The Warforged race from the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron has a unique feature, Integrated Protection, that affects their armor class (AC) and ability to wear armor, detailed below:

Your body has built-in defensive layers, which determine your armor class. You gain no benefit from wearing armor, but if you are using a shield, you apply its bonus as normal.

You can alter your body to enter different defensive modes; each time you finish a long rest, choose one mode to adopt from the Integrated Protection table, provided you meet the mode's prerequisite.

Integrated Protection options Image courtesy of D&D Beyond.

Nowhere in this description does it say anything about the "built-in defensive layers" counting as armor for the purposes of wearing armor, but this is heavily implied by the table's parenthetical descriptions following each mode, such as the medium mode Composite Plating (armor).

This is important in a number of cases, such as the Defense fighting style fighters can take at first level and paladins can take at second:

While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.

PHB p. 72, 84

(Emphasis mine)

and the Rage feature that barbarians receive at first level:

In battle, you fight with primal ferocity. On your turn, you can enter a rage as a bonus action.

While raging, you gain the following benefits if you aren't wearing heavy armor: [...]

PHB p. 48

(Emphasis mine)

Is the feature text more authoritative, not specifying the Integrated Protection as armor worn, or is the table with its parenthetical descriptions more authoritative, meaning that the second and third options count as wearing armor for the above features?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Highly relevant, but for the older UA Warforged: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/102534/… \$\endgroup\$ – Viishnahn Sep 15 '18 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a note for posterity, in case the final version is different: This question is about the version of the warforged that originally appeared in WGTE, and is identical to the one in this Eberron Races UA from 2018. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 19 '19 at 0:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note: the final version of the Integrated Protection trait in Eberron: Rising from the Last War and in the updated version of Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron has totally changed how it works, making this question only relevant to the original/UA version. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 23 '19 at 0:23

Composite Plating and Heavy Plating are intended to count as armor.

Keith Baker, original creator of Eberron and lead designer for the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, addresses this question (and many others) in the WGtE FAQ on his website:

Does the Warforged Heavy Plating Integrated Protection work with the Fighter’s Defense Fighting Style? Unclear on if (armor) means you’re “wearing armor” or not.

The intent is while you are using darkwood core you are not considered to be wearing armor for purposes of game effects such as Unarmored Defense, while you are considered to be wearing armor when you’re using one of the plating modes. However, as written Integrated Protection doesn’t allow you to benefit from the Defense Fighting Style. This won’t be changed until people have a chance to provide feedback on the race mechanics as they stand.

Baker points out that the feature doesn't specifically clarify that Composite Plating or Heavy Plating count as armor - but the parenthetical after each one reflects the intent, which is that Darkwood Core counts as being unarmored and that the other two options count as being armored. This is relevant for features like the Defense fighting style (which requires you to be armored), or the monk's Unarmored Movement feature (which, as the name implies, requires that you be unarmored).

In another response, he also says:

When a warforged is using the darkwood core (unarmored) mode and have light armor proficiency, can they choose whether they are considered to be armored or unarmored?

No. You are always considered to be unarmored when using darkwood core, and always considered to be armored when using plating.

So you can choose which of the three modes to use (depending on what armor you're proficient in), but you can't choose whether that mode counts as being armored.

...but as currently written, they don't count specifically as medium or heavy armor.

Baker also answers a related question about what kind of armor the Integrated Protection feature counts as:

Composite Plating and Heavy Plating both say “Armored” but do they count as medium and heavy armor respectively? Specifically does a warforged Barbarian in Heavy Plating mode lack access to the benefits of rage?

As written, the current version simply specifies that plating counts as armor, not that it counts specifically as heavy or medium armor. So in this version, a warforged barbarian can rage while in the heavy plating mode… though they will have to acquire the heavy armor proficiency before they can use heavy plating.

This may change in the future, but as of right now, a warforged barbarian can gain the benefits of Rage regardless of what defensive mode they're in. However, they can't benefit from features that forbid any armor at all while using Composite Plating or Heavy Plating.

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Yes, Composite Plating and Heavy Plating count as "armor".

It would certainly be helpful if it said, "composite plating and heavy plating count as armor for you", that would make it very clear, but it doesn't say that.

However as you noted, it is heavily implied in the Mode column. I think it goes beyond heavily implying, it's telling you that one of those modes is unarmored and two are armored. Plus, there's that column about the proficiencies.

To read it in the opposite way ends up with a lot of strangeness, where with heavy armor proficiency you can get the benefits of armor, but you also get the benefits of not having armor.

Additional information can be found in the WGtE FAQ, written by Keith Baker, original creator of Eberron and lead designer for the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron.

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