Tenser's Transformation is a rather unique, gish-y spell that lets wizards toss their spellbooks aside and take up arms like their Fighter counterparts.

One aspect of this spell that disappoints me is its interaction with armor; specifically, Heavy Armor.

Tenser's Transformation, among other things, gives proficiency with all things martial, and lasts 10 minutes:

You have proficiency with all armor, shields, simple weapons, and martial weapons.

This is great and all, until you realize that all armor takes time to don:

  • Light Armor - 1 minute
  • Medium Armor - 5 minutes
  • Heavy Armor - 10 minutes

Wizards are naturally proficient in none of these. This means they cannot cast spells with the armor on, which creates the conundrum of being unable to start this spell with the appropriate armor on, and being unable to put on the best armor without the spell running out or being generally combat inviable.

To get even more meta, consider these next points:

  1. Tenser's Transformation takes 1 action to cast, which implies that this is a start of combat spell. However, it would take 10 combat rounds to don the weakest form of armor, Light, which is unacceptable for a real combat situation - most combats are over in 3-4 rounds.
  2. A Wizard will generally not have a fantastic Dexterity stat, and thus will not benefit from taking the time to don Light or Medium armor.
  3. Mage Armor, (a 1st level spell), would beat most Light and Medium options for a Wizard wanting to don armor with this spell - this makes the armor portion of this spell even more useless.
  4. This makes Heavy Armor the most obvious choice for this spell, but it would take your entire time to don the armor. This leads to the comical situation of the Wizard casting Tenser's, slowly putting on his heavy armor, having the spell end, and then being forced to doff it because he's unable to cast spells now. Hilarious.

Without multiclassing, using Feats, or using magic items like Cast-Off armor, is there any way for a Vanilla Wizard to start a fight with Tenser's Transformation and Heavy Armor?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Since this doesn't actually answer the question, it's worth mentioning here: Mike Mearls says, "It’s there for completeness - no reason to not give it, but spell not balanced assuming you’d throw on plate armor". \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 22, 2019 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for this - I wonder why they consider this spell unbalanced if you could easily throw on Plate armor. As it stands, the Wizard is going to get hit over and over again without some sort of supplemental mechanics or magic. It takes a lot of planning to use this spell effectively. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nicbobo
    Feb 22, 2019 at 20:48
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think Mearls is saying it's unbalanced if you do throw on plate armor, but rather that they did not balance the spell with the assumption that you would do so (i.e. it's theoretically already a balanced spell even without that benefit). I also found a reddit thread that pointed out that the spell doesn't remove the strength requirement of heavy armor, so you might need to have decent strength already... \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 22, 2019 at 20:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You don't max Strength on your Wizards @V2Blast? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2019 at 20:54

4 Answers 4


Glyph of Warding

This assumes the Wizard is the big bad, or at least is on home turf.

Cast glyph of warding at 7th level, storing Tenser's transformation, with some trigger that the wizard alone can do, on your castle floor.

Wear plate armor and sit on your throne like the king you are.

When the invaders come in, stomp on the glyph and say "you're toast, interlopers".

This is very niche, as glyph of warding cannot move, but it's one of the options.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ OOoo... this is clever. I like this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Feb 22, 2019 at 20:52
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The downside is being a Big Bad Wizard that can't cast spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Feb 22, 2019 at 21:11
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch No, once you become proficient in plate armor, you can then cast spells while wearing it. You do have to win the fight in 1 minute though, else you're toast. (Without something like Cast-Off Armor) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2019 at 21:13
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ You're not proficient until you trigger the glyph. So until then, you can't cast spells. Then once it's cast...you can't cast spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Feb 22, 2019 at 21:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Axoren it cannot. The ruling in earlier PHBs indicate that if it's on the object it can move, but later PHBs and the SRD have changed this. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2020 at 16:12

By spending another 6th+ level spell slot*

This is wonky, and it clearly shows that our overlords at WoTC didn't think this one through completely, but here it is:

  1. Be a 14th level Wizard of the Illusion School
  2. Cast Major Image at 7th level in order to bypass concentration (and to save your single 6th level slot for next step) creating the illusion of Plate Mail on yourself.
  3. Cast Tenser's Transformation
  4. Upon completion of Tenser's casting, use your Bonus Action to make the plate mail real.
  5. Wear plate mail for 1 minute while under the effects of Tenser's.

The good news is that this only takes 2 actions to do. The bad news is that you're now down two of your highest spell slots.

*credit where credit is due on GiTP.


This is technically possible, but they're weird edge cases.

  • Wear armor. Have a friend capable of casting True Polymorph transform you into a creature capable of casting Tenser's Transformation (thus causing your armor, along with the rest of your gear, to meld into you). Cast the spell. Have your friend stop True Polymorphing you. Maintain concentration.

  • While maintaining Tenser's Transformation, Wish to have the armor instantly put on you.

  • a 6th level Glyph of Warding can be used to trigger the effect, and even takes care of the concentration for you.

Also, one weird edge case that doesn't technically do what you ask for, but does at least achieve something worthwhile with the armor proficiency part of the spell. (Admittedly, it's terrible RAW cheese.) As a warforged, casting Tenser's Transformation right at the end of a Long Rest would potentially give you access to Heavy Plating Integrated Protection for the rest of the day.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question body asks "is there any way" but the title asks "how"; you might want to clarify your header to reflect that you're saying "This is technically possible, but [...]". \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 22, 2019 at 22:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ In 3.5e casting the spell in a timeless plane should do the trick too. Not sure about how planes work in 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – gmatht
    Feb 23, 2019 at 9:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast thanks. Fixed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Feb 25, 2019 at 14:18

If you want to maintain some realism, armor (especially plate & full plate) are often custom jobs specifically forged and fitted to the user. It could be argued that leather and chain don't have to be as fitting, since they're often more loosely fitting (even though extreme size differences would come into account.. eg: a human trying to wear halfling leather armor.)

In the case of finding armor, it can be considered part of the unspoken "what characters do that players don't think or care about" that the characters will have a blacksmith fit the found armor to the player using it. I sat in one campaign where the GM wouldn't let players just slap on any armor they found.. they had to haul it back to town for a blacksmith to work over and fit to the character. If the player decided to just force the armor on as-is, then they would operate at an AC penalty due to ill-fitting armor. So, slap on that chainmail +2.. but get a -2 due to poor fit.. until blacksmith can fit it to character.

So, I would find it odd that a Wizard would go to the expense to have some custom fit armor made just to be able to use during Tenser's transformation. And if the transformation is taken literally and bulks up the wizard, then they'd have to cast it multiple times in order for a blacksmith to get the right super-sized measurements (or just use that measuring tape very quickly). (In some campaigns, the GM will have Tenser's transformation just imbue the wizard with strength without altering their physical form, so no bulging biceps and stuff. It's a bit of interpretation, especially if you have a wizard in tight clothing suddenly "hulking out" and either shredding their clothes or having body parts dying as a bracer that fits too tight cuts off the circulation of their arm.)

I think in the long run... if you're able to cast Tenser's transformation, there are better spells to use instead that are much more potent... especially seeing as TT prevents you from casting spells or using any arsenal of magic devices you have (i.e. cast TT to fight, get beat up, then be unable to teleport out of there or use a scroll or wand of teleportation).

I always felt TT was added just for munchkins - sort of just rubbing it in that "wizards start weak, but ultimately are the best class" BS:

  • "Wizards can't pick locks" (disintegrates the door)
  • "Wizards can't fight" (casts a fireball or summons a pet or charms or sleeps or TT's)

It's just extra fluffery.

A wizard using TT is sort of distracting themselves from their true calling... as a powerhouse artillery unit (fireballs, etc) and Swiss army utility knife for what others can't do (e.g. casting polymorph, fly, light, etc).

By the time you can get TT, you might as well toss the money you have into some fighter retainer bodyguards to protect you instead.

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    – V2Blast
    Feb 24, 2019 at 1:46

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