If someone covers his metal armor with cloth, can the armor be the target of heat metal?

Does the interpretation of the rules that disallows using heat metal to target armor covered by a garment undermine a positive development of the combat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain what you mean by the last line? What does "undermine a positive development of the combat" mean? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13 at 16:43
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    – Someone_Evil
    Jan 13 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are rules for hexblade warlocks to dismiss and re-summon their weapons. If you want to stop and check, you can, or ask the player to tell you whether each of those are supposed to cost an action. It's their character, they should have the rules for their class at their fingertips. (Or at least it's not unreasonable to expect them to). It helps for you to have some general idea of the way rules normally work, like that things you want to do in combat might cost an action or bonus action, or sometimes be free during your turn. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15 at 9:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym In nerd-speak it means "Does it break anything?" "rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11347/…" \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15 at 14:11

Rules-as-written, you must be able to see the target of heat metal.

Heat metal says:

Choose a manufactured metal object, such as a metal weapon or a suit of heavy or medium metal armor, that you can see within range.

If you cannot see the metal object, you cannot cast heat metal on it.

A word to DMs: don't nerf your players' spell choices

Say you have a player at your table who picks heat metal and is excited to use it. Don't nerf their choice for no reason. What I mean is, if I chose heat metal, and all of a sudden every armor wearing enemy covered all of their metal armor with XXXXL shirts, and then the DM said I couldn't use heat metal on their armor, I would be very upset - it would undermine a positive development of the combat, so to speak.

Now, suppose I was known throughout the land for using heat metal on my enemies to boil them in their boots, it would be interesting and fun to have one encounter, or even one story arc, where the party deals with a group of enemies that has specifically outfitted themselves to counter my heat metal (perhaps by wearing only leather armor). This would be a neat and interesting encounter that forces me to think outside the box. But it would not be fun if it were all the time.

Don't nerf your players' spell choices, unless there is a temporary, narrative driven reason behind it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Many, many, thank you very much for your responses. Exactly, that's what I meant by undermining the positive development of combat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafa
    Jan 13 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ My only problem with this is that in a world where the Heat Metal spell exists as a relatively low-level spell, if a completely effective countermeasure exists that is as cheap as some pieces of cloth, everyone should use it. All armor should come with a cloth layer on top, just to make it basic armor. \$\endgroup\$
    – tbrookside
    Jan 14 at 12:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tbrookside Then heat metal users would just always target swords. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14 at 12:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll point out that in the Middle Ages, most armor did come with a layer of cloth on top. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surcoat \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Jan 15 at 8:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov: You can drop a sword and grab an improvised club, or grapple, or whatever backup weapon, or just defend yourself and retreat. If you're inside a metal oven you can't take off quickly, that's a bigger problem. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15 at 9:28

The target of heat metal must be visible

The spell states (emphasis mine):

[...] Choose a manufactured metal object, such as a metal weapon or a suit of heavy or medium metal armor, that you can see within range. [...]

Therefore, you must be able to actually see the metal you wish to cast this spell on when you cast the spell; however, the metal does not have to remain in view after the spell has been cast.


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