It wasn’t until she opened her eyes that the wizard saw the massive chuul rising from the murky water. It must have been hiding there, sensing her magic and biding its time. Damn! She knew this was a terrible place to take her rest. As she struggled to her feet, the chuul’s pincers raked the cave wall beside her — without thinking, her hands blurred in a warding motion, and a brilliant light exploded between her and the aberration. With a moment to breathe, protected by the spell, she summoned unimaginable fire and smirked as the monster roasted alive in its own shell…
What is The Shield Spell?
The Shield Spell is one of those spells that does pretty much what it says on the tin. Just as a physical shield acts as a wall between a warrior and any incoming blows or missiles, this spell creates an invisible shield to do the same between the caster and any incoming danger.
Shield 5e Spell Description
The Players Handbook will tell you that it is a level 1 Abjuration spell and describes it as follows.
An invisible barrier of magical force appears and protects you. Until the start of your next turn, you have a +5 bonus to AC, including against the triggering attack, and you take no damage from Magic Missile.
Should I Choose Shield Spell?
Absolutely you should. In fact, I would say that no discerning spellcaster should leave home without it.
Yes, there are fancier spells and flashier incantations, but when you look down that long dark corridor, glimpse the palace guards emerging from the gloom, looking for vengeance on those who would dare to steal the bejeweled Green Eye of The Little Yellow God (i.e. you); when you hear the creak of bows being drawn back, you will be glad that you took the time to memorize it.
Using Shield Spell on Adventures
The most common use of the spell is as a quick defensive fix when you are surprised or overwhelmed by superior numbers. The +5 to your AC is often the difference between that Orcish meat cleaver bouncing off the invisible Shield and finding its way through to your soft and vulnerable bits. Ouch!
The immunity to Magic Missile is also beneficial but is a more calculated situation. First, you have to assume that a spell user will be coming up against you, and second, you want to be reasonably sure that they will use a magic missile spell against you. However, it is a sufficiently popular spell, so the odds are probably in your favor.
The spell’s effectiveness is one of diminishing returns as your campaign moves up the levels and the damage bonuses that most creatures and opponents have begun to negate the +5 AC bonus. But for low and mid-level spellcasters, it is a must-have.
Who Can Use The Shield Spell?
Shield Spell is only to be found on two lists, but those lists are available to several classes and sub-classes and will be amongst the arsenal of various adventurers and classes.
The most apparent wielder of the spell is Sorcerers and Tricksters, whose lists it is found on initially. However, the Rogue sub-class of Arcane Trickster has access to Wizard spells and can deploy them, as is the Eldritch Knight, a magical sub-class of Fighter.
The Hexblade sub-class of Warlock has an expanded spell list, though it is more costly for them to take than many other classes, and the Artillerist and Battle Smith, both Artificers found in the thick of the action, can also be found with this spell at their disposal.
Several other, less usual circumstances may cause or allow a character to obtain the spell. The Bard has, at higher levels, access to magical secrets, and this is often one that they choose.
The feat of Magical Initiate means that no matter your class, you have had some basic foundational training in magic which may give you the Shield spell. Finally, the variant race of Sentinel Human can gain this spell due to their magical, dragonmarked heritage.
How to get the most out of the Shield Spell in DnD 5e
When you are just starting as an adventurer, if you have access to Shield, you would be wise to have it in your pocket as you descend into the unknown or strike out into the wilderness. And although its properties stay the same, even as your level increases, its +5 bonus to AC is a handy tool.
Even when you move up the levels, it is still a nimble defense to be able to call upon. It may become less effective against singular, powerful creatures wielding big and often magical weapons. Still, it will always be a great fallback for those moments when you are about to be overwhelmed by masses of smaller, tribal creatures and packs of beasts.
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