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I tought I was pretty sure this is not the case, but some discussion has arisen and I'm not so sure anymore.

What I know:

  • Most magical objects in the game auto-resize when worn by creatures of different sizes.
  • There is a table detailing weight and cost of non-medium armor. This could still be useful for mundane armor, even if magic armor automatically resized
  • Some spells explicitly tell us that armor does resize, as an exception to what happens normally. Again, this could be an exception for mundane armor only
  • No distinction is made between a huge creature trying to wear a medium magic ring or a magic-ring-wearing human becoming huge by some polymorph spell. Might a similar distinction be in order for armors? (See my previous point)

I'll only accept the answer that quotes some manual (or FAQs, but only if no manual solves the problem) on the matter.

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Answers seem to point that magical items don't resize, but that doesn't mean there can't be special armors/items that resize to it's wearer/user as an effect. For example, you notice a human with a peculiar item equipped. You find out they are actually a dragon and transform into one and somehow the item resizes with them. TL;DR; Doesn't mean the DM can't make an item that doesn't that even though in general they don't. –  dphil Jul 30 at 15:10
@dphil There's properties for items that let them do that already in the rules. Nothing precludes a DM from making a custom item effect of course, but it's not necessary in this case. –  Tridus Jul 30 at 18:10
@dphil yeah, I was looking for the general case here. My question's scope was to check the correctness of some contested info in an answer I gave here on the site and I did not care about other ways to resize armor. I just wanted to know if making it magical would have been enough. –  Zachiel Jul 30 at 21:44

2 Answers 2

Aromr and Weapons do not resize

Rules Compendium (p 84-85) says it more explicitly than the core rules do (emphasis mine):

As long as you’re the same size category and the same general shape as the armor’s original owner, the armor functions normally for you. However, inappropriately sized or shaped armor can’t be worn. Armor doesn’t resize to fit a wearer of a different size category, nor does armor constructed for a humanoid-shaped creature fit a nonhumanoid-shaped creature. In cases where a nonhumanoid-shaped creature tries to wear armor created for another nonhumanoid, the DM should use his best judgment.

Shields don’t change size to match the wielder. You can’t use an inappropriately sized shield.

Weapons don’t change size to match the wielder. You can wield an inappropriately sized weapon with a penalty (see Inappropriately Sized Weapons, page 151). Regardless of a weapon’s size, as long as you can hold a weapon you can activate its magical abilities.

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In Dungeons and Dragons 3.5

Magic Armor and Weapons Don't Resize

The Dungeon Master's Guide (2013) from the section Size and Magic Items on page 213 reads

When an article of magic clothing or jewelry is discovered, most of the time size shouldn’t be an issue. Many magic garments are made to be easily adjustable, or they adjust themselves magically to the wearer. As a rule, size should not keep overweight characters, characters of various genders, or characters of various kinds from using magic items. Players shouldn’t be penalized for choosing a halfling character or deciding that their character is especially tall.

Only say "It doesn’t fit" if there’s a good reason. Cloaks made specifically by the selfish, self-absorbed drow elves might fit only elves. Dwarves might make items usable only by dwarf-sized and dwarf-shaped characters to keep their items from being used against them. Such items should be the exceptions, however, not the rule.

Armor and Weapon Sizes: Armor and weapons that are found at random have a 30% chance of being Small (01–30), a 60% chance of being Medium (31–90), and a 10% chance of being any size of the DM’s choice (91–100).

Therefore magic clothing (which is not the same thing as magic armor) and jewelry resize, and, specifically, magic cloaks should resize. Other items don't resize.

But a case can be made for ambiguity allowing armor to resize despite the final note if the reader conflates magic clothing, magic garments, and armor. (Seriously, as Tridus's answer explains, it took the Rules Compendium to come out and say exactly what was going on in no uncertain terms--and the details there about magic shields were entirely new.) However, such a reading of the core rules permits the system to be gamed using the chart Armor for Unusual Creatures (PH 123). Employing this misreading, a clever magical armor merchant can craft or buy mundane Tiny or smaller armor at reduced cost, make the armor magical, then let the buyer resize the armor to fit. I'm certain war profiteering from grig-sized chainmail--while amusing--wasn't intended.

Armor Sizes in Previous Editions

I thought this confusion might've arisen from the rules in previous editions, but armor only ever resized in Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition (see below). This must be an extremely common house rule (or misconception) in many games because the number of forum questions that show up about this topic via a quick Google search is impressive.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
The Dungeon Master's Guide (1979) says that "65% of all armor is man-sized, 20% is elf-sized, 10% is dwarf-sized, and but 5% is gnome or halfling sized" (124).

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition
The Encyclopedia Magica says, "When adding magical armor to the game, be aware of sizing problems: 65% of all armor (except elven chain mail) is human size, 20% is elf size, 10% is dwarf size, and only 5% is sized for gnomes and halflings" (67).

Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition
The Dungeon Master's Guide (2000) says, "When an article of magic clothing, jewelry, or armor is discovered, most of the time size shouldn't be an issue" (176). Emphasis mine.

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There's still some ambivalence in the DMG quote - we played for a long time under the assumption that if "Players shouldn’t be penalized for choosing a halfling [...]" then magic armor will resize to fit the wearer's size and form. A sharp guest player & rules-lawyer pointed out that the cost of armor for unusual sizes or shapes is higher - which makes no sense if you can simply resize it... For a time later we just house-ruled that it'll still resize to fit any Medium and Small humanoid - but that's not in the RAW... –  G0BLiN Jul 30 at 13:21
@G0BLiN I freely admit that the statement could be clearer--hell, I freely admit the game could be clearer--, but there's no reason to determine magic armor's size when found if the finder can just will it to shrink to Fine size anyway. (Also, the "don't penalize the halflings" thing always struck me as odd. Don't a lot of games begin and end with the PCs fighting fighting goblins and kobolds? Their armor fits Small PCs (and not Medium ones) just great.) –  Hey I Can Chan Jul 30 at 13:34
I agree - we just assumed (wrongly) that the random size was fluff - similar to whether a sword glows or a ring has an inscription hinting at it's powers - if the armor is found as "possessions of a dead humanoid in a the bone pile at a monster's layer", you want to randomly determine its "last size setting", so to speak... –  G0BLiN Jul 30 at 13:39
Just wanted to point out that the different costs piece can make your point stronger, and maybe should be added to the answer :) –  G0BLiN Jul 30 at 13:41
This is NOT a RAW book rule, but I normally (though not always) let armor adjust one size category in either direction. –  JoeyD473 Jul 30 at 17:21

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