I think I first saw a drawing of a lantern shield in a The Palladium book of weapons & armor. It may even have been featured in the ads for the book in Dragon Magazine, but I’m not sure.
It may even have been in the Exotic Weapons & armor book, come to think of it. Anyway, a lantern shield is a crazy weapon which basically combines a small spiked shield, a bladed gauntlet, and, as the name implies, a lantern.
The Palladium book illustration was very similar to the following public domain image from Handbuch der Waffenkunde. Das Waffenwesen in seiner historischen Entwicklung vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts by Wendelin Boeheim, Leipzig, 1890. (sourced here)
I found a couple of excellent photos (© Gregory Liebau) of a specimen in the Kunsthistorisches Museum which must be the very same one as the one illustrated above: from the front, and from the back, showing the lantern which hangs behind the little “port hole.”
I’ve never run across this weapon in any other book, but a couple of internet forum posts claim
- the port-hole opens with the little lever the gauntlet seems to hold, and this is used to blind an opponent at night
- they were described in Russian chronicles as having some use in defense of city walls, but exactly what use is unknown and the only illustration does not include a lantern
- they may also have been used as protection at night in cities from criminals
Here is a rather odd Russian illustration:
No lantern but there is a peep hole.
Anyway I can imagine this bizarre weapon being a bit of a deterrent to muggers, but more importantly, could this be imported into D&D?
Many versions of D&D have rules for spiked shields, so you could just call it that, but of course the important thing is you can hang a light source on it and use it in a dungeon. I certainly don’t want to lay off any hirelings, although I suppose it makes the perfect weapon for a torch bearer (twice the light!). The problem would of course be the risk of breaking the lantern on yourself, but otherwise it would allow an adventurer to carry a bulls-eye type lantern as well as a shield in that hand. Why don’t we see more adventurers with lantern shields? (And miner’s helmets, while we’re at it…)