Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Welcome to our magic item gear guide to Dragon Scale Mail. In this guide, we’ll outline how this magic armor works and which character classes can make the best use of it.
Dragon Scale Mail
Armor (scale mail), very rare (requires attunement)
While wearing this armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC, you have advantage on saving throws against the Frightful Presence and breath weapons of dragons, and you have resistance to one damage type that is determined by the kind of a dragon that provided the scales (see the table).
Additionally, you can focus your senses as an action to magically discern the distance and direction to the closest dragon of the type of armor within 30 miles of you. This special action can’t be used again until the next dawn.
Basic Rules, pg. 165
What Is Dragon Scale Mail in DnD 5e?
Dragon Scale Mail is armor forged from the discarded or harvested scales of one kind of dragon. When attuned to, it not only grants the wearer +1 to their Armor Class and advantage on saving throws against dragons’ Frightful Presence ability but also resistance to a damage type.
Depending on the type of dragon whose scales were used to make the Dragon Scale Mail armor, this item can grant you resistance (meaning you take half damage) to Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, or Poison damage.
The rarity of dragon scale mail lies in the need to acquire a not-inconsiderable number of intact dragon scales (of a single type) to make a functioning set of armor. Some dragons bestow their cast-off scales upon humanoids as gifts to turn into armor. Other times, dragon hunters carefully skin and preserve their prey’s glittering armor as just another valuable part of the treasure hoard.
However it is acquired, dragon scale mail is highly valuable and prized by dragon cultists, knights, elite soldiers, and, of course, adventurers for its special properties.
Who Can Wear Dragon Scale Mail in DnD 5e?
Any character can technically don a suit of Dragon Scale Mail armor and even attune to it. Scale mail has the following basic properties in addition to being considered medium armor.
This armor consists of a coat and leggings (and perhaps a separate skirt) of leather covered with overlapping pieces of metal, much like the scales of a fish. The suit includes gauntlets.
Obviously, there’s no specific requirement for attunement that says a character needs to be proficient in the item in order to be able to attune to it. You still won’t gain any of the benefits of armor relating to your base AC. You also have disadvantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll that involves Strength or Dexterity, and you can’t cast spells.
However, if you are proficient with Medium Armor, you can gain the full benefits of Dragon Scale Mail once you attune to it.
Any character who values high AC and has at least a 14 in Dexterity (to increase the armor’s AC to 17) will benefit from Dragon Scale Mail, including Fighters, Paladins, Rangers, and even Bards from the College of Valor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Druids Wear Dragon Scale Mail
Although the fact Druids cannot wear metal armor typically prohibits them from wearing scale mail, the fact this armor is made from scales rather than metal means that druids can wear it — as confirmed by the Admins of the D&D Adventurers’ League.
Is Dragon Scale Mail Heavy Armor?
No. Dragon Scale Mail is considered medium armor, even though it imposes Disadvantage on Stealth checks.
How much does Dragon Scale Mail armor cost?
Based on its rarity, Dragon Scale Mail armor typically costs 4,000 gold pieces, according to our Magic Item Price Guide, although this is just a guideline, and the final decision is up to your Dungeon Master.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.