Shields again

Paladin in Citadel raises an excellent point  about shields and J.D. Higgins suggests a pretty good fix. Blogger ate my comment so I’ll comment here. 

I think I’ll stick with the “Shields shall be splintered” rule tohugh becaue I am running a vaguely Nordic campaign and Viking shields were light and fairly disposable.  In the sagas, anyway, shields WERE splintered.  A lot.

My other hesitation about Higgins’ table is that mail and plate armor really were strong defenses too and should not be underestimated.  By the time of full plate armor, no one bothered with a shield if they had plate.  So I’d go with sometihng like this (swapping ascending AC for descending):

  • Unarmored: 10
  • Leather:  12
  • Shield only ; Mail: 13
  • Leather & Shield: 15
  • Plate/mail; Mail + Shield: 16
  • Plate/mail + Shield; Full plate, with or without Shield: 18

So there would be diminishing returns on a shield for platemail and no return on full plate.

I’d probably also consider allowing a shields a save (say, d20 vs. 9+damage stopped for metal, 12+damage stopped for wood) against splintering, but then decrease a shield’s AC to +1 again.  Or sometihng along those lines.  Becasue enhanced AC WITH splintering would make shields too good…



Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good points.

    Are there any links to sources that show changes in weapon use with the advent of plate armor?

    My thinking is that, if plate armor makes a shield seem unnecessary, is that particular combatant more likely to pick up a larger, slower, but more damaging weapon?

    • I can’t think of anytihng online but yes, basically the bigger, heavier weapons like poleaxes came into popularity because they were necessary to penetrate armor. So I guess there is a synergy between “I have two hands free for weapons since a shield is redundant” and “I need to hit back really hard to get through that steel plate”.
      Polearms, godentags, military flails, etc. all become more common and prominent after 1300 CE and by about 1450 or so knights on foot were using poleaxes a lot, and the ‘fectbuchs’ made from that time onward usually have sections on dueling with polexaes and the ones I’ve seen usually show fully armored knights using them, as opposed to sword fights among less armored foes. In duels and tornaments, pole-axes were gt-to weapon for knights fighting knights on foot.

      • Makes sense. I saw a polearm demonstration once… looked a hell of a lot scarier than any sword. The ability to dismount and knock down an enemy is something worth addressing in Classic gaming rules, IMHO.

        Love the new Comment form here, by the way.

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