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.

Just gonna put this out there. Dont come at me. (even tho I know you all will)

For anyone dragging Jackson for wearing dreads and accusing him of cultural appropriation, you better do some research. They go back to ancient times and have been worn by many cultures through out history.

Some of the earliest depictions of dreadlocks date back as far as 3600 years to the Minoan Civilization, one of Europe’s earliest civilizations centred in Crete (modern Greece). Frescoes discovered on the Aegean island of Thera (modern Santorini, Greece), depict individuals with braided hair styled in long dreadlocks.

In ancient Egypt examples of Egyptians wearing locked hairstyles and wigs have appeared on bas-reliefs, statuary and other artifacts. Mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with locked wigs, have also been recovered from archaeological sites.

During the Bronze Age and Iron Age many peoples in the Near East, Asia Minor, Caucasus, East Mediterranean
and North Africa such as the Sumerians, Elamites, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Akkadians, Assyrians,
Babylonians, Hittites, Amorites, Mitanni, Hattians, Hurrians, Arameans, Eblaites, Israelites, Phrygians,
Lydians, Persians, Medes, Parthians, Chaldeans, Armenians, Georgians, Cilicians and Canaanites/Phoenicians/
Carthaginians are depicted in art with braided or platted hair and beards.Over half of surviving Ancient Greek kouros sculptures (from c. 615 – 485 BC) are found wearing dreadlocks.A Spartan officer depicted with locked hair.
Sartori Plica polonica

In Ancient Greece, kouros sculptures from the Archaic period depict men wearing dreadlocks while Spartan hoplites
(generally described as fair-haired) wore formal locks as part of their battle dress. Spartan magistrates known as Ephors also wore their hair braided in long locks, an Archaic Greek tradition that was steadily abandoned in other Greek kingdoms. The style was worn by Ancient Christian Ascetics in the Middle East and Mediterranean, and the Dervishes of Islam, among others. Some of the very earliest adherents of Christianity in the Middle East may have worn this hairstyle; there are descriptions of James the Just, first Bishop of Jerusalem, who is said to have worn them to his ankles.

Pre-Columbian Aztec priests were described in Aztec codices (including the Durán Codex, the Codex Tudela and the Codex Mendoza) as wearing their hair untouched, allowing it to grow long and matted.

In Senegal, the Baye Fall, followers of the Mouride movement, a Sufi movement of Islam founded in 1887 AD by Shaykh Aamadu. Bàmba Mbàkke, are famous for growing locks and wearing multi-colored gowns. Cheikh Ibra Fall, founder of the Baye Fall school of the Mouride Brotherhood, popularized the style by adding a mystic touch to it. Warriors among the Fulani, Wolof and Serer in Mauritania, and Mandinka in Mali and Niger were known for centuries to have worn cornrows when young and dreadlocks when old.

By culture
Locks have been worn for various reasons in each culture: as an expression of deep religious or spiritual convictions,
ethnic pride, as a political statement and in more modern times, as a representation of a free, alternative or natural
spirit. Another name for the style is locks (sometimes spelled “locs”).


Credit to girl that posted this, forgot her name, if you know let me know.


Bitter Iron

Let it be known that this is my edict.

Let it be known that I, Warsmith Altarn Garrick Vrull of the IV Legion’s 117th Grand Battalion, hereby annul all oaths of fealty to the Primarch Perturabo and his bastard children. I spit upon his edict and renounce his diction, for I cannot follow one who crushes his own hearth-home in petty anger, in direct defiance of the Emperor’s mandate. Let it be known that I thus swear an oath of moment - an oath that neither I nor my men will rest until all of his ‘loyal’ sons are corpses in the earth, lest even one of my battalion remain alive.

Should there be a hell beyond this life, I will claw myself from its depths and drag him there myself.

Let this diction be known, to the Emperor and all the Warmaster’s craven followers. Let it be known that I have looked upon my gene-sire’s works, and declared: no more.

Vengeance for Olympia.

- Excerpt of transmission routed to the Iron Blood and the Throneworld, one Terran standard month after the Decimation of Olympia.

Warsmith Altarn Garrick Vrull, the Fatherless Son, Lord-Praetor of the 117th Grand Battalion. Born of Olympia and forged in the anvil of the Black Judges campaign upon the Primarch Perturabo’s return to his sons, Vrull soon ascended to command of the 117th Grand Battalion after the disgrace and reassignment of Terran-born Warsmith Dacharion, the ‘Bitter-Blooded’, to the 204th. A pragmatic and stubborn commander, Vrull was well suited to the task set to him by his Legion, and the warrior-mason led his contingent of the 1606th Expeditionary Fleet with aplomb throughout the decades of his service.

Despite countless years of thankless war, Vrull never chafed at the increasingly ignominious tasks set for his battalion by both his father, Perturabo, and the edict of the Emperor, from the liberation of the Tharsine Hegemony to the bitter xenocide of the Sur-Surrak Geno-Hoplites. When word reached his forces of the atrocity the Iron Tyrant had committed on Olympia out of seemingly nothing but sheer rage, Vrull accepted the news with cold hatred in his heart. The embittered warsmith spat upon his oaths to his gene-sire, declaring him weak for buckling in the face of the Emperor’s task, and thus commenced a long and bloody war against his former brothers that saw world after world burned to ash in the face of grinding and utterly merciless warfare.

Warsmith Vrull carried a motley ensemble of weapons and wargear, each with their own designated task.

- Graviton Hammer: Olympia-Mortis pattern siege hammer, paragon-class artifice. A tool designed to break rockcrete and buckle plasteel with percussive waves of force, this weapon was later repurposed to rend open Astartes power armour. Faster to swing than a thunder hammer albeit lesser in force of impact, the weapon’s haft can be unscrewed just below the grip to render it usable in trenches and tunnels.

- Volkite charger: .M30 Mars pattern, focussed deflagration ray. Increasingly rare in the ranks of the Legiones Astartes even before the Heresy, Vrull favoured this weapon for its efficiency when dealing with lightly armoured targets.

- Artificer Armour: Mark III ‘Iron’ pattern artificer-class power armour. Highly personalised to the wearer, Vrull’s suit is up-armoured even above the standards of contemporary Iron-class suits, with a heavier power unit to compensate for both this and its in-built halo-class field generator. Fitted with a servo-arm, cortex controller, and enhanced sensor suites, this suit is built to be the mantle of a warmason and a commander. The unassuming cloak is threaded through with adamantium-laced chainmail links to serve as a shrapnel blocker and blade-catcher.

Note: Deceased Astartes appears to wear the markings of the VI Legion ‘Vlka Fenryka’. This may corroborate with reports of Legionaires loyal to th[ALL DATA REDACTED]esulting conflict at Cyprus Machinator.

Hobby Note: Vrull uses the rules for Kyr Vhalen, hence his hammer is actually a Paragon Blade.

Here’s the Cosmos guild from EO3, playing the relationship-ruining game. Unsure who made this base, but thank you and all credit goes to you xD

Sneakers (me), the Hoplite

@divine-pine, the Zodiac

@capax-infinit, the Wildling (gettin paid)

@reef-ox, the Gladiator

And lastly, Karma/Rev, the Monk

And of course Kujura and Olympia, because why not?? they are beautiful and they belong.


For funsies: historically accurate Xena. I heard that there’s a remake of Xena: Warrior Princess in the wind, and thought that it’s a shame that the show never really dug into the aesthetics of the ancient world, because Antiquity looked dope as hell. I’m pretty sure we’ll get standard Hollywood fantasy aesthetics again, which bums me out, but at least I can draw Xena however I want.

Her fictional biography gives me several possible directions (I will not go into the show’s extended bizarro chronology, you can’t make me); she’s a contemporary of Herakles, placing her at around 1100 BC, in the Mycenaean era. This gave me a style of hair and makeup I frankly couldn’t let go of; it makes her look like a terrifying Onna-Bugeisha. It’s just too good!
However, she’s also meant to be a citizen of Amphipolis, an Athenian colony in Thracia from around the 500′s BC, placing her in early Classical Antiquity. In the first couple of pictures, Xena is either a Thracian barbarian exposed to Greek culture, or a Greek frontierswoman familiar with the ways of the Thracians. This does give her a distinctive throwing weapon to be good with, and some unique sword forms. She could be a higher class Thracian with access to bronze armour, or have simply “acquired” some over time.

Perhaps, instead, I could commit hard to early Classical Antiquity; here, I’ve made her an angry wall of bronze decked out with gorgon heads to symbolise her role as a terrifying, living Fury. Alternatively, a Linothorax (layered linen armour) with pteruges, gives nods to her costume in the show, and looks surprisingly good with the right patterning and notional colours.

Exploring the Mycenaean era of Troy and Heracles gives extensive, if cruder, bronze armour, and some very barbarian-y helmets and flourishes. The Type ci swords are gorgeous, duckbill axes are a lot of fun, but we do have immense shields that heavily obscure our showpiece character. On the other hand, perhaps Xena is especially qualified to actually wield the huge, double-bitted Labrys axe of ancient Minos in battle *unsubtle wink/nudge combo*.

In the show, Gabrielle takes a level of badass with the Amazons; real amazons were likely Scythians, and Scythian culture has given us a magnificent wealth of highly distinctive grave goods, textiles, jewellery, and so on. She’s using a Scythian composite bow (although probably at a lower poundage than an Amazon born to saddle and bow), a lasso, a short Akinakes sword, and a Sagaris axe. (As a former farm girl, she should at least have had good muscle memory with wood axes for her Amazonian trainers to work from.) Next to the hulking, ferocious, armoured tank of Xena, this trickier and more evasive warrior makes for a fun contrast in appearance and style.

Tell me which design/elements you want to see as a part of the final full piece!


“Magnus. Is that… is that Greco-Roman in nature?“

Had some downtime at work, decided to have some fun, then got a little carried away when I brought it home… It was fun to show my coworkers how I illustrate in Animate, though!

Truth be told, “Magnus“ as a name is MUCH more Roman than Greco, but I uh like drawing ancient greek stuff more. The Chance Lance’s design is based off of decorative palmettes found in Greek pottery. He’s in hoplite armor with a raven on the leather cuirass to symbolize his hometown. Spoilers abound on his Shield of Heroic Memories, beware! The greek lettering says MAGNUS and ZOE MEGRAPHSEN (”Zoe drew me,” it’s how pottery painters signed their work. I am a massive nerd.)