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Adamantine armour/weapons made by the drow are said to degrade if exposed to sunlight, but does this apply to gear crafted from adamantine by other races as well?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you include a reference to a source that says that drow-made adamantine weapons degrade if exposed to sunlight? As it stands, I suspect this question is based on a faulty premise. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 30 '15 at 0:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Drow-made magic items and adamantine gear degrading in sunlight is a thing from earlier editions' versions of the Forgotten Realms, I believe. I don't know if it's been carried forward into 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 30 '15 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe Oh, I know it features heavily in FR books, but I get the impression the question is meant to be about D&D 5e, hence why I was wondering about the OP's source. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 30 '15 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman It predates FR. That detail comes from EGG's original module. See the deleted answer for details. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 19 at 3:23
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No, sunlight-sensitive gear is a Drow-specific thing, not a general property of adamantine

(OOC -- what do Drow make their gear from? PVC with no UV-resistance modifiers? :P)

The applicable entries are p. 142 of the DMG for Drow-made gear:

Drow. The item is half the normal weight. It is black and inscribed with spiders and webs in honor of Lolth. It might function poorly, or disintegrate, if exposed to sunlight for 1 minute or more.

and p. 150 for Adamantine Armor:

Adamantine Armor

Armor (medium or heavy, but not hide), uncommon

This suit of armor is reinforced with adamantine, one of the hardest substances in existence. While you're wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit.

Note that the description of the latter says nothing about who made it, or whether it's sunlight-sensitive or not, so it's rather safe to assume it's not sunlight sensitive by default. Double-check with your DM, of course, though!

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    \$\begingroup\$ "what do Drow make their gear from? PVC with no UV-resistance modifiers?" - it's likely that all adamantine has magic woven into it, and the magic used by them depends on the darkness and is harmed by sunlight. \$\endgroup\$ – Random832 Apr 30 '15 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whatever the drown make their gear from - something happens to make it half normal weight. I suspect that's what would cause Drow Adamantine to turn to tissue paper. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim B Apr 30 '15 at 22:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay Random832 is pretty close to the cannon explanation. In older editions' versions of the Forgotten Realms setting, almost all Drow-made magic was dependant on a kind of magical ambient radiation common in the underdark but not found on the surface, and which was gradually degraded by direct exposure to sunlight. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 9 '15 at 2:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe -- understood re: FR canon on UD magic -- the line about PVC with no UV-resistance modifiers was a joke about material properties ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Oct 9 '15 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay Heh, I thought that might be the case. I figured the FR explanation might be useful information for readers looking for an in-setting justification for this rule, though. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 9 '15 at 4:40
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I would personally go with the "specific beats general". The description for Drow made gear lists, on page 142 (DMG) in the table Who created it or was intended to use it?, as:

Drow. The item is half the normal weight. It is black and inscribed with spiders and webs in honor of Lolth. It might function poorly, or disintegrate, if exposed to sunlight for 1 minute or more. [sic]

This quality likely holds true for most general Drow made gear. Note the reference to "might" in the description which gives your DM a lot of leeway to interpret the rule and might allow gear that is not harmed by sunlight. For example, why would clay pots start disintegrating if they were made by Drow instead of Dwarves? Moreover, this table should be used for RP flair in my opinion and less to actually determine physical qualities of an item that you acquire. But that is up to the DM.

On the other hand, Adamantine Armour is a very specific item with very specific qualities that are listed on page 150 of the DMG as:

Adamantine Armor

Armor (medium or heavy, but not hide), uncommon

This suit of armor is reinforced with adamantine, one of the hardest substances in existence. While you're wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit. [sic]

While nothing would contradict, at least not in the RAW an Adamantine Armour made by Drows that disintegrates in sunlight, I'd be cautious with having these magic items be of the same rarity. After all they may have a drawback (if it is Drow made) or an advantage if made by another race.

Finally I'd like to offer food for thought; no other description that I skimmed through on the table I mentioned above contains any concrete rules and most contain only flavour text. If introducing disadvantages, be sure to balance RP and combat function of said items.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The reason why drow gear disintegrated was almost certainly to deny players treasure, while giving drow NPCs-built-like-PCs magic toys to use. They have +4 swords, +3 armor, wands of badassery -- but the gear melted away when the players took it back to down as loot. \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Apr 30 '15 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ As I said, it can be. But one needs to be careful when to apply it and to what items. I am not saying it is not possible or that this isn't how it used to be. But in 5e magic items are designed to be quite rare if following the RAW. Hence, GMs need to be aware of how to apply the Drow trait consistently with the game's design in mind. That being said, the question was simply on the traits of race-specific gear \$\endgroup\$ – Eric May 1 '15 at 7:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk There was nothing "almost" about that. Gygax' early modules had quite a bit of "DM versus Player" tone to them. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 19 at 3:17
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The drow themselves do not create adamantine weapons. They only buy it from the duergars and enchant it. So the enchantment would be destroyed by sunlight, but the weapon itself wouldn't.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That seems like an interesting point, but can you support your answer somehow? If you can find sources to back up your statements, this answer would be improved a lot. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Sep 18 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd love to see the lore/source on that, even if it is from an earlier edition or a Dragon Mag article. Got a source? (You have stirred a vague/long ago memory with that ... ) Sounds like something from 2e AD&D ... sorry memory is very foggy on that. The original 1e module had the items themselves rotting and falling apart. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 19 at 3:18

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