D&D (2024) How to balance the shield spell?

Yes, but what do the majority play? This is a fine view to have, but it ignores that what we've seen is that there are fewer encounters rather than more, which has subsequently unbalanced things towards casters because of decisions made late into the design process of 5E.
That end part does seem to be the case. But unfortunately, we have no proof that this is how people play. I feel like most people follow story, and story is varied amounts of combat in a day.
The point is that it creates an unbalancing effect within a certain combination, largely because of the nature of how the spell is built. If it were even just a +5 against one attack it might be more okay. That it is +5 until the start of their next turn is what makes it overly tanky for people who have access to armor. Like, there's a reason they took it out of the Forge Cleric's Domain spells.
If we go by the data, less than 20% of the players multi-class. The people that combo what you suggest is a fraction of that. So because it doesn't work for these two combos, you want to remove (make less powerful) an useful wizard spell. It makes no sense to me. I have given examples where it is not overpowered by any means, especially for a wizard.

I feel like this is one of those perceived notions rather than actual gameplay experiences.
It's great to say "Oh, target someone else", but I feel like this is just a cop out. If it was so easy to target the wizard, I'd already be doing that. The point being made is that certain dips like Pallies and such can just make such ridiculous use of the power, even with fewer spell slots than a standard caster.

I also feel like you're missing that we're talking about not-wizards in this conversation, but okay.
I'm not missing it at all. But remember, what you are suggesting is changing a wizard spell. And you want it changed, based on your arguments, for non-wizard reasons. Please think about the logic here: I keep pointing to the wizard, because it is the wizard that you are hamstringing.

There are dozens of problematic combos inside multiclassing. If it skews the balance of power too much for your table, then don't allow multiclassing. But to hamstring the wizard and take away one of their few defensive spells all because some hypothetical multiclass combination may happen seems absurd.
 

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Incenjucar

Legend
Less than 20% of characters are wizards. :p Shield is too powerful when used by wizards, partly because they have a bunch of defensive spells they can stack on it, so that's not a reason to keep it as-is. Also, it's an Arcane spell, not a wizard spell.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I think shield is too powerful on Bladesingers, Dwarf-abjurers, and I think it scales too well at higher levels.

I think it isn't very strong on tissue-paper low level wizards.

In general:
1. Shield spell plus Shield items are too strong.

This fix is easy. Make Shield spell grant an actual shield (made of force) that gives +5 AC. You can only benefit from one shield at a time.

2. It scales too well.

To fix this, make it work for 1 attack or spell per slot level. This makes a level 5 shield spell better than a level 1 spell. The impact of this is greater at higher levels, as monsters gain more attacks.

3. It is worst on tissue-paper low level wizards.

My approach for this is to add a "resistance to attack damage" kicker. So if the +5 AC isn't enough (it is a crit? A really good roll?) add in resistance against the damage done. This fits the fiction as well.

This also makes the "it only lasts slot level attacks" not feel as bad, as when "wasted" on attacks that hit you still only take half damage.

Hence how I balance the shield spell.

As an extra bonus, it makes Warlocks with shield feel less bad about using 5th level slots.

On EK with +3 plate and a +3 shield ... it no longer grants any AC. It is still great as resistance to an attack that hits.

The spell may still be too good on Bladesingers; but if we make the Int bonus to AC on a Bladesinger a shield type bonus (after all, it doesn't work if you equip a shield) then that also goes away.
 




NotAYakk

Legend
Infinite use of spells does not need to be less niche.
High level features that change spellcasting need to be less niche. Bringing low level spells back into play in new and interesting ways is great for a T4 feature.

This kind of thing is way better than 9th level spells as a T4 feature, because it isn't "ok, so these spells have to break the game in new and more interesting ways than previous spells".

It is both an interesting mechanic, and less of a problem than "wish" and "meteor storm".
 

Incenjucar

Legend
High level features that change spellcasting need to be less niche. Bringing low level spells back into play in new and interesting ways is great for a T4 feature.

This kind of thing is way better than 9th level spells as a T4 feature, because it isn't "ok, so these spells have to break the game in new and more interesting ways than previous spells".

It is both an interesting mechanic, and less of a problem than "wish" and "meteor storm".
There is nothing interesting in being permanently immune to magic missiles and having +5 AC unless you are unable to use actions.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
There is nothing interesting in being permanently immune to magic missiles and having +5 AC unless you are unable to use actions.
1. Unless unable to use reactions
2. Unless counterspell
3. Unless shield rebalanced, so it isn't +5 AC in all situations
4. Unless other reactions are more important

Using shield is often a bad plan, because level 1 slots are so cheap already. It takes an average of 4 attack attempts for casting shield to be worthwhile. 4 level 1 slots last for 16 attacks, which could be a lot of rounds of combat.

I say that the real problem is that shield is an insanely good level 1 spell at high levels, not that you can cast it repeatedly.
 

mellored

Legend
In general:
1. Shield spell plus Shield items are too strong.

This fix is easy. Make Shield spell grant an actual shield (made of force) that gives +5 AC. You can only benefit from one shield at a time.
Easier fix.
Your AC is 20. Doesn't stack.
2. It scales too well.

To fix this, make it work for 1 attack or spell per slot level. This makes a level 5 shield spell better than a level 1 spell. The impact of this is greater at higher levels, as monsters gain more attacks.
Easier fix.
Your AC is 20. Doesn't scale.
3. It is worst on tissue-paper low level wizards.
Easier fix
Your AC is 20. The lowest AC (wizards) gets the biggest boost.
As an extra bonus, it makes Warlocks with shield feel less bad about using 5th level slots.
Not sure what warlock will get.

But increase AC by 1 per spell level. So 24 AC if they still have 5th level slots.
 

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