Proposing a “Shield Strike” Feat

Level 6
4 months ago (edited)

I think many of us would agree that certain weapons and fighting styles are thematically and functionally associated more with certain classes. For example, the Paladin archetype is associated with great swords, likely because they can cast any of their spells while wielding one and because the fighting styles available to the Paladin don’t favor two weapons fighting, unlike for the Ranger, for example. This association with great swords is further emphasized by the fact that you can give your Paladin one in the character creation menu. Other classes have similar archetypal equipment associations for the same reasons, for example Wizards with their built in staff preference and rangers with their built in bias toward two (light) weapon fighting and archery.

In my opinion, the archetypal piece of equipment for a Cleric is the shield, which gives Battle Clerics an AC competitive with that of the great sword Paladin and dual scimitar Ranger. I’d say the shield is even more archetypal to the Cleric than the mace, hammer, or maul, since Clerics are shown with magic and flaming swords almost as often, and since the the in game dialogue by Clerics has them calling themselves “shields.”

The problem is that it is far more advantageous to play a dual wielding Battle Cleric than it is to play a shield-wielding one. Why? Because dual wielding allows you to strike with your off hand after casting a spell or dashing, and it allows you to strike a third time if you’re only performing melee strikes and not dashing that round. You can also pick up the twin blade feat to get a blocking reaction for your Battle Cleric. For these reasons, when I level up my Battle Cleric, I give him “Ambidextrous” at level 4, “Twin Blade” at level 8, and “Armour Master” at level 12. (I boost wisdom through tomes, and I boost strength by fitting on the second best belt since I give Paladin the best one.)

A “shield thrash” feat would help to fix this utility differential between using a shield and dual wielding, further emphasizing the shield archetype for the Cleric. Basically, this feat would allow you to strike an enemy with your shield similar to how the off-hand weapon strike works. You would be able to attack an extra time with your shield even after exhausting your primary melee strikes, dashing, or spell casting. If it’s necessary for balance purposes, which I hope it isn’t, maybe the trade off could be lowering your AC by one point until the next round. Or you can keep this feature limited to the off hand, so that characters aren’t dual wielding shields. Another idea is that it could work like Follow Up Strike in that you can only do it if you do a melee attack beforehand. If this feat existed, I’d probably level up my Cleric accordingly: shield thrash at level 4; raise shield at level 8; and armour master at level 12.

This feat could work as either a traditional feat available to all classes, or it can be a built in classes feature of certain classes like Battle Cleric, Paladin, Fighter, and Court Mage.

In terms of how to make it look cool for animation, imagine a haymaker punch or rear hook punch— A sort of outside punch motion.

I know the game mechanics would have to change to accommodate this update, like adding attack values to shields, but I think it’s worth it. The cog would make a great striking weapon.

Even if it’s not a DnD capability, shields were used offensively in real life combat.

Just a humble proposal. Thank you for coming to my pitch meeting, and please consider giving Cleric a long sword option in the character creator as well.

Level 7
2 months ago (edited)

For me Paladin is associated with shield. Soooo...

You could also stay the archetypal equipment of a Cleric is a mace (because best weapon against undead, and blunt weapon to down without killing considering most Domains tend to avoid unnecessary killing). 

Another thing: Cleric is not supposed to act as a martial, usually. Battle Cleric provides an exception to that, similarly to Valor Bard or Bladesinger Wizard on tabletops. But you're not supposed to be as good as a martial, not without consuming (potentially lots) resources anyways. Plus you get Spiritual Weapon, Healing Words, Shield of Faith, Sanctuary which all compete for your bonus action so devs suppose you wouldn't have it free that often.

With that said, having a "shield bash" would always be a nice addition to the game.

Giving it on top of Attack action may end a bit too powerful in Solasta context "as-is", but choosing to lower AC by 2 points until the start of the next turn would make it very nice.

Another way could be to combine it with Dash action, as a bonus action with added push effect. Or it could be a feat that allows you to use a full action to shove prone/push while also providing proficiency/expertise like some other feats for some skills.

As for die value, making it grow with character level from d4 (level 1-8), d6 (level 9-15), d8 (level 16-20) to follow proficiency grow (kinda) would be fair and still keep it mostly relevant. Alternatively it could be just flat damage but adding both STR and CON modifier.

I don't think the devs will add any new content since already looking into a new direction (and it's understandable). Instead you could take your suggestion on their "official non-official" Discord server where the maintainers and contributors to the Unfinished Business mod stroll around if one of them fancies your idea (s)he can probably implement it without too much trouble.

Level 6
2 months ago (edited)

This proposal was included in the Unfinished Business mod as a fighting style rather than a feat, and it’s okay. They give shields 1d4 damage without modifiers when used in either hand. The only class I would use it with is the modded version of artificer, since you up the damage by increasing your shield’s ac with infusions. I like your ideas about upping the damage die type as you level up, and your shove/push ideas are interesting too. The Mountaineer Fighter gets to use shove as a bonus action. Would be a great addition to this fighting style.

My current party is: (1) Oath of Altruism Paladin (Greatsword); (2) Weaponsmith Artificer (Sword and Shield) (called,”Inventor” in the mod);(3) Swiftblade Ranger (dual scimitars); and College of Audacity Bard (Rapier). No Clerics. Just half-casters from each of the three magic types (Divine, Arcane, Primal) and Bard*, so, imo, the party feels like they're better balanced for adventuring than a pure martial, but they still have challenges from not being powerful full casters like Wizards or Clerics. Feels appropriate for the Solasta storyline about young amateurs willing to go out and explore to find riches and knowledge. (*Bard is obviously a full caster, but it doesn't pick up spells as quickly, and is more of martial skill-monkey on my team.) You can poke holes in this logic, but I like the flavor of it. No one needs to be babysat, and everyone is well-rounded enough to fill in any gap. Makes the group feel competent enough to not be frustrating, but not so competent as to not make sense in the strictures of this world.

While the shield allows for a tankier Paladin or fighter, I still think the greatsword is more iconic, which is why there are so many feats dedicated to it and two weapon fighting. There’s a feat for greatsword that narrows the ac gap with the +2 AC shields, plus the higher damage output means you get rid of threats more quickly for your allies while still tanking. I mean attacking 3-4 times in one turn (via feats) as Paladin is absolutely devastating. Also, IRL, greatswords were used by bodyguards because they looked intimidating and because their reach kept the opposition ay bay/further away. Feels appropriate for a protector-type. Plus a giant, legendary, magical sword looks cool on a miniature figurine :)

Maces being the iconic cleric weapon is true, but they rarely use it alone in artwork.