The Shield Mage

September 17th, 2012

Joshua Zaback

Best in Class Archive

            Hello everyone, and welcome to another exciting edition of Best in Class, where we bring you exciting new archetypes, class features, prestige classes and other class-related things.  This week, for the first time ever, we’re going to talk about a class which isn’t particularly near or dear to my heart: the magus. I couldn’t really tell you why I’m not a fan of the spell-slinging, sword-swinging adventurer; perhaps it’s just a case of me being a necromancer and thus being saddled with all sorts of Old World conservative notions about how arcane spellcasters (excluding of course bards, who don’t really count) need to wear robes and cultivate frail, gaunt physiques.  Whatever the case, today I’ve decided that it’s high time to stop putting it off and talk about the magus.


New Magus Archetype
Shield Mage


            Unlike the Skirnir magus, who focuses on infusing his shield with magical prowess, the shield mage focuses her training on learning to maximize her defensive potential, leaning on her shield for potent defense and counting on her magic to provide her with the ability to fight her foes.

            Enhanced Spellcasting: A shield mage can cast one additional spell per day of each spell level.  This ability replaces spell combat.

            Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A shield mage is proficient only with simple weapons and with one martial weapon of her choice, and with light armor and shields (except tower shields).  A shield mage suffers no chance of arcane spell failure when casting a spell while wearing light armor or wielding a shield (including tower shields).

            Empowered Shield (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, the shield mage can utilize her arcane pool to enhance the power of her shield.  By expending 1 point from her arcane pool as a swift action, she can give her shield with a +1 enhancement bonus for 1 minute.  For every 4 levels beyond 2nd, this bonus increases by +1, to a maximum of +5 at 18th level. 

            Alternatively, these bonuses can be used to apply any special ability that could be applied to a shield.  Only special abilities whose base price is expressed in an equivalent enhancement bonus can be applied in this way.  Applying these properties consumes a number of bonuses equal to the ability’s base price.  In order to apply special abilities to your shield in this way, it must have an enhancement bonus of at least +1 at the completion of this ability, either as a result of this ability or from another source.

            This ability replaces spellstrike.

            Bonus Feats: Beginning at 5th level, whenever the magus would select a bonus feat, she adds the following feats to the list of feats she can choose from: Greater Shield Focus, Improved Shield Bash, Shield Focus, Shield Mastery, Shield Slam, Shield Specialization, Shield Wall, and Tower Shield Proficiency. 

            Defensive Casting (Ex): Beginning at 8th level, whenever the shield mage would cast a spell while wielding a shield, she may choose to suffer a -2 penalty on all attack rolls made during the round in order to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC for the remainder of the round.  This ability replaces improved spell combat.

            Fighter Training: At 11th level, the shield mage’s martial skill improves. Whenever she selects a feat which could be chosen as a result of the bonus feat class feature of the shield mage archetype, she gains an effective fighter level equal to her magus level.

            Improved Defensive Casting (Ex): Beginning at 14th level, the shield mage’s ability to defend herself while casting improves.  Whenever she would cast a spell while wielding a shield, she gains a +4 dodge bonus to AC for 1 round, instead of a +2 dodge bonus.  When using this ability, she still suffers a -2 penalty to attack for the round.  This ability replaces greater spell combat.

            Personal Spell (Su): Beginning at 16th level, whenever the shield mage takes a full defensive action, she may spend 1 point from her arcane pool as an immediate action to cast a magus spell she has prepared.  The spell is cast as an immediate action made as part of taking a full defensive action, and must have a casting time of 1 standard action or less, a range of personal, and must not have a material component with a cost in excess of 1 gp.  This ability replaces counterstrike.

            Mage’s Shield (Su): At 20th level, the shield mage has become such an expert at combining defense and magic that she can channel certain defensive spells into her shield.  So long as she wields a shield, the shield mage is constantly affected as though by the spells protection from arrows, mind shield, and spell turning, each at a caster level equal to her magus level.  This ability replaces true magus.