log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E A Shield spell that Scales

NotAYakk

Legend
Shield is an example of a spell that doesn't scale at all. For higher level casters, the cost is a cheap 1st level slot and your reaction. I wanted to see if I can make it a spell that scales with slot level a bit, so you have reason to use not-level-1 slots on it.

An invisible barrier of magical force appears and protects you, including against the trigger.

While this barrier is active you gain a +5 bonus to AC, have resistance against damage from all attacks, and are immune to damage from magic missile.

The barrier lasts either until the start of your next turn, or after you are attacked one additional time, whichever comes first.

At higher levels: For every spell slot higher than 1st used, the barrier lasts for up to one additional attack.
This spell no longer grants a +5 bonus to AC for all attacks. But it does grant resistance against damage from attacks that get through.

I suspect this spell is not as good as it used to be, but still strong. It was one of the strongest level 1 spells for a mid-high level caster (or a high AC gish), and now is just good not amazing for those purposes. On the other hand, you can use it to help soak a critical hit (or insanely high roll), unlike before.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


D1Tremere

Explorer
Shield is an example of a spell that doesn't scale at all. For higher level casters, the cost is a cheap 1st level slot and your reaction. I wanted to see if I can make it a spell that scales with slot level a bit, so you have reason to use not-level-1 slots on it.


This spell no longer grants a +5 bonus to AC for all attacks. But it does grant resistance against damage from attacks that get through.

I suspect this spell is not as good as it used to be, but still strong. It was one of the strongest level 1 spells for a mid-high level caster (or a high AC gish), and now is just good not amazing for those purposes. On the other hand, you can use it to help soak a critical hit (or insanely high roll), unlike before.
I would think that such a bonus would start to throw off bounded accuracy. That is why the spell is set where it is.
 

nevin

Adventurer
I think you need to be slow and considerate when you make changes like that. If all spells scale or even a significant portion of them then Wizard spell numbers need to be adjusted. Otherwise you have a wizard with a number of each level spells adjusted for a lot of low level spells, suddenly with a LOT of more powerful spells.

I'd love to see a good way to make all spells scale and perhaps just give wizards a base number of spells to cast per character level. but I think it would require a lot of work, and thought to be balanced.

I assume he means that shield at lower levels is worth an action to cast while at higher levels higher level spells are almost always going to be a better option.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
What you mean "not as good as it used to be?"
This replaces the spell shield in 5e.

It grants the same AC bonus and immumity to MM damage.

But instead of lasting until the start of your last turn, it breaks after 1 attack after the triggering one. The spell still ends at the start of your next turn, but can also end earlier.

This is strictly worse than the shield spell.

I then added "you get resistance to damage from attacks" as a partial compensation. So attacks that hit despite your shield deal half damage.

Finally, the scaling part. At level 1 it can help against 1 extra attack. Every slot level higher makes it last another attack; a 2nd level slot makes it defend against up to 3 attacks.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I would think that such a bonus would start to throw off bounded accuracy. That is why the spell is set where it is.
I don't understand how this throws.off bounded accuracy more than the original shield spell? It is worse at boosting your AC than the original spell.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I assume he means that shield at lower levels is worth an action to cast while at higher levels higher level spells are almost always going to be a better option.
At low levels, shield is expensive to cast. You have few slots and level 1 slots are "high" level for you.

At high levels, shield is cheap to cast. You have many slots, and level 1 slots are not precious resources.

It still costs your reaction; but high level wizards can maintain shield against the vast majority of attacks on them (that would otherwise hit), especially during all challenging fights in a typical adventuring day.

Shiekd becomes dirt cheap.

After this change, temptation to use higher level slots arrives. And using 1st level slots is less useful against focus fire.
 

D1Tremere

Explorer
I don't understand how this throws.off bounded accuracy more than the original shield spell? It is worse at boosting your AC than the original spell.
Sorry, I was confused by the various ways this information is being presented. The Original Spell grants +5 AC as a reaction, the boxed text for you version says it still grants +5 AC but you say afterwards that it does not. The whole point of the spell, with regard to bounded accuracy, is to increase the odd of negating hits for casters. Negating a hit is important for multiple effects, so why would you want to throw off bounded accuracy and make it easier to hit casters?
I think I am just fundamentally not understanding what problem you are trying to address, and how you are trying to address it.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Sorry, I was confused by the various ways this information is being presented. The Original Spell grants +5 AC as a reaction, the boxed text for you version says it still grants +5 AC but you say afterwards that it does not. The whole point of the spell, with regard to bounded accuracy, is to increase the odd of negating hits for casters. Negating a hit is important for multiple effects, so why would you want to throw off bounded accuracy and make it easier to hit casters?
I think I am just fundamentally not understanding what problem you are trying to address, and how you are trying to address it.
A few issues.

So shield spell at high levels is a ridiculously efficient 1st level spell slot.

Enemy number of attacks and damage scale, but the cost of negating them does not.

On a character building for high AC AC, having access to shield spell and even a modest number of low level slots is ridiculously strong. Nothing but a critical hit can penetrate it.

The shield spell basically breaks bounded accuracy when stacked with other high-AC build choices.

Keeping the shield spell up against every attack costs you 1 spell slot (of any level) per round.

Dipping a class that grants shield (hexblade, wizard, sorcerer, some artificers) becomes part of "I cannot be hit" builds, and arguing that shield is always up is very plausible.

At low levels, meanwhile, shield is a decent spell, if expensive. Staying alive is often worth burning 1/2 of your daily spells at level 1.

So I think, at high levels, burning a 1st level slot and a reaction for +5 to AC against all attacks is overly strong.

---

I have seen DMs, when confronted with a moderate-to-high AC character who has shield, ending up resorting to ATK-inflation. Monsters start having higher ATK modifiers, just so that they can land a blow ever. This results in an AC arms race in the party, as anyone who doesn't have insane AC becomes auto-hit just so the DM can sometimes land blows on the insane-AC-plus-shield character.

So fixing shield so it is less "always on" has value (or at least making it cost more!)

---

The next issue is that builds who dip hexblade get a better deal than hexblades at using shield. Shield doesn't care what slot your spell is at all. A hexblade 2 is just as good at using the shield spell as a hexblade 10; and a caster MC hexblade who stops at level 1 is probably smart.

---

Adding these up, making a shield spell that is about as good for low level PCs, but at high levels you'll have to scale the spell slot used, could help.

Burning a 1st level slot on shield is still strong -- you get to negate the attack, and the next attack is more likely to miss, and even if it does hit, you take half damage. But it isn't the virtual immunity (on high AC builds) that the prior shield spell grants.

---

The "resistance to damage from attacks" is a cherry. You can cast shield even if it won't help (like against a critical hit) you get missed, but you halve the damage. This is a life saver compared to the default shield, and (I hope) helps make the change feel less nerfy.

For low-HP low-AC casters (for whom the spell is reasonable), this probably makes the spell better. They are more likely to experience "even a shield cast won't help you".

For shield-casting tanks, this makes it less "I am immune to attacks" and more "I can negate a select number of attacks". And can use it to blunt critical hits, which has value.

---

Suppose you have an enemy that needs a 15+ to hit the "tank" with shield, and a 10+ to hit a normal caster.

Normal shield makes the "tank" get hit only on a 20, and the caster on a 15+. They both have a 1/4 chance per attack for the shield spell to be useful (hit, but by less than 5).

If crits are 2x damage (close enough), then old-shield reduced damage to the tank by 71% (from 5/20 hits 1/20 crits, to 1/20 crits, is 5/7th of incoming damage negated), and to the caster by 42% (from 10/20 hits 1/20 crits to 5/20 hits 1/20 crits is 5/12 damage negated). Both burn about 0.7 slots/round against 4 attacks/round, but the tank gets a much much better ROI.

New-shield, using a slot high enough to defend against all attacks remaining, reduce the damage on the tank by 86% and the caster by 73%. But instead of 1st level slots, you are sometimes burning 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even higher level slots (depending on number of expected attacks before your next turn).

(The caster using the higher level slots gets resistance against the follow-up hits; the tank only gets to mitigate crits with the new version of shield).
 
Last edited:

D1Tremere

Explorer
A few issues.

So shield spell at high levels is a ridiculously efficient 1st level spell slot.

Enemy number of attacks and damage scale, but the cost of negating them does not.

On a character building for high AC AC, having access to shield spell and even a modest number of low level slots is ridiculously strong. Nothing but a critical hit can penetrate it.

The shield spell basically breaks bounded accuracy when stacked with other high-AC build choices.

Keeping the shield spell up against every attack costs you 1 spell slot (of any level) per round.

Dipping a class that grants shield (hexblade, wizard, sorcerer, some artificers) becomes part of "I cannot be hit" builds, and arguing that shield is always up is very plausible.

At low levels, meanwhile, shield is a decent spell, if expensive. Staying alive is often worth burning 1/2 of your daily spells at level 1.

So I think, at high levels, burning a 1st level slot and a reaction for +5 to AC against all attacks is overly strong.

---

I have seen DMs, when confronted with a moderate-to-high AC character who has shield, ending up resorting to ATK-inflation. Monsters start having higher ATK modifiers, just so that they can land a blow ever. This results in an AC arms race in the party, as anyone who doesn't have insane AC becomes auto-hit just so the DM can sometimes land blows on the insane-AC-plus-shield character.

So fixing shield so it is less "always on" has value (or at least making it cost more!)

---

The next issue is that builds who dip hexblade get a better deal than hexblades at using shield. Shield doesn't care what slot your spell is at all. A hexblade 2 is just as good at using the shield spell as a hexblade 10; and a caster MC hexblade who stops at level 1 is probably smart.

---

Adding these up, making a shield spell that is about as good for low level PCs, but at high levels you'll have to scale the spell slot used, could help.

Burning a 1st level slot on shield is still strong -- you get to negate the attack, and the next attack is more likely to miss, and even if it does hit, you take half damage. But it isn't the virtual immunity (on high AC builds) that the prior shield spell grants.

---

The "resistance to damage from attacks" is a cherry. You can cast shield even if it won't help (like against a critical hit) you get missed, but you halve the damage. This is a life saver compared to the default shield, and (I hope) helps make the change feel less nerfy.

For low-HP low-AC casters (for whom the spell is reasonable), this probably makes the spell better. They are more likely to experience "even a shield cast won't help you".

For shield-casting tanks, this makes it less "I am immune to attacks" and more "I can negate a select number of attacks". And can use it to blunt critical hits, which has value.

---

Suppose you have an enemy that needs a 15+ to hit the "tank" with shield, and a 10+ to hit a normal caster.

Normal shield makes the "tank" get hit only on a 20, and the caster on a 15+. They both have a 1/4 chance per attack for the shield spell to be useful (hit, but by less than 5).

If crits are 2x damage (close enough), then old-shield reduced damage to the tank by 71% (from 5/20 hits 1/20 crits, to 1/20 crits, is 5/7th of incoming damage negated), and to the caster by 42% (from 10/20 hits 1/20 crits to 5/20 hits 1/20 crits is 5/12 damage negated). Both burn about 0.7 slots/round against 4 attacks/round, but the tank gets a much much better ROI.

New-shield, using a slot high enough to defend against all attacks remaining, reduce the damage on the tank by 86% and the caster by 73%. But instead of 1st level slots, you are sometimes burning 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even higher level slots (depending on number of expected attacks before your next turn).

(The caster using the higher level slots gets resistance against the follow-up hits; the tank only gets to mitigate crits with the new version of shield).
I could be wrong, but I think they carefully balanced it so that it doesn't break Bounded Accuracy as is.
A hexblade in Medium armor can have AC 15 (Half-Plate) +2 (Shield) = 17 and can burn spells and a reaction for +5 = 22 about 4 times a day (4 spell slots at 20th level).
A sorcerer in no armor can have AC 10 and can burn spells and a reaction for +5 = 15 about 22 times a day (22 spell slots at 20th level).
A wizard bladesinger in light armor can have AC 12 and can burn spells and a reaction for +5 = 17 about 22 times a day (22 spell slots at 20th level).
A Fighter in Heavy armor can have AC 18 (Plate) +2 (Shield) all the time without burning anything = 20

Also of note, as a 1st level spell Shield is easy to counter and casting it prevents casting any other spells for the most part. Likewise, casting any other spells means you can't cast shield that turn for the most part.
 

Mistwell

Legend
"have resistance against damage from all attacks" is too powerful. You're now gaining an entirely different kind of benefit which can drastically reduce the damage you take from an attack which does not require an attack roll against your AC. Now the spell is even better as a first level slot! It's now Shield PLUS Absorb Elements (the other great first level spell).
 

cbwjm

Hero
Just thought I'd reword the spell to make it a little easier for me to understand.
An invisible barrier of magical force appears and protects you. You have a +5 bonus to AC, including against the triggering attack, resistance to all damage, and you take no damage from magic missile. The shield lasts until the start of your next turn and can be used against up to two attacks or sources of damage before breaking.

At higher levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, shield can be used against one more attack of source of damage for each slot above 1st.
Looking at it, I still don't see this really being used with a spell slot higher than 1st since protecting against 2 attacks is still a great use of the spell and a spellcaster quite likely isn't going to be subjected to too many attacks in a single round that will make them want to burn a higher level spell slot. That is, the rest of the party is also a threat that needs to be dealt with so the enemy may not be focusing exclusively on the wizard or sorcerer.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I could be wrong, but I think they carefully balanced it so that it doesn't break Bounded Accuracy as is.
A hexblade in Medium armor can have AC 15 (Half-Plate) +2 (Shield) = 17 and can burn spells and a reaction for +5 = 22 about 4 times a day (4 spell slots at 20th level).
The hexblade with 14 dex, wearing +3 half-plate and a +3 shield and a ring and cloak of protection has
17+2+3+3+1+1 = 27 AC
add in shield and it hits 32 AC.

An ancient red dragon has a +17 to hit. It hits the base hexblade on a 10+, and needs a 15+ to hit the one with shield up.

The more serious optimizer gets 18 (plate) 2 (shield) 6 (enhancement) 1 (defence style) 2 (staff of power) 1 (ring or cloak) armor of faith (2) for 32 base AC, and 37 with shield. Now the ancient red dragon needs a natural 20 to connect with shield spell up.

While that kind of insane levels of AC takes a lot of resources, the return on AC is hyperbolic; so at almost every point in the game, if you heavily optimize AC, the returns are high. Shield is one of the largest portions of this boost, and it only requires you to burn 1st level slots at a rate of less than 1 per round.

Another less ridiculous example is a forge cleric with 1 level of fighter (defensive style) and 1 level of a shield-providing class has 23 AC +5 for shield spell without any magic items by around level 10.

I could go on; there are lots of ways to get good AC.

A sorcerer in no armor can have AC 10 and can burn spells and a reaction for +5 = 15 about 22 times a day (22 spell slots at 20th level).

A wizard bladesinger in light armor can have AC 12 and can burn spells and a reaction for +5 = 17 about 22 times a day (22 spell slots at 20th level).
A Fighter in Heavy armor can have AC 18 (Plate) +2 (Shield) all the time without burning anything = 20
You aren't using multiclassing and you aren't using magical items and you aren't using any kind of significant AC optimization.

I mean, the wizard bladesinger can have mage armor (13) and as much dex as they want and gets to add their intelligence to their AC. At 14 dex and 20 int, that is 13+2+5 or 20 AC. And that is at level 8.

If you think bladesingers have 17 AC after casting shield, I'm very confused.

Also of note, as a 1st level spell Shield is easy to counter and casting it prevents casting any other spells for the most part. Likewise, casting any other spells means you can't cast shield that turn for the most part.
Ok, so I think you are confused. Shield is a reaction spell. So it doesn't block casting any spells except other reaction spells like counterspell and featherfall.

That action economy is one of the reasons it is ridiculously strong.


"have resistance against damage from all attacks" is too powerful. You're now gaining an entirely different kind of benefit which can drastically reduce the damage you take from an attack which does not require an attack roll against your AC. Now the spell is even better as a first level slot! It's now Shield PLUS Absorb Elements (the other great first level spell).
So your position is that this makes the spell too strong.

Note that absorb elements works on any source of elemental damage. Such damage is often in larger "chunks" than attacks; individual attacks tend not to be as large as save-or-take-damage effects at a given level.

It works on the triggering attack, and it works on one additional attack at 1st level. I could be convinced to make it work on 0 additional attacks at 1st level, and 1 per higher level slot?

Just thought I'd reword the spell to make it a little easier for me to understand.

Looking at it, I still don't see this really being used with a spell slot higher than 1st since protecting against 2 attacks is still a great use of the spell and a spellcaster quite likely isn't going to be subjected to too many attacks in a single round that will make them want to burn a higher level spell slot. That is, the rest of the party is also a threat that needs to be dealt with so the enemy may not be focusing exclusively on the wizard or sorcerer.
So, you aren't seeing games where tanky gishes get shield and become nearly unhittable.

If you aren't seeing that problem, then no, this modification has little impact.

Also, if you have a dragon tearing into the wizard, it will probably want to finish the job and focus fire. It flies up to the wizard, does claw/claw/bite. Then it gets 3 legendary actions; unless the next player gets that wizard out of there, the wizard is going to be attacked a few more times.

In that situation, the wizard is going to want to use a higher than 1st level slot.

Similarly, if you have a bunch of archers shooting at you, a higher than 1st level slot might be a good idea.

If a lone foe manages to break through the lines and make one swipe, and your turn is next, a 1st level slot is good.
 

D1Tremere

Explorer
The hexblade with 14 dex, wearing +3 half-plate and a +3 shield and a ring and cloak of protection has
17+2+3+3+1+1 = 27 AC
add in shield and it hits 32 AC.

An ancient red dragon has a +17 to hit. It hits the base hexblade on a 10+, and needs a 15+ to hit the one with shield up.

The more serious optimizer gets 18 (plate) 2 (shield) 6 (enhancement) 1 (defence style) 2 (staff of power) 1 (ring or cloak) armor of faith (2) for 32 base AC, and 37 with shield. Now the ancient red dragon needs a natural 20 to connect with shield spell up.

While that kind of insane levels of AC takes a lot of resources, the return on AC is hyperbolic; so at almost every point in the game, if you heavily optimize AC, the returns are high. Shield is one of the largest portions of this boost, and it only requires you to burn 1st level slots at a rate of less than 1 per round.

Another less ridiculous example is a forge cleric with 1 level of fighter (defensive style) and 1 level of a shield-providing class has 23 AC +5 for shield spell without any magic items by around level 10.

I could go on; there are lots of ways to get good AC.


You aren't using multiclassing and you aren't using magical items and you aren't using any kind of significant AC optimization.

I mean, the wizard bladesinger can have mage armor (13) and as much dex as they want and gets to add their intelligence to their AC. At 14 dex and 20 int, that is 13+2+5 or 20 AC. And that is at level 8.

If you think bladesingers have 17 AC after casting shield, I'm very confused.


Ok, so I think you are confused. Shield is a reaction spell. So it doesn't block casting any spells except other reaction spells like counterspell and featherfall.

That action economy is one of the reasons it is ridiculously strong.



So your position is that this makes the spell too strong.

Note that absorb elements works on any source of elemental damage. Such damage is often in larger "chunks" than attacks; individual attacks tend not to be as large as save-or-take-damage effects at a given level.

It works on the triggering attack, and it works on one additional attack at 1st level. I could be convinced to make it work on 0 additional attacks at 1st level, and 1 per higher level slot?


So, you aren't seeing games where tanky gishes get shield and become nearly unhittable.

If you aren't seeing that problem, then no, this modification has little impact.

Also, if you have a dragon tearing into the wizard, it will probably want to finish the job and focus fire. It flies up to the wizard, does claw/claw/bite. Then it gets 3 legendary actions; unless the next player gets that wizard out of there, the wizard is going to be attacked a few more times.

In that situation, the wizard is going to want to use a higher than 1st level slot.

Similarly, if you have a bunch of archers shooting at you, a higher than 1st level slot might be a good idea.

If a lone foe manages to break through the lines and make one swipe, and your turn is next, a 1st level slot is good.
I'm not factoring in Dex or magic items because they are avalible to everyone at the same rate regardless of class, so they just increase the comparisons I provided for everyone more or less equally.

I am not factoring in people who build their entire character around AC either, because again the shield spell is a situational bonus that costs spell slots and a reaction, and can be countered. Any player that focuses on their AC is already sacrificing other things, and still cannot guarantee not being hit thanks to things like advantage, anti-magic, true strike (counter shield if you will lol), Etc. Does the party caster really want to blow all their offensive ability on defense that could still be stripped away or bypassed?

You are correct about Shield not preventing you from casting a spell during your turn, I was mistaken.

I'm not going to debate whether AC builds are OP, I'm just pointing out that Shield is itself balanced due to its costs and drawbacks as far as I can tell.

I admittedly do not have a problem of tanky gishes making themselves unhittable in my games. I tried that once in 3.5 and the DM had us fight exploding AOE kobolds. Either way, it wouldn't exactly ruin the game for someone to be situationally tanky IMO.
 

Shield is an example of a spell that doesn't scale at all. For higher level casters, the cost is a cheap 1st level slot and your reaction. I wanted to see if I can make it a spell that scales with slot level a bit, so you have reason to use not-level-1 slots on it.


This spell no longer grants a +5 bonus to AC for all attacks. But it does grant resistance against damage from attacks that get through.

I suspect this spell is not as good as it used to be, but still strong. It was one of the strongest level 1 spells for a mid-high level caster (or a high AC gish), and now is just good not amazing for those purposes. On the other hand, you can use it to help soak a critical hit (or insanely high roll), unlike before.

I make it apply to 1 attack only.

For a 3rd level slot, it instead lasts till the start of your next turn.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
What about the shield spell just gives you Damage Reduction 10 (or whatever number, per spell level)? Against 1 attack or for 1 round, depending on the level of nerf you want.

That way, at low levels, it essentially functions the same, a standard attack will not hurt you at all. It is a bit better as an attack can't roll high enough to hit you, but a bit worse since a big hit can still hurt you a little. At higher levels, that first level spell slot is still handy, but won't stop all the damage unless you cast it at a higher level.

Alternatively, we could just make it set your AC to 18, regardless of what it is normally. That is very powerful at low levels, but gets less great later on. It also does not help BladeSingers get insane AC. Casting at higher level could increase the AC it sets to.

Going with that option, I'd give EK fighters the un-nerfed version though. It is is kind of their only schtick.
 

I think the real problem is wizard spell slots. Because spells can be cast in higher slots, Wizards don't need 1st level spell slots to cast their 1st level spells. They also don't need a huge number of 1st level slots to make attacks as they have cantrips (which scale).

They really (and all casters too) need to lose low level spell slots as they level up. It seems counter intuitive but makes sense once you think about it.
 

The hexblade with 14 dex, wearing +3 half-plate and a +3 shield and a ring and cloak of protection has
17+2+3+3+1+1 = 27 AC
add in shield and it hits 32 AC.

An ancient red dragon has a +17 to hit. It hits the base hexblade on a 10+, and needs a 15+ to hit the one with shield up.
Your problem is this. Not the shield spell. The magic items are what is breaking bounded accuracy. The game isn't made for characters to be running around with 27 AC. Unless you're playing a high magic game and everyone has super high AC. Then the DM can adjust by increasing the attack bonus to monsters.
Are you trying to solve this specific problem in your game? Or is this just a hypothetical problem which could come up? Trying to solve a hypothetical problem that may or may not even be a real issue by completely reworking the Shield spell doesn't make much sense. Don't try to fix something if it isn't actually broken. Now if you have this problem in your game right now, I guess your solution would work. It's too late to not give them multiple +3 armors.
If a wizard isn't using their 1st level slots for Shield, what are they going to use them for? You need some spells that still have uses late game so that casters still have uses for their low level slots.
 


6ENow!

The Game Is Over
A wizard bladesinger in light armor can have AC 12 and can burn spells and a reaction for +5 = 17 about 22 times a day (22 spell slots at 20th level).

FWIW just adding that at 18th and higher levels a wizard could cast shield at will via Spell Mastery. For the most part, that is very likely a +5 AC bump whenever needed, which as a bladesinger I would definitely have! :)
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top