Mithral Armor & Weapons 5e: One Is Awesome, We Fix The Other

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

Unobtanium, vibranium, cold iron, adamantium… fantasy and the woolier sorts of science fiction are littered with incredible metals.

From Captain America’s shield to Wolverine’s claws, fiction writers love a nigh-on-magical mineral with properties that make the most advanced carbon fiber weave in a Formula 1 race car look like pig iron.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at the granddaddy of magical metals: Mithral.  

Here’s a pretty thing…light as a feather, and hard as dragon’s scales.

Bilbo Baggins

What Is Mithral? 

Forged by elves, dwarves, or the breath of a moonstone dragon, mithral (not mithril – suck it, J.R.R. Tolkein’s lawyers! Yours sincerely, Gary Gygax xoxo) is a silvery, legally distinct metal found throughout the D&D multiverse. 

Rarer than platinum, more valuable than gold, harder than steel, and lighter than… about half as much steel, mithral is a highly coveted material used to forge weapons and armor thanks to its incredible lightness. 

It crops up quite frequently in the adventure Storm King’s Thunder, finds its way into more than a few piles of magic items in Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage, and is the material used to forge a truly excellent legendary magic item, the Infiltrator’s Key, in the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. 

Mithral in D&D 5e is, along with silver, closely linked with the Feywild – the ethereal plane of the fairies.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide chapter on treasure notes that magical items or gear of fey origin are distinguished by the fact that any metal in the item is silver or mithral, rather than iron or steel (presumably because the fey folk traditionally hate iron).

Moonstone dragons – dragons born in or otherwise mutated by the Feywild’s energies – prize mithral (as well as silver and platinum) far above more traditionally hoarded metals like gold and copper. 

This is probably more my own head canon than an actual fact from the 5e rules, but I view and treat mithral as silver that’s been infused with the energy of the Feywild.

Therefore, a silver mine that delves into earth where the border between worlds is weaker might start turning up mithral instead, not to mention you start running into some nasty fey creatures.  

How Does Mithral Armor Work in D&D 5e

Armor forged from Mithral is actually remarkably simple, mechanically speaking. Any equipment forged from Mithral weighs just half as much as the same item forged from even the lightest steel. 

Therefore it does not impose any disadvantage on Dexterity Checks. It also does not have any Strength requirements.

Mithral Armor

Armor (medium or heavy, but not hide), uncommon

Mithral is a light, flexible metal. A mithral chain shirt or breastplate can be worn under normal clothes.

If the armor type made from mithral normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) Checks or has a Strength requirement, the mithral version of the armor doesn’t.

Applicable Armor:

Chain ShirtMedium13 + Dex modifier (max 2)
Scale MailMedium14 + Dex modifier (max 2)Disadvantage
BreastplateMedium14 + Dex modifier (max 2)
Half PlateMedium15 + Dex modifier (max 2)Disadvantage
Ring MailHeavy14Disadvantage
Chain MailHeavy16Strength 13Disadvantage
SplintHeavy17Strength 15Disadvantage
PlateHeavy18Strength 15Disadvantage

Mechanically, mithral armor is very simple in D&D 5e – almost to the point of feeling slightly underwhelming.

Any and all heavy armor forged from mithral imposes no disadvantage on stealth checks.

Also, while the rules don’t explicitly state it, it’s a common assumption that mithral equipment weights half as much as the same gear made from steel or iron

This also means that armor with a base strength requirement loses that prerequisite if it’s made from mithral. 

If your party uses encumbrance rules and if 5e had basically any rules at all that imposed penalties for swimming in heavy armor, mithral starts to look even better. 

Rogues in Platemail?! 

So, assuming your table doesn’t use encumbrance rules (who does in this day and age? Unless you’re explicitly running an exploration-focused or very old-school kind of game – in which case, why are you still playing 5e? – there’s no reason), the first and foremost use for mithral armor is that a suit of mithral heavy armor can turn a sneaky, stealthy rogue into a still-stealthy, still-sneaky, walking wall of platemail. 

So long as you take the Normal and then Heavy Armor Master feat or do some creative multiclassing, you can outfit your rogue in mithral plate from head to toe, and they will still make about as much noise as a cat’s tail dragged across velvet shag carpet and have an AC of 18. Freaky stuff. 

Another thing the RAW don’t make note of but seems to make its way into just about every table’s list of house rules is that while mithral isn’t explicitly immune to the effects of corrosion (thanks to, say, a rust monster or a black pudding), I would rule that it most certainly is immune, perhaps corrodes twice as slowly, or something to that effect. 

Because of its rarity and value, forging mithral equipment or buying mithral to make your own is an expensive process. The RAW state of something made of mithral will cost you an extra 200 gp on top of the item’s base price. 

Personally, I would say that mithral gear should cost an extra 200 gp per 1,000 gp in the cost of the base item.

Also, sourcing enough mithral for larger projects should honestly be a lot harder than just scraping together the requisite cash. 

Finding a smith who’s capable of working with mithral could also present an interesting challenge, whether it entails a meeting with the dwarf lords…

(Side note: You should 100% steal from The Mandalorian here and make mithral into a badass Beskar steel analogue that was stolen from a dwarven clan by an evil empire years ago.

Rocking up to a fortress full of murderous war dwarves carrying the equivalent of a cartful of Nazi gold can only make for an excellently tense negotiation – perhaps the dwarves need you to prove yourselves worthy of wearing their clan’s sacred metal, demand half of it in tribute, or just decide to shoot you all with crossbows and reclaim it for themselves.)

…or a perilous camping trip into the Feywild, a party on the hunt for a fresh set of mithral platemail should prepare themselves for an exciting time. 

Mithral Weapons in 5e

There are, annoyingly, virtually no rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide or Player’s Handbook for how to treat mithral weapons.

However, extrapolating from the official rules for mithral armor and some good ideas from the D&D community, I think we can make the following rulings. 

  • Mithral weapons weigh half as much as their standard versions. 
  • Mithral is too light to forge into heavy weapons or weapons that deal bludgeoning damage.
  • Wooden weapons (quarterstaffs, for example) cannot be made entirely from mithral. 
  • Any normal weapons made from mithral gain the “light” property. 
  • Any light weapons made from mithral gain the “finesse” property. 
  • Mithral weapons are immune to the effects of corrosion.
  • Mithral weapons count as being Silvered for the purpose of overcoming resistances. 

Therefore, the list of weapons that are eligible to be forged from mithral is as follows. 

Simple Melee Weapons

Weapon NameCostDamageWeightProperties
Dagger2 gp1d4 piercing1 lb.Finesse, light, thrown (range 20/60)
Handaxe5 gp1d6 slashing2 lb.Light, thrown (range 20/60)
Javelin5 sp1d6 piercing2 lb.Thrown (range 30/120)
Sickle1 gp1d4 slashing2 lb.Light
Spear1 gp1d6 piercing3 lb.Thrown (range 20/60), versatile (1d8)

Martial Melee Weapons

Weapon NameCostDamageWeightProperties
Battleaxe10 gp1d8 slashing4 lb.Versatile (1d10)
Lance10 gp1d12 piercing6 lb.Reach, special
Longsword15 gp1d8 slashing3 lb.Versatile (1d10)
Morningstar15 gp1d8 piercing4 lb.
Rapier25 gp1d8 piercing2 lb.Finesse
Scimitar25 gp1d6 slashing3 lb.Finesse, light
Shortsword10 gp1d6 piercing2 lb.Finesse, light
Trident5 gp1d6 piercing4 lb.Thrown (range 20/60), versatile (1d8)
War pick5 gp1d8 piercing2 lb.

Mithral Magic Items 

As we mentioned earlier, there are a few magical items scattered throughout D&D 5e’s various sourcebooks that are canonically made from mithral. 

Danoth’s Visor

Source: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)

These mithral-frame goggles with clear diamond lenses were used by the evoker Danoth Oro to spot invisible enemies and scout areas from afar.

These goggles, depending on whether they are dormant, awakened, or exalted (basically, in the EGtW, magic items “level up” somewhat like characters as they are used and the story progresses), grant you the ability to see through magical and nonmagical darkness, see invisible creatures, see into the Ethereal Plane, see through solid matter, automatically detect illusions, and eventually project an antimagic field like a beholder

Gavel of the Venn Rune

Source: Storm King’s Thunder

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

A wooden gavel which, while small for a giant, is the size of a warhammer in human hands. The storm giant rune for “friend” is inscribed in mithral on the haft. This magical warhammer has the following properties:

Arbiter’s Shield. At the start of every combat, attack rolls against you have disadvantage before the start of your first turn, provided that the gavel is on your person.

Bond of Amity. As an action, you can use the gavel to strike a point on a hard surface.

The first time in the next minute that a creature within 60 feet of that point deals damage to another creature with an attack that hits, the attacker takes psychic damage equal to half the damage it dealt to the target.

Once you use this property, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Gift of Truth. You can transfer the gavel’s magic to a place by tracing the venn rune on the ground with your finger.

The point where you trace it becomes the center of a spherical area of magic that has a 30-foot radius and that is fixed to the place.

The transfer takes 8 hours of work that requires the gavel to be within 5 feet of you. At the end, the gavel is destroyed, and the area gains the following property:

  • Whenever a creature utters a lie while within the 30-foot-radius sphere, that creature takes 5 psychic damage and flinches visibly.

Infiltrator’s Key

Source: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)

A mithral skeleton key which, as it reaches new stages of awakening, can be used as thieves’ tools, to grant advantage on stealth checks, to transform into a magical dagger, to cast either Alter Self, Invisibility, Knock, or Pass Without Trace once per day, and even to create doorways through walls where none exist. 

Korolnor Scepter

Source: Storm King’s Thunder

Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)

A powerful sceptre forged by the dwarven gods, forged from a length of tapered mithral as long and thick as a dwarf’s forearm with a small platinum knob at the bottom and a rounded disk adorned with a ring of seven tiny blue gems at the top.

This sceptre can be wielded as a +3 magic club, and allows the wielder to channel the properties of the magical Wyrmskull Throne as well as the properties of the scepter itself.

The scepter has 10 charges, and it regains 1d6 + 4 expended charges at dawn. Its properties are as follows:

  • If you are underground or underwater, you can use an action to expend 1 charge to determine the distance to the surface.
  • As an action, you can expend 2 charges to cast the Sending spell from the scepter.
  • As an action, you can expend 3 charges to cast the Teleport spell from the scepter. If the destination is within 60 feet of the Wyrmskull Throne, there is no chance of a teleport error or mishap occurring.

Navigation Orb

Source: Storm King’s Thunder

Wondrous item, very rare (requires attunement)

A hollow, 7-foot-diameter sphere of thin, polished mithral with a large skye (cloud) rune embossed on its outer surface.

The orb levitates 10 feet above the ground and is keyed to a particular cloud castle, allowing you to control that castle’s altitude and movement while the orb is inside the castle.

If the orb is destroyed or removed from its castle, the castle’s altitude and location remain fixed until the orb is returned or replaced.

As an action, you can cause one of the following effects to occur if you are touching the orb:

  • The castle moves at a speed of 1 mph in a straight line, in a direction of your choice, until the castle stops or is made to stop or until another action is used to change its direction. If this movement brings the castle into contact with the ground, the castle lands gently.
  • The castle, if it is moving, comes to a gradual stop.
  • The castle makes a slow, 90-degree turn clockwise or counterclockwise (turning a northerly view into a westerly view, for example). The castle can turn while it is moving in a straight line.

Any creature touching the orb knows the altitude of the base of the castle above the ground or water below it.

These are, like, probably the inspiration for the Bureau of Balance flying orbs in The Adventure Zone. Also, they’re a fantastic thing to steal and drop into your own campaign, whether or not you’re running anything to do with storm giants. 

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