May 30, 2018

Dungeon Chic and Elven Haute Couture

Variant Rules
Notes from the Nails: one of the things I try to do with my homebrew is to shine a light on the more obscure parts of D&D that may not really matter to most people, but that nonetheless entertain me. Yes, this is another one of those articles.

Dungeon Chic and Elven Haute Couture

When a character chooses a background, they get a suit of clothes. Just one suit, with no description beyond 'common' or 'fine'. And how many times have you seen a character go through an entire campaign without changing their clothes even once?! Madness, I say. This article intends to address the scandalous lack of attention given to civilian clothing in the core rules, by suggesting some variant rules, adding in more outfits, and providing some statistics for common accessories.

Variant Rules

If you want your players to spare a bit more thought for how their characters are dressed, you might consider introducing these optional rules:
Dress in Layers
You can wear up to two outfits at once. If you do so, you only gain the benefits of the outermost set.
A fairly simple one to start off with. As you'll see shortly, this is necessary to prevent fashion mavericks from unfairly exploiting the other new rules.
No Rest for the Armoured
A character wearing medium or heavy armour for the entire duration of a short rest cannot regain hit points during that rest. A character wearing any sort of armour during the sleep or trance portion of their long rest does not lose any levels of exhaustion, and must instead make a constitution check in order to avoid gaining a level of exhaustion. The DC for this check is equal to the base AC of the armour they are wearing (e.g. 18 for plate armour).
One of the main reasons why people don't consider civilian clothing is because their characters are perpetually geared up in their armour. In some situations, this can be jarring and may even threaten to break suspension of disbelief. Therefore, this rule attempts to encourage players to doff their armour when they are resting. After all, if the characters didn't think they were in a place of safety, they wouldn't be resting!
Wear and Tear
All civilian clothes will eventually wear out. After an outfit has been worn for a number of days indicated in the table below, it will be ragged and unusable. Ragged clothing fetches only a tenth of its original price if sold, though it can be repaired by a proficient tailor or the mending spell.
Not only does this give people another reason to take mending, a criminally underused cantrip, but it also gives people a prod towards buying a new outfit. Having your tunic fray to rags is a pretty clear reminder that you've been wearing the same one for a year, and really ought to consider changing things up on occasion.
Made to Measure
Although most people are content to wear standard, off-the-peg clothes, none can deny that proper tailoring can do wonders in terms of both comfort and appearance. Having an item of clothing or armour made to measure adds 50% to the cost of the item, and once made, an outfit cannot be tailored to a different body. While wearing a complete suit of clothes or armour that are tailored specifically to you (and only while in your natural form, if you are a shapechanger), you gain a +1 bonus to Athletics or Acrobatics checks that involve expansive movement, and to Performance and Persuasion checks where your physical attractiveness is a factor. Conversely, you suffer a -1 penalty to the same checks while wearing any item tailored to someone else.
It's always useful if there are things in the campaign world for your players to blow their gold on!
Halfling Discount
All items of clothing and armour now come in fixed sizes. No creature can attempt to wear a garment from the wrong size category. The list price is for medium items; the cost is halved for each size category smaller and doubled for each size category larger than that.
To those of you suddenly panicking about small-sized plate armour now costing only 750gp, I ask: when was the last time you saw a halfling or gnome with a double-digit strength score? Frankly, I'd be happy if this rule encouraged more people to play small, heavily armoured characters.
Rapid Costume Change
Generally, it takes 1 minute to don an outfit of clothing, and a whole outfit can be doffed as an action. However, any suit with a gp value of 10 or more when new is more complicated, and therefore requires 10 minutes to don and 1 minute to doff, or half as long if someone else is able to help. A character can attempt to doff one outfit and don a new one as part of the same action by attempting a DC 20 Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check. On a success, the operation is completed without issue; on a failure no change of clothes happens and the character is restrained (escape DC 10) as they become entangled in fabric.
The first part of this one is a companion to the rules for donning and doffing armor on page 146 of the PHB. The second part is just a bit of fun, in case anyone wants to play superhero.

New Adventuring Gear

The table below contains a summary of both new and existing items. The value in the 'durability' column indicates the number of days an item will last under the Wear and Tear variant rule. All outfits are considered to include basic footwear.

ItemCostWeight Durability
Ceremonial Outfit25 gp10 lb.5
Common Clothes5 sp3 lb.100
Costume5 gp4 lb30
Dwarven Work Overalls10 gp5 lb.250
Elven Long Robes20 gp4 lb.50
Exotic Finery25 gp2 lb.*10
Fine Clothes15 gp6 lb.50
Lightweight Clothes4 gp2 lb.*100
Priest's Vestments5 gp4 lb.75
Robes1 gp4 lb.100
Sackcloth Shift1 cp1/2 lb.*50
Soldier's Uniform1 gp3 lb.50
Sumptuous Regalia50 gp7 lb.10
Traveler's Clothes2 gp4 lb.200
Winter Clothes10 gp10 lb.200

*The total weight of a character's clothing, including accessories, must be 2 lbs or less to be considered 'light' enough not to impose disadvantage on saves against extreme heat as per page 110 of the DMG.

Ceremonial Outfit. This special outfit is intended to be worn only once, at an occasion such as a wedding, funeral, or graduation from wizarding school.
     Dwarven Work Overalls. These toughened clothes are made from the fibres of a unique subterranean plant. While wearing them, your AC against attacks that would deal acid, bludgeoning or fire damage is equal to 11 + your Dexterity modifier. The overalls do not count as armour, and do not require any sort of proficiency to use.
     Elven Long Robes. These silken robes are popular among mages. While wearing them, your AC against spell attacks is equal to 11 + your Dexterity modifier. The robes do not count as armour, and do not require any sort of proficiency to use.
     Exotic Finery. This unusual outfit is worn in hot climates by the same sorts of people who would wear fine clothes in temperate climates.
     Lightweight Clothes. These clothes are similar to common clothes, but are made from lighter materials - or simply less material overall - such that they remain comfortable to wear in hotter weather.
     Sackcloth Shift. A garment reserved for the lowest of the low, this is simply a sack with a few holes cut in it. Individuals clad in sackcloth are unlikely to be welcome in polite society.
     Soldier's Uniform. These uniforms are mass-produced from cheap materials, but grant the wearer advantage on Charisma (Deception) checks made to pass themselves off as a soldier.
     Sumptuous Regalia. The finest everyday clothing money can buy, a person would wear this to show off their wealth and impress their peers.
     Winter Clothes. Specially-designed warm clothing, which typically includes hats and gloves, grants its wearer immunity to the dangers of extreme cold.

New Accessories

The accessories below can be worn in conjunction with armour or clothing, though they are subject to the rules about wearing and wielding magic items on pages 140-141 of the DMG; it should be noted that only one cloak, cape, mantle, shawl, stole or coat can be worn at any one time.

ItemCostWeightBody Part
Alchemist's Gloves5 gp-Hands
Ascetic's Stole2 gp-Torso
Chintzy Pewter Ring2 cp-Fingers
Cloak o' Many Pockets10 gp1 lb.Torso
Crampons5 gp1 lb.Feet
Dark Cloak5 sp-Torso
Fur Cloak5 gp1 lb.Torso
Hachimaki2 gp-Head
Heat-proof Gloves15 gp-Hands
Heavy Coat20 gp2 lb.Torso
Hobnail Boots10 gp1 lb.Feet
Kerchief10 gp-Neck
Mood Ring1 cp-Fingers
Rain Cloak8 gp1 lb.Torso
Riding Boots5 gp1 lb.Feet
Siegeball Scarf1 sp-Neck
Signet Ring5 gp-Fingers
Silk Gloves6 gp-Hands
Silk Scarf4 gp-Neck
Stiletto Boots10 gp1 lb.Feet
Thumb Ring5 gp-Fingers
Wide-brimmed Hat12 gp-Head

     Alchemist's Gloves. While wearing these specially treated gloves, you can safely handle acids and contact poisons without any risk to yourself. However, you have disadvantage on all Sleight of Hand checks due to the gloves' bulky construction.
     Ascetic's Stole. An accessory worn by priests and monks, this stole gives you an air of authority in religious matters. When worn in combination with a set of priest's vestments, you gain a +1 bonus on any Religion checks you make.
     Chintzy Pewter Ring. This style of ring is often worn on the pinky finger to indicate allegiance to a certain cause or membership of a certain organisation.
     Cloak o' Many Pockets. A favourite of bards and rogues, the cloak o' many pockets is lined with hundreds of tiny pockets that can hold all manner of knick knacks. While wearing this cloak, you can draw or stow up to two items as part of the same object interaction, as long as the items are small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.
     Crampons. These boots have spiked attachments. While wearing them, ice and icy surfaces do not count as difficult terrain, but base walking speed is reduced by 10 feet.
     Dark Cloak. A simple hooded cloak, dyed a dark colour, good for hiding in the shadows. You gain a +1 bonus on Dexterity (Stealth) checks in dim light or darkness.
     Fur Cloak. A heavy fur cloak can grant some protection against cold temperatures. You have advantage on saving throws inflicted by extreme cold.
     Hachimaki. This slogan-bearing headband is worn to focus one's energies. While wearing it, you are always ready for action, and gain a +1 bonus on Initiative checks.
     Heat-proof Gloves. These thick gloves protect against heat, making them useful for chefs, blacksmiths and apprentice wizards. You can safely handle hot or burning objects up to 2,000°F while wearing them. However, you have disadvantage on all Sleight of Hand checks due to the gloves' bulky construction.
     Heavy Coat. A heavy coat, such as a duster or trenchcoat, provides some protection against the elements. You have advantage on saving throws related to heavy rain, wind or snow, even if they are magical in nature.
     Hobnail Boots. These sturdy boots give you superior grip on soft surfaces. Muddy, boggy and moss-covered surfaces do not count as difficult terrain for you.
     Kerchief. This thin scarf can double as a mask for filtering out noxious vapors. When you are exposed to dangerous fumes, inhalation poisons, toxic vapors or any other breathable hazards, you can use your reaction to put your kerchief over your mouth and nose. When you do so, you suffer no harm from the vapor for the first minute of exposure.
     Mood Ring. This cheap ring supposedly changes colour based on the wearer's mood, but actually does nothing of the sort.
     Rain Cloak. This oiled leather cloak is designed to keep you dry in the rain. While wearing it, you can ignore the effects of  heavy rain, as defined on page 110 of the DMG.
     Riding Boots. These boots are convenient for fitting into stirrups, and feature built-in spurs that make them ideal for use by cavaliers. When a mount you are riding takes the Dash action, it can move an extra 5 feet beyond its normal speed.
     Siegeball Scarf. While wearing your team's siegeball scarf, you gain a +1 bonus on any Charisma checks made to interact with fellow fans. Supporters of rival teams immediately become hostile to you, however.
     Silk Gloves. These luxurious gloves cover your hands without reducing your dexterity. You do not leave any fingerprints while wearing these gloves.
     Silk Scarf. A silk scarf is a colorful accessory that works with all sorts of outfits. When worn in combination with a made-to-measure outfit, the bonus to Charisma checks is doubled.
     Stiletto Boots. These boots have long, thin heels. When you make unarmed strikes with your feet, you deal piercing damage rather than bludgeoning damage. However, you can only move at half of your normal speed when you take the Dash action.
     Thumb Ring. A thumb ring is used by archers to protect their thumb from the bowstring. When wielding a shortbow or longbow, the thumb ring increases the weapon's long range by 10 feet (it has no effect on the short range).
     Wide-brimmed Hat. A hat with a wide brim provides shade for the face and eyes. If you have the Sunlight Hypersensitivity feature, it is downgraded to ordinary Sunlight Sensitivity while you are wearing the hat.

Changelog: 05/31/18: wide-brimmed hat no longer imposes disadvantage or helps with sunlight sensitivity.


  1. These are intriguing. I'd have to try them out to say much more

  2. I wouldn't say these have been missing so far, but it's pretty cool to have those options.
    Reminds me of a character in my playgroup- a Vow of Poverty monk who had worn nothing but underpants and one long shirt for over a year. The shirt was a terrible rag that required constant mending until the group bought him a magical shirt that repaired itself, which I let him keep because it was a personal gift and he lost his trinket.

    I think there are a few mechanical issues here.
    In some races, sunlight sensitivity is used as a balancing feature. The wide-brimmed hat completely changes how that works. I'd say it should only prevent disadvantage on perception without drawbacks.

    The ascetic's stole doesn't actually grant you knowledge, it only helps you appear knowledgeable, so it should give you a bonus for interacting with religious people, not a bonus in religion knowledge.

    The Siegeball scarf took me by surprise. Yay, more Siegeball!

    1. Clearly the stole works on 'fake it until you make it' logic...

      I think I might just cut the sunhat down to only helping with hypersensitivity though. It's inspired by Marceline from Adventure Time, after all.

  3. Personally, I think this is a great expansion. I love adding aesthetics to characters, but my players are more about getting something out of it. I could throw these into my campaign as "common magic items". There are some pretty good bonuses in here my players would go for.
    Also, some of the items (like winter clothes and crampons) would be great to throw into adventures in specific terrains. Those winter clothes would've helped my last group when they had to survive a week-long blizzard.

    1. The winter clothes and crampons were actually ripped straight from our Tundra Update book, which is available in the store if you think any more blizzards might be on the horizon!

    2. Trust me, if I had money for online stuff, I'd have bought all the classes already and probably anything terrain and equipment related.

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  5. Pretty much like everything written here, except in my campaign I'd probably change the rules for short resting.

    I only say that because even modern soldiers are carrying gear that weighs more than medieval platemail while keeping watch and on standby, so being at ease for an hour or so without completely taking off all of your armor seems doable.

    Not losing exhaustion for trying to sleep fully armoured in a long rest completely makes sense though, plus I really dig all the different accessory options

    1. On the short rest thing, I'd just like to explain why I think my variant rule makes sense...

      To start with, I'd be quite happy to say that taking off *part* of a suit of armour (such as a helmet and gauntlets) is sufficient to deny you the benefits of being armoured and consequently count as 'not wearing' armour for the purposes of the variant rule. if you're stopping for an hour to eat lunch, you're going to take off your helmet, right?

      Also, I specified that it only applies if you're armoured for the "entire duration" of the rest - so like, if you're taking off your leg armour for five minutes in order to answer a call of nature, the rule doesn't come into play. I think it's fair to say you're not resting properly if you won't even do that.

      Thirdly, I'm only ruling you can't regain hit points. Your short rest abilities would still recharge, etc. So even if you *do* stay fully armoured the whole time, I'm still accepting that you're gaining some amount of rest. Just not the full amount.

      There are lots of good reasons not to use these rules, of course. I just don't think "they're unrealistic" is one of them.

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  7. Just gonna say, the Hachimaki looks kinda overpowered for low levels, since it's trivial for most characters to afford with their starting gold, even after gearing up. Looks like the only characters that wouldn't buy one at Lv.1 are characters that explicitly _want_ to have low initiative for some reason or other.

  8. Thank you for ideas, I will take some inspiration from this. The party will be going to the fantasy equivalent to the Met Gala and so now is as good a time as any to start introducing clothing mechanics. Plus, They will need to be serving up some major looks as it is held in the Faewilds.