Shield Master, Variant (5e Class)

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Shield Master[edit]

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[edit]

Shield Up, Soldier[edit]

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.

Class Features

As a Shield Master you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d12 per Shield Master level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d12 (or 7) + Constitution modifier per Shield Master level after 1st


Armor: all armor and shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, Martial weapons
Tools: none
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 javelins
  • If you are using starting wealth, you have 4d4 x 10 in funds.

Table: The Shield Master

Level Proficiency
1st +2 Master of Shields, Untiring Arm
2nd +2 Shield Bash
3rd +2 Shield Master Archetype
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement, Built Tough
5th +3 Defensive Stance
6th +3 Archetype feature
7th +3 Shielded Mind
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 Shield Surfing
10th +4 Archetype Feature
11th +4 Shield Slam
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 Mobile Defender
14th +5 Archetype Feature
15th +5 Hostile Barrier
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 Shield Parry
18th +6 Archetype Feature
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement, Power Bash
20th +6 Unkillable

Master of Shields[edit]

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.

Also at 1st level, when a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to either impose disadvantage on the attack roll, OR give the benefits of half cover to your ally until the end of the current attack.

You must be wielding a shield to use this ability.

Untiring Arm[edit]

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.

Shield Bash[edit]

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 and Strength mod to the Attack roll. If the attack hits, you deal 1d6 + your Strength mod bludgeoning damage. The target must then succeed 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.

You must be wielding a shield to use this ability.

Shield Master Archetype[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Built Tough[edit]

You know just where to put your shield to get the best protection from it. At 4th level, you are now resistant all non-magical forms of bludgeoning, slashing and piercing damage.

Defensive Stance[edit]

When you decide to settle into a defensive stance, there aren’t many who can break past it. At 5th 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.

Shielded Mind[edit]

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.

Shield Surfing[edit]

A shield isn't only used for defense. It also possesses great mobility when going downhill. At 9th level, when you travel downhill, you can spend a Bonus Action to get on your shield and shield surf to travel faster. When Shield Surfing, your speed is doubled and when you reach flatland while surfing, you momentum causes you to continue traveling 20 ft. You can only move downhill, but it doesn't have to be in a straight line. You must spend a Bonus Action to get off your shield.

You must be wielding a shield to use this ability.

Shield Slam[edit]

When you are surrounded by enemies, the best thing you can do is knock em out of the way. At 11th level, you can use your Action to make a Shield Slam attack. You strike the ground with you shield and all creatures within 5 ft from you must make a Strength saving throw (the same as your Shield Bash). On a fail, they are pushed 10 ft away from you take 2D8 + Strength mod force damage. On a pass, the creatures only take half damage and are not pushed. If a creature is pushed away due to this ability, they provoke attacks of opportunity, but not from you.

You must be wielding a shield in order to use this ability.

Mobile Defender[edit]

Though you do best when you’ve set yourself up in your position, you’ve learned how to maintain that sort of stability even after moving. At 13th level, you can now move a total of half your movement speed and still maintain your Defensive Stance. If you willingly move, or some effect causes you to move more than half your movement speed, you come out of Defensive Stance.

Furthermore, any time you leave an enemy’s attack range, any opportunity attacks made against you are done so with disadvantage as you raise your shield while fleeing.

You must be wielding a shield to use this ability.

Hostile Barrier[edit]

When you have entered Defensive Stance, you become ready for anything that comes your way. At 15th level, when your Defensive Stance is active, you can take attacks of opportunity when an enemy steps into your attack range.

Shield Parry[edit]

With your shield, you've learned to completely negate the attacks of your enemies. At 17th level, you can use your reaction to parry any non magical attack. Make an attack roll, if your roll is greater than the attacker's roll then you negate their attack completely.

You must be wielding a shield in order to use this ability.

Power Bash[edit]

You've learned a very powerful technique to add to your list of skills with a shield. At 19th level, whenever you make a Shield Bash attack you may also take up your Bonus Action to turn your shield bash into a Power Bash, the ultimate form of shield bash. If the attack hits, the target will be pushed back 10 feet regardless. However, now if they fail the saving throw that comes with a shield bash, they are thrown back in a straight line 30 ft away from you. If they do not hit anything before then, they fall prone at the end of the distance and take a D8 + your Strength Modifier of damage. However, if you pushed them into a wall or another creature, they take 4d8 + your Strength Modifier of damage and stop there. If they were pushed into another creature, that creature also takes the damage and must make the same Strength Saving throw. On a fail, they are also knocked prone.


You've trained your body to be the toughest there is. Nothing can break through your defenses, not even yourself. At 20th level, any creature that rolls a natural 20 on an attack roll against you does not give that creature a critical hit. Additionally, you a rolling natural 1 on an attack roll or saving throw does not give you a critical failure.

Shield Master Archetypes[edit]

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.

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.

Shield Wall

You were made to protect your allies and be their shield. As such, at 10th level any melee attacks made against any allies that are 5 feet from you are done with disadvantage. In addition, any allies near you when your Defensive Stance is active benefit from the bonus AC your shield provides. Furthermore, you may use your Reaction to provide one ally within 5 feet 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.

Frontline Protector[edit]

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 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 twice 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.

Eldritch Guardian[edit]

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.

Magic Wards

Protecting your allies through physical means has its limits, but using magic gives you more ways to prevent your allies from dying. You've studied and practiced the use of finding ways to keep your allies alive using magic. In doing so, you have developed a few magic wards each with their own uses. At 3rd level, you gain the ability to bestow various wards to any creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. However, you have limited magic energy and can only bestow wards a number of times equal to your Shield Master level. Your magic energy replenishes after a long rest, and a creature can only be bestowed one ward at a time.

Sacrificial Ward --- You can bestow this ward as a bonus action. If a creature with this ward placed upon them takes damage, they instead take half damage and you take the other half. This ward lasts for 10 minutes, then it disappears.

Life Ward --- You can bestow this ward as a bonus action. The creature with this ward placed upon them gains temporary hit points equal to twice your Shield Master level + your strength mod. This ward disappears after the temporary hit points are gone or one day has passed.

Shielding Ward --- You can bestow this ward as a reaction. This ward temporarily gives the creature a bonus +5 to their AC until the start of the creature's next turn, then it disappears.

Defensive Aura

You use magic to not only protect yourself but others as well. At 6th level, when you enter Defensive 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

As you studied how to best use magic to defend yourself and others, you also learned how to best defend against it. At 10th level, you have resistance to all forms of magical damage, and you have advantage on saving throws against spells.

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. At 18th level, your Defensive Aura now has a radius of 20 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 Defensive Aura. Allied creatures in your aura also gain temporary hit points equal to twice your Shield Master level, furthermore, they lose this benefit after exiting your Defensive Aura. Allies that reenter your aura after exiting do not get back the temporary hit points. This also does not stack with your Life Ward.


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

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