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Better game mechanics for shields

neOmega

Registered User
Validated User
I recently had the pleasure of attending an introductory practice session of reconstructive Viking sword fighting. The most interesting part of the session was the versatile ways to use the shield, which got me to thinking about how poorly shields seem to be treated in many RPG systems. All too often they feel boringly passive, as in the case of 3rd edition of D&D - not to mention disappointingly weak compared to other options. I'd like to see rules that represent shields as the powerful offensive weapons they were, that grant the wielder interesting tactical options and encourage one to be active in their use of the shield.

Are there any RPGs out there that feature better game mechanics for shields? What kinds of mechanics would you prefer to see in a RPG set in a world/time period wherein shields are commonly used equipment?
 

Snoof

Time-Travelling Layabout
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Are there any RPGs out there that feature better game mechanics for shields?
RQ6 has some more complex rules for shields. Not only do they permit both active (parrying) and passive (damage absorption) defence, they're blunt weapons and can do the Bash and Stun Location combat SFX. If you're also wielding a pointy weapon of some kind, you've got access to a variety of different SFX to choose from. Plus, they're short-ranged weapons, which means if someone gets inside your spear's reach, you can still smack them in the face with the shield.
 
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DeathbyDoughnut

a.k.a. Mr. Meat Popcicle
Validated User
A system my group has used in the past gave people cover based on the shield size, cover worked as a miss chance. When defending against a non-aoe attack, the shield bearer rolled a d6. Shields come in three sizes small, medium, and large. Small gives 1/3 cover. Medium gives 1/2 cover. Large gives 2/3 cover. So the d6 depending on shield size determined if the attack missed or not. It was pretty easy to just tack on to any system really.
 

Asen_G

#3 Anti-Illusionism Squad
Validated User
I recently had the pleasure of attending an introductory practice session of reconstructive Viking sword fighting. The most interesting part of the session was the versatile ways to use the shield, which got me to thinking about how poorly shields seem to be treated in many RPG systems. All too often they feel boringly passive, as in the case of 3rd edition of D&D - not to mention disappointingly weak compared to other options. I'd like to see rules that represent shields as the powerful offensive weapons they were, that grant the wielder interesting tactical options and encourage one to be active in their use of the shield.

Are there any RPGs out there that feature better game mechanics for shields? What kinds of mechanics would you prefer to see in a RPG set in a world/time period wherein shields are commonly used equipment?
The Riddle of Steel and RQ6 can do that, as a general rule. DCC also allows it, in another way, and Enemy Gods has yet another:).
The only thing I don't want to see is an assumption that the standard shield defence is passively absorbing the blows on it;).
 

Bankuei

Master of Folding Chair
Validated User
The two games that stand out the most to me are Riddle of Steel and Burning Wheel.

Shields are sadly under utilized in most roleplaying games. Aside from blocking, pushing and simple bashing, they can be nearly as complex in use as doing sword binding or disarms.

That said, usually the tactics you get in a game re: shields is only as possibly good as the general choices the combat mechanics allow in the first place - a hyper simplified system isn't well set up to model that or include it (at least with mechanical weight, rather than narrating it all).

The hack I'll often use for old school D&D with is simple: a shield halves your AC. Unarmored? Go from AC 10 to AC 5. Full Plate? Go from AC 2 to AC 1. It was something that bugged me since I was a kid, since I knew a lot of older cultures in the bronze age would have folks with barely any armor or none at all - but still have shields.... if a shield was only a 5-10% difference in survival, it wasn't really worth much.

Chris
 

Steve Karstensen

Registered User
Validated User
It wasn't a rule for shields per se in the Marvel Universe RPG, but since you could describe your stone expenditures pretty much any way you liked, you could use a shield for all sorts of things, assuming you'd paid to be able to use them that way. F'rex, Captain America's shield was +6 to Defense and Close/Ranged Combat, which would allow him to use it to block, attack, or be thrown. Now granted, that's Cap... but a player with a shield could pay for it to provide bonuses to Defense and/or Close Combat, so they could use it to attack and defend. And the flexibility of the combat system would allow for all sorts of tactics if the player was clever enough.
 

Octiron

Insufficiently Hopeful
Validated User
The hack I'll often use for old school D&D with is simple: a shield halves your AC. Unarmored? Go from AC 10 to AC 5. Full Plate? Go from AC 2 to AC 1. It was something that bugged me since I was a kid, since I knew a lot of older cultures in the bronze age would have folks with barely any armor or none at all - but still have shields.... if a shield was only a 5-10% difference in survival, it wasn't really worth much.
I have to say that is pretty elegant for the old style lower-is-better THACOs/armor rules. It really makes the shield worth it for fighters with less armor, and not as overpowering for those with more.

I wonder if there's a way to work that for the newer higher-is-better armor systems.
 

Odie

If only she could breathe
Validated User
Burning Wheel's Fight sub-system rewards skilled use of shields. Wearing a shield gives access to Block & Strike (instead of just Strike), allowing you to defend yourself with your shield while attacking. When you Block, you also get the shield's dice. And you can always Strike with the shield (as a shield bash) if that looks like a good option. Sometimes it's handy: when the enemy is inside the reach of your longsword, bash their teeth out with your shield!

-B
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
I'm another one that hit RuneQuest early, and the difference between a shield user and non-shield user was always pronounced enough there that you really felt it; and that's even before the later nuances (such as you now get in RQ6).
 

Victim

Registered User
Validated User
While a shield merely provides a base of a passive defense bonus in 4e DnD, it's also required for a lot of exploits that shove enemies around or provide additional defenses - like Tide of Iron or the shield push feat. So the shield doesn't create tons of advantages by itself so much as enable a particular style.
 
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