As a puissant fighting man, Robilar of course wore armor of all sorts throughout his career, and I owe much of my practical knowledge of the topic to watching him in battle and due to a small amount of his instruction. Of course, I’ve scoured libraries for information about magical armor, studied the many suits I’ve discovered in treasure troves or peeled off the smoking remains of my foes, and naturally I have created many such items as part of my own aspirations for protecting myself and those in my employ.
I find that those who wield swords place a great deal of importance on shields. It’s a natural blindness of most melee combatants to emphasize protecting themselves against the kinds of attacks they make with their own weapons. When you see what the edge of a sword does to the bared flesh of an enemy, you cannot help but think of your own body cut and your own blood shed. A suit of shining mail seems a great boon, and if it can be enchanted to ward off arrows or deflect a giant’s hammer, so much the better.
I find such thinking is often shortsighted. Does lightning glance away from that breastplate? How will chain links protect you from seeping acid? When does fire not burn skin, and what is leather if not skin? Is it not better to be a swift-stinging wasp or a nigh-invisible gnat than an armored beetle waddling underfoot?
Of course, at times you must play anvil to the hammer’s blow. Some threats cannot be avoided. Someone must meet the enemy face on and hurl flesh at foe. And at these times—when steel must stop a dragon’s charge—I am grateful to my shortsighted allies for their blind faith in the strength of armor.
Their deaths give me time to complete my spells.
I should perhaps not have written that last sentence, but as a guide to the magic items of this world and others, I think truth should play the paramount role. And the truth is that we wizards cannot always rely upon spells alone. If you spend your time summoning beasts, raising protective fields of force, and warding yourself against unearthly energies, when do you have time to assault your enemy?
An armored warrior between you and your target proves both a distraction for your foe and a natural bulwark. And that ally will be more confident in his role (and will last longer) if girded in enchanted armor.
—Mordenkainen, from his master copy of the Magnificent Emporium, on a magically hidden page accessible only by those who can cast spells
Armor and Shield Descriptions
Banded Mail: Banded mail consists of a suit of chainmail reinforced with layers of metal plates arranged in strips along the suit’s midsection. Banded mail offers the same level of protection as chainmail while proving lighter and more flexible. A warrior in banded mail moves as quickly as one in leather armor.
Barbed Shield: Although a shield is usually a defensive item, a barbed shield turns the tables on attackers because of the long spikes and blades attached to it. While too awkward to use as a weapon, a barbed shield provides added protection against enemies that attempt to grab you, because the spikes and barbs built into it cut into them.
Full Plate: Though the dwarves are loath to admit it, human smiths crafted the first suits of full plate for the use of mounted knights. Of course, the dwarves are quick to add, they did perfect those initial, flawed designs. Among all the kinds of heavy armor, full plate offers unmatched protection and flexibility.
Ring Mail: This flexible but sturdy armor consists of a typical suit of leather armor with a series of metal rings sewn onto its surface. The rings enhance the armor’s sturdiness, improving its protective qualities while still offering the maneuverability of lightweight armor.
Spiked Plate: A dwarven innovation, spiked plate is a suit of plate mail studded with sharp, metal spikes. The dwarves developed this armor to deal with subterranean beasts such as hook horrors and umber hulks that grasp and crush their prey.
Splint Mail: First developed by the dwarves, splint mail consists of vertical strips of metal bound to a thick layer of leather and chainmail. Because it is so heavy and ponderous, few other than dwarves wear it in battle. While it lacks the protective elements of plate, it is scale armor’s equal. More important, its rigid construction allows it to absorb some portion of an enemy’s blows.
Studded Leather: Studded leather is leather armor reinforced with metal studs. It provides a middle ground between hide armor and ring mail. It is more flexible than either, while its reinforced construction gives it a slight edge over hide.
Armor Training Feats
With new gear come new techniques and tactics for using it. The following feats are designed to interact with the armor and shields introduced in this book. All these feats are in the armor training category.
Armor Proficiency: Banded Mail
Prerequisite: Proficiency with chainmail
Benefit: You gain proficiency with banded mail.
Armor Proficiency: Full Plate
Prerequisite: Proficiency with plate armor
Benefit: You gain proficiency with full plate.
Armor Proficiency: Ring Mail
Prerequisite: Proficiency with hide armor or chainmail
Benefit: You gain proficiency with ring mail.
Armor Proficiency: Spiked Plate
Prerequisite: Proficiency with plate armor
Benefit: You gain proficiency with spiked plate.
Armor Proficiency: Splint Mail
Prerequisite: Proficiency with scale armor
Benefit: You gain proficiency with splint mail.
Armor Proficiency: Studded Leather
Prerequisite: Proficiency with hide armor
Benefit: You gain proficiency with studded leather armor.
Shield Proficiency: Barbed Shield
Prerequisite: Proficiency with heavy shields
Benefit: You gain proficiency with barbed shields.
Robe of the Archmage
Curse the wizard that created the first robe of the archmage! Now any whelp of a hedge conjurer or witless apprentice that finds one considers himself an archmage. Then these fools seek magic far above their station or grasp at power as if donning a robe made them royalty.
What a blasted nuisance. I hesitate to count the number of “archmages” I’ve reduced to dust. Still, I’ve found that for wizards worthy of the title, a robe of the archmage can be a useful item.
A multitude of legends talk about archmages and their exploits. Even though each story varies considerably, one common element often exists: Each archmage wore a protective item of tremendous power known as a robe of the archmage. Some such robes are said to provide nigh-invulnerable physical protection to their wearers, while others offer equal defense against other kinds of attacks, whether magical or psionic. Other tales tell of robes that are reputed to amplify the raw power of the magic commanded by their wearers, or that allow their wearers to channel spells normally beyond the grasp of mortals. A few dark rumors even claim that some robes instantly slay anyone but their owner who dons them.