Shield Proficiency Talent

GreyKnight wrote up some talents for Echelon and asked for my thoughts on them.  I’ll be reviewing them over the next few days, but his his suggestion for a Shield Proficiency talent (slightly modified in the wording) is such a shining example of what I’m looking for in a talent that I had to get this one out first.

Shield Proficiency

This talent allows you to use a shield to increasingly greater effect, ultimately providing Spell Resistance, spell invulnerability, and spell turning.

Tier Benefit
Basic Proficiency with light and heavy shields.
Expert Proficiency with shield bashing and tower shields.
Heroic If you are free to act with your shield, allies within reach enjoy the benefits of your skill with the shield.  They may use the better of your Shield Bonus and their own, and may share your shield-based Spell Resistance.
Master If you are free to act with your shield, you gain Spell Resistance equal to (12 + Shield Bonus + Level Bonus).
Champion If you are free to act with your shield, your SR increases to (14 + Shield Bonus + Level Bonus).  As a swift action you can activate a globe of invulnerability effect that protects you and your allies within reach.  If this globe of invulnerability is dispelled you may reactivate it as a swift action.
Legendary If you are free to act with your shield, your SR increases to (16 + Shield Bonus + Level Bonus).  As an immediate action usable a number of times per day equal to your Level Bonus you may use a spell turning effect against a chosen spell that targets you.

A character is free to use a shield if the shield is equipped and the character is not helpless (yes, it works while flatfooted).

Keith’s Comments

This talent provides abilities that increase in awesome as the tiers increase, from “can be done in the real world” through “impressive but fairly credible” to “wow, can’t do that in the real world” and “really, really useful for keeping shield-users alive“.  The way the Spell Resistance is written keeps the SR about equal to level+8 (Master tier has a Level bonus of +4..+6, I would expect the Shield Bonus to be +2, for a total of 12+4+2 (18) at 9th level and 12+6+2 (20) at 12th level), so it stays fairly relevant but not crippling against opponents of similar levels.  If the talent is not kept at the top it loses some utility against opponents of the same level but still provides benefits against weaker opponents.

It might prove interesting to make the Spell Resistance equal to 10 + BAB + Shield Bonus.  This is pretty clearly a martial talent and it would be reasonable to have it scale more directly with martial ability (and presumably spell casters and other non-martial characters will have comparable defenses — I don’t see a ‘rogue’ humping a big shield around when he could use evasion instead, possibly more easily).

I like this.  A lot.  Thanks GreyKnight.

16 Comments to "Shield Proficiency Talent"

  1. GreyKnight's Gravatar GreyKnight
    June 24, 2011 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    Hooray, I’m a helper!

    I hadn’t thought of having the Heroic benefit tie in with the SR, but now that you mention it it makes sense. Your point about BAB is interesting; for reference, that would mean a full-BAB character with a tower shield is toting SR 34 at XL 20, where a character with the Spell Resistance talent (Legendary: SR=20+level bonus) has SR 30. BTW I’d also included an SR feature in the revised Armour Focus, although I’m not sure about it; the wider range of possible armour bonuses means that it’s a bit variable in terms of how much actual benefit you get.

    Legendary benefit for shields was the second easiest spell-related choice* I ever made in D&D; “reflect the spell off the shield” is such a classic.

    (* In case you’re wondering, first easiest was choosing an L9 spell for the “Genie” clerical domain. Yeah, that was hard.)

  2. Doug Lampert's Gravatar Doug Lampert
    June 24, 2011 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Agreed on tying uses per day to an existing pool if you go with ability pools.

    I note that there’s no advantage to having two or three shield users form a shield wall (shield users give pretty much all the shield benefits to anyone in the area). This will encourage diversity in character concept (good), but doesn’t do much for realism (semi-bad). I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’d like having 2 shield users side by side make sense, but I don’t want a party where everyone carries a shield all the time.

  3. GreyKnight's Gravatar GreyKnight
    June 24, 2011 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Genie7 was marginally harder because I had to ask “do I want to double up?” (answer was yes, incidentally).

    If you’re going with ability pools they would make more sense for this sort of thing. I wasn’t sure if that was definite or not so I hadn’t mentioned it.

    Catering for a shield-wall/turtle is a good plan, I should’ve thought of that! Allowing the shield bonuses to stack is one approach (probably the simplest). Half-bonus at Expert level will let rank-and-file troops get the obvious benefits too.

    For a replacement Master ability; perhaps something like the core “Arrow Deflection” shield ability? Perhaps make the Reflex save DC equal to the attack roll since projectiles won’t have intrinsic magical enhancement.

  4. hadsil's Gravatar hadsil
    June 27, 2011 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Warriors should get nice things, but it strains credulity for being skilled with a shield should give you spell resistance. I find it logical for it give a bonus to reflex saving throws. 2E had this for damage spells. It provides cover for spells that deal damage and balance for spells that you just need to avoid something. I can even accept shield expertise eventually giving the equivalent of evasion, allowing warriors to get that ability by a different route than the Lightning Reflexes line. I don’t see how shield expertise protects your mind or life force from assault.

    Spellcasters get a bad rap from those who hate 3E, but they shouldn’t be nerfed to uselessness which is what this talent screams to me. What warrior would not take it? Heck, what character would not take it, even if only to have a buckler?

  5. GreyKnight's Gravatar GreyKnight
    June 28, 2011 - 1:53 am | Permalink

    If you follow the initial link in the article, I’ve been rewriting the talent on my wiki as we’ve been going along (see History tab if you want an older version). SR is no longer provided. Right now I’ve listed buckler proficiency as a Basic benefit, although I think kjdavies is planning to do something particular with them, so will edit further when we find out details! :-)

    Glad hadsil turned up, so we can take advantage of the hadsil-thinks-it’s-too-powerful effect. :-) It’s important to not turn the situation into “wizards can’t have nice things”! :-D

    PS: I’m not 100% sure how ability pools are going to work, so haven’t mentioned them in any of my proposals.

  6. GreyKnight's Gravatar GreyKnight
    June 28, 2011 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    Can I put a vote in to phrase the latter as (ability/2 + level bonus)? Since the latter’s already going to be calculated.

    My approach for dealing with “dailies” in WRPS was to specify something like that a full eight hours’ sleep would regenerate your $foo, and also say how much $foo is regenerated for a given amount of rest. For example, you can say that one-tenth of your $foo is regenerated for each hour of rest. That lets parties have an excuse to stop, have lunch, and blast through another encounter or two before dinnertime, rather than pitching camp 15 minutes into the working day.

Leave a Reply