a way that it makes casting spells more difficult and prohibits the regeneration of Mana if a significant amount is worn close to a magic user's body. While magic users can wear anything not made out of metal (e.g. heavy leather), this is frowned upon by the Magician's Guilds as not befitting a wizard's standing, further restricting proper certified wizards to fancy robes and such.
    • In fact, it is outright outlawed for wizards to bear arms or armor in most places. The mages from the battlemage academy are explicitly excempt from this, as they are also commissioned military officers.
  • The Fantasy Trip penalized wizards for wearing armor with a twofold justification. Ferrous metals interfere with magic, and armor itself interferes with spells' somatic components.
  • Armour in The Witcher: Game of Imagination by default restricts movement, making the complicated gestures needed for sorcery difficult — doubly so if you're untrained in wearing it. Witchers, by contrast, use rudimentary signs created specifically to overcome this problem.
    • It is also worth nothing a set of armoured gloves gives bigger penalty than a breast-plate, following the game logic of movement restriction.
    • Later expansion gave players a feat considerably decreasing penalties for casting in armour. And with sufficiently high skills, magic users can simply ignore the penalty most of the time.
  • In the Scarred Lands setting, one of the quirks of magic is that arcane spellcasters release a certain amount of heat whenever they use magic. This prevents them from wearing armor, and also explains why most prefer to wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer 40,000: Imperial psykers mostly wear robes, though some can put on the heaviest armor the Guard has to offer (known as "T-shirts" by the fandom, because in a galaxy as deadly as this one a super-advanced flak jacket is about as protective as one). Soundly averted by Librarians and Chaos Sorcerers: both being Astartes, they're clad in Power Armor same as their brothers, and in the case of the latter it's very likely their armor is fused to their very bodies by the corrupting power of the Warp they've saturated themselves in.
    • It's common in Warhammer for wizards to not have access to armour (it interferes with their ability to tap into the Winds of Magic), but there are more than a few Magic Knight-type characters who avert the trope: Ogre Wizards,note  Chaos Sorcerers (whose Chaos Armour is so heavily saturated in magic that it is no impediment), Blood Dragon Vampires, High Elf Loremasters, the Witch King of Naggaroth, Ikit Claw and Tomb King Settra. Some armour-type magic items specifically include an exemption allowing wizards to wear them.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay:
      • In 1st edition, armor and shields "hinder conjurations and create magical disharmonies", increasing the Mana cost of spells proportionally to the weight of the armour and interfering with the spellcaster's mana recovery.
      • In later editions, armour and shields disrupt the Background Magic Field around the spellcaster, penalizing their spellcasting rolls and thereby increasing the chance that any given spell will fail. There are exceptions, like the 2e "Armoured Casting" Talent reducing the penalty and 4e Alchemists suffering no penalty from metal armour.
      • The explanation provided in the 4th edition of the game is that wearing certain kinds of protection interferes with the Winds of Magic while repelling the rest - wizards in this setting being living conduits for magical energy that blows across the world. Wearing metal armour naturally attracts Chamon, the Gold Wind. Leather armour meanwhile draws Ghur, the Amber Wind. For wizards attuned to the Lore of Metal or the Lore of Beasts, this is no problem, but for those attuned to the other six winds...
  • Zig-zagged in Legend of the Five Rings. Nothing mechanical prevents shugenja from wearing armor; in fact, pretty much any samurai can wear any kind of armor physically, as long as they're willing to put up with the penalties (save for the Hida, whose only heavy armor penalty is to stealth). However, most shugenja choose not to due to cultural constraints. Wearing armor in civilized lands is an insult to those who tend the lands (you're basically saying that they can't protect you) unless you are actively in battle or are given special dispensation. Being in battle does allow shugenja the theoretical opportunity to wear armor, but the choice to do so depends on the situation in which the shugenja is involved, and their personal preferences.
  • Inverted in Exalted. The act of shaping a spell during combat leaves a Sorcerer almost completely defenseless until the spell is complete and puts a giant "please hit me" sign on the Sorcerer. Luckily, armor doesn't hinder spellcasting and a smart Sorcerer will wear armor. It's the Martial Artists who fall victim to this trope as many styles prohibit wearing armor.
  • Downplayed in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. While carrying armor does not interfere with your ability to cast spells, the points for the ability required to use armor are more expensive for sorcerers.
  • Played with in Rifts: Spellcasters can wear most armor easily, but unless absolutely neccessary, they will not wear a whole suit all at once, as wearing more than a certain percentage of it at once will prevent spellcasting through it. Metal armour carries the same penalty. Any Magic Knights, therefore, are usually wearing armour made of natural materials which are often mega-damage armour (smeg knows there's enough such organisms in the setting, such as magic trees, drakes etc.) although these have penalties such as increased mass, and the fact that they aren't air-conditioned and/or NBC sealed. Magic stone or crystal armours do exist, as do magitek powered armour, and magical metal armour, but these aren't exactly the kind of thing you can get anytime you find a place to shop, they are rare and expensive.
  • Pathfinder:
    • As in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, wizards and sorcerers have no armor proficiency and incur spell failure chance if they buy it with a feat or by multiclassing. Bards and magi are less restricted, with bards being able to wear light armor without penalty and magi earning the ability to wear heavier armor as they level up (but they have reduced spellcasting ability), and the Hellknight Signifier Prestige Class reduces spell failure chances to the point where a wizard can cast without penalty in a suit of mithral full plate (the spell failure reductions stack).
    • Clerics' armor proficiency is reduced to medium from heavy in 3.X, though there's no penalty for buying heavy armor proficiency with a feat or by multiclassing. Some archetypes alter this further: the Crusader gives up one of their two domains and a spell slot per level in exchange for heavy armor proficiency and bonus combat feats, whereas the Ecclesitheurge has ramped-up spellcasting in exchange for losing the ability to cast spells entirely if they even equip armor or a shield.
    • Averted in second edition, arcane spellcasters have no chance of spell failure while armored, they're just not proficient in armor except for bards and magi. But because proficiency bonus is added to armor class in PF 2 and all classes are proficient in unarmored defense, they'd be better off naked than wearing armor they're not proficient with.

    Western Animation 
  • Although shielding was never really covered in Ben 10, the specially-designed Hazmat suits Gwen wore interfered with her spellcasting when she was wearing it.

Alternative Title(s): Armour And Magic Dont Mix