D&D 5E Why the Druid Metal Restriction is Poorly Implemented

Ohmyn

First Post
I don't put my players into no-win situations. Feel free to run your games differently, just don't expect me to stick around if you force the issue without an alternative.

See, the thing is, if you don't remove player agency, it's never a "no-win situation". They fully have the option to go against their own values if they feel it appropriate. I wouldn't call infiltrating the enemy, learning their plan, and saving hundreds of lives at the expense of having to set your personal values aside to be a "no-win". If there are mechanical penalties for going against their view, such as a 3.5 Druid losing their magic for 24 hours if they don metal, they can opt to deal with that for the greater good. That's not true with a DM ruling a player won't do something, and is the only case in which a "no-win situation" can possibly happen (not including something silly like a DM offering two death doors), which is why it's a bad concept to bring to the table.

It's funny how half the people defending the "no armor" bit are saying "It's the rules, druids aren't allowed metal armor, stop trying to break the rules," and the other half are saying, "It's just a story restriction, it's not part of the rules, so why are you complaining?"

And that's exactly a major problem with the wording and placement of the rule. People asked the game developers because of the confusion caused by the clause being slid into their proficiencies without explanation. The wording and placement makes people assume it's a mechanical restriction, but the Sage Advice says it's just lore, Druids don't lack the ability to wear it, and that nothing prevents a Druid from doing so besides their own choice not to.

The Sage Advice definitely makes it clear to me that the restriction is not one that has to be followed, because characters are allowed to make choices that go contrary to their tenets, but because it's listed in proficiencies people still stand by the fact that it is a mechanical restriction and that Druids will stop being Druids if they don't agree. Apparently they need to do more to make the point clear, as people don't even agree on what the Sage Advice is trying to say, but it seems they simply don't want to expand upon it.
 

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And that's exactly a major problem with the wording and placement of the rule.
As I understand it, your issue is with the word "will". Is that correct? If the book had said, "Druid's can't wear metal armour." you would be OK?

If so, my advice is to not sweat it. D&D 5E is not a legal document where every word and phrase has a precise, consistent definition.

It's just a bunch of rules to maintain some balance across options. Humans can't see in the dark. Dwarves can't move at 30 ft per round. Low strength characters can't life heavy weights. Druid's can't wear metal armour.
 

Ohmyn

First Post
As I understand it, your issue is with the word "will". Is that correct? If the book had said, "Druid's can't wear metal armour." you would be OK?

If so, my advice is to not sweat it. D&D 5E is not a legal document where every word and phrase has a precise, consistent definition.

No, even if it just said "they can't", I'd still not be okay with it. Every time it's said that someone can't do something, a reason is given. If they had said, "Druids don't wear metal armor because it cuts off access to their spells", that's a good mechanical explanation that also covers the narrative. If they simply said "Druids can't wear metal armor", that still raises the question of why not, as well as what happens if they make the choice to do so. It's not really an inherent "story of the class" if every DM has to make it up because the class lacks a narrative.

It's just a bunch of rules to maintain some balance across options. Humans can't see in the dark. Dwarves can't move at 30 ft per round. Low strength characters can't life heavy weights. Druid's can't wear metal armour.

The confusion for people comes from the fact that the last point you make there is actually incorrect as per the rules. The Sage Advice specifically says Druids can wear metal armor, so saying they can't is an incorrect interpretation. Humans lack the ability to see in the dark. Dwarves lack the ability to move 30'. Low strength characters lack the ability to lift heavy weight. All of these are things your character can still attempt, they simply won't succeed.

Druids do not lack the ability to wear metal armor, and it's explicitly stated in the Sage Advice that way. "Druids don't lack the ability to wear metal armor." It's said that druids prefer to be protected by animal skins, wood, and other "natural" materials. A preference is not the same as a requirement, but most DMs seem to be ruling that it is.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It's funny how half the people defending the "no armor" bit are saying "It's the rules, druids aren't allowed metal armor, stop trying to break the rules," and the other half are saying, "It's just a story restriction, it's not part of the rules, so why are you complaining?"

Precisely, that's the point: it will vary table to table, DM to DM, and that is the strength of this approach. There is no balance concern, if a DM lets the Dwarf Druid wear studded leather nothing is changed except the story which is always at the DMs discretion.
 

Oofta

Legend
There's a big difference between a player picking a mechanical option, and forcing a decision on a character.


When a player decided to play a champion fighter they decided their PC was not going to cast spells. When they chose to play a druid the decided their PC was not going to wear metal armor.


See, the thing is, if you don't remove player agency, it's never a "no-win situation".


A DM can always set up a situation the PCs can't win, just like they can always set up alternatives. It doesn't matter if that situation is a group of 1st level characters fighting a tarrasque, the only possible way to get out of a situation is for the champion fighter to cast teleport or the druid wearing metal armor. It's a DM choice to **** over the player because of their chosen class and restrictions.


The Sage Advice definitely makes it clear to me that the restriction is not one that has to be followed


All rules are optional. If you want druids in your campaign to wear metal armor, change the rule. I choose to follow the rules.
 

paintphob

First Post
2) It's not a universal limitation of the Druid's lore in 5th Edition, nor does it impose mechanical penalties. This is another big one as it runs contrary to the Sage Advice. First off, there is not a lot of real story given in 5E besides referencing to the Forgotten Realms and a little mix of Eberron, which is where the core 5E books reference their lore. This makes rules like this one quite ambiguous to people not familiar with the lore, because it doesn't offer any mechanical or story elements for enforcement.

What I mean by it not being a universal limitation of druidic lore in 5E is that it's not a universal limit in the Forgotten Realms lore. The PHB says that some Druids venerate the forces of nature themselves, but that most are of the Old Faith, devoted to one or more of the nature deities worshiped in your setting. It is also stated that different druidic sects hold different philosophies about the proper relationship of the spirits to each other and to the forces of civilization.

This is where Druids like the worshipers of Mielikki come in. Mielikki is known in Forgotten Realms as the Forest Queen, and is the neutral good goddess of autumn, Druids, dryads, forests, forest creatures and Rangers. As part of her lore, appearing as far back in 1E AD&D and still a patron deity in the Forgotten Realms pantheon for 5E, she permits her druids to wear all kinds of armor and to use all kinds of weapons that are permitted to Rangers, including those made of metal. As a tidbit for those of you that are looking for a reason to multiclass your Cleric (Life Cleric + Goodberry shenanigans ahoy), she's a goddess of Druids and Rangers, and as such her Clerics canonically almost always multiclass into one of those choices. Some of her more notable worshipers in lore were known to wear metal, such as prominent dwarven Druid Pikel Bouldershoulder, who was famous for wielding his "Sha-la-la" stick, and wearing his metal cooking pot as a helmet whenever he dived into battle.

Druids wearing metal in Forgotten Realms is not only canon to the lore, but they never lost anything if they did so. This shows that it does not interfere with their power and that it's simply an oath they might make, but it's not one they have to keep, nor is it one every Druid even chooses to make to begin with. In lore Druids have different philosophies, and will even prey on one another, so it makes no sense that every Druid spanning from the Elves in the grasslands, to the Dwarves in the caves/mountains, and even the Drow deep in the Underdark, will all arbitrarily agree "metal bad", especially when the cave and ground dwellers are surrounded by iron in the earth all around them.

You might want to recheck your sources for your information on Mielikki. She does not allow her druid followers to wear any armor they want. According to Faiths and Avatars (page 114) her specialty priests (Druids) can wear Padded, leather, or hide and wooden, bone, shell, or other nonmetallic shield.
She also has an exceptionally rare few ranger/druids called Shadoweir. They can wear any armor (with penalties to some ranger special abilities that accrue if wearing heavier than studded leather or elven chainmail). But, being 2E, all Shadoweir had to be half-elf.
I am not aware of any official Forgotten Realms accessory from 1e-4e that says a druid of Mielikki can wear metal armor. If you have a source, please let me know.
Regarding Pickle and his pot helmet. Consider the source for that character. The same person who gave us a dual scimitar wielding Drow Ranger in first edition, when only humans and half-elves could be Rangers.
 


5ekyu

Hero
Sure, and it's clearly spelled out under the Paladin of Devotion's tenants that they don't lie or cheat, but they can learn or use the Deception skill and they're still a Paladin.

It clearly says under Creating A Monk that those who leave their cloisters take their work seriously, but there's nothing saying that if they're laid back they're no longer a Monk. It also says that as a rule, Monks care little for material wealth and are driven to accomplish a greater mission rather than slaying monsters and plundering their treasure, but they can be a murder hobo and they're still a Monk.

It clearly states under Creating a Cleric that the most important question to consider is which deity to serve and what principles you want your character to embody, but you can choose to disavow all deities and you're still a Cleric. You can also be true neutral as a Cleric and not choose not to have any principles to embody. There is no mechanical requirement to follow a deity, and if you do have one, there is no mechanical requirement to even be of the same alignment.

There is likewise nothing that says as soon as a Druid decides to wear metal they stop being a Druid. If the story mechanics (which Sage Advice have stated the Druid restriction is) of what a character "won't" do are to be enforced as a mechanical limitation, then a lot of player characters at such tables don't actually have classes, because they're not playing to the class's story.
Uhhh... You are aware that those blurbs tend to list many different types in those descriptions? So, say, for instance the line about how critical the god is and the not follow specific divine arent at odds, just different options, right?

See at this point it feels more like "hostile reading" looking for how it can be misconstrued instead of what it means.

As for devotion psladins, again, deception as a skill is not just for lying. Its also about hiding one's intent. So a high deception character might never lie but have a poker fsce from hell.

Also, of course, the paladin class doesnt have Deception on its skill options but even if it did, there are lots of other oaths. Of course, the deception could come from background, say the life before you took the oath. Etc.

These are not problems or conflicts though hey, if they also make someones list of greivances that will certainly help inform potentiak GMs.
 

5ekyu

Hero
I think there are still people who aren't quite getting Point 1. For some of us, we don't really care what mechanical bonuses the druid can get. If they couldn't wear any armor at all, that wouldn't be the main problem. This quote most succinctly exemplifies the other position, so I'm going to directly provide an example situation to address it.



Here's a situation to consider--and it's what many of us are most concerned about. Someone creates a druid character. They have no intention of wearing metal armor. They are totally on board with the lore, etc. They most definitely are a druid.

In the course of playing the game, during their adventures, they end up in a situation where if they don't put on metal armor, someone dear to them is almost certainly going to die. Maybe the whole party needs to put on some plate guard uniforms to properly disguise themselves in a situation where the druid's magic and shapeshifting can't provide another option. They party (and players) put their heads together and try to come up with other solutions, and they are drawing a blank. Even the DM (who didn't expect them to end up in this predicament, but they took an unexpected path) can't see an easy way out of it. The player of the druid has a choice: their character puts on this armor, or everything is jeopardized, and the NPC(s) they are trying to rescue will likely die (the party is tough enough to fight their way out without a TPK--but no one has access to magic to raise the dead).

What we have here is an interesting moral (for the druid) dilemma. Do I break my vows and put on this metal armor to save those I care about, or do I maintain those ritual requirements and let them die?

What happens, in your (general "you"), game, if this druid player thinks it over, weighs the decisions, role-plays his druid PC agonizing over it, and then says: "I tentatively reach out and touch the armor with displeasure. I glance around with a somewhat ashamed look on my face, which then changes to determination. I put on the armor."

Do you, as DM, say: "No, your character won't do that"?

That's the main point a lot of us care about.
Yet, is anybody taking this as a case where we would say that in such a trap scenario or even setup such a trap without giving that pkayer or character guidance beforehand about "in this setting"???

I mean, really, it sounds like any number of ye olde jerk-GM paladin traps where they are presented with choding between losing paladinhood or letting folks die (or other horror) with vague unspecific honor codes.

Even if such a scenario came out organically in my game you as gm make sure the player knows what his character would about consequences that you have decided, if any, for such a choice. Maybe it means atonements later? Gm setting choice.

But nobody is saying (other than the folks wanting to argue how bad it is) that this is actual meant to be taken as some actual mental block that prevents the choice being made.
 

Oofta

Legend
It seems to be more of a suggestion than an actual rule.


I simply don't see the wiggle room other people read into it. They "will not" wear metal armor. Seems pretty darn clear to me.

This is getting repetitive: if you don't like the rule ignore it when you're DM.
 

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