I recently had a Pathfinder random treasure generator create a mithral studded leather. This doesn't make sense to me since, quoting from the mithral section of d20pfsrd we see,

Items not primarily of metal are not meaningfully affected by being partially made of mithral. (A longsword can be a mithral weapon, while a quarterstaff cannot.)

Combined with the entry for studded leather,

Similar to leather armor, this suit is reinforced with small metal studs.

This reads to me like the metal studs, while crucial to the design, are not the primary material. Much like how banded mail uses leather as a support structure, it is primarily metal. As such, it should not be able to benefit from the special properties of mithral.

Allegedly, the random treasure chart in the GMG has one roll on the metal chart if studded leather comes up, which would seem to indicate that studded leather would qualify for mithral's properties. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the GMG for validation.

Would mithral studded leather be awarded the special properties (decrease in spell failure, armor check, and weight, increase to max dex)? Is there any clear guidance on this?


Nope. Your first quote is the definitive guidance:

Items not primarily of metal are not meaningfully affected by being partially made of mithral. (A longsword can be a mithral weapon, while a quarterstaff cannot.)

You can make studded leather with mithral studs or band a quarterstaff with mithral, but it won't bestow any special properties on the item (other than, perhaps, a better resale value). The game effect of armour being made of mithral is to make it lighter, so it makes sense that a piece of armour composed mostly of leather isn't going to have its weight reduced an entire category by replacing a minority of its weight from one metal with slightly less weight from another metal.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That was my notion as well. Not being an armorer, I think I feel into the trap of second-guessing how much metal is actually in studded leather. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Pack Sep 11 '12 at 1:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ studded, ring-on-leather, and/or bezanted armors have considerable amounts of metal - and while the whole point is to make it so that every hit by a sword or axe hits metal, they typically have only about 15% surface coverage or so, tho' the weight may be as much as 60% metal for bezanted with 90% surface coverage. (Note that high coverage bezanted armor may as well be scale.) \$\endgroup\$ – aramis Sep 11 '12 at 8:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ On the plus side, having mithral studded leather armor is pretty classy; there could also be some small benefits/detriments in very specific situations due to it's non-standard nature. \$\endgroup\$ – Lunin Sep 11 '12 at 18:45

I found this thread because I wanted a bone haramaki for armor-unproficient char just for style (see point three above) ... interestingly I found this here:

Bone can be used in place of wood and steel in weapons and armor.

OK, so it should work for the haramaki.

Studded leather, scale mail, breastplates, and wooden shields can all be constructed using bone. Bone either replaces the metal components of the armor, or in the case of wooden shields, large pieces of bone or shell replace the wood.

Yes, studded leather.

Bone armor has hardness 5 and has the fragile armor quality. Masterwork bone armor also has the fragile quality, but magic bone armor does not. The armor/shield bonus of bone armor is reduced by 1, but in the case of studded leather, the armor check penalty is also reduced by 1 (to 0). Magically strengthened bone does not have the fragile quality or reduced armor/shield bonus.

And it affects the studded leather.

Then I thought of mithral (as I need it for the buckler of my char) as a metal replacement for studded leather, wondered, googled it, found nothing allowing it, here I am.

Sooo, from my point of view the studded leather is affected by a metal replacement and therefore would benefit from mithral ... not that dark leaf cloth does basically the same for half the cost, it can also be worn by druids.

It might help for a zero penalty light adamantine armor though ... or other special metals as long as the studded leather is masterwork.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is less "can it be done" and more "do I get the benefits of mithral if I do it?" The line SevenSidedDie quotes seems to indicate that you do not. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 10 '14 at 1:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Except Gravedigger's found a place in the rules wherein a special material that can be used in place of metal can be used to make studded leather. Without counterexamples, that's pretty good evidence that studded leather is, despite the name, "primarily of metal," perhaps more studs than leather. (Aaand the conversation gets weird.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 10 '14 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Except bone explicitly says it replaces "metal components" while mithral does not have that line and does have the line about "primarily made of metal" (which bone doesn't). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 10 '14 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan I know, but unless there's wood in studded leather, the special material bone is replacing the studded leather's metal components and, in doing so, studded leather gets the benefits of the special material bone. Absent further information about studded leather, that implies studded leather is "primarily of metal," making mithral studded leather a valid choice. That is, if replacing all the metal in studded leather with bone makes the studded leather bone studded leather, replacing all the mithral in studded leather should make the studded leather mithral studded leather. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 10 '14 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ The "primarily made of metal" requirement is a requirement for mithral, not metal replacements in general. Bone isn't held to the same standard as mithral, it would appear. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 10 '14 at 18:33

There is a least one item made of mithral that is not metal armor - Wizard's Mail. It is considered a +4 leather armor (not even studded). Made of mithral. The description says This chain armor is so fine it offers protection only because it's enchanted and made of mithral., which means its chain armor, but an extremely light one. Go figure.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Wizard's Mail entry says [...] It acts as a suit of +4 greater slick leather armor, not that it counts as one - in other words, it isn't considered made of leather, it just uses the same statistics (e.g. it is still affected by spells such as heat metal, isn't allowed for a druid etc.) \$\endgroup\$ – G0BLiN Dec 4 '16 at 11:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just wanted to point out the fact that paizo (and anyone else) can make up an armor of specific type made of mithral and apply all of mithral bonuses to it :) Druids still have to suffer, yes. \$\endgroup\$ – Hettikus Jan 16 '17 at 6:04

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