Shield Master, 2nd Variant (5e Class)
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A master of the shield who specializes in defending themselves and those they travel with. Whether made to combat the harsh magic of spellcasters, or trained to become the steel-covered defender of the group, a Shield Master excels in defense and surviving what most others couldn’t.
Creating a Shield Master
When creating a Shield Master it is important to keep in mind that you aren’t the one dealing massive amounts of damage; you’re the one rushing in and taking all the hits that would normally fell your teammates but hardly put a dent in your own armor. It’s typically a job seen for those with a military background of some sort, or those whose job is to protect others and want to do it efficiently.
So that brings up the question: Why did you become a Shield Master? What are you trying to protect? Yourself? Others? Are you in some sort of group and serve as the tank? Were you assigned this job? Did you intentionally pick up the class to be able to wade into battle relatively unharmed? Or did you shoulder the responsibility as a tank so that others wouldn’t get hurt? Is this for some reason in your backstory? Or do you simply like laughing at enemies as they try to hit you?
Shield Up, Soldier
You are a Shield Master. Whether you are a soldier in training, or a mercenary that happens to be more proficient with their shield than most, you are a pro when it comes to defense. Others you travel with might be able to hit harder and deal more damage in comparison, but that doesn’t faze you. Because at the end of the day you’re able to go toe-to-toe with some of the worst creatures the world has to offer and laugh as their attacks bounce harmlessly off your shield.
As a Shield Master, you put more focus into training your defensive capabilities than your offensive ones. Most of your fellow Shield Masters come from some form of military training; being utilized in armies or the local guard regiment as the tank of the group meant to draw attacks away from the squishier members of your party. That or you could be a member of a mercenary group that’s sent in when skirmishes get a little too hot for the rest of the group to handle. Either way, your job mostly comes about from having to deal with combat on a regular basis and not wanting to be poked full of holes like other party members.
Whether you’re a grizzled old veteran who has survived some of the most brutal moments in more than a few skirmishes, or the heavy duty guardsmen sent in when things truly get well out of hand; seeing your well armored and defensible form spells disaster for your enemies and a miracle for your allies. Who needs the cavalry when you can have a ball of pure defense?
- Quick Build
You can make a Shield Master quickly by following these suggestions. First, Strength should be your highest ability score, followed by Constitution. Second, choose the Soldier background.
As a Shield Master you gain the following class features.
- Hit Points
Armor: all armor and shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, Martial weapons
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Choose 3 from Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- A shield
- (a) a shortsword and chainshirt or (b) a longsword and chainmail
- (a) An Explorer's pack or (b) A Dungeoneer's pack
- (a) a hand crossbow with 20 crossbow bolts or (b) 5 jevelins
- If you are using starting wealth, you have 4d4 x 10 in funds.
|1st||+2||Master of Shields, Untiring Arm|
|3rd||+2||Shield Master Archetype|
|4th||+2||Ability Score Improvement|
|8th||+3||Ability Score Improvement|
|12th||+4||Ability Score Improvement, Built Tough Improvement|
|16th||+5||Ability Score Improvement|
|19th||+6||Ability Score Improvement, Power Bash|
Master of Shields
Where most warriors spend their time learning how to fight with weapons, you have practiced how to best utilize a shield for not just defense but offense as well. At 1st level, whenever you are wielding a shield and are not incapacitated you may add your shield’s AC bonus to any Dexterity saving throw you make against a spell that would damage you or some other harmful AOE effect. If this effect is a saving throw to determine whether or not you take half damage, you may use your reaction to impose your shield between you and the effect to take half damage on a fail and no damage if you pass the save. You must be wielding a shield to use this ability.
A shield does not burden you but aids you instead. When using a shield, you do not feel its weight- meaning that its weight does not count towards encumbrance. In addition, whenever you use a tower shield you do not have disadvantage on Attack rolls. You still, however, have disadvantage on Stealth rolls.
A shield may mainly be for defense, but you know how to utilize it just as deftly as a weapon. At 2nd level, on your turn you may take an Attack action to bash your opponent with your shield. You add your proficiency bonus to the Attack roll. If the attack hits, you deal 1d6 + your Strength Modifier. The target must then make a Strength Saving throw of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength Modifier or be pushed back 10 feet. If this pushes the target outside the attack range of your allies, they may make opportunity attacks against the creature. You, however, cannot. Your offhand shield will only do 1d4 + your Strength modifier of damage should you hit. You cannot use the Shield Bash ability with your offhand shield, except by the Frontline Protector's ability.
You must be wielding a shield to use this ability.
Call to Arms
At 3rd level, you can bring light to the hearts of your allies. As an action, you can have any number of allies within 25ft of you gain the following benefits: at the start of each of their turns, they regain 1d4+ CON mod hit points; they gain advantage on the first attack roll they make. This effect lasts a number of turns equal to your proficiency bonus. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier, and regain all uses at the end of a long rest. At 13th level, this is replaced by Call to Triumph.
Shield Master Archetype
At 3rd level, you choose a archetype to focus you shield related abilities on. Choose between the Bastion, the Frontline Protector, or the Eldritch Guardian, all detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th, 10th, 14, and 18th level.
Ability Score Increase
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
The Best Offense
Defense can make the best offense; or at least as far as you’re concerned. At 5th level you are able to modify your shield (spending 25 gold) so that it is equipped with spikes. Now when you do a Shield Bash and it successfully hits, you add an additional 2d4 piercing damage to your damage roll.
You cannot modify your offhand shield, should you be dual-wielding shields, to gain this additional damage at this level.
Starting at 6th level, you can draw the aggro of all enemies in your area. As an action, you shout out a challenge to any number of creatures within 25ft of you. These creatures must make a DC(10+proficiency+STR mod) wisdom save or be taunted by you for a number of turns equal to your proficiency bonus. A taunted enemy has disadvantage on all attack rolls against a creature other than you. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier, and regain all uses at the end of a long rest. At 14th level, this is replaced by Evoke Rage.
Starting at 7th level, you can drive fear into the hearts of your enemies. As an action, you let out a terrifying yell, trying to intimidate any number of creatures within 25ft of you. These creatures must make a DC(10+proficiency+STR mod) wisdom save or be afraid of you and your allies for a number of turns equal to your proficiency bonus. They can make the save again at the end of each of their turns. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier, and regain all uses at the end of a long rest. At 15th level, this is replaced by War Cry. You gain immunity to fear.
You have not only become the master of shields, but also the master of a shielded mind. At 7th level, you gain proficiency with wisdom saving throws. You also have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, frightened, or being controlled.
Starting at 9th level, you may attack twice instead of once when you take the attack action.
At 11th level, your experience from battles has strengthen your body. Your Consitution is increased by 2 points, and you gain resistance to Poison Damage.
Call to Triumph
Starting at 13th level, your allies believe they can never lose with you on their side. As an action, you can have any number of allies within 100ft of you gain the following benefits: at the start of each of their turns, they regain 1d4+ CON mod hit points; they gain advantage on the first attack roll on their turn; they gain immunity to effects that would reduce their movement speed; they gain immunity to being charmed. These effects last a number of turns equal to your proficiency bonus + your constitution modifier. You can do this a number of times equal to double your constitution modifier, and regain all uses after a long rest.
Starting at 14th level, you are really, REALLY good at drawing the attention of enemies. As an action, you shout out a challenge to any number of enemies within 50ft of you. These creatures must make a DC(10+proficiency+STR mod) wisdom save or be taunted by you and feel the need to approach you as if by the Sympathy spell, only with more violence. If these creatures decide to attack a creature other than you while taunted in this way, they have disadvantage on attack rolls and deal half damage. This effect lasts a number of turns equal to your proficiency bonus + your constitution modifier. You can do this a number of times equal to double your Constitution modifier, and regain all uses after a long rest.
Starting at 15th level, you can drive fear into the hearts of even the most stalwart of foes. As an action, you bellow a terrifying threat to any number of enemies within 30ft of you. These creatures must make a DC(10+proficiency+STR mod) wisdom save or be afraid of you and your allies. If the creature is normally immune to fear, they make the check with advantage, but are still afraid if they fail. While they are afraid of you in this way, they must get away from you as if under the effect of the Antipathy spell. The enemies can remake the save at the end of each of their turns. This effect lasts a number of turns equal to your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier, or until they succeed on the save. You can do this a number of times equal to double your Constitution modifier, and regain all uses after a long rest.
Starting at 18th level, you refuse to die and leave your allies alone to fight whatever killed you. When you drop to 0 hit points, you can make a DC15 Constitution saving throw. On a success, you instead drop to 1 hit point. Each time you do this, the DC increases by 2, and resets after a long rest.
Epitome of the Warrior
At 20th level, you are in peak condition. Your Strength and Constitution scores are increased by 4, and the max for these scores is now 24.
Shield Master Archetypes
Not all Shield Masters follow the same style of combat. Those that follow a path of heavy defense become the Bastion. Shield Masters that want to have good defense as well as offense follow the path of the Frontline Protector. Others choose to learn magic to boost their defense and protect their allies become the Eldritch Guardian. When you reach 3rd level, choose an archetype to follow and gain the benefits that come with it.
These types of Shield masters take the name of shield to heart. Focus their training on toughening their body and using their shield for what it was made to do: defend and protect. The Bastion prioritizes defense above all and becomes a walking impenetrable wall.
- Bastion Stance
When you decide to settle into a Bastion Stance, there aren’t many who can break past it. At 3rd level, if you do not use your movement on your turn you enter a defensive stance. Meaning that all attacks made against you are done with disadvantage. In addition, if a creature tries to leave your attack range and you manage to hit them with an opportunity attack, you reduce their movement to 0.
In order to use this ability, you must be wielding a shield and you must move a total of zero feet on your turn. If you willingly move or some effect causes you to move even 5 ft, you come out of Defensive stance.
- Defense Up
You now follow the path of pure defense and have learned how to get the most out of your shield. At 3rd level, your shield now give you a +3 bonus to your AC.
At 14th level, your shield now gives you a +4 bonus to your AC.
- Built Tougher
You have honed your defensive capabilities to shrug off nearly any attack. At 6th level, you are now resistant to every type of damage except psychic damage. At 12th level, choose between piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning damage. Your now have immunity to that type of damage.
- Shield Wall
You were made to protect your allies and be their shield. As such, at 10th level any melee attacks made against your allies when they are 5 feet from you are done with disadvantage. In addition, any allies near you when your Bastion Stance is active benefit from the bonus AC your shield provides. Furthermore, you may use your Reaction to provide one ally within 5ft of you ¾ cover against an attack targeting them. This does not work against AoE spells or attacks.
- Indomitable Force
Your defense capabilities are practically second to none. At 14th level, you have advantage on any saves that determine whether or not you are knocked prone or moved from your space. When your Defensive Stance is active, you are immune to being knocked prone or moved from your spot.
- Mobile Fortress
At this point you have become the epitome of defense. At 18th level, your Defensive Stance is now active all the time, regardless of how much of your movement you've used.
While most Shield Masters follow the conventional defensive route, others take a more unorthodox method of using their skills with a shield. Instead of focusing on defense, the Frontline Protectors use more offense in their shield related combat.
- A Good Defense is the Best Offense
You've trained enough with a shield that a tool used for defense has now become a weapon of offense in your hands. At 3rd level, your shield bashes now do a D8 + your Strength mod bludgeoning damage.
You are also able to dual wield shields and can make consecutive shield bashes, following the rules of Two Weapon fighting of course. Your offhand shield now deals a D6 bludgeoning damage. Your offhand shield does not give you a bonus to your AC. If you are wielding a Buckler as your offhand shield, your damage die is a D4 instead.
- Bouncing off the Walls
It's about time you gave yourself a ranged attack. At 6th level, Bucklers and circular shields now have the "thrown weapons" property for you and their range is 30/60 ft. Additionally, if a creature is behind cover, you know its location, and there is a wall or suitable object that allows the action, you can throw your shield and have it rebound off a wall or rock to reach a creature behind cover.
- Extra Attack
At 10th level, you can now attack three times when you take the Attack action on your turn.
At 10th level. you can now add you Strength mod to the damage of your offhand shield.
- Armor Piercer
Defense is what you’re all about, so you know just where to hit to find the weakest point. At 14th level, whenever you make an Attack against another creature, you may use up your Bonus Action to ignore 2 points of their AC when making your roll. If the attack hits, then the very next attack done against the creature has advantage.
- Brutal Force
Further training has taught you how to put your full weight against your shield bash. At 18th level, whenever you make a Shield Bash against a creature and they fail the Strength saving throw, you may choose to either knock them prone or disarm them. In addition, should you manage to trap an enemy between you and a wall while performing a shield bash, if the target fails the save they will take an additional 2d8 + your Strength modifier of bludgeoning damage rather than moving 10 feet back.
While the Bastions take to boosting their physical defense, the Eldritch Guardians take a smarter approach and use magic to boost their defensive capabilities. These types of Shield Masters use magic and excel at protecting against it as well.
- Guardian Stance
Starting from 3rd level, magic isn't so much of a threat anymore. You can use your Bonus Action to get into the Guardian Stance and you gain a number of Temporary Hit Points equal to your Shield Master level + Constitution modifier. While your Guardian Stance is active, all allies within 10 feet from you gain advantage to any saving throw made against a spell. Also, as a Reaction, you can cast "Counterspell" at 3rd level. If you are required to make a roll, you use your Consitution as spellcasting ability. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus. You immediatly lose your Guardian stance if you're knocked prone.
- Protective Ward
Protecting your allies through physical means has its limits, but using magic gives you more ways to prevent your allies from dying. At 3rd level, As a bonus action you can choose a creature that you can see within 30 ft of you and bestow upon them a protective ward. If a creature with your ward placed upon them takes damage, they instead take half damage and you take the other half. If the damage recieved would cause them to fall unconscious or die, you can take full damage instead. You can use this last ability once per battle.
- Warding Aura
You use magic to not only protect yourself but others as well. At 6th level, when you enter Guardian Stance, you emit a glowing green aura 5 ft around you. Any allied creatures that are within 5 ft of you while this is active have resistance to all forms of magical damage except psychic. Any hostile creatures that are within 5 ft of any allied creatures in your aura and make an attack roll against them, those rolls are made at disadvantage.
- Magical Tolerance
Since you have studied how to use magic for defense, you also know how to defend against it. At 10th level, choose a type of damage from fire, cold, lightning, thunder, acid, poison, or force. You now have resistance to that type of damage and your shield bashes now deal a D6 of that damage. At 12th level, you now have immunity to your chosen type of damage.
- Magical Parry
Your keen eyes can see when a spell is being cast and when the most opportune moment to strike is. Time to give those pesky casters a taste of their own medicine. At 14th level, if a spell only targets you and the spell consists of a magical bolt, ray, or something being thrown at you, you can use your reaction to attempt to parry the magic and redirect it to another creature that you can see within 30 ft. Make an attack roll, if your roll is greater than the caster's attack roll, you successfully parry the magic attack.
You must be wielding a shield and have full eyesight to use this ability.
- Max Aura
You have perfected the technique of the Defensive Aura and can now bring about its full effects. Your Warding Aura now has a range of 10 ft. Any allied creatures within your aura have resistance to all forms of damage except psychic and all attack rolls made against them are made at disadvantage. Hostile creatures cannot enter your Warding Aura. Allied creatures in your aura also gain 2 D12 temporary hit points.
Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the Shield Master class, you must meet these prerequisites: you must have a Strength ability score of at least 13.
Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the Shield Master class, you gain the following proficiencies: light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons