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Studded Leather Armor – Its History, Styles, and Uses

The Medieval Period was a time of great battles and bloodshed, and one might think that studded leather armor would be useful against commonly used swords. Amazingly enough, studded leather armor never existed in the human world — only in the role-playing world. I’d like to focus on the studded leather armor found in Dungeons and Dragon’s fifth edition and Dungeons of Doom.

Studded leather armor is a light armor in Dungeons and Dragons. Mistaken for brigandine armor, it offers little protection in real life. However, it is adequate protection for rogues, bards, and warlocks. The blacksmith sells it for 45 gp, or it can be crafted or taken from defeated characters. 

Did studded leather actually exist in Medieval times? Would studded leather armor provide adequate protection in real life? Let’s explore more about studded leather armor and its uses.

What Is Studded Leather Armor?

Studded leather armor is material worn on the body to protect from various attacks. It is made of leather and metal studs and is considered light armor. It does not exist in the real world, but it is an armor type in the computer-based role-playing games Dungeons and Dragons 5E and Dungeons of Doom. However, it may also be used in cosplay for medieval knights, rangers, and warriors. 

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • The History of Studded Leather Armor
  • Why You Might Like Studded Leather Armor
  • Studded Leather Armor Overview Table
  • Popular Types and Styles of Studded Leather Armor
  • Common Studded Leather Armor Characteristics
  • Studded Leather Armor Costs
  • Pros of Studded Leather Armor
  • Cons of Studded Leather Armor
  • Studded Leather Armor Manufacturing Process – How They’re Made
  • Experienced Tips for Choosing Studded Leather Armor
  • My Personal Research with Studded Leather Armor
  • Studded Leather Armor Care and Maintenance
  • Helpful Insights on Studded Leather Armor
  • Key Takeaways
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Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

One myth regarding studded leather armor is that it actually existed and was used in medieval times. Instead, it is armor found in computer-based role-playing games and was not worn in medieval times.

Another myth is that studded leather armor could provide protection; however, the studs were usually so far apart they would serve little purpose. A misconception is that studded leather armor is brigandine, a type of leather armor with studs that hold metal plates for protection. 

The History of Studded Leather Armor

In the 15th century, brigandine armor had studs inside the leather to hold plates, making them sturdy and protective. Studded leather armor came about in 1977 with the introduction of Dungeons and Dragons, although it was less complex than the fifth edition we know today.

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According to researchers Toy and Arnold of the University of California, studded leather armor is in class seven in terms of protection, which is low compared to plate mail in class three in Dungeons of Doom. In Dungeons and Dragons, studded leather armor provides armor class 12 and increases character dexterity.

Studded Leather Armor Overview Table

Studded Leather Armor CharacteristicDetails
ItemStudded Leather Armor
UsesProtection for rogues, bards, and warlocks. Adds defensive capability
Common MaterialsLeather and metal studs or rivets
Weight13 pounds
SizesOne size fits all
TypesStandard and magical
Cost Range ($)0–45 up to 5,000 gold pieces
Studded Leather Armor Characteristics

Common Studded Leather Armor Characteristics

Materials

Studded leather armor is made from tough, flexible leather reinforced with close-set rivets or spikes.

Sizes

Studded leather armor is one size but can only be donned by barbarians, bards, clerics, druids, fighters, paladins, rangers, rogues, and warlocks.

Types

Types of studded leather armor include standard and magical. Magical studded leather armor enhances your character’s experience and has benefits for magic items that could come. It adds +1 defensive capability to the armor class and costs more than standard studded leather armor. 

Key Uses

Studded leather armor provides protection for rogues, bards, and warlocks. It can add defensive capability and battle skills and is effective for agile characters.

Studded leather armor can be purchased from the blacksmith, taken from a defeated character, or crafted in Dungeons and Dragons.

Studded Leather Armor Costs

Standard studded leather armor can be purchased from a blacksmith for 45 gold pieces. This price can go up or down depending on where in the game it is purchased. When magic is added to studded leather armor, the cost can go anywhere from 501–5,000 gold pieces.

Pros of Studded Leather Armor

Studded leather armor is considered light armor at 13 pounds. It is tough and flexible and has close-set spikes or rivets as reinforcement. It adds 12 dexterity points to the character wearing it. When magic is added, studded leather armor becomes a rare item that increases in value.

Cons of Studded Leather Armor

The cost of studded leather armor is 45 gold pieces, which can be pricey compared to the standard leather armor that only costs 10 gold pieces. In terms of its weight, when other armor elements are added to a character in addition to the 13 pounds the studded leather armor weighs, it can quickly add up and negatively affect dexterity and battle skills.

In this helpful video, Lauren Danger Shaw breaks down studded leather armor and compares it to plated leather armor.

How to Get Studded Leather Armor

Some character classes start the game with studded leather armor, including bards, fighters, rogues, and warlocks. Studded leather armor can be obtained from rogues, bards, or warlocks for free after defeating them in a battle (five-finger discount!).

Studded leather armor can also be obtained through crafting if one has the leatherworker’s tools (along with the supplies and time). Then there’s always the trusty blacksmith. One can purchase studded leather armor from a blacksmith to save some time.

Benefits of Studded Leather Armor

Every type of armor has its benefits, and studded leather armor has unique characteristics that modify power, speed, and dexterity. Here are the benefits of studded leather armor:

  1. Provides better protection than leather armor
  2. Classes of barbarians, bards, clerics, druids, fighters, paladins, rangers, rogues, and warlocks start with studded leather armor.
  3. Helps rogues with proficiency
  4. Adds +12 dexterity
  5. Increases the already high dexterity of warlocks and boosts their survival
  6. Adds +1 defensive capability
  7. Lightweight and flexible
  8.  Magical studded leather armor increases speed, dexterity, proficiency, and more.

My Personal Research with Studded Leather Armor

After researching Dungeons and Dragons and its armor, I compiled a list of the various types. Here is a table representing the various armor, classes, and dexterity modifiers.

Note that not all characters can don all kinds of armor, and with heavy armor, the character needs to have a strength level of at least 15 to support the armor. Remember armor weights to maintain dexterity and battle skills when preparing characters for battle.

Armor TypeArmor ClassDexterity Modifier
Light  
Padded11+1
Leather11+1
Studded leather12+1
Medium  
Hide12+2
Chain Shirt13+2
Scale Mail14+2
Breastplate14+2
Half Plate15+2
Heavy  
Ring Mail140
Chain Mail160
Splint Mail170
Plate Mail180
Shield20
Studded Leather Armor Types

Helpful Insights on Studded Leather Armor

Does studded leather armor exist?

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Leather armor only exists in computer-based role-playing games, including Dungeons and Dragons 5E and Dungeons of Doom. Leather crafters have created studded leather for cosplay, but it does not provide real protection.

What is the point of studded leather armor?

Studded leather armor provides an armor class of 12, increases dexterity, and is lightweight. It is used by barbarians, bards, clerics, druids, fighters, paladins, rangers, rogues, and warlocks without affecting their flexibility or battle skills.

Is studded leather armor good?

Studded leather armor is good because it is tough, lightweight, and flexible. It also adds dexterity and does not negatively affect the character’s abilities. Studded leather armor offers good protection for many different characters.

How much does studded leather armor cost?

Studded leather armor costs 45 gold pieces from the blacksmith, but it can also be taken from defeated characters. If one has the leather crafting supplies and the time, studded leather armor can be crafted, although this is a more challenging way of obtaining it.

Is studded leather better than leather?

Studded leather armor is a higher armor class than leather armor, so it affords slightly better protection. With 12 AC points, it offers one AC point more than regular leather with 11, which can be the difference between life and death in Dungeons and Dragons.

Key Takeaways

  1. Studded leather armor is 12 AC points, one armor class above leather armor at 11 AC points.
  2. Studded leather armor weighs 13 pounds and adds dexterity to the character.
  3. Studded leather armor can be purchased from the blacksmith, taken from a defeated character, or crafted.

In Closing

Although studded leather armor can be found in the present day in cosplay, it would never provide the protection one would need from sword battles. Thankfully in Dungeons and Dragons, studded leather armor effectively protects many characters. This is a game of skill and chance, and it’s a good idea to be familiar with studded leather armor and its benefits. Just keep those weights in mind!

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