I am fully aware you would only get the AC bonus from one - and this would be very impractical...

But if someone chose to wield two for whatever reason, could they then choose two edges of their character and get total cover on both? RAW it does not appear that choosing to use the shields for the total cover ability is an action, therefore you could theoretically have two and use one for the cover and keep the +4AC from the other and/or use it for another section of cover.


2 Answers 2


A creature picks an edge for its tower shield in Pathfinder (also see here). The rules are different for a Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 tower shield (Player's Handbook 123) (30 gp; 45 lbs.):

This massive wooden shield is nearly as tall as you are. In most situations, it provides the indicated shield bonus to your AC. However, you can instead use it as total cover, though you must give up your attacks to do so. The shield does not, however, provide cover against targeted spells; a spellcaster can cast a spell on you by targeting the shield you are holding. You cannot bash with a tower shield, nor can you use your shield hand for anything else.

When employing a tower shield in combat, you take a –2 penalty on attack rolls because of the shield’s encumbrance.

So, yeah, there's no picking an edge in 3.5. Instead, foes simply can't make attacks against a creature that possesses total cover like that provided by a tower shield used this way. (Although because of the tower shield's specificity, casters can still target with spells a creature using a tower shield this way.) So, unless a user has something wacky planned for her second tower shield—sledding, perhaps, or as a replacement after having used the first to block a breath weapon—, there's really no reason to lug it around. (Note that this reader tends to agree that a tower shield is a bad choice.)

Further, just in case it's still relevant, while the tower shield description does say that from it a creature can gain total cover yet the creature "must give up [its] attacks to do so," the Dragon #317 Sage Advice column “Steel, Shields, and Spirits: Official Answers” includes the following exchange:

Total cover prevents any attack against you. You can use a tower shield to get total cover if you give up all your attacks. What does “give up all your attacks” mean?…

To claim total cover from a tower shield, you must use a standard action. The tower shield rules don’t say that, but that’s what they mean. Since you can take only one standard action each round, you cannot also attack, cast a spell, activate a magic item (except for some use-activated items), use a special ability, use total defense, or start or complete a full-round action during the same round you claim total cover from the shield. You can, however, take a move action before or after you claim cover from the shield.… (101)

The Sage for this column is D&D 3e co-designer Skip Williams. This exchange—which is, in fact, far, far longer than the edited version presented here—is repeated nearly verbatim in the Main FAQ (52) with which some folks take issue.


There is no reason to do so. Tower shields provide total cover—period:

However, you can instead use [a tower shield] as total cover, though you must give up your attacks to do so. The shield does not, however, provide cover against targeted spells; a spellcaster can cast a spell on you by targeting the shield you are holding.

The only caveat or qualification offered is about targeted spells. Aside from that, the total cover offered by tower shields is absolute. They do not give total cover against any particular direction, you are just totally covered entirely. And if you have total cover, it is impossible to target you with an attack:

Total Cover

If you don’t have line of effect to your target he is considered to have total cover from you. You can’t make an attack against a target that has total cover.

so a shield bonus to AC is irrelevant.

Any houserule that nerfs tower shields to only providing total cover along one edge of your space are just that—a houserule. You will have to work out the ramifications of that houserule with the DM who made it up.

However, please note that tower shields are always, 100% of the time, strictly bad for you, and no character should ever carry one for any reason. If you are really overly enamored of the total cover option, note that hide shields in Sandstorm provide the same option, without any of the massive drawbacks that make someone with a tower shield strictly worse off than someone who does not have one. So if your DM is going and nerfing them beyond their usual capabilities, that only serves to improve the game by making it clearer to players that they should never be used for any reason. But a far better houserule—even clearer—would be to just remove them from the game entirely.


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