Discussion:Does Mithral Armor actually change the armor type?

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Does Mithral Armor change the armor type[edit]

Aarnott 10:42, 23 May 2007 (MDT)[edit]

From the SRD:

Most mithral armors are one category lighter than normal for purposes of movement and other 
limitations. Heavy armors are treated as medium, and medium armors are treated as light, but light 
armors are still treated as light. Spell failure chances for armors and shields made from mithral are 
decreased by 10%, maximum Dexterity bonus is increased by 2, and armor check penalties are lessened by 
3 (to a minimum of 0).

Does this mean that a ranger does not lose the use of combat styles in Mithral breastplate? Is that considered an "other limitation", or is that something different since it is a requirement?


Sledged (talk)
2007 May 24 10:53 (MDT)

From the FAQ:

Is a character proficient with light armor, such as a rogue, considered to be proficient with mithral breastplate? What about a character proficient with medium armor, such as a barbarian—is he considered proficient with mithral full plate armor?

The description of mithral on page 284 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide is less precise than it could be in defining how it interacts with armor proficiency rules. The simplest answer—and the one that the Sage expects most players and DMs use—is that mithral armor is treated as one category lighter for all purposes, including proficiency. This isn’t exactly what the Dungeon Master’s Guide says, but it’s a reasonable interpretation of the intent of the rule (and it’s supported by a number of precedents, including the descriptions of various specific mithral armors described on page 220 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide and a variety of NPC stat blocks).

Thus, a ranger or rogue could wear a mithral breastplate without suffering a nonproficiency penalty (since it’s treated as light armor), and each could use any ability dependent on wearing light or no armor (such as evasion or the ranger’s combat style). A barbarian could wear mithral full plate armor without suffering a nonproficiency penalty (since it’s treated as medium armor), and he could use any ability dependent on wearing medium or lighter armor (such as fast movement).

The same would be true of any other special material that uses the same or similar language as mithral (such as darkleaf, on page 120 of the EBERRON Campaign Setting).

I've seen this question before, and in almost any forum, you'll get an equal number of "yes"s and "no"s. The real problem is that they're both right. I prefer to keep it simple and just consider it light armor for all purposes, but I wouldn't protest if a DM ruled otherwise.

Dmilewski 14:40, 24 May 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Mithral has sucktacular wording.

The mithral definition allows armor to be lightened for limited purposes. As far as I can tell, the FAQ interpretation has mithral lighten armor in all ways, no limitations. The chain shirt matches this more expansive interpretation.

I come down on the "no" side. For the proficiency trade-off to mean something, there must be an actual tradeoff. As it stands right now, there is no trade-off.

Aarnott 06:08, 25 May 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Thanks! That answers it for me. I'm going to rule on the "no" side as well. I agree that trade-offs should actually be trade-offs.


Sledged (talk)
2007 May 25 12:33 (MDT)

Just want to point out that there is already a trade-off: the cost. It's like the trade-off for having a masterwork item versus its normal counterpart. The question is that whether or not you think it's a significant trade-off.

Aarnott 12:54, 5 June 2007 (MDT)[edit]

True. It is just such a weak trade off. Perhaps I will make a small custom rule for mithral that makes it cost an armor enhancement bonus per type category the armor was before (+1 light, +2 medium, +3 heavy). This mainly has to do with potential duskblade abuse... 06:10, 21 February 2008 (MST)[edit]

btw, does a mithral breastplate have an armor check penalty? breastplate has armor check penalty three, mithral reduces it by two, and mithral is also always masterwork which is supposed to give another reduction by one. then again, does the mithral reduction include masterwork reduction?

Aarnott 07:13, 21 February 2008 (MST)[edit]

From some subscript text found on SRD:Breastplate

"The armor check penalties for masterwork armor and shields are lessened by 1, except mithral. The armor check penalties for mithril armor and shields are reduced by 3."

Fallen.Angel09 08:46, 24 April 2008 (MDT)[edit]

I used to subscribe to Dragon magazine, before it was discontinued. All contents of that magazine are considered OGC. In the Sage Advice column, they covered this once. I don't remember the exact issue, I'll look it up for you. But they said that the answer is YES a rogue is proficient with a mithral breastplate because the armor is considered Light.

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