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In 5e, we are told that a druid shouldn't wear metal armour:

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields (druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal)

I believe this was true in older editions of D&D as well; "druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal". Certainly the below quote seems to imply this...

In the 2016 sage advice, we are told that druids choose not to wear metal armour:

What happens if a druid wears metal armor? The druid explodes.

Well, not actually. Druids have a taboo against wearing metal armor and wielding a metal shield. The taboo has been part of the class’s story since the class first appeared in Eldritch Wizardry (1976) and the original Player’s Handbook (1978). The idea is that druids prefer to be protected by animal skins, wood, and other natural materials that aren’t the worked metal that is associated with civilization. Druids don’t lack the ability to wear metal armor. They choose not to wear it. This choice is part of their identity as a mystical order. Think of it in these terms: a vegetarian can eat meat, but the vegetarian chooses not to.

This question is not about what happens if druids wear metal armour, or whether certain druids might choose to wear it despite not being a common choice among druids.

My question is: why is there not a similar taboo around druids making use of metal weapons? Is there anything in any published material (ideally from 5e but I suspect that previous editions probably have more to say about this than 5e) that explains why druids are generally happy to use metal weapons, despite the fact that they typically choose not to wear metal armour (or use metal shields)?


Just a reminder that this is not a question as I'm interested in lore-based answers, in-universe explanations, not any designer's reasons from any edition as to why it was decided from a gameplay-based or mechanical point of view. I'm interested in the lore reasons only.


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The explanation varies between editions of D&D

According to the AD&D 1st edition Players Handbook, wearing metal armor interferes with the druid's supernatural abilities, but merely carrying items made of metal does not:

The more powerful druidic spells, as well as their wider range of weaponry, make up for the fact that druids are unable to use any armor or shields other than leather armor and wooden shields (metallic armor spoils their magical powers).

The AD&D 2nd edition Player's Handbook (revised) notes that the druid can only wear "natural" armors, meaning leather armor and wooden shields, certainly due to the druid's connection to nature. It doesn't specify why they can use metal weapons.

The D&D 3.5 Player's Handbook says that the prohibition on metal armor is due to a traditional ancient oath, which appears to only forbid armor but not weapons:

The armor of a druid are restricted by traditional oaths to the items noted in Weapon and Armor Proficiency (below). All other armor is prohibited. Though a druid could learn to wear full plate, putting it on would violate her oath and suppress her druidic powers.

Druids avoid carrying much worked metal with them because it interferes with the pure and primal nature that they attempt to embody.

The D&D 5th edition Sage Advice Compendium gives the explanation that it is part of a traditional taboo which specifically prohibits armor and shields of worked metal, because they aren't part of nature:

Druids have a taboo against wearing metal armor and wielding a metal shield. The taboo has been part of the class’s story since the class first appeared in Eldritch Wizardry (1976) and the original Player’s Hand-book (1978). The idea is that druids prefer to be protected by animal skins, wood, and other natural materials that aren’t the worked metal that is associated with civilization. Druids don’t lack the ability to wear metal armor. They choose not to wear it. This choice is part of their identity as a mystical order. Think of it in these terms: a vegetarian can eat meat, but chooses not to.

As a side-note, the real reason why druids are permitted to wield metal weapons is an out-of-universe explanation. Real-world druids were said to harvest mistletoe with a metal sickle; the historic source is a single passage on the ritual of oak and mistletoe in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History (1st century CE), and you see it in popular culture such as Asterix comics, including Asterix and the Golden Sickle (translated into English in 1975), where the druid Getafix harvests mistletoe with a specially-made golden sickle, a trait also mentioned in the AD&D 1e Player's Handbook, p.54. It was only logical, therefore, that the druid of D&D could wield the sickle. The sickle is kind of small for a primary weapon, however, and Gary Gygax assigned the curved scimitar as the druid's weapon, considering it to be a larger equivalent to the curved sickle, despite no historic evidence suggesting that druids wielded curved swords (see Why do druids use scimitars? and Is there a citable reference of druids using curved swords?). These two metal weapons in particular therefore were permitted to the druid.

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