[RPG] Combine Shield Master and Great Weapon Master


I was trying to think of a way to allow my level 20 Barbarian to be able to take both Shield Master and Great Weapon Master, since Shield Master would support my tanking role in the party, and well, GWM is GWM. I have read these potentially related questions, but do not think they adequately address my feat-specific question.

My first roadblock appears to be that each feat requires the wielding of specific items.

Great Weapon Master states (emphasis mine):

Before you make a melee attack with a heavy weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.

As far as I know, since there are no one-handed heavy weapons, in order to make use of this part of the feat a 2-handed weapon is required.

Unfortunately, this potentially conflicts with Shield Master, which states (emphasis mine):

You use shields not just for protection but also for offense. You gain the following benefits while you are wielding a shield:

Thus, on its face, these 2 feats seem incompatible, since GWM requires using a 2 handed weapon, and Shield Master requires wielding a shield.

This leads me to my question:

How can I make these two feats work together?

One solution I've been considering is to use an Animated Shield (emphasis mine):

While holding this Shield, you can speak its Command Word as a Bonus Action to cause it to animate. The Shield leaps into the air and hovers in your space to protect you as if you were wielding it, leaving your hands free. The Shield remains animated for 1 minute, until you use a Bonus Action to end this effect, or until you are Incapacitated or die, at which point the Shield falls to the ground or into your hand if you have one free.

Since using an Animated Shield leaves my hands free and, based on the wording, imbues me with the benefit of wielding a shield, I think I could feasibly gain the benefits of Shield Master while also wielding a 2-handed weapon for GWM.

Would using an Animated Shield allow me to take the full benefits of each feat? Are there other ways that I could synthesize both feats (eg maybe there ARE one-handed heavy weapons)?

Best Answer

Yes, this works

You have quoted all of the relevant bits, but the Animated Shield works the same as a wielded shield without Wielding it with your actual hands that are holding onto a Heavy Weapon.

This is also a Very Rare item - it's special and powerful!

Sage Advice confirms

The key phrase comes from the Animated Shield, which states, emphasis mine (DMG, 151) :

...protects you as if you are wielding it

"As If you are wielding it" is equivalent to "wielding it".

This interpretation is supported by Jeremy Crawford's Sage Advice.

The text of animated shield says the item protects you as if you were wielding it. To Shield Master and the like, you're wielding it.

Not without a cost

The investment cost is two of your ASIs (and you still need to get, and keep, that Animated Shield.)

(Don't?) Hold on a minute...

Just a reminder, but the Animation requires a Bonus Action and only lasts 1 minute. You only get ONE bonus action/turn so your first round would be used doing this (so no, extra attack for a crit/kill from GWM or any other Bonus Actions you may have available.) In addition, if your encounter lasts longer than 1 minute, the shield will fall unless you use another Bonus Action to start it back up.