I am currently playing a sword and board slayer how likes to switch his warhammer to two-handed or back in a pinch.

However, it is not clear to me how I can do this without dropping the shield. He is currently using a heavy shield.

Case 1: Warhammer two-handed, switching to one-handed use and equiping the shield

Case 2: Warhammer and Shield in hand, switching to two-handed use while putting away the shield without dropping it

Case 1 seemed clear at first:


Two-Handed Weapons: What kind of action is it to remove your hand from a two-handed weapon or re-grab it with both hands? Both are free actions. For example, a wizard wielding a quarterstaff can let go of the weapon with one hand as a free action, cast a spell as a standard action, and grasp the weapon again with that hand as a free action; this means the wizard is still able to make attacks of opportunity with the weapon (which requires using two hands). As with any free action, the GM may decide a reasonable limit to how many times per round you can release and re-grasp the weapon (one release and re-grasp per round is fair).

So switching from two-handed grip to one-handed grip with a one-handed weapons should also be a free action.

Ready or Drop a Shield

Strapping a shield to your arm to gain its shield bonus to your AC, or unstrapping and dropping a shield so you can use your shield hand for another purpose, requires a move action. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can ready or drop a shield as a free action combined with a regular move. Dropping a carried (but not worn) shield is a free action.

So if have my shield on me, say over my shoulder, I take a free action to switch my grip to one-handed, a move action to ready my shield, an I have standard action left to attack.

Is that right?

Case 2: There is no mention of putting away or stowing a shield as far as I can see. So I have to look elsewhere.

Draw or Sheathe a Weapon

Drawing a weapon so that you can use it in combat, or putting it away so that you have a free hand, requires a move action. This action also applies to weapon-like objects carried in easy reach, such as wands. If your weapon or weapon-like object is stored in a pack or otherwise out of easy reach, treat this action as retrieving a stored item.

Is a shield a weapon-like object? It would be carried in easy reach, over the shoulder or on a hook somewhere I suppose. A shield can be a weapon if using a shield bash. That would make it a move action to put the shield away, free action to switch grips, which leaves a standard action to attack.

Manipulate an Item

Moving or manipulating an item is usually a move action. This includes retrieving or putting away a stored item, picking up an item, moving a heavy object, and opening a door. Examples of this kind of action, along with whether they incur an attack of opportunity, are given in Table: Actions in Combat.

Or do I have to take a move action to unstrap (without the dropping part) and another move action to put away an item? That would mean, that I couldn't attack. So it would be quite important to know how it's done right. This might also mean for Case 1, that I first need to retrieve the "stored" shield with a move action, and then ready it with another mode action.

Now I looked at the quickdraw shield:

Quickdraw Shield

If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you may don or put away a quickdraw shield as a swift action combined with a regular move. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, you can draw a light or one-handed weapon with one hand and a quickdraw shield with the other in the time it would normally take you to draw one weapon. If you have the Quick Draw feat, you may don or put away a quickdraw shield as a free action.

Finally a mention of putting away a shield, no drop required. However, it talks about donning the shield which takes me to the armor and shield section.

Getting into and out of armor

Don: This column tells how long it takes a character to put the armor on. (One minute is 10 rounds.) Readying (strapping on) a shield is only a move action.

Remove: This column tells how long it takes to get the armor off. Removing a shield from the arm and dropping it is only a move action.

So donning seems to equal readying.

Does this mean, that the only way to put away a shield is to use a quickdraw shield (which might be a good idea anyway), or is there something I missed? Do I need two move actions and cannot attack in the round in which I switch from sword-and-board to two-handed?

Thanks in advance!

  • \$\begingroup\$ What particular type of shield is the character wearing? The answer will be a bit different if they're using a buckler rather than say, a heavy wooden shield. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2021 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right now he is wearing a heavy shield, but I am considering a light shield. I will add that Info above. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2021 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


According to Table: Donning Armor from the Core Rulebook (also available here on the PFSRD), removing a shield of any kind and dropping it requires 1 move action.

Armor Type Don Don Hastily Remove
Shield (any)1 move action n/a 1 move action
Padded, leather, hide, studded leather, or chain shirt 1 minute 5 rounds 1 minute 1
Breastplate, scale mail, chainmail, banded mail, or splint mail 4 minutes1 1 minute 1 minute1
Half-plate or full plate 4 minutes2 4 minutes1 1d4+1 minutes1

The notes on table goes further to specify

Remove: This column tells how long it takes to get the armor off. Removing a shield from the arm and dropping it is only a move action.

So we can see that taking it off and dropping it is a move action, which also tells us that doing anything other than dropping it or holding it in our hand would instead require additional time. How much extra time, then, is the question.

Since, even though shields can be used to make a shield bash attack, shields are not "weapons or weapon-like", so we gain no benefit in that regard, which means we have to look at the standard rules for retrieving and stowing objects. This defaults to another move action, costing you essentially your entire turn. If you have some sort of special quick-sling to stow your shield on, and a very generous GM, you may instead be allowed to have the entire procedure done as a single standard action, but that would still leave you without the ability to switch-hit with your attacks in a timely manner.

I think the likely solution to your situation is, instead of using a light or heavy shield, you'll want to use a Buckler, which has most all of the advantages you are looking for, plus one or two more, and only minor downsides. This is also specifically what bucklers were designed to do, by the way.

You said you were currently using a light shield (steel or wood makes no difference besides weight and price). A buckler, then, provides you exactly the same bonuses and penalties as a light shield of either variety. But while a light shield occupies your whole arm and also your hand, a buckler does not prevent you from using your other hand. Instead, you can opt to use the hand that a buckler is attached to to make an attack roll, with either a crossbow (at no penalty) or a melee weapon (at a -1 penalty to hit). Whenever you use your buckler hand to attack, you lose its shield bonus to AC, but you would have lost that anyways when you put away your other shield.

I think this solution will probably work out best for your character, as you won't ever lose any action economy to stowing or donning your shield, and it only costs you an occasional -1 to hit, rather than losing a whole turn, and at higher levels, you can even make full attacks without sacrificing turns to swap between tactics.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your answer. That’s unfortunate, But Good to know. Using a buckler is certainly an alternative, as is the quickdraw shield in combination with the Quick Draw feat, in some situations. You do however forgo the option to use shield bash, and 1 AC. Using a buckler it would be possible to just two-Hand the whole time. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2021 at 20:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Seelenquell That would also work yes, especially since the quickdraw shield specifically states "draw or put away" rather than taking it off and dropping it. Do note however, that there is a greater armor check penalty and a significantly greater cost than with a buckler, so that's also something to keep in mind. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2021 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ You were asking within the RAW. I think RevenantBacon has the right of it. Looking at it historically, you could hang your shield on a hook on a horse or a pack, but generally you would not be drawing it from the pack on your back (or slung over your one or both shoulders) in combat. You'd be doing that expecting combat. In the event that you were ambushed, you would not necessarily be able to gather up the shield. Smaller shields would be easier to get on. I've seen shield designs that where the arm is strapped tightly to the shield. That's part of donning it, not just ram arm in and go. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2021 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Side note: d20 is not the official SRD for Pathfinder. If you want the more official online source for this table, here it is:aonprd.com/… \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2021 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn‘t know that. On the website ist says „ This website is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Publishing.“. So what makes it more official? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2021 at 13:48

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