33
\$\begingroup\$

The description of the Belt of Dwarvenkind (DMG, pg. 155) says the following:

Belt of Dwarvenkind

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this belt, you gain the following benefits:

  • Your Constitution score increases by 2, to a maximum of 20.
  • You have advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks made to interact with dwarves.

In addition, while attuned to the belt, you have a 50 percent chance each day at dawn of growing a full beard if you're capable of growing one, or a visibly thicker beard if you already have one.

If you aren't a dwarf, you gain the following additional benefits while wearing the belt:

  • You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage.
  • You have darkvision out to a range of 60 feet.
  • You can speak, read, and write Dwarvish.

The way I read this, only the stuff about your beard growing requires you to attune to it.

Am I reading this right? Do you really gain everything else (excluding the stuff at the end if you're a dwarf, obviously) even if you're not attuned to it?

Or is it the case that because the belt requires attunement, it's implicit that everything it does requires you to have attuned to it, and the way it's worded is just tripping me up?

\$\endgroup\$
52
\$\begingroup\$

You only get a cool looking belt

While it is true that the belt has some properties that are described as being active "While wearing this belt" this is not, in my opinion, explicitly saying that the property works even while not attuned and thus not enough to be considered an exception

Compare with the Brooch of Shielding (emphasis mine):

While wearing this brooch, you have resistance to force damage, and you have immunity to damage from the magic missile spell.

This is the only benefit of the brooch yet it also requires attunement. If wearing the Brooch of Shielding was enough to benefit from its properties why would anyone ever bother to attune to it?

In fact, the way I interpret the distinction made in the Belt of Dwarvenkind is simply that while you are attuned to the belt, even if you are not wearing it at dawn you have a chance to grow a beard. However, the other properties would require both attunement and wearing.

Related Jeremy Crawford tweet

While not specifically about the Belt of Dwarvenkind Jeremy Crawford has reiterated what the rules already say (albeit a slightly different wording) about attunement requirements on magic items in this tweet (emphasis mine):

If a magic item requires attunement, none of its magical properties function without attunement, unless its description says otherwise. Re: the scarab of protection, the appearance of the writing has no effect on the properties; they're active while you're attuned to it.

This is about a different item but it may help clarify the intent.

Explicit example

As an example of a magic item that explicitly displays an exception to this general rule, see (warning: Hoard of the Dragon Queen spoilers)

The Hazirawn which states that "Even if you aren’t attuned to the sword, you gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls made with this weapon.". For more information see also this Q/A.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I think your interpretation makes good sense of the full wording. It seems a fairly safe assumption that a character might take the belt off to sleep at night. The fact that they don't need to be wearing the item, only attuned to it, to risk the beard-growth is therefore imporant. Otherwise you could wear it all day for the obvious benefits then simply RP that you take it off at night to avoid the beardy side effects. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Jul 23 '18 at 14:33
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Awesome! That "Explicit example" is exactly what I wanted (on top of the tweet). This makes it clear that the quote at the top of my answer is referring to something explicit in the description, not inferences. Saying that, it's not from the DMG, so no wonder I didn't spot it. Accepted! \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 23 '18 at 16:00
21
\$\begingroup\$

You Get To Hold Up Your Pants

The rules are clear on what attunement means:

Without becoming attuned to an item that requires attunement, a creature gains only its nonmagical benefits, unless its description states otherwise. For example, a magic shield that requires attunement provides the benefits of a normal shield to a creature not attuned to it, but none of its magical properties. (DMG, p. 38)

The Belt of Dwarvenkind requires attunement, and does not say you get any benefits when you are not attuned to it, so you don't.

It is a very reasonable question to ask why they distinguished between benefits you get while wearing it vs. while attuned to it. The distinction here is that you have a 50% chance of growing the beard daily at dawn when you are attuned to the belt, whether or not you are currently wearing it.

This is an important distinction, because otherwise people could simply say "I don't sleep in the belt," and avoid this feature of it. As written, as long as they are attuned to the belt they run the chance of growing a beard (or growing a visibly thicker one than their current beard).

\$\endgroup\$
11
\$\begingroup\$

Yes, attunement is only required for the beard growth

The relevant rules on attunement state that certain magic items can give you some of their magical properties without attuning to the item (DMG, pg. 138)

Attunement

[...]

Without becoming attuned to an item that requires attunement, a creature gains only its nonmagical benefits, unless its description states otherwise.

Since the Belt of Dwarvenkind simply states that certain properties are gained whilst wearing the belt, but other properties are called out as requiring attunement, this falls under the "description stating otherwise", meaning that in this case, specific beats generic.


For comparison, there are certain weapons that allow you to use it as a +X weapon without attuning to it, but has other properties that become apparent once you attune to it. Consider the Hammer of Thunderbolts (DMG, pg. 173):

Hammer of Thunderbolts

Weapon (maul), legendary (requires attunement)

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

Giant's Bane (Requires Attunement). You must be wearing a belt of giant strength (any variety) and gauntlets of ogre power to attune to this weapon. The attunement ends if you take off either of those items. While you are attuned to this weapon and holding it, your Strength score increases by 4 and can exceed 20, but not 30. When you roll a 20 on an attack roll made with this weapon against a giant, the giant must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or die.

The hammer also has 5 charges. While attuned to it, you can expend 1 charge and make a ranged weapon attack with the hammer, hurling it as if it had the thrown property with a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet. If the attack hits, the hammer unleashes a thunderclap audible out to 300 feet. The target and every creature within 30 feet of it must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of your next turn. The hammer regains 1d4 + 1 expended charges daily at dawn.

And the Berserker Axe (DMG, pg. 155):

Berserker Axe

Weapon (any axe), rare (requires attunement)

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. In addition, while you are attuned to this weapon, your hit point maximum increases by 1 for each level you have attained.

Both of these mention being a +1 weapon, but then go on to say how it gives you more if you are attuned to it (although for the former, this is all under the subheading "Giant's Bane", which the Belt of Dwarvenkind doesn't have, but it's still evidence of a magic item that has some magical properties that require attunement and some that don't require attunement).

This supports my interpretation that the Belt of Dwarvenkind gives you everything but the beard growth without requiring attunement, since it at least calls out that which does require attunement, allowing us to infer that the rest must not require attunement.


Note that my answer does not take into account Jeremy Crawford's tweet (because I didn't know about it when I wrote this), and I am therefore simply going to leave this answer as-is to show my reasoning in absence of this JC quote, based on how the Belt of Dwarvenkind's description is written. (I could do a U-turn, but then I'm just duplicating Sdjz's answer, so this is probably more useful left as an alternative set of reasoning).

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 23 '18 at 19:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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