The list of armor proficiencies in the druid class description (PHB, p. 65, or here in the basic rules) states:

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields (druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal)

According the Sage Advice article from March 2016:

Druids don’t lack the ability to wear metal armor. They choose not to wear it. [...] If you want to depart from your class’s story, your DM has the final say on how far you can go and still be considered a member of the class. (emphasis mine)

Does this mean that an AL druid can choose to wear metal armor, because it is not stated that wearing metal armor is forbidden?

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    I don't see how you're getting from a rule saying "druids will not wear metal armor" and a Sage Advice article saying "druids choose not to wear metal armor" to the idea that druids can choose to wear metal armor. Can you unpack your reasoning a little further? – Mark Wells Aug 15 at 5:36
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    @MarkWells the second part "If you want to depart from your class's story, your DM has the final say...". That means it is not strictly forbidden, right? In AL, if your DM doesn't care you are wearing a metal armor or not (because you only play in one convention and the DMs allow it, for example), then I come to conclusion that I will be able to do this. – Vylix Aug 15 at 5:40
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    I think the question is whether there's an AL rule that DMs can't allow this. – Mark Wells Aug 15 at 6:24
  • @J.E AL uses the rules from PHB. The PHB does not say "druid cannot", but only "will not". The Sage Advice is not a rule, but clarifies the intent behind it. So from my understanding, AL DM cannot (or rather, should not) forbid a druid character who chooses to wear metal armor because of his story. – Vylix Aug 15 at 6:26
up vote 23 down vote accepted

Adventurers League plays by the rules of official books; it does not acknowledge supplements like Unearthed Arcana or Sage Advice.

So the rule from PHB is:

Druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal

Therefore, per AL, per PHB, no, a druid wearing metal armor would not be allowed by the AL.

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    +1; also, there's an official line in the AL FAQ about Sage Advice that would support your position. – Miniman Aug 15 at 7:13
  • @Miniman the line you mentioned instead acknowledges SA as 'barometer for rule-as-intended'. Whether the DM chooses to utilize SA or not is at their discretion. – Vylix Aug 15 at 11:02
  • This can be improved by adding a line from the AL FAQ: Can I award an armor made of bees? No. Unless specifically mentioned in the adventure or encounter it is found in, armor is made of the materials described in the PHB. – Vylix Aug 15 at 11:13
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    These are the times I miss some of the extra wording from previous editions and the limitations they put in on some of the classes. Everyone wanted power without restriction though. Druids were forbidden by their oaths by the entities that granted their power and thus lost it while wearing metal armor. Now this very ambiguous wording exists without mention of consequence or why. – Slagmoth Aug 15 at 14:12
  • @Slagmoth The wording isn't ambiguous. In by-the-book 5e, when the druid player says "I put on the metal helm" the DM says "No, you don't." See also this answer. – Mark Wells Aug 15 at 18:47

Probably not, because that's a house rule.

From the AL FAQ:

House rules, that is to say rules that you create that aren’t in the official materials such as critical fails, new races, new classes, etc., aren’t permitted for use in D&D Adventurers League play; the Adventurers League uses the rules as presented in the PHB.

and:

The only optional or variant rules available for use are:

  • Variant: Customizing Ability Scores (PHB)
  • Variant Human Traits (PHB)
  • Half-Elf Variants (SCAG)
  • Option: Human Languages (SCAG)*
  • Tiefling Variants (SCAG)
  • Variant: Playing on a Grid (PBR)
  • Variant: Skills with Different Abilities (PHB)

That said, that only applies to legitimate, published variant rules. The issue of outright breaking the rules, e.g. putting your druid in plate, and the DM just winking and allowing it, is not addressed.

Since you're going to hairsplit between "will not" and "cannot": strictly speaking, your druid has the ability to wear metal armor, but you're not allowed to have them wear it. Druids not wearing metal is a lifestyle choice, not something forced on them. However, for rules purposes, they are required to make that choice and follow it.

  • This would be worth a +1, if the first line didn't imply uncertainty. – T.J.L. Aug 16 at 13:29

You can choose, so long as you are willing to stop being a Druid.

From "Rules Answers: March 2016" on the WotC D&D website:

What happens if a druid wears metal armor? The druid explodes.

Well, not actually. Druids have a taboo against wearing metal armor and wielding a metal shield. The taboo has been part of the class’s story since the class first appeared in Eldritch Wizardry (1976) and the original Player’s Handbook (1978). The idea is that druids prefer to be protected by animal skins, wood, and other natural materials that aren’t the worked metal that is associated with civilization. Druids don’t lack the ability to wear metal armor. They choose not to wear it. This choice is part of their identity as a mystical order. Think of it in these terms: a vegetarian can eat meat, but the vegetarian chooses not to.

A druid typically wears leather, studded leather, or hide armor, and if a druid comes across scale mail made of a material other than metal, the druid might wear it. If you feel strongly about your druid breaking the taboo and donning metal, talk to your DM. Each class has story elements mixed with its game features; the two types of design go hand-in-hand in D&D, and the story parts are stronger in some classes than in others. Druids and paladins have an especially strong dose of story in their design. If you want to depart from your class’s story, your DM has the final say on how far you can go and still be considered a member of the class. As long as you abide by your character’s proficiencies, you’re not going to break anything in the game system, but you might undermine the story and the world being created in your campaign.

The Adventurers League advice given in other answers follows the party line. So, you can't choose to do it, and remain a druid. If you have some special reason, you can beg your DM.

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    What is this answer adding that isn't already indicated by the asker quoting part of this same article in their question? Rather than simply linking the Sage Advice that the asker already found, you should emphasize the relevant information from it that they missed (if applicable) or add your own commentary to explain. – V2Blast Aug 15 at 18:39
  • The full answer is fairly clear on the other option- they can stop being a member of that class. Others hadn't mentioned that point. – Nepene Nep Aug 16 at 15:20

The other answers are almost all incorrect. The official Sage Advice Compendium from WoTC (this is different than the Sage Advice website, which merely collects tweets by the designers) is RAW according to WoTC, and clarifies RAW. In addition, that document also states Jeremy Crawford's official responses are also RAW.

The Sage Advice Compendium clarifies further that Druids can wear metal armor, it is just taboo. It would be fine for a DM to make roleplay consequences for wearing metal armor, such as disadvantage to social checks with other druids. However, if a DM doesn't like that and rules the Druid cannot wear metal armor, then it is a houserule. An Adventurer's League DM should allow a druid to wear metal armor.

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    Welcome to the site! Interesting take, but can you support this with quotes from the SAC and where it says that? I think that would go a long way to convincing people that you were correct where everyone else was not. Providing a direct quote is going to be the best way to do that. Welcome again and I hope to see you around! :) – Rubiksmoose Sep 14 at 3:50
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    Additionally, you may want to avoid saying "above answers", because if your answer voted to the top, there is no "above answers" ;) You may want to consider using "other answers saying ..." instead. And welcome! – Vylix Sep 14 at 4:56
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    From the AL published guidance, Sage Advice is optional for AL DM's to use; available, but not necessarily canon. Because this question is about AL, any answer needs to be supported by AL sources, not opinion. When you say in your answer"an AL DM should" it appears that you are not familiar with AL guidance to DM's. Suggest you familiarize yourself with AL rules and guidance to DM's, and revise your answer once you have. Supported answers are what is desired on this site. – KorvinStarmast Sep 14 at 10:41
  • And while we are at it, please take a look at the tour and visit the help center to get a feel for how an SE site is different from other sites. You'll earn some badges. (As Rubiksmoose said, Welcome! ) – KorvinStarmast Sep 14 at 10:43

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