Crafting Magic Shields

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Crusader's Shield

To create a magic shield, a character needs a good heavy workshop. There must be a powerful heat source such as a blown forge or magical fire. There must be a strong anvil and a wide variety of high-quality tools. There must be adequate room to work, with benches and tables. Finally, there should be a supply of materials, the most obvious being the shield or the pieces of the shield to be assembled. A good forge can be a cozy affair, or a massive workshop that sprawls and rambles through many rooms of a castle. In no case is any workspace ever portable.

Creating a magic shield has a special prerequisite: The creator's effective caster level must be at least three times the enhancement bonus of the shield. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and a special ability, the higher of the two caster level requirements must be met. A magic shield must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus to have any magic shield properties applied to it.

If spells are involved in the prerequisites for making the shield, the creator must have either 1) prepared the spells to be cast (or must know the spells, in the case of a sorcerer or bard), 2) Purchased scrolls of the spells, 3) Have the spells otherwise available such as in a wand, or 4) have worked out with the GM in advance any allowed substitutions (a jug of white dragon saliva from a dragon of the proper challenge rating to substitute for a polar ray spell, for example) and must provide any material components or focuses the spells require. The act of working on the shield triggers the prepared spells, or integrates any allowed substitutes. The spells are not available to cast, and the substitutes are consumed in making the item. (Those spell slots are expended from the caster's currently prepared spells, just as if they had been cast.)

Creating some shields may entail other prerequisites beyond just spells or substituted materials. See the individual descriptions for details.

  • Time Required: Crafting magic shields requires one day for each CL of the item, minimum of seven days.
  • Feat(s) Required: Creator.
  • Skill(s) Required: Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare

Allowed Enchantments

Magic shields have three types of improvements that may be applied to them:

Shield Enhancement Bonus

Heroic tier characters (characters from level 1 to level 20) can wield a shield with an enhancement bonus up to +5, and can have up to +5 pluses worth of Magic Shield properties applied to their shield, though there must always be at least +1 Enhancement bonus on the shield before any magic shield properties can be applied. As a result, heroic tier characters can wield a shield with an absolute bonus of anything from +1 to +10.

Epic tier characters (characters level 21 to level 35) can wield a shield with an enhancement bonus up to +9, and can have a total of up to +9 pluses-worth of Magic Shield properties applied to their shield (resulting in an Absolute Bonus as high as +18). However, the enhancement bonus of the shield must be raised to at least +6 before it can have any Epic magic shield properties applied to it.

Any attempt to wield a shield more magically enchanted than your level allows results in the character taking a non-proficiency penalty with the shield (-4 to attack rolls), and the possibility of even more dire consequences (such as insanity, or being controlled by the shield).

At level 36 and higher (apotheosis) all restrictions on enhancement bonuses and the magic item properties are lifted, at which point the shield may be enchanted in any way the character can afford.

Magic Shield Properties

Magic Shield Properties are additional traits, bonuses or effects that magic shields grant or perform on top of the normal functionality of that shield. Shields must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus before any magic shield properties may be added to them. The limit to the total value of all shield properties that may be added to a shield is +5 pluses worth of properties for characters level 20 or below (heroic tier), or +9 pluses-worth of properties for characters levels 21 to 35 (epic tier). At level 36 and higher all restrictions are lifted, and a shield may be enchanted in any way the character can afford and the referee will allow.

No item may ever have the same property twice.

Upgrading and Changing Enchantments

Enhancement bonuses cannot be removed from a magic shield once applied, but the enhancement bonus can be increased. The cost to do so is the difference in cost between the old Absolute Bonus and the new Absolute Bonus.
Magic shield properties can be removed from a shield, replaced with altogether new properties, or upgraded to a higher version of the existing magic shield property (when applicable). The cost to do so is the difference in cost between the old Absolute Bonus and the new Absolute Bonus. However, if the Absolute Bonus goes down, there is no refund of money unless you can convince the craftsman performing the alterations why he should actually pay you for the privilege of doing that work. Performing magic shield property swaps and upgrades takes one full day of work per change in the Absolute Bonus, with a minimum of 1 full day. Even if this work isn't performed by a player, the player must wait for the alterations to be performed, and they cannot make use of the shield while the craftsman is working on it. Some craftsmen might offer to lend or rent out a shield while their customers wait, though they would expect the loaner shield to be returned to them in good condition.
Magic shields which are altered in such a way as to violate the limitations of the campaign level will inflict a non-proficiency penalty on the wearer, or worse.

Special Rule: Absolute Bonus

By adding together the 'plus' values of the Enhancement Bonus and Magic Properties of a magical shield, you determine the shield's Absolute Bonus. For example, a +2 Energy (10/Sonic) Resistance War Shield has a +4 Absolute Bonus, which is the sum of the +2 Enhancement bonus and the +2 Energy Resistance property. The maximum possible Absolute Bonus of any magic weapon, armor or shield is +18, though the maximum allowed in a given campaign varies by the campaign's current player level. At level 36, all restrictions are lifted, and weapons, armors and shields may be enchanted in any way the characters can afford and the referee will allow.

Dweomermetals and Special Materials

Mundane shields are assumed to be made of forged iron. Fragile shields are usually made of crude iron, bronze, or bone. Shields made from fantastic materials are possible as well, such as the classic mithril and adamantine.

In all cases, only ONE material may be used in the construction of a single shield, even after the Apotheosis at level 36. Unless the referee allows it, of course.

Magic Shield Costs

To determine the cost of a magic shield, three elements must be added together:

  • The cost of the shield.
  • The cost of any special materials used to create the shield (e.g. mithril, adamantine, etc.).
  • The cost of the Absolute Bonus (the sum of the magic properties and the enhancement bonus).

Table: Shield Absolute Bonus Cost (Heroic Tier Characters)

Enhancement Bonus Magic Properties Absolute Bonus Cost
+1 no properties +1 1,000
+1 worth of properties +2 3,750
+2 worth of properties +3 7,500
+3 worth of properties +4 12,500
+4 worth of properties +5 20,000
+5 worth of properties +6 31,000
+2 no properties +2 3,750
+1 worth of properties +3 7,500
+2 worth of properties +4 12,500
+3 worth of properties +5 20,000
+4 worth of properties +6 31,000
+5 worth of properties +7 45,500
+3 no properties +3 7,500
+1 worth of properties +4 12,500
+2 worth of properties +5 20,000
+3 worth of properties +6 31,000
+4 worth of properties +7 45,500
+5 worth of properties +8 71,000
+4 no properties +4 12,500
+1 worth of properties +5 20,000
+2 worth of properties +6 31,000
+3 worth of properties +7 45,500
+4 worth of properties +8 71,000
+5 worth of properties +9 130,000
+5 no properties +5 20,000
+1 worth of properties +6 31,000
+2 worth of properties +7 45,500
+3 worth of properties +8 71,000
+4 worth of properties +9 130,000
+5 worth of properties +10 240,000

Table: Shield Absolute Bonus Cost (Epic Tier)

Enhancement Bonus Magic Properties Absolute Bonus Cost
+6 no properties +6 31,000
+1 worth of properties +7 45,500
+2 worth of properties +8 71,000
+3 worth of properties +9 130,000
+4 worth of properties +10 240,000
+5 worth of properties +11 425,000
+6 worth of properties +12 755,000
+7 worth of properties +13 1,300,000
+8 worth of properties +14 2,300,000
+9 worth of properties +15 4,100,000
+7 no properties +7 45,500
+1 worth of properties +8 71,000
+2 worth of properties +9 130,000
+3 worth of properties +10 240,000
+4 worth of properties +11 425,000
+5 worth of properties +12 755,000
+6 worth of properties +13 1,300,000
+7 worth of properties +14 2,300,000
+8 worth of properties +15 4,100,000
+9 worth of properties +16 7,200,000
+8 no properties +8 71,000
+1 worth of properties +9 130,000
+2 worth of properties +10 240,000
+3 worth of properties +11 425,000
+4 worth of properties +12 755,000
+5 worth of properties +13 1,300,000
+6 worth of properties +14 2,300,000
+7 worth of properties +15 4,100,000
+8 worth of properties +16 7,200,000
+9 worth of properties +17 12,500,000
+9 no properties +9 130,000
+1 worth of properties +10 240,000
+2 worth of properties +11 425,000
+3 worth of properties +12 755,000
+4 worth of properties +13 1,300,000
+5 worth of properties +14 2,300,000
+6 worth of properties +15 4,100,000
+7 worth of properties +16 7,200,000
+8 worth of properties +17 12,500,000
+9 worth of properties +18 22,050,000

Table: Shield Absolute Bonus Cost (Apotheosis)

Enhancement Bonus Magic Properties Absolute Bonus Cost
unlimited unlimited per additional +1 +22,050,000

Restricted Enchantments

Shields cannot have any other magical enchantments placed on them besides the three listed above: shield enhancement bonus, magic shield properties and dweomermetals/special materials. For the sake of heading off questions, a list of what is NOT allowed is provided below. Note that there are magic shield properties and dweomermetals which can provide some of the effects below. However, except by using those properties or materials, these effects cannot be directly enchanted into a shield.

Other Magic Shield Considerations

Caster Level for Shields

The caster level of a magic shield with a special ability is given in the item description. For an item with only an enhancement bonus, the caster level is three times the enhancement bonus. If an item has both an enhancement bonus and one or more magic shield properties, the higher of the listed caster level requirements must be met. As always, caster level can either be a character's 'native' caster if they actually cast spells, or their Effective Caster Level they gain from having the Creator feat and ranks in either Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare. Note that even spell casters must have the Creator feat to make magic items.

Hardness and Hit Points

Shields do not have hardness or hit points. This has been replaced with the Sunder combat maneuver. Instead, a shield can be Broken if a sunder attempt successfully equals or exceeds the wielder's Maneuver Defense. See the Sunder maneuver and the Broken condition pages for more details.

Magical enhancement bonuses on shields do not increase the wielder's Maneuver Defense versus sunder attempts, though some Dweomermetals do.

Interaction between Shields and Armor

Shield enhancement bonuses stack with armor enhancement bonuses. Shield enhancement bonuses do not act as attack or damage bonuses when the shield is used in a shield bash. The bashing special ability, however, does grant a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls (see the special ability description).

A shield can be built such that it also acts as a magic weapon. This requires the shield to be equipped with shield spikes, and is handled as if the shield was a double weapon, namely, two sets of enhancements are applied to the shield and the costs are tracked as though they were two separate items, even though they aren't. Because shield spikes on a shield are really only one item, it is important to remember that like bonuses do not stack on the same item. For example, a property which grants a shield bonus to AC from the shield spikes would not stack with the AC bonus provided by the shield itself. Also, as a note, some magic shield properties, such as the Defending magic item property, require you to use your shield as a weapon to gain any benefit from the property. The GM may rule that when using the shield spikes as a weapon you lose the actual shield bonuses until the start of your next turn, just as if you used your shield for a shield bash.

Magic properties built into a shield add to the market value in the form of additions to the bonus of the shield, although they do not improve AC. A shield cannot have an absolute bonus (enhancement plus special ability bonus equivalents) higher than +18. A shield with a special ability must also have at least a +1 enhancement bonus.

Activation of Shields

Usually a character benefits from magic shields in exactly the way a character benefits from non-magical shields: by wearing them. If a shield has a special ability that the user needs to activate, then the user usually needs to utter the command word (a standard action).

Shields for Unusual Creatures

The cost of a shield for non-humanoid creatures, as well as for creatures who are neither Small nor Medium, varies. The cost to enchant a size large shield is unchanged, however, nor does the shield's size increase the time required for enchantment.