Building a Tower Shieldadin?


Advice

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I'd never heard of taking ACP on initiative rolls before, so I thought, "Wow, if ACP applies to initiative rolls that's a huge rule we've been missing for years!". Based on what I see in the RAW I'd say that ACP would only apply if you're not proficient with the armor or shield imposing the ACP though. To quote the PRD (or d20pfsrd actually):

Quote:

"Armor Check Penalty

Any armor heavier than leather, as well as any shield, hurts a character's ability to use Dex- and Str-based skills. An armor check penalty applies to all Dex- and Strength-based skill checks. A character's encumbrance may also incur an armor check penalty."

Note that the rules for Armor Check Penalty themselves don't include ability checks, just Dex and Str based skill checks. The ability checks are only mentioned later on as part of the "Nonproficient with Armor Worn". Anyhow, using a tower shield without proficiency seems like a pretty bad idea for most PCs. Proficiency is only a single feat or Fighter level away though.


Devilkiller,

This isn't a character stat block, so I'm sorry... but this stub will have to do for now. This is a simple build that would follow up with levels of Cavalier and then likely Bard.

Halfling
Fighter 1 / Paladin (Sacred Shield) 4
Str 8 / Dex 16 / Con 14 / Int 14 / Wis 10 / Cha 16

Traits: Helpful, [Choice]
Feats:
1 - Combat Reflexes
F1 - Shield Focus (Tower Shield)
3 - Bodyguard
5 - [Open, Weapon Finesse?]

Weapon: +1 Longsword
Armor: +2 Benevolent Chainmail
Shield: +2 Tower Shield
((There's probably some gear I could be adding to this to make it better; this is totally just guessing as to what I could have.))

To hit: 5 BAB + 1 Weapon - 1 Str + 1 Size - 2 penalty = +4
AC: 10 + 8 Armor + 7 Shield + 2 Dex + 1 Size = 28

How it works:
At 3rd level, you can move adjacent and an ally and give them a nice +6 bonus to AC. While this isn't game breaking, it'll swing things into your favor. We're still a little shy of hitting this required 10 AC to do so, though.

At 5th level, when we move adjacent, our allies pick up an immediate +7 shield bonus, and can get an extra +6 bump from Bodyguard. +13 AC to whenever we move next to an ally.

Our main mechanic then is Ready Action. "When something moves next to/hits an ally, I will move next to them." That allows us to move, somewhat out of turn, to defend multiple allies that are not adjacent. Fireball Formation, be damn'd, we'll eat the AoOs to run about the battlefield.

The math:
The average attack bonus of a CR5 mob is 9.2. This creature would have to roll a 19 (crit range on most weapons) to hit us. If we come up against something CR > CL, we can always fight defensively, beg for a buff, etc.

Assuming that we decide to defend the wizard (AC of 10... cause he's a woefully unprepared wizard), the same mob that would struggle to hit us on anything but a crit would have hit the wizard unless it fumbled the roll. When we move next to our inept wizard, however, his AC jumps to a potential 23. That means our baddy goes from "Sure hit on the squishy" to needing to roll a 14 or better. That's not game breaking, but he went from a 5% miss chance to a 55% miss chance.

And, let's appreciate that when you're dealing with CR = CL, there's probably only one creature in play. Esp so if CR > CL. If we start dealing with many monsters that are smaller CR, their chances also begin to drop off. They'll fail to hit us on anything but a crit (again) but they'll also start struggling to hit our defended ally with less than a crit.


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Devilkiller wrote:

I'd never heard of taking ACP on initiative rolls before, so I thought, "Wow, if ACP applies to initiative rolls that's a huge rule we've been missing for years!". Based on what I see in the RAW I'd say that ACP would only apply if you're not proficient with the armor or shield imposing the ACP though. To quote the PRD (or d20pfsrd actually):

Quote:

"Armor Check Penalty

Any armor heavier than leather, as well as any shield, hurts a character's ability to use Dex- and Str-based skills. An armor check penalty applies to all Dex- and Strength-based skill checks. A character's encumbrance may also incur an armor check penalty."

Note that the rules for Armor Check Penalty themselves don't include ability checks, just Dex and Str based skill checks. The ability checks are only mentioned later on as part of the "Nonproficient with Armor Worn". Anyhow, using a tower shield without proficiency seems like a pretty bad idea for most PCs. Proficiency is only a single feat or Fighter level away though.

Yeah, sorry if I wasn't clear, I noted in the post that it was nonproficiency penalties, but most people don't realize that ACP applies to not only attack rolls but also Initiative checks (which means even if your Psion can manifest in full plate you probably don't want to unless you're multiclassed unless you just love going last in combat :P).

On a fun side note, the warrior NPC class also gets proficiency with tower shields (unlike other classes with shield proficiency like Barbarians, Rangers, and Paladins, there is no special exception for the warrior NPC class that excludes tower shields).


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By the way, fun factoids: If you try to search for "tower shield" on Wikipedia, you get redirected to the article about the Scutum, which is the Roman tower shield. You could even do a bash with it, but it was apparently more susceptible to being sundered by such weapons as the falcata (Iberian, although this weapon did not bo by that name at the time) and the falx (Dacian, and the source of the modern name of the falcata), compared to the aspis, which was the ancient Greek heavy shield (interesting potential source of name for the Aspis Consortium, huh?), which covered less area but was more durable (both were made primarily of wood). Unfortunately, neither these properties of the scutum, the falcata, or the falx made it into D&D/Pathfinder. Also unfortunately, the articles do not say how much any of these items weighed.


What was the weight of that mithral tower shield btw?


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The fact that the Romans bashed people with their tower shields implies that by Pathfinder rules they'd be heavy shields. That's kind of disappointing since they seem like the prototypical tower shield. I guess it could be argued that such a bash might function more like a Bull Rush, but it would be nice if the tower shield gave a bonus to that.

Any sources I can find seem to indicate that the typical scutum would have weighed 25 pounds or less, far under the listed 45lb weight for Pathfinder's tower shield. Since tower shields are wooden per the description I'm not sure if you can make them out of mithral. You could make one from darkwood though, and it would officially weigh 22.5 lbs.


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DM Under The Bridge wrote:
What was the weight of that mithral tower shield btw?

This comes in magic form (Force Tower) only, but the weight is 22 pounds. Probably gets away with it by being magical, but theoretically you might be able to make non-magical 22 pound tower shield that isn't TOO HORRIBLY susceptible to sunder (that is, no worse than the Roman scutum) out of mithril if you used some sort of honeycomb structure. This partly depends upon what real-world metal most closely corresponds to mithril -- if it is aluminum, you're going to have problems, but if it is titanium, this sounds definitely plausible even though titanium is the better part of 2X denser, because that stuff is impressively strong, although you'll probably need magic just to smelt and forge it (although aluminum isn't too easy in that regard either). Real world plastic/composite materials can do the job, but those usually aren't metal (and are often transparent, which doesn't correspond to ironwood either).


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Okay, here's my proto-guide to building a Tower Shieldadin. This is only a proto-guide because I have neither had the chance to test the build advice in this guide myself nor received feedback from someone who has. (It is also a proto-guide because currently I have no viable way to generate a PDF or something that could be put on Google Docs -- I need to get a new computer . . . .)

Credits are due to Gulian (the original poster in the thread, for Paladin using a tower shield, with optional Warrior of the Holy Light archetype), Corodix (the second poster, for Sacred Shield Paladin), heyyon (for a whole bunch of other stuff including much discussion/work via PM, including but not limited to Honor Guard Cavalier and Mouser Swashbuckler and the Fools for Friends and Helpful traits), Diminuendo (introduced Stalwart Defender), Ipslore the Red (Force Tower), and me (Tower Shield Specialist Fighter, Battle Herald, the Stalwart Defender build, checking for archetype clashes, and looking up racial abilities). Credits are also due to several others (especially Ashiel) for pointing out weaknesses with tower shield usage, that forced the rest of us to find workarounds for these weaknesses -- unfortunately, all Pathfinder tower shields are harder to use than some examples of tower shields on Earth (both historical and modern), but this does have to be addressed and answered rather than ignored; also, weaknesses in the build that are not directly related to the tower shield itself have to be addressed and answered rather than ignored.

The basic idea

At level 1, the Sacred Shield Paladin replaces the standard Paladin's Smite Evil with Bastion of Good, which lets you halve damage done to the rest of your party (you don't get this, but you get AC bonus instead), as long as they stay within the 10' radius, which improves to 20' radius at level 11 (if you go that far), and at level 20 (if you're really going epic) also grants regeneration 10 to your allies within 20' against damage done by what would have been your Smite Evil target if you hadn't taken the Sacred Shield archetype.

At level 4, the Sacred Shield Paladin replaces Channel Energy with Holy Shield, which lets you buff adjacent allies with your own shield bonus, which is just okay if you are using a non-tower shield (unless heavily enchanted), but is pretty big if you are using a tower shield, even somewhat better if it is a Force Tower (which has the added benefit of being lighter than a normal tower shield, since Pathfinder doesn't have the Roman scutum, which would have been even sweeter because the scutum lets you bash, which you can't do with Pathfinder tower shields); Rules as Written, unlike Bastion of Good, Holy Shield seems not to require the enemies to be Evil. This expands to 10' radius at level 11 (if you go that far) and 20' radius at level 20 (definitely not PFS). This ability also lights you up like a light bulb, so enemies are more likely to suspect that you are the source of the effect and feel they need to take you out instead of your more squishy allies (although under your protection, they aren't so squishy any more). Note that Rules as Written do not say what type of action Holy Shield uses, but by analogy with Channel Energy, it is probably a Standard Action.

At level 5 (if you go that far with your Paladin levels), Divine Bond is with your shield, and lets you add enhancements to it; unfortunately the low uses per day (initially 1) really hurts this.

If you DON'T have or plan to get 2 levels of Cavalier with Order of the Dragon (see below), you will want the Helpful combat trait or the Helpful (Halfling) racial trait to boost your Aid Another; since it apparently Rules as Written does this by a means other than an actual Trait Bonus, this stacks with Fools for Friends (see below); however, the 2 versions of this trait probably do not stack with each other (even though they are in different trait lists), since they both work by increasing another bonus; the same is true of the Order of the Dragon (Cavalier order) 2nd level ability.

If you are playing in Second Darkness or another campaign that offers this trait, you will want the Fools for Friends campaign trait; this gives you a +1 Trait Bonus to Aid Another, and gives your allies a +1 Trait Bonus to Aid Another applied to you, and the +1 trait bonus on all saving throws against Charm and Compulsion effects is also not too shabby. Of course, if you are offered a campaign trait like the What-The-#311-Were-They-Thinking This-Is-Better-Than-Most-Feats Absolutely-Bonkers-Stupid-Brokenly-Overpowered Finding Haleen/Finding Your Kin campaign trait without the NerfSledgeHammer that it deserves, feel free to ignore Fools for Friends in favor of this trait.

You can mix other things with Sacred Shield Paladin to improve it, although unfortunately if you are playing in PFS, your build space is severely cramped, but some of this is still possible.

Additions to the build

For your Paladin levels themselves, you can blend Warrior of the Holy Light with Sacred Shield, which is especially useful if you are multiclassing (see below), which will cramp your spells; this archetype also lets you become somewhat less Charisma-dependent (and thus somewhat less MAD). At 4th level this starts giving you extra Lay on Hands (which is useful in itself), and lets you spend a Lay on Hands to give your allies a helpful nimbus of light (Power of Faith), which grants them a +1 morale bonus to AC and on attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws against fear as long as they remain in the area of light, which has a 30' radius; at 8th level (if you manage to get that far), it also grants them what almost amounts to mass Lesser Restoration once per day; it also grants an okay (situationally pretty good) additional bonus at 12th level and some pretty good additional bonuses at 16th and 20th levels, but if you're multiclassing, you're not likely to get that far even in non-PFS unless you go really epic; the same is true of the Shining Light ability gained at 14th level (which is also hurt by limited uses per day, initially 1). This nimbus of light also will tend to draw enemies' attention away from your squishier friends and towards you. Note that not all Paladin spells are rendered useless by lost caster levels, so Warrior of the Holy Light is a good option, but is not absolutely required; however, if you take a level of Evangelist Cleric (see below) to become a Battle Herald, it becomes even more attractive (two stunted spellcasting progressions with highly overlapping spell lists are less valuable than one stunted spellcasting progression plus something else). Do note that Power of Faith uses a Standard Action; it lasts longer than Holy Shield (which probably also uses a Standard action -- see above) unless you have trans-mortal Charisma even without items, so if you want to use both, activate it first, and then activate Holy Shield.

As an optional boost to your Paladin levels, if you are having trouble with Fiends teleporting past your defenses, but you have (or plan to get) at least 8 levels of Paladin and you didn't go the Warrior of the Holy Light route, swear an oath against them. At 8th level, Oath Against Fiends gives you an Anchoring Aura that impairs the ability of Evil outsiders to teleport or use related abilities, and if you really want to make sure you can kill one of them, you can spend a use of Smite Evil on it (caution: pulls from the same limited pool as Bastion of Good) to cast Dimensional Anchor on it, although do note that its Spell Resistance probably still applies. The optional 9th level ability (Holy Vessel) does not apply to Sacred Shield Paladins (Divine Bond is already with your shield, not a weapon), which is okay since it is redundant with your 5th level Sacred Shield ability, and if it did apply, it would replace a Mercy. The bonus spells are decent, too.

Honor Guard Cavalier gets you a mount and some additional party-defending abilities and is somewhat less expensive and slow to get online than Tower Shield Specialist Fighter, and gives you half of the option to go Battle Herald later (see below). At 1st level you can designate a ward when you Challenge, and thus transfers 1 AC from you to your ward as long as you are adjacent; you also get the normal Cavalier Tactician ability for buffing your party. At 1st level, if you DON'T have either version of the Helpful trait (see above), you should also select Order of the Dragon, which buffs your allies when you Challenge, gives you Perception and Survival as class skills, and at 2nd level boosts your Aid Another. If you have either version of the Helpful trait, select Order of the Lion instead, assuming that it fits your character conceptually; if not, but if you are a Halfling, you can use Order of the Paw, although the limited uses per day of the 2nd level ability really hurts. If you can't choose any of these, Order of the Star can work, although unfortunately, with Rules as Written it doesn't synergize fully with Sacred Shield Paladin (which trades out Channel Energy) and, depending upon interpretation, might not synergize fully with the Channel Energy of Evangelist Cleric (see below), although Warrior of the Holy Light (which gives more Lay on Hands) partially mitigates this since it does also improve Lay on Hands. Oddly enough, Order of the Shield DOESN'T synergize very well with this build, although it isn't totally useless, so it is a usable option if you are stuck without the other choices. At 3rd level, it gives you Bodyguard as a bonus feat even if you do not not have Combat Reflexes (although at some point you will likely want this anyway), and buffs your Aid Another to AC. At 4th level you get the normal Cavalier's Expert Trainer ability, which qualifies you for the Horse Master feat, which lets your mount progress with you even if you never take another level of a class granting Animal Companion. Unfortunately, if you DON'T want to go mounted but want the other Honor Guard Cavalier benefits (especially for Battle Herald), you can't combine Honor Guard with Standard Bearer, because they clash at level 11 (both replace Mighty Charge), even though you are never going to get to level 11. So if you don't want to go mounted, or really even if you do, make sure your mount can fight alongside you (effectively making it a warrior animal companion) as well as when you are on it. Note that being mounted works better if you are Small, and this is true even if your mount is fighting alongside you instead of you being on it.

Standard Bearer Cavalier gets an honorable mention if you want to become a Battle Herald and you don't want to go mounted (it exchanges levels 1 and 5 with respect to when you get your mount and when you get your Banner ability), although you will miss out on the warding Challenge and bonus improved Bodyguard benefits (you can still get standard Bodyguard the normal way) -- just don't bother taking more than 2 levels of Standard Bearer Cavalier.

Depending upon the interpretation of the prerequisites for Horse Master, Huntmaster Cavalier might get an honorable mention if you want some of the Cavalier benefits (although not the warding Challenge or bonus improved Bodyguard -- you can still get standard Bodyguard the normal way) but don't want to go mounted and you're not confident that your party will be able to make good use of the normal Cavalier's Tactician ability. This gets you an animal companion for fighting alongside you and acting as a tracker (if you don't have a Ranger type in the party). The question is whether you can use Horse Master on such an animal companion -- since it isn't a mount and your Expert Trainer ability is modified (becomes Animal Trainer), you might not qualify.

If you are Small, Mouser Swashbuckler gets you Underfoot Assault at level 1, which gives you an awesome way to cramp an enemy's style (and make them pay attention to you) by getting in their face. Read the link to see how this works -- it's awesome. You don't want more than 1 level of this, but you might want Extra Panache if you can fit it into your build. If you could get Underfoot Assault as your deed with Amateur Swashbuckler, you could dispense with the Swashbuckler level for the cost of a feat, but Rules as Written probably do not let you get a non-vanilla Deed with Amateur Swashbuckler. If you are up against a lot of opponents that are Large or larger, Mouser Swashbuckler (or Amateur Swashbuckler if approved to take Underfoot Assault as your Deed) could be good even if you are not Small -- examples would be Giantslayer after the first chapter, and maybe the later chapters of Rise of the Runelords. Of the Small races, Halfling is the best for the ability to get the Risky Striker feat, which is like almost-free Power Attack (the benefit scales but the penalty to your awesome AC doesn't, and you get no additional attack penalty); with this feat, Reduce Person can even be a buff for you if you are not mounted (including having your mount fighting alongside you) and are up against Medium opponents.

Evangelist Cleric is the go-to class/archetype to get your Bardic Performance in just 1 level if you want to become a Battle Herald. Other Bardic Performance classes/archetypes are hampered by your armor (with a possible exception of doing something weird like using a tower shield with light or no armor, but given a tower shield's Armor Check Penalty, the possibility of this working seems due for an Errata beatdown) or need more than 1 level to get Bardic Performance. Not needing Use Magic Device to use Cleric/Oracle Wands is also nice. With certain weird builds, you might even figure out something useful to do with the 1d6 Channel Energy (which your Paladin archetype won't have), but don't invest too much in this. Do note that the Crusader Cleric archetype (to get you Tower Shield Proficiency as a bonus feat) clashes with Evangelist (they both reduce your number of Domains).

Battle Herald is another good way to buff your party while drawing enemies' attention away from your squisher allies and towards you. See this guide, but your build will be different and give you later entry than recommended in the guide. Prior to starting Battle Herald, your class levels will always have Sacred Shield Warrior of the Holy Light Paladin 4 + Evangelist Cleric 1, combined with one of Honor Guard Cavalier 4, Standard Bearer Cavalier 2, or Huntmaster Cavalier 4 (if approved for taking the Horse Master feat); if you are Small (or up against a lot of opponents that are Large or larger), also add Mouser Swashbuckler 1 (or replace this with Amateur Swashbuckler with Underfoot Assault if approved). Therefore, you will enter Battle Herald at a character level in the range 8 to 11 (not good for PFS, but fits into non-epic non-PFS play). Addition of Tower Shield Specialist Fighter (see below) to a Battle Herald build is viable only for epic play. Your race should be either a Small race (to make being mounted a better option) or Half-Elf (for Multitalented Mastery awesomeness and optinally an Exotic Weapon chosen to make enemies pay attention to you, and the other Half-Elf benefits are also not too shabby).

Tower Shield Specialist Fighter is an expensive way to improve the build and takes a while to come online, but gives good benefits in the long run. At 1st level it gives you free Tower Shield Proficiency (thus saving you a feat) and another bonus feat; at 2nd level (instead of Bravery) it gives you Burst Barrier, which is +1 on Reflex saves vs burst spells and another bonus feat; at 3rd level when you are using a tower shield your Armor Training has its normal effect AND relieves you of 3 armor check penalty and extends your Dexterity bonus cap by 2 (if not using a tower shield you still benefit from normal Armor Training); at 4th level you get another bonus feat; at 5th level you get rid of the -2 attack roll penalty for using a tower shield; at 6th level your Burst Barrier improves to +2 (it scales every 4 levels) and you get another bonus feat. You also get some other decent benefits at higher levels, but 5th or 6th is as high as you are likely to get unless you are going super-epic, even in non-PFS (if you are going epic, the higher level Paladin benefits are better, so finish your Paladin progression first if you aren't doing some other multiclassing). If you are going to be a Tower Shield Specialist Fighter, you will eventually have enough levels in both this and Sacred Shield Paladin that you will probably want to be a Half-Elf (out of the box, has the Multitalented racial trait -- DON'T trade it out, and you also qualify for the Multitalented Mastery feat), Human (pick up the Eclectic feat after you start your multiclassing, but in the meantime enjoy your Human Bonus Feat or whatever you traded it out for, and Fast Learner is awesome too, and other Human benefits are not too shabby, including Martial Versatility), Dwarf (for Stability, exotic weapon options, and other Dwarfy awesomeness, especially if you are going to be a Stalwart Defender -- see below, although you will need to invest in Charisma enough to offset the penalty), or a Small race (see Mouser Swashbuckler above, and also good if you want to make being mounted a better option).

If you are a Tower Shield Specialist Fighter, Stalwart Defender has potential to be a good option. This is a late entry Prestige Class to start with due to the Base Attack Bonus +7 requirement, so if you have 4 levels of Sacred Shield Paladin (with or without Warrior of the Holy Light), you will need at least 3 levels of another full BAB class to qualify; since it also requires the feats Dodge, Endurance, and Toughness, you will also be feat-hungry, and Fighter levels help with that a great deal. Therefore, Tower Shield Specialist Fighter fits in very nicely, with only 2 levels of late entry cost to get the 5th level ability that you really want to get rid of your tower shield attack penalty, and 3 levels of this gets you an increase in Burst Shield and another feat, while still allowing you to finish Stalwart Defender within non-epic non-PFS play. For your first Mercy (gained at Paladin level 3), get the ability to remove the Fatigued condition, so that you can Defensive Stance Cycle (same concept as Rage Cycling), unless you have a reliable way of removing or being immune to Fatigue from some other source. Get Bulwark as your first Defensive Power -- this lets you turn your astronomical Armor Check Penalty (including -10 from the tower shield!) from a disadvantage into an advantage, making it effectively a penalty to enemies' attempts to Bluff you (weird, but that's what it says) and to use Acrobatics to avoid Attacks of Opportunity while moving past you. See Tower Shield Specialist Fighter above for races, but Dwarf becomes more attractive due to the Stability and Weapon Familiarity standard racial traits (despite the Charisma penalty), although do note that the Dorn Dergar is a two-handed weapon (which you still might want to keep around for situations in which your tower shield is less useful, thus allowing you to switch-hit as a reach weapon user), and that while the Stonelord Dwarven racial archetype of Paladin stacks with Stalwart Defender, it cannot be blended with Sacred Shield.

Weaknesses

A Tower Shieldadin build has significant vulnerabilities, some of which you can overcome yourself, and some of which require working with the rest of your party. The most obvious is the -2 penalty to hit anything when you are wielding a tower shield unless you invest in 5 levels of Tower Shield Specialist Fighter, while the need to use a feat to get Tower Shield Proficiency if you do not have any Fighter levels adds insult to injury. This weakness especially hurts because you want enemies to have an incentive to focus on you instead of going after your squishier allies, even as defended as you make them (or not, if you have run out of Smite Evil to use for Bastion of Good and Lay on Hands to use for Holy Shield and optionally your Warrior of the Holy Light Power of Faith). Getting the Bodyguard feat (see Honor Guard Cavalier above, but you can get it without Cavalier levels, Honor Guard or otherwise) will help you to defend your squishier allies when you have run out of resources, but you still need a way to get enemies' attention. Often, the best way to do this is by whacking them hard, but that -2 penalty to hit when using a tower shield (unless you have at least 5 levels of Tower Shield Specialist Fighter) hurts this. So get around this, first of all have some decent Strength (unless you are Dexterity-based, which is really only attractive if you are also a Mouser Swashbuckler as described above, since the tower shield cramps your maximum dexterity bonus). Spell-based buffs are nice, but others in your party would probably do better by spending them on your party's main damage dealers, unless they are multi-target spells or your main damage dealers are out of service. In addition, you also want to be able to deal some real damage in case you get stuck by yourself, even if this is only temporary. Therefore, you will want to get a weapon that does serious damage or something else scary (Trip is best), so for your primary weapon, get one of the highest-damage one-handed Martial Weapons or Exotic Weapons (preferably one that your race lets you treat as Martial, such as Dorn Dergar if you are a Dwarf, or for which you get a free Exotic Weapon Proficiency, such as by being a Half-Elf with the Ancestral Weapons alternate racial trait), or get one with the Trip quality -- preferably both, such as Heavy Flail. If you are going to be a Stalwart Defender, you will be limited in mobility (you can't move without ending a Defensive Stance, except that at 9th level of this you can make a 5' step), so you might want a reach weapon (Lance if you are often mounted) and/or a ranged weapon as a backup (you will probably want the latter anyway), even though this will require you to drop or stow your shield. If you are Dexterity-based, use a Scimitar (other options for this exist, but are usually harder to get to work). If you have a choice of different enhancements on magic weapons, with all other things being equal, prefer plain numerical enhancements and visually impressive enhancements (such as flaming, to draw enemies' attention) over other effects.

In addition, you will be weak to opponents that know how to use a Pilum (also a Roman weapon, by the way), if they are equipped with enough of these shield-disabling weapons or manage to score a lucky hit on the first try. This is not so easy to solve -- high armor class helps a lot, but you still need some kind of missile defense. You will also be weak to swarming creatures -- not just creatures with the Swarm Subtype (to which many types of martial characters have weakness), but also to hordes of creatures that can ignore your Bastion of Good ability (because as with Smite Evil, you can only apply it to one enemy at a time) and get around you (exceeding any number of Attacks of Opportunity you could make with Combat Reflexes) to flank you and your squishier allies. Finally, you will also be weak to area of effect spells, even with Burst Defense from Tower Shield Specialist Fighter, because your allies have to stay close to you to benefit from your defenses, thus making your party easy pickings for area of effect spells (and the occasional splash damage weapon and area of effect trap), so you need anti-magic defense. All of these things are not easy for you to acquire yourself -- if you get lucky, you might be able to get some them from magic items, but you are probably going to have to rely on the rest of your party for these in most cases. As much as I hate it when people say the Wizard is overpowered, I have to say that in many cases, the Wizard is going to be your best friend, because the Wizard can eventually prepare spells to deal with all of these problems: Protection from Arrows against Pilum throwers and damage reduction against splash weapons that deal purely mechanical damage, various area of effect damage and battlefield control spells against swarming enemies (and Swarms), and Globe of Invulnerability (initially the Lesser version) against area of effect spells, as well as Greater Dispel Magic and/or Break Enchantment in case an area of effect spell that has an ongoing effect does get through. Some other full caster classes can do a fine job of substituting for a Wizard in this regard, but this requires more attention to their build choices: A properly-built Arcanist, Cleric, Oracle, Sorcerer, or Witch can do the Wizard's job in this regard, although the Arcanist and Witch also have to be careful about having lower numbers of spells per day. I have not evaluated the Shaman sufficiently to know whether this class also works for shoring up the vulnerabilities of a Tower Shieldadin, but the smaller spell list suggests the potential for trouble (properly evaluating this would require going through all of the Spirit spell lists to see if they can fill out the spell list in the way that you need).

A final problem also stems from your defensive abilities having a small radius: If your party is mounted and not Small, your allies will not be able to stay within your defensive radius (until you get to really high levels to be able to expend your defensive radius) -- they will just not physically fit unless everyone who is mounted is Small so as to be able to use Medium mounts.


A shieldaladin buffing the AC of their halfling cavalry escorts. It is a great image.


Link to a post by Bodhizen (Paladin guide author) explaining limitations of the Sacred Shield archetype of Paladin. Some of these are obvious, but it's worth having them summarized together. My proto-guide above addresses some of them, but whether it can address them well enough is an open question.

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