Post Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:02 pm

House-ruling Shields

First, let me state that I don't necessarily think shields need to be house-ruled; But I think a fair argument may be made for this in any D&D derivative.

Second, I began this post over in the 'mods & hacks' part of Delving Deeper's G+ page. But it got huge (possibly too huge for G+... Sorry fellas).

Third, it's been a very long time since I've been around. I apologize, fellows, things are hectic. I've re-enlisted in the service and don't have much time for online life these days.

Today I do, however. So, on to what I hope will be a fun discussion regarding shields and house-ruling them. Here's the post from G+ :

I'm considering doing something with Shields. D&D and it's derivatives never really treated them well; I don't mean this in a mean way... I think this discussion has been re-hashed only about a million times.

So what I'm thinking is, treating them like the pluses from magic armor. I mean the old way, as in, each plus from magic armor subtracts from the attack roll of enemies trying to hit someone wearing it instead of adding to the AC of the individual wearing it.

So, for shields, what I'm thinking is allowing them to subtract 3 from any attack rolls made against the shield bearer. So a shield +2 would subtract 5 from attack rolls, for example. I think this places quite a bit more value in a shield as a defensive option, perhaps even making them play out as the valuable article of defense that they should be, while not really breaking the combat system.

This is especially considering that monster attacks by hit die begin to far outclass those of player characters in the higher hit die/level attack tables (and I'm not against this being true, at all). Higher hit die creatures have the ability to hit the lower classes of armor with a bit of frightening frequency.

This hack also continues to keep the 'classes' of armor the same as they are; Plate is 'class' 3, mail is 'class' 5, leather 'class' 7 still.

I'm only thinking about this right now, so haven't really chopped out the deeper details... Like parrying. I suppose I'd have to rule that parrying as written only applies when not using a shield in defense, or else parrying with a shield might be far too powerful when combined with this rule hack.

One of the other things I've been thinking on lately, and basically the entire reason I've considered re-working the mechanics behind shields in general, is the addition of 'shield walls' and 'turtle' formations by groups of shield-bearers as combat maneuvers. Each has been very effective in our history of battle.

Each formation might offer the benefit of the shield to everyone in the formation (according to this hack, attackers subtracting 3 to any attack rolls against them), even those in second or subsequent ranks etc. So magic-users and missile-bearers could be provided some protection.

A turtle formation is basically a shield wall, that requires many shield-bearers, as some of them raise their shields to provide for a 'roof'. For this formation I might say that missile attackers must re-roll one time any actual hits into the formation; Or if that is too fiddly, then perhaps provide individuals inside the turtle formation double shield benefits vs missiles (that is, attackers subtract a monstrous 6 from any attack rolls). I'd probably limit this to groups of 10 or more individuals, and at least 75% of each group would be required to bear a shield. So this means that this formation is usually out of the purview of most adventuring parties, and only usable by military or monster formations of sufficient number. So it could really make for a tactical problem for PC's in the dungeon, for example.

The potential for a magic shield in a formation provides some problem to the math (and I'm no statistician, nor do I falsely claim to be, I can assure you). Still, I think it can be worked out. Let's chat about it below.

The shield formations above might have another benefit: They spread the bonus they provide to their user to the formation as a whole, but at half-strength, due to lots of area covered. So, a shield formation with a bearer of a shield +2 or +3 allows for the entire formation to enjoy a further -1 to attack rolls against them (totaling a tough-to-beat -4 to attack rolls against them). A shield +1 simply isn't powerful enough to benefit a shield formation.

When more than one magical shield is in a formation, only the most powerful is considered to provide benefit to that formation.

Hmm, I'm already noticing that this mechanic as I've gotten it written makes a shield wall only as effective as a standard parry, lol. Well, I'll think on it more.

Any ideas or thoughts? I might spring this on my group next year when play begins again after the holidays to try it out.

Thanks for reading, happy gaming, and... Fight On!