I've had a situation where players have been using items such as the polymorphic pouch to access weapons or armor of size when turning into smaller creatures, then equipping said items. I'd draw the line at equipping armor that requires assistance, but a few specific cases have come up which have been a bit controversial.
1) A kitsune turns into a tiny fox with a polymorphic pouch. It then pulls out two sets of tiny gauntlets and slips them on.
I'm aware that all creatures can perform unarmed strikes. Would you allow a fox to wear gauntlets?
2) A caster turns into a bear, and allies assist it in equipping full-plate armor.
I'm aware in this case that druids of certain deities permit armor being put on but suppress other class features until it is removed, but some say this is an exception to the rule and others say armoring a creature post-polymorph is normal. What do you think?
As usual I'll refrain from stating my opinions for now. I'd really appreciate some input from others!
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1. No. Like most manufactured weapons, you need hands to effectively use gauntlets.
2. Still a druid, still subject to the rules against wearing metal armor. In fact, donning metal armor would cause the druid to revert to normal shape for the next 24 hours after removing said armor (in addition to suppressing the druid's other supernatural and spell-like abilities).
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Note that a polymorphic pouch only allows access to the items in the pouch (i.e., pull them out). It does not allow the polymorphed character manipulate or use the items from the pouch if the form they are in lacks the appropriate means (see the 'Magic Item Slots for Animals' here).
1) A fox, as a quadruped (claws/paws), does not have hands and cannot wear gauntlets.
2) Wild shaping into a bear and then having the other party members outfit the druid with a set of barding for that particular form is doable (if they are willing to take the 1 to 4 minutes involved). However, as blaphers mentions, wearing metal armor causes the druid to be "unable to cast druid spells or use any of her supernatural or spell-like class abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter." (emphasis mine) Wild shape is a supernatural ability. Now, wearing leather or hide barding (or dragonhide breastplate barding if the druid wants to pay for it) while wild shaped is completely legitimate... However, the barding must be purchased for each form/size and removed/donned with each change in form (that's why the wild armor ability exists).
Gorumites and other druids, as well as those casting the spell manually, could stay in form while wearing the barding according to rules discussing it. However one of the players is putting forth the idea that putting the armor on at all causes it to meld post-change.
Follow-up question for consideration: If a character shapechanged into a small monkey, could it use a small longsword?
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Items can meld when the spell is cast, but that's it. You don't repolymorph when an applicable item touches you.
Looking up the magic item slots for animals there's an entry for 'biped (hands)' which has an example of a monkey, and which says simply 'All' for item slots. i.e. It can use weapons by shape if not by training.
I should clarify that when I said 'other druids' I was referring to druids who worship gods from other settings with similar portfolios to Gorum. The others are right in saying that a normal druid putting on metal armor pops out of form.
I'm thinking it might be alright when it comes to armor if the armor is custom-made for the shape and somebody else helps don the armor post-change, since there's rules for barding.
At the moment we have a player using Two-Weapon Fighting along with a natural bite attack, making use of gauntlets on his fox paws. The discussion about this at the table is mixed.
1)Why does the fox need gauntlets? To make the attack "lethal"? A tiny-sized gauntlet is going to do 1d1 damage. A tiny unarmed strike is also going to do 1d1 damage, though nonlethal without improved unarmed strike.
Slotting a Deep Red Sphere Ioun Stone(Normal) into a Wayfinder gets you Improved Unarmed Strike without taking a level dip or a feat. And without the "can a fox wear gauntlets" discussion.
As a bonus, the Amulet of Mighty Fists(Agile) will apply to their unarmed strikes since they aren't using a weapon(gauntlets) as well as to the bite attack. If they aren't planning on using an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists as a tiny creature, you have bigger problems than gauntlets on a fox.
2) Animals(and animal shaped things) can totally wear barding. Animal Companions and Mounts do it all the time. Of course, it needs to be Barding and not just a random set of full-plate. Just remember that tiny or smaller armor/barding has its AC value halved. Mage Armor is generally the best armor for tiny creatures unless you need some very specific enchants.
Followup) Sure, I think the argument against animal companions using weapons was to limit companions a bit, not a broad ruling.
TWF/Natural Attack) Make sure all the penalties are in place. Two Weapon Fighting is probably going to be a minimum of -2/-2 and all natural attacks are now secondary attacks, meaning -5 to hit and 1/2 strength to damage (barring multiattack).