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I'm trying to build an 11th level gunslinger as per this guide:

This is going to be part of an encounter the PCs face against some pirates. Since I am using PC classes for NPCs here to give the PCs a challenge, I am 100% OK giving them apropriate magically gear that the PCs can loot when they beat them.
The guide suggests using a shield, but I suspect that it must be wrong, as it is my understanding you need a free hand to reload a pistol. Maybe the guide's intention is for you to use multiple pistols and just not bother reloading but keep quick drawing them.

I would prefer this NPC to have one or two really good pistols and just reload when needed though. My solution to this is to give him an Animated Shield. Part of the encounter will be a mage casting greater invisibility on this gunslinger, who will shoot from one square and run off to another so the PCs will have to go after the mage or cast see invisibility to find him. My question is:

Will the Animated Shield become invisible along with the rest of the gunslinger and his gear?

  • Reasons I believe it will be invisible:

    It is part of his gear, he is attuned to it, and he is attending to it (within 10ft of him)

  • Reasons I believe it might be visible:

    It is not actually carried by him, despite giving him an AC bonus as if it were carried by him. Since invisibility makes the creature and gear they are carrying invisible, this might not apply.

An additional sub-question is: if it is ruled that when he activates it it becomes visible, could he then grab it again (grabbing something is typically an incidental action like opening a door, which you get one free in a turn) to turn it invisible again? Basically it would work like this:

gunslinger is holding shield and gets turned invisible. First round he fires two of his 3 shots, saving the 3rd for a reload. Then he activates the shield, and he no longer holding it makes it visible, a floating shield in space. Then he uses his last shot to reload the gun, then uses an incidental action to grab the shield. As written this would not turn off the shield, as that requires a bonus action, so it still counts down towards the minute of it being animated, but since he is touching it again, the shield would once again be on his person, and because it was when invisibility was cast, it would become invisible again (by the wording everything on his person when invisibility was cast is invisible). Then he would move to a different part of the boat 30ft away. He can then let go of it (and its still animated so it would float) whenever he needed to reload, and grab it again for it to be invisible before moving again.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Little note on this part: "who will shoot from one square and run off to another so the PCs will have to go after the mage or cast see invisibility to find him" By RAW, unless the gunslinger takes the hide action, the PCs know on which square he is even if he moves invisible. rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/157730/… \$\endgroup\$
    – findusl
    May 19, 2021 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ hmmm, was unaware of this. Typically I've always considered invisible creatures to require you to actively roll perception against their stealth to locate, since you can't locate them by sight alone, they are always considered hidden. If they leave footprints sure, but that's not applicable on a ship, and with a crew and rigging and waves of the ocean hearing him would be really hard. You will hear the gunshots but then he will not stay in that square, plus the gunshots would echo anyway \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2021 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ even in the link you posted one of the game designers said it was reasonable for a DM to rule it that way as invisible characters are always hidden \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2021 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ well the game is tomorrow. The druid in that game also has an animated shield he uses for when he wildshapes (although that only lasts for 1 minute, it is still the first fight he wild shapes he gets the extra protection), I have asked if he was turned invisible if he thinks that shield should be too but hasn't responded yet. I think I will rule it does as long as you were holding it when invisibility was cast. \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2021 at 16:27

3 Answers 3

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If the shield is being wielded by the gunslinger at the time the Greater Invisibility is cast on him, it also turns invisible.

You or a creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person.

However, if the Shield is activated:

The Shield leaps into the air and hovers in your space to protect you as if you were wielding it, leaving your hands free.

As soon as the shield is no longer "on the target's person" it becomes visible. The phrase "as if you were wielding it" applies to the fact that it still gives the gunslinger its +2 AC property. There is nothing to say "as if you were wielding it" is a general property that applies to all circumstances. It only applies to "protecting you".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can we get evidence it works this way? Either something written in an official book or a comment from one of the developers would be great \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2021 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Something attended by you floating very close to you by magic could be considered "on your person". The attune rules say things are considered attended by you if they are within 10ft, for example \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2021 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Where does it state that "things are considered attended by you if they are within 10ft"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Wanderer
    May 22, 2021 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ you are right, its just you need to not go more than 100ft from it for 24 hours, thought it was 10ft for some reason \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2021 at 20:01
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Yes. Animated Shield says:

While holding this Shield, you can speak its Command Word as a Bonus Action to cause it to animate. The Shield leaps into the air and hovers in your space to protect you as if you were wielding it, leaving your hands free. The Shield remains animated for 1 minute, until you use a Bonus Action to end this Effect, or until you are Incapacitated or die, at which point the Shield falls to the ground or into your hand if you have one free.

It is effectively wielding it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Adding more than sentence and a quote would be helpful here. Right now, this feels incomplete. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    May 21, 2021 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can we get evidence it works this way? Either something written in an official book or a comment from one of the developers would be great \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2021 at 12:35
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The shield would not turn invisible as it is not on the gunslinger's person.

However if you really are set on giving the gunslinger protection you might equip him with a different armor that grants bonus AC such as the Cloak of Protection.

Cloak of Protection

Wondrous item, major tier, uncommon (requires attunement)

You gain a +1 bonus to AC and saving throws while you wear this cloak.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ he already has magic studded leather and a ring of protection \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2021 at 12:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess it comes down to the wording of the animated shield which says "as if you were wielding it". Clearly a shield you are wielding is considered on your person, so would a "as if you are wielding it" shield also count as such? \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2021 at 12:57

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