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The staff of defense from the Lost Mine of Phandelver Starter Set campaign (p. 53) is a magic staff that grants +1 to AC when attuned. As a magic staff, it also functions as a quarterstaff, which has the versatile property and can be used one-handed.

Can you wield the staff of defense in one hand, and have an actual physical shield equipped in the other hand?

Say I have a Dex score of 16 (a +3 modifier), and the mage armor spell. If I'm also wielding the staff of defense and have a shield equipped, would I have an AC of 13 + 3 + 1 + 2, for a total of 19?

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Yeah, it would

Mage Armor works as long as you don't wear armor. It doesn't block shields.

Staff of Defense just gives a flat +1 on top of anything.

You'd end up with AC 19.

Keep in mind you need to be proficient with Shields though. That's not usually cheap for spellcasters. (Especially the kind that rely on Mage Armor). And if you're not proficient, you won't be able to cast spells while you have it equipped.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that mage armor is also on the sorcerer spell list, though they're not proficient with shields by default either. It may also be worth noting the downsides of equipping a shield if you're not proficient (i.e. it prevents spellcasting). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 26 at 6:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Bards can get Mage Armor, and with the valor subclass, they get shield proficiency. Although with that subclass, they can only get Mage Armor at level 10, and they're probably better off grabbing regular medium armor instead. That being said, Mage Armor doesn't have a range of self, so technically, you can get a party member to cast it on you. That makes this strategy viable for a rogue with +3 DEX, granting up to 21 AC with +5 DEX (13 MA + 5 DEX + 2 Shield + 1 Staff), although LMoP don't get high enough for rogues to achieve +5 DEX (unless you roll stats). \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster May 26 at 10:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster Rogues are not proficient with shields either. I don't think any character that doesn't normally wear Medium+ armor is proficient with Shields. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik May 26 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik ah, you're right, my bad. Notably, though, Rogues get more ASIs than most classes (only fighters get more), so grabbing the respective feat for shield and medium armor proficiency isn't that big of a deal. Worst case, you can start your character as a variant human. Alternatively, you can also dip one level into another class to gain the proficiency; fighter or cleric (trickery domain) might suit a rogue well, depending on his stats. This also grants you either a Fighting Style and Second Wind, or healing and utility spells useful for a rogue, such as Disguise Self. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster May 26 at 12:08

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