Shields

In the basic Dragon Warriors* rules set out very briefly in Book 1, a shield serves as an extra level of protection for player-characters. In addition to protection of armour via the Armour Bypass Roll, the Shield enables the player to deflect the blow even if armour was defeated by the Armour Bypass Roll.

Some shields that are magical improve the likelihood of a deflection by improving chances on the shield roll.

Herein are some suggestions GMs have made to expand or improve the way shields work:

Alternate Approach 1

(Nirmalan de Silva)
A basic shield simply adds +1 to Armour Factor rather than serves as an extra roll. There is some merit in this approach from a simplicity perspective, though it makes a Knight*, for instance, armed with sword and shield (standard issue at 1st Rank) impregnable to all but Critical Hits against maces and bows.

Alternate Approach 2

(Wayne Imlach)
Using Shields in Melee
If an attacker rolls EXACTLY the highest required roll to hit a defender with a shield, then the defender blocks the blow with the shield. No extra roll, easy to calculate, and also takes into account the Attack & Defence of the combatants, making shields more advantageous the higher your defence is compared to your opponents attack score.

Taking an example from the Dragon Warriors* rulebook:

Balin* (Attack 14, Defence 9), armed with sword and shield, takes on two Orcs (Attack 11, Defence 5). He puts a defence of 5 against one orc. This Orc* needs a 6 or less to hit Balin*, and if the Orc* rolls exactly a 6, Balin* will have managed to block the blow on his shield. A roll of 5 or less will hit Balin* as normal. The remaining 4 points of defence is put against the second Orc*. This Orc* needs a roll of 7 or less to hit, with a 7 actually hitting Balin's* shield rather than his body.

If only one orc was attacking Balin*, then the Shield would be even more useful - the Orc* could only hit Balin* by rolling a 1 or a 2 to hit, and that 2 would in fact hit Balin's* Shield.

Critical hits (rolling a 1) cannot be blocked by a shield.

Note: This is the equivalent of gaining a +1 to Defence against each attacker when using a shield, but with the advantage of knowing exactly when the shield was used.

Using Shields against Missile Attacks
What about using a shield against missile weapons or direct spells? Use the same rules as above (assuming the defender is actively defending with their shield). So if an archer normally requires a 12 or less to hit our Knight*, his arrow will strike the Knight's* shield on the roll of a 12. In the same fashion, if a Sorcerer needs a 9 or less on the SPEED vs EVASION roll, the spell will strike the shield on a roll of 9. Just like the Warlock* 'Arrow Cutting' skill, this only applies if the defender is aware of his attacker - you don't get the shield bonus against an unseen opponent. Note that archers will suffer the 'small or crouching' penalty when shooting at foes behind a shield, as less of the target is now visible.

Only spells or attacks that normally have their damage reduced by armour can be blocked on a shield. If the damage is only blocked by magical armour, then consequently only a magical shield can be used to block that spell. Some spells are so devastating that they cannot be blocked at all - Firestorm is an example. Any indirect spell or spell-like attack with an area effect cannot be blocked by any shield.

Blocking an attack with a shield only prevents the damage from being received – secondary effects (such as being hurled back by a Bull’s charge, or entangled by an Obsidiak*) will still be applied.

Shield Endurance (Optional)
There are three grades of Shield:

  • Light - Leather or Woven. This is an inexpensive shield type often used by primitive or poor cultures.
  • Common - Wooden core, canvas or leather skin, with perhaps a metal rim and/or boss. This is the most common type of shield, and is normally round, square or kite shaped.
  • Buckler - All metal, but much smaller than a normal shield so can only be used in melee combat - it offers no protection from missile or area-effect attacks.

Each has an Endurance value. Add any magical bonus to this value:

  • Light - 10
  • Common - 12
  • Buckler- 16

When a shield blocks a blow, have the opponent roll the armour bypass die and add the weapons damage. If this exceeds the shield endurance value, it is rendered unusable. For attacks with no armour bypass, simply use the rolled damage. In the case of a critical hit, assume the maximum roll for armour bypass.

Magical shields can only be harmed by magical weapons or attacks from magical creatures/sources.

Expert Parry
A character with the Expert Parry skill will block blows if the attacker makes the hit roll by a single point or less (in effect gaining +2 Defence against opponents). E.g. if a 7 or less is normally required to hit the shield bearer, a roll of 6 or 7 will in fact strike the shield.

Expert parry does not confer any advantage when defending against missile or spell attacks.

In addition, the character may add +2 to the endurance values of shields (if this rule is used), as they are proficient in deflecting blows, thus lessening the impact on the shield itself.


Alternate Approach 3

(Wayne Imlach)
Using a Shield
This is a simplistic alternative method. To successfully block a blow with your shield, roll less than the opponents hit roll on a d20. This applies to both melee and missile attacks. E.g. If your opponent rolls a 5 to hit (and is successful), you must roll less than 5 on a d20 to block the blow.The defender must be aware of the attack – surprise strikes or an arrow in the back cannot be blocked.

Note: Critical hits cannot be blocked, as it is impossible to roll less than 1.

Blocking Indirect Spells/ Attacks
In the same fashion as blocking a normal attack, the defender may catch a spell blast on their shield by rolling less than the value of the speed vs evasion roll. However, this can only be attempted in place of dodging, so the defenders evasion is considered 0.

Only spells or attacks that normally have their damage reduced by armour can be blocked on a shield. If the damage is only blocked by magical armour, then consequently only a magical shield can be used to block that spell. Some spells are so devastating that they cannot be blocked at all - Firestorm is an example. Any indirect spell or spell-like attack with an area effect cannot be blocked by any shield.

Blocking an attack with a shield only prevents the damage from being received – secondary effects (such as being hurled back by a Bull’s charge, or entangled by an Obsidiak*) will still be applied.

Expert Parry
Characters with the skill 'Expert Parry' may block a blow by rolling less than or equal to the opponents hit roll on a d20. Characters with this skill can block critical hits in this way (if they also roll a 1 for their block).

Massive Damage

The rulebooks are somewhat unclear about what kind of attacks can be blocked by a shield - can a shield really parry the claws of a huge Dragon* with no damage whatsoever? A simple compromise is to limit the amount of damage that a shield can block to something like 6 points. A blocked attack that does more than this damage will apply the remainder to the target as normal (and will require a subsequent armour bypass to see if this excess damage penetrates the targets armour).

Blocking Spells

Some spells requiring SPEED vs EVASION could, in theory, be blocked - at least in part - using a shield. The natural response to a Dragonbreath* that one has failed to avoid would, one would think, be to raise the shield to fend off the heat.

Blocking Missiles

(Kharille)
Shields could realistically block many missiles such as javelins, arrows, thrown daggers, rocks. There is scope to revise the rules to accomodate this. One would think that either:

  • A difficulty factor could be added to the archer's roll, or
  • Instead that the shield be used and rolls for deflection apply, depending to a large extent upon whether the missile was seen by the victim fired by the opponent.
(Well, historically they were able to deflect a lot of missiles. Why not pit DEFENCE against the ATTACK of the archer?)


However, some might prefer the simplicity of the rules and not add this aspect. Or a scrupulous GM could let 'close' rolls fail or succeed depending on whether the victim was holding a shield...

Alternate Approach 4

(Myles Kenihan)

Small Shield
Adds +1 to Defence in melee and gives a bonus of +1 to Armour Factor against missiles ( the AF bonus is not conferred in melee. ) This class is represented mostly by smaller round shields and counts as one item for encumbrance.

Large Shield
Adds +1 to Defence in melee and gives a bonus of +2 to Armour Factor against missiles ( the AF bonus is not conferred in melee. ) This class is represented by larger round, kite, oval or rectangular shields and counts as two items for encumbrance.

Expert Parry
Characters with this knightly skill simply get an additional +1 Defence in melee if they have a small or large shield. Against missile weapons with a Speed attack, +1 Evasion is conferred. Against other missile weapons, no bonus is conferred.

Note: Shields have no influence on critical hits

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