About The Unhindering Shield Feat


Rules Questions


Quote:

You are accustomed to fighting with your shield.

Prerequisite(s): Shield Focus, base attack bonus +6 or fighter level 4th, proficiency with bucklers.

Benefit(s): You still gain a buckler’s bonus to AC even if you use your shield hand for some other purpose. When you wield a buckler, your shield hand is considered free for the purposes of casting spells, wielding weapons, and using any other abilities that require you to have a free hand or interact with your shield, such as the swashbuckler’s precise strike deed or the Weapon Finesse feat.

Special: A monk with this feat is not considered to be using a shield for the purposes of his AC bonus, fast movement, or flurry of blows.

Hello all, I came aross this feat in the Armor Master’s Handbook yesterday, and its wording seems extremely confusing. The first part,"You still gain a buckler’s bonus to AC even if you use your shield hand for some other purpose.", is fine, but what does the rest mean?

Say you have a buckler, strapped onto your left arm, you can nevertheless use your left hand to cast a spell, wield weapons, or "use any other abilities that require you to have a free hand" even without this feat. You only lose the shield AC if you use a weapon wielded by that hand. If you are a swashbuckler, you can use the precise strike deed regardless of whether you have this feat or not.

Does this feat mean that your shield hand is considered free even if it's otherwise occupied? For example, can I take the unhindering shield feat, and start TWF with precise strikes, spell combat with slashing grace, or cast a spell with somatic components even if both of my hands are occupied?(Since, after all, one of my hand has a buckler and is considered "free"?)

If not, what is this feat's intended usage? It seems that half of what this feat does is already a given. If possible, I would like to hear both RAW and RAI intepretations.


The feat is worded to specifically allow you to KEEP the AC bonus from the buckler regardless of what you are doing with the other hand, whether that is to cast spells or wield another weapons with it (including 2 handed weapons). Essentially, you never had to worry about losing that shield bonus.

This also lets classes that require the offhand to be free (or a monk, which can not use a shield without losing their features) to use a buckler regardless, and keep the AC bonus.


DeathlessOne said wrote:
The feat is worded to specifically allow you to KEEP the AC bonus from the buckler regardless of what you are doing with the other hand, whether that is to cast spells or wield another weapons with it (including 2 handed weapons). Essentially, you never had to worry about losing that shield bonus.

Yeah, this seems to be perfectly clear and I have no qualms about it.

DeathlessOne said wrote:
This also lets classes that require the offhand to be free (or a monk, which can not use a shield without losing their features) to use a buckler regardless, and keep the AC bonus.

This is what really bothers me. It just seems to be redundant with the default rules. Just because you are wearing a buckler doesn't mean either of your hands is occupied. It is strapped onto one of your arms. The respective hand is still free, isn't it? heck, in the buckler's descriptions, it mentions using it with your "shield arm", not a "shield hand". Having a buckler does not hinder one's usage of, say, crane wing or the precise strike deed in any way.

What I'm trying to get at here is that a very literal interpretation of this feat, at least in my opinion, allows the player to have a "virtual free hand". The player wears a buckler, and the hand of that respective arm is "is considered free for the purposes of casting spells, wielding weapons, and using any other abilities that require you to have a free hand", even if that hand is already doing something else and not actually free, such as spell-combat, holding an object, etc.

This interpretation is, obviously, very questionable. Hence I am here asking for opinions from fellow gamers. Do you think this interpretation is absurd? Is there any official ruling for this?


It absolutely does not grant you a virtual free hand.

It just allows you to keep the Shield Bonus to your AC when you are using your buckler hand to TWF or wield a two-handed weapon or casting spells.

It also allows monks to use bucklers.


VoodistMonk wrote:

It absolutely does not grant you a virtual free hand.

It just allows you to keep the Shield Bonus to your AC when you are using your buckler hand to TWF or wield a two-handed weapon or casting spells.

It also allows monks to use bucklers.

It allows monks to use bucklers and the magus to use spell combat with a buckler equipped.

It would not, for example, allow a magus to hold a second weapon or TWF and still use spell combat.


Acognito wrote:
This interpretation is, obviously, very questionable. Hence I am here asking for opinions from fellow gamers. Do you think this interpretation is absurd?

Yes, I think it is absurd. The only time this 'virtual free hand' (a term you introduced which is not reflected in the text) would come into play is when you are using a class feature (or other ability) that states that a 'free hand' is required for the offhand. So, as far as that class ability (or other ability) is concerned, the hand is free and for no other purpose is it free.

Yes, you can use your hand on the same arm with the buckler for other purposes, normally. If you wield a weapon with that hand, you lose the AC bonus. Think of it more as the entire ARM being in use, not just the hand.


So, the consensus seems to be that you may keep your AC while TWF. The questions that remain are (1) With this feat while TWF, can a Swashbuckler continue to use deeds such as Precise Strike? (2) Does this feat allow one hand to be considered free in that a Swashbuckler can TWF with Slashing Grace?


No and no. The shield doesn't hinder you, but anything else still may. The feat only affects stuff the shield would affect. The shield basically counts as non-existent for interactions with anything else.

Yes, it's badly written, but this is the same as Shield Master's "You do not suffer any penalties" - no GM will ever let you use either feat to remove completely unrelated penalties/hinderances.


Yeah, it just doesn't make sense to include the example of using the Swashbuckler's Precise Strike Deed in the definition, granted that a Swashbuckler can already use Precise Strike, while wearing a buckler and fighting with a single weapon, and not lose the buckler's AC bonus.


Wulfmin wrote:

So, the consensus seems to be that you may keep your AC while TWF. The questions that remain are (1) With this feat while TWF, can a Swashbuckler continue to use deeds such as Precise Strike? (2) Does this feat allow one hand to be considered free in that a Swashbuckler can TWF with Slashing Grace?

You keep your AC while TWF.

That doesnt allow you to bypass other class restrictions on twf.

The answer is a clear no. And no.


So, individuals seem to indicate that the Feat REALLY should be written as such:

Benefit(s): You still gain a buckler’s bonus to AC even if you use your shield hand for some other purpose.

Normal: When you wield a buckler, your shield hand is considered free for the purposes of casting spells, wielding weapons, and using any other abilities that require you to have a free hand or interact with your shield, such as the swashbuckler’s precise strike deed or the Weapon Finesse feat. However, you lose your bonus to AC when using your free hand for the aforementioned purposes.

Special: A monk with this feat is not considered to be using a shield for the purposes of his AC bonus, fast movement, or flurry of blows.


No, it should say something like this:

"Benefit: You still gain a buckler’s bonus to AC even if you use your shield hand for some other purpose. Wielding a buckler does not make your shield hand be considered not free for the purposes of casting spells, wielding weapons, and using any other abilities that require you to have a free hand or interact with your shield, such as the Weapon Finesse feat."

Doesn't sound elegant, but that's what it's supposed to do. The hand is only considered free if the buckler was the only reason it wasn't considered free.


Bucklers actually attach on your forearm and are not gripped in hand, but you still need to use that hand to block, so it's not considered to be "free" even though you're not holding anything in it.

This feat removes that hindrance. You've essentially become so accustomed to using a buckler to block that you can now cast spells, wield a weapon, or even grip a 2handed weapon with your off hand and seamlessly block attacks.


It is just a clarification that your hand is now considered free regardless of what you choose to do with the buckler that round. Normally if you choose to block with the buckler (keeping its AC bonus) your hand is considered occupied by the buckler. When you choose to do anything else (normally losing the AC bonus) your hand is free (but with a -1 to attack). This distinction is of little importance during your round of action as with the feat you keep your AC bonus regardless of your choice of action, however, should you take any actions out of turn such as an AoO that requires a free hand, you are now free to do so even if you chose to use your shield to block that round.

There is also a distinct difference between “free hand”, “empty hand”, and “may not attack with a weapon in their offhand”. An Empty Hand just means you are holding nothing in that hand, a buckler satisfies this normally. A Free Hand means you have an empty hand and are not otherwise performing another action with that hand. And then there is swashbucklers precise strike and it’s unusual wording of “may not attack with a weapon in their offhand”, thus simply means you can’t make an offhand attack while using precise strike, it doesn’t care what your holding in your offhand.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Unhindering Shield allows you to always get the AC benefit of a buckler (e.g. even if you attack with the arm it is on) without hindering any other actions or abilities (e.g. as if it were not there for Monk abilities that don't work with a shield).

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