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If my character isn't proficient with shields but is using a shield, the armour section says the following:

If you wear armor that you lack proficiency with, you have disadvantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll that involves Strength or Dexterity, and you can’t cast spells.

The animated shield says:

While holding this Shield, you can speak its Command Word as a Bonus Action to cause it to animate. The Shield leaps into the air and hovers in your space to protect you as if you were wielding it, leaving your hands free. The Shield remains animated for 1 minute, until you use a Bonus Action to end this effect, or until you are Incapacitated or die, at which point the Shield falls to the ground or into your hand if you have one free.

If I have an animated shield and animate it, do I take these disadvantages for wearing a shield still? Can I ignore them for as long as the shield remains animated?

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2 Answers 2

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Yes.

Although shields of any kind are not considered body armor for the purpose of AC calculation changes (as per your previous question), an animated shield still counts as a wielded piece of equipment with whatever downsides that includes, with the exception that it keeps your hands free for spellcasting or whatever else.

Shield proficiency is listed under Armor Proficiencies and as such has to be taken into account in this case. RAW heavily suggests that you still take the full penalties of wielding a shield, including not being proficient with it, while using Animated Shield.

See this question for a more detailed explanation.

Further, by a narrative standpoint, not having the knowledge of how the shield you're using will react to attacks to attempt to deflect them (not being proficient in its use, animated or not) would make it extremely distracting and hard to move around with, specially if you need to perform complicated maneuvers and mantaining focus during spellcasting or in a usually frantic combat situation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I doubt a floating shield bobbing all around you and moving to intercept attacks wouldn't be in the way or even momentarily bump, hinder and distract a character that has no idea on how the shield will move (w/out proficiency). Anecdote: I tried in a gyro stabilizer belt for cameras, and it threw me off-balance the first few minutes, even without someone trying to kill me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw that question when researching this - I thought that an animated shield was a different enough case that it deserved a separate question. \$\endgroup\$
    – fortyCakes
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Animated shields do bring up a ton of confusion, often because they try to be similar to regular shields in ways people don't expect them to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tsugihagi
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 13:07
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No (unless you Don it)

As far as I can tell nothing prevents you from wearing the shield as you would a normal shield. According to (phb 146) it takes an action to Don the shield. You only get the decremential effects of not being proficient with a shield if you wear it and you only get the +2 of a normal shield if you equip it (phb 144).

Now it's a bit confusing because all these three use a different verb. To don, to wear and to equip. But they are similar enough in the english language. And clearly different to the animated shield which only requires you to hold it in a hand to activate it. No donning, no wearing no equipping.

Therefore activating the shield does not impose any negative effects from not being proficient.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this answer. Normal use of an animated shield (i.e. animating it) doesn't involve wearing it at all. (In fact, you might even argue that it can't be activated while worn, because you aren't able to let go of it since it's attached to your arm.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ The text quoted in the OP says "as if you were wielding it", so while it's active the character isn't wielding it. If not wielding it, then no penalty. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 17:53

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