Any time someone asks about whether or not Druids can wear metal armor or use metallic weapons, it is almost certain to prompt a lengthy discussion with no clear answer.
Those in favor of the idea claim that metal is a natural resource. Making weapons, armor, and tools out of metal is no different than using wood to make a fire.
Those against the idea of Druids using metal claim that metal disrupts the Druid’s connection to nature. This is largely a holdover from previous editions of D&D where Druids who wear metal would lose their spells for the day.
So let’s examine the options in D&D 5e to answer that burning question: “can Druids wear metal?”
The PHB’s Text on Druids Wearing Metal
As with most things D&D, it’s best to start at square one: the Player’s Handbook.
The Player’s Handbook says that Druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal.
This has often been likened to something like vegetarianism for example. A vegetarian chooses not to eat meat, but could if they chose to.
Beyond this, the Player’s Handbook doesn’t say anything further. Equipping a metallic breastplate will not summon 20,003 squirrel spirits to tear the Druid apart or any other such punishment.
Furthermore, the Druid has proficiencies with many weapons (daggers, scimitars, sickles, etc.) that are often made with metal. Are those not able to be used? If not, then why would the Druid have proficiency in them?
As written in the PHB, Druids make the decision not to use armor or shields that are made of metal.
Because this is a decision being made by the Druid, we have options!
It isn’t unreasonable to expect some armors or equipment to be made of nonmetal materials.
Shields or breastplates could be made from bone or particularly sturdy chitin. Scale mail may be made from the scales of drakes or dragons.
With some creativity, these items can certainly be incorporated into your game. Not only do they add to the immersion, but they can also make for some fantastic adventure hooks.
While standard shops may not have this type of equipment, it’s very likely that the party can meet some outdoorsy characters with strong crafting ability.
Many times, these craftspeople make useful items so that they don’t let any part of animal go to waste. Helping them hunt a particularly large and fearsome creature could easily result in some awesome new Druid equipment!
It’s also worth looking at the Cleric’s Nature domain.
Depending on what has drawn you to play a Druid, you might find enough of an overlap to pique your interest.
While you would be losing the Druid’s Wild Shape and the full force of their spell list, you do gain new abilities. Channel Divinity is always fantastic in addition to the Cleric’s powerful buffs, debuffs, and healing options.
While the Nature Domain Cleric is not the same Druid, they have similar enough flavors that it might fit your vision for your character. This is particularly a good option if you are dead-set on your character being able to use metal equipment, but the DM would prefer that you not do so as a Druid.
It Comes Down To Roleplay
In 3rd edition, Druids were penalized for wearing metal armor or using metal weapons. This is similar to requirements in other classes that often came with penalties. Monks had to have a lawful alignment, Paladins had to atone for evil deeds, and so on.
These can make for interesting characters and create roleplaying opportunities, but… honestly… I’m glad that’s gone in 5e.
Sure, it may draw some curious looks if your Druid is wearing metal, but weave that into the story. Maybe your Druid circle doesn’t particularly care one way or another.
I mean, what does the Circle of Stars actually care about wearing metal as it affects their work? If anything, the opportunity to make items out of fallen meteorite could be an incredible experience!
This could be a great chance to actually incorporate your Circle into your character’s story. What rules do they have? What are rules that they don’t have that other Druid Circles do?
Just because many druids make the decision to not use metal equipment, that doesn’t mean that all of them share this view. What makes your Circle different?
Always Check With the DM
Of course, I feel that it’s always important to include a slight disclaimer here.
Always talk about this with your DM.
The vast majority of the time, a DM is more than happy to help you make the character that you want to make. Occasionally, they can’t or won’t do that.
Be proactive and figure out what it is about your character that you are most wanting to play that resulted in a Druid who is using metal equipment. Work with your DM to find an option that plays to that aspect.
Conclusion – Druids Wearing Metal
So, there you have it: my take on whether or not Druids can wear metal.
At the end of the day, I pretty strongly hold to the idea that the rules are meant to provide a framework for your game. They should create the necessary mechanics for the story to progress, but they shouldn’t serve as a cudgel to beat players into playing the game “the right way.”
Most rules serve a clear purpose, but others are more like guidelines. There should be enough trust between the DM and players that having the conversation of “can we make this work?” shouldn’t be awkward.
So what do you think?
Are Druids allowed to wear metal in your game? Let’s talk in the comments!
Also, don’t forget to check out our Complete Druid Guide for D&D 5e! It covers everything you need to fully channel the power of nature on your adventures!