It’s funny how things coincide. I’ve been tossing around a different way to handle shield mechanics and contemplating doing a post on it and Jeff’s Gameblog did a post yesterday that pointed me to a cool houserule by Trollsmyth. Nothing like that as a good motivator.
Trollsmyth’s rule is simple and gets the job done for having cinematic battles where shields protect you from a fatal blow but end up becoming broken and useless.
While it is simple and quick I can understand why Stuart doesn’t implement it in his own games as shields were designed to take a beating.
The rule that I’ve been mulling around for a few days really seems to echo Trollsmyth’s philosophy for his houserule, “Simply lowering your AC by a mere point is hardly representative of the value of a good shield.”
What I came up with was partially inspired by how the Dragon Age RPG handles shields and armor.
Armor would contribute to AC making you more difficult to hit, while shields would become a damage reduction showing that blows are being absorbed by this giant piece of wood/metal.
However I don’t want a shield just to become this cushion that is around forever and protects people. I figure that eventually a shield has to break (as seen in 13th Warrior- I know that those were wooden shields, but eventually even a steel shield will become unusable).
I figure that any time a character takes damage that exceeds the shields DR it represents a serious strain on the object. To keep in with the philosophy that a Shield can take a beating I figure that a wooden shield can take 2 of such hits before being completely useless and a steel shield can take 3 (except for a Buckler, that can only take 2). A Tower Shield can take 4 hits, but you suffer to attack and movement for using one. This allows the player to decide if they want to use the shield to absorb some of the damage or take the knock. Shields become more important than just a static number but also aren’t infinite.
I realize that this makes for a slight bit more bookkeeping and I’m honestly not sure how it would play out in game as I haven’t experimented with it yet, though I do plan to.
It might look something like this…
Buckler- DR 2
Shield, Light Wooden- DR 3
Shield,Light Steel- DR4
Shield, Heavy Wooden- DR 5
Shield,Heavy Steel- DR6