How Does Shield Bashing Work In DnD 5e?

A Shield is a protective objective made from wood or metal. It is carried in one hand by the characters. Wielding a shield increases your Armor Class (AC) by 2 in D&D 5e. 

Shield bashing is an additional power associated with the Shield Master feat, which allows you to push someone within your range as a bonus action while making an attack. 

A Creature proficient in the shield can use a shield as an improvised melee weapon with light quality that deals 1d6 + Strength modifier bludgeoning damage to push enemies 5 feet away.

How Does Shield Bash Work in 5e?

Shield bash is a named mechanic in D&D 5e. It is an additional power associated with Shield Master, which allows you to push someone as a bonus action while making an Attack Action. If you hit the target, you knock the target prone or 5 feet away from you.

Hitting someone with your shield is considered an improvised weapon attack. It acts as a 1d4 weapon and gains proficiency only if you have proficiency in improvised weapons. Shield Master improves the shield with attacks without removing the defense bonus. Shield bashing is an intriguing power, and it is the ideal pick if you don’t mind inflicting damage on the push.

Shield Bash Working In 5e

Shield bash works if you wield a sword in one hand and a shield in another hand. To make use of it, you must have an attack and be able to create several attacks in a round. Otherwise, the opponent will use his half moves to get up in the subsequent round. You and your DM could use house rules to allow the use of a shield to shove attack as a bonus action.

It is like wielding two weapons. Similar to the two weapon rule, you cannot add a damage modifier (unless it is negative) to the second roll and cannot add your proficiency modifier to the strength roll. You need to invest in the Dual Wielder Feat (PHB, page 165) to use shield bash because it is not a light weapon.

You lose the +2 AC from the shield since it only adds when the shield act as a weapon to protect and not to shove the opponent. However, you will gain +1AC for using two weapons. Shield slam gives you a free bull rush attempt if you hit with the shield bash to knock the opponent by pushing it. You can do other tricks like throwing the shield at the opponent and recalling it instantly with a magical enchantment (to look cool like Captain America in the game).

As discussed above, characters can use the shield as an improvised weapon through shield bashing. So, let us see whether they can or cannot do it with a regular attack in 5e.

Can a Fighter Use Their Shield as an Improvised Weapon in Addition to a Regular Attack?

While carrying the shield, you can use it as an improvised weapon to cause 1d4 plus your Strength bonus without your proficiency bonus. However, you cannot attack with any other weapon in that turn unless you have the Dual Wielder feat, as it is not a light weapon.

What could you do?

You could take Dual Wielder feat and Tavern Brawler to attack with a shield using bonus action and add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll.

What you should do

Take the Shield Master feat, get better DPR (advantage on attacks, plus Dueling Style), and better control for half price (by spending only one feat).

Using a shield as shield bashing will allow you to use the dueling fighting style confirmed by Jeremy Crawford (the lead designer of D&D’s PHB).

How Does a Shield Bash Work on Multiple Targets?

If a character wants to use a shield bash, he must have the Shield Master feat. It allows you to use your bonus action with a melee weapon attack action, to shove enemies 5 feet within your range with your shield. 

The Charger feat allows the player to use their bonus action to attempt a melee weapon attack or shove along with a Dash action (PHB, page 165). 

If a player is level 1, the only way to make a charge is if they were a race, such as humans, which allows a bonus feat at level 1. At this level, they do not have access to Extra attacks. Here is the scenario:

With the Charger Feat

The player can choose the Dash action while moving towards the goblins 

and use their bonus action to make a melee weapon attack or shove. They could attack one goblin because they do not have any feature that allows them to hit more than once or more than one target. 

With the Shield Master Feat

The player chooses the Move action, then move toward the goblin and takes the Attack action. After getting their melee attack resolved, the player may use their bonus action to attempt to shove a goblin or knock them down. With each strike, the player might target a different goblin or the same one.

Without Charger or Shield Master Feat

The player chooses the Move action, then move toward the goblin and takes the Attack action. They may either make a melee weapon attack or substitute it with a shove, using the rules mentioned on page 195 of the PHB. They can target one of the three goblins because they can make one attack only.

Another option is not to involve attacks, such as Moving Around Other Creatures (PHB, page 191) or using the Acrobatic skill to jump over the goblin’s space. Ultimately, many things depend on the discretion and approval of the Dungeon Master (DM) in the game. 

What Is Shield Master, and How to Use It?

According to the Player’s Handbook (PHB), shield master allows you to knock enemies prone. You can use it to shove a creature in D&D by pushing it away from you if it is within 5 feet of your range by applying Attack action. 

It is one of the most noteworthy feats available to achieve as a Sword Fighter in the game due to the gained ability to avoid taking the loss after a successful Dexterity save. Having D&D Shield Master, you can become versatile while wielding a shield. 

How Do You Use Shield Master?

You can use your shield defensively and offensively in the 5e version of the game. According to the Player’s Handbook (PHB), you gain the following benefits while wielding a shield:

  • If you take the Attack Action during your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to shove a creature within 5 feet of you using your shield.
  • If you are not incapacitated, you can add the AC bonus of your shield to your Dexterity saving throw you make against a spell or other harmful effect that will target only you.
  • If the effect allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you can use your reaction to take no damage, interposing your shield between yourself and the source of the effect.

Shield Tactics

Using Shield Master gives characters access to some tactics they may not have. Each feature of the Shield Master feat offers a tactical advantage if used correctly. Here are the various shield tactics you can acquire:

Shove a Creature With a Bonus Action

You can shove the opponent creature with a bonus action. Pushing or Knocking a character prone may prove deadly. You can also deal much damage using a good strategizing technique with the ability to shove. A little shove might be fatal to your foes during difficult situations, such as a pool of lava, pitfalls, or deadly traps. 

Use Your Shield to Avert Dangerous Effects and Spells.

When a deadly spell comes toward you, you can use your shield to deflect damaging effects and spells. It might save your life from a deadly spell coming your way.

Use Reaction to Avoid the Damaging Effects of a Few Magical Spells.

You can use a reaction to deter the harmful effects of a few magic spells.

You may use a reaction to emerge unharmed when a group of mages tries to burn your group to a crisp with a barrage of Fireballs.

These are the essential tactics you should never overlook since they can help you win a game. So, utilize them wisely and strategically.

Shield Master – Can the Shield Push Be Taken Before an Attack?

No, you cannot take a shield bonus action before using your attack action.  

The shield push invalidates your ability to take the attack action (like, you push the only available enemy off a cliff using the shield push ), then you will invalidate the ability to take the shield push action. 

Jeremy Crowford clarified in a post about the bonus action: If a feature says you can do X as a bonus action, if you do Y, you must do Y before you can do X. For Shield Master, the bonus action must come after the Attack action. You decide when it happens afterward that turn. #DnD


Does the Bonus Damage From the Dueling Fighting Style Apply When Attacking With a Shield as an Improvised Weapon, Using the Tavern Brawler Feat?

No, attacks with the shield would not get +2 damage. Here are a few considerations/ requirements for using the shield as an improvised weapon and the Tavern brawler feat:

You Cannot Use Other Weapons on the Off-Hand.

You can make the attack with a 1-handed melee weapon. As an Improvised weapon, the shield does not count as a Melee Weapon, but it could qualify as an Improvised weapon, which is legally separate from a Melee weapon, even if you use it to make a Melee Weapon attack. 

Tavern Brawler does not categorize the shield as a Melee Weapon and has no benefit on granting the wielder +2 from Dueling Fighting Style.

But, rules require a fighter to wield a melee weapon in one hand, which is not the case here. However, if the DM permits the shield to function as a Melee Weapon, the shield may benefit from the Fighting Style.

To What Extent Does the Shield Master Feat Ignore Penalties?

There are two factors to consider that could allow you to clarify the intent of Shield Master feat ignore penalties:

Removing all penalties to hit will provide an overly considerable benefit compared to other feats. Many Game Master (GM) would agree that it is clearly out of line and would not read the feat this way or allow players to use it in this fashion.

Page 116 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook contains the Shield Master feat. It states that “No two-weapon penalties when attacking with a shield.” 

Using the above two factors, you can remove the two-weapon penalties when attacking with a shield with another weapon. 

Does the Dueling Fighting Style Prevent Use of a Shield?

No, the shield is not a weapon but designed to be a sword and board feature. The shield is not a weapon (it has no weapon stats), and there is currently no enchantment to make it a weapon in the game. It is a feature designed for a brawler style (hand free for grappling) or a sword and board fighter. 

According to the Sage Advice Compendium (SAC), A character with the Dueling option usually pairs a one-handed weapon with a shield, a spellcasting focus, or a free hand.