Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Magic shields are more difficult to invent than magic swords.  By their very nature, shields are reactive--you don't choose when you use them, your enemies do.  So, I've tried to keep that, but make it cooler.

A lot of these shields have effects that trigger when an enemy misses you with an attack.  Or they make the shield more convenient, or some some other interesting thing.

The Hungry Black Tongue

The orcs claim that the orcish hero Vogura'umak was not born of any orc, but instead emerged full grown from a tar pit.  In his left hand he held the blade called Elf Eater, and in his right hand he held the shield called Hungry Black Tongue.  In orcish, the shield is called Vogura Karakul.

From the back, the Hungry Black Tongue clearly resembles a huge tortoise shell (3') that has been made into a shield.  From the front, however, it appears as an oozing black surface of tar.  In fact, the front of the shield is believed to be an extraplanar portal to the plane of tar (if such a place exists) much like a bag of holding.

  • Creatures that attack the shieldbearer with a held weapon and then miss, must then make a Strength check (roll Str or lower on a d20) or have their weapon swallowed by the shield.
  • Creatures that attack the shieldbearer with part of their bodies and then miss, must then make a Strength check or become stuck to the shield.  A shield can only stick onto one creature at a time.  While a creature is stuck to the shield, both the creature and the shieldbearer get -2 to AC and hit, and cannot move away from each other.  (However, the shieldbearer can always choose to let go of the shield).  Getting unstuck requires another Strength check.
  • Small creatures (goblins, halflings, etc) or smaller who are stuck to the shield for more than one round must make Strength checks to avoid being swallowed by the shield.
  • To clarify, stuck creatures can take an action (instead of attacking) to escape from the shield with a Str check.  At the beginning of the shieldbearer's turn, a stuck enemy must make a Str check or be swallowed by the shield.
  • With a normal attack roll, the shieldbearer can also bash enemies with the shield to automatically get them stuck to it.
  • There is no known way to recover creatures or items that have been eaten by the shield.
This thing is murderous against small creatures and weak creatures attacking with weapons (e.g. goblins).  Plus, I think it's pretty awesome to just smash a mephit with your shield and watch it get eaten.

Plutus, the Titan's Coin

This shield is said to be made from one of the coins that that the titan Canachorus used to pay off his blood debt, so that he may finally abdicate his eternal throne and die in peace.  It is said to be good luck to bludgeon an enemy to death with the shield.

It resembles a gigantic coin with a brooding face on the front, surrounded by runes that have never been translated.  Although it looks like copper, it is much harder.

  • The shield can be used to bash foes, dealing 1d4+Str damage on a hit.
  • When shieldbearer gets a killing blow on a foe by shield-bashing it, the foe will be discovered to be carrying 2x as much money as default.
  • Putting coins into the back of the shield will sort them, count them, and identify counterfeits.
It's an interesting choice for the player.  Is it worth using the more reliable sword to kill the ogre?  Or take the harder path of trying to bash it to death with your shield in order to get more money.  It tempts players into making their own combat harder in exchange for more rewards.  I like giving players more control over a battle's difficulty and rewards.

However, this is another example of a dissociated mechanic, and it does open itself up to abuse among rules-minded players.  Don't let players abuse the mechanic by stuffing a goblins pockets with gold and then killing it in order to double their money.  That's just stupid.

Chaos, the Titan's Coin

This shield is said to be made from one of the coins that that the titan Canachorus used to pay off his blood debt, so that he may finally abdicate his eternal throne and die in peace.  It is said that to bear Chaos is to invite disorder into one's life, bringing with it great luck as well as misfortune.  However, those that can learn to master Chaos can also be empowered by it.

It resembles a gigantic coin with a brooding face on the front, surrounded by runes that have never been translated.  Although it looks like copper, it is much harder.
  • Whenever the shieldbearer is struck in combat by a physical, non-magical attack, they may choose to flip a coin.  Heads, they negate all damage from that attack.  Tails, they double it.
  • If the shieldbearer gets three heads in a row, a miniature golden replica of the shield (coin-sized, actually) appears in their pocket.  This coin can be spent in order to make the shieldbearer's next attack automatically hit and crit.
  • If the shieldbearer gets three tails in a row, a miniature leaden replica of the shield appears in their pocket.  This coin can be spent in order to take no damage from a physical, non-magical attack.
  • The shieldbearer can have no more than 1 replica coin at a time.  If there is a conflict, the older coin vanishes.  Previous bearers of Chaos keep the existence of these coins secret.

Like Plutus, I have very mixed feelings about this shield.  On one hand, there are some fun tactical possibilities with this thing.  The 3-in-a-row coins are pretty nifty, since you can save them for the next fight, but is it worth the extra chaos that double-or-nothing causes?  So those are fun decisions for the player to make.

On the other hand, these are also pretty dissociated mechanics.  AND like Plutus, they also invite abuse.  Don't allow players to engineer encounters (forcing a captured goblin to fight unarmed in order to accrue heads/tails).

Pangolin Cloak

This is a cloak made from a giant desert pangolin.  It was crafted by the elves of the Dustwind.  It looks exactly as if it were taken off the back of a giant fucking pangolin.  I can't explain it any better than that.

The shield is currently is the possession of a desert elf called Viniculaf, leader of the Dustwind outriders.

  • If the shield is gripped in one hand and pulled around the body, it is mechanically treated as a magic shield.  This is cool, but doesn't give any benefit a magic shield normally would.
  • As an action (instead of attacking, casting a spell, or whatever) the cloakbearer can pull the clok around themselves and curl up into a ball.  This gives them 18 AC, but also makes them immobile and unable to see or do anything until they uncurl.  It also reduces damage from falls and impacts by 1d6.
  • The cloakbearer can use a hill to crash into a foe.  The foe must make a save or take 3d6 damage.  Dropping onto foes from a height can be done similarly, but I'll let the DM arbitrate that.
I'm sorry.  I just love pangolins so fucking much.  You don't understand do you?  Have you seen a baby pangolin?  They have sweet little face and awesome little claws.  You just want to pick them up and nuzzle them and teach them to hunt armadillos and pay for them to get through college.

Turtle Paw

This shield looks like a turtle shell, all made from mossy greens and vibrant, iridescent panels of turquoise.  It is, in fact, a living sort of mutant turtle.  Or, a turtle-ish creature, since it is not very much like a turtle when you get down to it.  It only has two legs and no apparent head.

It is worn by shoving your arm down its throat and wearing it like a shield.  The turtle paw doesn't mind.  It will happily attempt to digest your arm with powerful acids.  That is why you must also wear the Turtle Glove when you do this.  The Turtle Glove goes up past your elbow, and is made from the intestinal lining of a similar creature.

There is only one living Turtle Paw known to remain in the world (although you can find their shells in many an armory).  It is kept by the monks of the Rigaleign Cloud Garden, and they are desperately seeking a second one to mate with theirs.

  • Counts as both a shield (+1 AC) and an offhand weapon (+1 to hit), since the rear legs end in wicked claws.  +1 AC and +1 to hit.
  • Can also jet around underwater, letting you swim at 3x the normal human rate.
Pangolins are also called trenggiling.  Baby pangolins have soft scales that harden and thicken as they get older.  They are insectivores, and most of them are picky enough to only eat a couple of species of insects.  

Magic Dragon Skull Power Shield

Yo this is a magic dragon skull power shield and you get them from killing magic power dragons.  It has many powers that are magical.
  • Can bite people for 1d8 damage.
  • Can breath fire 1/day.  15' cone.  5d6 fire damage.
  • Can roar 1/day.  All creatures in 30' except shieldbearer save vs fear or flee for 1d6 rounds.
Pangolin forelegs are thick and best suited for digging, and so pangolins usually only walk on their back legs, using their heavy tails to keep their front legs a few inches of the ground (like a suspension bridge).  Their tongues are like anteater tongues, and are longer than their entire bodies.  And people have made armor from their scales before.

Brynthic Ink Shield

Popular among the high-ranking officers of Brynth, these are magical tattoos on the left forearm.  The tattoos resemble a line of four shield-bearing hoplites, shields and pikes facing outward.

The tattoos require expensive magical reagents, but they aren't for sale, except for high-ranking officers of Brynth (or perhaps those who do some great service for them).

  • When the left hand is clenched into a fist and pulled inward, an mostly-transparent shield manifests on the forearm.  Treat this as a "normal" magical shield.  The hoplite tattoos assume a combat stance, shields and pikes at the ready.
  • When the left hand is splayed wide and bent backward, a floating disc spell is cast at the shieldbearer's feet.  It can hold 500 lbs in a floating, invisible, shallow bowl shape.  It follows behind the tattoo-bearer's feet.
  • The floating disc can also be used as, like, a sled or something.
  • When the tattoo bearer is cursed, the tattoo hoplites appear to have skulls for heads.
  • When the tattoo bearer dies, the tattoo hoplites on his/her arm will also appear to die.
It's a nifty effect.  And it is weightless / doesn't occupy inventory, which is nice.

Adamantine Shield Ring

This is wide, octagonal ring worn by high-ranking members of the royal family in Noth.  It has no designs save a small hawk, but is instead dense with inscriptions that describe the bloodline that the ring was originally forged for.

  • The ringbearer's hand is as invincible as adamantite.  It can be dipped into fire, acid, etc without ill effect.  Most noticeably, it allows the wielder to block and parry blows with their bare hand.  In this respect, it functions as a normal shield.
  • If an attacker rolls a natural 1 while attacking the ringbearer, the ringbearer may choose to make a Strength check.  Success indicated that the ringbearer has either snapped the weapon in half or disarmed it (ringbearer's choice).  The Strength check might not be appropriate for larger or magical weapons (DM's discretion).  All this is in addition to the normal penalties for rolling 1.
Honestly, the most interesting thing about this shield is that (a) it doesn't look like a shield, and (b) it lets you stick your hand into magma.

Greenbriar Shield

Certain druid-cultist-champions of God-in-the-Woods are equipped with these things.  The shields are similar to disk-like bramble bushes.  They grow in soil that is kept in special planters.  These planters are made of similarly hardened wood, and are strapped to the forearm.

  • The shieldbearer can pass through mundane plants.  This lets you walk easily through thorns and underbrush, but it also lets you hide inside trees.  While hiding inside a tree, you can breath and see out if it.
  • 1/day, you or any of your allies can mutter a quick prayer to the God-in-the-Woods as an action (instead of attacking or whatever).  Whoever mutters the prayer is healed for 1d6+1 HP (30' range) and bleeds milk for the rest of the day (no in-game effect).
  • If the shieldbearer takes any fire damage, the greenbriar shield burns up.  It will regrow overnight, but will be useless until then.

The shield is interesting because it's a bit like an NPC healer that can heal anyone in the party.  And it lets people use their action to heal themselves, instead of asking the healer to use the healer's action, which seems fairer, in my mind.

Quicksilver Shield

This shield is a relic of the old elven kings, who perished with the fall of Eladras, the great tree whose roots grasped the moon and whose branches swayed above the mountains.  The shield is currently in possession of the Witch-King.

It resembles a small, round shield made polished to a mirror-like surface.  During full moons, glowing elven script becomes visible near the rim.  The script describe the magnificence of King Thurian, the magnificent of his sweet-scented halls, and the fierceness of his daughters.

  • Whenever lycanthropes or fey make melee attacks against the shieldbearer and miss, they take 1d6 damage.  This has no effect if they use weapons instead of their bare hands.  The surface of the shield counts as silver.
  • The shieldbearer has +2 AC vs arrows and crossbow bolts, which it can absorb.  Whenever an arrow or bolt is fired at the shieldbearer but misses, the arrow is absorbed into the shield.  The shield can hold up to 4 arrows or bolts.  When the shield is full of arrows, it no longer grants the +2 AC vs arrows.
  • The shieldbearer can activate the shield with the words "tela vin varel", which roughly means "raindrops upon the daisies" in Elvish.  When activated, the shield ejects all of its absorbed arrows in a flurry.  Make four attack rolls against a single target with a to-hit bonus of -4.  (Base attack bonuses don't apply.  For each arrow, just roll a d20 and subtract 2 from the result.
  • Arrows inside the shield cannot be otherwise interacted with in any way.
  • Yes, you can shoot arrows into the shield to "load" it.

There is a small tactical decision to be made here.  Do you walk around with a fully loaded shield that you can fire for maximum efficacy, or one that's halfway full, in order to absorb more arrows.

Teramool's Bitter Heart 

This is an ancient shield that dwarves that the legendary dwarf Boriltor forged for the love of his life, Teramool.  He ostensibly crafted it to protect her when he wasn't there.  She spurned him, and eventually died a few years later.  Later, Boriltor died as well, and left no heirs.  Dwarves regard the shield as cursed (although it isn't) and most will tell you tales of the doom that it has brought to all of its bearers.

Teramool actually wasn't a bitter sort--she just wasn't that into Boriltor.  But historically dwarves have historically sided with their savior, Boriltor, and have painted a rather critical view of Teramool.  However, the shield is suffused with Boriltor's loving memories, and so the shieldbearer will eventually begin to dream of Teramool.  Dream enough of these dreams and they'll eventually paint a more generous, honest portrait of Boriltor and Teramool's relationship.

The shield is a kite shield, covered with shallow engravings of goats.  The rim is decorated with studs.

  • If the shieldbearer speaks the word "tervas", the shield will extend armor all over the shieldbearer's body (as full plate).  Any mundane armor currently worn will be ruined.  The armor still retains the normal shield.
  • If the shield is removed, thrown on the ground, and the word "kolostrandum" is spoken, the shield will extend the armor, but in the form of a dwarf.  The armor will be empty, but will function as a golem.  The shield golem has 5 HD, AC 18, moves a bit slower than a human, and hits at +5 for 1d8+1 damage.  Any damage that it takes must be repaired at a forge by a master blacksmith, usually at a rate of 1-2 hp per day.  The shield golem cannot understand any command more complex than a single word (must be spoken in dwarvish) accompanied by pointing at something.
  • If the shieldbearer speaks the word "mishok", the armor will retract.

Potentially good for people who have a bad habit of falling into water.  The biggest drawback of plate mail is that you can't just fold it up and put it in your wallet, nor don it quickly when you want it.

Edit: This is sort of a continuation of a series.  I want to keep it going (because it's made some awesome stuff) and so I'll just leave this here.

More Magic Shields by Jürgen Mayer

Viva la blog!


  1. Great ideas. I really enjoyed reading them.

  2. These are all really good. Last week while playing computer games, I ran into another pretty good magic shield.

    Dark Souls 2 has a boss called the Looking-Glass Knight. He's an armored giant with a huge sword and a tower shield that is basically a full-length black mirror. Every so often, he'll slam the shield down and anguished faces and hands will pound on it from the inside until a phantom climbs out of the mirror to murder you. The cool part is that apparently the phantom can be either a computer-controlled copy of somebody's PC or actually another player from somewhere else on the server.

  3. Great stuff. Plus, I'm not sure if you intended it to display the way it did, but I heartily encourage you to seed future posts with random pictures of pangolins.

  4. I just had chance to notice this, some pretty awesome shields.

    Note: folks do decide how to use their shields, D&D just models shield use very poorly on a man-to-man level.