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Can non-dwarves wear Dwarven Plate or would it have to be custom-fitted first? It was suggested to me that another option is to wear the armor with penalties.
I think my player is asking in more general terms of, if you find a suit of Dwarven Plate, can non-dwarfs wear it? Do dwarfs make dwarf plate for non-dwarfs? Are these custom made suits of armor?

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If it's made by dwarves, we call it dwarven. If it's made by elves, we call it elven. Just because it's called Dwarven Plate does not mean it's made only for dwarves.

For magic items (which is what Dwarven Plate is), page 140 of the DMG states;

In most cases, a magic item that's meant to be worn can fit a creature regardless of size or build. Many magic garments are made to be easily adjustable, or they magically adjust themselves to the wearer.

Rare exceptions exist. If the story suggests a good reason for an item to fit only creatures of a certain size or shape, you can rule that it doesn't adjust. For example, armor made by the drow might fit elves only. Dwarves might make items usable only by dwarf-sized and dwarf-shaped characters.

And as Quentin states, for general rules on armour there's page 144 of the PHB;

In most campaigns, you can use or wear any equipment that you find on your adventures, within the bounds of common sense. For example, a burly half-orc won't fit in a halfling’s leather armor, and a gnome would be swallowed up in a cloud giant’s elegant robe.

The DM can impose more realism. For example, a suit of plate armor made for one human might not fit another one without significant alterations, and a guard’s uniform might be visibly ill-fitting when an adventurer tries to wear it as a disguise.

There's also nothing in the item's description that restricts it to only dwarven characters. Unlike the Dwarven Thrower which specifically says it needs to be attuned to a dwarf.

So, as a general rule, whether found or custom made, (within reason) it can be worn by any race.
It's then up to you to decide what limitations/realism you add to it I.E if it's found, does it auto adjust to fit non-dwarves or would they have to find someone to adjust it for them, are the dwarves actually willing to make this very rare magical armour for other races without good reason.

One thing to remember though is be consistent. If you put restrictions on one piece of armour (magical or not) you should also apply restrictions to others.

Another thing to consider is to ask the other players (and DM if you're not DMing) what level of immersion they want.
Do they want to simply be able to wear any armour they come across or do they want that extra bit of realism that makes them drag their loot half way across the country to find someone willing the make the necessary adjustments.

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Looking through the rules, I can't find any specific guidance for:

  • Dwarven Plate
  • Magic armour
  • Regular armour

So, going by the RAW: Yes. Non-dwarves can happily wear it.

Page 144 of the Player's Handbook provides an optional rule which would require that armour be adjusted to fit the individual for a cost before it would be wearable.


3.x had rules for plate armour that required it be tailored to the individual but also rules that magic armour would resize to fit, which would exclude Dwarven Plate from that limitation.


Ultimately, this comes down to a combination of the level of realism you want in your game, how "Dwarven" you want to make Dwarven Plate and what you set Dwarven attitudes in your world to be.

"We have found some loot! Let us use it to go and kill more monsters and take their stuff!" is a perfectly valid and fun play style. You wouldn't want to put barriers in the way of characters who have acquired nice armour if this is the type of game you are playing.

"We have found some loot, but the coincidence that this plate armour would just fit one of us would strain credibility! Let us ask the local armourer to modify it for us." is also fine and suits lots of people.

And then, "We have found some loot, but we can't use it! Let us seek out a Dwarven artisan who knows how to work this rare and precious armour so that we can use it!" can develop an interesting storyline for the game to follow.

Then you get to find answers to questions such as "Will dwarves provide non-dwarves with their special armour?", "Where can we find someone willing to make the modifications?", and "Will this turn out to be the lost armour of a dwarven bloodline and what reward will we be offered to return it?"

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