... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Magic Shields

I didn't mention magic shields when I threw out my own version of the splintered shields rule. Partly, it's because magic shields and magic weapons have a wide variety of interpretations. In your campaign, does magic combat gear have plusses, or unique powers? Are there grades of magic armor (+1, +2, etc.?) Are the bonuses of magic shields and magic armor additive, or do you take the higher of the two, or do you roll to see if the shield blocks the blow?

My own preference is to just use the rules as-is, with the understanding that a magic shield is made of "better material" than any non-magic weapon... so magic shields are knocked out of the defender's hand rather than shattered. You still "lose" the shield, but only for a few rounds, until you pick it up again.

But what to do about magical plusses? Well, in yesterday's rules, I restricted the use of most shields to defending against attacks that do 1d6 damage or less. Let's say that the magical plus of a shield adds one one or more dice to the maximum damage it can defend against. So, a +1 shield can be sacrificed to block a 2d6 blow from a hill or stone giant; a +2 shield could defend against any giant, or other creature doing 3 dice of damage or less; and the very rare +3 shield can block up to 4 dice of damage from a single blow, which means just about any melée attack in LBB D&D. I'd also add the bonus to resist being shattered by a magic weapon, although the magic weapon adds its bonus to the die roll as well, so this really only helps if the shield has a higher plus than the weapon.


  1. Again, I'm glad you're blogging about this because I really like the magic shield that is knocked away rather than splintered.

    I'm not interested in tracking amounts of damage though, for me it's take the blow or not. I even let them know how much damage before the decision because I love them knowing they narrowly avoided death. That's what evokes the cinematic, dramatic struggle of combat in our campaign.

  2. I thought you were going to write about the shield spell. Which I would just assume was dispelled if it was shattered (but I'd allow it to block more than 1d6 if so shattered).

  3. @Telecanter: Your comment about tracking damage worries me, so I should probably make it clear that I wouldn't track damage to the shield, either. What I meant to say was that a +1 shield can block an attack from a creature or weapon that does up to 2d6 damage. Doesn't matter what the damage result actually is; even if that giant rolls a 2 on 2d6, it still knocks the shield out of your hand when you sacrifice your shield.

    @Richard: The shield spell in Greyhawk is pretty good as-is (much better than a real shield,) but I could see allowing it to be dispelled by one melée blow in exchange for absorbing the damage, no matter what it is.