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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New weapon/shield: Hackenschild

Combining a shield with a weapon is a recurring idea in the history of arms & armor. There’s the lantern shield, and various spiked shields. Da Vinci sketched a combination bow/shield that looks impractical but cool.

If you look at old fechtbuchs (Fechtbücher?) you’re sure to come across strange shields with hooks, blades, and spikes on them. They are usually rather large, and the wielders will either be using a small club or short sword with it, or else they will have discarded their weapon and wield the shield in both hands. These are apparently called “Hackenschilder” in German; “Hackenshild” is translated variously as a “hewing shield” or a “hooked shield.” It certainly sounds like an Oinkendeutsch word, come to think of it — a hacking shield!

Here are some examples I found relatively quickly on the web:


Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 11:03 am  Comments (6)  
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The lantern shield

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

  1. the port-hole opens with the little lever the gauntlet seems to hold, and this is used to blind an opponent at night
  2. 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
  3. 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…)

Published in: on April 24, 2010 at 2:14 am  Comments (11)  
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