D&D 5E The Armor-Wearing Druid (a Page From My House-Rules)


Limit Break Dancing
Here's a page from my house-rules, revealed to my players at last weekend's Session Zero. It pertains to the strange rule in the 5E Player's Handbook regarding druids and metal armor: "Druids will not wear armor made of metal."

That rule never sat right with me. And all of the arguments for/against it on Reddit and here on EN World weren't very convincing. So I went with a "best of both worlds" workaround for my homebrew campaign. Here's the page (click to embiggen):
Pages from 04_Equpment.png

Druids still can't wear metal armor, as per the PHB, and still can't wear heavy armor, mithril, or adamantine. But they have other equivalent options in my campaign: chitin and ironwood are functionally equal to steel, umbrite is functionally identical to mithril, etc. If they want to wear a breastplate, they can go hunt some ankhegs.

Just thought I'd put it out here, for anyone who might find it useful.

Druids in this campaign can wear any style of armor that they like, as long as they are proficient. They just can’t wear the stuff that’s made of metal. So to make that happen, here are some metallic alternatives that can be made and worn by druids.

Chitin is the hardened exoskeleton of monstrous insects, especially ankhegs and giant beetles. It is fairly common in the western isles, but can be hard to find elsewhere. It can be shaped into plates, but not interlocking rings. Shields, as well as scale mail, breastplate, half-plate, splint, and plate armor can be made from chitin. This material is quite common in the Western Isles, and is frequently used by members of the Golgari Enclave.

The silk from monstrous spiders, caterpillars, and certain fey creatures can be spun into thread that has a higher tensile strength than even mithril. These silk strands can then be woven into fabrics that are nearly indestructible and impenetrable. Not that your opponents would ever notice; “armor” made from gossamer often looks no different than a finely-tailored corset, vest, or robe. While wearing gossamer armor or clothing, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit. Gossamer is one of the hardest fabrics to make, and one of the most expensive materials on the market…easily worth its weight in diamonds. (Think of this as “adamantine for druids.”)

The druids of the Golgari Enclave can weave magic that strengthens, preserves, and hardens plant matter into durable tools and armor. WIth the proper rituals and ingredients, woven plant fibers, carved wood, even leaves and bark can be magically transmuted into durable, hard armor. Ironwood weapons, tools, armor, and shields are prized among the members of the Golgari Enclave, particularly in the Western Isles, but they are rare elsewhere.

This is the boiled, hardened sap of a rare tree. It is extremely rare and extremely prized–and therefore, extremely expensive. Only the elves of Lunari know the secrets of this tree’s cultivation, and the methods to harvest and concentrate the sap. Umbrite is a hard, flexible solid when it is cooled, but when heated in a forge, it becomes as soft and malleable as any metal. Armor made from umbrite is exceptionally light and thin, similar to mithril: if the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks, or has a Strength requirement, an umbrite version of the armor doesn’t. Think of this as “mithril for druids.”
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Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
5e doesn't make as big a deal about special materials, but that doesn't mean you can't use them as a DM or ask abotu them as a player. Druid int he campaign I've been running for 2+ years has a petrified wood breastplate. In previous campaigns I've seen a druid with armor made from the chitin exoskeleton of an umberhulk, and from dragon scales.


Nice, I like alternate materials, I have to look at earlier editions for ideas to add in, or to video games like WoW which has an abundance of special materials. I may end up adding in Umbrite to my games, I like the sound of it.

I actually have spider silk in my games, it can be used to make cloth armour which doesn't require armour proficiency and is favoured by wizards of all kinds and by priests as ceremonial robes (provides AC 11 + dex). The only issue is the rarity, if you aren't drow, you might not have access to it.


Limit Break Dancing
5e doesn't make as big a deal about special materials, but that doesn't mean you can't use them as a DM or ask abotu them as a player. Druid int he campaign I've been running for 2+ years has a petrified wood breastplate. In previous campaigns I've seen a druid with armor made from the chitin exoskeleton of an umberhulk, and from dragon scales.
I make a slightly bigger deal about special materials in this campaign. Mithril and adamantine items, for example, are all non-magical +1 and +2 items...the "plus" comes from superior materials and better craftsmanship, not magical auras or whatever. The heroes will also find nuggets of these metals as treasure, which can be smelted down into ingots and fashioned into items. (It's all very Stardew Valley.)

Well heck, here's the page.

The players haven't met the NPC who can do this metalwork for them yet (plot twist: he's not the village blacksmith). But when they do, they'll be able to trade those ingots for mithril gear (+1 gear). This also gives them something to do with all of those obsolete +1 weapons and shields they find in treasure hoards later down the road: they can take them to the NPC and have them recycled into ingots and/or refashioned into more useful items.

Anyway, here's the full text in case you wanna snag it and put it in your own game.
Special Materials


As you explore the mines, caves, and other underground areas of the world, you will stumble upon rare metals and gems. These nuggets of ore are valuable in and of themselves, but if you find enough of them you can fashion them into powerful weapons and armor. These nuggets come in different shapes and sizes, but for simplicity’s sake we will assume that a nugget of ore is about 3 inches across and weighs about half a pound.

If you know someone with the proper skill and equipment, these nuggets can be smelted into ingots: bars of purified metal with a uniform composition. Like nuggets of ore, ingots of metal are made in all shapes and sizes, but for the sake of simplicity we will assume that an ingot of any metal is 5 inches long, 2 inch wide and 1 inch thick, and weighs about two pounds. Five nuggets of ore are needed to make one ingot of metal.

ItemValue (gp)
Adamantine ore1000 gp
Adamantine ingot5000 gp
Mithril ore100 gp
Mithril ingot500 gp
Titanite ore2500 gp
Titanite ingot10,000 gp

And ingots can then be crafted into items, if you know someone with the proper skill and machinery. And also for the sake of simplifying things, you need one ingot for every 2 pounds of weight in the base item (and a minimum of 1 ingot). This assumes both the necessary amount of material as well as the difficulty involved in fashioning the finished item.

Example ItemBase WeightIngots Needed
Armor, studded leather13 lbs.7
Armor, breastplate20 lbs.10
Armor, plate65 lbs.33
Shield6 lbs.3
Dagger1 lb.1
Rapier2 lbs.1
Longsword3 lbs.2
Trident4 lbs.2
Greatsword6 lbs.3
Greataxe7 lbs.4
Pike18 lbs.9

Three example metals are shown below: adamantine, mithril, and titanite. Others exist in the game, so keep your eyes peeled.

This rare and dense metal is incredibly hard and strong, and capable of holding its edge better than other metals. Items crafted from adamantine have a non-magical enhancement bonus of +2. Furthermore, armor made from adamantine protects the wearer from critical hit damage (a critical hit made against a creature wearing adamantine armor becomes a regular hit). Weapons and tools made from adamantine are immune to the Broken condition.

Mithril is a rare, silvery metal with high corrosion resistance. It is much lighter than iron or steel, and doesn’t rust...making it an ideal material for crafting armor. In addition to the properties described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, items made from mithril have a non-magical enhancement bonus of +1 and are resistant to acid damage.

One of the rarest metals known, Titanite is a dense, incredibly hard, and incredibly durable metal that is only found in meteorites. It is about as heavy as steel, and is nearly indestructible: items made from this material never rust or require sharpening and polishing. Items made from titanite have a non-magical enhancement bonus of +3 and cannot gain the Broken condition.
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I seem to remember 4e having a bunch of special material options for the various armors for the ever continuing train of higher powered armor through each five level tier.

Iron wood druid platemail has been a good idea since AD&D with an iron wood spell and a special tree material in Greyhawk.


Yeah, I mostly just ignore the statement in the PHB and assume a druid in heavy armor has simply made it from natural materials - sharkskin, wood, giant serpent skin, giant insect exoskeleton or whatnot. I just have the player note the material in the item name (sharkskin chain mail, for example) in case someone or something directs an attack against it. Non-druids can do the same; I had a fighter player who insisted on non-metal armor after a couple encounters with heat metal enemies.


Limit Break Dancing
Yeah, heat metal was a big deal in our last campaign...it got used almost as often as eldritch blast and guidance. I think everyone is worried that I might try to get even with them by having enemy NPCs cooking them in their armor for a change.

I would never. :angel:

Our party's fighter is probably going to start saving up for a gossamer doublet and pants now. (Which would be perfect, since this is a swashbuckling, Renaissance-esque campaign setting and he fancies himself a Musketeer.)
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Dusty Dragon
In my game, I have a simple solution: Pangolin (or any other strange animal) scale armor. They existed in real life, so why not in D&D.

It gives the druid a decent option, not a great one, so it doesn't threaten the game balance too much.


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