Today marks the beginning of Shield Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest. Why? Because today is also the release of our latest installment of the popular Ebon Vault series, The Ebon Vault: Impenetrable Shields. Like other books in the series, this book not only provides a wealth of new magic shield abilities, mundane enhancements for shields, and numerous unique shields with backgrounds, histories, and physical descriptions (plus never-before-seen abilities), but does so with a decidedly shield-centered mindset, ensuring that these abilities capture the essence of all things “shield” in a way that is fun and exciting at the table.
So, now that you’re all stocked up on great magic shields, you’ll want a character who can use them. The following cavalier archetype is the answer to your prayers, and will be able to make the most of any shield he chooses to pick up.
New Cavalier Archetype
Most warriors focus on their weapons first, and their armor and shields second, but there are some who recognize that a good defense is in some ways the best offense, and that ensuring that you don’t get killed by your opponent is the best way to ensure that you will live to fight another day and continue your ongoing crusade. Shieldknights are cavaliers who give more focus to their defense, training extensively with shields and becoming a master of their use on the battlefield.
Shield Mastery (Ex): A shieldknight is an expert in the use of shields, and knows how to best use them to deflect incoming blows. As long as the shieldknight is wielding a light shield, heavy shield, or tower shield, he gains a +1 competence bonus to his AC. This bonus increases by 1 at 9th level, and again at 17th level. A buckler is not sufficient to gain this bonus.
This ability replaces the tactician, greater tactician, and master tactician class features.
Shield Training (Ex): By 4th level, a shieldknight is so used to fighting with a shield that he barely even notices he’s holding it anymore. The armor check penalty of any shield he is wielding is halved (in the case of shields with an armor check penalty of -1, it is reduced to 0, instead). Further, when using a tower shield (or any other shield that imposes a maximum Dexterity bonus), its maximum Dexterity bonus is increased by +2. Finally, he suffers only a -1 penalty on attack rolls when wielding a tower shield, instead of -2.
This ability replaces the expert trainer class feature.
Defensive Stance (Ex): Beginning at 6th level, a shieldknight is so adept at defending himself that he can do so with minimal sacrifice to his combat ability. The shieldknight can perform a total defense action as a move action, instead of a standard action.
Beginning at 12th level, whenever the shieldknight uses the full attack action, he can choose to forego his first attack (the one at the highest base attack bonus) in order to gain the benefits of a total defense action. At 18th level, he can choose to forego his last attack (the one at the lowest base attack bonus) instead.
This ability replaces the bonus feats gained at 6th, 12th, and 18th levels.