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I'm wondering about the differences between metals when it comes to weapons in D&D. For example, if I have a Steel Dagger and an Adamantine Dagger, what would be the difference between the metals besides weight and hardness?

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Armor

The Dungeon Master's Guide tells us about Adamantine Armor on page 150.

Adamantine Armor

Armor (medium or heavy, but not hide), uncommon

This suit of armor is reinforced with adamantine, one of the hardest substances in existence. While you're wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit.

Weapons

There is more information about Adamantine Weapons in *Xanathar's Guide to Everything* on page 78:

Adamantine is an ultrahard metal found in meteorites and extraordinary mineral veins. In addition to being used to craft adamantine armor, the metal is also used for weapons. Melee weapons and ammunition made of or coated with adamantine are unusually effective when used to break objects. Whenever an adamantine weapon or piece of ammunition hits an object, the hit is a critical hit.

The adamantine version of a melee weapon or of ten pieces of ammunition costs 500 gp more than the normal version, whether the weapon or ammunition is made of the metal or coated with it.

So, it affects hardness, cost, and damage. Adamantine armor turns critical hits against the wearer into regular hits; any hit from an adamantine weapon against an object does extra damage because it's a critical hit.

There are also a handful of monsters (mostly object like ones) where their non-magical damage resistance is negated by adamantine, like the gargoyle:

Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren't Adamantine

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    \$\begingroup\$ The last paragraph states that it affects weight, but nothing quoted above that mentions weight. \$\endgroup\$ – mdrichey May 6 '19 at 19:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably also good to address the misconception of it affecting weight while you are editing :) \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Dec 10 '20 at 17:35
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Adamantine is mentioned three times in the DMG (excluding tables):

  • Page 150:

    Adamantine Armor

    Armor (medium or heavy, but not hide), uncommon

    This suit of armor is reinforced with adamantine, one of the hardest substances in existence. While you're wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit.

  • Page 161, explaining that Daern's Instant Fortress is made out of it.

  • Page 246, where objects made of it have an AC of 23. This compares with 21 for mithral and 19 for steel or iron.

As yet, there are currently no rules for Adamantine weapons but they are coming in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would also mention that, in the MM, many Constructs have an Adamantine Bypass on their damage resistance. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Oct 24 '17 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is now out, so this answer is out of date and should be updated. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 14 '18 at 3:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is now out, so this answer is out of date and should be updated. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Dec 8 '20 at 21:51
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Special materials like that are explained in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

In short, objects made out of adamantine have a higher AC. Armor made out of it negates critical hits. And weapons made out of it can damage monsters that have damage immunity to weapons that aren't adamantine.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Adamantine Armor in the DMG is a magic item. There's no way to tell that negating critical hits is a property of the armor as opposed to magic. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Oct 24 '17 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Doval whether or not the magic is inherent in the metal, or is a byproduct of forging things from the metal (it takes magical aid to mundane forging) is a detail not provided in the 5e material I have reviewed. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 24 '17 at 14:59
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As others have said, adamantine weapons don't currently do anything except bypass certain kinds of damage reduction. However, on page 246 of the DMG, it says you can give objects immunities, resistances, or vulnerabilities based on specific damage types.

In prior versions of the game, Adamantine weapons ignored hardness, and while hardness isn't a thing anymore, you could certainly decide that, based on that, all non-adamantine objects are vulnerable to damage from adamantine weapons.

Alternatively you could have an adamantine weapon automatically deal maximum damage to objects, and then apply vulnerability or resistance based on specific damage types (such as applying resistance if you're trying to stab a door down, since it's just not a very effective way to go about the task).

In either case, the adamantine weapon should not take damage from being used that way, while steel or other materials might.

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