D&D 5e: Shields?!?

image credit: Austin Hsu

Shields exist in D&D 5e. That’s about it. You can bash with em and get +2 AC with em, but that’s all that they do. That’s all the customization that they have. But what about the differences in wood and metal shields? What if I carry a buckler? What about my shield breaking? What if I am a simple weapons guy? Shields were hands-down the best options for soldiers in the middle ages fighting with one-handed weapons so they really should have more mechanics dealing with them. Here are some homebrew rules for shields to let more people use them and make using them more fun!

Some notes I couldn’t fit in any section: Shields went out of style as armor improved. People started using two-handed weapons around the same time full plate armor became widely used. The kite shield was used in a time when leg armor was weak or not worn because it was too heavy and unwieldy. The kite shield’s shape could protect their legs without exposing themselves to attack. Also those shields with holes for lances were largely ceremonial or for jousting tournaments only, not adventuring. Bucklers were the most common for someone who needed to be ready for combat at a moment’s notice, as carrying a shield was really tiring unless you were going specifically to battle. But hey, this is a fantasy RPG so we can do whatever looks badass.


  • Wooden Shield: +1 AC.
  • Metal Shield: +2 AC. Only creatures proficient with Medium or Heavy Armor can comfortably use a metal shield. Druids are typically forbidden from using a metal shield.
  • Wooden Buckler: No AC bonus. Creatures proficient with Light Armor can wear bucklers. Does not provide an AC bonus against ranged attacks. You can use your reaction to deflect an incoming melee weapon attack that beats your armor class, reducing the damage by 1d4. The buckler has a 50% chance to break when used in such a way.

A metal buckler

  • Metal Buckler: +1 AC. Creatures proficient with Light Armor can wear bucklers. Does not provide an AC bonus against ranged attacks. Druids are typically forbidden from using a metal buckler.
  • Wooden Tower Shield: +1 AC. You must be proficient in Heavy Armor and have a STR score of at least 13 to comfortably wield a tower shield. You can plant the shield on the ground to gain partial cover (+2 AC). When using the shield in this way, you only move at half your regular movement speed. The bonus provided by the shield does not grant cover against spell attacks. You have a -1 penalty to attacks while using your tower shield for cover.
  • Metal Tower Shield: +2 AC. You must be proficient in Heavy Armor and have a STR score of at least 15 to comfortably wield a tower shield. You can plant the shield on the ground to gain partial cover (+2 AC). When using the shield in this way, you only move at half your regular movement speed. The bonus provided by the shield does not grant cover against spell attacks. You have a -1 penalty to attacks while using your tower shield for cover. Druids are typically forbidden from using a metal tower shield.

Special Shields

  • Sticky Shield: When a creature misses you with a melee weapon attack, this sticky shield coated in alchemical slime can catch the weapon. The attacker must succeed on a DC 11 Strength saving throw, or the weapon becomes stuck to your shield. If the weapon’s wielder can’t or won’t let go of the weapon, the wielder is grappled while the weapon is stuck. While stuck, the weapon can’t be used. A creature can pull the weapon free by taking an action to make a DC 11 Strength check and succeeding
  • Spiked Shield: When you succeed at a Shove attempt when wielding a spiked shield, you deal 1d6 piercing damage to the target. Improvised weapon attacks made using the spiked shield deal 1d6 damage instead of 1d4.

A dhal shield (Indian spiked shield)

  • Mirrored Shield: Any metal shield treated with alchemical silver. When a ranged spell attack is rolled against the shield’s wielder and the attack misses, the wielder may use their reaction to reflect the spell back at its caster. To do so, the wielder makes an attack roll against the caster using their DEX modifier at disadvantage. If the new attack beats the caster’s AC, the spell affects the caster instead. 
  • Pavise Shield: A tower shield meant for archers to use as cover. It has either a spike on the bottom to be driven into dirt, or a hinged rod to prop it up. Creatures can prop up the pavise shield as an item interaction, or stow it as a bonus action. Once set up, it provides partial cover (+2 AC) for those standing behind it, and it does not move unless hit with a melee attack. You do not need proficiency in Heavy Armor to set up a pavise shield and use it for cover, but using it as a regular tower shield does have this requirement.
  • Tanglevine Buckler: A wooden buckler intricately grown out of vines by wood elves that can be used to deflect ranged attacks as well as melee attacks in the way described above.
  • Stonemountain Shield: A dwarven stone tower shield that requires a STR score of 18 or higher to wield. It can be used to provide ¾ cover (+5 AC) when planted on the ground. In addition, it is resistant to being sundered (see below). It has one additional point of durability.
  • Iron Shield: A metal shield resistant to sundering (see below). It has one additional point of durability.

Shield Interactions

Sundering: You can sunder an enemy’s shield with repeated bashing. You can attempt to hit a creature’s AC minus the bonus provided by their shield to target their shield directly. Each time you hit their shield, roll for damage. For every 7 damage dealt to it, it loses one point of durability. When the last point of its durability is lost, the shield breaks. This also makes it easier for creatures who deal more damage to sunder shields more easily. A magical shield cannot be sundered except by a magical weapon. Use the table below:

  • Wooden Buckler: 1 durability
  • Metal Buckler: 2 durability
  • Wooden Shield: 2 durability
  • Metal Shield: 3 durability
  • Iron Shield: 4 durability
  • Wooden Tower Shield: 3 durability
  • Metal Tower Shield: 4 durability
  • Stonemountain Shield: 5 durability

Group Tactics: Shields for the Romans and Greeks were all about group formations. Greek hoplon shields were held in the left hand and the hoplites would sometimes use their righthand neighbor’s shield to block attacks (leading the right flank to often win battles). Roman scutum shields were sometimes used in a tortoise formation to protect everyone from incoming arrows. Give shield-carrying characters adjacent to one another +1 AC against attacks if they opt to halve their speed and always move together to simulate this.

Example of a Roman scutum shield and javelin 

Javelins: So another point on Roman scuta: the legionaries would usually throw a few javelins as they made their initial charge. The purpose was not necessarily to kill the enemies (although I am sure that would be perfectly welcome). The intent was to get the cheap-to-make pointed sticks to impale themselves in the enemies’ scuta. Have you ever tried to hold up a 6-foot javelin sticking straight out from your forearm? Me neither but I would imagine it’s unwieldy. You have to either spend time snapping it or ripping it out or just ditch the shield altogether. Javelins in D&D, however, always have felt stupid. It’s just a basic ranged attack for orcs and goblins. Instead, have creatures just carry a few javelins and let them try to disable the PC’s shields! And let them do the same! To do so, make a sundering attempt (see above). If you remove at least 1 point of durability, the javelin sticks and the unlucky creature either has to drop the shield, spend an action making a STR check to break the javelin, or else live with a -10 move speed reduction and no shield bonus.

Indian armor, khula-khud (helmet), char aina (curaiss), dastana (vambrace/arm guard), dhal (shield), a traditional Sikh warrior outfit from the nearly 80 historical artefacts on display in central London at the world’s first major exhibition on the Golden Temple of Amritsar, north India. A full-sized mannequin of a Sikh warrior dressed in the way a high-ranking warrior would have been at the height of the Sikh Empire, head to foot in original, ornate, gold body armour and weaponry.

anonymous asked:

how could someone with a knife and a shield fight someone with a sword and not die, if running away wasn't an option?

Bash them with the shield.

It’s easy to look at shields as a strictly defensive item, but they are a weapon. Historically shields saw some pretty aggressive use in combat. Shields aren’t simply about blocking an enemy attack, they’re also for retaliating, and creating openings in your opponent’s guard. This may be as simple as (briefly) tying up your opponents weapon by swinging the shield away, after you’ve deflected a blow, or it may be something more involved, such as using the edge of the shield to wedge into an opponents armor, pinning them.

Shields do offer a lot of options to a creative fighter. Including allowing them to close distances, through an enemy’s guard, in ways that an unshielded combatant can’t.

One very simple (and risky) solution to your problem would be to rush the swordsman with the shield up, to prevent them from getting a good swing in, pin them against a wall, and run the dagger through their foe’s neck. It’s risky, because if they’re not able to pin the sword before closing the gap, they could end up running themselves through.

Remember, swords do have a minimum effective range. Get close enough to someone, and they won’t be able to get a good hit in with their sword. While this is also true of shields, it’s not the case with most daggers.

It’s not an optimal situation for dealing with a sword, but a shield does offer options to negate the sword’s advantage over a dagger. The shielded combatant has options for dealing with the sword’s reach. Without that, the knife fighter would be screwed.


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Expansion: Shields

[Since I started playing D&D in 3.5e, the change to 5e with the simplification of shields to a single type was really confusing to me. It took away a lot of the customization a character could have by choosing a shield based on their playstyle.]

[I decided to take a shot at bringing that selection here to 5e and to all of you looking for a little more diversity!]

[P.S. Ignore the wierd look of the table at the bottom. No matter what I did, it always came out that way when I made it a png file.]


PSA for comrades intending on engaging in acts of Direct Action or are looking to protect themselves and others whilst protesting (please share this and spread it around) : How to make a cheap/disposable “Book Bloc” shield, (disclaimer, these types of shields are only good for blocking police batons, kicks and punches and pepper spray not less lethal rounds or live ammunition) Step 1. Find or buy some heavy duty tough cardboard sheets or sturdy lightweight wood hardboard, Step 2. Punch or drill 4 holes through the sheets or boards in the middle, Step 3. Find or buy 2 hooked bungee cords, one should be slightly longer than the other in order to provide enough slack so your arm can fit through, Step 4. loop the bungee cords through the holes and attach the hooks at either end together to create handles, Step 5. Paint or draw on a design or message of your choosing, people tend to paint on the title of a book and the name of the author hence the term “Book Bloc” shield.

anonymous asked:

We were talking about the design of ships recently and my partner asked why the bridge was right on top on the Enterprise. They said it felt like it was putting the bridge in the middle of a bullseye and therefore a vulnerable position. I didn't have a good answer, so I was wondering if you could tell me why the bridge is located where it is? And if it has any extra protections?

Great question! My recollection is that according to the TNG Technical Manual, the in-universe explanation for the bridge being on top is so that it is easily replaceable (with more up-to-date tech) during a refit. 

The out-of-universe explanation is that it looked cool and producers liked it there and we get to have the cool zoom-in shot through the dome. 

You have to remember, Star Trek is a metaphor for humanity bettering itself via the bold, brave exploration of outer space, and it doesn’t behoove mankind to greet the universe while hiding in a shielded bunker in the middle of the ship. So, metaphorically, the top of the ship is the best place for the bridge. 

OK, metaphor over. Yes, there are extra protections. In Star Trek II, when the ship goes to Yellow Alert, Saavik calls to “Energize defense shields”, and on the main viewer we see a circle envelop the bridge area. 

It seems that this represents a shield bubble or some other kind of extra protection over the bridge. If all Starfleet ships have something like this, it would explain why we don’t see a lot of villains targeting the bridge module specifically.