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Shell Defense. You can withdraw into your shell as an action. Until you emerge, you gain a +4 bonus to AC, and you have advantage on Strength and Constitution saving throws. While in your shell, you are prone, your speed is 0 and can't increase, you have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws, can't take reactions, and the only action you can take is a bonus action to emerge from your shell.

Nowhere in this description does it say what happens to items the tortle is holding. So if they are holding a shield and a weapon and go into Shell Defense what happens to their AC?

For a tortle wielding a shield, this question is going to have an impact on how useful this ability is. If the shield does not confer a benefit when in this mode, then they are effectively only getting a +2 AC which is a significant decrease in benefit given the costs.

Does a tortle still gain the benefit of wielding a shield while in Shell Defense?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I'm not going to say this is useless, but it is remarkably limited in utility. \$\endgroup\$ – Exal Apr 7 '18 at 23:49
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This is up to your GM, most likely no bonus

The requirement for the shield bonus is to wield the shield, which you may be unable to do during Shell Defense

Wielding a shield increases your Armor Class by 2. 

The word wield is not defined in any core rulebook so we use the plain English definition:

hold and use (a weapon or tool).

Since you likely can't "use" the shield while within the shell you would not gain the AC bonus. Your GM might allow it though (such as holding the shield over the opening in your shell to qualify as using).

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