Strange armors from previous editions of D&D

These items are taken straight out of advanced Dungeons & Dragons, specifically Dragon magazine Annual number 1.

I am presenting these suits of armor to you because they illustrate rather nicely that one does not necessarily need to have magical armor for it to be unique. You dungeon Masters out there, give some thought to adding cultural armor and weapons to your game. Give a little bonus, like you would get if you were wearing magical armor, and be very descriptive with what the armor looks like, how it’s made, who makes it? What this does is it adds depth to the cultures in your campaign setting, it also sparks interest in your players. Far too often I’ve sat at tables where magical items were handed out much like candy on Halloween. In time, it was almost as though the player characters were carrying around the medieval fantasy equivalent of a golf bag. They had a magic item for every possible encounter. This can get quite boring, avoid this in your game.

These suits of armor will certainly add a little more flavor to your game, it is a nice change from the standard chain mail, leather, or plate armor that one commonly sees in the Dungeons & Dragons game. Prior to fifth edition and the forgotten realms game world there were multiple campaign settings for advanced Dungeons & Dragons/2nd edition in 2.5. All of these campaign settings were meticulously crafted and available for play. Let’s explore some of these cultural armors from those old campaign settings, shall we?


Rabak armor is made by the forest dwelling people known as the Bakara. It is named after the forest these people live in. The summer’s designs hand-to-hand combat in mind as the forest is so dense that it does not allow for the use of missile weapons.

The armor is made from Rabak trees which provide a soft wood. Now, this wood becomes pliable and extremely durable when treated with a special resin. Bakaran armor Smiths have learned to take this would and turn it into a very effective armor.

The armor is made in three layers. The first layer consists of many thin strips of Rabak wood, this first layer is what gives the armor its flexibility, allowing the wearer to move with far more ease and grace than one normally would with a heavier set of armor. The next layer is the primary protective layer of the armor set. This is made of thicker pieces of wood.

Finally, the third layer adds an additional layer of protection. Now, here’s where the armor gets really interesting. This third layer is the layer that is capable of bleeding. Interested? I thought so. When a bladed weapon cuts this third layer of protection, this surface layer, the wood will bleed sap and will form a sticky layer over the damaged portion of the armor. Any non-magical cutting or slashing weapon that hits the armor has a 40% chance of sticking to it. The sap doesn’t adhere to flash or would but sticks very well to metal. The sap once bled, will last for about 20 rounds and the armor can be bled six times before the outer layer must be replaced. What makes this even more interesting is that this armor only takes about two weeks for qualified armor Smith to build.

This armor had an armor class of five back in the old days, which translates to about a 15 in fifth edition. It’s far less bulky than any other armor so it’s almost noiseless. It has no reflective surfaces like a metal armor would and it provides excellent camouflage in the forest, in second edition it gave us 75% chance to be undetected. To bring it up to speed to fifth edition you may give the wearer advantage in any stealth, or acrobatics checks.


Sindar web armor. Yeah, were talking about armor made from spiderwebs this can mean only one thing, this armor is Elven. This armor is made by the Sindar elves, not drow as one may think. Long ago, the Elves of the Sindarathian Mountains began to breed giant spiders for the purpose of harvesting their webs. Pound for pound spiderwebs is one of the strongest and most durable substances around.

It should come as no surprise then that these elves learned away to create a set of armor from spiderwebs.

The suit of armor is woven much like a blanket, or sweater. It is woven from specially treated spiderwebs that these giant spiders produce. It is light and supple and surprisingly strong, being capable of turning even the sharpest of blades.

This armor extends from the shoulders to about mid-thigh, it is silver in color and is often mistaken for metal. Once woven, the armor is treated with a special chemical to ensure that the strands bind to one another. No helmets are made for this armor but loose pants that are made to be worn over cotton leggings most often accompany the tunic.

This was an armor class of two back in the old days which is roughly in the 17 or 18 armor class categories for fifth edition.


This armor has been developed by the ocean dwelling Asheria of Bensana bay. The Asherian armor Smiths have discovered that certain crustaceans are attracted to electrical impulses. Once attracted, these crustaceans take up residence on whatever it is that is emitting the electrical impulse. These crustaceans will form a thick and durable crust as they pile onto one another. Enter the giant electric eel. These nasty fellows are hunted by the armor Smiths for their skin which, even after they are dead, will still emit a slight electrical frequency. Their skin is turned into a slick gray undergarment. Once worn, this undergarment will attract crustaceans to it, eventually forming a suit of armor.

In Asherian culture, this armor is a status symbol for the longer you where the undergarment, the thicker the crustacean armor becomes. Those veterans, often have the thickest armor. These warriors enjoy a great deal of perks associated with their status.

Initially, the gray undergarment is sown and then placed over a wire rack not unlike a manikin. It is then submerged in the bay until a shell forms. The warrior will then Don is armor and as they campaign more and more crustaceans will form on the armor thickening it over time.

The armor class for the suit of armor was between three and five. Roughly, 14 to 16 armor class for our fifth edition purposes.


Sul are tiny soft bodied insects. You see, not all armors are Smithed, some are bred. And such is the case for the Sul armor of the Renthi people.

Now, the Renthi are all dead. They were conquered a long time ago by a barbaric tribe of people known as the Tuathal. The Tuathal do not take prisoners, nor do they assimilate conquered into their culture. Sadly, the Renthi were ultimately destroyed.

The Renthi studied animals and insects for centuries, they were masters of nature, their wealth of knowledge of all things natural was unparalleled. But they were not warriors. The last remnants of their civilization are a few sets of armor developed as their war against the Tuathal raged.

As I mentioned before, Sul are tiny soft bodied insects. They are capable of secreting a cohesive substance almost like a glue that, when in contact with one another, forms a cohesive colony. Now these insects were selectively bred so that they would colonize an area roughly humanoid sized.

Once a colony of these insects are formed, there metabolism slows to the point that colony will rarely separate from one another.

This is perhaps one of the easiest suits of armor to put on, I imagine it would look almost like iron man’s nano tech armor. The insects would just immediately swarm the wearer forming this cohesive colony, leaving openings for the eyes and mouth and perhaps even years.

This armor imparts an AC of four. About an armor class of 16. These creatures have regenerative abilities and are completely healed around after suffering damage and there is a 1% chance that this regeneration can be imparted to the wearer. In addition, they have a chameleonlike ability and that they can change the color of their carapace to match their surroundings. The wearer isn’t moving there is an 85% chance of being undetected in any surroundings. That might be an advantage die nowadays.

This sounds really good, but there’s a catch. There is a 3% chance that the armor attacks and devours the wearer each time greater than 10 hit points of damages delivered by one strike. That would be unfortunate. The armor must be fed and watered once a week. If the armor is not fed there is a 5%, cumulative chance, that the armor will devour the wearer for every week it is not fed.

Give some thought to adding some of these armors from older editions of D&D to throw a curve ball or two at your players.

See you next time, in the Dojo.

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