The world of Eberron is a high-adventure, noir, and magipunk setting, and it’s one of my personal favorites.
In the magipunk genre, magic is used to recreate both modern and sci-fi technologies with a unique flavor.
Recent examples of this include Gideon the Ninth by Tamsin Muir, The Cinderspire Series by Jim Butcher, and Avatar: Legend of Korra from Nickelodeon.
The way Eberron accomplishes this is by bringing the planes front and center not only to the cosmology but in the everyday working of society, which brings us to the Orb of Shielding.
Each of the elemental and supernatural types of energy in the world draw their power from the various planes of existence.
Furthermore, the energies from each plane resonate with a certain material that can be found here in the material plane that exists in the center of all planar orbits.
Orbs of Shielding are made from these elements, and they offer a defense against those energies when you are subjected to them both in combat and out of it.
What Is an Orb of Shielding in D&D 5e?
An Orb of Shielding is made from a specific material that is tied to a particular form of energy and can be used as a spellcasting focus. When held while taking damage, you can use your reaction to reduce the amount of damage you take by 1d4.
Stat Block: Orb of Shielding
Wondrous Item, common (requires attunement)
An orb of shielding is a polished, spherical chunk of crystal or stone aligned to one of the planes of existence. If you’re a spellcaster, you can use this orb as a spellcasting focus.
If you’re holding the orb when you take damage of the type associated with the orb’s material, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage by 1d4 (to a minimum of 0).
The materials and their associated damage types are listed in the Orb of Shielding table.
Notes: Warding, Focus
Item Tags: WARDING FOCUS
Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron
Typically, an orb is a spherical ball made from a particular mineral. Its weight is negligible, and it has no stats as far as Armor Class or Hit Points are concerned.
As a spellcasting focus, it must be held in hand when in use, but it is possible to have the Orb connected to a necklace, pendant, prayer bead, earring, or similar accessory.
Targeting Hand-Held Items
As a hand-held item, an Orb of Shielding can’t be targeted using the rules as written.
In general, when targeting such an item, consider the item’s size and material. For a tiny item made from a hard mineral such as the Orb of Shielding, consider giving it an AC of 13 plus the Dexterity modifier of whoever is holding it and 20 HP.
As a Common Item, its cost should be anywhere from 50–500 gp depending on local availability and demand. For more information on that, check out our post here on magic item pricing.
Who Should Use the Orb of Shielding?
The ideal user is a spellcaster. Since this requires attunement, you will want to make sure you are getting as much use as possible out of it, and that will happen best if you can use it as a spellcasting focus.
However, anyone can attune to an Orb of Shielding, so it may be worth keeping a few extra around if you find yourself in a hot spot. Or a cold spot, stinky spot, holy spot, shocking spot, etc., etc.
Just remember you must be holding it for the protection to take place, which could cramp your fighting style.
How Does This Item Compare to Similar Items?
If you are using the Orb of Shielding, you are more than likely in a Tier I or Tier II game. When it comes to items that grant defenses and spellcasting focuses, you have a few items to choose from.
In this section, we will compare the Orb of Shielding to those items.
The Orb of Shielding vs….
Potion of Resistance
If you are a spellcaster, you’ll want the Orb of Shielding.
Over time, you may not get as much protection as you would if you took the potion, but you can’t use a potion as a spellcasting focus, and ultimately, you would be better served by the Orb.
If you are not a spellcaster, take the potion. It works for an hour, and it leaves your hands free for more butt-whooping.
Ideally, you would have both, as the effects stack. Resistance plus a 1d4 buffer is not something to turn your nose up to.
Boots of the Winterlands
If you are dealing with cold damage, you should definitely choose these Boots over the Orb. Ideally, you should get both because the resistance to cold from the Boots will stack with the -1d4 from the Orb.
The Orb, however, can not grant you a movement bonus or protect you from extreme environments.
This holds true for both spellcasters and non-casters. Choose the Boots if you have to choose. If you don’t, then take both.
Brooch of Shielding
There is an Orb of Shielding that gives you a bit of protection from force damage, but the Brooch of Shielding gives you resistance to force damage.
Yes, you heard that. Resistance to force damage. That is not easy to come by. In addition, you are now immune to magic missile. Immune!
If you have to choose between these two, choose the Brooch, but if you can get both, then get both. I don’t care how many drinks you have to buy your DM, get both!
Resistance and a 1d4 buffer to the least-resistible type of damage is remarkable.
Ring of Warmth
This is very similar to the Boots of the Winterlands in that you gain resistance to cold damage and protection from extreme weather. The only difference is that the ring does not grant you the movement bonus.
Still, choose the Ring over the Orb, especially if you are not a spellcaster. Resistance offers you half damage, but the Orb only reduces 1d4.
If you are a spellcaster, do all you can to get both the Orb and the Ring since the effects stack.
This spellcasting focus is specific to wizards, and it increases their Spell Attack and their Saving Throw DCs by 1.
If this were all it did, I would say go with the Orb of Shielding since you are a weak wizard with nary a Hit Point to be spared.
However, the Arcane Grimoire also increases the number of spell slots you can recover when using your arcane recovery feature.
So, unless you can attune both or somehow juggle which focus you are using when, you should probably pick the Arcane Grimoire unless you know for a fact you will be coming up against a particular energy type.
My advice? Talk the DM into allowing you to set the Orb into the book’s cover and get both bonuses with one attunement.
If you are a sorcerer, the Bloodwell vial allows you to regain sorcery points along with your HP during a rest and grants a +1 to Spell Attacks and your save DC.
Unless you can attune both this and the Orb of Shielding or somehow juggle which focus you are using when, you should probably pick the Bloodwell Vial unless you know for a fact you will be coming up against a particular energy type.
Talk the DM into allowing you to make the vial out of the material from the Orb of Shielding and get both bonuses with one attunement.
Dark Shard Amulet
This warlock-specific focus allows you to cast a single cantrip from the warlock spell list without you knowing it provided you make a DC 10 Arcana check. You can only use this ability once per long rest.
In this case, the Orb of Shielding is a better option. It works all the time instead of once per long rest.
Talk the DM into allowing you to craft the shard from the same type of material as the Orb in question and get both bonuses with one attunement.
Imbued Wood Focus
This spellcasting focus grants you a +1 to damage rolls when using a particular energy type.
Like the Orb of Shielding, it is tied to a particular plane via a particular material.
Ultimately, I would choose the Orb of Shielding in order to protect your precious Hit Points, puny spellcaster.
Talk the DM into allowing you to set the Orb into the wood focus and get both bonuses with one attunement.
Improving the Orb of Shielding
The Orb of Shielding is a fairly basic item. With a rarity rating of common, this is to be expected.
If you like the idea of the Orb of Shielding and you want to continue this theme into the higher levels of your game, consider these options.
- Allow the Orb of Shielding to protect against an additional d4 of damage for every 5 levels the PC gains.
- Create something called a Dual Orb, which combines two of the materials and offers protection against both of the damage types.
- There is another spell-focus item out there that is tied to planar energy, like an Orb of Shielding, called an Imbued Wood Focus. These items grant a +1 to damage to a particular type of energy. Consider combining the properties of these items into a single item that cost double what each of those would cost individually, – 10% for materials.
- Allow the Orb to be inlaid into a spell book so that casters who use a spell book can still benefit from the orb.
- Allow the Orb to be implanted into armor and still be used as a spellcasting focus without requiring it to be held in hand.
- Allow the Orb to be used as a key of some type to a portal that connects to its particular plane, or allow it to point the direction to the nearest planar portal of the appropriate type.
- Allow the Orb to be placed as the activating material component of a golem or a vehicle that is powered by that particular energy type.
- Create a master puzzle that requires an Orb of every type to be placed inside of it for planar travel or some other major plot piece for your story.
- Create a trap that uses an Orb as its activating component, and anyone who attunes to the Orb can control the trap.
- Allow the PC advantage on Charisma checks when conversing with a creature native to the plane of the Orb the PC is attuned to.
- Allow certain Races, such as dragonborn of a particular color, a tiefling, an aasimar, a shadar-kai, or eladrin, to attune to the item without it counting against their total attunement slots, provided the Orb is the correct type.
If you are a primary spellcaster with a limited amount of Hit Points (so, like, all of them, lol), you ought to have this Orb in your inventory.
It works best if you can talk the DM into allowing you to work its abilities into other magical foci you find along the way, but beggars can’t be choosers.
I hope this tool helps you in your game tonight. Roll on, my friends!