Does Shield Block multiply the incoming damage?


Rules Discussion


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

I thought that Shield Block caused the damage to go to the shield first, then to you, but upon a second reading that may not actually be the case. It looks like Shield Block actually sort of multiplies the damage.

Interpretation 1: A demigod smites you for 200 damage, and you shield block with your supreme sturdy shield (Hardness 20, HP 160, BT 80). Your shield absorbs 20 damage, then takes 160 damage. Your shield is destroyed and you take 20 damage.

Interpretation 2: A demigod smites you for 200 damage, and you shield block with your supreme sturdy shield (Hardness 20, HP 160, BT 80). Your shield absorbs 20 damage, then you AND the shield then take then take 180 damage. Your super expensive shield is now destroyed and it likely didn't save you from death either. (And the attack has effectively dealt 380 damage, more than half again the original amount.)

Which is correct?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My reading is interpretation 2. Note that on a less extreme damaging strike, your shield may well block a significant portion of the incoming damage before becoming damaged, broken or destroyed itself.

It certainly does appear that PCs will go through a lot of shields and have to get used to fighting without a shield quite often, unless they have backup shields available.

A standard sheild will block 3 or 5 damage from a blow, which is not half bad for a low-level character. It's like they combined armor as AC with armor as DR.

Also note that you can always choose *not* to do a shield block, soaking up the damage with your hit points but preserving your shield for future AC benefits.


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Ravingdork wrote:

I thought that Shield Block caused the damage to go to the shield first, then to you, but upon a second reading that may not actually be the case. It looks like Shield Block actually sort of multiplies the damage.

Interpretation 1: A demigod smites you for 200 damage, and you shield block with your supreme sturdy shield (Hardness 20, HP 160, BT 80). Your shield absorbs 20 damage, then takes 160 damage. Your shield is destroyed and you take 20 damage.

Interpretation 2: A demigod smites you for 200 damage, and you shield block with your supreme sturdy shield (Hardness 20, HP 160, BT 80). Your shield absorbs 20 damage, then you AND the shield then take then take 180 damage. Your super expensive shield is now destroyed and it likely didn't save you from death either. (And the attack has effectively dealt 380 damage, more than half again the original amount.)

Which is correct?

2 is correct as I understand it. The value of a shield's hit points is far less than that of a character's, so the "doubling" on massive damage is not dealing double the effective damage.

That said, 200 damage is unlikely. Treerazor deals a maximum of 162 on a critical with Blackaxe and 186 to to plants. That is a max damage critical from the highest stated creature currently in the game and it wouldn't break the shield. In practical terms, only a high level, critically failed Disintegrate is likely to do the job.

In a "normal" level 20 combat, that shield would be good for 3-10 hits before breaking (or 60-200 health) and is unlikely to ever go through all its hit points. If you are worried about it breaking, Legendary Crafting and Quick Repair can restore 50 hit points for 1 action.

This greatly increases the shield user's expected life. Yes, technically massive damage does more HP loss, but this makes more sense than a basic steel shield increasing a level 1 character's effective health poll by 28. Under interpretation 1,the literal best tactic in the game would be to carry and endless amount of shields in a bag of holding. Only enemies that could deal massive damage could ever break your 1000s of buffer hit points from a spare shield per round.


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I believe that interpretation #2 is correct.

CRB, p. 266 wrote:
You and the shield each take any remaining damage, possibly breaking or destroying the shield.


Does the shield take damage from the blocked damage by the way?
Also I kinda think (and like) the idea that shields get worn out and need to repaired frequently.

1. A murder hobo shanks you with a rusty fork. He does 3 damage. The buckler has hardness 3 and blocks the damage, but isn't damaged itself.

2. The murder hobo attacks again with same rusty fork. He does 3 damage again. The buckler has hardness 3 and blocks the damage, taking 3 damage itself, leaving it at half hp.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Shields only take damage from the amount in excess of their hardness, when they are used to block.

The rule that Gisher referenced above, along with every time the devs have weighed in on the matter seems definitive.

Using a shield block on a weak attack, right before your turn seems optimal from a 'keep your ac high outside of your turn, and soak a small hit that doesn't do damage to your shield'


I mean, blocking the demigod's wrath is still a rational decision if that extra 20 damage would potentially kill them. Sure, you'd lose the shield but you might not be dead.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It has been confirmed in a recent Paizo Twitch Q&A stream (8/16/2019 I believe).

Your shield is raised and you have been hit and you will be taking damage. The damage is 8.
You choose to Shield Block with your Hardness 5 Shield.
The 8 is reduced by 5 to 3.
Your shield AND you both take 3 damage.


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Rhyst wrote:

It has been confirmed in a recent Paizo Twitch Q&A stream (8/16/2019 I believe).

Your shield is raised and you have been hit and you will be taking damage. The damage is 8.
You choose to Shield Block with your Hardness 5 Shield.
The 8 is reduced by 5 to 3.
Your shield AND you both take 3 damage.

Exactly. Which is pretty good, and working as intended. I'd much prefer taking 3 damage to taking 8. Having to repair your shield after the fight is a minor inconvenience.

This said, it's a lot easier to conceptualize pounding the dents out of your steel shield than figuring out how you are repairing the gashes in your wooden shield without replacing the wood with a whole new plank. But of such abstractions is our game made.

Silver Crusade

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Also, per conversation in another thread about the timing of shield block. The reaction takes place when you would take damage, which is step 4 of assigning damage. So you already know how much damage it is before you decide if you want to use shield block.

This lets you do the math to see if it would permanently destroy your shield, and how much damage to the PC the block would prevent, before you decide if you want to do it. This may seem like metagaming, but it kinda makes sense in context. After all, your experienced adventurer will be able to instinctively gauge how hard an incoming blow looks.


Fromper wrote:
This may seem like metagaming, but it kinda makes sense in context. After all, your experienced adventurer will be able to instinctively gauge how hard an incoming blow looks.

I am fine with that. Combat in PF2 is always about numbers, so that is OK. Shield block is about spending a potentially finite resource, which should be a tactical decision.


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I mean, it "multiplies" the damage, in the same way that having two people standing inside your Fireball's AoE instead of one multiplies the damage...


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Fromper wrote:
The reaction takes place when you would take damage, which is step 4 of assigning damage.

Geeze! How many steps does it possibly take to assign damage?

Seems to me like it should just be one. "You take 10 damage." Done.

Silver Crusade

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Ravingdork wrote:
Fromper wrote:
The reaction takes place when you would take damage, which is step 4 of assigning damage.

Geeze! How many steps does it possibly take to assign damage?

Seems to me like it should just be one. "You take 10 damage." Done.

See page 450 of the Core Rulebook.

Yup, breaking it into 4 steps is overkill. On the one hand, there seems to be a lot of that in PF2. On the other hand, I've seen all the rules debates in 1st edition that came from not having this level of detail in the rules, so I can see why they decided to err on the side of over-explaining everything.


I think breaking it down into details like that is helpful potentially for newer players, though realistically step 2 and 3 are really part of the same calculation.


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