A 2e Look at Shields

I say that this is 2e, it should be more accurately stated as a look at my 2e-inspired clone.

There is discussion going around the OSR blogosphere about shields. I happened upon the discussion at Jeff's site where he mentions J.D. Higgins elegant solution. Further comments discuss Trollsymth's shields shall be splintered rule and Stuart from Robertson Games' revision of the AC table.

THAC0 Forever brings up the fact that 2e lists four different kinds of shields and his solution reflects varying AC benefits based on the type of shield. The effect reflects shield benefits in the 2e PHB:

Bucklers are+1 AC, protected from one attack per round.
Small shields are+1 AC, protected from two frontal attacks per round.
Medium shields are+1 AC, protected from any frontal and flank attacks in a round.
Body shields are+1 AC melee and +2 against missiles, protected from any frontal, flank and side attacks in a round.

Since one the goals of my 2e-inspired clone is faster combat, I don't like these options as I am getting into facing issues and arguments about what is and isn't a flank attack. As such, I am thinking more along the lines of JD's solution.

In the 2e PHB, there are a lot more armors. A couple are dubious historically, namely ring mail and splint mail. There are also two extra versions of plate mail, field and full. Both are accurately described as very expensive and difficult to get into. For adventurers, an extra +1 or +2 AC for those that can afford these made-to-fit and hugely expensive armors makes them less practical. To add even more complexity, bronze plate is also listed.

So, the chart will reflect all the various kinds of armors except bronze plate mail. Field and full plate are included only for completeness, I really wouldn't allow any PC to use field and full because of the time required to put these suits on.

Type of Armor AC Rating
Unarmored 10
Leather or padded armor 9
Studded leather or ring mail 8
Brigandine, scale mail, hide armor or shield only 7
Leather, padded armor or ring mail + shield 6
Studded leather, hide armor, brigandine or scale mail + shield or Chain mail 5
Banded mail, splint mail 4
Splint, banded, or chain mail + shield, plate mail 3
Plate Mail + shield or Field Plate 2
Field Plate + Shield or Full Plate 1
Full Plate + shield 0

Much of the chart remains the same at the 2e PHB. The differences are that leather, padded, studded leather and hide armors got a +3 benefit from shields. Splint, Ring, Scale and Chain mail (along with Brigandine) only received a +2 AC benefit. Banded and all plate mails only recieved a +1 AC benefit.

Bucklers can only provide a +1 AC bonus maximum. They also are not subject to the shields must be splintered rule.
Small shields provide normal bonuses as listed above and can be used once to grant a saving throw against an Evocation spell or breath weapon. A shield can also absorb all damage from a non-magical attack. After granting the benefit, the shield is unusable and the AC bonus is lost.
Medium shields provide the normal bonuses listed above and can be used twice to grant a saving throw against an Evocation spell or breath weapon. It can also be used to absorb all non-magical damage as stated above twice. A medium shields can only provide two benefits (like saving throw versus fireball once and absorb all non-magical damage from an attack once). After granting two benefits, the shield is unusable and the AC bonus is lost.
Tower shields are like above, but grant four benefits.

Magic shields grant their plus in AC bonus and one addition benefit per plus under the shields shall be splintered rule.

My two cents. What do other folks, especially 2e players think?

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4 thoughts on “A 2e Look at Shields

  1. I am really digging the bonus save and damage absorption benefits. I haven’t played 2nd Edition in years, but I’m thinking about applying implementing a similar thing for PFRPG.

  2. For whatever reason, I wasn’t able to post a response to one of your older posts, but I still wanted to point this out. Your Armor/Shield table actually weakens rogues(thieves specifically) in combat. In bog standard AD&D, Padded and Leather Both give AC 8. At least in my own campaigns, most Thieves tend to go with Leather Armor, and during the first couple of levels(when it counts the most), thieves under this system will be at a greater disadvantage.

    • John Payne says:

      I agree if lowers by one point the AC for a thief (unless he wants 10 -30 percent penalties for wearing studded leather). Thanks for pointing it out. What is really weakened is a bard due to the fact that they are not allowed to use shields, even though they can wear chain mail.

      I wrestled with that quite a bit. I never had a thief do much in combat in my groups, so I figured one point is not that big a deal. I intend to give thieves more flexibility with Thieves Skills to compensate for the one point. More later in a post.

    • John Payne says:

      By the way, you should be able to comment now. I had it set to auto-close comments on posts older than 21 days. I turned that off.

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