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I have a character who found a magic vest that enables the wearer to cast prestidigitation at will. The character wants to wear the vest into combat. I ruled that the vest, a loose-fitting item of clothing much thicker than a simple shirt wouldn't fit under leather armor, so he wears the vest over his armor.

What are the rules for damage to magic items like this? Are they immune to typical types of non-magical damage delivered in combat? What about magical damage?

Or is it unreasonable to make him wear it outside his leather armor? That would make his decision seem less problematic, but even under armor, when characters take slashing, piercing, fire or acid damage in combat, the arrow or whatever would pierce the armor, and therefore the vest, at least some of the time. (Sometimes the hit might be in an unarmored part of the body.)

The only thing I could find is DMG p.141 "Most magic items, other than potions and scrolls, have resistance to all damage." But it doesn't say immunity, and if it has resistance (takes half damage) then that implies that it has some amount of damage it can take before being destroyed. And in the table of minor properties on p.143, one of the properties is unbreakable, implying that items without this property can be destroyed.

I could just be over-complicating things. I could ignore it and just let him wear the darn thing. It'd be too cumbersome to have to take it off before every combat. But I'm curious what other people have done.

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If you are attacked, your items won't be damaged. An enemy may attempt to specifically attack the worn vest, in which case follow the rules for damaging objects. See this related question for more information.

There aren't any rules for objects taking collateral damage when you are attacked. So if your player wore the vest on the outside, the only risk is that an enemy will directly attempt to destroy it.

Personally I'd wear it under my armor, it doesn't make much sense to wear a vest on top of the armor.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Those rules seem to suggest you can break plate armour for only 19ac and 18hp. That's 1 attack at the level where you tend to encounter plate, and seriously debilitating for the wearer. I can't bring myself to think that is a balanced or useful answer. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 8 at 12:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Well, monsters tend not to have armor, so it's not that big a deal. PCs can have plate fairly quickly, but monsters don't usually have high hit chance (CR 20 will hit AC 19 about half the time), and although monsters can have high DPR they don't usually have such strong single attacks. 19 AC 18HP could take a few hits, even at 20CR. That said, I do think it's too easy to attack an enemy's equipment. A common house rule I've seen is to require an opposed hit vs dex check first. You can also apply resistance, thresholds, or immunity as needed (eg plate may have physical resistance). \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Jun 9 at 1:17

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