Here’s another bit of a House Rule – though this is a brand-spanking new one inspired by Trollsmyth’s own House Rule for Labyrinth Lord – I just expand it out one notch from just shields to shields and weapons.
In the event of a killing blow (not to include the infamous “Two 20’s = Instant Kill” rule, or Backstabs, or Assassinations) a character may sacrifice their shield or weapon to the attack, allowing it to be destroyed instead of suffering the damage themselves. This automatically destroys all non-magical equipment, magical equipment is allowed a saving throw against Crushing Blow with a minus to the roll equal to the damage bonus of the attacking creature or the creatures Hit Dice (whichever is greater). If the saving throw is successful, the piece of equipment is flung in a random direction – 1d8 for direction, 1d6 for the number of yards distant.
As a related note, this might be a decent place to talk about shields in general…
Shields in pretty much any version of D&D suck. I mean that unless you start combining magic shields with magic armour, they are almost worthless to carry around because a one-point increase in AC really wasn’t that great and if you were doing decent sandbox play carrying the damn things around was kind of a PITA – among other things it marked you as a professional warrior and a target for just that reason.
So while the above rule is a great new House Rule to bring shields into their own many folks have kind of tweaked with them in general in an effort to make some more sense of a piece of equipment that certainly seems to have been far more worthwhile in human history than the combat rules suggest.
Bucklers: Can be used to parry a single attack at a +2, or it can be used for an extra attack.
Small Shield (Like a Targe): -1 to AC
Medium Shield (Like a Heater Shield): -2 to AC
Large Shield (Like a Kite Shield): -3 to AC
Great Shield (Like a Scuta): -4 to AC
If some wanted a Pavis (-4 to be Hit by Missiles) or a Mantlet (-6 to be Hit by Missiles) I was always happy to let them drag one of them around and try to set it up. They are worthless against melee weapons or in melee combat (though you could buy a Great Shield that would double as a Pavis if you liked). Gone are the restrictions on the number of opponents they are useful against (which was always a huge PITA to keep track of in combat), and I let Rogues use Bucklers and Small Shields, and Bandits use Medium Shields as well. Fighters and Cavaliers were the only sorts who could use Large and Great Shields (and some, like Duelists and Rangers, were restricted to lighter types). It should be noted that I let Fighter-types with multiple attacks get multiple parries or attacks over the round with a Buckler at the same rate as their multiple attacks.
As a further note, I tended to make the ruling that Firearms ignored Shields for the purposes of determining the to-hit number. Shields were used to stop blows “head-on” they were used to brush-aside or deflect blows – and the alternately wooden or thin metal shields didn’t do much to stop or deflect bullets. I suppose that if was being really fair I’d let some types of magical shields count against firearms (the magic being enough to block the bullets) but I tend to prefer just a whole new class of magical item for that purpose – isn’t that a “Protection vs. Normal Missiles” spell is for after all?
And yes, for the crazy folks out there, I let people buy Lantern Shields as well – that is the sort of Rube Goldbergesque device that seemed totally D&Dish and it certainly has a wonderful OSR feel to it.
(Now back to studying for the EPPP…)