I asked my players OoC what sorts of treasure they'd be interested in, and the druid asked for armor. He had some pretty creative ideas about bone, turtle shells, etc. (ethically sourced, of course.)

Trouble is, the only (effective) non-metal armors in the PHB are light leather and Hide (RAI they can wear studded leather as well, though some DMs may not allow it). So I feel like I'm on my own, which I'd rather not be since I'm not all that familiar with GMing 5e.

So, my question in 2 parts:

  1. Did I miss something in the PHB or DMG that makes it make sense for Druids to have proficiency with "Light and Medium armor", not just leather and hide? Is there, for example, dragon-scale armor (which would be perfect but doesn't seem to be in there)?

  2. If not, and we're down to house rules, has anyone tried bypassing the no-metal restriction by allowing powerful armor to be made from other materials, and what are the pros and cons?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @KS Done. It's kind of a weird thematic restriction anyway - they're not prohibited from using clocks or scimitars or guns, just armor? Anyway, edited. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 20:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you look at the official D&D pre-generated character PDFs, the Human Druid wears studded leather. media.wizards.com/2015/downloads/dnd/HumanDruid1-10.zip It's hard to think of a more convincing endorsement than that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 18:53

5 Answers 5


Dungeon Master Guide, page 165

Dragon Scale Mail

Armor (scale mail), very rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC, you have advantage on saving throws against the Frightful Presence and breath weapons of dragons, and you have resistance to one damage type that is determined by the kind of dragon that provided the scales (see the table). Additionally, you can focus your senses as an action to magically discern the distance and direction to the closest dragon within 30 miles of you that is of the same type as the armor. This special action can't be used gain until the next dawn.

The armor has also base features of a scale armor, which means:
- it will grant AC of 14 + 1(magic) + Dex modifier (max 2)
- disadvantage of stealth

If it is not enough, you could make this item legendary, by increasing the armor bonus by 1. Then it would grant 16 + dex mod (max 2).

If your character relies on stealth and high dexterity (16+) you could get feat Medium Armored Master to negate armor's disadvantage and increase max dex cap to 3.

Anyway it appears that you have missed the most important Rule 0.

The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge. You're the DM, and you are in charge of the game. That said, your goal isn't to slaughter the adventurers but to create a campaign world that revolves around their actions and decisions, and to keep your players coming back for more! If you're lucky, the events of your campaign will echo in the memories of your players long after the final game session is concluded.

Dungeon Master's Guide, page 4

Your players may dislike it but, as Game Master you can create anything that you would like to. Although you shouldn't ruin the fun for everybody, as it would be simply immature.

Druids have problems with metal equipment? Why won't you make a full plate armor made from draconic bones, skin of Tarrasque, scales of Bahamut/Tiamat or pure diamonds. Anything is possible, use your imagination! That is what role playing is about.

You should try to find out the consequences yourself, however if you find it difficult, there are possible consequences, which I often use:

  • The weight is increased or decreased, maybe even multiple times in comparision to the original.
  • Change of the value.
  • Unique materials are needed to maintain the armor's performance. Blood, grease, saliva, extract from unique species.
  • (for magic armor)The items work only, when all pieces of the set are gathered.

The more positive aspects may be based on already existing ones or the source of the armor.


  • Granite breastplate weights 3 times than normally (60 pounds), costs 300 gp and has a disadvantage on stealth tests.
  • Shell full plate armor costs 2000 gp, and weights 50 pounds and must be regularly treated with Plesiosaurus' mucus.
  • Diamond full plate armor is priceless, gives immunity to critical hits and resistance to physical, non-magic damage.
  • Hide made from Sahuagins gives advantage for underwater stealth tests.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this answer would be stronger if it actually tried to teach the OP to fish, instead of just throwing him a bone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Olorin
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 4:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not a fan of the answer after your most recent edit. I'm well aware of rule 0, but just because I can do whatever i want doesn't mean it won't have consequences. I'm hoping to hear from someone who's already done it what those consequences might be. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 0:22

1) You didn't miss anything, Druids are inherently unarmored due to their ability to use Wild Shape which does well with mitigating damage as listed here on page 67:

•When you transform, you assume the beast's hit points and Hit Dice. when you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed. However, if you revert as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to your normal form. For example, if you take 10 damage in animal form and have only 1 hit point left, you revert and take 9 damage. As long as the the excess damage doesn't reduce your normal form to 0 hit points you aren't knocked unconscious.

I believe in first edition druids were unable to use metal because it interfered with their magic, though I have no source for that.

2) As far as house rules go remember Fun is KING in D&D. It would be really easy to take the stats for appropriate leather armor such as Hide, add a +1 to it and call it Turtleshell armor. I'd keep the meta information out of the player's hands, but I prefer to keep as much magic in the game as possible, and just allow my players to enjoy the world. If you do this, there are plenty of rules on values and ways to implement magic armor in the DMG Page 285.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how you draw the connection between non-metal Armor and wild shape. Other metal equipment (e.g. weapons) melds into the wild shape no worries: why is metal Armor different? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ In previous editions, metal armor was prohibited for druids, like breaking the precepts of your religion as a paladin/cleric, and you could still wear it, but you would lose all your druid powers until you took the metal armor off and atoned. I don't know as 5e has similar punishments or not, but thats been canon up to this point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnomejon
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gnomejon 5e doesn't have similar punishments for Druid characters, for the same reasons that it doesn't have any for Cleric and Paladin characters. The Druid class is not the same as druidic orders, and viceversa. Shunning the use of armor, shields or weapons made primarily of forged metal on phylosophical grounds makes sense for the fluff of a religion, not for the rules of a Class that is only tangentially related to the broader group of religions that includes that one. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 12:30

There are two parts to consider for any homerule:

  • Game balance: will this new thing be too powerful?
  • Flavor: will this be cool and make sense in the game world?


Moon Druids lose the benefits of armor in beastforms, so I will only consider Land Druids. They are more or less identical to Clerics, same spell progression and HP, similar spells, combat abilities and saving throw proficiencies.
The one big difference is the need and availability of AC. In the front row they need the same, and if they try to use ranged cantrips the Druids need better, as the range of Produce Flame is half that of Sacred Flame, and inside most monsters' walking distance.
So even if Druids would generally need higher AC than Clerics, they have lower. Wis 16, Dex 14 is quite common for both as starting attributes, this means AC 16 for a Cleric and AC 14 for a Druid without shields. Later, when you have more money, a Cleric can buy higher AC, but not the Druid.
For this reason I think that introducing better armors for Druids actually improves game balance.


Now that we established that Druids should get armors above Hide, how could they look like? There are some great non-metal armor ideas is the Dark Sun rulebooks of previous editions. Or in an unofficial one for 5E.
Basically rigid armors like Breastplate could be created from rigid materials, like turtle shell, or a Giant Scorpion's hard chitin plates, and flexible armors like Chain Shirt from strong but flexible stuff, think Rhino hide.

How to get it

You have two options to introduce this, depending on how much time you want to dedicate to your Druids' armor:

  • Fast: Druids are not stupid, they know better armor means life, and they naturally have the expertise to create it, and access to the raw materials. So they have been using these for ages, but these are uncommon and expensive, so not listed in the PHB. The player pays 100 golds extra above the armor's base price, and that's it.
  • Slow: You create one quest to find that one armorer who can make a Breastplate from the thorax of a Giant Scorpion, another quest to find and kill it, and a third one as a payment for the armorer.

The second one makes it feel more special, but the other players might resent you spending so much time and effort on the Druid.


As a specific example, From playing a Druid in DCI Adventurers League games (specifically "The Quest for Sporedome") I have a magic Item cert for a set of Half-Plate of Poison Resistance (Highest AC medium armor). The armor is explicitly usable by Druids, as it specifies on the cert that the plate is made from petrified giant mushrooms.

And seeing as these adventure modules are now being sold officially via DMs Guild, they are definitively published official first party supplements.

Further Information: It's worth noting, I play a Circle of the Moon Druid, and so the only time the extra 3 ac from having half-plate vs hide apply is when I'm either standing back and casting just for a change of pace, or during the surprise round of an ambush.


It's a bit of work but look up Iron Wood, both the spell from 3.5 and the actual tree. I hope this hint helps, as this is how I dealt with it for my players. I made a whole quest out of it, so my druid could feel stronger about it.

I did consider just giving it to him but decided that it was an old art from a time long forgotten and would have to be researched and relearned. The armor was easy to find but the spell took some time.

He was so happy with the idea that he crafted his own armor from wood and magic. It was equal to full plate in all respects except it was wood and not metal.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How did other players feel about this? Not every class gets access to heavy armor, and this bypasses that. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 18:42

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