Thought shield 5e

Thought shield 5e DEFAULT

What happens when one Great Old One warlock with the Thought Shield feature does psychic damage to another one?

Alice and Bob each are affected once by the Thought Shield feature.

The Thought Shield feature is a game effect with a permanent duration (until the character/creature is dead) that grants the following effects as part of its permanent duration:

  1. Your thoughts can’t be read by telepathy or other means unless you allow it.
  2. Resistance to psychic damage.
  3. Whenever a creature deals psychic damage to you, that creature takes the same amount of damage that you do.

After the first bounce, the Thought Shield feature's same effect creates an overlap. The most potent instance of the effect will be applied. Apply the first instance of damage as it is the highest by default. Only one effect can be applied at any time, regardless of the number of ways that try to apply the effect.

Alice and Bob are affected once by the Thought Shield feature. Bob takes half of the damage of synaptic static, which is reflected towards Alice who takes half of the reflected damage, which then is reflected back to Bob who takes half of that damage. There are no futher bounces because the Combining Game Effects rules take place.

Consider the rules as described in Round Down (PHB 7) when you calculate your fractions.

DMG errata version 2.0 page 1:

Combining Game Effects (p. 252). This is a new subsection at the end of the “Combat” section:

Different game features can affect a target at the same time. But when two or more game features have the same name, only the effects of one of them—the most potent one—apply while the durations of the effects overlap. For example, if a target is ignited by a fire elemental’s Fire Form trait, the ongoing fire damage doesn’t increase if the burning target is subjected to that trait again. Game features include spells, class features, feats, racial traits, monster abilities, and magic items. See the related rule in the “Combining Magical Effects” section of chapter 10 in the Player’s Handbook.

The basics for Damage Resistance and Vulnerability are found in the PHB (197).

Alternatively, it loops infinitely, even when the damage is reduced to 0 by the rules of resistance and rounding down.

The duration overlap here is the trigger. A different Thought Shield feature could damage either one and trigger a recursion. The effect overlap is the triggering of the recursion that is based on the duration of the feature's effects.

This game feature is not an instantaneous spell like a fireball. A fireball hits instantaneously, while the Thought Shield feature has a permanent duration. If you think that it is an instantaneous effect separate from its feature, then the infinite loop happens.

If the DM rules that the damage caused by the Thought Shield feature is not subject to feature but a new instance of an instantaneous effect of damage separate from its feature instead of an effect with a duration that grants you telepathy protection and resistance and also happens to causes damage, then the recursion loops even after the resistances have reduced the damage to 0.

Sage Advice Compendium V.2.3 (11):

Can damage be reduced to 0 by resistance or another form of damage reduction? There is no damage minimum in the rules, so it is possible to deal 0 damage with an attack, a spell, or another effect.

So if you follow this alternative ruling-way, Alice and Bob will forever be affected by Bob's foolish cast of synaptic static. Albeit the initial loops quickly reduce the looped damage to 0. Only death will break the loop because the corpse of the former creature has no Thought Shield feature.


Thought Shield


Schoolabjuration; Levelpsychic 2


Casting Time 1 immediate action
Components V


Range personal Target you
Duration 1 round


Sensing an intrusion, you throw up a defense to protect your mind from attack or analysis. This grants you a +4 circumstance bonus on Will saving throws against mind-affecting effects. As long as this spell lasts, spells and effects that allow a creature to read your thoughts receive no information from you.

Thought Shield II

Schoolabjuration; Levelpsychic 3

This functions as thought shield I, but the circumstance bonus on Will saves to resist mind-affecting effects increases to +6. This spell can be undercast.

Thought Shield III

Schoolabjuration; Levelpsychic 4

This functions as thought shield I, but the circumstance bonus on Will saves to resist mind-affecting effects increases to +8. In addition, any creature that tries to read your thoughts while this spell lasts must succeed at a Will save or be stunned for 1 round. This spell can be undercast.

Thought Shield IV

Schoolabjuration; Levelpsychic 5

This functions as thought shield III, but any creature that tries to read your thoughts while this spell lasts must succeed at a Will save or be stunned for 1d4 rounds. Additionally, if you succeed at your save against a psychic crush spell, you take no damage. This spell can be undercast.

Thought Shield V

Schoolabjuration; Levelpsychic 6

Duration 1 round/level; see text

This functions as thought shield IV, except as noted above. This spell immediately ends if you fail a Will saving throw against a mind-affecting effect. This spell can be undercast.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Occult Adventures © 2015, Paizo Inc.; Authors: John Bennett, Logan Bonner, Robert Brookes, Jason Bulmahn, Ross Byers, John Compton, Adam Daigle, Jim Groves, Thurston Hillman, Eric Hindley, Brandon Hodge, Ben McFarland, Erik Mona, Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Thomas M. Reid, Alex Riggs, Robert Schwalb, Mark Seifter, Russ Taylor, and Steve Townshend.

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D&D 5E Elder Brain Sense Thought vs Warlock Thought Shield

I think the key is parsing the first and second sentences of the description of elser brain sense thoughts. The elder brain gains insight into. Not, reads thoughts, gains insight into. So - it gets a general idea of how the creature thinks, its current emotional state, and its surface thoughts (thoughts that loom large - i.e. current worries and concerns, driving the current emotional state). Warlock Thought Shield concentrates on the reading of thoughts (through primarily Telepathy) - the 8th level spell Telepathy describes it as occurring with a willing creature with which the caster is familiar and that you can share words, images, sounds and other sensory messages. Same requirement for telepathic bond to be a willing participant. I don't see how the description of warlock thought shield stating "unless you allow it" is any different than the requirement for telepathy or telepathic bond to require willing participants - so it doesn't really buy you any additional benefit in that regard. It would, I think, protect against use of the Detect Thoughts spell, beyond the detection of surface thoughts since a deeper probing is what requires a Wisdom check - use of Detect Thoughts ought to be allowed only to read surface thoughts, but the attempt to probe deeper should be what is protected against by warlock thought shield.

I would rule that Warlock Thought Shield does not protect against Elder Brain Sense Thoughts, but would result in no advantage on the opposed check since implanting a false memory, emotion, etc. is equivalent to a deeper probing.



5e thought shield

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DnD 5e Items - Animated Shield

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