Shield Master 5e | D&D 5E Shield Master Feat FAQs

Shield Master 5e

For DnD enthusiasts out there, feats are a big deal. As for those who just started, feats are optional choices in Dungeons and Dragons that let players like you customize characters with special training and unique abilities. You will have numerous feats to choose from, but note that not all feats go well with all builds. So, your feat choices must depend largely on your build type.

One such feat that catches much of our attention is the D&D 5E Shield Master feat. With this one, you can consider yourself a defensive expert. Imagine being able to block some spells and physical attacks coming your way – that’s what this feat grants you.

Shield Master Feat Explained

With the D&D Shield Master, you can become more versatile while wielding a shield. Therefore, you can enjoy both defensive and offensive abilities along with ample tactical advantage that can be made good use of if strategized well. 

Here are the rules of the D&D Shield Master feat, as laid down in the Player’s Handbook:

  • “If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield.
  • If you aren’t incapacitated, you can add your shield’s AC bonus to any Dexterity saving throw you make against a spell or other harmful effect that targets only you.
  • If you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you can use your reaction to take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, interposing your shield between yourself and the source of the effect.”

Shield Tactics

If you opt for the D&D 5E Shield Master, you will have access to otherwise unavailable sets of shield tactics which can be of great tactical advantage if used wisely. Here’s a look at the various shield tactics you can get:

  1. You can shove a creature with a bonus action. Shoving or knocking a character prone can prove to be quite deadly, in turn setting up your teammate for a terrific coup de grâce. With the ability to shove, you can also deal ample damage if you strategize well. If you find yourself in challenging geographical locations such as pools of lava, pitfalls, or deadly traps, a little shove can be fatal for your enemies. 
  2. You can also use your shield to avert dangerous effects and spells. This can be a life savior when a deadly spell comes your way! The little extra defense can go a long way.
  3. You can use a reaction to avoid the detrimental effects of a few magical spells. Imagine emerging unharmed when a group of mages try burning your party to a crisp with a barrage of Fireballs.

These are not tactics you should neglect, for these can help you win a game. Use them wisely, and most importantly, plan ahead.

Shield Master Archetypes 

Shield Master Archetypes 

If you are on the lookout for a classic sword and shield battle, the D&D Shield Master is the way to go. Alternatively, if you want to opt for dueling or defensive type playstyles, this feat still remains relevant. For defensive players, using Sentinel to stack the benefits of this feat is a good idea. Paladins looking for some extra mobility, take note. While Paladins already use their bonus action well, the ability to shove can bring creativity to the table.

If you want to use your environment to your advantage, the Shield Mastery feat can be a big help. Since there is no discernable limit to the number of times you can use shoving as a viable tactic in combat situations, you can go for strategic opportunities for a few special attacks. With this feat, every bridge, cliff, or even a cloudkill spell can turn advantageous very soon!.


The bottom line is that if you are going for a fighter-type build who would like to have their defenses sorted as well, there’s no better option than the D&D 5E Shield Master feat. Just make sure you read your opponents well, and you are aware of the possibilities offered by your immediate physical surroundings. 

Good luck with your choice of feat and happy questing!

Shield Master FAQs 

If you fight primarily with a shield and want to exploit every bit of strategic advantage available, the D&D 5E Shield Master is the way to go. Use this feat when you see your environment playing in your favor. If you enjoy brainstorming with fellow players to set up big plays with your team, this feat could be an interesting choice.

If you have used an attack action, the D&D Shield Master lets you use a bonus action to shove creatures or knock them prone if they are within 5 feet of you. Both shoving and knocking your target prone are excellent ways to set your teammate up for an attack. You can use your environment well if you have the power to shove creatures to their doom.

The short answer is no. Here’s what the first part of the D&D 5E Shield Master mentions:

“If you use the Attack action during the turn you take, they can take advantage of a bonus move to attempt to push an animal to within five feet of your shield.”

If an option states that if you take Y, you can perform a bonus, you need to finish Y first. For a Shield Master, the bonus action needs to take place immediately after the attack action. It is up to the player to decide when the bonus action will occur following that turn. 

According to the rules of Fireball, players within range of the spell have to make a Dex saving throw. Upon its success, players take half the damage intended from the magical flames. So, if you have the Shield Mastery feat, you can use a reaction to dial down the damage to 0.

Additionally, using the third feature granted by Shield Master, you can avert damage from a Fireball, along with numerous other spells. However, note that only this feature can go up against Fireball.

Since Fireball affects an area inside a single target, the second feature granted by Shield Master is of no use with this spell. So, no more adding your AC bonus to spells that are not specifically targeting you.

As per the second benefit granted by the D&D 5E Shield Master, the Player’s Handbook states:

“If you’re not incapacitated, you can add the shield’s AC bonus to any Dexterity saving attempt you make against a spell or any other negative effect that is only targeted at you. So there is no gain to the saving bonus associated with AoE spells. But the 3rd benefit can indeed work for AoE spells, granting you the ability to escape AoE spells for all points in the same region/direction for the rest of the turn.”

So, if you are the subject to the very effect that lets you make a Dex saving throw to cause only half damage, you can use a reaction to avert taking a loss upon your success in the saving throw. In doing so, you effectively put a shield between the cause of impact and you. Since half of the reactions last for the remainder of the turn (Shield or Feather Fall, or if AOEs originate from that very spot in space), your shield will continue to offer the effect of evasion.

So, simply put, there could generally be 6 spells that can be taken into consideration for the 2nd section of the feat, but numerous others are also eligible for the 3rd potion, since it covers every spell requiring Dex saves. Never mix both these components!

You can use one-handed ranged weapons such as crossbows, slings, and darts to throw around. Alternatively, you can also use spells. For example, clerics could use a shield while also having a holy signet on it for focus. You can use level 1 spells and cantrips to make ranged attacks or damage enemies failing to make a saving throw. Think of Toll the Dead, Sacred Flame, Guiding Bolt, and similar ones. Artificers, Oath of Valor Bards, Hexblade Warlocks, and Druids are quite adept at using shields and employing ranged combat spells.

The answer is fairly relative, as these things usually go. If used properly, the Shield Mastery feat holds ample potential in battle. It offers exclusive defensive and offensive abilities, presenting you with a strategic edge in combat.

If you are playing with the motive of using a shield as your signature style, and not just for combat, this feat can do wonders to your roleplaying possibilities! Imagine knocking enemies into a Web spell or shoving them into ravines.

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