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


And the point the opposition is making is that putting it there without further elaboration or justification was a mistake, and quite frankly idiotic, and as the thread title puts it, poorly implemented. It would have been better served as a sidebar in in the class introduction with lore elaborations on why this taboo is a thing in the first place. I just had a talk over Discord on the r/dndnext server this morning on this very matter, and pretty much everybody agreed that this metal restriction is on flimsy ground at best.

And yes, I think I believe that blindly following rules "because they are so" without giving consideration as to why there are so is not a good thing to do. At least provide a setting justification or a balance concern re: their AC before you go about shutting down player options.

Heaven's to Betsy! I follow the rules! Oh noes!

Seriously - that's your big argument? You personally disagree with a particular rule so therefore everyone else must also disagree?

The setting justification is left up to the DM and the campaign. But I don't see this as being any different from any other rule in the book. We know how many spells and what level spell your PC can cast, if any, because of the rules. They don't need to justify why Fireball needs verbal, somatic and material components so they don't. This is no different.

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I'll admit I had not thought much about the druids and metal thing. It probably should be an all or nothing type thing. I'm still a little peeved they let clerics have edged weapons! ;)

However, I have to ask, do you really present lists of grievances to your DMs?

I am not sure how I would react to that. It amuses me greatly to think of a new player coming to my table and saying "Here are my list of grievances."

Yeah, and I would respond "Here's my comprehensive list of house rules*, it's a very, very short list and your list of grievances won't change it. If that's a problem hopefully we can work something out. If we can't you're going to have to find another game." I'm sorry if that would piss somebody off, but life is too short and it's too easy to find new players to hassle with.

*The only two rules I actually change is that ability modification magic items add to your ability up to a cap, they don't replace it. The other is that you can buy a bow that uses strength instead of dexterity. Everything else is just a couple of simple restrictions like no evil PCs or alternate rules like changing long rest and what books I allow.


I just make it easy on players.

Player: "I wanna play a druid."

DM: "Ok."

Player: "I wanna play a druid that can wear plate."

DM: "Um, no?"


DM: "Okay, fine. You can have the exact same options as Paladins in my campaign."

Player: "Awesome, then Ima wear plate, just like the Paladins."

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But ... how can I play my gnomish druid paladin? All the other cool kids agree with me! If I can't I'm going to hold my breath until I pass out! Waaaaaahhhhhhhhh.


First Post
However, I have to ask, do you really present lists of grievances to your DMs?

I am not sure how I would react to that. It amuses me greatly to think of a new player coming to my table and saying "Here are my list of grievances."

I actually do, although typically not general grievances and more when something seems inconsistent with design, and thus breaks immersion of the character. I like to try and utilize non-standard tactics with my characters. For example, one thing my current character does is use Druidcraft offensively by carrying around flasks of oil that have candles attached to them, allowing him to pour out a flask and drop the candle onto the ground, thus igniting it. When I combine the use of abilities and/or items as part of my normal tactics, instead of throwing them at the DM in the middle of gameplay I bring them up prior. This is true if I even do things like Fog Cloud combined with Blindsight on animal forms, just so that it doesn't throw a curve ball at the DM that they may not like.

It's when I address things like this that I also address issues that exist within the class or core mechanics that make something practical seem impossible. The Druid is wrought with issues in their design that require DM fiat, so I do bring a list of grievances as to why certain things may entirely break immersion for my character. For example, my Mountain Dwarf Druid that as part of his training wields steel warhammers, battleaxes, handeaxes and light hammers, is a proficient blacksmith that forges his own equipment from iron and carbon, but is crossing some undefined line as soon as he wields a metal shield. It's silly that he can wield steel in one hand, but the other hand must hold wood, unless that steel is molded into a different shape, because holding round steel is apparently taboo, whereas waving around heavy blocks of it is totally okay.

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.

Good grief. This argument, again? In my campaign there's a simple answer. If your PC wears metal armor, they aren't a druid. Don't like the rule? Change it if you're the DM.

I don't really care about why or what the consequences are, without a house rule to change things if you wear metal armor you can't take the druid class. End of story. Sometimes the answer is simply "no". I'm not going to justify it, argue about it, discuss pros and cons, debate whether it's really a "rule" or just a suggestion. Druids won't wear metal armor. Period.

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.


First Post
Actually... my recollection is this was not the case in early editions. I don't have my books handy so I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure that there was at least one of those early editions which simply said "Wizards can't wear armor." No consequences for wearing armor were spelled out. If you tried to put on armor, it fell off because wizard.

I suppose it's appropriate that druids would be the one class continuing to write their class rules in a silly, primitive way that every other class moved on from several editions ago.

Well in AD&D it was just a dungeon crawl, but even then they always gave reasons, despite how poorly defined the edition was for anything outside of combat. For example, they didn't actually have "Wizard", but had "Magic-User". It specified, "they can wear no armor and have few weapons they can use, for martial training is so foreign to magic-use as to make the two almost mutually exclusive." It at least made mention that they can't wear it because they possess no training in it. It could be worn though, because if you multiclassed into any martial class, you gained the ability to wear any armor they were proficient in, so a Fighter/Wizard could wear armor proficiently, but anything above leather prevented them from casting magic.

Dwarves in original AD&D did not use spells, but it specifically said that's because they were nonmagical creatures, so they could not wield magic. Even the Druid class in original AD&D specifies "druids are unable to use any armor or shields other than leather armor and wooden shields (metallic armor spoils their magical powers)." So if your AD&D Druid wielded a magic shield, they lost their ability to cast spells.

Even AD&D is pretty clear about "cannot" and "unable", while giving reasons why that is the case. 5E does not do that for the Druid. 5E says they "won't" wear metal armor without any explanation given, and then the Sage Advice says it's a story restriction and not a mechanical one, but gives no explanation as to how it's a story restriction. Since it's a "won't", and not a "can't", player agency plays a part, as it does in all other class stories, because there's nothing in their class that ultimately penalizes the player for taking that action.

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