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5E Why the Druid Metal Restriction is Poorly Implemented

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
Throughout D&D Druids have been leather armour clad spell casters who share a number of spells with regular clerics, who derive their power from nature, who have the shapechanger ability at some point, and who utilise simple or 'tool' inspired weapons - that IS pretty consistent. In 3 editions they had a neutral component to their alignment, but as 5E (sadly) reduced the impact of alignment mechanics that was lost. Being pedantic about the level they get to shape change proves nothing.
And throughout D&D druids have had the ability to don metal platemail in order to sneak into a castle. Nothing you have said has so far been able to counter that fact.
 

Ohmyn

Villager
Railroading is NOT removing choice, it is removing the impact of character actions on the events in the game. In my experience, restricting mechanical choices actually has the effect of focussing the players on creating something more compelling within the environment presented - some of the best, most compelling, most innovative roleplaying I've seen has come in Basic D&D, where mechanical options were severely limited. Also is a 1E DM 'railroading' when they choose to abide by the class restrictions regarding demi-humans, armour restrictions regarding other classes, alignment restrictions for Paladins, Monks, Rangers and Bards, or adhering to the level caps in that edition? What about Monk trying to use burning oil, a Thief trying to wield a 2-handed sword (the book says they may not), or a Cleric wanting to use an edged weapon (the PHB states they are 'forbidden'), so it's more than simply them not being able to be proficient in them in these cases. It's not railroading if a DM insists on using these restrictions as written.

By choosing to play a Druid, you will have agreed to abide by the no-metal restriction - just as a Thief player in 1E will have agreed to abide by 'no 2 handed swords'. If you then decide to break that agreement, then no, I am not railroading you by denying that choice. You (the player) is simply being difficult, and somewhat disrespectful. If you don't agree to the lore, you don't play the class. If you try to push it, you don't play full stop.
Railroading is not removing choice in selecting mechanics, but rather removing options in the game world by stating the possible to be impossible without any reason given besides not wanting the player to do it, or "the rules". Saying a Magic User cannot effectively use a shield due to their lack of martial training is not railroading, but saying they can't pick it up and strap it to their arm and gain no benefit while accepting the normal encumbrance or any other associated penalties, is. What if that Magic User is strapping it to their arm solely because that makes it easier to carry for the purpose of running it to their Fighter? What if their Fighter died and they want to take the shield back to town with them? Will the universe implode if they equip it? What if they plan to use it for an out of combat purpose, such as using it to Indiana Jones something else of equivalent size and shape off of a pedestal? The same held true of Druids. They couldn't cast magic while wearing metal, but what if they're hiding inside a decorative suit of armor in a castle, waiting alongside their party to perform an ambush? They'll toss the armor off as soon as they perform the ambush, so there'd be no loss.

There's tons of reasons to use items outside of their intended purpose, and it's totally possible to attempt to use something that you're not proficient in using. You won't have high odds of success, because you'll inherently suck with it, but you can darn well try. A character with 8 strength may not be able to lift the rock that the 20 strength Barbarian can, but they can darn well pull their back out trying.

Throughout D&D Druids have been leather armour clad spell casters who share a number of spells with regular clerics, who derive their power from nature, who have the shapechanger ability at some point, and who utilise simple or 'tool' inspired weapons - that IS pretty consistent. In 3 editions they had a neutral component to their alignment, but as 5E (sadly) reduced the impact of alignment mechanics that was lost. Being pedantic about the level they get to shape change proves nothing.
Sure, and the reasons for their limits have changed, as well as the source of their power. Druids used to gain their power solely from nature, now they can draw it from a deity or from nature. Druids lost their magic in 1E if they wore metal armor or used a metal shield, but they never stated it to be taboo; it simply had penalties for doing so, so they obviously opted not to do it. It became a taboo in 2E, but didn't give any penalties as to what happened if they wore it. This was already a major change in the design, since it went from a hindrance to a taboo. In 3E it went back to being a mechanical penalty, where if they wore it they lost access to their magic for as long as they wore it, plus 24 hours. In 4E it was neither a taboo nor did it have penalties, they simply were not proficient by default. In 5E there are again no penalties as it's still a personal choice without mechanical implications beyond proficiency, as it has been since the Druid was released in 4E during early 2009. We are literally 10 years and 2 editions of D&D into Druids having no mechanical penalty for metal armor, unlike 1E, but people will not let go of the 1E fluff. If we can't let that go, then let's start taking away the Cleric's weapons, and let's buff the Druid's spellcasting to be stronger than the Cleric's.

And if you're going to discuss alignment, they were only required to be true neutral in two editions. That's 2/5, or less than half. They've also had absolutely no such restriction for 2/5 editions, but the 2 editions they've had no limits on are the two most modern. Feel free to cling onto the 1978 restrictions, but it's 2019 and the rules have changed.

Even the ability to only have to remain neutral in one element of the character's alignment as opposed to both is actually a very significant change that was made in 3E, but either way, don't blame 5E for the reduced alignment restrictions because they also dropped those in 4E. So again, 2 editions of D&D and over a decade since that change has been made, so it's likely here to stay. In 3.5 a Druid could be good or evil, which is leaps and bounds away from what the traditional Druid's belief systems were in the past two editions before it. Druids were only allowed before to be acolytes of natural order, but that change allowed them to literally be champions of good or evil. Heck, the whole concept of having to be neutral in only one aspect of your character was silly, because that's nothing like being true neutral. Neutral evil is nothing like lawful neutral, which is nothing like neutral good. They realized that was dumb because they practically gave them absolute freedom already, so they later just removed it completely.
 
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Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
the reasons for their limits have changed
Actually, the reason for the limit in 1st edition was that druids had access to far more powerful offensive spells than clerics did. But through later editions clerics have gained access to more powerful spells (particularly self-buffing) whilst druids have slipped backwards (see the naff 5e Barkskin). In 3.5/Pathfinder druids make up for it with powerful animal companions. But in 5e non-Circle of the Moon druids are seriously underpowered in the combat pillar if the DM limits them to hide armour.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
Not at all, unless you're talking melee combat. In which case, yes, but not really what the 5e (non-moon) druid seems designed to do.
5e duids don't get anything better than what clerics get, and 5e clerics can wear half plate at least.


I remember in a 1st edition game the 12th level druid defeated an army of thousands single handed. You can still see how blaster-y those early druids where in the Icewind Dale CRPG. They where pretty much the sorcerers of 1st edition.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
One thing DMs who are not allowing non-metalic medium armor should consider: intelligent aquatic races (Tritons, sea elves, Sahaugan, etc) are unlikely to use metal when making armour. Not only does it negatively affect buoyancy and rust if ferrous you can't actually work it underwater as you need a fire.

Suggested alternative materials: sharkskin, coral, turtle carapace, giant saltwater crayfish carapace.

Merfolk seashell bikinis do not qualify as armour.
 
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Sadras

Explorer
By choosing to play a Druid, you will have agreed to abide by the no-metal restriction - just as a Thief player in 1E will have agreed to abide by 'no 2 handed swords'. If you then decide to break that agreement, then no, I am not railroading you by denying that choice. You (the player) is simply being difficult, and somewhat disrespectful. If you don't agree to the lore, you don't play the class. If you try to push it, you don't play full stop.
I'm not convinced with this argument.
In 1e Paladins could default on their ideology through their actions and paid the price for it, and yet we do not label such players as difficult or disrespectful. Why do you feel that druids cannot wear armour (full stop) without perhaps allowing them to wear the armour, in trying circumstances, and limiting their druidic class features because of it - similar to the Paladin?
 
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Fanaelialae

Adventurer
The point I was making is that the PHB specifies that belief and worship vary between the Druids, so Druids are inherently already not all in agreement. There is no taboo or faith system that remains uncontested indefinitely, and when the idea is full of holes, that is when it is at highest risk of being contested. Even the wording in the Sage Advice continues to use words like "typically", "choose" and "choice", when it refers to metal armor and Druids. Yes, that's a typical belief system of Druids, but player characters are not typical members of their class and/or race, and even if they were, people's beliefs and choices can change over time. If players were just a paragon of their race and class and their actions must follow that at all times, there'd be no reason for them to play the characters because the choices and actions would be predetermined. Monks say in their description that as a rule they will not be murder hobos, but no DM stops them from being murder hobos because that's just fluff without any RAW penalty.

Just because a Druid believes something may be wrong, or has been taught that it is wrong, does not mean that they will believe it forever. Even in 1E Paladins would irrevocably lose their Paladin status forever if they performed certain actions, but they were still allowed to do it, because nothing stops someone from going against taboo. The only thing to stop player characters from going against fluff in modern Dungeons and Dragons is mechanical penalties that inhibit their ability to perform certain actions, making the choice unsound. They can still do it, but the risks deter the choice.

Druids do not have such risks anymore, so even though it's a taboo, in terms of a player character, that is only fluff so long as there is no mechanical limitation stopping them. Anything beyond that is full discretion of the DM and not a rule as written into the game. Saying they "can't" wear metal armor, when nothing says they can't, is literally the DM imposing their own RAI as opposed to RAW.
I've said as much myself about the RAW multiple times in this thread.

That said, it doesn't really matter if a belief system has holes in it so long as people believe in it. Sure, the PC can be the blasphemer who believes the taboo is pointless. Odds are, he's going to get a lot of push back from the world around him because it doesn't really matter if he's right or not. At least not to those who believe him to be a taboo breaker. People's beliefs almost never change overnight. Heck, you can look all over these boards and find people who have stubbornly dug their heels in on an argument and refuse to change their stance regardless of the evidence presented. These little debates of ours impact a hobby we all enjoy, but I expect for most of us they aren't the equivalent of religious faith.

So, sure, the PC can try to change the taboo on metal armor but that belief isn't going to change overnight. Maybe not even within the scope of a single campaign. And that character is likely to go through a fair helping of hell for their beliefs. If they endure, they might succeed in changing some minds. If they're lucky, it won't lead to an internal schism and strife. And hopefully the DM doesn't decide that the metal armor thing was a long forgotten pact from millennia ago that was holding back a devastating horde of demons.

The point is that of course the character has the freedom to do so. I've said that a great many times in the course of this discussion. But the fact that the PHB says that druids won't wear metal armor (as opposed to generally prefer not to) indicates that it is what those of the druidic faith believe, despite the variety in those beliefs.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
just as a Thief player in 1E will have agreed to abide by 'no 2 handed swords'.
I hadn't actually noticed this categorically false remark before. A 1st edition thief could use a two handed sword - they had a non-proficiency penalty and couldn't backstab with it, but they could use it.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
"Railroading is not removing choice in selecting mechanics, but rather removing options in the game world by stating the possible to be impossible without any reason given besides not wanting the player to do it, or "the rules".

So, just to be clear, now asking your player to abide by "thevrules" of the class you chose is railroading?

Great!!! Yet another case of a word being eroded to meaninglessness.

By this definition, I am proudly railroading my PCs for nearly 40 years now.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
...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..

....
Sorry. Sage advice does tell you what happens. In the first poster he mentions the penalty.
What happens if a druid wears metal armor? The druid explodes.
So now the rest of the party has to get a mop and bucket. Now there a good reason to sneak into the dungeon to rescue the rest of the party.
Knock Knock
Thief. " Hey we just had a Druid explode on us. And in the corridor. Can I get a mop and bucket.
Guard, " Ok, come on it"
OR
POUND POUND POUND
Druid, "open this beep beep beep door or I will do it."
Guard opens the slot see a druid holding a chain shirt above his head.
Druid, "give us all the prisons or I putting it on.!"
Guard, "now now chap. Lets be reasonable. You don't have to do this. I can get a cleric down here to help you talk about it. You don't have to kill yourself!"
Druid, "RELEASE THE PRISONS OR I WILL DO IT!"
Guard, " Calm down. Calm down. Let me call my superior."
Druid, " I am going to do it. "
Guard, "the prisoners are not worth it. What did the paladin ever do to help you? Or the thief? Calm down!"
Druid, "I AM DOING IT!" Dons shirt! BIG EXPLOSION!
DM. "Ok guys I going to need 100d6. Let me count 40 squares. Um this 5E so that is 80 squares of damage!"
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
So, just to be clear, now asking your player to abide by "thevrules" of the class you chose is railroading?
There are no rules, and there have never been any rules, that say a druid cannot don a suit of metal platemail in order to sneak into a castle. If a DM prevents me from taking that action, he is in fact railroading me by invalidating my decision.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
[MENTION=6999115]Ohmyn[/MENTION] .. It says it right in common sense. What happens if they put on metal armor? What happens if someone else knocks them out and they wake up covered in metal armor? Do they explode? Does the universe fold into itself because the impossible has happened? Hopefully their universe has paradox protection.....
Judge, " Mr. Druid you have found guilty of trespassing, freeing all the zoo the animals, and square dancing in triangle formation. The sentence is dead by metal armour!"
Druid, "no. no. No. "
The guards take the druid out and strap plate mail on the druid. And quickly run away. The universe gives the down thumb side. BOOM! The druid explodes.
Guard 1, " Another suite of plate armour gone. It is getting expensive to get rid of evil druid lawbreakers."
Guard 2, " The judge's brother runs the local armour shop."
 

Ohmyn

Villager
"Railroading is not removing choice in selecting mechanics, but rather removing options in the game world by stating the possible to be impossible without any reason given besides not wanting the player to do it, or "the rules".

So, just to be clear, now asking your player to abide by "thevrules" of the class you chose is railroading?

Great!!! Yet another case of a word being eroded to meaninglessness.

By this definition, I am proudly railroading my PCs for nearly 40 years now.
No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that when you read a line in a silly way that makes the possible impossible, and use that to say that an action simply cannot be performed by the player that otherwise should be possible, then yes, it's railroading. What people are somehow not getting is that this is a roleplaying game. If I say, "My father is lactose intolerant, so he can't drink milk, because dairy gives him gas," no person in their right mind is going to interpret that there is a magical barrier in front of his mouth that prevents dairy from touching his lips, else the universe tears in two as milk entering his mouth creates a spacetime paradox because it has been stated that he cannot drink milk.

If you actually apply the proper use of language, you'd know what the sentence is saying, but it appears common sense is no longer applicable in reading. Even with the Sage Advice clarifying the proper interpretation is that nothing in the game system prevents it, people still don't want to accept that, because they refuse to use basic reasoning.

Saying "you can't use heavy armor because you lack the martial training to use it" does not mean you can never wear metal armor. It means that if you wear it, you gain no benefits of its use, or suffer the game system's proficiency/encumbrance penalties, because you lack the martial training to use it. Same with saying "you can't wear metal armor because you'll lose your magic while you do." The Druid can still put on the metal armor if they say they'll do so, they'll just suffer the consequence of losing their magic while they do, plus any other penalties based on the edition (none in 5E because they are proficient in its use). Suffering the consequences is their choice to make, just as with making any other decision.

The rules say that a character not proficient in the use of tools cannot use those tools. This does not mean that the character is literally physically incapable of trying to use the smith's tools or a poisoner's kit if they're not proficient. There's no magical barrier preventing them from putting their hands onto the tools. It just means that nothing will come of their efforts to use them, because they can't perform the tasks that are listed in the rules as requiring proficiency.

If a Druid says "I put on the glove", you as a DM are railroading them if you say "No you don't." It's their choice to make, and nothing in the game system prevents them from taking the action. If the game system has penalties for it then they can deal with the consequences of their action. It's not railroading to say, "Okay, you put on the glove, but you are now wearing metal armor, so as per the rules you lose access to your magic." It is railroading to say, "Nuh-uh. No you don't."

This is not a video game. You don't get a red X over your character if you try to equip something you're not proficient in. I don't see Paladins getting DM blocked if they want to break their oaths; they're fully allowed to do so, it just so happens that most of the game systems put in penalties for when they do. Such penalties no longer exist for Druids. If they choose to put it on, there is nothing in the game system stopping it, or penalizing it. If it doesn't have penalties in the game system, and you create some, those are house rules.

Sorry. Sage advice does tell you what happens. In the first poster he mentions the penalty.
What happens if a druid wears metal armor? The druid explodes.
Sure, that's true, if you ignore the line after it that says "Well, not actually." and then goes on to explain that nothing happens, and that the Druid does not lack the ability to do so.

Judge, " Mr. Druid you have found guilty of trespassing, freeing all the zoo the animals, and square dancing in triangle formation. The sentence is dead by metal armour!"
Druid, "no. no. No. "
The guards take the druid out and strap plate mail on the druid. And quickly run away. The universe gives the down thumb side. BOOM! The druid explodes.
Guard 1, " Another suite of plate armour gone. It is getting expensive to get rid of evil druid lawbreakers."
Guard 2, " The judge's brother runs the local armour shop."
Or, more logically, if it's universal that Druids suffer a loss of magic for 24 hours if they wear metal, then anyone that captures a Druid and wishes to hold it prisoner, will be able to lock metal armor onto it so they can't use their magic to escape. Never heard the story of the man in the iron mask? Same concept. I could only hope that the DM would have an ounce of sense and doesn't make the game end because the universe tears itself in half when the enemy puts a metal mask on the Druid.
 
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lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
There are no rules, and there have never been any rules, that say a druid cannot don a suit of metal platemail in order to sneak into a castle. If a DM prevents me from taking that action, he is in fact railroading me by invalidating my decision.
So, there's this.

And also, this-

Actually, the reason for the limit in 1st edition was that druids had access to far more powerful offensive spells than clerics did.
[MENTION=6906155]Paul Farquhar[/MENTION]


Let's examine the history a little, first.

Druids are probably the most poorly-understood class in terms of history. Let's start with the actual text (Eldritch Wizardry, Supp. 3, OD&D) where the Druid first crossed over from monster to PC.

Mistletoe takes a place of importance with them as a holy symbol or item as crosses and other like items do with other types of clerics. Druids have spells which are in general peculiar to them, although some of their spells are similar to those of magic-users or clerics in general. ... Upon reaching the 5th Circle druids then gain the power to shape change (as previously mentioned in GREYHAWK with regard to the Druid-type monster), and when changing from one form to another they lose from 10% to 60% of any damage previously sustained ... Druids are able to employ the following sorts of weapons: Daggers, sickle or crescent-shaped swords, spears, slings, and oil. They may wear armor of leather, and use wooden shields. They may not use metallic armor."

pp. 1-2, EW.

So, it's not quite right to say that there have never been any rules. In fact, there have always been rules, and the original rules are pretty clear. No metal armor. Why? No reason needed, or given. I mean, later is says that Monks and Druids can't become psychics (psionics) for REASONS, but, whatever. This is the origin, and here we see the defining class features of what a druid "is" that have continued through- the Druid gestalt, if you will-
A. Wilderness stuff (love the animals, love the forests, blah blah blah)
B. Spells that are neither cleric, nor magic user, but similar to both.
C. Shape changing.
D. No metal armor.

The issue is that, well, we don't really know much in terms of the "why" for the Druid. We have some quotes from Gygax, saying that Druids use scimitars because they are close to sickles (but we should know that already from Eldritch Wizardry!), and that they might have been loosely based on Roman ideas of druids ... except that these quotes came long after the creation, and Gygax is sometimes an unreliable narrator. Importantly, Gygax didn't create the druid.

What we also know is that Gygax (unusually) has stated that the Druid wasn't created by him, but by Dennis Sustarre (creator of inter alia, Bunnies and Burrows and namesake of Chariot of Sustarre). There isn't a lot of information that can be found on the design process, but here is some:

"Instead, I was familiar with druids from literature about early England, especially during Roman times. The most immediate inspiration, of course, was their mention as a monster in Greyhawk (but not as a character class). Initially, I was trying to make them related totally to plants and animals, but felt they needed a little more firepower (literally)."
Interview, Grognardia, available at:
http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2009/06/interview-dennis-sustare.html


There's also-

"In Wisconsin, we started playing D&D before there were even thieves (i.e., before Greyhawk was published). We were experimenting with classes other than fighters, clerics and magic-­users, though, and I thought a druid would be interesting, as a nature cleric that had some combat ability. I drew up a set of rules for us to play­test, and mimeographed them for our group (pre-­Xerox days). After some play­test, I modified them in a second version of mimeo, but only distributed them among our players. Since we did go to early sessions of GenCon, one person in our group showed them to Gary, and with my permission (and some further editing), they were published in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement, in April 1976. The Chariot of Sustarre was added by Gary (or perhaps by Tim Kask); it was not in my original rules. I believe the changed spelling of my name was deliberate. I did not get paid in cash, though Gary did give me some freebies; I was just happy to get the new class added."

Interview, RPG Review, available at:
http://rpgreview.net/files/rpgreview_4.pdf


Now, I wish there was a good documented source (even Dennis on the record!) regarding this, but I don't have it. What I do know is that this wasn't "balance" thing. A lot of "balance" issues that people talk about today w/r/t OD&D and 1e are just post hoc reasoning; no, the Druid wasn't armor-restricted because of the spells, the Druid was armor-restricted BECAUSE it was a Druid. Because of the class conception; balance wasn't exactly a big issue in the early days.

As for the rest, it's also pretty nonsensical; yes, the restrictions were there. Saying that a throwaway line (that it soils their magical powers) is dispositive is missing the point; all Druid abilities are "magical powers." Their spells. Their innate powers gained at level three. Their shapeshifting. Their immunities. Their bonuses to saving throws. Their essential "druid-ness."

To understand this is to understand an essential distinction between OD&D/1e and more modern editions; the tight fit between lore and rules, such that there was no real distinction. A Paladin is a CERTAIN TYPE of Paladin, not just a collection of rules, just as a Druid is a certain conception of Druid- not just the ability to shapechange. No one would say that the monk's prohibition on the use of oil, for example, can't work in 1e because it only states that Monks can't use flaming oil- the rules were understood differently back then.

So, why all of this?

The original lament is that the rule is "poorly implemented," but that's not really it, as I pointed out to another poster. No one who is criticizing the rule want is more strongly implemented (no one is asking that Druid's explode). Nor is anyone viewing the proficiency, and simply applying the non-proficient armor penalty to metallic armor. Finally, arguments regarding logic don't really make much sense either- sure, it doesn't make a lot of sense for Druids to not wear metallic armor, but only in the same non-sense that when a Wizard puts on Armor, the Wizard can't case spells. (PHB p. 144).

So what it really boils down to is, IMO, a dislike of the rule- and that I can appreciate; unlike most of the 5e rules, it is much more of a legacy rule. So how a person views it will, most likely, depend a great deal on how they view rules holistically. A lot of the old "class/lore" integration is largely gone. Now, all that is left for people that do not like it at all is to argue against a few remainders (pacts, oaths, and this), whereas people who do appreciate that lore/class integration do understand the rule perfectly.

But no, it's a sore thumb in terms of 5e- the type of rule there used to be a lot more of in OD&D and 1e and B/X; your enjoyment of it will clearly vary depending on your enjoyment of class/lore integration.

Woot. That's a lot. Be careful out there, and watch out for exploding Druids.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I don’t know why this is still going on. Look at the definition of a rule.
1.
one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.

Look at the txt “druids won’t wear metal armor”

It literally fits the definition of what a rule is. It’s a principal that governs conduct of druids. Just like paladin behavior, or any other number of examples. This shouldn’t be up for debate if you’re speaking English.

A person might not LIKE the rule. Or AGREE with the rule, and that’s fine. Change it. Ignore it. D&D provides good support for that. But don’t argue it isn’t or hasn’t been a rule.
 

JonnyP71

Explorer
And throughout D&D druids have had the ability to don metal platemail in order to sneak into a castle. Nothing you have said has so far been able to counter that fact.
There are 3 specific places in the 1E PHB (1 on page 19, 2 on page 21) that state a Druid cannot wear metal armour, 1 place uses the word 'unable', another uses the word 'inability', another specific states that only leather is 'permitted'.

Please find me one reference which categorically states that they CAN...
 

JonnyP71

Explorer
I hadn't actually noticed this categorically false remark before. A 1st edition thief could use a two handed sword - they had a non-proficiency penalty and couldn't backstab with it, but they could use it.
Page 19 of the 1E PHB specifically states this is not the case.

I quote:

**** A thief may use a short sword, broad sword or long sword but not a bastard sword or a two handed sword

That is quite clear, nothing about non-proficiency penalty.
 

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