Lets say I'm a sorcerer disguised as a fighter and I'm wearing that fighter's plate armor. According to RAW, I can't cast spells because I'm not proficient in heavy armor. Is there any way (in RAW) I can doff the armor the moment a fight breaks out?

I was thinking I could teleport out of the armor but that would be a waste of a 7th level spell slot.

If there is no way in RAW I'm open to suggestions of how I could convince a DM to let me do it, e.g. rigging the armor to fall off when a single strap is cut.

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Short Answer

No, you need 5 minutes to doff plate armor. You could use illusion or possibly transmutation to create the appearance of armor. To persuade your DM to have easy-off armor you might have to pay a real world or game world cost.

Long answer follows..

RAW

The RAW say that Heavy Armor takes 5 minutes to doff (PHB 146), so instant doffing not possible.

You also can't teleport out of it, because as you say you can't cast spells in it.

Illusion

It sounds like you don't actually want to use the armor as armor (you want to take it off as soon as combat begins), so why not just create it as an illusion? As an example, Disguise Self seems to do the trick. It's a first level spell too, so much 'cheaper' than teleport! If you're high enough level to be using seventh-level spell slots then your spell save DC is going to be quite tough to beat (in terms of others seeing through the illusion).

You make yourself — including your clothing, armor, weapons, and other belongings on your person —look different until the spell ends or until you use your action to dismiss it.

Even so it would take your first action of the combat to dismiss the illusion. However, you could use a Hat of Disguise (DMG 173), and in that case it would just be a case of taking off the hat, a free action:

While wearing this hat, you can use an action to cast the disguise self spell from it at will. The spell ends if the hat is removed. (DMG 173)

Transmutation

If you would prefer not to use an illusion, you could use a transmutation spell. For example, you could see if your DM would let you use Alter Self, though the wording of the spell is unclear as to if you can actually create the appearance of armor.

You transform your appearance. You decide what you look like, including your height, weight, facial features, sound of your voice, hair length, coloration, and distinguishing characteristics

"Clothing and armor" are not mentioned, so your DM would have to rule this one.

Persuading your DM

If you really want to go with armor which falls off quickly (which is a hilarious image!), there are two basic ways to convince your DM:

  • Real world: make them cookies, do their laundry, etc.
  • Game world: pay enough GP, go on a quest to find a suitably qualified inventor (a Dragonlance Gnome Tinkerer springs to mind), do it yourself (using Smith's tools), etc.

In any case your DM can put serious limitations on the fake armor, like it's difficult to move in, or one hit and it falls off. Your DM might also refuse outright if it doesn't fit the tone of your campaign.

  • 7
    @user21897 Just don't wear the illusury gauntlets. Have them hanging from your belt as part of the illusion, or something. – GMJoe Mar 18 '15 at 3:10
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    Nobody wants to shake a hand wearing lobstered steel anyway! – SevenSidedDie Mar 18 '15 at 3:13
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    Pro tip: For armor that looks realistic, acts realistic, but is definitely not realistic, actors are the most likely NPCs to have such things. – Zibbobz Mar 18 '15 at 15:14
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    Does it actually matter that it would take an action to dismiss Disguise Self? It's not like the illusion itself is going to prevent you from casting spells, right? – Chris Hayes Mar 18 '15 at 22:38
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    Xanathar's Guide to Everything has an armor that is quick doff, if you want to add that into this answer. – KorvinStarmast Sep 14 at 12:15

In Xanathar's Guide to Everything (p. 136), there is a new common magic item that does exactly this: Cast-Off Armor.

Armor (light, medium, or heavy), common

You can doff this armor as an action.

Note that it doesn't change the time needed to don the armor.

  • @KorvinStarmast It's a common magic item. – emilcv Sep 14 at 12:20
  • Thanks for the update; nice, concise answer. – KorvinStarmast Sep 14 at 14:31

I would accept a set of armor that would drop away at the pull of a cord. It would be useless as armor (but would carry all the penalties of the armor as it would be just as bulky and heavy.) It would require a good armorsmith to manufacture as it wouldn't be standard--you wouldn't normally build armor with a bunch of seams like that. I would figure 5x the cost.

Also, this only applies to basically solid armor. I wouldn't allow chain to be rigged that way, there's no way to hide the joints.

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