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Discussing the D&D 5e ‘Shield’ spell – Is it overpowered?

There has been some discussion lately that the D&D 5e “Shield” spell was overpowered, giving wizards and sorcerers the ability to use it as a reaction to being attacked, adding +5 to their AC, and

negating any effects from magic missile.

That seems like a lot, but let’s look at the details of the spell.

  1. The spell is only available for Sorcerers and Wizards. ** (see note below)

  2. The spell is a reaction to being hit by an attack or targeted by “magic missile.”

  3. It requires both verbal and somatic components, so if you can’t speak or have use of at least one of your hands, you can’t cast it.

  4. As stated, it gives the caster +5 to their AC and protects them from “magic missile” damage until the start of their next turn.

  5. The spell will expend one of your spell slots.

So, what’s the problem?

Part of the reason that people are arguing about whether the spell is overpowered was that some people said that the caster would know the attack roll, and thus could work out if it would actually hit or not, so it wouldn’t risk a spell slot by casting something that they knew would not benefit them.

There is also the point of the magic missile spell not being an attack, also. it’s instantaneous, and if the person casting the spell does not announce they plan to cast it, the wizard or sorcerer with the “Shield” spell available to them would not have time to use their reaction to cast “Shield” to counteract it.

Here is the exact wording from the 5e SRD.


1st-level abjuration

Casting time: 1 reaction, which you take when you are hit by an attack, or targeted by the “magic missile” spell.

Range: Self

Components: V,S

Duration: 1 round

An invisible barrier of magical force appears and protects you. Until the start of your next turn, you have a +5 bonus to AC, including against the triggering attack, and you take no damage from magic missile.

My thoughts on the matter…

Here are my thoughts, and you may not agree with me, or you may have your own thoughts on the matter, but I’ll post mine here. If you would like to post your own, please use the comment option to give your own opinions about this subject.

The main things to keep in mind are the following points:

  1. The “Shield” spell is limited to ONLY two classes: Sorcerers and Wizards. **

  2. The spell requires the caster to expend a spell slot in order to cast it.

  3. Because “magic missile” is not an attack, and thus damage is instantaneous, players that want to attack using the “magic missile” should first state that they wish to cast it, not just target someone and cast it. See the article written by KrisfromGTW on “Being a Good Player and helping your DM” on this site, where he recommends people use the chat window in Fantasy Grounds to announce their attacks prior to actually making them. (See image to the right where Tarzak announces that he will cast “magic missle” on Llyse, and she has the time to use her reaction to cast “shield” on herself.

  4. The 5e SRD does not say anywhere anything about the roll being announced prior to the Sorcerer or Wizard that was targeted by a magic missile, or attacked, so the argument about the person knowing before deciding to use their reaction is just an objective opinion by the poster.

** Note: The SRD lists the spell as only for Sorcerers and Wizards, but the Player’s Handbook also allows for Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters.

Well, that’s it for another article from me. Hope you enjoyed it.

We at Fantasy Grounds College are fans of the Fantasy Grounds program, and advocate its use in playing D&D and other RPGs online. We are not affiliated or officially endorsed by SmiteWorks USA LLC or Fantasy Grounds.


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