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juton

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The Sword and Board Handbook
« on: November 28, 2010, 08:51:47 AM »
The Sword and Board Handbook


Table of Contents:

1. Preamble
2. The Math
3. Approaches
4. Builds
5. Feats
6. Equipment
7. Pathfinder specific material



Special Thanks to:
JaronK
PhoenixInferno
cru
AwakenDMGolem
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 09:06:29 PM by juton »

juton

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2010, 08:52:02 AM »
1. Preamble

What is 'Sword & Board'?

Sword and Board means holding a shield in one hand and a weapon in the other. It's a pretty iconic image, a Knight with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other, you might imagine that it would translate well into D&D, but it doesn't really for reasons I will get into.

Why Sword & Board?

Besides the the iconic imagery some people want to give up a bit of offense for some extra defense. There may also be some special shield attacks or magic shield enhancements that may make people consider a sword and board build.

What is the problem with using a shield?

If you are playing a melee Fighter, then you will need to be able to take damage and dish it out. Shields help you take a bit more damage, in that some attacks that would hit you would instead miss, but using a weapon in one hand massively reduces the amount of damage you can dish out. The smaller weapon die hurts, not getting half-again your strength to damage hurts, but what really sucks is that you get half the damage from using the power attack feat. Power attack is where most melee damage goodness flows from, especially in concert with the feats leap attack, shock trooper and to a lesser extent combat brute.

D&D is also a team game and teams work best when they work together. Usually in D&D this means some people cast spells and other people stab monsters in their face, that's probably going to be you. Now if your party is faced with a bunch of minions the fighter with a great sword is going to clear more minions than you, if you are fighting the BBEG the guy with the greatsword is going to do more damage, but probably take more damage, so it will look to everyone like he is doing more work. That's not to say that using a shield can't be optimized, which is what we are going to be going over.

2. The Math

Lets look at a plain core fighter who's trying to decide whether to use a shield or not. We'll look at levels 3,6 and 10, because that's what I have written down. At level 3 our fighter could expect to have an AC of 19, 10 base + 1 dexterity + 8 full plate without a shield, and lets say a +1 heavy shield so if he uses a shield his AC is 22. By level 6 our fighter has gotten a +1 suit of full plate and a +1 ring of protection, bringing his AC up to 21/24. By level 10 our fighter has a +3 suit of armour, and a +1 amulet of natural armour, also hist shield has been improved by one, so his AC is 24 or 28 with the shield. Lets see how much damage we save ourselves if we use a shield

Monster        Damage w/o Shield | Damage w/ Shield | Damage Mitigated
Ogre        [CR 3]7.24.833%
Babau      [CR 6]14.459.3535%
Fire Giant [CR10]41.2526.2536%


So looking just at this it makes using a shield look good. Remember this is just attacks versus AC , this doesn't factor in spells and dungeon hazards. Now lets look at how much punishment our fighter friend dishes out. These numbers where calculated using a spreadsheet that tests every value for power attack against the average AC for that CR and returns the optimal trade off and the best possible damage on average for a full attack.

Fighter LevelOHF DamageTHF DamageDamage Increase
CR 35.59.572%
CR 618.926.4540%
CR 1024.83541%

So from this we see that fighting with a great sword boosts your damage output more than what you'd save by using a heavy shield. Still the difference between 35% and 40% doesn't seem that great but remember, on nearly every attack the fighter makes he gets that 40% extra damage, but he only gets the extra bit of defense on a portion of attacks. Lastly lets look at how our fighter fares if he is a pouncing leap attacking shock trooper.

Fighter LevelOHF DamageTHF DamageDamage Increase
CR 35.59.572%
CR 627.548.7577%
CR 1043.576.9577%

So that's a quite a bit more damage. We have to remember in the case of a shield user, each round he will take less damage but he will need more rounds to kill an opponent so his advantage evens out. Factor in the fact that most combats in D&D last 3 rounds or less means that if you don't do your damage quickly other members of the party are going to have to pick up your slack and that's not fair to them.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 11:57:04 AM by juton »

juton

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2010, 08:52:17 AM »
3. Approaches

So you're gung-ho to use a shield, OK. There are two main options for using a shield effectively, the first is that you have to make the shield useful for something, the second is to have the shield not interfere with your character at all.

Making your shield useful for something

  • Crusader Maneuvers - Crusaders actually get some maneuvers that help in using a shield:
    Shield Block - Counter 2nd level, gives an ally your shield bonus +4 in extra AC. If you want to body guard somebody this is really nice to have, remember that having a good AC is a good defense at the lower levels.

    Shield Counter - Counter 7th level, make a bash attack to cancel an enemy's attack. You can't get this until around level 13 and only works on one attack. The attack doesn't need to be targeting you however, so you can keep protecting whoever you've been protecting. How good this is really depends on what type of game your DM runs, by ECL 13 some DMs are using some really weird critters that don't use conventional attacks often.
       
  • Shield Slam/Shield Charge - These feats let you perform special attacks with your shield, Shield Charge lets you get a free trip on an opponent after a charge with a shield and Shield Slam lets you make a free attack that can Daze, the fort save is based on your strength and your level so it should get nice and high.

  • Shield Ward/Parrying Shield - AC becomes less important after a while but I've found it's still useful at higher levels. Touch AC becomes more important as you go up in level and spell casters get more spells available. Most characters in full plate have adequate AC but lousy touch AC, these feats help redress this. If you are using a shield already these feats help you get more from your shield.

  • Active Shield Defense - When you use combat expertise or fighting defensively you don't take the penalty on attack to AoOs. So it really needs a feat like Robilar's Gambit to make it work, as you need a source of AoOs to be able to do adequate damage. If you use both Combat Expertise and Fighting Defensively with a shield you can net a nice +15 bonus to AC over a non-shield build. That should make you near impossible to hit for most monsters until the very highest levels. Remember you can still make your attacks with your Expertise/Fighting Defensive with the penalty, also this feat only works with a light or heavy shield.

  • Agile Shield Fighter - This allows you to two weapon fight with a shield. The only reason you'd want this is if your dexterity is less than 15 and you don't want to put the points into it to bump it up. Remember that TWF is only worth it if you have a significant source of extra damage, about one point per level. Also this feat can't completely replace TWF, it doesn't allow you to take any other feats to make any more iterative attacks on a high BAB. It also caps the TWF penalty at -2 for your offhand weapon, so it encourages using a heavy shield.

 
Make holding a shield irrelevant
  • Improved Buckler Defense - You get your buckler's AC even when you use that hand to attack. This lets you fight just like you don't have a shield at all (except for a -1 penalty). This is probably the easiest way to be effective while using a shield.

  • Animated Shield - The second easiest way to fight with a shield while not having it get in your way. It's a +2 bonus so you probably won't be picking one up until level 8 at the earliest. Even if you aren't normally a shield user an animated shield costs nothing but gold and gives you an extra source of AC.

  • Bonus Damage - If a significant amount of damage of your damage comes from a source other than strength, weapon die and power attack than using a shield probably won't hinder you. For instance a multiclass rogue can take improved shield bash and still do sneak attack damage as normal. Melee reserve feats and Tome of Battle maneuvers are also good sources of extra damage without using power attack.

  • Shielded Casting - You only need one hand free to cast, so a Wizard casting with a Feycrafted Mithral heavy shield faces no impairment at all and a nice little bonus to AC. Usually they'll just buckler though. The feat Shielded Casting lets you cast in combat without provoking any AoOs, which is really nice for a melee gish whose DM like the feat Mage Slayer.

  • Wielding a shield in two hands - A heavy shield is a one handed martial weapon, so you take improved shield bash, wield the shield in two hands and just power attack with that for full damage.

  
4. Builds:

JaronK's Smitadin
[spoiler]
Taken from : Optimized Shield Use

So, I decided to put this up after someone thought that you couldn't make a decent sword and board melee in D&D without a bunch of house rules.  You can, but it requires using things that specifically require you to wield your shield... otherwise an Animated Shield will always be a better option.  The best options I found are Shield Charge (if you hit an enemy at the end of a charge with your shield, the you get a free trip attempt against them), Shield Slam (if you hit an enemy at the end of a charge with a shield or use a full attack action to hit an enemy with your shield, they're dazed (fort save, DC 10+1/2 character level + strength mod) for one round), Shield Counter (Crusader manuever, hit an enemy during their attack so they automatically miss with their next attack), and Shield Block (add your shield bonus +4 to an adjacent ally).  So, let me present an actually decent tank SAB melee (though technically the Sword part of that hardly matters, we're mostly going for the shield).

Build 1:  The D&D Smiteadin

Wolf Totem Barbarian 2/Crusader 2/Fighter 2/Crusader +14, Human.

1: Improved Shield Bash, Power Attack
2: Improved Trip
3: Improved Bull Rush
5: Shield Charge
6: Shield Slam, Extra Granted Manuever
9: Shock Trooper
12: Leap Attack
15: Shield Specialization
18: Shield Ward

General strategy: Charge enemy using a charge manuever (Battle Leader's Charge, Warleader's Charge, Warmaster's Charge, Radiant Charge). Shield Slam and Shield Charge both activate, potencially tripping and dazing your enemy. If they get tripped, make an immediate attack again. Note that you have Shock Trooper, so you do a ton of damage this way (at level 20, it's +80 damage IIRC, which should apply to both attacks). At high levels when you have Warmaster's Charge, this probably kills the enemy. Even at lower levels it's dangerous as all heck. Keep doing this each round, charging a new enemy every time and taking them out of the fight for a couple rounds (one round due to dazing, one round to get back up when they only have a standard action left).  Once per day you can Rage, boosting your to hit and the save DCs for Shield Slam (which are 10+1/2 character level + strength mod).  Note that at a lot of levels you'll have two or three charge manuevers readied at all times, meaning the vast majority of the time you can charge with a manuever instead of just doing a regular charge.

If anyone attacks you or attacks a friend within range, Shield Counter them or Shield Block. The combination of Iron Guard's Glare and Shield Block gives a nearby ally +20 to AC, which should handle things quite nicely. If an ally is hurt, just smack one of your downed and dazed foes with a healing strike to bring them back up. You can heal yourself that way too... and any round in which you don't use counters, go with White Raven Tactics (when it's up of course).

Basically, charge the big threats on the battlefield, making sure to charge those that get to close to your party.  If you can't charge, use healing strikes, Shield Counters, and Shield Blocks to bodyguard your party's squishy people.  Both when charging and when bodyguarding, regularly use White Raven Tactics to keep your party at full speed.

Gear would be pretty straight forward tank stuff, though you'll want to go with medium armour (Mithral Full Plate, perhaps) to take advantage of Barbarian speed, or maybe a Chain Shirt and Dastanas if that's allowed.  For the Shield, a nice Heavy Spiked Shield that's a Martial Discipline Weapon (Devoted Spirit) + Martial Discipline Weapon (White Raven) + Valorous... not sure about other boosts, but that will give a solid +6 to hit right there when in a Devoted Spirit stance (which is likely always) and making a White Raven strike (which is every time except with the healing strikes), plus double damage when charging.  Your other weapon should probably be a light mace that's Undead Bane and Disruption, since undead are immune to your Shield Slams.  The other option, if allowed, would be a Skillful weapon, either a Spinning Sword or Kusari Gama, thus allowing you to increase your reach (and your Iron Guard's Glare range).  A Skillfull Defending Eager Spinning Sword of Warning would be incredibly useful, in fact.

Manuevers:  
Basic manuever load outs at a few assorted levels would be as follows, with starred manuevers ready normally (nonstarred manuevers are for utility, or because I might have use for them):

3:  Leading the Attack*, Vanguard Strike*, Crusader's Strike*, Stone Bones*, Charging Minotaur*, with Iron Guard's Glare as the stance.

7:  Leading the Attack*, Vanguard Strike*, Crusader's Strike*, Stone Bones*, Charging Minotaur, Battle Leader's Charge*, with Iron Guard's Glare and Martial Spirit as stances

10:  Battle Leader's Charge*, Crusader's Strike, Stone Bones, Leading the Attack, White Raven Tactics*, Revitalizing Strike*, Covering Strike*, Shield Block* with Iron Guard's Glare and Martial Spirit as stances

15:  Battle Leader's Charge*, Stone Bones, White Raven Tactics*, Covering Strike, Shield Block*, Radiant Charge*, Elder Mountain Hammer, War Leader's Charge*, Shield Counter*, Rallying Strike, with Iron Guard's Glare, Thicket of Blades, and Martial Spirit as stances

20:  Warmaster's Charge*, Strike of Righteous Vitality*, Ancient Mountain Hammer, Battle Leader's Charge, White Raven Tactics*, Shield Block*, Shield Counter*, Warleader's Charge* Radiant Charge, Elder Mountain Hammer,  with Iron Guard's Glare, Thicket of Blades, Immortal Fortitude and Martial Spirit as stances.  



Stat priority is of course strength above all... that's the primary thing you need.  A little dex for higher initiative and better AC is certainly handy, and con for hitpoints too, but really it's all about the strength.  You might as well have a nice high Charisma and dump Wisdom, allowing you to rock out with Diplomacy.  Intelligence is basically unneeded too, so this is a pretty SAD build.
[/spoiler]

JaronK's Bulldozer:
[spoiler]
Taken from : Optimized Shield Use

The other option is to combine Dungeoncrasher with War Hulk, using Improved Trip, Knockback, Shield Slam, Shock Trooper, Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack, and Shield Charge. Weild a skillfull spiked shield of some kind and go nuts.  Charge and shield slam/charge... now you can attack every enemy within reach at the end of the charge.  If you can get your strength up to about 50 (easily done with a War Hulk) the save to avoid being dazed by your attack is DC 40... yehaw.  And you trip them from the hit... which lets you attack again due to Improved Trip.  Then the enemies fly away from you from two bull rushes due to Knock Back, and you can direct them into each other (if any of them somehow didn't get tripped, that gives you another trip attempt against them).  Then if they hit a wall they take a bunch more damage.  If they hit more enemies, those get tripped and are now in a dangerous spot indeed.  The guys you hit directly can't act next turn, so charge them again (and if you can get more enemies into the group, so much the better... Shock Trooper makes that very possible).  You can sweep through countless enemies this way, pushing groups of them in front of you like a psychotic spikey bulldozer from hell.  And of course you'll average about 400 damage to all enemies within your reach when you charge, not including damage from bouncing them off walls.

EDIT:  Just to show the actual build, it's Feat Varient Rogue 2/Wolf Totem Barbarian 2/Dungeoncrasher 6/War Hulk 10.  Race is anything large with LA paydown, or a Human with Permanent Enlarge Person.  Feats for the human version would be:

1:  Improved Shield Bash, Shield Specialization, Power Attack
2:  Improved Bull Rush
3:  Knockback
4:  Improved Trip
5:  Shield Charge
6:  Cleave
8:  Shield Slam
9:  Shock Trooper
12:  Leap Attack
15:  Shield Ward
18:  Weapon Focus (Spiked Armour)

If flaws are allowed, go for Blood Spiked Charger.  If you do a race other than human, just bump the feats down by one.  Use a Skillfull Valorous Spiked Shield with whatever other mods you like (Skillfull is a huge one, a +2 enchantment that provides +6 to hit for this build.  Valorous helps with damage).  If your DM allows both Lion Totem and Wolf Totem on the same Barbarian (they do replace different things) then go for it and watch your charge damage skyrocket.  The really awesome thing about this is that it's a combination charger, lockdown, and tripper, and can do all three of these things at once without losing anything.  Plus, the usual weakness of chargers is multiple enemies... but that's a strength of this build.  It could sure use more reach though.

So yeah, SAB characters are totally doable.

JaronK
[/spoiler]
   
PhoenixInferno's Captain America
[spoiler]
CL IL Feats Maneuvers Stances
1 Crusader 1 1 Shield Specialization, Improved Shield Bash Crusader's Strike, Charging Minotaur, Vanguard Strike, Leading the Attack, Douse the Flames Martial Spirit
2 Crusader 2 2 Leading the Charge
3 Fighter 1 2.5 Agile Shield Fighter, Stone Power
4 Fighter 2 3 Shield Sling
5 Crusader 3 4 Stone Vise
6 Crusader 4 5 Improved Unarmed Strike Leading the Attack -> White Raven Tactics
7 Fighter 3 5.5
8 Fighter 4 6 Active Shield Defense
9 Crusader 5 7 Superior Unarmed Strike Shield Block
10 Crusader 6 8
11 Crusader 7 9 Foehammer
12 Crusader 8 10 Snap Kick Charging Minotaur -> Radiant Charge Thicket of Blades
13 Crusader 9 11 Rallying Strike
14 Crusader 10 12
15 Crusader 11 13 Combat Reflexes Shield Counter
16 Crusader 12 14 Stone Vise -> Entangling Blade
17 Crusader 13 15 White Raven Hammer
18 Crusader 14 16 Leadership Aura of Triumph
19 Crusader 15 17 Mountain Tombstone Strike
20 Crusader 16 18 Rallying Strike -> Strike of Righteous Vitality

This build uses ToB to recreate the Marvel superhero Captain America, who is kind of iconic for using an adamantine shield.

Rescued from the abyss by cru.
[/spoiler]

Reserve Feat Cleric
[spoiler]
Fighter 1/Cloistered Cleric X
-War Domain
-Divine Magician/Force Domain
  
3:Knowledge Devotion, 6:Blade of Force, 9:Holy Warrior

This is really all you need to get going. With an adequate intelligence your bonus from knowledge devotion should match the BAB you lost from going Cloistered Cleric. That is before you add on Lore of the Gods to boost your knowledge devotion. Your first level feat(s) are open so conceivable you could cram in DMM with the right flaws. You need the War Domain to be able to take Holy Warrior, choosing Divine Magician allows you to learn some Sorcerer/Wizard force spells so you can use Blade of Force. You don't do as much damage in straight combat as a Leap Attacking Shock Trooper, but you should do more damage than a similar core only character and you keep your AC after a charge, which can be a life saver.
[/spoiler]
  
Active Shield Defense + Robilar's Gambit
[spoiler]  
Full BAB class 12
1 : Shield Specialization
3 : Combat Reflexes
6 : Combat Expertise
9 : Active Shield Defense
12: Robilar's Gambit
  
How this works is, every round you declare full Combat Expertise, Fight Defensively and Robilar's Gambit then you make your regular melee attacks with the penalty. When your opponent makes any attacks on you he provokes an AoO, those attacks don't have the penalty from Combat Expertise or Fighting Defensively. So you can gain a nice bonus to AC without any real penalty to attack. You can tweak the order of these feats, your priorities might shift depending on what melee class you choose to build on. You can start using this earlier than level 12 with Karmic Strike, but it's not great synergy you need to get hit to use Karmic Strike, but this setup is all about boosting your AC.
[/spoiler]
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 09:08:40 PM by juton »

juton

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2010, 08:52:29 AM »
5. Shield Feats

Back in OD&D and AD&D melee attacks where centred on a very strict range of numbers, so a +1 bonus was fairly useful. Also you didn't get half again your strength bonus in damage for wielding a two handed sword and there was no power attack so you wheren't giving up much in the way of damage. Things changed in 3.0, a small bonus to AC isn't really worth much any more and using a weapon in one hand puts you at a disadvantage at damage output.

For a feat to be good it has to do more than just give +1 to AC. It has to give you a new option that you didn't have before or make a bad option usable.

Bad Feats

These feats are just a waste of everyone's time.

Exotic Shield Proficiency   [RS 139] - Optionally a Fighter can trade his tower shield proficiency for an exotic shield proficiency. The exotic shields kind of suck, but a fighter could switch tower shield proficency for an extreme shield for a small bonus to AC for no cost.

Shielded Axe [RS 144] - If you full attack with a waraxe and a handaxe you can keep your buckler's AC and don't take the -1 penalty on attacks. Way more situational than improved buckler defense. The style it locks you into is suboptimal to plain THF.

Shield of Thought [RE 113] - If you can create a mind blade, you can create a mind light shield. Allows you to conjure a 5 gold item, whoop.

Turtle Dart [RS 145] - Oh boy, I think this could be the worst feat in 3.5. You need an exotic armour proficiency, an exotic shield or tower shield proficiency and weapon focus (shortsword). Its benefit is: you do not provoke an attack for moving away from any enemy you've attacked in a round. So it lets you make a withdraw action as a move action.

AC feats

Remember when I mentioned that for a feat to be good it has to do more than give a plus to AC. Attacks against your regular AC usually just do hit point damage, the really damaging effects like negative levels or ability damage come in the form of rays or touch attacks, so having a high touch AC becomes very important in latter levels. Feats like Parrying Shield effectively give up to +7 touch AC, trading a feat for 1 AC is bad, 2 is just a bit less worse, but trading it for 7 touch AC can actually be good, so feats like Parrying shield aren't listed here. Also listed are the variations of forming a shield wall, in play this isn't a good option because PCs will have different initiatives and are more effective flanking an opponent. None of these are really worth a feat, but they are more useful than Turtle Dart.

Focused Shield [RS 140] - A psionically focused character gets +1 AC

Phalanx Fighting [CW 103] -  You get +1 AC when using a shield and light weapon, an extra +2 AC if you standing beside another character using this feat.

Shieldmate [MH 28] & Improved Shieldmate [MH 27] - You can give near by allies +1 shield AC, +2 if using a tower shield. Improved Shieldmate increases these bonuses by 1.

Shield Wall [HB 99] - If you are standing beside an ally with a shield you get +2 AC.

Average Feats

If you are going to be using a shield these feats aren't horrible choices, these are average for shield feats, so they may be sub-par in general.

Block Arrow [HB 96] - Once per round block a ranged weapon attack that you are aware of, automatically. Useful if your DM likes archers.

Divine Shield [CW 106] - Lose a turning attempt, add charisma to shield modifier for 1/2 your level in rounds. This gives you something to do with your turning attempts when the undead aren't afoot. Better for a Paladin then a Cleric.

Improved Shield Bash [SRD] - You can bash with a shield while retaining its shield bonus to your Armor Class.

Shielded Casting [RS 144] - Don't provoke if casting in combat with a shield. Not just automatically make the roll to cast defensively, you don't need to cast defensively at all. This is for when your DM thinks he's clever for giving all the King's guards the feat Mage Slayer.

Shield Expert [SF 9] - 3.0 version of improved shield bash.

Shielded Manifesting [RS 144] - Don't provoke if manifesting in combat with a shield. Same deal as Shielded Casting.

Shield Proficiency   [SRD] - Gain proficiency with bucklers, small shields, and heavy shields. You've probably got this already or are going to get it when you dip into a martial class.

Shield Sling [PH2 82] - You can throw a shield, do damage and initiate a ranged trip attempt. Nothing is stopping you from throwing more than one shield per round, just make sure they have augment crystals of returning so they come back. I don't know how useful a ranged tripper would be, but a throwing build that gets free trip attempts sounds like it could work.

Tower Shield Proficiency [SRD] - Being able to bring your own cover can be useful. I'd want to be doing something pretty clever with it though before spending a feat on it.

Good Feats

These feats can be the corner stone to a semi-effective build. Unlike feats like power attack that are a good choice for any melee build these feats will only work in a specialized build.

Active Shield Defense [PH2 71] - Any penalty to attack from from fighting defensively or using combat expertise doesn't apply to attacks of opportunity. Synergizes best with Robilar's gambit or any other reliable form of generating AoOs.

Agile Shield Fighter [PH2 74] - Lets you TWF with a shield with only a -2 penalty. Requires Improved Shield Bash and Shield Specialization, but doesn't require any dexterity. If you really want to be able to shield bash this lets you do it in addition to your regular attacks.

Blood-Spiked Charger [PH2 92, Tactical] - If you are using spiked armour and a spiked shield you can charge and make an attack with both while doing additional damage. This attack should allow you to benefit from shield slam and shield charge. Other uses of this feat can give you a bonus to attack if your opponent hits a certain AC range, or make a single attack and do extra strength damage, which should also work with shield slam.

Inlindl School [DrU 56 Style] - Requires Combat Expertise, Shield Proficiency and Weapon Finesse. You can give up your shield AC to gain half of it as an attack bonus with any light weapon you wield. With a +5 shield that's +3 to hit for one feat, which isn't horrible. You could use a buckler and TWF or TWF with a light shield, it may be useful for a Drowish Rogue.

Improved Buckler Defense [CW 100] - You can attack with an off-hand weapon while retaining a buckler's shield bonus to your Armor Class. So it lets you use a shield and go about your business with only a middling -1 penalty to attacks that use your off hand.

Parrying Shield [LoM 181] - Add shield AC to Touch AC. Regular AC is nice, but having a good Touch AC is really nice.

Shield Charge [CW 105] -   Make a charging attack with a shield and get a free trip in addition to doing damage. Not as useful as the feat improved trip, but still gives some synergy. Fun with pounce.

Shield Slam [CW 105] - Make a full attack or charge, if you hit your opponent has to make a fortitude save vs 10+1/2 level+str or be dazed for 1 round. The save DC is pretty good, and very few things are immune to daze. Should work with Shield charge to leave your opponents prone and dazed after a charge.

Shield Specialization [PH2 82] - Gives +1 AC from a certain type of shield. Not good in and of it self, but is a gateway to a lot of the better shield feats.

Shield Ward [PH2   82] - Gain shield AC to touch AC and as a bonus against trip/overrun/disarm/etc. This is better than parrying shield if your DM like unconventional attacks, otherwise its requirement of shield specialization makes it a worse choice.

6.Equipment

Regular Shields: these are all found in the PHB/SRD. They're pretty obvious.

Buckler - Give +1 AC but leaves your hand completely free. If any attacks with a bucklered will have a -1 penalty.
Light Shield - Gives +1 AC, but it lets you use your hand to an extent. You can carry a torch for example.
Heavy Shield - Gives +2 AC, although you can't use your shield hand for anything other than carrying a shield.
Tower Shield - Gives +4 AC, -2 on attacks and has a massive -10 armour check penalty. You can use it to provide cover, and if you're clevel that's really helpful, but it doesn't provide cover from spells.

Generally Bucklers and Heavy Shields are the only ones to see much play, it depends on whether you need a hand free or one extra AC more.

Exotic Shields: Remember that all these shields require an extra feat to use, so you've got to ask yourself, is it worth it? Fighters can trade their Tower Shield Proficiency for an Exotic Shield Proficiency, so if one of these really catches your eye and you're dipping fighter already you don't need to spend a feat.

Dwarven Buckler-Axe - A buckler that can be used to deal 1d6 slashing. I wonder if there is actually a use for this, as opposed to just carrying a handaxe and a buckler?
Extreme Shield - +3 AC, -4 ACP, no shield bash. I might consider taking this instead of a tower shield, a feycrafted mithtral version should have no ACP and no arcane spell failure, so it can be a bit better than a heavy shield.
Gnomish Battle Cloak - Basically a light shield that grants +4 on disarm checks.
Rider's Shield - Grants shield's AC bonus to mount. Maybe useful for a Halfling Paladin, most medium or larger creatures will find they can't ride their mounts that often.
Shield Gauntlet - A heavy shield with a guantlet welded on, allowing you to use your shield hand to cast. I'd prefer the feat Somatic Weaponry over this, but again if you're dipping fighter you can get this for free.
Tortoise Blade - Basically a spiked light shield, but does 1d6 damage on an attack. The increase in damage die is not worth the feat.

Magical Shield Enchantments

Animated [SRD] - For a +2 bonus you can animate your shield and it will fly around you, protecting you in combat but not requiring you to actually hold it. At higher levels I expect it's quite popular as it's a way to trade gold for more AC. It also lets you use other useful enhancements like Fortification without adding it to your armour. The only potential downside is that armour check and arcane spell failure still applies from a shield, but at the level you can get this buying a mithral shield shouldn't be a problem.

Defending [SRD] - This is for spiked shields. You enchant the spikes with parrying (+1 Bonus) then you can turn their bonus to hit into a bonus to AC. At lower levels a trick like this isn't worth the effort, but at higher levels you'll begin to run out of new sources of AC so these can be worth it.

Fortification [SRD] - At higher levels savvy players can deduce the number of rounds they can stay in combat from the rate at which they are taking damage. Critical hits messes those calculations up and can quickly turn the party tank into a party corpse. If you are going to be the Tank at higher levels you need to get the tools to do the job, Heavy Fortification, on a shield or on armour is one of those.

Gleaming - Makes you harder to hit, which is why you're using a shield in the first place.

Parrying [SRD] - Another option for a spiked shield. A parrying weapon (the spikes) give +1 AC and a +1 bonus to saves for a cost of 8000 GP.

Reflection [SRD] - Once per day reflect a targeted spell cast on you back on the caster. +5 bonus. This is an uncapped version of spell catching, except you can't hold onto the spell. Since it works on every level of spell this shouldn't every become obsolete.

Resilient [FoW 118] - You can trade your shield's enhancement bonus into a bonus on saves as an immediate action. As AC becomes less important with level, saves become more important. This lets your shield make a difference at higher levels. +1 bonus.

Shield of Mercy [MIC 21] - Turn the damage from a smite attempt into healing.

Soulfire [BoED 112] - Permanent deathward you say? It's a +4 bonus, so it's expensive but it could be worth it.

Spell Catching [FoW 118] - You can negate a spell targeting you once per day, up to 3rd level. Not only that but your shield stores the spell for you to use later. +2 bonus, and it can't be put on a buckler. If you can get this when level 3 spells are level appropriate than it is awesome, but if you are facing a 9th level caster you'll probably won't see spells 3rd level or lower.

Spell Catching, Greater [FoW 118] - Works as Spell Catching but works on up to 6th level spells. +4 bonus. Spells at levels 4-6 remain proportionally more useful at higher levels in my experience, so this enhancement should remain viable for a long while.

Time Buttress [MiC 15] - For 1 round per day you become immune to all attacks, spells and powers. The downside is that it's a +5 bonus and it takes a standard action to activate. Some potential, but probably couldn't be used reliably.

Variable [MiC 15] - For a swift action you can resize your shield into a buckler, light, heavy or tower shield. It's a +1 bonus, I've used it on characters who've had to switch between sword and board and archery, and the ability to grant yourself cover without lugging around a tower shield is nice. Definitely not for every character, but if you find yourself switching between weapons frequently it could be handy.

Wight Hide [MiC 23] - This is a specific shield, if used to shield bash the target must make a DC 14 fortitude save or gain a negative level. This could be really good if you have some way of lowering your enemy's saves like a Hex Blade's curse, but even if your foe has a strong fortitude save a full attack with this shield has a 20% chance of having the effect go off.

Remember you can enchant your shield as a weapon as well. You can also have spikes added to your shield for extra bashing damage.

Shield Crystals

These enhancements come in at a fixed cost, you can only use one at a time but you can swap between several crystals.

Clasp of Energy Protection [MiC 24] - Gain resistance to an element in increments of 5,10 and 15. Prices run 500, 1500, 3000 GP, cheap enough that you can get them early on but they only absorb a limited amount per day. Situationally useful.

Crystal of Bent Sight [MiC 25] - This protects you from creatures with a gaze attack, which is admitedly very situational, but for 500 GP combined with the fact you can remove and attach crystals as a move option this definitely should find a spot on your utility belt.

Crystal of Arrow Deflection [MiC 25] - If you are going to be facing archers then these crystals are a steal. The greater crystal lets you deflect arrows once a round and gives you +5 AC versus any other ranged weapon attacks and only for 5,000 GP. * This bonus to AC is actually untyped, so it should apply versus rays and ranged touch attacks, which makes it a steal. *

Remember that if you are shield bashing then your shield is also a weapon and can use weapon augment crystals.

Useful Spells

Brambles [SpC] - This second level Cleric/Druid spell lets you add your level as bonus damage to a wooden weapon, if you're a fan of shield bashing this can help. Its biggest downside is its duration, only rounds per level.

Magic Vestment [SRD] - This gives up to a +5 enhancement bonus to a suit of armour or a shield. The most popular trick with this spell is to make your shield +1, stack on a bunch of abilities, then this spell puts your AC bonus back to where it should be.

Magic Weapon, Greater [SRD] - Instead of paying for +5 defending spikes on your shield you can just pay for +1 defending spikes and make up the difference with this spell. Even if you don't use shield spikes you can still cast this on your shield and get it as a benefit to bash.

Mighty Wallop, Greater [RD 115] - This makes your bludgeoning melee weapon due damage as it where 1 size per 4 caster levels larger. It also lasts hours per level, so if you're planning on doing a lot of shield bashing make friends with your local Sorcerer or Wizard.

Spikes [SpC] - Does everything Brambles does but your weapon gets a +2 bonus for attacks and its threat range is doubled. 3rd level Cleric/Druid spell with a duration in rounds.

Books Referenced:
BoED - Book of Exalted Deeds
DMG2 - Dungeon Master's Guide II
DrU - Drow of the Underdark
FoW - Forge of War, an Eberron suppliment
HB - Heroes of Battle
MiC - Magic Item Compendium
PH2 - Player's Handbook 2
RD - Races of the Dragon
RE - Races of Eberron
RS - Races of Stone
SF - Sword and Fist, the 3.0 guide to Fighters and Monks
SpC - Spell Compendium
SRD - System Reference Document, found at d20srd.org
« Last Edit: September 27, 2011, 02:45:20 AM by juton »

juton

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2010, 09:18:43 AM »
7. Pathfinder specific material

Pathfinder recognized that Sword & Board was lagging a bit behind in competitiveness so the developers decided to focus on primarily improving ... shield bash. Not what I would done, but that's water under the bridge. Pathfinder did change a few things in the periphery that has an effect on a shield using character. First off a S&B character gets 2/3s the extra damage from power attack as a THF and they capped power attack so it is a less attractive option. They gave Rangers, Paladins and to a lesser extent Fighters and Barbarians static bonuses to damage, this reduces the impact of fighting with a one handed weapon.

Pathfinder Feats:

Bashing Finish - After a critical make a free shield bash. If a Fighter is using something like a keen scimitar then it's pretty likely to go off, but you'll want your shield bashes to be doing respectable damage before considering spending the feat.

Covering Defense - Full defense, allies get a shield bonus equal to your shield AC. This is a real bad idea for a PC, it basically takes away your actions to give your friends a small bonus to AC. You allies would be better served if you killed what was threatening them.

Missile Shield - Block one ranged attack per round, like the 3.5 feat Block Arrow.

Mounted Shield - Apply your shield AC to your mount. Most medium characters won't be able to use this, but a small character might. If you think you might find it useful pencil it in, but see if your mount can survive a few combats without it, you may be surprised.

Ray Shield - Deflect one ranged touch attack per round. Hey, at first blush this seems like a really good feat. On second glance it requires a high dexterity (15), 4 prerequisite feats, one of those feats requires you to be a 10th level fighter and your shield takes the full effect of the spell. I wouldn't plan a build around it, but if I had a build with all the prereqs and a free feat I'd definitely snatch it up.

Saving Shield - Immediate action, grant a +2 shield bonus to an ally. It lets a Fighter use his swift actions, but the effect is pretty underwhelming.

Taldorian Duelst - When using a Falcata and a buckler you get +1 AC and +2 on Acrobatics. Even if your build demanded a Falcata and a buckler there have got to be better feats out there.

Shield Focus - Gives +1 shield AC, is a prereq for a lot of other shield feats, just like shield specialization in 3.5.

Greater Shield Focus - Gives +1 shield AC. If this isn't a prereq for something awesome you should never take it.

Shield Master - No TWF penalties when fighting with a shield, your shield's enhancement bonus counts on attacks with the shield. Nice effect but again some really high prereqs relegate it to the set of feats that probably won't see much play.

Shield Wall - Similar to the 3.5 feat, if an ally has a shield and this feat you get a shield bonus. Not good for the same reasons that the 3.5 feat isn't good.

Shield Specialization - +2 AC vs critical confirmation rolls. That's a kind of weird bonus, it's just there to be a lame prereq for some better feat.

Greater Shield Specialization - As shield specialization, can negate a crit once per day. I'm intrigued, but again the high prereqs (Fighter 12, 3 other prereq feats) mean that this feat won't be seeing much play.

Shield Slam - Free bullrush attempt on a shield bash. I don't think bullrush provokes AoOs so I don't see the appeal of playing shuffleboard with kobolds. If you can reliable shield bash your enemy back 10 feet at the end of your full attack you can deny him his full attack, but that would take quite a build to pull off reliably.


Aside from feats Pathfinder has included some ACFs which can help a S&B character.
Pathfinder Class Variants:

Fighter:
Phalanx Soldier - Allows you to use both shields/tower shields and polearms at the same time. Trade weapon trainging for a set of kind of situationally useful abilities. I think that any polearm so wielded keeps its reach, while you can threaten close in with a heavy shield. This could be the closest thing to the 3.5 spiked chain user.
Shielded Fighter - You get a small scaling bonus to shield AC that you can share with a friend, which is something that should have happened a long time ago. You give up your weapon training for a improvement to shield bash, an option to provide a minor penalty to an enemy and a limited immunity to flanking. Largely this option trades offense for defense, which is what you'd expect from a shield user, if you where playing a Pathfinder only game and wanted to sword and board Fighter this option could be worth it.

Ranger:
Weapon and Shield style - This can get you some shield feats earlier than a Fighter, not immediately useful because a Ranger's only source of extra damage is Favoured Enemy (not reliable or damaging enough) or power attack. There is an ACF called Guide which replaces your favoured enemy bonuses with a flat bonus you can apply to a certain number of enemies per day which could be enough to make such a build viable.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 12:00:57 PM by juton »

InnaBinder

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2010, 03:42:07 PM »
Nice to see a guide to the iconic Fighter up, even if it's generally sub-optimal in 3.X.

There are a couple Captain America builds floating around zeh intarwebz that might be well used as highlights here.  I know PhoenixInferno had one back at 339, though I haven't been able to rescue it from the white screen of oblivion yet.
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AndyJames

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2010, 03:57:27 PM »
In a way, sword and board is where the Ranger can shine, I've always thought.

Take the TWF tree, and wield a sword and a shield. If you have sorcerer and cleric buddies, use a club or some sort of blunt wooden weapon in your main hand. Spikes and Greater Mighty Wallop makes TWF extremely viable.

cru

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2010, 04:09:12 PM »
PhoenixInferno's Captain America[spoiler]
CL IL Feats Maneuvers Stances
1 Crusader 1 1 Shield Specialization, Improved Shield Bash Crusader's Strike, Charging Minotaur, Vanguard Strike, Leading the Attack, Douse the Flames Martial Spirit
2 Crusader 2 2 Leading the Charge
3 Fighter 1 2.5 Agile Shield Fighter, Stone Power
4 Fighter 2 3 Shield Sling
5 Crusader 3 4 Stone Vise
6 Crusader 4 5 Improved Unarmed Strike Leading the Attack -> White Raven Tactics
7 Fighter 3 5.5
8 Fighter 4 6 Active Shield Defense
9 Crusader 5 7 Superior Unarmed Strike Shield Block
10 Crusader 6 8
11 Crusader 7 9 Foehammer
12 Crusader 8 10 Snap Kick Charging Minotaur -> Radiant Charge Thicket of Blades
13 Crusader 9 11 Rallying Strike
14 Crusader 10 12
15 Crusader 11 13 Combat Reflexes Shield Counter
16 Crusader 12 14 Stone Vise -> Entangling Blade
17 Crusader 13 15 White Raven Hammer
18 Crusader 14 16 Leadership Aura of Triumph
19 Crusader 15 17 Mountain Tombstone Strike
20 Crusader 16 18 Rallying Strike -> Strike of Righteous Vitality[/spoiler]

InnaBinder

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2010, 04:24:25 PM »
PhoenixInferno's Captain America[spoiler]
CL IL Feats Maneuvers Stances
1 Crusader 1 1 Shield Specialization, Improved Shield Bash Crusader's Strike, Charging Minotaur, Vanguard Strike, Leading the Attack, Douse the Flames Martial Spirit
2 Crusader 2 2 Leading the Charge
3 Fighter 1 2.5 Agile Shield Fighter, Stone Power
4 Fighter 2 3 Shield Sling
5 Crusader 3 4 Stone Vise
6 Crusader 4 5 Improved Unarmed Strike Leading the Attack -> White Raven Tactics
7 Fighter 3 5.5
8 Fighter 4 6 Active Shield Defense
9 Crusader 5 7 Superior Unarmed Strike Shield Block
10 Crusader 6 8
11 Crusader 7 9 Foehammer
12 Crusader 8 10 Snap Kick Charging Minotaur -> Radiant Charge Thicket of Blades
13 Crusader 9 11 Rallying Strike
14 Crusader 10 12
15 Crusader 11 13 Combat Reflexes Shield Counter
16 Crusader 12 14 Stone Vise -> Entangling Blade
17 Crusader 13 15 White Raven Hammer
18 Crusader 14 16 Leadership Aura of Triumph
19 Crusader 15 17 Mountain Tombstone Strike
20 Crusader 16 18 Rallying Strike -> Strike of Righteous Vitality[/spoiler]
:clap :bow
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Garryl

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2010, 08:25:10 PM »

Magical Shield Enchantments

Parrying [SRD] - This is for spiked shields. You enchant the spikes with parrying (+1 bonus) then you can turn their bonus to hit into a bonus to AC. At lower levels a trick like this isn't worth the effort, but at higher levels you'll begin to run out of new sources of AC so these can be worth it.

Spell Reflection [SRD] - Once per day reflect a targeted spell cast on you back on the caster. +5 bonus. This is an uncapped version of spell catching, except you can't hold onto the spell. Since it works on every level of spell this shouldn't every become obsolete.

Parrying is a +8000 gp weapon enhancement that gives +1 insight to saves and AC. You're thinking of Defending.

The name of the Spell Reflection ability is actually just Reflection.
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Idiot Crusader, refreshing maneuvers for free every round.
The Opposed Checks Handbook - Under construction.
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juton

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2010, 09:24:37 PM »
@AndyJames

You're right, if you can get casters who are willing to cast those spells then you have a source of extra damage so TWF becomes viable.

@cru

Thanks for digging that up, your google-fu must be greater than mine!  :clap

@Garryl

Thanks for those, I've made the corrections.

Garryl

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2010, 12:13:52 AM »
You've still got a mistake in Parrying. Right now, you have the name and cost of Parrying, but the description of Defending.

The 8k gold enhancement is called Parrying. It gives +1 insight to AC and Saves.
The +1 enhancement is called Defending. It lets you transform some or all of the enhancement bonus (thus both the attack bonus and the damage bonus) into an equivalent AC bonus.

Also, you misspelled Fortification as "Fortifification" under the magical enhancements section.


I'd also recommend mentioning the Magic Vestment and Greater Magic Weapon spells. Both let you get away with only paying for a +1 enhancement bonus on your equipment instead of +5, but GMW has a particularly interesting interaction with the Defending property. Defending lets you transform the weapon's enhancement bonus, but it doesn't care where the bonus came from, allowing you to transform the virtual enhancement bonus granted by GMW into an AC bonus. So, you can pay for a +1 Defending weapon, cast GWM on it, and have anywhere from a +5 Defending weapon to a +1 Defending weapon with +4 AC, all for 8300 gold and a 3rd level spell slot (valued at 9k gold if you use a Pearl of Power 3rd).
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General listing of my homebrew.
Links to things I've worked on
[spoiler]
Idiot Crusader, refreshing maneuvers for free every round.
The Opposed Checks Handbook - Under construction.
Adaptations Handbook - Under construction.
[/spoiler]

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2010, 11:35:48 AM »
Quote
Wight Hide [MiC 23] - This is a specific shield, if used to shield bash the target must make a DC 14 fortitude save or gain a negative level. This could be really good if you have some way of lowering your enemy's saves like a Hex Blade's curse, but even if your foe has a strong fortitude save a full attack with this shield has a 20% chance of having the effect go off.

5%, not 20%.

JaronK

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2010, 12:13:20 PM »
5% per attack.  With a decent full attack, that could indeed be 20%... except Wight Hide Shields only work 3 times per day (though it only drains a use when they successfully land the level drain). 

And the point of Shield Charge is to combo it with Improved Trip, since this lets you double hit (hit, triggering a trip, triggering an attack).

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2010, 01:17:49 AM »

Special Thanks to:
JaronK
PhoenixInferno
cru
AwakenDMGolem


Umm ... What did I do, for 1000 ??

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juton

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2010, 02:14:42 AM »
You mentioned the spell catching property a while back, and that gave me the impetus to make this.

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2010, 08:19:37 PM »
Huh, well thanks for patting me on the back.

My kitty avatar is still confused, but that's another story.

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2011, 10:28:33 PM »
Active Shield Defense [PH2 71] - Any penalty to attack from from fighting defensively or using combat expertise doesn't apply to attacks of opportunity. Synergizes best with Robilar's gambit or any other reliable form of generating AoOs.

I do not see how active shield defense gets rid of the penalties from using combat expertise.  Was it errated to include combat expertise?

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2011, 11:28:42 PM »
Allied Defense, from Shining South, synergizes very well with Active Shield Defense/Robilar's Gambit.  Since you're routinely pulling off the maximum possible for Combat Expertise, you might as well grant that bonus to adjacent allies as well.

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Re: The Sword and Board Handbook
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2011, 11:29:51 PM »
Quite a bit of necromancy here, asking a question about a post from 10 months back :p

I don't know about Active Shield Defense, but if juton updates this handbook, there are a few good magic shields I miss.
For example:
- Shield of Mercy, this thing is priceless for a Binder focusing on Andras(or somehow combining Tenebrous with Ordained Champion. Also for Killoren). Not so good if you happen to have limited Smites per day :smirk
- You can equip a Shield with Weapon Enhancements, so how about Flying, Stunning Surge, or one of the Elemental Powers?
- You missed Gleaming, while expensive it does provide a solid percentage of miss for your enemies

Also shouldn't a build called Captain America have at least a few levels in Bloodstorm Blade, for optimized Shield throwing?