Shieldmaster (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||This is more than a tool, it is a shield to my soul. Thus, I reject thee.||”|
|—Tabris Adamil, Aasimar Paladin|
A shield should be useful, and yet the traditional use bogs you down, denying you effective offense, and granting a defense which is poor and quickly outmatched. Indeed, when the most effective shield is an animated one, it is no shield at all. Show them how it's done.
Becoming a Shieldmaster
Those who wish to add defense to their offense take shields, and enchant them as armor all of their own. Sometimes dexterous characters will take on a non-tower shield, gaining the "armor" they so dearly lack while retaining mobility. Even tower shielded tanks find hope in this class.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+4.|
|Skills:||Balance 5 ranks.|
|Feats:||Shield Proficiency, Improved Shield Bash.|
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+0||Concealing Shield (10%/20%), Shield Fighting, Tower Bash|
|2nd||+2||+3||+3||+0||Powerful Arm, Shield Stance +1|
|3rd||+3||+3||+3||+1||Concealing Shield (15%/35%), Impact Shield, Tower Charge|
|4th||+4||+4||+4||+1||Shield of the Heart, Shield Stance +2|
|5th||+5||+4||+4||+1||Concealing Shield (20%/50%), Evasion, Immediate Cover, Improved Shield Fighting|
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level)
Concealing Shield (Ex): A shieldmaster knows a shield can provide a physical cover from the enemy's sights. At 1st level a shieldmaster may use a light or heavy shield, and gains a constant 10% miss chance from enemy attacks which require attack rolls. If using a tower shield, this miss chance is 20%. At 3rd level the miss chances rise to 15% and 35% respectively, and at 5th level 20% and 50%. The miss chance gained from this ability is considered as concealment. The miss chance is not negated by True Seeing, but can be negated if the shieldmaster loses his shield bonus to AC. When using the total defense action, the miss chance doubles.
Shield Fighting (Ex): At 1st level a shieldmaster gains Two-Weapon Fighting when making attacks with his weapon and a shield. If the shieldmaster already possesses Two-Weapon Fighting, he reduces the penalties by 1 when attacking with his shield.
Tower Bash (Ex): Even the bulk of a tower shield will not prevent a shieldmaster from using it as a weapon. At 1st level a shieldmaster can shield bash with a tower shield, which for medium characters deals 1d8 damage, 20/x2 crit, counts as a one-handed weapon with a Str requirement of 13, and is martial. You may not use this feature if you are not proficient in tower shields.
Powerful Arm (Ex): Using such heavy tools in both arms makes one powerful, as they learn how to balance themselves and push thrust and momentum in their swings. At 2nd level any one-handed weapon wielded while using a shield is treated as a two-handed weapon for strength applies and power attack. Likewise a light weapon becomes one-handed for the same purposes.
Shield Stance (Ex): At 2nd level a shieldmaster is able to use his shield more effectively, gaining a +1 bonus to his shield AC when using any shield. At 4th level this becomes +2.
Tower Charge (Ex): Tower shields make it easier to shove around the enemy due to their sheer size. A shieldmaster may perform a bull rush with a tower shield, gaining a +6 circumstance bonus to the bull rush thanks to the shield. You may not use this feature if you are not proficient in tower shields.
Impact Shield (Ex): At 3rd level you gain two applications of the shield bash which are useful in combat. As an attack action you may make an attack with the shield, and deal no damage. Instead the opponent must make a Fortitude save, DC 10 + 1/2 character level + Str, or take a -4 penalty to attack, AC, and skills for 1 round as they are dazed from impact, save negates. Alternatively you may make a standard action and the save saving throw vs becoming flatfooted as well as the penalties above. A save negates the flatfooted, but not the penalty. Tower shields get +1 to the save DC.
Shield of the Heart (Su): At 4th level a shieldmaster has bonded to his shield on a more spiritual level, and it protects him from even supernatural harm. He gains his shield bonus to touch AC against spells and spell-like abilities. In addition, so long as he has his shield bonus he gains a +2 insight bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like abilities.
Evasion (Ex): At 5th level a shieldmaster has mastered the art of dodging, weaving, and getting himself between danger and his defenses. He gains evasion. If he already possess evasion, he instead gains improved evasion.
Immediate Cover (Ex): At 5th level the quick reflexes of a shieldmaster come into play when using a tower shield. As an immediate action he may take total cover behind his tower shield, which can prevent many a burst effect spells and obliterate an incoming blow. This uses up his actions in the upcoming round, hiding behind his tower shield, but ensures he survives. You may not use this feature if you are not proficient in tower shields.
Improved Shield Fighting (Ex): At 5th level you gain Improved Two-Weapon Fighting for using a weapon and your shield. If you already have the actual Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, your penalties decrease by 1 again to a penalty of 0.
Playing a Shieldmaster
Combat: A shieldmaster is a defensive melee attacker, who may use various AC boosting feats and abilities to gain protection while assaulting the enemy. The potent damage of a shieldmaster over traditional sword & board means they are much more likely to remain a threat that enemies cannot ignore.
Advancement: Shieldmasters generally continue in their base class or related prestige classes. Things which allow greater defensive powers have good synergy.
Resources: Shieldmasters may be a particular branch of the local guards and police forces, taking tower shields and moving on ahead during raids to take the brunt and force their opponents into enclosed quarters.
Shieldmasters in the World
|“||Let the Fullerites shake and tremble at the emblem of our shields, for we are a wall against the storm, indestructible!||”|
|—Genovelt, Shifter Shieldmaster|
Shieldmasters are often members of classes who bear shields with pride, such as guards and paladins.
NPC Reactions: The original class often determines how an NPC will treat you, but the shield may become a symbol of your presence... one of dread, or one of bravery.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge Nobility and Royalty can research Shieldmaster to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|10||Shieldmasters are able to use shields effectively, and are as strong as any two-handed weapon user.|
|15||A shieldmaster's shield grants him concealment against all sorts of dangers, and are even more effective in their hands.|
|20||Tower shields can become potent weapons and defense in a shieldmaster's hands, and they can even shield themselves from magical harm.|
|30||Those that reach this level of succeed can research a specific shieldmaster, their motives, whereabouts, and legends.|
Shieldmasters in the Game
Shieldmasters are defensive attackers who may be involved in ways of getting opponents to waste actions attacking them, and punishing them if they don't.
Adaptation: Don't like evasion? Replace with uncanny dodge (and it's improvement if you possess it).
Sample Encounter: The fort you are about to assault has a team of shieldmasters standing between you and victory. Beware their tower shields which will bull rush you into the moat.