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A druid cast Heat Metal on the Arcane Armor worn by a warforged artificer armorer, who wanted to use an action to doff the red-hot Arcane Armor. The DM pointed out that a warforged needs an hour to remove armor because it's integrated into the warforged's body. The player suggested that the power to don or doff armor as an action is a magical property of Arcane Armor which supersedes the normal time requirements. The DM allowed the warforged artificer to remove the Arcane Armor as an action, and later explained the ruling on the following basis.

The rules for the warforged race state:

"To don armor other than a shield, you must incorporate it into your body over the course of 1 hour, during which you remain in contact with the armor. To doff armor, you must spend 1 hour removing it. You can rest while donning or doffing armor in this way." - ERLW p. 35

The rules for the artificer armorer subclass state:

"As an action, you can turn a suit of armor you are wearing into Arcane Armor, provided you have smith's tools in hand. You gain the following benefits while wearing this armor: [...] 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." - TCE p. 15

The game rules instruct that contradictions are resolved:

"Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins." - PH p. 7

The warforged rule applies to the entire race. The artificer rule applies only to the armorer subclass. Consequently, a warforged artificer armorer (1) requires one hour to don a suit of armor, as a requisite for making it into Arcane Armor, (2) may doff the Arcane Armor as an action, and (3) may don the Arcane Armor as an action.

Is this the correct ruling? Why or why not?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I added the 5e tag for you, as you cite several 5e works. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1, 2022 at 22:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve closed this as a duplicate, although the dupe target is about a different suit of armor, that armor has the exact same effect: you can doff it as an action. The answers there and the answers here should be interchangeable. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 2, 2022 at 10:21

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Yes, either is correct

The RAW do not unambiguously resolve this.

You have argued that the warforged rule is more general because it applies to the entire race and the artificer applies only to a specific subclass.

However, the warforged specific rule is a modification of a general rule that armour takes at least 1 minute to doff (PHB p.146) and that the artificer rule, while also a specific modification of this, is more general because it applies to all armour.

Neither argument is inherently more compelling; each person will have their own preference. Fortunately there is a rule on p.6 that deals with this “The DM narrates the result…”.

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Some, almost all, armors are covered by the more general rule of Warforged generally donning or doffing an armor. Arcane Armor creates an exception for a specific suit of armor. Therefore the Arcane Armor is clearly more specific, because it does not stop the general rule from applying otherwise.


Similar logic can be applied to Cast-off Armor (in Xanathar, paywalled link):

You can doff this armor as an action.

This specific magic item providing a feature should over-ride any class-specific restrictions.


Fluff-wise (subjective), in both cases donning the armor (for first time with Arcane Armor, every time with Cast-off Armor) is needed to integrate with the Warforged body. After integration, it makes sense the magic of the armor is also integrated, enabling its use.


Game balance-wise, a racial feature taking away one of the core features of a specific subclass doesn't sound very good. I didn't immediately find any other example of such (please comment if you can give an example). Features may become duplicate (darkvision for example, or weapon/armor proficiencies), they may mesh together (a dwarf druid doesn't want to use metal armor RAW) but not really taken away.

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