I've got a character who is to dual wield tower shields. The challenges are attacking, as well as the feat cost. I've done most of the work on GitP.

In Plot and Poison: A Guidebook to Drow, there is a feat called Double Shielding, which allows you to employ two shields with an armor check penalty of -1 or better (so -1 or 0) and gain the armor bonuses and enchantment bonuses from both shields, while suffering the combined armor check penalty of both shields.

Shield Mastery from the same book explicitly allows you to bash with the mastered shield. Shield Specialization, from this book, not PH2, reduces the check penalty by a -1 (really quite bad for a feat...exceptionally bad really).

So far, if the feats required for this build (Shield Specialization and Shield Mastery, both from Plot and Poison) were to be removed, I would have a -2 ACP on each tower shield, and couldn't shield bash. The ACP being worse than -1 means I couldn't dual wield them.

The question here: How do I further reduce the ACP and bash with it while keeping the shield bonus to AC, without spending feats? So far I've not been able to find a way. Any published book is allowed.

(I don't care if "tower shields are bad." That's not the question.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're using Plot and Poison, is it safe to assume any source short of homebrew is permitted? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2015 at 0:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ As long as it's in a published book, then yes. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2015 at 1:16

3 Answers 3


With 3rd-party sources available, one can reduce the tower shield's armor check penalty from −10 to at least −1...

  • The armor and shield special ability maneuvering (Complete Book of Eldritch Might 163) (+1 bonus) and greater maneuvering (ibid.) (+2 bonus) reduce an armor or shield's armor check penalty by 2 and to 0, respectively. Yep, to zero. Straight up.
  • Alternatively, for Pathfinder there's the celestial shield (Ultimate Equipment 131) (13,170; 7 lbs.), which weighs half the amount of a typical heavy steel shield but has no armor check penalty. After subtracting the cost for the masterwork heavy steel shield itself and the total +3 bonus, the celestial shield's remaining abilities ("It has no armor check penalty or arcane spell failure chance, and it allows the wielder to use feather fall on himself once per day") can be extrapolated to cost 4,000 gp. Talk to the DM.

But using exclusively Wizards of the Coast material to do this is, I think, impossible.

...But, sadly, nothing I've found permits making a shield bash with a tower shield

A tower shield (PH 123, 125) (30 gp; 45 lbs.) specifically can't be used to shield bash (PH 125). In fact, one can't even install on it shield spikes (PH 125). (True even in Third Edition, Plot and Poison being an unupdated Third Edition text.)

Green Ronin Publishing's Plot and Poison: A Guidebook to Drow, part of the publisher's Races of Renown line, lists as the entire benefit of the feat Shield Mastery as

Choose a type of shield (buckler, small, large, or tower). When you use that type of shield, its armor check penalty is reduced by 1. Armor check penalties cannot be reduced below 0. This feat may be chosen as a fighter bonus feat. (96)

Hence, one can't make a shield bash with a tower shield because of the feat Shield Mastery. Further, the benefit of the feat Shield Specialization is

When you make a shield bash attack with a type of shield selected for the Shield Mastery feat, you can regain the shield's armor bonus to your AC as a free action. If you choose the buckler for this feat, you can make shield bash attacks with it that deal 1d3 points of damage (×2 crit) and do not suffer the normal −1 penalty on off-hand attacks, whether with weapons or shield bashes. In addition, you can regain the buckler's AC bonus after making an attack with an off-hand weapon. This feat may be chosen as a fighter bonus feat. (96)

Thus, even if the tower shield is picked for use with the feat Shield Mastery, the feat Shield Specialization doesn't enable a tower shield to be used to make shield bashes. The text doesn't allow doing so in the same nonstandard way that is allowed with the buckler.

The benefit of the feat Double Shielding says in part that

You can make shield bash attacks with your primary hand, incurring no off-hand penalty, but you lose the armor bonus of that shield until your next action as normal. If you use two bucklers and employ two-handed weapons or ranged weapons that require two-hands (such as all bows and heavy crossbows) you incur a −2 penalty on all attack rolls. (91)

Most would read that benefit as Since one can't make a shield bash with a tower shield, the feat Double Shielding doesn't change that. Now, it's totally cool if the DM reads the benefit You can make a shield bash attack with your primary hand as also implying And the DM must concoct house rules for shield bashing with a tower shield, but that's not a reading I'd support. That's like taking a feat saying You can make an attack with a greatsword that does 6d10 damage or whatever and claiming that means a greatsword appears in the character's hand whenever he uses the feat and makes an attack.1

I spent some time searching through primary, secondary, and tertiary Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition and 3.5 books, and making a shield bash with a tower shield seems impossible. Undoubtedly, there's some crazy publisher during the OGL boom that published a Tower Shield Bash feat or a slamming shield special ability or whatever, but I couldn't find a way to make a shield bash with a tower shield.

1 Okay, not really, but no analogy is perfect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ herp de derp. I misread "When you make a shield bash" of shield mastery to be "You can make a shield bash" not sure why. Thanks though. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2015 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SangoProductions No problem. Like I said, there's a nonstandard reading that supports making tower shield bashes sort of if you've a really generous or legalistic DM. (Also, there are a few non-hand (unhanded? handless?) weapons with which one can still attack while dual wielding tower shields or one could use a tower shield as an improvised weapon. Both of these are better as their own questions, though.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2015 at 0:58

Tower Shields are always bad for a character

It is literally impossible to use a tower shield where you would not be better off using a heavy shield. See my answer here (and note that the accepted answer posits a single niche use-case that only “works” because of a misunderstanding of the rules). Only four classes gain proficiency in tower shields by default, and three are prestige classes that you aren’t using. The fourth, the fighter, has myriad options for replacing Tower Shield Proficiency with something else – which, by definition, is better.

Anyway, reducing ACP is fairly trivial; just have the shields made from mithral. The tower shield in Player’s Handbook is made of wood, but Races of Stone has a steel tower shield (which can then be swapped to a mithral tower shield), and Races of the Wild just has a mithral tower shield (which, oddly enough, appears to be the core tower shield, i.e. the wooden one, with the standard mithral modifiers applied to it).

Though I have no idea where you got the idea that having an Armor Check Penalty of greater than −1 prevents you from dual-wielding. That is not a rule. Armor Check Penalty doesn’t really apply to anything aside from the relevant skills, so long as you are proficient.

Being able to bash with a tower shield, though, that isn’t an option I’m aware of at all, feat or otherwise. Your reference to a third-party book (Plot and Poison) may indicate broader allowed material than I am familiar with, but I am about 90% sure that Wizards of the Coast never offered the option. Even if they did, again, tower shields are bad for you.

Dual-shields, on the other hand, is quite effective

I have run a couple of dual-shield characters, and both were quite effective. They both used a heavy shield as main-hand and light shield as offhand weapon, which is almost-certainly the most effective way to go about it. Dual-shield is a quite feat-intensive build, and wasting additional feats on allowing you to competently use two one-handed weapons is not a good idea.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That wasn't the question. Thanks for trying though. I did clarify on the feat which allows double shielding. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2015 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SangoProductions OK, that's a reasonable fest. Agile Shield Fighter (PHB II) doesn't have that restriction, but also doesn't allow you to stack or keep the AC bonuses. Anyway, aside from that, I stand by my answer. Tower shields remain an awful choice, there is no option to bash with them, and the benefit, the large chunk of shield bonus of AC, is not very valuable. It's not worth jumping through these hoops. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 29, 2015 at 5:06

Find the Dragonlance sourcebook "War of the Lance"... it's obscure, so you might need to hunt Ebay or other sources.

Inside this book you will find an NPC base class called the master. It's like Expert on Steroids or a pitiful nonmagic artificer. A level 13 Master who focused on Craft can make for you tower-shields of Legend.

The of Legend property is a non-magical enhancement with is like applying the masterwork quality five times (doesn't stack with masterwork).

So for an extra 750 gp a pop, the base ACP of your tower-shields is -5, before any magic or special quality from the material, or anything.


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