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Pretty much what it says on a label. I have a monster for my next adventure that has a pretty interesting ring in his treasure. Since it is intelligent, and would be able to use the ring, I don't see why the ring should be lying there in a chest waiting to be looted.

Monster would use the ring, if it only had hands or even fingers. Hold a second, are fingers even necessary in 5e?

For reference, assume it only has grasping / manipulating tentacles like a deepspawn (although it is not one); Said tentacles are very flexible, capable of fine manipulation, and have varying thickness.

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4 Answers 4

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Rings have to be worn... just not necessarily on fingers

In the "Beholders: Bad Dreams Come True" section of chapter 1 of Volo's Guide to Monsters (p. 15), it states under the "Treasure" subheading:

A beholder’s body can’t use many kinds of humanoid-type magic items because it doesn’t have the body parts to wear them; for example, it can’t use gloves or boots because it doesn’t have hands or feet. But a beholder could wear magic rings on its eyestalks or affix a magic cloak to its back, and the items function as they would if used by a humanoid.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems the most fitting when dealing with fingerless characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tristian
    Jul 9, 2017 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Only if the PC isn't humanoid, monsters can behave as DM rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jim B
    Jul 10, 2017 at 0:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JimB PCs behave as the DM rules too \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Jul 11, 2017 at 7:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dalem that goes without saying. The difference is that the rules are specific on PC ring use vs monster ring use "worn as intended" \$\endgroup\$
    – Jim B
    Jul 11, 2017 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Beautiful find of source material! I bet Xanathar is glad of this. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Oct 4, 2021 at 14:55
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All magic rings described in the Dungeon Master's Guide specify the requirement that the ring be worn, so one would be tempted to assume that wearing them on something else than a finger would work.

However, on DMG page 140, the following is explained under "Wearing and Wielding Items":

A magic item meant to be worn must be worn in its intended fashion: [...] rings [go] on the finger.

Therefore, by RAW, a ring is only truly worn when worn on the finger, and thus a character without fingers cannot use magic rings that require wearing. Whether hand-like appendages count as fingers is up to the GM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This boils down to what counts as finger. Is a finger defined as (for the normal specimen) 4-times separated appendage covered in muscles and skin, where each part is connected to te previous and following part by a joint able to move roughly 90°, or does anything that is effectively used to primarily manipulate the surrounding (e.g. a tentacle) to be considered a finger? \$\endgroup\$
    – JFBM
    Jul 10, 2017 at 8:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J_F_B_M As I said, it's up to the GM to arbitrate when unclear, because the rules don't define a finger. It's much easier said than done, of course. I'd just roll with it whichever way the plot demands. \$\endgroup\$
    – kviiri
    Jul 10, 2017 at 9:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Beholders have eyestalk rings, and characters who wish to use them will need eyestalks! And as a DM, I'd try to help with that. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Neal
    Jul 10, 2017 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to edit this answer to account for the line a few paragraphs down from the one you're quoting: "When a nonhumanoid tries to wear an item, use your discretion as to whether the item functions as intended. A ring placed on a tentacle might work, but a creature with a snakelike tail instead of legs can't wear boots." This certainly seems relevant to the question, and somewhat contradicts your claim that magic items work only when worn on fingers. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 31 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ And a few paragraphs above what you've quoted is this (DMG, "Rings"): "Unless a ring's description says otherwise, a ring must be worn on a finger, or a similar digit, for the ring's magic to function." \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31 at 20:08
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A ring needs to be worn (by a human) on a finger, not on a chain. Does it work on a toe, braided in hair? That's up to the the maker (or the DM).

If you want the monster to use it, you can let it. Otherwise, the ring is exclusively a finger ring, or the monster didn't think it would work on him/her/it, or ...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, Peter, you're new welcome to the site! Check out the tour to see how the site is different from other Q&A and the traditional forum. Good first answer, but it could use some references. \$\endgroup\$
    – daze413
    Jul 10, 2017 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have evidence from the rulebooks that the maker of a magic ring can decide it can be worn elsewhere besides a finger? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Jul 10, 2017 at 19:55
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The Dungeon Master's Guide (page 139) specifically states that rings can be worn with similar digits:

Unless a ring's description says otherwise, a ring must be worn on a finger, or a similar digit, for the ring's magic to function.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you point out where the DMG said this? I'm afraid this answer isn't much use without a more detailed citation. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31 at 19:54

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