View Full Version : The noble Tower Shield

Blue Paladin
2008-02-28, 11:40 AM
So I'm trying to find ways to (ab)use the good old Tower Shield. I've come up with these so far:

Metal Tower Shields weigh an incredible 100 lbs. Making it mithral drops it to a still-hefty 50 lbs. But if you're using a kobold with the web enhanced Slight Build (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060420a), you can get all the benefits from a Tiny mithral Tower Shield at a mere 5 lbs.

Rogue (doesn't even need to be proficient) carries one. When combat comes up, use the shield for cover as a free action. Ditch the shield as a move-equivalent while simultaneously making Hide/Move Silent checks. I know, it's terrible (and HiPS is so much better :smalltongue: ). But it gives you another round of Sneak Attack on those annoying unflankables.

I was wondering if anyone has any other tips/tricks? Nitpicks that make the above unworkable? I'll take anything, really...

2008-02-28, 11:55 AM
Using the shield for cover is a standard action.

2008-02-28, 12:14 PM
I am a fan of the tower shield, but only in the first levels. Having a tower shield around when you haev low HP can be excelent. But when things get bigger and you get more HP the tower shield becomes subpar. You know, big things can destroy it while you are in full defense without retaliation and you can't use the defensive spikes stuff to increase the AC even more... Besides that even when it is a masterpiece you will suffer a -1 penalty in every attack.

If I'd get a shield instead of the tower, I'd go for the Gauntlet Shield from races of the stone. That one is a useful shield forever. Well... If you don't get an animated shield, of course. :smallbiggrin:

2008-02-28, 12:52 PM
There's a lengthy FAQ entry on Tower Shields, pg 67:

Total cover prevents any attack against you. You can use a tower shield to get total cover if you give up all your attacks. What does “give up all your attacks” mean? Can you move while getting total cover from the shield? Can you cast a spell? Also, do you get total cover from all directions or from just one side of your square? Will the total cover from a tower shield negate spell effects? Will it negate attacks of opportunity from movement or from other actions such as spellcasting? Will it prevent charge attacks against you? What about bull rush attacks? Can it prevent grapple attacks or snatch attacks? Will it stop fear effects, gaze attacks, or clouds of poison gas? Will it defeat traps?

To claim total cover from a tower shield, you must use a standard action. The tower shield rules don’t say that, but that’s what they mean. Since you can take only one standard action each round, you cannot also attack, cast a spell, activate a magic item (except for some use-activated items), use a special ability, use total defense, or start or complete a full-round action during the same round you claim total cover from the shield. You can, however, take a move action before or after you claim cover from the shield.

Like other kinds of cover, the shield has to have a location relative to you on the battlefield. When you use the shield for cover, choose one edge of your space (not a corner). You have total cover against any attack’s line of effect that passes through that side of your space. If an attack’s line of effect goes through the corner of the side of your space that the shield blocks, you get cover from the shield (+4 AC, +2 on Reflex saves) instead of total cover. If an attack’s line of effect passes through a side of your space that the shield does not block, you get no cover from the shield at all. To determine where the line of effect enters your space, draw a line from the attacker’s center to your center. Or, in the case of a magical effect, from the effect’s point of origin and your center.

Once you claim cover from the shield, the shield keeps blocking the side of your space that you chose until the beginning of your next turn, when you can again decide whether you’ll use the shield for cover. Once you choose the side of your space that the shield blocks, you cannot change it until your next turn.

You continue to threaten the area around you while you use the shield for cover; however, it provides your opponents with the same benefits you get. You cannot make attacks through the side of your space that the shield blocks, and should you attack through the corners of that space, your foe gets cover against your attack. Since cover of any kind prevents attacks of opportunity (see page 151 in the Player’s Handbook), the shield keeps you from making attacks of opportunity in a pretty wide swath.

Total cover or cover from a tower shield has the following effects in different situations:

• Magical Attacks: A tower shield’s effects on magical attacks depend on the kind of magical attack. Any attack aimed at your equipment is aimed at you. If a magical attack has you as a specific target (that is it does not merely affect the area that contains you but is aimed right at you), the shield has no effect. All rays fall into this category, as does any spell that has a Target entry in its header and any spell that has an Effect entry and affects creatures (provided, of course, that the attacker can and does choose the shield user as a target). Magical attacks that fill areas (bursts, cones, cylinders, lines, emanations, and spreads) are subject to all the rules for cover on page 151 of the Player’s Handbook. Such attacks are completely blocked if line of effect between you and the attack’s point of origin passes through the side of your space the shield blocks. You get cover (+4 AC, +2 on Reflex saves) if the magical attack’s line of effect passes through the corner of the blocked side. Spread effects reach around the shield if they normally would extend into your space, but you still get a Reflex save bonus for cover when they do. A gaze attack is blocked if the shield would give you total cover against attacks from the creature with the gaze attack. If the shield gives you cover only, you’re still subject to the gaze attack (although you could avert or close your eyes to avoid the attack).

• Attacks of Opportunity: As noted earlier, cover or total cover prevents attacks of opportunity. So you could, for example, hunker down behind a tower shield and pick up a weapon or rummage around in a backpack and avoid attacks of opportunity against you. If you’re moving while using the shield for cover, things get a little more complicated. You must determine whether the shield gives you cover (or total cover) at the point during your movement when you’d normally provoke an attack of opportunity. Remember that attacks of opportunity are usually resolved before the actions that provoke them. In many cases, the shield won’t be positioned correctly to protect you during your whole move.

• Charging and Bull Rushing: Opponents can charge you while you claim cover from the shield. An opponent moves as normal when charging you, moving to the closest square from which a melee attack normally would be possible. If the shield gives you total cover from the attack, the attack automatically fails. Foes can bull rush you normally, moving right into your space in spite of the shield. You normally get an attack of opportunity against someone entering your space, but not if the shield gives your foe cover or total cover.

• Grapple and Snatch Attacks: Total cover from a tower shield blocks such attacks (the foe just can’t get hold of you). The foe could, however grab the shield. Conduct such attacks just like any other grapple or snatch attack. Your foe can’t damage you unless he pins you first. You can escape the foe’s hold simply by dropping the shield (a standard action since it’s strapped to your arm), so long as the foe has not pinned you.

• Traps: Cover or total cover from a tower shield is just as effective against a trap as it is against any other attack.

Unlike everything else in D&D, tower shields use facing.
They impose a penalty on your attack.
They take a Standard Action to use if you want Total Cover for that turn.

This limits their usefulness. However, they have their roles:

Fighters get Tower Shield prof for free. This can have a significant impact on AC at first level, though you'll probably want to give it up in a few levels when you can afford better armor.

Summoned Undead can carry Tower Shields and block the line of effect between you and your enemies. Cast spells that don't require a line of effect (especially more summons) and have them fight for you while you hide behind your minions.

Use effects that don't require a Standard Action. There are a variety of spells and items that can be activated with a Move or Swift Action. You can direct summoned monsters. Various auras and fear effects don't require any action. A Bard, Marshal, or Dragon Shaman could just hide behind his tower shield but still help the group.

Brilliant Energy (http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Brilliant_Energy) weapons ignore non-living matter. Make a Tower Shield out of crystal, or use magic to make it transparent. Then use a Brilliant Energy reach weapon and feats that generate attacks of opportunity (Combat Reflexes, Hold the Line, Knock-Down, etc). Obviously this isn't RAW, but I can't imagine a DM who wouldn't allow it, given the fact you have to give up your Standard Action every turn if you want Total Cover from one direction.

2008-02-28, 02:17 PM
I don't think Tower shield is covered by slight build, since it is a) not a weapon, and b) the tower shield is not subjecting the kobold to a size modifier or opposed check, and c) not squeezing through a restrictive space, but I imagine if there was a viewport in the shield he would have a better chance of sliding through it.

Still stuck with a small size class tower shield.

2008-02-28, 02:21 PM
Frankly, if I want that much of a shield bonus, I'll use the spell and take Abjurant champion. If I want cover, I'll hide behind some.

Tower shields are an interesting mechanic but the penalty to-hit combined with the loss of an arm means that your offense is severely downgraded, and in D&D offense wins battles, defense just makes them longer.

2008-02-28, 02:24 PM
I houserule that Animated tower shields do not give the -2 attack penalty. This means instead of making an appearance making once in a blue moon or less, people actually use it in my campaigns! It has the indirect benefit of bumping up the fighter a bit since Tower shield Proficiency now means something. Animated shields free up your arms to do your usual offense, so it's a really good deal.

2008-02-28, 05:26 PM
I've only seen one good use of a tower shield, and that's from the Dwarf "Paladin" in the comic Goblins. Man, that dudes badass (with a tower shield).

Anyway, a more realistic use of a tower shield is to simply put some little feet on it and set it on the ground while shooting from behind it with a crossbow. You shouldn't take the penalty for using a tower shield since you're really only hiding behind it, it still provides the cover and if things start going south, you can just run and leave it behind.

2008-02-28, 05:54 PM
The best use of a tower shield is as a means of escape. Mount some wheels to the corners. And slide away to freedom. That or sledging.

EDIT: Have a wizard or sorcerer on the back casting burning hands. It'll be like a jet engine.