For this question, I am using this homebrew centaur race on DNDBeyond. One of its traits is Equine Weakness, part of which states:

As you lack the lower body of a humanoid, you are unable to wear humanoid armor below the belt (ex: leggings, greaves, or boots).

Thief rogues get the Use Magic Device feature at level 13:

By 13th level, you have learned enough about the workings of magic that you can improvise the use of items even when they are not intended for you. You ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the use of magic items.

Would a centaur thief be able to wear magic pants?

The textual issue here seems to depend on whether Use Magic Device allows the PC to ignore requirements written into the magic item description only, or if it also applies to limitations written into class/race descriptions.

I can see this going either way, but what do you think is the most faithful, RAW interpretation? (No “rule of cool”, “it’s up to the DM”, etc. answers, please.)

No.

Or, to unpack it a little:

The Use Magic Device feature is there to avoid magical racial (or class/level) restrictions - if you've got a magic item that is designed to "only work for dwarves" even though it is, say, a hammer, then Use Magic Device allows the thief to "fool it" and use it anyway.

But what we have here isn't a "racial restriction"; What we have here is a physical restriction. For example, Use Magic Device would not allow a thief to use magical boots even though both his legs have been cut off. There is simply nowhere to put them. By the same token, a centaur cannot put on pants, so the thief can't set about "fooling" the magic into working for him.

You can probably use a sort of game logic here too, though I haven't checked. If a magic item says "Only useable by dwarves" or the like, the Use Magic Device can circumvent it. But in this case, it's not the magic item that has the restriction. It's the race that has the restriction.

  • 1
    @PinkSweetener Instead of engaging with the answers to disagree, please edit your question to clear up the confusion that it is on hold due to. People are waiting for that, not comments down here. – SevenSidedDie Jul 18 at 2:21
  • @SevenSidedDie Sorry, didn't see that and didn't think it would be an issue given the source. – Pink Sweetener Jul 18 at 2:47
  • 1
    "By the same token, a centaur cannot put on pants" ... Challenge accepted! – L0j1k Jul 18 at 6:55

Generally, yes

The equine weakness only prevents you from wearing armor that goes on the legs. Pants are not, generally speaking, armor. And the general rule for magic items is

In most cases, a magic item that's meant to be worn can fit a creature regardless of size or build. Many magic garments are made to be easily adjustable, or they magically adjust themselves to the wearer.

So generally speaking, magic pants should resize to fit a centaur, but there may be exceptions. Use Magic Device is unnecessary.

In fact, the description continues,

Rare exceptions exist. If the story suggests a good reason for an item to fit only creatures of a certain size or shape, you can rule that it doesn't adjust.

but notice that this is something special about the item—some good reason why a particular item wouldn’t adjust. Not something special about your body. The rules say that typical magic items adjust for any body size or shape.

  • 3
    "Pants are not, generally speaking, armor." — in this case, it depends on what the OP means by "magic pants" – enkryptor Jul 17 at 21:53
  • @enkryptor "you are unable to wear humanoid armor" This answer suggests that the magic pants should also adjust to non-humanoid fittings ("any build"). While the centaur can't wear human pants, he can wear equine pants! (which probably look more like a skirt/kilt) – Tezra Jul 18 at 17:25

"Creature Type" is a larger restriction than "Race"

I know you didn't want "it's up to the DM" answers, and only wanted RAW. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that "it's up to the DM" is the RAW answer. I'll explain:

The Use Magic Item rules state that (PHB, p. 97):

You ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the use of magic items.

But how do we define race? In standard English, the concept of Race is defined as distinct from species: but the rules contradicts this almost immediately. The concept of race is defined in the Player's handbook (PHB, p. 11):

Every character belongs to a race, one of the many intelligent humanoid species in the D&D world.

So although the concept of "race" has a common usage in English, for the purposes of the rules, it is a subset of a Creature Type (in this example, humanoid). For example, Goblin and Elf are different races of the Creature Type humanoid.

Type vs. Race

Creature Type is defined in the Monster Manual, as a concept that supercedes all other details of its nature (MM, p. 6):

A monster's type speaks to its fundamental nature. Certain spells, magic items, class features, and other effects in the game interact in special ways with creatures of a particular type.

Right after this, it discusses creatures more specific "tags":

A monster might have one or more tags appended to its type, in parentheses. For example, an orc has the (orc) type. The parenthetical tags provide additional categorization for certain creatures.

We can also see that these tags are places where a creature's race can be defined. This is made explicit on pages 342-350 of the Monster Manual, where every NPC is defined as having type "humanoid (any race)". From this, we see that creature type is more than race: it is a distinction that overrides things which ignore racial restrictions.

So if a centaur isn't humanoid, what is it?

A centaur's Creature Type is listed in the Monster Manaual (p. 38) as Monstrosity. You could argue that a centaur rogue could use a magical device intended for a non-centaur Monstrosity (such as a special saddle designed for a chimera), because the difference between two monstrosities could be seen as a distinction of race. But what stops centaurs from using humanoid leggings is not just that they are different races, it is that they are different creature types altogether.

Fortunately, the Dungeon Master's Guide has explicit instructions on what to do when a nonhumanoid attempts to use humanoid equipment (DMG, p. 141):

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 yuan-ti with a snakelike tail instead of legs can't wear boots.

Since this is in the Dungeon Master's Guide, the "you" in the first sentence of the previous quote refers to the DM. So I'm afraid that in this case, "it's up to the DM" is explicitly RAW.

NOTE: This conversation might be more complicated if we were talking about the Unearthed Arcana Centaur, which has a trait "Hybrid Nature," which explicitly states that its type is both humanoid and monstrosity for the purpose of game effects that works on either. But for this specific homebrew, the RAW stands.

A centaur, of any class could wear magical pants. The DMG states (emphasis mine):

In most cases, a magic item that's meant to be worn can fit a creature regardless of size or build. Many magic garments are made to be easily adjustable, or they magically adjust themselves to the wearer. DMG p140

Thus, the only requirement for magical pants is two legs connected to hips for the pants to hang on. The hind legs of the centaur fits the required appendages.

Unless the magic item has a race or class restriction, or the centaur lacks required appendages (feet for example); they can use/wear any magic item. Thus, the centaur could wear magical greaves (shin guards), but not boots. However, the DM can rule that magical boots would adjust to hooves if he so desires.

Homebrew races require homebrew adjudications

Use Magic Device feature says:

You ignore all class, race, and level requirements on the use of magic items.

"Equine Weakness" homebrew trait says:

you are unable to wear humanoid armor below the belt

Strictly saying, race is not creature type. Moreover, there are no armor in 5e, which description explicitly says that you wear it below the belt. So, rules as written, the very Equine Weakness trait makes no sense.

But let's forget about this for a minute. As you know, in 5e specific beats general. But what is specific and what is general in this case? Only the author can answer this question. You have to ask the Centaur race author him-/herself for clarifications. In a sense, all we can figure out would be a speculation.

"Rules as written" doesn't mean "fair"

the most faithful, RAW interpretation

RAW does not equal "most faithful", especially for homebrew content which was not properly tested. There could be homebrew features, that become the more unbalanced, the stricter the DM follows the rules. It is your job as a DM to make rulings that enhance your game, not just to follow the rules as strict as possible. AL Dungeon Master's Guide complies with this attitude:

Always follow this golden rule when you DM for a group: Make decisions and adjudications that enhance the fun of the adventure when possible.

  • Totally fair comment. The issue here is that I wasn't aware I was relying on homebrew content when I originally made this post. The homebrew looked very similar to the vanilla content, and I was bamboozled. I was rightly called out and the post was edited to reflect the correct source, but now the question is iffier. – Pink Sweetener Jul 18 at 18:58

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.