Viewing online, I see that the nethack wiki says that a lower Armor Class is a better one. However, viewing the list comparing the armor here, how could the beginning armor (like the Hawaiian t-shirt) provides better protection than something like crystal plate mail?

Well then, either I'm reading it wrong or the information isn't correct or clear.

  • The armor's AC is subtracted from your character's AC. Thus the shirts subtract 0 (no protection). Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 4:49
  • @JeffreyBosboom So since the base AC is at 10, the Hawaiian Shirt doesn't reduce it at all, but the crystal plate mail puts it at 3 AC (assuming no other factors)?
    – JoeyChor
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 4:55
  • Yep, that's right. Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 4:55

1 Answer 1


Armor class is a very strange stat. A character with a lower AC stat takes less damage. However, your character's AC starts at 10 and the AC stat of each piece of armor you are wearing is subtracted from your character's AC stat. This means that it is better for your character to have a low AC stat, but it is better for armor to have a high AC stat.

As a side note, the t-shirt and Hawaiian t-shirt are actually quite valuable because they can be worn under armor. This means that they can be separately enchanted to +5 in an armor slot that nothing else can use.

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