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?

Attack of the Portán

One of the oddities of Fiend Folio I used in coastal areas was the crabmen. In 2e, their entry went on to talk about their molting noting that some individuals reach ten feet tall and live to be about 20 years old.

I thought about them again today in part because I was recently in my hometown during the time of year for harvesting soft-shell crabs. Without going into the process too deeply, the idea is to catch crabs close to molting and place them in a make-shift aquarium until they shed their shell. During the process, the crab will usually increase in size by 33%.

This triggered three ideas for the as-of-yet-unnamed-clone:

  1. Alter the stats to include a 33% growth rate per molting
  2. Give a few shamans the ability to create golems from their old shells.
  3. Create a module that features them as a function of mass combat rules

I also wanted to give my crabmen a new name, Portán, mostly to differentiate them from the old stats. The Portán are similar in some ways, but generally have more intelligence (barely), grow larger, and practice their own form of primitive magic.


Frequency: Rare
No. encountered:
Medium (5 ft tall) to Large (11 feet tall)
90 ft, swimming 60 ft
Armour Class:
Hit Dice:
3 - 6
1d4 - 1d10 / 1d4 - 1d10
Special Attacks:
Special Defenses:
Magic Resistance:
Lair probability:

The special attack refers to the special ability to create golems from discarded molts. Portán shamans do not know any other spells.

The golems are created by filling the old shells full of mud and animating them. The stats would be the same except:

  • No 11 foot tall golem would be found. After reaching that height, a portán will die shortly before or during any molting.
  • Move is 60ft and Swimming 30ft.
  • As golems, the creatures are immune to charm and sleep spells as well as psionics.

When I get the mass combat rules hammered out, we'll see these guys again.

Central Fire

Part of what makes Tiezerakan different is the cosmology. It is somewhat based on the ideas of Philolaus and Pythagoras rather than the Ptolemaic universe seen in D&D over the years. The differences take a bit of getting used to and at this stage, I may not have all the details figured out yet. Having said that, take what you like and adapt the rest.

For many years, it was believed that Tol, the home planet, was the center of the universe. Once humans built ships to explore the skies, it soon became very evident that this was not the case. The center of the universe is called the Central Fire or the Hearth depending upon whom you ask. Many clerics and church officials focus more on the Hearth as the lands of the Gods. Other, less religiously inclined folk, focus more on the Central Fire as a gateway to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Travel to the Central Fire has been limited as will be detailed later.

Beyond the stars is a sphere of fire called the Outer Fire. The Outer Fire is fed from the Central Fire, those the mechanism for this is not clear. Beyond the Outer Fire, it is believed that there are other spheres with planets, stars, and other central fires.

Between the Outer Fire and the Central Fire, exists the planets, the moon and the stars of the night sky. Except the sun and stars, the planets and the moon have a twin that revolves around the Central Fire exactly half a revolution away. Tol, the home planet is closest to the Central Fire. Unlike other planets, the underside of Tol has a long narrow passageway that connects to its twin planet, presumably going through the Central Fire, itself. The passageway has been called The Needle. It serves as the most reliable trade route to Tol's twin planet. Travel through the Needle requires no special protections from fire or need for extra air.

The twin planet, Lot has been explored extensively. In many ways, Lot is almost identical to Tol except that the denizens of Lot never considered extraplanetary travel.

Outside Tol, the home planet, Bulan the Moon orbits around the central fire. The moon is inhabited by a race of intelligent giants. The twin of the Moon, Ay is similar to Bulan in every way. The giants that inhabit Bulan and Ay believe that they are descendant from the Titans.

Outside Bulan/Ay lies the Sun named Caiya. Caiya is about 20 times larger than Tol and is entirely composed of a glass/quartz material. It reflects the light and heat of the Central Fire. Nothing lives on the surface of Caiya, though some believe that the interior may be inhabited.

Outside Caiya, the Sun, lies Raksa/Civah. Raksa is a tropical planet full of dense jungles. It is primarily the home to elves. Civah, it's twin, is a colder planet marked by snow for almost half the year followed by very warm summers. Mostly dwarves, gnomes and halflings make residence there. Both planets are very rich in resources and are frequent destinations for traders.

The other planets that make up the system are:

Saokin/Zohr - Zohr is an arid planet known for its magic. Saokin is considered a resort planet. It also houses the main financial center of the sphere with several trading companies headquartered here.

Peran/Muhari - Muhari is a vast swamp. Peran is the name given to a cluster of asteroids. Both planets are pirate strongholds.

Besa/Boyuk - Little is known about these planets now. Besa serves as the battleground for wars of all kinds. Boyuk is uninhabitable.

Sinsin/Uzu - Icy planet twins believed to have access to the elemental plane of water.

That's just the barest thumbnail sketch of the sphere. As always more later.