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The biggest advantage of a buckler is that its strapped to your arm keeping a hand free while still gaining a shield bonus. You are also able to wear a gauntlet (normal, locked, or spiked) while keeping that hand free. Lets assume that the buckler is a +1 buckler so its providing a +2 shield bonus, and the gauntlet is just a +2.

The feat Shielded Gauntlet Master says

While using Shield Gauntlet Style, you no longer lose your shield bonus to AC when you attack with your gauntlet (or spiked gauntlet) or use it to hold a weapon. In addition, you add your gauntlet’s enhancement bonus to the shield bonus to AC granted by this feat as if it were a shield enhancement bonus.

So, does the bucklers shield bonus stack with the bonus from the feat? Since both would provide +2, is the final shield AC +2 or +4?

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2 Answers 2

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The AC bonus from a buckler is a Shield Bonus. The AC bonus from Shielded Gauntlet Style is a Shield Bonus. With few exceptions, bonuses of the same type do not stack. Therefore, a Buckler will never stack with Shielded Gauntlet Style. Instead, the highest overall bonus applies.

Shielded Gauntlet Master increases the Shield Bonus for Shielded Gauntlet Style. It does not change the type of bonus, and so will not change how it interacts with a buckler.

A nonmagical Buckler gives a +1 Shield bonus to AC, which is the same bonus as provided by the Shielded Gauntlet Style. Therefore, the highest bonus will come from whichever item has the highest enhancement bonus. However, there are other non-numerical benefits from Shielded Gauntlet Master, such as not losing the AC bonus if you attack with that hand, and not taking a penalty to attacks made with that hand.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The feat specifically calls out that its added as a shield enhancement bonus, which considering how barkskin and polymorph spells work do stack (as they are different but related bonuses). So I can see an argument for the +1 from the shield, and the +2 from the feat. There is however the debate that a shield bonus and its enhancement are considered together, otherwise an enhancement bonus on armor would apply while mage armor spell is in effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Feb 21, 2021 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering Actually the feat also calls out that it specifically adds to the Shielded Gauntlet bonus...not to any shield, not separately. Look at the text quoted in the question. 'add your gauntlet’s enhancement bonus to the shield bonus to AC granted by this feat' \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Feb 21, 2021 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The barkskin and polymorph do not stack, what is happening is polymorph gives you a natural AC and barkskin enhances it. Similarly here Shield Gauntlet Style gives you a shield bonus and Shielded Gauntlet Master enhances it. What it does not do is to enhance your buckler shield bonus. \$\endgroup\$
    – Balacertar
    Apr 16, 2021 at 18:22
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If you carry a shield in the hand, which a gauntlet is weared on, than Shield Gauntlet Style stops working. Shielded Gauntlet Master upgrades Shield Gauntlet Style, but with previous sentence in mind, there is nothing to upgrade for you.

If you carry a shield in the hand, which isn't the one gauntlet is weared on, than Shield Gauntlet Style works (and by extention, Shielded Gauntlet Master upgrades it), and shield works. So you just pick the higher Shield bonus to your AC: from a shield or from a gauntlet. Same goes for a buckler in either hand: as you aren't using a hand to hold it, it can't interfere with named feats.

For your case gauntlet wins. It provides +3 bonus, while buckler's bonus is only +2.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is not helpful because I was asking about a specific kind of shield, the buckler, which is strapped to the arm, and not carried in the hand. I knew/know the answer when a shield is in hand. It was this specific case when its strapped to the arm I wanted to know about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Feb 20, 2021 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering This will be case 2 then, but I admit buckler's feature slipped through my attention, sorry. I'll edit it in. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20, 2021 at 18:17

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