Level Up (A5E) Planting Tower Shields

thuter

Explorer
I admit to some confusion regarding the Tower Shield, specifically the planting part. The wording is as follows:
On your turn, you may use an object interaction to plant it in the ground, gaining half cover (+2 bonus to AC, Dexterity saving throws , and ability checks made to hide) and advantage on saving throws made to resist being shoved or knocked prone and while you remain behind it. Unplanting a tower shield requires a bonus action.

Several questions, but they are mostly tied to this one: Am I still considered to be wielding the Tower Shield after I plant it in the ground?
If yes, this seems to have the following consequences:
  • You retain the +2 bonus to AC from wielding the shield (in addition to gaining the half cover bonuses while behind it).
  • You cannot move until you unplant the tower shield (as a bonus action).
If no, this seems to have the following consequences:
  • You forfeit the +2 bonus to AC by not wielding the shield (instead gaining the half cover bonuses while behind it).
  • You are free to move around, the shield remains where it is planted (possibly allowing other creatures to gain the half cover bonuses instead).
  • You now have a free hand (possibly allowing me to don another (tower) shield or draw an (additional) weapon).
I suspect the latter is the case, but I am not certain...

Also: I would obviously never build a character that walks into the fight wielding plate armor, a heavy shield and a tower shield, planting the shield, draw a spear thrower and start besieging the enemy fortifications like a mobile artillery piece. Obviously...
 

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xiphumor

Hero
The
I admit to some confusion regarding the Tower Shield, specifically the planting part. The wording is as follows:


Several questions, but they are mostly tied to this one: Am I still considered to be wielding the Tower Shield after I plant it in the ground?
If yes, this seems to have the following consequences:
  • You retain the +2 bonus to AC from wielding the shield (in addition to gaining the half cover bonuses while behind it).
  • You cannot move until you unplant the tower shield (as a bonus action).
If no, this seems to have the following consequences:
  • You forfeit the +2 bonus to AC by not wielding the shield (instead gaining the half cover bonuses while behind it).
  • You are free to move around, the shield remains where it is planted (possibly allowing other creatures to gain the half cover bonuses instead).
  • You now have a free hand (possibly allowing me to don another (tower) shield or draw an (additional) weapon).
I suspect the latter is the case, but I am not certain...

Also: I would obviously never build a character that walks into the fight wielding plate armor, a heavy shield and a tower shield, planting the shield, draw a spear thrower and start besieging the enemy fortifications like a mobile artillery piece. Obviously...
I would say the answer is yes, actually, but the trick being that you can then use an action to doff the shield, changing the answer to no. This also allows your team members to take as the of the cover it provides.
 

thuter

Explorer
Certainly makes sense that the shield does not immediately leave your arm as soon as you plant it. But then the question becomes: What happens with forced movement? Does the shield simply stay attached and move with you, but it is no longer planted (or does it remain planted? :unsure: imagine the tracks that would leave...), or do you move without the shield, effectively instantly doffing it, and the shield remains planted at its location?
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Certainly makes sense that the shield does not immediately leave your arm as soon as you plant it. But then the question becomes: What happens with forced movement? Does the shield simply stay attached and move with you, but it is no longer planted (or does it remain planted? :unsure: imagine the tracks that would leave...), or do you move without the shield, effectively instantly doffing it, and the shield remains planted at its location?
I would think that it moves with you (being still part of your equipment) and is no longer planted.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
I'd say that you still need to hold the shield: even if you're strong enough to firmly plant it on the ground (which could happen only on boggy soil or clay), a kick or shield bash would be enough to knock it down and render it useless. On a rocky terrain the "planting" option would become impossible.
If you still hold it with your hand and even put your shoulder behind it, keeping it from falling with your body weight, it would provide the benefit regardless of the terrain, and it would make more sense in general
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
I'd say that you still need to hold the shield: even if you're strong enough to firmly plant it on the ground (which could happen only on boggy soil or clay), a kick or shield bash would be enough to knock it down and render it useless. On a rocky terrain the "planting" option would become impossible.
If you still hold it with your hand and even put your shoulder behind it, keeping it from falling with your body weight, it would provide the benefit regardless of the terrain, and it would make more sense in general
the fact that you can plant the shield at all tells me it's specifically a pavise shield, which were commonly used by crossbowmen as cover in the medieval era, so this ruling doesn't particularly make much sense to me. i also think the "while you remain behind it" phrasing implies that you do (or at least can) let go of the shield when you plant it - because otherwise what would be the point in implying you, the wielder, can be not behind it?
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
the fact that you can plant the shield at all tells me it's specifically a pavise shield, which were commonly used by crossbowmen as cover in the medieval era, so this ruling doesn't particularly make much sense to me. i also think the "while you remain behind it" phrasing implies that you do (or at least can) let go of the shield when you plant it - because otherwise what would be the point in implying you, the wielder, can be not behind it?
I was seeing it as a legionnaire's tower shield (scutum).
The pavise was used by crossbowman to protect themselves from enemies' volleys while they were recharging their heavy crossbows (which took quite some time), while the legionnaire's tower shield was used in close formation fighting.
In ranged fight hiding behind wooden surface is very useful, since the shield can hardly be toppled by a few arrows, but in melee it would hardly be useful.

I guess there should be both options of releasing the shield (forfeiting the shield AC bonus and potentially having the enemy steal it or knock it down, but allowing for mobility), or holding it (all bonuses but also no movement)
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
I was seeing it as a legionnaire's tower shield (scutum).
The pavise was used by crossbowman to protect themselves from enemies' volleys while they were recharging their heavy crossbows (which took quite some time), while the legionnaire's tower shield was used in close formation fighting.
In ranged fight hiding behind wooden surface is very useful, since the shield can hardly be toppled by a few arrows, but in melee it would hardly be useful.
i guess you could say it's sort of both, in a weird way?
I guess there should be both options of releasing the shield (forfeiting the shield AC bonus and potentially having the enemy steal it or knock it down, but allowing for mobility), or holding it (all bonuses but also no movement)
i mean, getting +2 AC from both the shield being a shield and the shield being cover makes no sense. it'd be like making the off-hand attacks for two-weapon fighting by having one dagger in one hand and then tossing it to the off-hand when you're done your regular attacks. like...huh?

if anything i'd say the benefit of holding the shield instead of letting go would be a) not having the enemy steal or knock it down and b) action economy (taking an entire action to don/doff a shield in combat is rough!). although, if we're being realistic, planting the shield and not letting go of it would kind of just screw you over since the enemy could just...go around the shield. and now unless you let go of the shield it's useless and your back is exposed and really you can't do a whole lot to them because you'd have to turn your torso around while your arm is still attached to the shield and...yeah you know if i ever get a chance to run a5e i'm just gonna say tower shields detach from you when planted so that i don't have a breakdown or something in the middle of a session.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
i guess you could say it's sort of both, in a weird way?

i mean, getting +2 AC from both the shield being a shield and the shield being cover makes no sense. it'd be like making the off-hand attacks for two-weapon fighting by having one dagger in one hand and then tossing it to the off-hand when you're done your regular attacks. like...huh?

if anything i'd say the benefit of holding the shield instead of letting go would be a) not having the enemy steal or knock it down and b) action economy (taking an entire action to don/doff a shield in combat is rough!). although, if we're being realistic, planting the shield and not letting go of it would kind of just screw you over since the enemy could just...go around the shield. and now unless you let go of the shield it's useless and your back is exposed and really you can't do a whole lot to them because you'd have to turn your torso around while your arm is still attached to the shield and...yeah you know if i ever get a chance to run a5e i'm just gonna say tower shields detach from you when planted so that i don't have a breakdown or something in the middle of a session.
I mean, this is a simplification and a game, but tower shields were used in melee, and especially in close formation fighting. Enemies were not running around you to stab in the back because your back was covered by someone else. Also, most of melee fighting was literally pushing the other line, so that they were falling and could be easily stabbed with the pointed back of a spear and trampled.

The rules for tower shield also say "and advantage on saving throws made to resist being shoved or knocked prone and while you remain behind". If the shield is not held but barely standing, there's no reason why a character should gain advantage on those saves, but I agree with you that the "while you remain behind" confuses things quite a bit (and should be rephrased as "while you hold it")

This advantage of not being easily pushed or knocked prone remains very useful in 1 vs 1, when the close formation combat advantage is no longer present and one could "run around you".

Finally, to add to confusion, I don't see why unplanting a shield should require a bonus action and could not be just another "object interaction", of which there's one free per turn.
 

thuter

Explorer
Maybe "while you remain behind it" refers to the general rules of cover, implying that you plant the shield in a certain direction and when enemies move around it, you no longer get the cover benefits. Not necessarily that you can choose to not remain behind it? But even then, it would make no sense that you would still get a shield bonus to AC. That would be a valid argument for not wielding it anymore. But then you skip the doff action by using an item interaction (free), and indeed planting it somewhere where the ground will not hold it upright for you is weird to imagine as well.

So maybe planting the shield changes the bonus from +2 AC shield bonus to the cover bonus? If that is the case, planting the shield is rarely beneficial, since giving up the omnidirectional benefits of the shield for directional cover and shove and prone bonuses is a bit of a sidegrade. Especially since there are quite a few options for ranged attackers to ignore cover altogether. Especially especially since the shield is bulky and slows you down a lot (unless Dwarf).
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
I mean, this is a simplification and a game, but tower shields were used in melee, and especially in close formation fighting. Enemies were not running around you to stab in the back because your back was covered by someone else.
i mean, yeah, but how often do you get to see such formations in dnd(-likes)?
The rules for tower shield also say "and advantage on saving throws made to resist being shoved or knocked prone and while you remain behind". If the shield is not held but barely standing, there's no reason why a character should gain advantage on those saves,
i mean...even if the shield is "barely standing", it's still in the way. i'd assume that's why.
but I agree with you that the "while you remain behind" confuses things quite a bit (and should be rephrased as "while you hold it")
...unless holding it while it's planted isn't the intent. but either way yeah, this should be clarified.
This advantage of not being easily pushed or knocked prone remains very useful in 1 vs 1, when the close formation combat advantage is no longer present and one could "run around you".
i mean...if they can run around you and swing at your back then not really? because why bother pushing you or knocking you prone when your back is exposed to them anyway? also getting around you would negate that anyway (...like it would do in game, actually).
Finally, to add to confusion, I don't see why unplanting a shield should require a bonus action and could not be just another "object interaction", of which there's one free per turn.
i guess maybe so you can plant and unplant a shield on the same turn? but then that just raises the question of why would you ever do that. and you could do that anyway with two object interactions, it's just that one would take your action. yeah, i dunno, you're right, that's really weird.
Maybe "while you remain behind it" refers to the general rules of cover, implying that you plant the shield in a certain direction and when enemies move around it, you no longer get the cover benefits. Not necessarily that you can choose to not remain behind it? But even then, it would make no sense that you would still get a shield bonus to AC. That would be a valid argument for not wielding it anymore. But then you skip the doff action by using an item interaction (free), and indeed planting it somewhere where the ground will not hold it upright for you is weird to imagine as well.

So maybe planting the shield changes the bonus from +2 AC shield bonus to the cover bonus? If that is the case, planting the shield is rarely beneficial, since giving up the omnidirectional benefits of the shield for directional cover and shove and prone bonuses is a bit of a sidegrade. Especially since there are quite a few options for ranged attackers to ignore cover altogether. Especially especially since the shield is bulky and slows you down a lot (unless Dwarf).
...yeah, i give up, i'm just gonna hope one of the writers pops in and helps us sort out what's going on because i'm just lost now.
 

thuter

Explorer
i guess maybe so you can plant and unplant a shield on the same turn? but then that just raises the question of why would you ever do that. and you could do that anyway with two object interactions, it's just that one would take your action. yeah, i dunno, you're right, that's really weird.

One very good reason would be to do it the other way around: Shoot with a crossbow (bad example due to available hands and "wielding") throw a spear, unplant the shield, move to a more advantageous position, plant it again.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
i mean, yeah, but how often do you get to see such formations in dnd(-likes)?
Not very often, but I think LU is trying to make combat a bit more tactical, especially with positioning. I can totally see a group being surrounded by mobs and a bigger threat, with the tank facing the bigger threat by planting the shield while the other members protect his sides.
i mean...even if the shield is "barely standing", it's still in the way. i'd assume that's why.
Sure, but then I could get in front of it, use an object interaction to pull it towards me or steal it, and then push/knockdown or attack the enemy without cover AND without shield, with no issues and without spending anything from an action economy pov to remove the advantage.
i mean...if they can run around you and swing at your back then not really? because why bother pushing you or knocking you prone when your back is exposed to them anyway? also getting around you would negate that anyway (...like it would do in game, actually).
The advantage is situational, but is there. I remember we survived a very tough battle in Rime of the Frostmaiden by having my paladin going in total defense at a narrow door. The mobs could have tried to push him over and it would have been a TPK, but in that situation having advantage str vs being pushed or knocked down would have been super useful.
 

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