Rules Clarification: Shield Mastery


Rules Questions

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What I find funny about this feat is how in hell did the fighter or a barbarian figure out to create a magical effect in his shield just through training?
Shouldn't this feat at least ask for the character to be able to cast arcane or divine spells? That is how I would house rule it in my games.

It is a feat afterall, for any class.

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Quandary wrote:
Since only one Shield at a time applies it's Shield Bonus to AC, it would be reasonable to say that a second wielded Shield would not qualify for the Base Shield Bonus->Weapon Enhancement Bonus part, given it's not providing a Shield Bonus for the NORMAL usage of such.

The idea was probably conceived back in the 3.0 days, when a shield gave an armor bonus that stacked with the armor bonus from actual armor. It wouldn't be a huge leap to then allow the armor bonus from one shield to stack with the armor bonus from a second shield.

And then we get to the sub-craziness. I have an enhancement bonus to armor class on my +1 shield. I have another enhancement bonus to armor class on my +1 breastplate. Do they stack? :)

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-Archangel- wrote:
What I find funny about this feat is how in hell did the fighter or a barbarian figure out to create a magical effect in his shield just through training?

He's face-punching someone with a shield that is magically tough, and it's doing more damage. Seems reasonably non-spellcastery. Magically enhanced weapons and armor do have increased hit points, etc. so it would follow that they could be more effectively used to whack someone by someone who has trained to take advantage of their increased durability to really layeth down the smack.

"Hey, this things tougher than my last shield! I can punch you in the face with it even harder."


Set wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:
What I find funny about this feat is how in hell did the fighter or a barbarian figure out to create a magical effect in his shield just through training?

He's face-punching someone with a shield that is magically tough, and it's doing more damage. Seems reasonably non-spellcastery. Magically enhanced weapons and armor do have increased hit points, etc. so it would follow that they could be more effectively used to whack someone by someone who has trained to take advantage of their increased durability to really layeth down the smack.

"Hey, this things tougher than my last shield! I can punch you in the face with it even harder."

That would work if it were using the enhancement bonus from the shield. Unfortunately, however, Jason's ruled it as just being the base shield bonus. (Guy didn't even want to let it stack with Shield focus *grumble*)


kyrt-ryder wrote:
Set wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:
What I find funny about this feat is how in hell did the fighter or a barbarian figure out to create a magical effect in his shield just through training?

He's face-punching someone with a shield that is magically tough, and it's doing more damage. Seems reasonably non-spellcastery. Magically enhanced weapons and armor do have increased hit points, etc. so it would follow that they could be more effectively used to whack someone by someone who has trained to take advantage of their increased durability to really layeth down the smack.

"Hey, this things tougher than my last shield! I can punch you in the face with it even harder."

That would work if it were using the enhancement bonus from the shield. Unfortunately, however, Jason's ruled it as just being the base shield bonus. (Guy didn't even want to let it stack with Shield focus *grumble*)

This is what I meant as well. So how do you explain fighter enchanting normal metal shields?

Scarab Sages

While it is "treated" as an enhancement bonus, that doesn't necessarily mean it has actually been enhanced.

It's D&D. There's a lot of things a high level Fighter can do that probably seem like magic. ;)


Karui Kage wrote:

While it is "treated" as an enhancement bonus, that doesn't necessarily mean it has actually been enhanced.

It's D&D. There's a lot of things a high level Fighter can do that probably seem like magic. ;)

That is not a good enough explanation.

Scarab Sages

How about "make up whatever explanation you need to help you"? It's not as if it says 'the shield is magical', just that he gets to add a bonus that is treated as an enhancement bonus. An enhancement bonus does not equal magical. In fact, a plain shield with Shield Mastery still wouldn't bypass DR/magic.

He's gotten so good with his shield that he can do things with it that other, lesser warriors, need magic to help do.

It is called Shield Mastery after all.

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-Archangel- wrote:
This is what I meant as well. So how do you explain fighter enchanting normal metal shields?

Ooh, my bad.

Huh, I can't seem to find any sort of definition in the PFRPG as to what an enhancement bonus is. Does it *have* to be magical?

And, in this case, where the bonus is determined by the *size* of the shield, and not it's magical enhancement bonus (if any), a circumstance bonus or something seems like it would be far more appropriate, with enhancement bonus perhaps only being picked out to prevent stacking (not that I can find a PFRPG reference to enhancement bonuses not stacking, but it's probably safe to assume, since the beginning of the armor section of the equipment chapter mentions that armor and shield bonuses don't stack with other armor and shield bonuses, although the feats / items that mention Dodge and Deflection bonuses don't specify whether or not those bonus types are stackable...).

Scarab Sages

A shield is magical if it is magical. Possessing an enhancement bonus does not confer this on it, though I will agree they are usually the domain of magic items. This was likely done just to prevent stacking with a shield enhanced as a magical weapon.


I really can't believe this argument has gone on for so long. The rules clearly indicate how the feats should be interpreted. If the designers wanted the enhancement bonus of the shield to stack with the bonus of Shield Master they would have said so. Since Paizo specifically uses the term shield bonus I don't think there is anyone who can honestly say that the feat is poorly worded. And, in the case that someone wants to turn his magical shield into a magical weapon, then I'm afraid the bonuses won't stack unless Paizo says otherwise (but see below).

There is a clear distinction in the rules between a shield and a weapon. Even when a shield with an enhancement bonus is used to make a shield bash it is still not treated as a magic weapon. To do so the shield must be separately enchanted as a weapon (and costs as much to do so as any normal weapon). It may not make sense, but for game balance reasons it doesn't really need to.

I'm not sure if this was answered previously, but if you have Greater Shield Focus, Shield Focus and Shield Mastery does your bonus to hit and damage with a heavy shield increase to +4 (this would certainly abrogate the need to give your shield a high enhancement bonus and would enable you to make it a flaming or holy shield instead)?

Sovereign Court

Masterwork weapons get a +1 enhancement bonus to hit, but they aren't magical.

Really now, come on, is it THAT hard to give the Shield MASTER a tiny +1/+2 enhancement bonus without crying about whether or not he's making his shield magic??


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Phil. L wrote:
I'm not sure if this was answered previously, but if you have Greater Shield Focus, Shield Focus and Shield Mastery does your bonus to hit and damage with a heavy shield increase to +4 (this would certainly abrogate the need to give your shield a high enhancement bonus and would enable you to make it a flaming or holy shield instead)?
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
But it's only a partial clarification, he completely forgot the part about whether or not Shield Focus applies :(

It does not.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The thing that gets me, though, is that I have a player (Paladin, currently Level 1) who is planning on going the double-shield route. And I'm really not seeing a lot of disincentives. Since he's a Pally, he's burning a lot of feats on his way to Shield Mastery, but the premise of free bull rush attempts on every attack, plus penalty-free TWF means he has little benefit to sword-and-board instead.

For that matter, I don't love the idea that someone wielding a heavy shield has a better attack roll with their shield than their weapon (not even counting the free enhancement bonuses here). It just feels wrong.

I'm thinking about changing the feat so that it reduces TWF penalties by one step; that is, heavy shields are treated as light (-2 main hand/-2 off hand) and light shields have no TWF penalties (-0/-0). This gives, numerically, the same reduction in penalties (except for the oddball 2x heavy shield users, they lose out, and the light shield users actually get an extra penalty reduction to their main weapon, which helps keep the light shield from becoming completely irrelevant) but spreads it across both types of weapons, thereby removing the major disncentive to using a real weapon/shield instead of two shields. The 2x shield guys still get the free enhancement bonuses, but I don't have to think about why anyone would pass up the opportunity for an extra +4 beyond the single-shield bonus. I just have these visions of TWF rangers running around with two shields and it weirds me out.

What do you guys think? Am I overlooking some scenario where that would be unbalancing?

Ugh. This one's silly and not related to my hypothetical changes, but what about a fighter with two shields who takes the feats for greater bull rush? Team him up with a dextrous melee character and set it up like a batting cage or something. Or worse, another shield master, ready to bounce the victim back in a game of AOO Pong. Actually, that's gimmicky enough to maybe make for an interesting encounter (Where a PC or two serve as the ball), but probably nothing else.

I guess, technically those guys wouldn't *require* two shields. Hmm.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Nearly two years later and still no errata that was promised.

Should we just assume that if I have a +5 shield and the Shield Master feat, I get +5 to attack and damage (even if the enhancement bonus is applied to it as a shield rather than as a weapon) as per the RAW, rather than you RAI advice shown above?

EDIT: Nevermind, I guess it had been errata'd from "shield bonus" to enhancement bonus." So neither the above RAI or the original RAW is correct. A third option was chosen and errata'd in from the looks of it.


I'd also like to kow the official stance on this; on d20pfsrd.com it says "enhancement bonus", so I assume it has been changed and Ravingdork is correct?


Turgan wrote:
I'd also like to kow the official stance on this; on d20pfsrd.com it says "enhancement bonus", so I assume it has been changed and Ravingdork is correct?

It says enhancement bonus on the Paizo PRD also. I also think RD is correct since I took it the same way.

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