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This page lists all nonmagical equipment that an adventurer might carry that is not armor, tools, or weapons. Any items on this page can be purchased during character creation or at most towns (though some towns may have a markup on prices).



Shields are carried by many humanoid and monstrous creatures. Shields can be made from metal, wood, or fantastical materials like hardened basilisk hide.

Shields add to the AC of the creature holding them, but occupy one of their hands in combat, preventing them from using that hand to fight with a weapon or cast spells.


All shields count as either Small or Large shields. Small shields require light armor proficiency to wield effectively, and large shields require medium armor proficiency. A creature can only gain the bonus from one shield at a time.

If you use a shield you are not proficient with, you suffer the same penalties as wearing armor you are not proficient with (listed above).​

Light Armor

Light Armor

* Light armor in other 5e sources appears differently.  Click here for more information and a guide for how to make sure you use the information here in a way that is compatible with other 5e content (2).

  • Padded armor usually consists of thick quilted layers and cloth. This is the cheapest form of armor, and is usually worn by infantry in large armies or by adventurers at the beginning of their career. It may also be worn as a fashion choice for those wishing to look like a warrior while off the battlefield.

  • Leather armor consists of either layers of leather or a single thick layer of leather. The leather is hardened, often by boiling it in oil or coating it in a hardening compound. This armor usually only covers the torso, and provides more mobility than heavier armor, making it the choice for most archers or warriors who depend more on dodging and fast movement than tougher armor.

  • Small shields are made of wood or metal, and cover little more than the hand or arm of the wielder. Some are bucklers, and require a hand to hold, and some allow for limited hand movement (enough to open a door or hold something, but not enough to make an attack or use the material or somatic components of a spell). 

Medium Armor

Medium Armor

  • Hide armor consists of thick furs, pelts, and other animal skins that have been layered thick. Unlike leather armor, this armor is heavy, harder to maneuver in, and significantly cheaper. It is usually worn by hunters, druids, or groups without access to better armor.

  • A chain shirt is a partial suit of chain mail, meant to be afford protection to the wearer's vitals without slowing them down as much as a full suit of mail would. This shirt is made of interlocking metal rings, and is usually worn underneath an outer layer of clothing.

  • Scale mail is made of overlapping scale shaped metal plates attached to a cloth or leather backing. It is extremely rare to see a suit of scale mail made of actual animal or monster scales, but such things do exist where the monster's scales are thick and durable, like those of dragons. Mundane scale mail is iron, bronze, or steel.

  • While worn without any other pieces of plate armor, a breastplate consists of a single piece of plate mail that covers the torso. It is usually worn with padded or leather underneath to provide padding and some protection to the parts of the body the breastplate doesn't cover.

  • Half-plate is a step up from a breastplate, and usually includes gauntlets, shoulder, arm, and leg plates, and possibly a helmet. The plates do not cover the whole body and the gaps are usually protected with padded or leather armor underlayers.

  • Large shields can be made of metal or wood, and provide substantial protection to those carrying them. They typically extend to cover one flank of the creature carrying them, though they are not so large that they hinder movement. Unlike with small shields, the wielder of a large shield has little to no ability to manipulate objects with the shield hand.

Heavy Armor

Heavy Armor

  • Chain mail is made with interlocking metal rings that cover most of the body, forming a dense mesh. Most suits of chain mail come with a metal helmet and gauntlets. Underneath the mail suit is a padded layer.

  • Splint armor is made of vertical strips of metal joined with rivets to a backing of leather, further padded with cloth. For the joints, sections of chain mail allow flexibility. Splint includes arm and leg armor, and is supplemented with a metal helmet.

  • Plate armor is made of metal plates that cover the entire body, from a closed helmet to heavy gauntlets and plates to cover thick leather boots. Thick padding is used underneath to cushion blows, and leather straps hold everything together and distribute the weight.

Notes and Examples

(1) Regarding Studded Leather and Ring Mail: 

Studded Leather armor was the best kind of light armor in baseline 5e. The problem is, there's no reason why studs on leather armor would be very useful, and there's no historical precedence for their use. It's likely that studded leather was created as fantasy armor as a misunderstanding of brigandine, which has metal plates beneath leather riveted in place, which on the outside would look like studded leather armor. Conversely, padded armor in 5e was barely in use, but realistically it would be used by most poor soldiers and beginning adventurers rather than leather. We shuffled things around. See below for more information on our light armor (2).

We added small shields to Elkan 5e, allowing classes that only had access to light armor to have another defensive option. We also reclassified shields as being either light or medium armor, as opposed to having their own proficiency. As far as we know, this should be perfectly compatible with old sources, because characters who could use shields always had proficiency in medium armor. We simply made it a formal rule that access to one gave you access to both.

Ring Mail is also a fictional armor likely born of misinterpretation. It is supposed to consist of rings fixed to a leather layers, but the rings are not linked together. This was likely fabricated based on medieval depictions of chain mail, which, due to artistic style choices (or artistic incompetence) were often depicted with the chain links drawn as disconnected circles on top of leather coats, rather than as an interconnected mesh. However, these historical depictions were meant to depict chain mail over a leather or cloth padding. Since we, as designers and players of 5e have never had a character wear ring mail, we removed it entirely. Its only function was as starting armor for characters with low strength and dexterity, and ring mail isn't even listed as a starting armor for anyone. In practice we never saw it used, so we didn't replace it.

(2) Regarding Light Armor: 

In baseline 5e, the worst light armor is padded armor, and it appears as we feature it here, except that it imposes disadvantage on stealth checks. This made no sense to us, as other armor that includes padded layers did not impose this disadvantage. However, by removing the disadvantage, we made padded just as good as leather armor. However, because we wanted to remove studded leather armor, we simply gave leather armor the statistics that leather armor used to have (with a slight cost decrease).

However, other 5e materials will still use the old names. If you are using other 5e sources that reference 'studded leather armor', give it the statistics of leather armor as we list it here. They are identical. If other sources list 'leather armor', use the statistics of padded armor here. For example, if you create a character at level 1 that starts with leather armor, then that character should start with padded armor instead. If you accidentally give the armor the statistics of leather armor instead of padded armor, it's no big deal. There's a very small difference and it's only meant to make a character's starting armor slightly worse. If you see padded armor in other 5e material (and it's very rare), improve the padded armor to the statistics we provide here.

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Note 2
Notes and Examples
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