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In a recent dungeon crawl, I was ambushed by some grey ooze. The ooze managed to land a couple successful hits on me, which would normally cause my armor to degrade. However, I was using a set of mithral chain mail that I had found in a previous session. I know that the statistics for mithral and adamant items are found in the DMG, which leads me to believe they are magical, but their descriptions don't really imply that they are magical.

Is the mithral armor considered magical for the purpose of resisting effects like degrading from the ooze? I also know that adamant armor and weapons exist in our game. Would they follow the same ruling as mithral?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The question might better be asked "In what way are Mithral or Adamantine magical?" Based on the scant references in the books, this may not have a hard rule and require rulings ... the text of the question is well asked. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 5 '17 at 3:36
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There are magic and non-magic items made from adamantine

While the DMG lists Adamantine Armor as a magic item, some items made from adamantine are not magic.

Gargoyles resist damage from “nonmagical weapons that aren’t adamantine” (MM, p 140). It follows there would be nonmagical weapons that are adamantine.

So, adamantine weapons would strike gargoyles similarly to how magic weapons would, without being magic weapons, or even magic items. Mechanically, they are similar to silvered weapons (the phrasing in monsters’ resistances blocks are the same) but they defeat a different set of monsters’ damage resistances.

Xanathar’s Guide does not call Adamantium “Magical”

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (p. 78) has a section on adamantium weapons which describes adamatine as “an ultrahard metal found in meteorites and extraordinary mineral veins” but does not mention it being magical.

Xanathar’s lists the properties of weapons “made from or coated by” adamantine. These are distinct from the proprties of magic items. For example, adamantine weapons don’t get magic item resiliency.

Official Example (Spoiler Alert)

There is an example of such a weapon in official Wizard’s 5e material.

In The Lost Mine of Phandelver, the Spider Staff is a “black, adamantine staff” that “can be wielded as a quarterstaff.”

Note, the staff does not strike as a “magic quarterstaff” like the Staff of Power does. It is a magic item but not a magic weapon. As far as whomping things goes, it is a “nonmagical weapon made of adamantine.”

For mithral items, the rules say very little

I’m not aware of any mention of mithral in the core rules outside of the magic armor. A DM might follow the example of adamantine — that it’s a rare metal that is often found in magic items. Or they might rule it is inherently magical.

Magic Items are defined as such. Custom items are defined by your DM.

If an item is listed as a magic item then in general they would have the qualities common to magic items of their type. A custom item invented by your DM might have any properties.

The particular qualities of any particular item in your game are of course up your DM. Your character might (and probably should) learn whether an item is magical or not, and its properties, resistances, etc., by means such as an Identify spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It follows that adamantine (weapon) has a particular property that behaves the same as magical versus a gargoyle. It isn't unreasonable to conclude that adamantine is thus inherently magical, or, that it's magical character is restricted to a specific cases, like a gargoyle's skin. You raise an interesting point in the answer ... that may only be solved by a ruling. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 5 '17 at 3:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Not everything has to have a magic reason behind it, yeah? Couldn't they just be allergic to the metal? ;) Same verbiage is found on Golems though and we can probably agree they don't have allergies. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jan 5 '17 at 3:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth I agree with your point, in that the whole issue might be directly related to hardness (at the mechanical/simulationist level) but as that's never spelled out, magical is one way to resolve that ambiguity. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 5 '17 at 3:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LordHieros, thanks, and yikes, that SA makes a muddle of things. DMG has staves that can be wielded “as a quarterstaff” and those that strike “as a magic quarterstaff”— but the post seems to say they all are magic weapons, regardless of the wording in the DMG. Maybe I'll have to remove that passage — but the Xanathar guidance is pretty clear. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Jan 28 '18 at 22:17
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Mithral and Adamantine armor appear under the "Magic Items" header of the DMG, and are listed in the magic item tables (Adamantine armor is actually the very first entry on pg. 150). This means that they are magic items, with all the attendant properties.

I don't think there's any listing for adamantine weapons anywhere in the handbooks. Given that the armors made from those materials are magic, it's not a stretch to say that the corresponding weapons are also magic.

Lore-wise, this can be justified by saying that adamantine and mithral are inherently magical materials.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that the title and the body ask different questions but DMG p246 touches on Adamantine and Mithril being materials like wood and iron. So I guess would an adamantine paper clip be magical? \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jan 5 '17 at 3:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, and I tried to answer the question in the body. As for the paperclip, it is a bit ambiguous, as Adamantine was explicitly nonmagical in 3.5e, and I'd bet that the designers put the armor under magic items just to streamline things a bit. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jan 5 '17 at 3:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ agreed on the streamlining, their misuse of several words in the rules make be cringe at times, and I tend to rule that they meant it as part of the Treasure super-heading over the Magical Item sub-heading as it is a rare and wonderful item. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jan 5 '17 at 3:43
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Most metals block magical abilities (yet I'm not aware of normal metal protecting from magic, as it does in certain other game systems... {Palladium}-{cough}-{hack}-{wheeze}).

Adamantine is unusually strong; one listing for Adamantine armor states that it prevents Criticals. Conversely, a weapon made with adamantine might increase the likelihood of criticals, or do extra damage against armor.

Adamantine armor is listed as a magical item.

Mithral is light & flexible, imposing no penalty on Dex/Str checks. Mithral items often seem to list resistance to magic or psychic attacks.

Mithral armor is listed as a magical item.

I'm not aware of any armor material being resistant to acid damage (unless you count some crystals); doesn't mean it couldn't be made to resist it though.

From what I've read, it seems that just about any material can be endowed with magic; usually with the addition of gems as a requisite material. That said, I'm certain I've read somewhere that crafting certain magic items may require a specific material or alloy.

Mithral, adamantine, & orichalcum (copper-gold) are all extremely well suited to enchantment, even without adding a gem (I would still require a gem if energy is to be redirected, or stored). If an item doesn't specify that it is magical, it generally isn't, even if made from magic-conducting material.

An orichalcum sword which feels overly heavy might do only normal damage, until it is enchanted to do something more.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not aware of any gems that do what you say and of anything like orichalcum in this edition of DnD, where are you getting those references from? Also, this answer could be greatly improved by adding citations on each of your claims: What page in what book does it say that metals block magical abilities, for instance, what about adamantine weapons increasing crit chance, or mithral not imposing dex/str checks, and many of your other assertions. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 May 12 '18 at 7:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello, and welcome to RPG.SE! I'd suggest taking a look at the tour before continuing to answer questions here, as it looks like you're posting in a manner much better suited to a forum than this site. Here, we expect answers to answer the specific question posted, preferably with citations, and preferably concisely. You include a lot of information here that sounds like homebrew that doesn't actually relate directly to the question being asked, which might attract downvotes. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl May 12 '18 at 8:02

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