A coward’s shield is a piece of simple metal plate secured by straps and worn against the back over one shirt and beneath a second piece of concealing clothing. This armor is found now and then on rogues who think they may have to beat a hasty retreat from a ﬁeld of combat. Some reluctant conscripts and lightly armored ﬁ ghters have taken a page from this book and occasionally use this gear, but it originated with the rogue class. No one boasts of owning or using a coward’s shield, but many armorers are happy to quietly provide one with a “light backplate” even if the person owns no other armor.
A coward’s shield is usually donned and worn clandestinely. It ﬁts under ordinary clothing, padded armor, or leather armor that is slightly oversized for the wearer. Some who wear it are simply paranoid about a backstabbing or sneak attack, and indeed, this armor is useful protection against such attacks. Others who wear it either fear their side is going to lose in combat, or already plan to make a quick exit as soon as things become confused enough.
A coward’s shield boosts the wearer’s armor class by +1 for any melee, backstabbing, or sneak attacks made from the rear. In guarding against sneak
attack, half the armor’s utility is in the fact that no one knows about it but the wearer. The trade in these backplates is very much under the table. They are
called “coward’s shields” by the ﬁghters that scorn them—rogues as a class generally refer to them very subtly as simply “extra protection”.
Coward’s Shield: 25 gp, +5 Max Dex Bonus, 20% Arcane Failure, 5 lb.