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


The wiggle room is because "will not" is not the same as "can't". Sage Advice is official. It was asked of them what happens when a Druid wears metal armor, because there was no mention of them being unable to, merely that it's a personal choice. They said nothing prevents them from doing so. Since the official rule is that nothing in the game system that prevents them from wearing metal armor, there is nothing that prevents a Druid handed a metal armor from being convinced, either by current circumstance or a persuasive party member, to put it on. Any punishment granted by the decision is fully fabricated by the DM, and is not built into the rules, so I and many others fail to see how it's an official rule that they can't do it.

Because it isn't an official rule, it's standard fluff. DM is free tonignore or enforce as desired.

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I realize that not everyone will agree with this, but as far as I'm concerned the text is quite clear. The Sage Advice clarifies any ambiguity that might exist.

It says that druids WON'T wear metal armor, as opposed to saying CAN'T. Hence, it's a taboo. There are no mechanical repurcussions for a druid wearing metal armor (though the DM is of course always free to rule otherwise for their own game). However, that druid will be much like anyone who breaks a taboo in their society - they're going to be extremely unpopular with other druids and folks who associate with druids. It they approach a creature of the wild and claim to be a druid, that creature will be justifiably skeptical. After all, none faithful to the primal forces would be caught dead wearing something that stinks so greatly of civilization.

Rather than mechanical consequences, game world consequences.

As to why they can use metal weapons. I've been wondering that since I was a little kid back in the days of 2e. It's not a great reason, but it's essentially just a D&Dism. I just accept it and move on. If you can't, just change it. There's no reason that druids in your game can't wield ironwood scimitars that were humanely wood shaped from trees.


This is the argument that never ends,
yes it goes on and on my friend.
Some people started posting it,
not knowing what it was,
and they'll continue arguing it forever just because...
This is the argument that never ends...

There's nothing new here. Follow the rules, don't follow the rules, it doesn't really matter. Accept that the taboo for druids is based on whatever fluff the DM decides makes sense for their campaign or totally ignore it. Dominate the druid and have him put on a suit of armor because your a **** DM and watch as absolutely nothing happens other than what you, the DM, decides. Maybe the druid simply can't access any powers. Maybe every atom in their body is instantaneously converted to energy in an instantaneous thermonuclear reaction blowing a sizable hole in the surrounding countryside. It doesn't matter as long as you and your group have fun with it.

I don't see any difference between this arbitrary rule and any other rule in the book because they're all basically arbitrary based on an evolution of a miniatures war game that started in the 70s. Want to know why druids can't wear armor? Cast speak with dead and ask Gygax and Arneson.

Because this is the thread that never ends...


And what if an NPC, or a trickster player, decides to cast Suggestion on the Druid and tell them to put on a metal breastplate?

Assuming the druid fails their save, they put on the armor. And then, immediately after they put on the armor (and the Suggestion ends), they take the armor right back off.

You know, since they're no longer under the effect of something that subverts their will.


The situation won't come up because they won't wear metal armor. Might as well ask what happens if that champion fighter shapeshifts into a bear.

Unless of course you've chosen to change the rule in your campaign.

A champion can't shapeshift into a bear, a druid can wear metal armour, apparently they won't wear it but they could easily have a change of heart later on and think "Gee, I wish I could wear armour that offers more protection, wait, I can!" and nothing bad will happen to them.


Not necessarily. The Champion Fighter can still aspire to cast magic, can still take Magic Initiate, and can even jump into battle and try to replicate their Wizard's casting. They'll fail, but it's fully up to the character if they want to try. They're not going to explode (unless the DM wants to rule that their failed emulation leads to the casting of a failed Fireball and blow themselves up).

Someone that chooses to play a Druid does not necessarily choose not to wear metal armor. At most it's a tenet, and one that has no penalty for breaking. Applying a penalty would be a house rule, because the Sage Advice is official material, and explicitly states there is nothing within the game rules stopping the Druid from wearing the armor besides personal choice. If that Druid makes a contrary decision, there is nothing stopping them except a DM applying a house rule, one which has no basis for application, unlike rules such as with the Paladin's oaths.

And the point is, a character having to conflict their ideals against the situation in front of them is not a "no-win" situation. It's a conflict of interests for the character that forces them to weight cost versus outcome, but one they ultimately get to decide, and is not something that literally prohibits them from participating. A Paladin of Devotion opposes lying, but they can do it if they think it's the right course of action. Putting a Paladin of Devotion into a situation where lying will save many lives, or a Druid into a situation where putting on a suit of armor will complete their mission, is not comparable to expecting a Fighter to cast a spell they don't have access to.

Considering Sage Advice is as official as the PHB, it's not a change in the rule to say Druids can wear metal. It is stated quite clearly that nothing stops them from doing it except personal choice. As soon as that choice changes, they're now wearing metal and nothing happens. Contrary to popular belief, they are quite clear in stating they do in fact not explode.

The blurbs often do give varying options, but the ones I listed do not. They are direct and to the point, and do not offer varying opinions. For example, the Monk description explicitly states that those who leave their cloister take their work seriously. It doesn't say they usually take it seriously, or that they typically take it seriously, it says they take it seriously. When it says they care little for material wealth and are driven by a greater mission, it doesn't say they usually are, it just says that as a rule, they are.

Nobody enforces these, however, as they are just story elements of the class and do not inflict any mechanical restrictions if not followed. The Sage Advice says that the Druid tenet is the same way, but people ignore this because of where it appears one block later in the class's description.

It's easy to misconstrue something when there's no explanation given.

It doesn't matter if it's not just for lying. A Devotion Paladin can lie with Deception. Nothing stops them from doing it at any point in time, and if they do, they're still a Paladin of Devotion. Now in this specific case there is a lore blurb that tells the DM what they should consider doing if a player chooses to ignore their tenet, so it's not a house rule to enforce punishments that match with what is given. Druids, however, are explicitly stated in Sage Advice to have no such restrictions or punishments, because there is nothing within the game system preventing them from wearing metal armor.

Also, they don't need to be trained in the Deception skill to use it. Skills can be used untrained, you just won't get the proficiency bonus.
Ok, so just a couple things since it's obvious no headway is possible.

Yes, you have multiple graphs where they go over many different elements of a variety of monk traits and almost all of them have dome wiggle vlsuse in them. One in the middle - not set spart) failed up to include a specific wiggle room bit *while it foes* use a rather unspecified term like "take their work serioudly" which is fairly amorphous.

So, yeah, many people would read that as a case of using a vague quslity and read in the same "some do" in all the surrounding sentences have instead of assuming they stuck an isolated commandment into the middle of a bunch of wiggly bits. Its " hostile reading" to assume the intent was to add a hard condition, hide it in the middle of the wiggly bits and also give nothing more than "seriously" as a scsle.

So, obviously, it's your refusal whrn convenient yo acknowledge context at all that is telling.

As for Paladin, when they put a block of "when an oath breaks" guidelines, it seems pretty clear they are meaning these tenets can be broken and how it can be dealt with.

So, a devotion paladin **can** lie and still be a devotion paladin... but they may be on the hook for some of those hooks.

This concept - again taking in the context- I have not seen be a problem in play.

Simply put, no rulebook ever written will survive a read thst intends to find and misconstrue its meaning. 5e is no exception.


41st lv DM
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"?

Nope. I would never take control of their character like that.
But they will learn why their sect has this Taboo.


41st lv DM
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.

To be fair to Salvatore, Drizzt was rules legal.
Unearthed Arcana came out in '85 & allowed A) all elves but the Wild Elves to be Rangers, B) Drow as PC options.
Crystal Shard came along in '88.

This is not a valid argument. Tortles are a poorly-balanced joke of a race that was released in conjunction with Tomb of Annihilation. Furthermore, I would argue that they are, in fact, very powerful. However, I could be wrong. I would appreciate a mathematical proof for your answer, if you could provide one.


Isn't it obvious? Druid spells and abilities offer little or no synergy with this playstyle (apart from shillelagh, which other classes can pick up).

Closest comparison would be a nature cleric.

Tortle with shillelagh and shield has an AC of 19. The nature cleric in full plate with shillelagh and shield has AC 20 and can benefit from magic armour, so that's a clear win for the cleric, apart from at low level when they might not be able to afford full plate.

Both can burn a feat to pick up Booming Blade, but if they don't then Divine Strike puts the cleric ahead at level 8. Otherwise it's a dead heat. Edit: A variant half elf cleric can get Booming Blade free and not miss out on +1 wis.

Spells are similar, but I would say spells like Shield of Faith and Shield Guardians put the cleric ahead as a front liner. The Tortle druid can use Shell Defence whilst Conjured Animals do the fighting, but that is little more than a gimmick.

Wildshape gives zero combat benefit - you can't use it at the same time.
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I see this restriction and other flaws you choose to be role play opportunity.
A personal challenge.
You can roleplay and use your character flaws. It can produce “bad play” on optimization point of view.
In a war game or a card game, this Druid armor restriction would been badly implemented.
but in a rpg we have wider expectations and thus having the best AC is not always the premium goal.
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