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Shield 5e - the best DnD shields in 5th edition

In Dungeons and Dragons, shield 5e refers to both equipment and spells. This guide suggests the best of both worlds to keep you safe in your next game.

A warrior with dark hair and purple skin wields a DnD shield 5e

On the D&D battlefield, defence is just as important as offence. The natural way that most DnD characters touch out the damage is with a sturdy shield. However, ‘shield 5e’ means a lot of different things to different players. A Fighter might think of a buckler or pavise, but any Wizard worth their salt knows shield 5e can be a spell, too. So which shield is right for you?

We’ve compiled a list of the best DnD shields, and each of them has its own special way of protecting your character’s squishy, fragile form. This shield 5e guide covers the best 5e spells to protect a magic user, as well as some of the coolest equipment to complement your DnD weapons of choice.

Bear in mind that, for beginner D&D characters, there’s only really one shield option – the shield in the basic rules. You aren’t stuck with a boring hunk of wood and metal for the entire game, though – there should be plenty of magic items you can pick up as you progress through your campaign. Because of this, we’ve focused on shields with magical properties, as well as what they can add to your roleplaying experience.

These are the best DnD shields 5e:

A halfling in plate armour, wielding a spear and DnD shield 5e

Shield 5e spell

Level One
Components Verbal, somatic
Casting time One reaction
Duration One round
Range / Area Self
Attack / Save None
Effect Warding
School Abjuration

When hit by an attack or targeted by the Magic Missile spell, a character can cast the Shield 5e spell to create an invisible barrier as a reaction. This adds +5 to their armour class (AC) until the start of the player’s next turn, so say goodbye to that Magic Missile damage.

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This spell is available to Wizards, Sorcerers, Hexblade Warlocks, Artillerist Artificers, and Battle Smith Artificers. Arcane Trickster Rogues and Eldritch Knight Fighters can also eventually learn this spell, and Bards can use the Magical Secrets feature to learn it too (though they’ll likely want to learn something higher-level).

A blonde, white knight in silver armour, holding a sword and DnD shield 5e

Shield of faith 5e

Level One
Components Verbal, somatic, material*
Casting time One bonus action
Duration 10 minutes (with concentration)
Range / Area 60 feet
Attack / Save None
Effect Buff
School Abjuration

*a small parchment with holy text on it

Another level-one abjuration spell, Shield of Faith 5e allows you to share your shielding powers with another target. Granted, it requires more components and only gives +2 AC, but it lasts a heck of a lot longer than Shield 5e, and you don’t have to wait for your enemy to hit you first.

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This is primarily a Cleric and Paladin spell, but a Bard could learn it through Magical Secrets – but again, a first-level spell isn’t the most economic choice with this feature, even if you gain additional magical secrets from the College of Lore.

A woman with light skin, dark hair, and gold armour fights a skeleton with a sword and DnD shield 5e

Fire shield 5e

Level Four
Components Verbal, somatic, material*
Casting time One action
Duration 10 minutes
Range / Area Self
Attack / Save None
Damage / Effect Fire
School Evocation

*Phosphorus or a firefly

Fire Shield 5e is a unique entry in this guide, as it both deals damage and defends from it. First, choose whether you want to create warm or chill flames. Then, once cast, any creature within five feet of the caster that hits them with a melee attack takes 2d8 fire or cold damage.

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Unfortunately, Fire Shield only defends against certain types of damage – it gives you cold damage resistance if you choose a warm shield or fire damage if you choose a chill shield. Plenty of classes can cast this one (Wizards, Warlocks, Druids, Artificers, Rogues, Fighters, and Bards), but it’s a higher-level spell with a very specific benefit.

The DnD animated shield 5e with a hand behind it

Animated Shield 5e

The Animated Shield 5e is a very rare magical item, and for good reason. If your character wields it, they can speak a command word as a bonus action, and the shield will come to life. The animated shield hovers in the air before you to protect you – meaning your hands are free for other important tasks. You only get a minute of protection, but you can do a lot with a minute in combat.

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It’s important to note the Animated Shield requires attunement. This means you’ll need to spend a short rest forming a bond with the shield to make the most of its powers.

A warrior with dark hair and purple skin wields a DnD shield 5e

Sentinel Shield 5e

The Sentinel Shield 5e is an uncommon item that’s most recognisable for the distinct eye symbol on its front. Its magical benefits also match the eye theme – the Sentinel Shield gives its wielder advantage on initiative rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks, so you’ll never need to leave cover to peek at an enemy again. 

Spellguard Shield 5e

Another very rare shield that requires attunement, the Spellguard Shield 5e is ideal if you’re planning on battling some pesky magic users. Holding this shield provides advantage on saving throws against spells and magical effects. Plus, spell attacks aimed at you have disadvantage. We’d like to see those Liches get at you now.