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Leaded Restraint
Rarity: Uncommon (usually)
Aura: Undetectable, even if magical
This is a template for various restraints where lead has been added as an integral component, a plating, or substantial layer of some kind.
Lead has an ability to block the effects of many spells, including but not limited to divination. A leaded restraint appears nonmagical, even if it is, and has no aura via Detect Magic.
Similarly, while worn, a creature cannot cast spells, nor can it invoke its spell-like (Sp) and supernatural (Su) abilities, but it spends any resources required to attempt to do so. [Although not recorded in DnD 5e, spell-like abilities are innately-castable spells, and supernatural abilities are other feats granted to creatures whose basic implementation is contingent on magic (such as dragon's breath, or the Change Shape ability). As a litmus test, both types of abilities would be ineffective within an Antimagic Field.] The effect has no area (unlike Antimagic Field), but is localized to the wearing creature--in particular, the wearer can be affected by spells as usual.
[In a fairly stunning reversal from 3.5e, which explicitly declared a dragon's breath weapon as supernatural, Jeremy Crawford seems to have declared breath weapons in 5e as extraordinary, preventing it from being nullified in this effect--see "Sage Advice Compendium (2019)" [], Section "Monsters", "Is the breath weapon of a dragon magical?", page 17. The context of the question mostly describes the intent, and a very handy checklist, for abilities which are "explicitly magical", which quite cleanly avoids having to specify Su/Sp/Ex everywhere (instead, the word "magical" in a description normally suffices, but must be explicit). The specific ruling considered is whether or not, e.g., a white dragon's ice-based breath weapon is nullified in an Antimagic Field (Crawford says it is not--DEX SAV). However, in this case, it means that the dragon is no longer "naturally casting" for the purpose of this item template. Although not a strictly plot-important distinction for C3 (indeed, Change shape is explicitly "magical", and was the purpose for the introduction of this template--see Mechanics, below), I recommend what the compendium itself recommends: do whatever is fun. (If you're looking for a precedent, I still consider breath weapons to be supernatural.)]
Lead is a soft metal. If the restraint itself is made principally of lead, a typical set of manacles for a medium humanoid would require STR SAV (DC 20) to break (difficult, but not impossible).
Lead is also quite heavy, at ~700 pounds per cubic foot. Even if not binding the body, as with manacles, add a restraint's weight to the carrying weight of the creature; if the carrying weight exceeds that creature's carrying capacity, it becomes restrained (as in the status effect) until it is released, or its carried weight falls below its carrying capacity.
Example items of this template:
- Lead manacles: STR CHK DC 20 to break free (destroying the manacles); DEX CHK DC 20 to escape (the manacles remain locked); DEX CHK DC 15 to pick the lock for a creature proficient and capable of using thieves' tools; AC 15, HP 15, weight 5 pounds. The manacles are produced with a matching key that allows a creature to unlock them as an action. While worn by a humanoid, the creature cannot cast spells with S components [though this is redundant].
- Lead-lined steel manacles: STR CHK DC 35 to break free, DEX CHK DC 20 to escape, or DC 15 to pick the lock for a creature proficient in and using thieves' tools; AC 15, HP 35, weight 3 pounds. They are produced with a matching key to unlock in one action. While worn by a humanoid, the creature cannot cast spells with S components [though this is redundant].
- Lead fetters: STR CHK DC 25 to break free, DEX CHK DC 25 to escape, or DC 15 to pick the lock with tools; AC 15, HP 20, weight 10 pounds. Produced with one matching key. While worn by a humanoid, the creature's move speed is at most 10'.
- Lead collar (medium size): STR CHK DC 30 to break free (1/day); DEX CHK DC 15 to pick the lock with tools; AC 15, HP 40--risk of damaging wearer on miss, weight 10 pounds. Produced with a matching key.
- Lead collar (gargantuan size): STR CHK DC 50 to break free (1/day); DEX CHK DC 25 to pick the lock with tools; AC 18, HP 100--risk of damaging the wearer on miss, weight 50 pounds. Produced with a matching key.
- Leaded dimensional shackles: STR CHK DC 30 to break free (1/30 days); weight 5 pounds. Fits small to large creatures; the using creature, and any creatures they designate at time of use, can unlock them.
For the descriptions above: "risk of damaging the wearer on miss" means "if you miss the AC of the object, but hit against the AC of the wearer (penalized appropriately for, e.g., not contributing DEX if the wearer is trying to allow this hit), roll damage and apply it to the wearer; if you hit the object, but go over the damage required to destroy it, apply the excess damage to the wearer (the item still breaks)." In general, wantonly swinging sharp things at some creature's neck to wallop the metal band there should be a supremely bad idea. Considering the placement as well, the DM has an actionable threat of effecting "vorpal" decapitation should "overkill" (e.g., nat 20) occur.
The suggested use of this template is especially large creatures ("monsters") with supernatural abilities, but also for generally powerful spellcasters (and there are plenty of those in 5e).
The inception of this item was around the loose wording of the Imprisonment spell, in particular; all of its variants trap the target, of course--some in various ways that involve Demiplanes, indestructible gems, or uninterruptible sleep. While the sleep is fairly unambiguous as causing incapacitation, some variants--especially chaining--are silent on whether or not it prevents the bound creature from casting. Assuredly, a bound creature is incapable of casting S components, and would almost certainly have a hard time manipulating M components, but there are powerful spells--like Teleport--which have only a V component. Rules are further muddled with things like Teleport and Wind Walk as to whether or not they take things which are worn--house rules often assume they do--but, if they do, are the chains considered "worn"? Still more perniciously, certain monsters, like the metallic dragons, have supernatural or spell-like abilities with seemingly no components at all--such as Amon's ability to Change shape, as if by effectively indefinite Polymorph, which is what inspired this item in the first place--as a CR23 Ancient Silver Dragon, she would have no issue polymorphing into some CR 0 beast to worm free of whichever shackles bound her.
In summation: rather than argue about whether or not spells, spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities, etc., are curtailed by Imprisonment, it was easier to introduce this item specifically as restraining a caster--even an innate spellcaster, like a dragon--while allowing them to be targeted. I'm sure it has other, more mundane uses, too; the collar form is particularly convenient for a plot where a being must be separated from powerful magic forces, but otherwise free in movement--Velos, given an Elemental Curse of Fire, comes to mind.
Yes, "gargantuan size" is for dragons. Yes, DC 50 is pretty high. Basically, even for creatures with +10 STR at the limit, only a nat 20 will help. Based on the hard caps, I learned later that +10 is the limit for an ability score bonus (not saves, mind you), so a DC of 30 would have also sufficed. Just in case other home-rule things break that cap any harder, though... (Unsurprisingly, restraints should be pretty hard to break for the wearer.)
Pure lead can be scratched with a fingernail, but even slightly impure lead alloys can be surprisingly strong. I believe adding 4% bismuth makes something quite a bit more durable, for example. Let's assume lead, in this setting, has some beneficial impurities.
See also the note in the brackets above about Jeremy Crawford disagreeing with my understanding of dragons' breath weapons, departing also from the 3.5e description.
My use of a prop of exactly this kind is vindicated through the 5e module "Storm King's Thunder", wherein a similarly "locked collar" (of nondescript kind, with the rest of the restraints being iron) has a magical ward to prevent Felgolos, The Flying Misfortune (a kind but unintentionally imprudent bronze dragon who's being tortured by the episode's villain for information he doesn't possess) from using his Change Shape ability. To deal with Crawford's ruling above, they also invented a "locked iron muzzle covering his snout" to reduce breath weapon range to 5', allowing him to only "speak with some difficulty". Like Amon above, he was also bound, but with mundane manacles (that were nonetheless sized for an adult bronze dragon) rather than Imprisonment.