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In D&D 3.5e, armor, shields, and weapons could be made of special materials including mithral, adamantine, darkwood, alchemical silver, cold iron, and dragonhide. Each of these has a special property (e.g. mithral and darkwood weigh half as much as comparable metal or wood [respectively], and alchemical silver ignores the damage reduction of lycanthropes).

Are there any RAW in 5e that specify special materials that can be used for creating armor, shields, and weapons? If so, what are their special properties?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a reason you're asking for "RAW"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Sep 4, 2018 at 4:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ By “RAW” do you just mean “not someone’s homebrew”? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2018 at 5:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m looking for official rules written in a published book. \$\endgroup\$
    – KSchank
    Sep 4, 2018 at 13:46

2 Answers 2

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In 5e RAW, there are no generic rules for the effects of crafting armor, shields or weapons from special materials, except the following two:

  • Silvering a weapon or ammunition (PHB page 148): Good to bypass the immunity or resistance of some monsters to nonmnagical weapons.
  • Adamantine weapons (XGtE page 78): Unusually effective when used to break objects; each hit to objects is considered critical.

The text in XGtE also seems to preclude any benefits from applying adamantine to armor or shields:

Adamantine is an ultrahard metal found in meteorites and extraordinary mineral veins. In addition to being used to craft adamantine armor, the metal is also used for weapons.

This text is important because adamantine armor is described in the DMG as a magic item on its own:

This suit of armor is reinforced with adamantine, one of the hardest substances in existence. While you're wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit.

So we do not get any direct benefits from building an armor from adamantine, the benefits are only present when we craft a magical armor reinforced with adamantine. And those benefits will disappear for example when we are in an anti-magic field; as you can read in twitter posts by Jeremy Crawford dating back from 8 Nov 2017:

Adamantine armor is a magic item. It follows the rules for such items, including the text in antimagic field on magic items.

The same applies for mithral armor as well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it worth adding dragonhide armor to this answer? It has a particular effect, as with adamantine armor. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2018 at 12:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ You mean dragonscale mail? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2018 at 15:02
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Definitely rules for silvered weapons:

You can silver a single weapon or 10 pieces of ammunition for 100 gp. (PHB pg 148)

Additionally, there are specific magic items that are adamantium or mithral in the DMG (often with no additional enchantments), but I don't recall seeing any rules for making other weapons/armor/equipment of unusual materials.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that in addition to the DMG magic items, Xanathar's p. 78 also has rules on adamantine weapons: "Melee weapons and ammunition made of or coated with adamantine are unusually effective when used to break objects. Whenever an adamantine weapon or piece of ammunition hits an object, the hit is a critical hit. The adamantine version of a melee weapon or of ten pieces of ammunition costs 500 gp more than the normal version, whether the weapon or ammunition is made of the metal or coated with it." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 4, 2018 at 5:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ (And you are correct that adamantine armor and mithral armor are listed as separate magic items in the DMG; there are no official resources that combine those benefits with each other or with +X armor or armor of [element] resistance (etc.), though DMs could houserule/homebrew such armor if they wanted to use them in non-AL games. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 4, 2018 at 5:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you includ XGtE in this answer it is prudent to include the caveat that other than the rules clarification section it is entirely optional material. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Sep 4, 2018 at 13:00

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