Last Updated on November 7, 2023
Living Armor Stat Block
Armor (any), very rare (requires attunement)
This hideous armor is formed from black chitin, beneath which veins pulse and red sinews glisten. To attune to this item, you must wear it for the entire attunement period, during which tendrils on the inside burrow into you.
While wearing this armor, you have a +1 bonus to Armor Class, and you have resistance to the following damage types: necrotic, poison, and psychic.
Symbiotic Nature. The armor can’t be removed from you while you’re attuned to it, and you can’t voluntarily end your attunement to it. If you’re targeted by a spell that ends a curse, your attunement to the armor ends, and it detaches from you.
The armor requires fresh blood to be fed to it. Immediately after you finish any long rest, you must either feed half of your remaining Hit Dice to the armor (round up) or take 1 level of exhaustion.
Living Armor is a type of symbiotic armor that grants subtle bonuses at the expense of your ability to heal yourself.
In short, you get an additional +1 to AC and resistance to 3 very rare damage types. In exchange, you can’t heal fully after a long rest without being exhausted.
Is it worth it?
For some characters, sure! This is a madly flavorful item that has unique mechanical abilities. While there are a few PCs who may want to take advantage of this, I am convinced DMs out there can think of several NPCs and villains who would make great use of Living Armor.
Where Does Living Armor Come From?
Living Armor as an item came to us from the 3rd edition expansion of the Eberron campaign setting.
In that setting, there are aberration overlords called the Daelkyr trapped in the Underdark. These overlords use their time locked away experimenting with different magical and biological creatures.
Several of these experiments created a class of magic items called symbiotes, and these were wide and varied — much more than we are given in DnD 5e.
Among these symbiotes were spellworms that could cast spells for you, a magical wrist scarab that would create an acid dart for you to throw, and of course, living armor.
These items didn’t have drawbacks, really, so many players would want them, even if it meant having an aberration stuck inside you. Personally, aberrations are my favorite monster to fight, so I could never really be okay with that.
In 5e, we have a few symbiotes but not like the treasure trove that existed in the 3e Eberron books. I recommend perusing the DnD Beyond homebrew forums to find some old ones that have been revamped for 5e and some new ones that the wonderful and creative player base has come up with.
For the DMs – Using Living Armor as a Plot Device
Have you ever wanted a reason to give your PCs an evil voice in their head that sounds eerily like them? This is your chance!
If one of your PCs dons the Living Armor, make them subject to Charisma saving throws.
If they fail, they have to contend with overwhelming urges to strike out and find more symbiotes or to start drinking blood in order to feed the armor someone else’s Hit Dice instead of their own.
While many PCs could easily say, “I have the urge but I don’t do it,” you could instead give them an ultimatum. Fail the saving throw? You have the urge. Deny the urge? Be poisoned for 1 round.
While many players could get upset at this turn of events (and that would be understandable because you are making them do something that was not listed in the stat block), you could make it part of the overall plot.
For story reasons, the player has to deal with this extra complication, and, if successful, they can gain a reward at the end of the story arc.
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].