I plan to make a multiclass character with a Rogue and a Ranger. Since I want to stay at a distance when attacking, I want to use a shortbow (with the proficiency from Rogue), but I also want to use a shield (with the proficiency from Ranger). This is not possible because the shield takes one hand, and the bow two.

I want to make a custom weapon, combining a shield with a bow, like a bow attached to the shield (so my character is holding the shield/bow in one hand, and shooting the arrow with the other) My DM would allow the construction of such item, but I want to know what kind of interaction this will have with the rules.

I need to specify that in RP, my character will be ordering this weapon custom for him, for his needs. My goal is having the +2 AC, and still making ranged attacks.

I will be proficient with both a shield and a bow, but the combined item is a new weapon, not specified in my proficiencies... Is it reasonable to think that I can be proficient the combined item? What kind of balance can I expect of this kind of item?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. It's not entirely clear what you mean by "What kind of balance can I expect of this kind of item?"; could you clarify? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 11, 2019 at 20:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mean, if my character has proficiency with that kind of weapon, will it be too much? Is it breaking the game? If so, how can I adjust this concept? \$\endgroup\$
    – Eradash
    Apr 11, 2019 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ You haven't really specified the details of how exactly the item would work (other than that it gives you +2 AC and lets you make ranged attacks). Assuming it counts as a weapon and not as armor, you'd still be able to use it even if you weren't proficient; you just wouldn't be able to add your proficiency bonus to your attack rolls. Is that the case? We can't evaluate this homebrew if you don't even know the details of that homebrew. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 12, 2019 at 3:43

2 Answers 2


A bow/shield weapon that allows you to make ranged attacks with your bow while enjoying the +2 AC of the shield is only balanced as a Very Rare magic item.

This is because your weapon concept is slightly more powerful than an Animated Shield, which is a published Very Rare magic item that requires attunement.

This is one of the intended downsides to using a two-handed weapon - it prevents you from using a shield in exchange for better damage dice (2-handed melee weapons) or extra safety from melee attackers (2-handed ranged weapons).


It's not very game-breaking.

On the subject of Mechanical balance: The Shortbow deals effectively the same damage as a Hand Crossbow, which you could use with a shield. The only caveat is that you cannot reload a hand-crossbow with one hand. You could also do this combination with a Hand-Axe, in which case the caveat is that the Short bow has an effective range of just over twice the distance.

So when balancing, the question is: Is an additional 50ft of Distance going to break the game, or is a the ability to reload without a free hand going to break the game.

I would argue not, and I know players who already dual wield Crossbows and still manage to reload them without any free hands.

Short bow is already a Simple Item, so even if its was raised up one level to Martial, you could still potentially use it. I couldn't imagine it becoming more complex like that.

I would say that this would be more negatively balancing than positively, as I assume you take on all features of both Shield and Bow, which means that you have disadvantage on the attack in Melee with a bow, and you require a full action to take off a shield. This means that if anyone charges you in melee combat, or grapples you, your character would be in trouble. The Shield-Bow would be so heavy that you would require two hands to wield it, and I doubt you would be able to pick up a sword with your off-hand, considering how unbalanced you'd be with two weapons in your main hand.

I'm also making some assumptions here:

  1. The item takes on all properties of both, meaning you require an action to doff it, and that you have disadvantage on attacks within melee.

  2. That the weight of the new item would make it so heavy that, when not holding it with both hands, that you would be forced to go prone because it is so heavy. Limiting your free hand to only reloading the bow.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This would allow them to be able to cast spells that require a free hand and have an open hand and still do the same as another character that requires a free hand to reload and get the AC bonus from a shield. Does that not seem a bit too much? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2019 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ When using a Heavy or Two-Handed weapon, do you typically get to use your Free hand? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2019 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ "which means that you cannot attack in Melee with a bow" - You certainly can attack in melee with a bow. You just have disadvantage when making a ranged attack when an enemy is next to you. And the Crossbow Expert feat totally eliminates that problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 11, 2019 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JohnOutWest That is not correct though. You only need two hands to attack with a 2H weapon, you can carry it in one hand just fine. Moreover though I don't really see how this helps when we the topic at hand is a custom bow/shield... \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2019 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JohnOutWest Where does that come from? Heavy is a specific game term with a specific meaning. Nowhere does OP say that the custom weapon would have the Heavy property. Even if it did it would not matter since heavy does not at all affect how many hands is needed to hold or attack with it. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2019 at 21:32

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