One DnD Shield Master Feat Guide

The forearm moves on instinct, bringing up a shield to deflect an Eldritch Blast one moment before swinging in a wide arc to deflect an attempted spear thrust away as your character continues to move gracefully through the utter chaos of combat. While some focused on mastering the sword or polearm, you saw the key to survival being the often underappreciated shield on the off-arm, and so a Shield Master you’ve become.

The One DnD (6E) Shield Master Feat allows a player to increase their Strength score by 1, knock a target backwards or prone (player’s choice) after a successful melee attack hit, or to take no damage on a successful Dexterity save instead of half damage, or half damage on a failed Dexterity save instead of full damage.

So these are some minor but important changes to the Shield Master Feat compared to the old version in 5th Edition.

Captain America Shield
Come on – when you think shield master pretty much everyone is thinking about Captain America…but does the feat allow for this style of build?

Let’s dive in to find the full story behind this feat!

Shield Master Feat DnD One Review

The best way to break down a feat is to check out the exact wording.

From Unearthed Arcana:

4th-Level Feat

Prerequisite: Shield Training

Ability Score Increase. Increase your Strength score by 1, to a maximum of 20.

Shield Bash. If you attack a creature within 5 feet of you as a part of the Attack Action and hit with a Melee Weapon, you can immediately bash the target with your Shield if it’s equipped, forcing the target to make a Strength Saving Throw against a DC equal to 8 + your Strength modifier + your Proficiency Bonus. On a failed save, you knock the target Prone or push it 5 feet away. You can use this benefit only once on each of your turns.

Interpose Shield. If you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity Saving Throw to take only half damage, you can use your Reaction to take no damage if you succeed on the Saving Throw and are wielding a Shield, interposing your shield between yourself and the source of the effect.

Unearthed Arcana, Expert Classes 2022

Let’s break down each of these benefits one by one to dig into how good Shield Master really is.

Benefit #1: Increase your Strength score by 1 up to a maximum of 20.

Not a huge benefit, but one that makes sense. Anyone who has carried a shield for any amount of time can tell you, getting used to that weight when you haven’t trained or aren’t used to it takes some work. A little bit of extra strength makes sense and it’s a good way to get off the odd STR score number.

Benefit #2: If you attack a creature within 5 feet and hit it with a melee weapon during an Attack action, you can immediately bash the target to force a Strength saving throw (8 + STR modifier + Proficiency Bonus) and if they fail you can choose to push the target 5 feet away or knock it prone.

Most of the time knocking an opponent prone would be the move, since that opens them up to advantage against them with melee attacks and disadvantage attacking back until they waste time/movement getting back up, but sometimes there’s a cliff edge and you just want to Sparta them right off the edge.

The Strength Save DC formula is pretty standard but makes for a good save that scales as your character gets bigger/stronger.

Benefit #3: When hit with an area effect requiring a DEX save (AOE), you can use your reaction to put your shield between you and it meaning on a failed save you take only half damage and on a successful save you take no damage.

This is the bread and butter of the Shield Master feat and is a really big deal. Considering AOEs from Ancient Dragons, high-level fireballs, and Meteor Storm are just some of the major Dexterity saves that can result in life or death moments, the ability to knock it down to 0 on a successful save or take only half damage on all that bad news is huge.

How Does Shield Master Feat Measure Up?

It’s a solid, good feat. All other benefits aside, the DEX Save AOE boost is the star and there’s just no argument on that one. This makes Medium Armor much more viable and helps the tankiest of Clerics and Fighters minimize even one more potential threat that can come at them. It’s a great feat to minimize damage and is essential for a Medium Armor Build in modern DnD Editions.

I will say that I’m disappointed there isn’t a +1 AC when wearing Medium Armor (just chalk it up to speed and movement) since that could make this feat even better and start working towards that multi-edition issue of Medium Armor being sort of a “bastard’s child” that isn’t a viable option between light armor and heavy armor.

The AOE benefits alone though make this a solid feat, and flavor-wise it makes sense as an ability you would have.

Shield Master Feat: DnD One Vs 5E

There are a few notable changes and players might debate over whether it’s a net negative or positive for this one. The +1 Strength is a new benefit that isn’t huge but it’s a nice little half feat add. The mechanics behind how Shield Bash work have been improved from 5th Ed’s version, in my opinion.

On the other hand, you can’t add your shield’s AC bonus to a DEX saving throw against a spell or harmful effect that only targets you, and I’m not sure why that wasn’t kept on as it could have added a little more juice without overpowering the feat.

Related Article: 5E Shield Master Feat Guide

Overall, this is an improvement on the 5E version, though this was a good feat with that system, as well.

Who Should Take the Shield Master Feat in DnD One?

This is one for the martial classes so you could find the Shield Master Feat on the guides for best feats for Fighters, best feats for Paladins, and it’s likely to pop up as a potential choice for clerics and melee based Warlocks or Rangers who are going to see more frontline combat than those classes are used to.

Any frontline Martial class that isn’t going the Polearm Master route or isn’t Monk should consider taking this feat. While I love the idea of Monks with a shield – it’s not worth burning two feats on.

This is a clear front line feat, but it can do some incredibly effective work. Also if you go with my favorite tricky 5E build, the Mountain Dwarf Wizard, then since you have shield proficiency you might want to pick this up just for that AOE bonus so you’re still standing when an enemy spellcaster gets off that unfortunate AOE effect.

DnD One Shield Master Feat Final Grade

The final grade is a B+. Most of the feat isn’t worth that much. I honestly think Shield Bash is generally worthless and I don’t really care about +1 Strength but the AOE is just that strong and since it’s not limited to type of armor, that just makes it an excellent option for any medium armor or heavy armor frontline martial character in your party.

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