Can Wizards Wear Elven Chain

Bob Roberts
• Sunday, 24 January, 2021
• 8 min read

Made of interlocking metal rings, a chain shirt is worn between layers of clothing or leather. This armor offers modest protection to the wearer's upper body and allows the sound of the rings rubbing against one another to be muffled by outer layers.

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By Joel Hahn Givens: Rules: Players Handbook (Revised), p. 42, top of 2nd column: “ Wizards cannot wear any armor, for several reasons. Firstly, most spells require complicated gestures and odd posturings by the caster and armor restricts the wearer's ability to do these properly.

Secondly, the wizard spent his youth (and will spend most of his life) learning arcane languages, poring through old books, and practicing his spells. This leaves no time for learning other things (like how to wear armor properly and use it effectively).

Ibid., p. 128 (bottom of right-hand column): “If a character is attempting to wrestle in armor, the modifiers on Table 57 are used.” Ibid., p. 46: “Restrictions: Multi-classed wizards gain the full benefits of all their classes, but must abide by any restrictions that aren't specifically negated by a class benefit.... While a multi-classed fighter/wizard may wear any armor he chooses, the armor itself interferes with the character's ability to cast spells.

Commentary: The PH descriptions are for “standard” mages, rather than the exceptions to the rules. I suspect many people differ on the AC benefits of someone utterly clueless in the ways of armor and used to just using innate agility (or magical ability) to dodge attacks donning a suit of armor; this section seems to imply that they are nil or possibly that any AC benefits are negated by the wearer's lack of knowledge not to do things like raise one's arms to cover one's face and thus expose the armpits when defending against a swordsman or just stand there in the face of the imminent attack with faith that the armor is all-protecting--which, in a system that deals with a combat round that involves dodging, parrying, attacking, tiring, etc.

However, it is written elsewhere in the Players Handbook thieves may don any armor at the expense of losing some of their thief abilities for the duration. The spell disruption problem is enough to drive most mages to spurn armor completely, and the utter lack of any protective bonus convinces the rest to not bother.

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A fighter/mage dual-class (assuming the levels work out so that class-ability restrictions are lifted) cannier armor, or cast spells, but not both at the same time. Armor prevents a full range of arm and body motions in such a way that, while it allows a sword to be swung and an arrow to be knocked, it prevents wizards from performing the somatic component of spells, and the ability to get any useful defense out of armor hinges in part on being trained to properly use armor of some kind.

One interesting side effect of all this is that if one has captured an enemy mage, the best way to leave him mobile (and not requiring a fireman's carry to transport him to the nearest jail) yet completely cut off his spell-casting ability is to take the time to strap him into a spare suit of armor. This appears to be something left out of the “main” game, though I think I understand the reasoning behind it.

(Note: Every single ADD campaign I've played in used this optional rule to some extent.) Such research would take a lot of time, however, and each variant should count towards a mage's maximum number of spells per level, so while a few mages may wish to go that route, most will probably opt for more adventuring time and a greater variety of spells.

Use the Optional Rules in S&P to create a variant wizard who had a bit of martial training in his background, but had to (probably) skimp on his magic knowledge as a result; rather than be mediocre in everything, the mage simply forces on specific schools of magic and left a few schools unlearned. Padded armor isn't all that much of an extra edge--enough to tempt some players, but not enough that it would probably become a problem; trading off two school for leather will work fine for some characters, but most players will think twice before cutting the character off from 25% of the normal spell base.

It makes logical sense that they should be able to cast in armor by taking the ability--especially since Fighter/ Wizards, who can use any armor but not cast spells as it is, can take the ability; and since the equivalent S&P wizards are able to do so for identical cost (and the Spam ability list is really not all that much more than an extension of the S&P list)--but it is quite possible for a DM to use the Spam optional creation guidelines and decide that a mage with the Armor ability is like a “default” Fighter/Mage: either wear armor, or cast spells, but not both simultaneously. ), p. 20: “very cold clothing is thick enough so that (at the Dungeon Master's discretion) it may be considered to impart an armor class of 8 to its wearer.

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To balance the benefit that magic-users and illusionists can gain from being bundled up, the Dungeon Master may wish to rule that the wearing of thick, bulky clothing inhibits the character's ability to move freely. To be consistent with the way armor is treated, the above should read that any DM choosing to give the AC bonus should also deny spell use, since it is the bulk of the clothing that both gives the AC and also restricts movement.

This goes for any bulky or restrictive conditions, from being tied up to very heavy ceremonial/traditional robes to parkas to armor. Ramifications: None, really; this merely deals with an eventuality that is not discussed in the current rule books and applies the “default” standards consistently to the new situation.

To cast spells successfully and get full AC bonuses from armor (or see #1 for this last part). Ramifications: It's either a one-shot, single-case scenario, or it's easy to make the priesthood in question a really rare occurrence, with strictly limited membership numbers (and rigidly enforced maximums, to boot); there's more control needed by the DM in the latter case, and it means adding a new priesthood to the world, something most DM's would rather not do.

Allow study, or a NP or WP to give a mage the ability to cast spells in armor. In any case, it's very possible for role players to nullify the easy bonus this grants to mages by playing interesting characters--regardless of the class bonuses--rather than powerful beings, and thus potentially select other classes instead of opting for a minimized/maximized mage or choose to not spend proficiency points on this ability.

Such an ability may even balance out the ever-greater powers some see as being given to Fighters in the main rules and with each new supplement, what with ambidexterity, two-weapon style, blind-fighting, being able (with sufficient strength) to Wald a long sword or Katrina in each hand, and so forth. As part of their training, multi-classed fighter/mages learn to cast spells in armor; however, dual-classed fighter/mages, having only been one class and then switched to a second, do not have this ability.

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Ramifications: Multi-classed Fighter/Mages become really popular; unless there is some way to curb the use of demi-human characters, (like with racial hatreds), or find some way for creating a drawback for Fighter/Mages, you may soon find yourself with an entire group clamoring to play the most powerful character type around. This ramification can be nullified, as above, by a group of players who are more interested in roles than the potentiality of attaining almost any goal they set their minds to without much challenge whatsoever.

In older editions, wizards couldn't wear armor and cast spells, with rare exceptions like enchain. Wizards could cast spells in plate mail just fine, they just weren't proficient in any armor and would have to spend several feats and meet steep ability requirements to wear it.

Does the bulkier armor interfere with the somatic gestures required for casting? If you can nail down what magic is, then you can also nail down a satisfactory way of restricting it. This is just an absolute of 5e (wizards cannot wear armor, a dwarf cannot be poisoned, elves cannot be charmed, reapers cannot “miss”) that annoys me on one level Without a clear understanding of how magic “works”, it is hard to nail down a good reason why it does not work (or even if we still don't want it to work).

However, a wizard's AC should be mediocre even in plate, and they should have access to a spell like mage armor that comes close to the same level of protection. I prefer ASF over a blunt “cannot cast”, but I can take the latter as long as there exists some option (albeit expensive) to make it at least possible.

I also thought that 3ed should have a core option (e.g. feat) to mitigate ASF anyway. But overall it's a D&D sacred cow, so it should stay in / come back to the game. The explanations given for it, such as the idea that it interferes with the somatic gestures required by most spells, are nonsensical.

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In order for something like chain mail or even plate armor (which don't really inhibit the movement of one's limbs, or else it would be difficult to sword fight while wearing them), the somatic components of spells would have to be so arduous that one would have to be a contortionist to perform them. Why would wearing chain mail or even full plate interfere with that gesture? Of course, we all know the real reasons that the armor restriction exists.

The typical Gandalf-like wizard is just one of the many wizard archetypes, and I don't think it's right to force people to conform to that mold, especially not in a system that is supposed to be a big tent and be all modular and have lots of options. As for game balance, I don't see why a wizard in armor is overpowered at all, especially if he has to invest a lot of character resources, such as feats, in order to get it.

I've voted for “armor shouldn't restrict spell casting at all”, but I'll add a touch of “other”:I think a good way to provide niche protection is the method implemented in certain computer RPGs: When designing wearable magic items, place effects that enhance arcane spell casting capabilities on low-armour or non-famous items like robes, hats and gloves, and place effects that enhance martial capabilities on armor, helms, gauntlets etc. When a wizard wear armor they don't have prof. With they have disadvantage with magic attack rolls and the targets of their spells have advantage with saving throws.

If you can get a heavily enchanted suit of armor, you can also get rings and amulets of protection. But if you're low level and money is scarce, there's even a greater need to be able to done at least leather armor, so you're not completely unprotected when exploring caves and ruins.

A little Devil's advocate here, but we should bear in mind that the rules we have at the moment are minimal and basic. So the basic assumption by D&D Next is that wizards in armor are unable to cast spells, while one DM might adopt an ASF system and another might allow full and free use of armor for mages.

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I figure it's only fair that if a Wizard actually spends a Feat on Armor Proficiency (or chooses a Military/Soldier Background, etc. Though I do think that spell failure chances for Medium and Heavy Armor are thematically appropriate.

3rd Edition prions start with no armor proficiency and have no spell failure. I fully support wizards casting in armor, as long as they've taken the appropriate training, and meet the prerequisites. I like the idea of somatic components in casting, but not to the point where armor would restrict them.

I kind of feel like that you should be able to cast in armor if you're proficient in it, i.e. if you invested some resource in something you should be able to do it. Mostly I'm thinking multi class characters should be able to use their class features, for instance a fighter/mage ought to be able to wear armor and cast spells, I mean they are giving something up to be able to do that.edit: My vote is that armor shouldn't interfere with spell casting, provided the wearer is proficient in its use.

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\$\begin group\I've just read the D&D 5e basic rules, and I'm not sure I'm up to speed regarding casting spells while clad in armor. Because of the mental focus and precise gestures required for spell casting, you must be proficient with the armor you are wearing to cast a spell.

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Does this mean that a character who starts out with a single level fighter (or any other class with heavy armor proficiency) can from then on gain levels as wizard and forever more cast spells, without any penalty whatsoever, while wearing full plate? For example, Diatonic Sorcerers get permanent Mage Armor for free at 1st level, which provides 13 + Dexterity Modifier AC.

If you take a mage with high Dexterity, then it only gets worse as the armor gets heavier. In addition, any mundane armor heavier than 20 pounds will give you Disadvantage on Stealth checks, and truly heavy armor won't let you apply your Dexterity Modifier at all.

Furthermore, the only spell casters who have access to meta magic (which, aside from magic gear, was the primary way ASF was mitigated) are Sorcerers, which is also the class that needs heavy armor the least. Magic gear is much harder to come by now, so the likelihood of you finding a magic suit of armor made to be light and maneuverable is much more remote, thus removing yet another way of mitigating ASF.

It is not unbalanced because the there are many ways to increase the AC of a Wizard, from Mage Armor to bracers of defense etc. Of course, you'd be better off taking 1 level of war domain cleric, but the cost of dipping in regard to stat improvements or feats is still there.

It's not a departure from D&D tradition, because in all versions, if you picked the right combinations you could negate the arcane spell failures for all intents and purposes. The only people who missed out were those who lacked the system mastery to create the character concept.

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On the other hand, the generic wizard always had a hard time casting spells in various types of armor, and in this edition is not merely difficult, but impossible to do so unless you choose the correct rule combinations, which allows you to do so.

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