Archives of Nethys

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Chapter 4: Equipment


Source Character Operations Manual pg. 124
Shields are a new category of equipment that provide multiple defensive options. Shields are not considered technological items for effects that work only on powered or technological objects. You must use one hand to wield a shield and gain its benefits. You can’t use a hand that’s wielding a shield to hold or wield any other equipment unless otherwise stated. You can draw or put away a shield using the draw or sheathe a weapon move action (Starfinder Core Rulebook 247).

Shield Bonus

A shield bonus is a new bonus type added to those bonuses that have already been defined (Core Rulebook 266–267). A shield bonus represents having a mobile physical barrier between you and an attack. Shield bonuses don’t stack with one another, and they don’t stack with bonuses gained from cover. Having a shield also doesn’t increase the level of cover you gain from other objects. For example, a character with partial cover and a basic riot shield is not considered to have cover rather than partial cover. Shields provide two shield bonuses: one you gain when wielding the shield, and one you gain when you align the shield against a specific enemy (see below).

Aligning Shields: As a move action when wielding a shield, you can align a shield against a specific enemy you are observing (Core Rulebook 260). This grants you the second shield bonus listed for that shield (see Reading Shield Tables below) against attacks from that enemy until the end of your next turn, and it can have other benefits.

Shield Proficiency

A character is proficient with shields if they have the Shield Proficiency feat (page 118). Some classes from the Starfinder Core Rulebook automatically gain shield proficiency, as noted in the feat. If you wield a shield without being proficient, you don’t gain its shield bonus.

Other Shield Rules

A shield can be targeted by a sunder combat maneuver, and its hardness and HP is calculated the same way as for armor (Core Rulebook 409). Shields that allow you to use them to make unarmed strikes can have weapon fusions added to them, treating their item level as their weapon item level, and can be made of any special materials that can also be used to make melee weapons. The effects of these modifications are applied to unarmed strikes made with the shield. Armor upgrades added to shields are technological items and can be affected by abilities as such, unless they say otherwise. All shields are considered to be designed to work with the phase shield armor upgrade (Core Rulebook 207), and you can use the arm wielding a shield to also activate a phase shield. Phase shields don’t grant a shield bonus.

Reading Shield Tables

An entry on the shield table describes a single shield with the following statistics, as described below. Individual shields are described afterward. Not all shields have all the entries listed here. Some shields do not have a maximum Dexterity bonus or an armor check penalty.


The shield’s item level.


The price of the shield in credits.

Shield Bonus

This lists the shield bonus to AC granted by the shield. The first number represents the bonus gained when the shield is wielded, and the second represents the bonus you gain when aligning the shield to protect against a specific foe.

Maximum Dex Bonus

You normally add your Dexterity modifier to your Armor Class (for both EAC and KAC), but it may be limited by your shield. Your shield’s maximum Dexterity bonus indicates how much of your Dexterity modifier you can add to your AC. Any excess Dexterity bonus doesn’t raise your AC further and is simply ignored for this purpose. If you are wearing armor with a maximum Dexterity bonus while wielding a shield with a maximum, you use the lower of the two values as your maximum.

Armor Check Penalty

While wielding the shield, you take a penalty to most Strength- and Dexterity-based skill checks equal to this number. See Chapter 5 of the Starfinder Core Rulebook for a more complete list of which skills apply. If you are wearing armor with an armor check penalty while wielding a shield with a penalty, combine the two penalties.


This is the bulk of the shield.


This is the number of armor upgrades that can be placed in the shield. Not all armor upgrades can be placed in shields, and those that do may work differently. The following armor upgrades can be placed in a shield’s armor upgrade slot (if it has one) adaptive energy shield AR *, backup generator, brightlight projector AR , electrostatic field*, fortified plates AR , light projector AR , quick-release sheath, spell reflector*, tensile reinforcement, thermal capacitor*. Upgrades marked with a superscript “AR” are found in Starfinder Armory. Those marked with an asterisk (*) provide their benefit only against attacks from a target the shield has been aligned against. (For example, a shield with an electrostatic field provides electricity resistance only against attacks from a target it has been aligned against, and deals electricity damage only if that target makes a melee attack against you.) Armor upgrades used as shield peripherals do not stack with armor upgrades that grant the same benefits (such as DR, energy resistance, or bonuses to saving throws).