A shimmering field appears and surrounds a creature of your choice within range, granting it a +2 bonus to AC for the duration.
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a small parchment with a bit of holy text written on it)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes
School: 1st-level abjuration
Player’s Handbook, pg. 275
Shield of Faith 5e
Shield of Faith is about as straightforward as a spell can get in Dungeons and Dragons — a straight-up bonus to the target’s Armor Class. But this simple little support spell is quite effective at what it does.
Who Can Cast Shield of Faith in 5e?
The following classes have Shield of Faith on their spell list:
No subclasses get Shield of Faith for free.
What Does Shield of Faith Do in 5e?
Shield of Faith gives the target a +2 bonus to their AC for up to 10 minutes, concentration permitting. Its casting time is 1 bonus action, so you can still use an action on the same turn as casting Shield of Faith. You can even cast a cantrip (but not another leveled spell) on the same turn (PHB 201).
What Are the Rules for Shield of Faith in 5e?
The rules for Shield of Faith in DnD 5e are as follows:
Shield of Faith cannot stack with itself. If a creature is targeted by two separate castings of Shield of Faith, they can both be active — however, the target will still only gain +2 AC.
That’s because “the effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine…instead the most potent effect….from those castings applies while their durations overlap” (PHB 205).
Shield of Faith can stack with other AC bonuses from spells, magic items, etc. However, “the effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap” (PHB 205).
This means that a player can benefit from the effects of a spell like Shield or Mage Armor at the same time they benefit from the bonus AC from Shield of Faith.
You cannot Ready Shield of Faith, because it’s casting time is 1 bonus action. And “you can take only one bonus action on your turn” (PHB 189, emphasis added). Here’s additional confirmation from Sage Advice that you cannot ready a bonus action.
You can target yourself with Shield of Faith.
You cannot target objects with Shield of Faith. Sadly, the spell specifies that it must target “a creature,” so you can’t use Shield of Faith to boost the AC of a door to reinforce it.
How Do I Use Shield of Faith in 5e?
While Shield of Faith is obviously a defensive support spell, there are some ways to get extra utility out of the spell:
Protect your concentration. The most important element to consider before casting Shield of Faith is “how am I going to protect my concentration?” Because this 10-minute spell becomes a whole lot less potent if you get clipped after one round of combat and lose your concentration.
From a tactical perspective, this could mean keeping safe in the backlines, out of the line of sight of hostile creatures. It could also mean your party does things to protect your position.
From a character build point of view, this means improving your concentration checks via choosing Constitution ASIs or picking up feats like War Caster or Resilient (and choosing Constitution).
Also, remember that you’re only forced to make a concentration check if you actually take damage from the attack, so having a high AC and being good at common saving throws can help ensure that Shield of Faith lasts the full duration.
Cast it on familiars, pets, or NPCs you’re escorting. Sometimes your party needs to send a familiar or pet into a dangerous position to scout things out, and some of these creatures have pretty pathetic ACs. Shield of Faith can help your little buddies get in and out safely.
It’s also good for helping the squishy noble you’re escorting survive so that you can actually get paid for your time.
Consider your most valuable target. In some cases, Shield of Faith is best used on an already tanky party member — if they’re able to actually draw the attacks of most of the enemies. But other times, it’s best to cast it on the low-AC Sorcerer who’s concentrating on a twinned Haste spell.
Different situations will call for different priorities, which is where the real nuance of this simple spell comes into play.
Is Shield of Faith 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Shield of Faith is a good spell. In DnD’s system of bonded accuracy, +2 AC is just as valuable at 20th level as it is at first.
I’m sure a more math-savvy person could provide a bit better breakdown of the spell’s relative strength through the levels, but I think it’s safe to say that Shield of Faith remains relevant throughout any campaign.
The big downside to Shield of Faith is that it requires concentration. If you can find a way to consistently protect your concentration and boost a target’s AC by +2 for a full 10 minutes, it’s an incredibly powerful spell.
There’s also opportunity cost to consider; 46% of the game’s spells require concentration, so you also won’t have access to those spells while concentrating on Shield of Faith. Ultimately, if you’re trying to be a consistent support character, you really can’t go wrong with Shield of Faith.
Shield of Faith 5e Compared to Sanctuary
If you really want to protect allies and you’re a Cleric or Paladin, you have another 1st-level abjuration option: Sanctuary. When a creature attacks a creature affected by Sanctuary, they first must pass a Wisdom saving throw, or else switch targets/lose their attack.
The big downside to Sanctuary is that whoever is affected by it can’t attack, cast a spell that affects an enemy, or deal damage, or else the spell breaks early. Sanctuary lasts for only 1 minute compared to Shield of Faith’s 10 minutes, but it does not require concentration — a huge boon.
Both spells are bonus actions, so they’re even on that point.
Ultimately, Sanctuary will prevent more attacks from landing on a target than Shield of Faith will; however, it also completely removes the target’s offensive options.
Long story short, if you want to protect active party members like your tanky Fighter, always-concentrating-on-a-spell Bard, or your own frontline Paladin/Cleric self, then Shield of Faith is the better option.
But if you want to protect a pure utility/support player (yourself included) or a useless person you have to escort, Sanctuary is probably the stronger choice. Additionally, as my article on Sanctuary covers, the spell has a whole lot of extra niche utility, so consider checking that out before making a decision on which spell to learn/prepare.
Shield of Faith 5e DM Tips
As a DM, Shield of Faith is a fairly easy thing to deal with — go after whatever player is concentrating on it and try to break their concentration.
Experienced players will exercise tactics to prevent you from doing this or create bigger threats than +2 AC to challenge your priorities, but protecting concentration is an important lesson that apprentice-level players (not total newbies) ought to learn.
Remember: every time that you use a certain tactic against players, you’re also teaching them how to use that tactic themselves — savvy players will thank you for the lesson.
Other than that, you can consider (alongside the player using it) what sort of cosmetic effect Shield of Faith produces.
What color is the “shimmering field” and how does it react to getting hit? Is it like a bubble-shaped force field that stops attacks immediately upon contact? Or is a thin layer of protection that hews close to the creature’s body, and only intervenes when the sword is literally millimeters from their flesh?
It’s also fun to consider the flavor of your descriptions when Shield of Faith’s +2 AC makes the difference between a hit or a miss, as well as how you describe an attack that breaks though and lands despite the bonus.
Simple Shield of Faith 5e Spell Text
Shield of Faith: (1st-level abjuration, 60 feet, concentration, up to 10 minutes, V/S/M (a small parchment with a bit of holy text written on it)) Target has +2 AC for the duration.