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I recently had a Pathfinder random treasure generator create a mithral studded leather. This doesn't make sense to me since, quoting from the mithral section of d20pfsrd we see,

Items not primarily of metal are not meaningfully affected by being partially made of mithral. (A longsword can be a mithral weapon, while a quarterstaff cannot.)

Combined with the entry for studded leather,

Similar to leather armor, this suit is reinforced with small metal studs.

This reads to me like the metal studs, while crucial to the design, are not the primary material. Much like how banded mail uses leather as a support structure, it is primarily metal. As such, it should not be able to benefit from the special properties of mithral.

Allegedly, the random treasure chart in the GMG has one roll on the metal chart if studded leather comes up, which would seem to indicate that studded leather would qualify for mithral's properties. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the GMG for validation.

Would mithral studded leather be awarded the special properties (decrease in spell failure, armor check, and weight, increase to max dex)? Is there any clear guidance on this?

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1 Answer 1

Nope. Your first quote is the definitive guidance:

Items not primarily of metal are not meaningfully affected by being partially made of mithral. (A longsword can be a mithral weapon, while a quarterstaff cannot.)

You can make studded leather with mithral studs or band a quarterstaff with mithral, but it won't bestow any special properties on the item (other than, perhaps, a better resale value). The game effect of armour being made of mithral is to make it lighter, so it makes sense that a piece of armour composed mostly of leather isn't going to have its weight reduced an entire category by replacing a minority of its weight from one metal with slightly less weight from another metal.

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That was my notion as well. Not being an armorer, I think I feel into the trap of second-guessing how much metal is actually in studded leather. –  Scott Pack Sep 11 '12 at 1:09
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studded, ring-on-leather, and/or bezanted armors have considerable amounts of metal - and while the whole point is to make it so that every hit by a sword or axe hits metal, they typically have only about 15% surface coverage or so, tho' the weight may be as much as 60% metal for bezanted with 90% surface coverage. (Note that high coverage bezanted armor may as well be scale.) –  aramis Sep 11 '12 at 8:12
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On the plus side, having mithral studded leather armor is pretty classy; there could also be some small benefits/detriments in very specific situations due to it's non-standard nature. –  Lunin Sep 11 '12 at 18:45

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