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Swordsages are not proficient in medium armor.

Mithral breastplate is medium armor, but treated as light armor.

Are swordsages proficient in medium armor?

If a swordsage wears mithral breastplate, do they still receive the AC bonus from Wisdom?

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marked as duplicate by KRyan dnd-3.5e Feb 12 '18 at 5:33

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I was aware of the other question yet didn't mark it as a duplicate, thinking this question's specificity overrode the other one's general nature. While the other question's every case mandate should include the swordsage's AC bonus, it should also include at least several hundred other situations. This question will be easier for a swordsage fan to find via the Web than that other, and answers address that issue specifically. Nonetheless, I'll leave it as your call. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 12 '18 at 5:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan 1. for searchability, duplicates are actually helpful for that. That doesn’t mean we want to split our answers between two questions. 2. if FrancisJohn has reason to believe that the swordsage here is a special case warranting consideration for a possible exception to the general case, he’s welcome to clarify his question and explain why he still has a question after reading the other link, then we can re-open. Close-as-dupe, edit-to-explain-distinction, re-open is a pretty common process for SE questions. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 12 '18 at 5:48
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The typical swordsage lacks medium armor proficiency, but the ability AC bonus should work while wearing a mithral breastplate

A swordsage doesn't gain as a class feature proficiency with medium armor. However, the description of the special material mithral says

Most mithral armors are one category lighter than normal for purposes of movement and other limitations (for example, whether a barbarian can use her fast movement ability while wearing the armor or not). Heavy armors are treated as medium, and medium armors are treated as light, but light armors are still treated as light. (Dungeon Master's Guide 284)

This DM would rule—and I think most others would also—that these limitations include the swordsage's extraordinary ability AC bonus that applies—somewhat controversially—only while the swordsage wears light armor, therefore allowing a swordsage to gain the benefit of the special ability AC bonus while wearing, for example, a mithral breastplate.

Just in case there's some question, proficiency with light armor also includes proficiency with medium armors that have somehow become light armors, and, likewise, by extension, proficiency with medium armor includes heavy armors that have somehow become medium. While this can be inferred from most descriptions of special materials that make such changes to armor, there's also this Dragon #335 Sage Advice column “Official Answers to Your Questions” exchange:

Is a character proficient with light armor, such as a rogue, considered to be proficient with mithral breastplate? What about a character proficient with medium armor, such as a barbarian—is he considered proficient with mithral full plate armor?

The description of mithral on page 284 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide is less precise than it could be in defining how it interacts with armor proficiency rules. The simplest answer—and the one that the Sage expects most players and DMs use—is that mithral armor is treated as one category lighter for all purposes, including proficiency. This isn’t exactly what the Dungeon Master’s Guide says, but it’s a reasonable interpretation of the intent of the rule (and it’s supported by a number of precedents, including the descriptions of various specific mithral armors described on page 220 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide and a variety of NPC stat blocks).

Thus, a ranger or rogue could wear a mithral breastplate without suffering a nonproficiency penalty (since it’s treated as light armor), and each could use any ability dependent on wearing light or no armor (such as evasion or the ranger’s combat style). A barbarian could wear mithral full plate armor without suffering a nonproficiency penalty (since it’s treated as medium armor), and he could use any ability dependent on wearing medium or lighter armor (such as fast movement).

The same would be true of any other special material that uses the same or similar language as mithral (such as darkleaf, on page 120 of the Eberron Campaign Setting). (80)

This exchange is repeated nearly verbatim in the D&D Frequently Asked Questions (53–4), with which some have issues.

Proficiency with some armors made from the special material mithral is also specifically addressed by the Magic Item Compendium on Table 1–4: Mithral Armor in the table's footnotes that say that the particular medium or heavy armor is "treated as light [or medium] armor [respectively] for the purpose of movement, proficiency, and other limitations" (6).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to re-post this answer on the other question; I hadn’t realized we had a dupe but we do. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 12 '18 at 5:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan After your update to your answer to the other question, there's no real need to have this one there, too. You've said everything there I would've. Besides, here, the swordsage fan needn't work as hard to find the answer to this specific question if I leave this here. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 12 '18 at 5:43
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According to the SRD:

Most mithral armors are one category lighter than normal for purposes of movement and other limitations.

So, if you (or, more importantly, your DM) consider things like "you can only wear this armor without additional penalties if it's light" and "you can only use your Swordsage class features with this armor if it's light" to fall under the category of "limitations," then yes it counts as light for your purposes.

Specifically:

Are swordsages proficient in medium armor?

No, but if proficiency restrictions are a "limitation," they don't need to be.

If a swordsage wears mithral breastplate, do they still receive the AC bonus from Wisdom?

Yes, as long as you consider "so long as you wear light armor" to be a "limitation."


This DM considers such restictions to be "limitations," and therefore allows a mithral breastplate to count as light armor for a Swordsage's purposes. This appears to be the consensus position, but the exact details of what the "other limitations" clause covers is a source of occasional disagreement among 3.5 nerds. You may wish to double-check with your DM if you want to do this in an actual game.

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Mithral makes an armor count as one weight category less. A mithral armor that would otherwise be medium armor is considered light armor, for all purposes. So yes, a swordsage wearing a mithral breastplate is wearing light armor, and is treated in all ways as wearing light armor.

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