D&D 5E Have we misunderstood the shield and sword fighter (or warrior)?

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
That's the only real answer we have. Nothing really new for D&D, but 5e really doubled down on it, which makes discussions about the game rather circular.
Yep, like a lot of 5E... Unfortunately IMO.

A guy once posted how shields really shouldn't be part of the don/doff system since they are "carried" (like other items), not "worn" like armor...

Which makes more sense with the use of a hand-held shield as opposed to a strapped-on shield--since 5E doesn't make that distinction, it is entirely up to the DM.
 

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Oofta

Legend
You armor isn't "carried in one hand" when equipped like a shield, though, is it? :rolleyes:


Most shields were held one-handed, without a loop to put your arm through (which came later). Viking shields were made to be dropped because the fibers of the wood used would "hug" a weapon lodged in it, making it difficult to be withdrawn. So, because they were made to be dropped, they were held "in one hand" without a strap for the arm.

View attachment 262933View attachment 262934

FWIW, loops were added for cavalry shields IIRC, freeing the shield hand to hold the reins of the steed while the other hand held a weapon, while still allowing for a benefit from the shield.

Smaller loops (as in the red circle shown above) was used for hanging the shield (on walls, boat sides, etc.) when not in use, although I suppose you could slip your hand through it for extra security, but even that shouldn't require your action for the round IMO.


It should mean you gain no DEX bonus to AC nor a shield, then apply advantage because you are literally not defending yourself at all! The only protection you have is whatever armor is worn, which might prevent an attack from injuring you.

Yeah, the designers favored simplicity over logic--I know that--but even in 3E WotC had different AC values IIRC (like flat-footed, which should be a condition in 5E IMO).


Even if shields in your games have straps, you can still drop them if you aren't carrying them in your hand (holding it) as well (so they are braced against attacks). The difference being it would hang from your shoulder/arm instead of falling to the ground. Either way, it is still "dropped" and no longer equipped or benefiting your AC because you can't use it.

IMO, it shouldn't be an action to doff a shield anyway, at worst a bonus action maybe, even if strapped. Either way, you can drop it because it is carried in one hand.

If your shields don't have a strap (such as the Viking round shield, Roman scutum, or many other shields throughout history) dropping it should be a free action, as should picking it up.

View attachment 262939
(back of Roman scutum shield)
Why does it matter what "most" shields do?

If you're following the rules it takes an action to unequip a shield. It therefore cannot be dropped.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
If you're following the rules it takes an action to unequip a shield. It therefore cannot be dropped.
It is carried in one hand, of course it can be dropped.

What you are missing is that doesn't mean it falls to the ground IF you use shields with arm-straps. In which case it hangs from your arm, but is no longer equipped and you don't gain the benefit from it.

If you aren't using an arm-strap, it would fall to the ground.

It doesn't take an action to unequip it, it takes an action to doff it (not the same thing, FYI).

But, as I said above and others have agreed, it is up to the DM like most of 5E. So, please don't think you are "following the rules" and I am not.
 

Argyle King

Legend
Why does it matter what "most" shields do?

If you're following the rules it takes an action to unequip a shield. It therefore cannot be dropped.

Following the rules also means that handheld items can be dropped. The shield is defined as being held in the hand.

...specific beats general, sure...

But what's more specific when two specific areas of the rules disagree?
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Though, to get back on topic, I'll say that the interpretation that a shield always requires an action to let go of it makes me think a little differently about sword & board in D&D.

It's very inconvenient in combat to require two extra actions (doff and then don) to engage in basic adventuring tasks such as climbing, riding a horse, or drinking a potion.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Following the rules also means that handheld items can be dropped. The shield is defined as being held in the hand.

...specific beats general, sure...

But what's more specific when two specific areas of the rules disagree?
###
But that is not actually a rule. There is no rule stating items can be dropped without an action. We have a few quotes from JC, but that is it.

On the other hand there is actually a rule stating that it is an action to take a shield off.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
No, you don't still get the AC if it's on the ground. It's no longer in your hand -which, by definition, is a requirement of using a hand item.


You are making a houserule that makes sense to you and that is fine, if it works it works, but RAW it takes an action to drop your shield. That is not really debatable.

You are stating that "doff" means take it off and put it on your back or something like that, but that is not RAW!

"Doff" is actually defined on page 146 - Doff is "the time it takes to take armor off". There is nothing in there about stowing it on your back or anything else. You have to take the shield off before you can drop it!

RAW it takes an entire action to "take a shield off" or "half" of an action if you have help doing it. After you have taken it off you can drop it or throw it or put it in your pack or whatever. You can not argue that it is any other way RAW. It is clear in the rules.
 
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Oofta

Legend
I'm not particularly strict when it comes to shields in my home game. But I accept that it's a house rule for it to be anything other than an action.

It's an action to doff (take off) a shield in D&D no matter what it would be in the real world. Have a problem with that? House rule it or hope they change it with the upcoming changed.
 

James Gasik

Legend
I really despise how bland and simultaneously persnickety shield rules are in 5e. I mean, ok. If you're a dual wielder, you can take a Feat to instantly unsheathe two weapons at a moment's notice. Or sheathe them again, if you want to do something else.

If you're a shield user, however, and you get jumped, unless the shield was hanging onto your arm, making it useless for doing anything else, you need to use your object interaction to draw a weapon, then an action to "doff" a shield.

If you need to switch weapons, climb something, get dropped into a lake and need to swim, you can let go of your weapon or sheathe it as your free interaction, but there's always this delay as you take an action to remove the shield...and presumably another interaction to put it someplace while you're not using it!

And heaven help you if you're a Cleric, who, as a basically melee range spellcaster, is pretty much intended to use a shield. Even if your shield is your focus, you still need to go through interaction to sheathe/interaction to unsheathe gyrations to cast a healing spell!

Pretty strange for a class that was intended to smack a guy with a mace when they had nothing better to do, if you ask me.

All for a +2 bonus to AC that doesn't do anything else without a Feat that gives you....a bonus action shove and the ability to use your reaction once in a blue moon.

Oh and the only Fighting Style that uses a shield not only gives you another use for your reaction, but was basically made obsolete by Interception!

I'd claim WotC doesn't like shields very much, but then I remember Paizo exists!
 


James Gasik

Legend
But has it been doffed?
Doffed? I'm too Duffed to care.
images.jpg
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Ah, I love the smell of Rules Lawyering after a nice dinner.... sniff sniff sniff So, GGOOOODDD. :D

I find it ironic how WotC's desire to go rule-lite/simple/natural language to help STOP this crap from happening, and it is worse than ever IME.

Again, the problem is they consider shield a "worn" item like armor, when it really isn't and shouldn't be.
 



Argyle King

Legend
You are making a houserule that makes sense to you and that is fine, if it works it works, but RAW it takes an action to drop your shield. That is not really debatable.

You are stating that "doff" means take it off and put it on your back or something like that, but that is not RAW!

"Doff" is actually defined on page 146 - Doff is "the time it takes to take armor off". There is nothing in there about stowing it on your back or anything else. You have to take the shield off before you can drop it!

RAW it takes an entire action to "take a shield off" or "half" of an action if you have help doing it. After you have taken it off you can drop it or throw it or put it in your pack or whatever. You can not argue that it is any other way RAW. It is clear in the rules.


I agree that doffing takes an action. I haven't disputed that.

The shield is also defined as being held in a hand. There are parts of the rules which interact with items held in a hand.

In cases where two more-specific rules conflict, which do you feel is more specific and which do you see as more general?

In your games, do you require someone using a shield to use extra actions (first to doff; second to re-don) to do other things (climbing and such)?

As I said above, that causes me to rethink my opinion on sword & board. It's the only style with that limitation. For everyone else, there are options for dropping things, drawing weapons quickly, and etc.
 


Oofta

Legend
Ah, I love the smell of Rules Lawyering after a nice dinner.... sniff sniff sniff So, GGOOOODDD. :D

I find it ironic how WotC's desire to go rule-lite/simple/natural language to help STOP this crap from happening, and it is worse than ever IME.

Again, the problem is they consider shield a "worn" item like armor, when it really isn't and shouldn't be.
What I do when I DM and what the rules say to do aren't always the same.

For example when it comes to casting spells like mentioned above I don't make a caster put away their weapon, I just assume the weapon is used as part of the somatic component. It's kind of a cool visual. I also don't make a big deal about someone with a shield climbing, etc.

On the other hand I'm not going to try to rules lawyer and parse the rules when it's clear I simply don't run things RAW. I just fess up that I change the rule.

I can't remember the last time a DM made a big deal about donning/doffing a shield taking an action. I'm sure it was soon after the release of 5E because I haven't run into it lately.

Most DMs don't run strictly by the rules, but if they decide to do so, it's up to them. I'll just know to use a two-handed weapon next time.
 

ECMO3

Hero
I agree that doffing takes an action. I haven't disputed that.
Doff means take off according to the rules.

The shield is also defined as being held in a hand. There are parts of the rules which interact with items held in a hand.

Where is a shield defined as "held" in a hand? The rules state a shield is "wielded" and "carried" it does not say it is "held" anywhere in the rules AFAIK. It also says very clearly that it takes an action to "take it off". Full stop!


In your games, do you require someone using a shield to use extra actions (first to doff; second to re-don) to do other things (climbing and such)?

Yes, because that is the rules.
 


Argyle King

Legend
Doff means take off according to the rules.



Where is a shield defined as "held" in a hand? The rules state a shield is "wielded" and "carried" it does not say it is "held" anywhere in the rules AFAIK. It also says very clearly that it takes an action to "take it off". Full stop!




Yes, because that is the rules.


"A shield is made from wood or metal and is carried in one hand. Wielding a shield increases your Armor Class by 2. You can benefit from only one shield at a time." ~quoted from the rules (and the D&D Beyond site).

Edit for the link: Shield

In that description, it's not even said to be armor. It's a hand-item which can be wielded to gain the benefit of +2 AC.
 


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