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If an enemy is not wearing metal armor but is wielding a metal shield, do you get advantage on the attack roll for Shocking Grasp?

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While a shield can be indeed made of metal, you are wielding it, not wearing it.

In the equipment chapter (p. 144) the PHB refers to a wearer of armor, but says you wield a shield.

"Rules Answers: March 2016" from Wizards of the Coast points out that "various various game features distinguish between the armor you wear and a shield you wield." It provides the Monk needing to forego wielding shields and wearing armor, whilst the Barbarian only foregoes wearing armor. This is probably another such case.

So you will not count as wearing armor made of metal.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Semantics for the win... \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Apr 9 '17 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 1 '18 at 19:56
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No, you would not get advantage on Shocking Grasp for attacking a target whose only metallic armor is a shield.

There are a few sections in the book we can look to for clarity on this. One of the most useful ones is actually in the Druid section. In the armor proficiencies section, it notes druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal. For the purposes of your question, we can take the following from that:

"Using a shield" is not considered wearing armor (hence the two separate clauses there), therefore Shocking Grasp's advantage clause doesn't apply.

OR

As there's only one type of shield in the book, we can conclude that there's no (or little) functional difference between a metallic or non-metallic shield, and therefore there's no reason to have a metal one over a wooden one/to unnecessarily 'punish' someone using a metal shield by granting advantage on the Shocking Grasp against them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a better answer, taken from a less ambiguous source, even if it amounts to the same TLDR as the other answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Unsigned Apr 10 '17 at 19:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ That there is no distinction between a metal shield and a wooden shield is the most compelling argument for shield not granting advantage to shocking grasp. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Apr 11 '17 at 13:45
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Yes, a shield will conduct electricity to the person wielding it as well as armor does to the person wearing it. The spirit of the rule is to allow the spell caster to gain advantage by attempting to shock someone through their metal defenses.

Different materials of shields are available for a reason, and they have different properties. A wooden shield may be vulnerable to fire; a metal shield should be vulnerable to electricity attacks.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What are your sources for the properties of different shield materials? \$\endgroup\$ – Thyzer Apr 13 '17 at 16:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thyzer Metal conducts electricity and wood burns. I don't need a source for that, these facts are well understood and I don't believe you are contesting them. I expected this answer to be contested but I'm disappointed that my down-voters have no counter-arguments. \$\endgroup\$ – Segfault Apr 14 '17 at 23:38
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unlike full body armor, there may not be any direct contact of metal to the body, handles of the shield would be wrapped in leather, and the inside padded, to dampen blows... so i would think there would be very little chance.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the Stack! Please take the time to review some questions with high quality answers. You'll find the format here is very different from usual sites in that we usually require citations and sources which provide foundation for a good answer. Once you've familiarized yourself, I'm sure you'll recognize that opinion based answers, as well as answers that mirror previous answers already posted, are largely disregarded around here. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Apr 11 '17 at 3:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a pretty interesting answer. If you can add some citations about how real-life shields were made during that time and back up your answer with facts, this will greatly improve it! \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Apr 11 '17 at 3:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/96/77/bb/… is a good illustration og how shields may have been constructed. \$\endgroup\$ – r10y Apr 11 '17 at 5:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @r10y making a touch attack against a weapon is a good way to lose a finger. Also, metal armor doesn't directly connect to the body for the most part, you wear cloth and leather padding underneath it. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Apr 11 '17 at 8:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ for sure... i think i was just making the point on wielded instruments in general. \$\endgroup\$ – r10y Apr 11 '17 at 18:18
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Yes, you would Advantage. A shield is considered part of your armor and is subject to the rules accordingly.

PHB pg.144, emphasis mine:

Armor Class (AC). Armor protects its wearer from attacks. The armor (and shield) you wear determines your base Armor Class.

In fact, all of page 144 details that shields are considered armor, rather thoroughly actually. The header is Armor and Shields, and the section under Armor Proficiency details all the disadvantages of trying to use either an armor or shields without proficiency. More specifically, it makes a statement about both, and applies the rule broadly to encompass all armor and shields without separation.

So if the character has hide armor, and a metal shield, they count as wearing metal armor unless they stow their shield.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A shields material is irrelevant to gain its bonus. A wooden shield is as good as a metal shield - mechanically it makes no difference. So by ruling it this way, you would punish your players for style points. Also none of the other answers suggests that a shield is no armor. The keypoint is whether "using/wielding" a shield counts as "wearing" armor. The answer of CTWind and this SageAdvice support my point in saying that the Armor you wear is distinguished by a shield you wield. \$\endgroup\$ – Thyzer Apr 13 '17 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ "...but various game features distinguish between the armor you wear and a shield you wield. Take a look at the monk’s Unarmored Defense feature and compare it to the barbarian’s version to see what I mean." - this very strongly confirms that if a spell or effect differentiates between the two, it will specifically say so. Which means the baseline is that there is no differentiation, otherwise there wouldn't be a need to be specific in special cases. Shocking grasp makes no such distinction. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Apr 13 '17 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ And incidentally: "So by ruling it this way, you would punish your players for style points." - No, they would be punishing themselves for choosing a style which has a negative consequence. Example: if a rogue wants to wear Padded leather instead of leather or studded leather for style, then they suffer the consequences of disadvantage when trying to sneak. Or if a monk wants to use a halberd as his quarterstaff for "style," that player would lose a lot of monk abilities that are associated with monk weapons. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Apr 13 '17 at 19:20

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