I am currently playing D&D 5E and have the Shield Master Feat. I was wondering if I could use all of the Feat's abilities while having the Animated Shield floating around me.

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

I know that it counts as wielding it for Unarmored AC calculations, I just cant figure out if it counts for the spell dodge and shove/prone bonus action.

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3 Answers 3


As if

The “x will happen as if y were true” construction is used several times in the rules, to lay out specific cases for a rule to come into effect. In all these cases, a particular thing can be done as if a prerequisite were true - but that prerequisite remains false.

Anything not specifically covered in the “as if” statement remains covered by the general rules.

Jeremy Crawford tweet calls out the “as if” statement in his clarification that it is possible to use feats/abilities that tie into the "as if" statement:

The text of animated shield says the item protects you as if you were wielding it. To Shield Master and the like, you're wielding it.

Spell Dodge and Bash: A Split Decision

Protect is not a well-defined term in the rules, so I would rely on its everyday definition: keeping you from getting hurt.

If you were wielding the shield, you could protect yourself from spells (since you have that feat). So the animated shield can enable Spell Dodge.

Shoving or bashing is not, strictly speaking, protecting yourself (your vice principal never accepted that, and neither to do I). So the shove/prone bonus action cannot be used through animated shield.

Further Reading: Examples of “as if” in the rules

I get my understanding of the “as if” clause from other cases in the rules, including the following examples.

For darkvision, the two cases are carefully laid out.

The monster can see in dim light within the radius as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.

D&D Basic Rules, p. 4

The rules don't say, “for a monster with dark vision, darkness is dim light, and dim light is bright light” — because that would equate darkness with bright light.

An elf can see in darkness as if it were dim light, but it doesn’t make the area dim light. Creatures (including those with darkvision) that have powers which works in darkness can use them, whether or not someone can see them. Darkness doesn’t “become” dim light for an elf, only the specific case of vision is affected.

For multi class spell users, the as if clause covers two cases that are delineated: spells known and spells prepared. The other facets of the spell casting rules (spell slots, etc.) are described elsewhere in the section.

You determine what spells you know and can prepare for each class individually, as if you were a single-classed member of that class.

PH, page 164

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Like the way you walked the dog on this answer, by clearly explaining rules terms, usage, and the assumptions you worked from. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 22:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding your example about darkvision for elves, I think a stronger argument for you would be that the elf can still use powers that require darkness, and not other monsters - it's fairly obvious that darkvision doesn't turn dark into dim for everyone but self. \$\endgroup\$
    – Olorin
    Aug 23, 2017 at 8:35

No, you can't use Shield Master benefits with an Animated Shield. Shield Master says:

You gain the following benefits while you are wielding a shield:

And, as you included in the question, Animated Shield says that it will "protect you as if you were wielding it".

It protects you as if you were wielding it, implying that you aren't wielding it. Shield Master requires that you be wielding a shield, so none of its abilities will function with the Animated Shield just hovering near you.

It's not your core question, but you mentioned it, so I'll point out: the same thing applies to Unarmoured Defense, an Animated Shield won't interfere with that either.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm.... If you were wielding it SM would give you the benefits. So I guess the distinction is that Anmated Shield only protects you as if you were wielding it? (But it doesn't do anything else, like tie up a hand, encumber you, &c.?) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jul 31, 2016 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Well, that's what it says - it protects you as if you were wielding it. The only implication I can see is that you aren't actually wielding it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Jul 31, 2016 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ It appears that this answer focuses on "protect" as the active function, with the SM skills that are other than "protection" being left out. (You could still use a PM or 2H weapon, or a versatile weapon with two hands, while gaining the benefit of a shield, which appears to be the idea behind the item). While this answer is solid (per usual Miniman answer) it might be worth amplifying the "protect point" here as that seem to be the anchoring point of your answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Recommend you reference shield requirements from Chapter 5 PHB. As if you were wielding it is meant to address the requirement "Wielding a shield increases your AC by..." Approach the basic requirements for shields, before moving to advanced employment. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 18:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman - Update with respect to this: twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/823224058149908482 \$\endgroup\$ Aug 22, 2017 at 13:12

Yes, you can use Shield Master with an Animated Shield

The shield description mentions that it works "as if you were wielding it"; the only reason they would mention that explicitly is so that you would gain all the benefits (and drawbacks) of using a shield.

Animated Shield does exactly what it says on the tin: it does not use a hand, allowing you to utilise it for something else, like wielding a two-handed weapon, but that doesn't overwrite all the other rules related to wielding shields.

This interpretation is also supported by Mike Mearls, the lead designer for 5e, in the following tweet, where he mentions that Animated Shield does not bypass the Bladesong restriction of not using a shield:

Andrew Cole ‎@andrewphillipc1

@mikemearls Do you think using an animated shield counts as wielding it for the purposes of bladesong armor restrictions?

Mike Mearls ‎@mikemearls

Yes - you have a free hand, but still need to use tactics that account for it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it your position that so long as you only use a one handed weapon, it would work but if you switched to two handed it would not? That appears to be the idea behind what MM tweeted in response. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I'm not sure I see any connection with weapons in that tweet. The intent is to show that Animated Shield does not bypass the Bladesong restriction of not using a shield. However, if you mean to say that an Animated Shield would not work with 2h weapons, I don't think that's the case, as it explicitly states that it leaves your hands free - presumably to benefit from the free hand, possibly by wielding a 2h weapon. It gives you what it says on the tin (free hands), but that doesn't overwrite all the other rules related to wielding shields. \$\endgroup\$
    – Olorin
    Jul 31, 2016 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think @Korvin 's comment boils down to whether 2h weapons say "You can't use this while wielding a shield" or if they say "You can only use this if both hands are free". \$\endgroup\$
    – user11450
    Jul 31, 2016 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olorin What I had in mind was the thought that Shield Master isn't usually used when you have a 2H weapon, and I see your point on the "need a free hand" issue with bladesong. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ The "as if you were wielding it" amplifier is designed to address the requirement for shields stated in Chapter 5 of the PHB. Wielding the Shield gives you the AC bonus, where as carrying on your back does nothing for you. You aren't actually wielding the shield. Additionally Mike Mearls is not Jeremy Crawford. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 18:16

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