Shields in DnD 5E explained

Master protection with Shields 5E in DnD. Understand mechanics and amplify your defense.

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Most characters have an aversion to getting hit in the face, and shields have been included in Dungeons and Dragons since the very beginning to reflect this. In this article, we’ll take a look at how shields work in 5E and interesting ways to use them.

How shields work

A shield is a piece of equipment that is like armor in that it increases your defenses, it costs 10GP and raises the user’s AC by +2. You must be proficient with shields in order to benefit from the AC bonus and it takes an action to don or doff a shield. Whilst equipped, a shield occupies the arm that it is attached to, so you can’t use that same hand to wield a weapon, make somatic gestures for spells etc.

Life saver and serving dish

If you’re enamored with the idea of adding a little extra defense to your party, whilst always being ready for nacho night, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with this list of ways to improve your shield game:

Shield Master – This feat is an obvious choice for a shield fanatic, allowing you to shove a creature as a bonus action and vastly improving your Dexterity Saving throws.

Protection Fighting Style This fighting style allows you to impose disadvantage on a creature attacking an ally within 5 feet of you as a reaction, as long as you have a shield equipped!

Artificer – These crafty casters can use their Infuse Item feature to enchant their shields for a couple of different benefits. Enhanced Defense will give a scaling AC boost to the shield, whilst Repulsion Shield will give both a +1 AC bump and the ability to push away your attackers, though you’ll have to wait until 6th level for the latter.

Cleric and Paladin Being able to use a holy symbol as a focus for their spellcasting means that these divine casters can use a shield bearing their symbol as a focus. This can help greatly with casting spells whilst having your other hand occupied by a weapon.

Rune Knight Fighter Similar to the Artificer above, this Fighter subclass can inscribe their runes onto a shield, each with a passive and an active benefit.

We hope that this article has been helpful and shored up your shield arm. If you’re a new player learning the game, then check out our how to play DnD 5E section, or if you’re here because you’re interested in using a shield on your next PC, then check out our Artificer 5E guide. Until next time, may your shield wall hold strong.

How does a shield work in DnD 5E?

A shield increases the user’s AC by +2 as long as they are proficient with shields, whilst wearing a shield that arm can’t be used for anything else.

What types of shields are available in DnD 5E?

There is only one type of shield in 5e, however, there are different magical shields that add additional functions to the shield.

Can a character use a shield and a weapon at the same time in DnD 5E?

Yes, a character can use a shield in one hand and a weapon in the other.

How does a shield interact with other forms of armor in DnD 5E?

A shield will add its bonus on top of whatever armor a character is wearing unless that armor specifies otherwise.

Can a shield be enchanted in DnD 5E?

Yes, a shield can be enchanted in DnD 5E, an example of this is an Artificer using their Infuse Item feature to turn a mundane shield into a Repulsion Shield.

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