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The Arcane Armor feature from the Armorer subclass has the following line:

“The armor continues to be Arcane Armor until you don another suit of armor or you die.”

If an Armorer Artificer is wearing two sets of armor that can logically be worn with each other (like say Molten Bronze Skin and Efreeti Chain), and they then designate one of the sets of armor that they’re wearing as their Arcane Armor, can they still wear both suits of armor given that they haven’t donned any armor while wearing their Arcane Armor?

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    \$\begingroup\$ So are you assuming for the purposes of the question that you can usually wear both armors? Because I would probably object to that premise, but I don’t want to challenge it in an answer if you’d rather just assume it is the case. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 16:45
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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas_Markov Yes we are assuming that premise given that its obviously true that if you can wear clothing under armor than you can wear something even less bulky under armor \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Aug 19 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cellheim that works in this specific case, but elven chain, for example, can be worn under clothing, but you can't add its effects with other armor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 19 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cellheim Just pointing out that if you have your own answer to the question, you are more than welcome to provide it as its own answer \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 17:42
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The intent is obvious: you cannot wear Arcane Armor and another suit of armor.

The rules for “Multiple Items of the Same Kind” state:

A character can’t normally wear more than one pair of footwear, one pair of gloves or gauntlets, one pair of bracers, one suit of armor, one item of headwear, and one cloak.

The rules for Arcane Armor are written with this in mind - you can only wear one suit of armor. So it is entirely natural that the rules would not address what happens if you are already wearing two sets of armor when you convert one to Arcane Armor: you aren’t supposed to be wearing two, so there’s no need to explain what happens when you are. So if we have an unusual exception to the general rules, like you happen to be wearing two armors at once somehow, we shouldn’t be surprised when strange things happen or the rules become muddy.

So yeah, if you want to be pedantic in your rulings, you can use this as a work around as the strictly technical reading allows you to do this, but the intent is abundantly obvious: it doesn’t work that way. To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with being pedantic in your rulings, I’m quite proud of my most downvoted answer. Just make sure you talk about it with the table if you are going to insist on using a ruling that is quite obviously against the intent of a feature. And if you are not the DM, don’t get upset when they rule that your idea doesn’t work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So I think you’re saying RAI no, RAW yes? Assuming we’re using commonsense about what PCs can physically wear, I mean. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Aug 20 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cellheim Rules as intended, definitely no. Rules as written, also no, unless we’re giving a pass to wearing to armors, then there’s a case for it. I don’t think the rules permit wearing both the armors in the question, but that wasn’t the problem you needed solving. If we assume that you can wear both armors, a strict and technical reading of the rules seems to allow the setup you describe. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 20 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas_Markov The rules say to use commensense so how using commonsense can you not wear something less bulky than clothing under armor? They even say that normally you can’t wear more than one set of armor rather than forbidding it in all cases \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Aug 20 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cellheim I just don’t think it works that way. But you can (and should) do what works for you and your table mates. If you assume you can do it, then your trick here seems to work out according to the wording of the arcane armor feature. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 20 at 18:58
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Per the DMG:

Use common sense to determine whether more than one of a given kind of magic item can be worn. A character can’t normally wear more than one pair of footwear, one pair of gloves or gauntlets, one pair of bracers, one suit of armor, one item of headwear, and one cloak. You can make exceptions; a character might be able to wear a circlet under a helmet, for example, or be able to layer two cloaks.

So you cannot wear two types of armor at the same time. Although a DM may say that you can wear two armor-like things at the same time; like a magic helm and magic boots.

Also, per the description of Molten Skin:

When you attune to it, the bronze adheres and contours to your skin. The armor can be worn under normal clothes, but it doesn't impede bodily functions.

It specifies it can be worn under clothes, but does not say it can be worn under other armor. Mithral armor also has a similar clause:

A mithral chain shirt or breastplate can be worn under normal clothes.


So, let's say you find a DM that lets you wear two armors at once

What do you hope to gain by this?

Using your example of Bronze Skin (Plate) and Efreeti Chain:

  • Both have weight and encumbrance. For this example you're at 120 lbs worth of armor.
  • You can only have one formula for figuring out AC. So it's either 19 for Efreeti Chain (AC 16 + 3) or 18 for Molten Bronze Skin (AC 18).
  • The skin gives the wearer fire resistance. It doesn't impose Disadvantage on Stealth, but you need at least a 15 Strength or else suffer a movement penalty. Unless this is your Arcane Armor so no requirement.
  • The chain give IMMUNITY to fire damage so much better than the skin. Now you DO have Disadvantage on Stealth, and this armor still has a 13 Strength requirement. Oh, and you can also talk Primordial and walk on lava.

So in most every way, just wearing the Efreeti Chain is better by itself without having to apply Bronze Skin first. And congrats on getting a legendary item and feeling the need that it's still not enough armor.

What I think you are asking for

The only reason for all of this shenanigans is so that you can wear the skin when there are times you cannot wear the chain.

  • Diplomatic meeting where the character wants to appear unarmed
  • Stealth missions (to remove the disadvantage)
  • Sleeping, bathing, or during times of "bodily functions" as the Molten Skin description puts it
  • The Chain is a secret (don't want certain people to know that you own it/wear it)

Or you think you always need to have Arcane Armor available. But here is all that gets you:

  • If the armor normally has a Strength requirement, the arcane armor lacks this requirement for you. (So if you're wearing just Chain, you don't even need Strength 13)
  • You can use the arcane armor as a spellcasting focus for your artificer spells. (Can. You can still use Smith's Tools for spell casting)
  • The armor attaches to you and can't be removed against your will. It also expands to cover your entire body, although you can retract or deploy the helmet as a bonus action. The armor replaces any missing limbs, functioning identically to a limb it replaces. (Are you missing any limbs that need to be replaced that a Regeneration or Wish spell couldn't handle?)
  • You can doff or don the armor as an action. The armor continues to be Arcane Armor until you don another suit of armor or you die. (This is odd and I'll cover it at the end)
  • Has built-in weapons, Thunder Gauntlets or Lightning Launchers, that get better at higher levels. (Just keep a normal weapon handy)
  • More infusions. (It's still Arcane Armor if you take it off so unless the Infusion is required for living, I don't know what to say)

In which case, a simpler solution would be Mage Armor and a Ring of Fire Resistance.

  • The Mage Armor spell is first level so it can be cast by a friendly Wizard or Sorcerer. If you're a Hexblade is is also available as an Invocation. It's 8 hours of AC 13 + Dexterity (which is probably small considering you prefer Heavy Armor, but it's still a factor). Maybe someone can load up a Ring of Spell Storing with five doses and you only use it when required?
  • The Ring of Fire Resistance will give the same resistance as the skin, also doesn't effect Stealth, uses the same Attunement slot as the skin, and as a bonus, doesn't care about your Strength.
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    \$\begingroup\$ The DMG says to use common sense first and foremost and then says that normally you wouldn’t be able to wear more than one set of armor. Molten Bronze Skin is not normal armor as it adheres to your skin and can be worn under clothing. Therefore by using common sense we can say that if you can wear clothes under armor than you could wear molten bronze skin under armor as its even less bulky than clothing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Aug 19 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mithral armor also has the same “can wear under clothes” phrase but I wouldn’t allow it to be worn under other armor either. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Aug 19 at 17:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is not asking if you can wear two armors at once. Assuming both armors are worn at the same time, can the Armorer make one of them into Arcane Armor? \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Aug 19 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @smbailey "Assuming you've broken the rules to allow this thing, does the rules allow you to do this other thing?" Really? This answer, and the other like it, are challenges to the frame of reference and perfectly reasonable answers. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich If a DM has allowed something then it is not against the rules, and a DM allowing something also does not mean that same DM has no regard for other rules. That being the case, I don't even see a rule broken here. The only "rule" being cited is the DMG guidance that normally you can't wear two sets of armor (which is immediately followed up with "you can make exceptions"). I'd say skin-tight armor that forms to the contours of your skin has already taken you past the point of normalcy as Cellheim stated above. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Aug 19 at 20:30
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Can't Wear Two Sets

Can't wear two sets of armor according to the rules of magical items.

A character can't normally wear more than one pair of footwear, one pair of gloves or gauntlets, one pair of bracers, one suit of armor, one item of headwear, and one cloak.

Would Only get AC from One if you Could

Sage Advice makes clear you can only use one formula for calculating your AC at a time.

These methods—along with any others that give you a formula for calculating your AC—are mutually exclusive; you can benefit from only one at a time. I

The Molten Bronze Armor is one way.

Breastplate 14 + Dex modifier (max 2) Half Plate 15 + Dex modifier (max 2) -- -- Plate 18

Normal armor is another, and Efreeti Chain +3 is Heavy Chain so it would use this formula:

Chain mail 16 [+3 from Efreeti Chain]

So, Molten Bronze Armor Plate would be 18 and Efreeti Chain would be 16 + 3 = 19. You can choose to take the 18 or the 19, but Rules as Written, you can't do 18+3.

Arcane Armor Only Works on One Anyway

If you could wear two sets, you could turn either into Arcane Armor, but not both. The lines here clearly assume one set of armor, because that is what the rules dictate.

As an action, you can turn a suit of armor you are wearing into Arcane Armor, provided you have smith’s tools in hand. ... The armor continues to be Arcane Armor until you don another suit of armor or you die.

Assume you Could... Benifit?

For the sake of argument and completeness, let's assume your DM allows it, despite being against rules as written.

  • If the armor normally has a Strength requirement, the arcane armor lacks this requirement for you.

Shouldn't be a big deal. Chain doesn't have strength requirement. You'd just make the Bronze Skin the Arcane Armor because it has a strength requirement. Having both doesn't gain you anything.

  • You can use the arcane armor as a spellcasting focus for your artificer spells.

You already have one arcane armor and the tools, so gaining another focus isn't a benefit after the first.

  • The armor attaches to you and can’t be removed against your will. It also expands to cover your entire body, although you can retract or deploy the helmet as a bonus action. The armor replaces any missing limbs, functioning identically to a limb it replaces.

Small to no benefit to having the outer layer unremovable also if it doesn't protect the +3, because the AC would still either be the 16 or the 18; you simply can't do the 21 by RAW anyway. So making the molten bronze skin the Arcane Armor still makes more sense. How often are your party stripped of their armor?

  • You can doff or don the armor as an action.

How often do get naked in battle? Donning the armor quickly would be nice but is there a reason to ever take the molten bronze skin off anyway?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a well written answer to a completely different question. Unfortunately, I have to flag NAA, this answer doesn’t address the question at all. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a frame of reference challenge. He's asking, "if I'm using two sets of armor, can they both be arcane?" My answer is "No. You can't use two sets of armor." \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 19:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Okay, but if the DM rules that they can, then this is a totally valid question that you haven’t begun to answer. A good frame challenge still solves the problem. This answer totally ignores the problem. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ "but if the DM rules that they can" Then the DM is already not a RAW DM, and the DM would have to rule. Because the rules don't let the hypothesis (the "if") then the rules don't cover the conclusion (the "then"). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is incorrect because it isn’t RAW that you can’t wear two sets of armor only that you couldn’t normally wear them due to bulkiness issues, but once that isn’t an issue it becomes entirely possible to wear two sets of armor. Also the +3 from efreeti chain is not part of its AC calculation but rather explicitly described as an AC bonus so it would stack just the same as braces of defense would. Also the question isn’t about turning both sets of armor into arcane armor but rather about turning one set into Arcane armor while wearing another set \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Aug 20 at 18:41
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Possibly, but I wouldn't allow it.

As you said, Arcane Armor stops being arcane armor if you put on another suit of armor (or die).

Technically speaking, in the scenario you describe, you aren't donning any armor after the Arcane Armor, so you haven't run afoul of the exact wording of the class ability. However, I think this is pretty clearly against the intent that your arcane armor is your one and only armor. "The artificer bonds with this armor, becoming one with it...", and they included a specific rule that you can't even put on a different suit of armor without screwing up that bond.

The flavor and design of the class are that your Arcane Armor is special, so bypassing that by slipping around the exact language is just cheesy. As a DM, I wouldn't allow you to do this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you support this answer? It is quite brief and does not support its primary assertion, that it is against the intent of the feature. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 18:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov how much experience with munchkins over the years is needed to support a DM being wary of the cheese attempt in the OP? (Back to the old "is this grounded in expertise" or not from the beta days). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 at 19:49

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