In a campaign I'm DM'ing, I'm planning to leave out some good loot for the players next week to reward them for completing the first part of the campaign. I want some of the loot to also be helpful to them with a difficult challenge in the next part of the campaign.

One of the players is a Life Cleric.

I'm thinking about giving the party a Sentinel Shield.

Since the Life Cleric is the only one in their party who can wield a shield, the party will almost definitely give the Sentinel Shield to the Life Cleric.

Honestly, the cleric is the main reason I'm thinking of giving it to them, though I recognize that they can do whatever they want to with it.

Here's the question I expect will come up right away.

The cleric picked up the War Caster feat as soon as he could and then he had his holy symbol painted on his starter shield. The Sentinel Shield is described as having an "eye" emblazoned on it. I assume the eye represents the watchful alertness provided by the shield that results in the advantage on Initiative rolls and Perception checks that result when the shield is equipped.

Can the cleric paint his holy symbol on the Sentinel Shield?

On the one hand, it's magical and maybe it can't be easily defaced with paint, particularly not if the eye on a Sentinel Shield is what's being painted over.

On the other hand, a divine holy symbol would be what's being painted on the shield.

I suspect they'll assume it's doable.

If it is doable, will defacing the eye with a divine symbol damage the watchful alertness provided to the user of the shield?

Maybe the cleric can paint his symbol on the non-Eye side, but isn't that side still magical so that it can't be easily defaced?

So, again, the bottom line question is this: can a a Sentinel Shield be painted with a Cleric's Holy Symbol?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your question seems a little unfocused towards the end. I think the post would be improved by concluding with the initial question, and editing out your back-and-forth uncertain speculation after that point. (You could leave in the "if it is doable" question about whether painting such a holy symbol on affects the magical properties of the shield.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 6:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: What exactly are you getting when you buy an Emblem Holy Symbol? \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 8:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, V2, I think you were right about my post. I modified it. And NathanS, thank you forthe link to the post containing fantastic related information holy symbols. It's very helpful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


All of this is left up to the GM

The Holy Symbol item states:

A holy symbol is a representation of a god or pantheon. A cleric or paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus, as described in the Spellcasting section. To use the symbol in this way, the caster must hold it in hand, wear it visibly, or bear it on a shield.

That is all we know about the rule-based implementation of a Holy Symbol. There is no further description of how large the symbol must be, which side of the shield it must go on, or whether it can be put onto magical items. Anything else about Holy Symbols on shields in going to be up to the GM. That said, given that it can be put on a shield and +1 shields exist, it would be safe to assume it can be put on magical shields as well.

The only question then is whether the Sentinel Shield specifically forbids this. All the shields states is the following:

While holding this shield, you have advantage on initiative rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks. The shield is emblazoned with a symbol of an eye.

Nothing says that the eye must remain uncovered, or that it is even doing anything. The shield simply grants the bearer advantage on initiative rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks, with no restrictions on when or why. Any departure from this is going to be up to the GM specifically.

There simply aren't enough actual rules regarding Holy Symbols on shields to draw out any sort of lines for what's allowed and what isn't. Though RAW, nothing is disallowing the Holy Symbol from being emblazoned onto the Sentinel Shield.

Alternatively, wear a necklace

The Holy Symbol item does state that a holy symbol can be used if it is "worn visibly", so then a necklace, or even armor/clothing, would suffice, so long as it is visible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth mentioning that in this specific case, wearing a necklace works, but it normally would not. Because the OP states Warcaster involved, the character in question can perform somatic components with their shield hand, but normally, the shield hand would only be usable for somatic components if the spell also requires material components and the shield counts as a material component, which it does for a cleric with a holy symbol painted on it.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 7:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice!!!!!!! Really good answer answer and comment. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Holy symbol also doesn't necessarily need to cover the eye either. There could be space around the eye where they could paint a smaller version of the symbol on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – mullac
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 0:11

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