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It is clear that a dead creature is considered an object, but does that preclude it from being able to wear things? "Wear" is not clearly defined in the rules, and in plain English we use "wear" for objects in many cases (e.g. "The door wore the wreath like they were made for each other." or "The manikin was wearing the best dress in the store.").

So my question is, can a dead creature still wear things?

Here are a few cases where it is relevant (all emphases mine):

  1. Does fire bolt light a dead creature's clothes on fire?

    A flammable object hit by this spell ignites if it isn't being worn or carried.

  2. Does magic armor (e.g. +1 Armor) still grant extra AC to the dead creature?

    You have a +1 bonus to AC while wearing this armor.

  3. Would a Shield Guardian defend a dead creature that is wearing its amulet?

    A shield guardian’s solitary focus is to protect the amulet’s wearer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If enough of you think that any of the examples should be asked separately I'd be willing to, but they seem essentially equivalent to me. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jul 19 '18 at 17:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ For help in determining the AC of an object \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 19 '18 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Question 2 seems a possible unique case to move to its own question, since a body lying there, incapacitated (condition) in armor and dead body lying there seem to be a near identical situation. Not sure, but since you asked that appears to be a little different than 1 or 3, though certainly related. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 19 '18 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast AN incapacitated creature is not the same as a dead creature, though (first is a creature, 2nd is an object) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 19 '18 at 18:01
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Objects don't have an AC unless time is a factor. See p. 246 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, under "Statistics for Objects", or the corresponding section of the basic rules:

When time is a factor, you can assign an Armor Class and Hit Points to a destructible object. You can also give it immunities, resistances, and vulnerabilities to specific types of damage.

However, to carry objects like armor, you need a strength score, and objects don't have attributes, per above. See p. 176 of the Player's Handbook, under "Lifting and Carrying", or the corresponding section of the basic rules:

Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that most characters don't usually have to worry about it.

And they as such cannot carry or wear anything.

So in the first case, yes the clothes can ignite, as dead objects cannot protect their clothes or wear them.

In the second case, while the AC bonus doesn't protect the corpse, if they attack the armor it will be harder to break. It isn't dodging, so you can freely attack areas not protected by armor. See p. 141 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, under "Magic Item Resilience":

Most magic items are objects of extraordinary artisanship. Thanks to a combination of careful crafting and magical reinforcement, a magic item is at least as durable as a nonmagical item of its kind. Most magic items, other than potions and scrolls, have resistance to all damage. Artifacts are practically indestructible, requiring extraordinary measures to destroy.

So, it will be more difficult to hack through.

The shield guardian is a sentient creature with an intelligence of 7 and a wisdom of 10. It has no innate need to protect the bearer if dead, since amulets weigh something and so cannot be worn, but can at the GM's discretion perhaps based on how much it likes the bearer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Mind citing the sources of your quotes? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 19 '18 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, I'll edit it in. p246 and 141 of the GM's guide for the first and third quote, p14 for the second quote from the player's guide. \$\endgroup\$ – Nepene Nep Jul 19 '18 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NepeneNep - can you consider including that it's reasonable to assume that you can actually burn the body, clothes and possessions and all, or something similar? I mean sure, it's up to the DM, and there's nothing RAW that says so, but it would be a strange world where you couldn't build a funeral pyre and burn a body, clothes and possessions and all. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Jul 19 '18 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ That would probably count as a very easy task, unless there was some complicating factor, one with a DC of 5. That said, I'd just let it happen, unless there was a time pressure or it was raining or the body wasn't flammable for some reason. Since it would be a passive check, you can add 5 to their check if more than one person is working on it, and they auto succeed. \$\endgroup\$ – Nepene Nep Jul 19 '18 at 23:09
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I would argue that that is a more case-by-case DM interpretation decision.

Personally I would allow clothing on a dead creature to be ignited by fire bolt, as in my opinion that bit of the spell is meant to prevent the PC from using fire bolt to cause recurring burning damage, which could make the spell much better than it normally is. Allowing it to ignite clothing on a corpse doesn't change the balance of the spell, except it really edge-case situations.

I would allow armor on a dead creature (or really any object) to confer its AC bonus to said object. Armor functions the same whether the thing it's on is a person, a horse, or a training dummy.

For the shield guardian example, I would rule that on a case-by-case scenario. If you WANT the shield guardian to try to prevent the party from getting at the amulet and therefore gaining control of it, then I think an argument could be made to have the shield guardian defend the corpse. However, personally I think it makes more sense for the shield guardian to essentially become inert once the wearer dies, lasting until somebody else puts the amulet on.

This is part of why I really like 5th edition, a fair bit of it is open to DM interpretation and it allows the DM to make the best decision in the circumstances, whether their goal be to have a strategic, rewarding, difficult combat, a great storytelling session, or just a fun time hanging out with friends.

It can be whatever you want it to be, whatever makes the most sense to you or whatever is the most fun. At the end of the day, that's the whole point of D&D. :D

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