Can I stack the spell Shield, Greater with an Animated Shield (DMG-218)? The Animated magical effect says only one shield can be used like this... but can it stack with Shield, Greater?

I had this idea from the rotating shield buffs from games, like the Bone Armor spell in Diablo II (except with shields, not bones), and was wondering how I can get it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you describe better what you mean by "rotating Shield Buffs?" \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2016 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


The Bone Armor skill in Diablo II was one effect, it was just graphically depicted in the game as a series of bones that spun around your character. That was purely graphical, and no impact on gameplay—and likewise, at most tables, how you describe your effects is entirely up to you so long as it doesn’t affect gameplay. Thus, you could cast shield or greater shield and describe it as something that looks like the Diablo II Bone Armor skill. Since D&D 3.5 does not track facing anyway, the fact that the shields spin around you rather than hovering over your left arm is completely irrelevant.

However, if you are interested in literally having multiple magical shield-like effects, then the answer is yes—kind of.

There are benefits to having a magic shield, animated or not, when greater shield is up, but higher AC is not one of them. Greater shield definitely does not conflict with animated’s prohibition on multiple copies—that refers only to having multiple animated shields. The effect of greater shield isn’t an animated shield.

The reason that these multiple shields don’t improve your AC is important, though. The reason is that greater shield applies a +5 shield bonus to your AC. Any shield also provides a shield bonus to AC—and since both bonuses are “shield bonuses,” the same type of bonus, they do not stack. You use whichever is higher. If the +5 of greater shield is higher, then the shield bonus provided by your shield is irrelevant. If the shield’s shield bonus is higher, then you use that instead of the +5, and greater shield’s shield bonus is irrelevant.

But both greater shield and magic shields can provide benefits separate from their shield bonuses to AC. Greater shield, for instance, protects against magic missile, which a shield generally will not. A magic shield could have all manner of other benefits, like fortification protecting against sneak attack and critical hits, which greater shield cannot replicate. So you may very well still want a magical shield of some kind even when you cast greater shield, even though greater shield’s large shield bonus makes the shield bonus of the shield pointless.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could the Shield spell be used normally and the animated shield hang behind my back for Flat footed purposes? or maybe Def vs flanking? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2016 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeannPowell No, only things that say they have those effects can have those effects. D&D 3.5 ignores things like facing, so you are always assumed to be facing your enemy—unless you are flat-footed or flanked, in which cases you may not be. The benefit of your gear in such situations is abstracted by the bonuses they grant to AC—and how you wear them does not affect how much AC they give, because the AC bonus they give is the most you can get out of them, and the game assumes you are always using them to their best effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 10, 2016 at 20:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Source for the spell greater shield? (The only spell I'm familiar with that grants a higher shield bonus than the spell shield is coat of arms from Complete Mage.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2016 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Hm, no idea. I trusted Marshall Tigerus’s now deleted answer for that information. But it may very well be that both Marshall and Seann were referring to this homebrew greater shield spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 10, 2016 at 21:16

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