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AD&D (1e) states that thieves can only wear leather armour.

Does this include studded leather? I've always played not as I can't think of any instances where studded leather is expressly included as allowed in descriptions, however coming back to the game I'm not sure this isn't just an assumption I've made and that it could be fine.

So can thieves wear studded leather? And can you cite where it says it's OK?

(I believe Unearthed Arcarna lists penalties for armour other than leather and lists studded leather, padded armour and elfin chain as valid for thieves (but nothing else) but I've always seen the later hardbacks (everything after D&D-Gs) as AD&D 1.1 so I'm kind of looking for earlier citations).

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

The phrase is "light (leather) armor" (ph27). Thus for reasons of both weight and potential noise (stud hitting whatever, frex), only plain Leather is permitted btb.

Personally I permit studded as long as the character's actions do not involve the weight or noise factors, i.e. intermittently (overland trips etc). That's not btb but the boss did the same. ;>

It may be noteworthy that in the huge Gygax archive (several years' worth) at, this question doesn't arise.

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But they can also wear padded armour which doesn't fit that description. And Elfin chain (listed in the DMG as acceptable I believe). – Jon Hopkins Feb 7 '11 at 17:04
Padded is like wearing a quilt blanket as armor. No metal to make noise. Elfin Chain is an enchanted armor made by the elves which is naturally silent. (See the description of Frodo/Bilbo's mithril shirt in Lord of the Rings) – RS Conley Feb 7 '11 at 17:21
@RS Conley - Elfin Chain in AD&D isn't magic (and indeed there is no magic Elfin chain - see DMG p. 28), it's just finer and stronger chainmail. But it's not just noise surely for something like disarming traps or climbing walls, it's bulk and padded is bulkier than leather (fairly vs. non) and slows you down more (both DMG p. 27). – Jon Hopkins Feb 7 '11 at 21:33
What a magic item? I apologize for sounding ornery but it is an "special" item only crafted by the elves. To me that is a magic item as much as a +1 suit of chain mail. Granted it doesn't detect magic is some editions. But it also not just any suit of chainmail either. – RS Conley Feb 9 '11 at 6:13
@RS - Sorry, was just being pedantic. – Jon Hopkins Feb 14 '11 at 14:06

I think 2nd e introduced optional penalties when using heavier armour - penalties to skills and/or removal of certain skills from the available list.

I liked that - the change recognizes that rogues can oftentimes see as much combat as warriors, a significant subset of their skills can realistically function with heavier armour on, and often enough rogues have the strength to carry the heavier armour without too much trouble. It also opens up the possibility of having a more unusual mix of classes in the group.

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Unearthed Arcana introduces penalties too though limits it to Padded, Studded and Elfin Chain. – Jon Hopkins Feb 7 '11 at 16:57
@Jon The bit in UA would seem to indicate that Studded wasn't an option before UA, and so how you've always played it was indeed by the book. – SevenSidedDie Feb 7 '11 at 17:36
@SevenSidedDie - I swear somewhere I saw that thieves could wear Elfin chain though (in the three core books). – Jon Hopkins Feb 7 '11 at 21:47
That might have been 2nd edition - it was definitely an option there. – blueberryfields Feb 7 '11 at 23:48

Depends on how you want to handle it, if you look at what leather armour and studded leather armour actually were, they should be reversed, with studded leather at AC 8 and leather at AC 7, with studded leather offering no penalties to thieving skills. Course that ammounts to not wearing studded leather, since it's really just the AC 7 armour.

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My understanding was that Studded Leather was allowed, but it had a higher Armor Check Penalty to reflect the chance of extra noise.

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Sorry, there's no "armor check" in 1e. – ExTSR Feb 11 '11 at 2:54
Yup. Totally missed the (1e). – alesplin Feb 15 '11 at 4:57

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