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Adamantine is a rare metal appearing in Dungeons & Dragons. It is famed for its hardness and often used to produce weapons and armor.

Adamantine in various pure, alloyed or raw forms have historically been referred to by different names, including adamantite, adamant and adamantium (see Nomenclature, below).

Characteristics

Adamantine is an extremely hard, black metal. In its finished form, adamantine metal reflects a clear green sheen under candlelight, and purple-white under magical light.

Adamantine weighs as much as steel. It is ferromagnetic like steel, and vulnerable to a rust monster's grasp.

Unprocessed adamantine, termed adamant by some sages, is hard but brittle, and unsuitable for use as a weapon. It has a glossy black appearance, and has the unique property that reflections seen in it glow with rainbow edges.[1] Once it has been cooled, adamantine cannot be deformed or bent by mundane means. Weapons made from adamantine do not dull or chip with use.

Mining and refinement

The only known sources of adamantine are meteorites which have impacted the earth, and rare mineral veins in areas saturated with magic.[2] The mineral ore of the metal is sometimes termed adamantite, although this name was also historically used to refer to the refined metal. The term "adamantine ore" is now more commonly used to avoid confusion.

Pure raw adamant can occasionally be found in spheres trapped within solidified lava flows, where it must be processed to produce adamantine metal.

A human legend states that in its pure form, raw adamantine is so hard that no being other than the Greek god Hephaestus can work the metal. Despite this, it is often worked by the talented smiths of subterranean races, most notably the expert dwarves and the skillful drow. Very high temperatures are required to work the metal.

A once popular myth claims that adamantine is produced by alloying steel and mithral, or even silver and electrum with adamantine ore. This is dismissed as a folk tale by experts, including the dwarves who closely guard the secrets of working the difficult metal.[1][3]

Uses

A major use of adamantine is in the construction of weapons and armor. Due to its high price and the difficulty of working the metal, adamantine equipment is almost always worked by a master craftsman.[2]

Weapons made from adamantine are exceptionally hard and durable, and are able to smash solid objects with ease. The best adamantine arms and armor are as potent as magic weapons.[3] Adamantine weapons are able to overcome certain creatures' resistance or immunity to normal steel weapons.

Adamantine armor is supremely resistant against damage, and virtually unbreakable. The dwarves of many worlds craft exceptional suits of full plate armour from adamantine. The drow possess advanced metallurgy and are able to draw an adamantine alloy into thin, flexible strands, which are woven into a mesh to produce armor.

Many notable magic items are made from adamantine, including Daern's instant fortress, the saw of mighty cutting, the talisman of the sphere[4] the mace of smiting, the mattock of the titans, and the Hammer of the Dwarffather.

Several constructs have been built completely or partially from adamantine. These include the huge adamantine golem; the singular adamantine horror, leader of the clockwork horrors; and the drow-built adamantine spider.

Adamantine is sometimes used in the construction of building doors when extreme security is desired. In the world of Eberron, a House Cannith foundry beneath the city of Sharn was constructed from adamantine-plated thick steel. The infamous Tomb of Horrors was also built to contain an impassable door of solid adamantine, until adventurers simply tore the valuable metal from its hinges.[5]

Other forms of adamantine, such as the brittle raw adamant metal or its ore, have few practical uses except in dwarven materials research, experimental magic items, expensive engravers' tools, and pieces of jewelry.

Nomenclature

Various names have been given to adamantine metal, its ores, its alloys, and its pure form. These have been used somewhat inconsistently, and the term "adamantine" is now preferred for all uses.

  • Adamantine: A durable black metal used to craft weapons and armor. While it is sometimes stated to be an alloy of steel or other metals, the exact metallurgy involved in producing this material from its ore is a closely-guarded secret. The ore itself is often called "adamantine ore".
  • Adamantite: Often used synonymously with adamantine, "adamantite" is more precisely defined by sages as the naturally-occurring ore from which adamantine is refined.
  • Adamant: An extremely hard but brittle metal refined from adamantite ore. Often stated to be the pure form of the metal, which must be worked to produce adamantine. It is surprisingly light.
  • Adamantium: A rarely-used synonym for adamant.

Publication history

Original D&D

The metal known as "adamantite" first appeared in Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975), p.47 where it is a "strange alloy" of which +5 armor and shields are made.

In Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), p.17, the arrows of the Greek god Apollo are made of "adamant", as is the sickle of the titan Cronos. Hephaestus, Greek god of the forge, is the only being able to work adamant into weapons and armor, owing to its hardness.

AD&D 1st edition

In AD&D 1e works by Gary Gygax, "adamantite" is described as a rare metal alloyed with steel.

"Adamantite" is listed in the Players Handbook (1e) (1978) as the hardest and most difficult metal to transmute with the spell molecular rearrangement. The Monster Manual (1e) (1977) describes the gnoll deity Yeenoghu wielding an adamantite flail, and the rust monster is stated to be able to destroy adamantite weapons and armour as it is a steel alloy. The adventure module D3 Vault of the Drow (1978) describe the drow crafting fine mesh armor made of steel alloyed with adamantite, and carrying shields or weapons made of adamantite or adamantite alloy.

It is subsequently named in the Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979) as the metal from which Daern's instant fortress, the saw of mighty cutting, and the talisman of the sphere. Page 164 of that book describes +5 armor and weapons as made from adamantite alloyed steel. The adventure module Tomb of Horrors{{UnknownBook}} features an unbreakable adamantite door.

AD&D 2nd edition

Following Gygax's departure from TSR, some later products attempted to clarify or correct the nomenclature of "adamantite", as the suffix -ite technically denotes a mineral rather than a metal. These clarifications would be used inconsistently throughout AD&D 2nd edition.

FOR2 The Drow of the Underdark (2e) (1991) describes (p.32) that "adamantium" is a form of pure forged adamantite, with "adamantite" itself also used to create some items. The name "adamantine" is used to describe as a hard and flexible alloy of adamantite, made from adamantite ore, from which drow weapons and armor are made.

Book of Artifacts (1993) follows this usage and references "adamantine" as a material from which weapons and other objects are made. Planescape Planes of Conflict (1995) (Liber Benevolentiae, p.43) refers to a creature called the adamantite dragon.

Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (1996) (p.25, p.55-56) attempts to clarify the nomenclature. According to this source, "adamantite" is a ferromagnetic ore, of which the pure metal is "adamant". Adamant is hard but brittle, and is alloyed with silver and electrum to make "adamantine".

D&D 3rd edition

D&D third edition would again change the nomenclature. From this point forward in D&D, "adamantine" referred to a hard metal, not an alloy. Previous references to "adamantite", "adamant" or "adamantium" were replaced with "adamantine".

Dungeon Master's Guide (3.0) (2000), p.242 asserts that adamantine is itself a rare metal used to craft weapons and armor. Magic of Faerûn (2001), p.177-180 refutes the earlier description in Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (1996), and explicitly rejects the belief that adamantine can be made by alloying adamantine ore with silver and electrum, or mithral and steel.

Daern's instant fortress and the talisman of the sphere, which had been described as made of "adamantite" in the AD&D 1e Dungeon Masters Guide, were now described as "adamantine" in third edition. Other adamantine items included the third edition Dungeon Master's Guide are the mattock of the titans, mace of smiting, and adamantine versions of various standard weapons and armour.

Other instances of pre-3e "adamantite" renamed to "adamantine" include the adamantine door in the 3e web release of Tomb of Horrors, and the adamantine dragon of Bytopia appearing in Dragon #321 (Jul 2004)'s Dragons of the Outer Planes. Several NPCs in The Drow of the Underdark (3e){{UnknownBook}} are also referred to as using adamantine weapons or armor.

Creatures published in D&D third edition include the adamantine horror in Monster Manual II (3e) (2002), the adamantine golem in the Epic Level Handbook (2002), some adamantine-clad warforged in the Eberron Campaign Setting (2004), and the adamantine spider in Drow of the Underdark (3e) (2007).

D&D 4th edition

Exclusive use of the term "adamantine" continued in D&D 4th edition.

The Player's Handbook (4e) (2008) refers to adamantine as an item with an exceptionally high difficulty to break or lift on a Strength check. The fighter's 27th-level encounter exploit Adamantine Strike is so named for its ability to break through opponent's armor. An artifact called the Adamantine Scepter is named as an example of the goal a major quest.

21 magic items whose name or description includes "adamantine" appear in the D&D Compendium. Notable examples include the adamantine horse of Xarn, hammer of thunderbolts, rod of Dispater and Daern's instant fortress. Several adamantine dragons also appear.

D&D 5th edition

D&D 5e continues to use the name "adamantine".

Adamantine armor and weapons appear in the Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) (2014) (Edit on Oct-11-2020: the previous statement is incorrect, as only the armor is mentioned in page 150-151 of the 5th edition DMG, but the weapons are mentioned in Xanathar's Guide to Everything on Page 78), as does the Daern's instant fortress.

Creative origins

Adamantine is an old word which appears in various works of literature, referring to any very hard, unbreakable substance. For example, armor described as "adamantine" appears in Milton's Paradise Lost (1667):

Arme, Warriours, Arme for fight, the foe at hand,
Whom fled we thought, will save us long pursuit
This day, fear not his flight; so thick a Cloud
He comes, and settl’d in his face I see
Sad resolution and secure: let each
His Adamantine coat gird well, and each
Fit well his Helme, gripe fast his orbed Shield,

Adamantine is sometimes confused with adamantium, a fictional metal from Marvel Comics which first appeared in Avengers #66 (July 1969).

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (1996), p.55-56.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dungeon Master's Guide (3.5) (2003), p.283.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Magic of Faerûn (2001), p.177-180.
  4. Dungeon Master Guide (2e revised) (1995).
  5. Eberron Campaign Setting (2004), p.314-316.
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