I've been wanting to play a fighter recently but for what I want to do I kind of need to understand what I can and cannot do.

So I want play a fighter that also uses a shield as a weapon along with a normal weapon. To do this I'll have to take Tavern Brawler but in order to duel wield I'll have to take the Dual Wielder Feat.

Tavern Brawler

  • You are Proficient with Improvised Weapons and unarmed strikes
  • Your unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage

Dual Wielder

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  • You can use Two-Weapon fighting even when the one handed melee weapons you are using aren't light

What I want to know is if Tavern Brawler would allow me to effectively use my Shield as a weapon and still get the AC bonus it provides along with the Dual Wielder feat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Use the Shield Master feat, it provides better DPR than Tavern Brawler and Dual Wielder would if they worked. And they don't, see GreenstoneWalker's answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 7:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ András, the point of combining the feats would be to try to avoid physical hits. I'm not to concerned about Dex saves. \$\endgroup\$
    – Twiggy
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 8:22

1 Answer 1


A shield is not a melee weapon (it doesn't appear on the weapon table) so dual wielding will not apply to it, regardless of the feats you take.

Jeremy Crawford tweeting.

Mike Mearls tweeting about distinguishing the styles.

Additionally, unarmed strikes are also not weapons, so dual wielding does not apply to them either.

However, expect table variation. Note that even if a table rules that a shield is an improvised weapon, it doesn't have the "light" tag so dual weapon fighting without the feat still doesn't apply.

In my games: If an item is on the weapon table or similar to something on the weapon table then it is a "weapon". If it is not on the weapon table but can be picked up and dropped (and disarmed!) then it is an "improvised weapon". If it is worn (can't be disarmed, maybe takes time to don and doff) then it is not any sort of weapon and attacking with it is covered by the unarmed strikes rules.

In other words, it is an improvised weapon if and only if you can be disarmed of it. If you want to tell me your shield is an improvised weapon then cool but don't complain when you are disarmed of it in the next fight. :-)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ use your sense, the picture on the weapons table is of a woman smashing in a skeletons head with her shield... \$\endgroup\$
    – blade
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 7:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ A shield may be worn but that doesn't mean one is not able to lash out and strike an enemy in the side or elsewhere in the body \$\endgroup\$
    – Twiggy
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 8:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not saying you're wrong, but there should be a some logic, within reason, on what a improvised weapon is. Gloves would not be unless being swung from some kind of stap, something that has a blunt edge strapped one's own arm should reasonably be able to do more than a mere shove. \$\endgroup\$
    – Twiggy
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 8:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ The dual wield feat means you don't need one heaved melee wrappings to be light \$\endgroup\$
    – Pliny
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 20:43

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