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D&D 5E Can your Druids wear metal armor?

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lingual

Adventurer
These situations are completely equal and this is an excellent comparison, not a hilariously over dramatic reaction to disagreeing with a piece of flavor text. Bravo, sir. Bravo.
Just as equal as equating armor restrictions as "straight jacket" and inhibiting "player agency". In both cases, there is a "restrictive fluff-rule" with no explicit adjudication and in both cases it could very by table - and be acceptable. But hyperbole seems to the funnest way to argue here.
 

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First, I want to make sure my positions are clear. I'm okay with consequences for a druid putting on metal armor, including consequences that are class crippling like a monk wearing armor. I love class identity and don't see classes as just a collection of mechanics. The only things I really have an issue with are the way certain things are written, and the way some people either don't: a) realize that there is an in-play player-agency issue being uniquely, in the entire game, impacted by the druid armor issue, or b) realize it and are okay with it. I don't suppose I can meaningfully convince someone that they shouldn't be okay with that, but people on this forum are generally pretty reasonable (though we do like to dig in our heels on certain issues) and I believe it is possible to help reasonable people see where an actual issue exists. My primary goal is therefore for everyone (yeah, I'm an idealist) to recognize that there is unique and problematic issue in the social contract (and in setting consistency) arising solely from this one class feature, that has nothing to do with preserving class identity (I don't want druids wearing metal armor in general!) or game balance.

But first, I want to briefly address something no one has brought up regarding the argument @Yaarel is making that druids lack proficiency in metal armor. Based only on the PHB, this is not as absurd as it appears. Here's what page 45 says:

Screenshot 2021-08-03 152638.png


The chart says that their proficiencies are in nonmetal light and medium armor and shields. This is not the same as what page 65 (under the druid class entry) says. While I think the stronger interpretation is to make the class entry primary and say this table is just making a functional summary, that does mean this table is technically incorrect. It is also reasonable to take the interpretation that the table is clarifying the actual mechanical rule, and the entry in the class is including a bit of fluff explaining the reason they mechanically lack proficiency in metal armors. The benefit of the latter interpretation is that neither entry is actually incorrect, they are simply talking about different things.

No, it means that if you decide to keep the rule, the character decides to forego wearing metal armor as part of becoming a druid. If they willingly put on metal armor, they are no longer a druid.

So, assuming you didn't feel it was too disruptive to your game to allow, and a player was okay with taking the consequences, would I be correct in assuming you'd have them lose all or most class features, either permanently or until they made some sort of atonement? While that might not be my preferred method of dealing with it, I think it's a reasonable way and it doesn't eliminate player agency. "You can choose to do this, but there will be severe consequences" preserves agency. Heck, even "yes, your character can theoretically put on metal armor and suffer massive consquences; but I'm not going to let you as a player have them do that in my game, because I don't like what it does to the game, and if you insist it indicates you are probably not going to be a good fit for this game" is a reasonable position. Those positions, while rather hard line, are fine.

Except it lists guidelines (typically a day of atonement), and allows for player free will. This amounts to the book saying "your character wouldn't do that", and people almost always bristle when told that they don't control the character. I wonder how many people supporting this rule would also be OK with an NPC (or other PC) using persuade on a PC and the PC's actions being dictated by the DM. "Well, he rolled a 20, so you're now his henchman! Your character wants it!".

Again, this is the ONLY instance of flavor text obliterating agency that I can see. Seems like the most logical response is to admit it's poorly worded, rather than defending it as sacred immutable text...

This is also how I see it.

I would like to understand why those who see it differently do so.

For those who don't have an issue based on player agency, could you provide some other examples of player-agency issues that you would have an issue with? And/or some other examples of restrictions that seem even stronger than the druid armor one that you would also not have a problem with? I'm trying to figure out if there is a general lack of compatibility on perception of player agency issues, or if the issue is being viewed differently by different people.

For instance, if you want to preserve class identity, and prefer druids don't wear metal armor, I'm on your side. No need to fight me. If you think there might be a balance issue, I'm not strongly attached to any view. Again, not your opponent on that. If you're just trying to make it clear what the rules are in the book, I agree that the stronger reading is that "will not" is a rule. What I want to get at is how you feel about the player-agency issue in isolation from every other issue.

I think it has been explained fairly well why many of us see it as a problem. It does something nothing else in the entire game does--it prevents us from making a choice to violate a character's initial beliefs during the game and face the consequences (whatever those might be). This doesn't make any sense from a religious perspective. Even the most devout religious people violate their beliefs on occasion due to human imperfections, regardless of how much effort they put into not doing so. Many people change religious beliefs. In D&D, angels can fall and fiends can rise. It seems odd to say that members of the druidic faith (or character class) are literally incapable of choosing to change their beliefs or give in to temptations to violate them. I'm sure it was correct at one point to say that a fallen D&D angel "would not" do evil acts, and that a risen fiend "would not" do good acts. But they changed over time. How are druids different?
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
How would you do it? To me, multiclassing into druid in a "coherent" way would involve finding a druid circle, spending time with mentors, learning a new way of life, blah blah blah, and all the while you have a game you're trying to run with several other players. Even if they're not all changing classes at the same time, how would you run it to keep everyone involved?

For starters, assume that changing classes like that in the middle of the game is the exception, not the norm. If you're looking for as little change to 3.X rules as possible, Overhauling Multiclassing breaks it down into a feat chain.

I don't run Wizards D&D anymore. If I did, I'd probably start by sitting down with the player and negotiating what they wanted from each class... and then build a PF-style "hybrid class" out of those specific pieces of each class. I've got a half-formed idea of whipping up a new multiclassing system for PF1 out of some combination of Tipsy Tabby, VMC, and various pieces of other attempts to reform the system... but I'm not running PF anymore, either, so why?

In B/X D&D or OSE or thereabouts, it'd be the same process-- I'd sit down with the player and work out what pieces of each class they wanted, and make a new class that does those things. It'd be... pretty similiar to AD&D multiclassing, except it wouldn't involve keeping track of separate class levels and rolling fractions of Hit Dice.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Still looking, so far I've only seen this same question come up on RPG Stackexchange, the D&D Beyond forums, and /r/dndnext, but every answer to this question I've seen so far supports my read of it. Still looking.
I agree with your read.

Imagine the shenanigans you could do if you could recharge abilities with temp HP like say... armor of agathy?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'll do you one better. Here's a screen capture from the Player's Handbook:

View attachment 141587

"druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal." It's in the Class Features section of the druid class, in the Proficiencies list, under Armor, right after the list of armor types that the druid is proficient with. It's pretty clear.

I mean, there are plenty of ambiguous, hard-to-understand rules in the Player's Handbook, but this isn't one of them. I don't understand the confusion.

Sure, we can argue about why that rule is there, and maybe discuss house rules that remove or omit it. But the rule itself? Clear as a bell.
We aren't arguing on why a non-rule is there at all. It's simply not a rule. Will not =/= cannot. Will not = choice. Choice = PCs can opt to wear it or opt not to wear it. You're right, though. It is really clear and simple.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I feel people are reading too much into the Druid class description:

"Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields (druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal)"

Here, the unexplained "will not" is merely clarifies that even tho the Druid can wear medium armor, the proficiency doesnt include metal chain, scale, or breastplate.
That isn't what "will not" means at all. If they wanted to say that it doesn't include metal medium armors, though would have said, "Medium, except for metal armor." They didn't, because they do have proficiency with it, but opt not to wear it for "religious" reasons.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The rule is 'X will not do Y.' X doing Y is breaking the rule. There is zero ambiguity here. You're free to supply your own reasoning why X will not do Y, but the rule is clear.
But there is no penalty for breaking the rule. A rule with no penalty = optional guideline. If a PC druid in my game was wearing metal armor when they went into the Dark Wood and encountered a druid circle there, those druids would at best shun the PC and refuse to deal with the group and at worst try to kill the offender for his sacrilege. There would be potential consequences for breaking that particular taboo, but there's absolutely nothing in the rules preventing that taboo from being broken by a PC. Nothing.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Most people agree, the Druid does not gain proficiency with metal armors from the Druid class proficiencies.

The debate (because of the poor wording) is whether a Druid character can get proficiency with metal armors by some other means.

The answer is obviously, yes, a Druid can take a feat, or so on, just like a Wizard can get armor proficiencies this way.
There's no real debate. Will not does not in any way prevent the druid from putting it on. Even if non-proficient(which isn't a rule in the PHB), he can still put it on. This view is backed up by the designers who have said, "It's not a rule. It's just a fluff preference." Those who view it as a rule after the designers have clarified that it isn't a rule are objectively wrong about it. It's only a rule in their game if they house rule it to be.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Sure, they can do those things, but they probably won't. They're not incentivised to do so. They gain no particular benefit from hundreds of iron chains or from a iron staff. They however gain significant benefit from metal armour. Please understand, that a world where druids can wear metal armour is a world where all druids will wear metal armour.
This is simply not true. There are also circumstances where a druid might put on metal armor for a bit, but not like to wear the armor constantly.

If my druid were part of a quest to save all of nature and the best way to get into the castle safely to accomplish that was to put on metal full plate armor, he's putting on the metal full plate armor. I'd describe to the DM how my PC finds it repugnant, but forces himself to put the armor on piece by piece. If the DM tried to tell me that I won't do that, I'd hand him his new NPC and walk out. The DM doesn't get to tell me what my PC will or won't do. If my druid wants to break that taboo(not rule), he will. If my paladin wants to violate his oath, he will. There may be in game consequences for my actions, but those do not include my not putting on the armor.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If they dont wear, they never become proficient with it.

If they will never use a greatsword, they likewise will never be proficient with a greatsword.
There aren't two different versions of armor proficiency. Human fighters are not proficient in metal medium armor and non-metal medium armor as separate proficiencies, because chitin chainmail and metal chainmail are exactly the same to use, so medium armor proficiency covers both. Druids are fully capable of using any metal medium armor, because they are proficient. They just opt not to as fluff lore.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If they willingly put on metal armor, they are no longer a druid.
This is an extrapolation, and a houserule, not what’s in the actual book.

The actual text in the book is a fluff statement with no weight, and no way to enforce it without a houserule. A Druid won’t do the thing…ok, if I’m playing a straight PHB Druid with no alteration of the character concept, no differing concept of druids, no deviation from the default lore of classes whatsoever, which I would find incredibly odd and stifling, I…still have to generate a houserule to stop a Druid player from putting metal armor on. 🤷‍♂️
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
This is an extrapolation, and a houserule, not what’s in the actual book.

The actual text in the book is a fluff statement with no weight, and no way to enforce it without a houserule. A Druid won’t do the thing…ok, if I’m playing a straight PHB Druid with no alteration of the character concept, no differing concept of druids, no deviation from the default lore of classes whatsoever, which I would find incredibly odd and stifling, I…still have to generate a houserule to stop a Druid player from putting metal armor on. 🤷‍♂️
Yeah, this. If you say to a player “your character can’t wear that chain shirt because they’re a druid,” that’s a house rule because the “rule,” such as it is, says “will not,” not “can not.” To be consistent with what it says, you would have to say “your character won’t wear that chain shirt, because they’re a druid,” which is a clear violation of player agency. If you allow them to wear it but impose some sort of penalty for doing so, you preserve player agency, but you’re creating a house rule to do so (and to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that).

There are only two valid conclusions we can draw from these premises: either “druids will not wear heavy armor” isn’t a rule, or the rules of D&D 5e violate player agency. I can’t imagine the latter is the intent, especially given that Sage Advice clarifies that it’s just meant as a flavorful thing. Therefore I must conclude that it is not intended to be a rule.
 

see

Pedantic Grognard
...except that my druid isn't very religious. He's a philosophical druid, but not a pious one.
Cool, the class doesn't define an orthodoxy, it defines an orthopraxy. If he will wear metal armor, he's not a druid, because, as it is explicitly established by the rulebook text, druids won't wear metal armor. But he can believe whatever he likes.

Unless, again, the idea is that every single druid of every single race in every single world from Forgotten Realms where they worship gods to Dark Sun where the gods do not exist, have the same religion.
Well, whether it's the "same" religion or not (incidentally, is there any real-world religion where everybody agrees who is and who isn't a member?), they all have the exact same binding taboo.

You can complain it doesn't make sense, but, does it really make any less sense than every druid in the multiverse having the same other class features in common? Or the fact that every cleric has the same basic features in common? I mean, yes, it surely rankles more, but, make less sense?

This is an extrapolation, and a houserule,
The more accurate term would be "syllogism".

The major premise, given by the text of the Player's Handbook, is "druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal".
The minor premise, given by the player, is "This character will wear armor or use shields made of metal."
The conclusion follows, "This character is not a druid."

The DM isn't enforcing anything or inflicting a penalty; it's just the inexorable result of cold Aristotelian logic. When the character became someone who would wear metal armor, he ceased to meet the definition of a druid, so he isn't one.

There are only two valid conclusions we can draw from these premises: either “druids will not wear heavy armor” isn’t a rule, or the rules of D&D 5e violate player agency. I can’t imagine the latter is the intent, especially given that Sage Advice clarifies that it’s just meant as a flavorful thing.
I would suggest that the directly on-point sentence of the Sage Advice Compendium answer is the sentence "If you want to depart from your class’s story, your DM has the final say on how far you can go and still be considered a member of the class."
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I was just going to bite my tongue, but it's funny that I read your post here:

...and the first thing I thought was that I'm glad I don't have to play with a DM as toxic as this guy... but whatevs...
Making it personal with this kind of name-calling is not permitted. Please don’t do it again.
 



ad_hoc

(he/they)
What I want to get at is how you feel about the player-agency issue in isolation from every other issue.

There are a lot of 'choices' a player could make that I simply wouldn't allow at my table. It's not taking away player agency, it's enforcing the social contract that everyone agreed to.

For example, if a player said "I go find the town merchant, kill them, and take their stuff." I would just say, no, you don't. Before we started the game everyone agreed to not play an evil character and part of the definition of that was doing this sort of stuff.

The same goes for attacking other party members. It's simply not allowed.

These actions are not resolved 'in game' or 'played out' they are just not allowed.

Let me remind everyone that the Sage Advice likens a Druid wearing metal armour to a vegetarian eating meat. It's a contradiction. It is impossible because it is a conflicting definition.

Choosing to create a Druid character is choosing not to wear metal armour. They are free to play a Nature Cleric if they want.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
If they dont wear, they never become proficient with it.

If they will never use a greatsword, they likewise will never be proficient with a greatsword.
Proficiency has nothing to do with usage but training. In D&D 5E, you know how to use a weapon or tool you have been trained for, even if you never use it thereafter.

Most classes uses 10% or less of the weapons they're proficient with, if what you say was true, most classes would only be proficient with 2-3 weapons max ☺
 

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