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kaddawang

Shields

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Hi all.

My first post, please be gentle:)

I have but one question - one that have been bugging me since i got the book:

Can someone explain to me the advantage of carrying shields into combat?

As i read the rules, that is essentially what you're doing with a shield - carry it. It doesn't grant you any bonuses whatsoever, it doesn't really do anything? Except for weighting you down?

Granted, it is capable of absorbing a good deal of damage compared to a meleeweapon, but weapon breakage is something that would occur once in a blue moon. And those opponents capable of inflicting damage massive enough to break a weapon, can be dodged.

And if you use the optional rules for separate attack and parry-skills, the shield still doesn't give you anything?

I must have missed something here, but I can't for the life of me figure out what.

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Here are a few thoughts on the advantages of using a shield.

1. It allows you a better chance to parry missile weapons than you would have without a shield.

2. You can use it to try a knockback-based attacks (bash the enemy with the shield and hopefully knock said foe over or back).

3. You might get some protection from an area-of-effect attack (try parrying an acid-splash with your sword and see how far that gets you).

4. You don't always have the space available to dodge (narrow, crowded hallway, or when trying to maintain a phalanx formation). Shields are good for parrying there.

5. You can use a shield to block an attack against one of your comrades (who maybe doesn't see the attack coming).

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Fun Guy has the right attitude:)

But again, apart from the slight chance of avoiding missiles and area-attacks, the shield doesn't do much. Your sword parries just as well.

I'm actually inclined to houserule that, unless you have a shield, parrying weapon or longer reach weapon(a longsword vs a dagger), melee-parries are made at hard difficulty.

Also, dodging an attack means moving out of the way. Most of the time you don't really have to move very much to make an attack miss. Throw in hand weapons and bodyarmor, and defending yourself becomes less parrying and dodging, and more positioning yourself to make an attack hit in an awkward angle or distance, and thus deflect it.

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I must admit I'm not a fan of the "all-or-nothing" approach to parries given in the new book, either (which is what gives rise to this problem).

If you're going to houserule it, might I suggest you try something like this...?

Parries only block damage up to the AP of the parrying weapon/shield (the rest gets through); and non-shields only have half the listed AP.

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If you're using hit locations, allow shields to cover the arm plus 2-3 additional hit locations at half AP, like RQ did and they become very important. Disregard this is not using hit locations.

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I've yet to read over the section, but how else are you going to deal with an arrow, or slingstone bullet, or even a rock without a shield?

Dagger parry? Spear parry? Sure, maybe a Difficult parry with those weapons to knock it away, but you'd be better off with a shield.

Especially when hit locations are being used.

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As for using armor/hit points for parries: this is how it is usually handled in RQ (both old Chaosium and Mongoose) but it has its disadvantages, too. A sturdy weapon is not necessarily better for parrying. I use a mixed system in MRQ (APs for shields, all-or-nothing for weapons) but it introduces complications. Moreover, using APs for parries with the huge values given in BRP means you could possibly parry a rhino with your hoplite shield, which is ludicrous.

As for the advantages of using shields, the point is that the rules in BRP do not give you any real advantages for using two weapons. This is one of the few flaws in the system: a person with two weapons, or a weapon and a shield, has an advantage against one with one weapon only in real combat. Add the option "You cannot attack and parry in the same DEX Rank or Strike Rank with the same weapon" and you have a use for your secondary weapon or shield.

Finally, the main use of shields is not dungeon crawling. Shields were used in large formations to block missiles or make shield walls, not to go adventuring. The Japanese did not use shields at all. So it is perfectly realistic to use shields only when you expect missile fire, i.e. in open battles.

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It has been argued that parries, even with shields, are not necessarily a full block but can be just deflection. Deflecting a charging rhino seems unlikely, though - so in that case, even if the damage were stopped, the shield-user could still suffer knockback...

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The shield user would suffer knockout, rather. The shield may not break, but the wielder's bones would.

No system is thoroughly realistic. Both models have their advantages and weaknesses, it is just a matter of what kind of unrealism bugs you most.

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Add the option "You cannot attack and parry in the same DEX Rank or Strike Rank with the same weapon" and you have a use for your secondary weapon or shield.

Now that's just brilliant. A handful of words, and the world makes sense again:happy:

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The Japanese did not use shields at all. So it is perfectly realistic to use shields only when you expect missile fire, i.e. in open battles.

Actually Japan did use shields until about the 4th Century CY when mounted horsemen arrived on the battlefield (probably from Korea and China), which emphasized mobility. A mounted horseman was harder to hit when moving and later on, they took it to a whole new level when Japan created an entire discipline of mounted archery called yabusame. Early on, when they did still use shields, they used a specific type of large shield (4 ft. or 1.2 meters) to defend archers.

Edited by FunGuyFromYuggoth

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Well, the knights of old didn't use shields much either. That heavy armor protcted them good enough to free their left hand, so they could wield those big weapons.

The not so heavily armored footmen, however, often used shields. Small buckler-type shields are often encountered in medieval combat manuals.

But that still doesn't change the fact that shields, as they are represented today in BRP, doesn't do much.

Add the rules from old RQ, and they become more worthwhile. But only if you use hit-locations.

How was shields handled in Stormbringer?

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Bear in mind that I don't know RQ. I only played it ages ago. I rely primarily upon the wisdom of oracles on this forum(and this post).

Shields would add APs to the shieldarm,as well as 1-3 other locations(depending on the shield), as well as enabling you to attack and parry on the same Strike Rank.

I also vaguely remember that shields had a better base Parrying% than most weapons..?

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I have some concerns here too, but if you allow use of the covered-location rules to address some of the missile weapons issues, and note that unless you're using an off-hand weapon that it isn't that hard to get a parrying weapon chewed up in an extended battle (look at the attack/parry matrix closely for what happens when you parry a special attack), there's still some justification for them.

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This actually has roots in other threads about BRP's unfortunate conflation of parrying with blocking. Does a shield parry or block? From what I've seen in historic recreations, it does both. You may want to have another skill that separates parrying from blocking. If you re-tool the old Block skill (DEX x2%), you get another application of "Shield." You keep the base % (usually 15% but varies) for other uses (if you combine or choose the option splitting attack/parry).

The thing about the old Block skill is that it was written to include large enough objects you can use with two hands. Period. It also exempts two-handed swords and your hands--those were designed to "parry" (I'd argue in martial arts you also had the X-block in traditional East Asian martial arts, which are definitely not parries, but that's another thread...)

If you houserule it to exempt shields which are specifically designed to block, (it does have nice handles that barstools and other objects lack) then you get the little extra oomph you are looking for. As houserules go, it may not be all that bad. You already have one exception for a type of shield. Remember that the pavise shield that archers use isn't actually used in a way most shields are used. In game, you'd use the Cover rules on page 220 for the pavise shield.

For balance, I'd still keep the downside of Block--if the damage done to it exceeds the objects HP, the blocking item (Shield in this case) is rendered useless or knocked away completely. Plus the remainder of the HP damage goes onto the defender. This could force the defender to think a bit more tactically about blocking opponents with big weapons (yeah tell the player ahead of time and they'll forget it 2 seconds later). Plus it could make Shield combat a bit more entertaining vs. largish weapons ("Remember what I said about blocking that great troll's battle axe?")

Finally, you get to re-introduce a skill that makes impromptu brawls fun again. :lol: Fire extinguishers, large wrenches, tree branches, trash cans, dead goblins, etc. are now in your Blocking arsenal.

Edited by FunGuyFromYuggoth

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Hmm, I usually (in MRQ) do not use different skills for parry and block. I simply use different mechanics: opposed roll and all-or-nothing for parries (you deflect the blow with your weapon/shield), and unopposed roll and Armor Points for blocks (you interpose the weapon - if the blow is too strong, OUCH!). Obviously blocks are better used with shields, given the low APs of weapons in RQ. Having two separate skills is an idea I do not like: the less the skills, the better.

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Having two separate skills is an idea I do not like: the less the skills, the better.

I understand the qualms about having another skill for Shield, but if your player said he wanted to pick up a bar stool to defend against someone with an axe, what mechanic would you use? Do you use Shield at 15%?

Not knowing a thing about Blocking, an average Joe could probably defend better than 15% with a bar stool.

If you don't like Block as an adjunct to Shield, and maybe if you don't like having another skill (it must've been dropped for that reason) I think it still has merit on the continuum as a Spot Rule? In "Call of Cthulhu," my players do all kinds of crazy cinematic things like using dead (or live) bodies as shields...but YMMV. :D

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After some contemplation and grinding of teeth, here is my immediate(non-playtested) fix:

1) You cannot attack and defend(this also would include dodging) on the same SR with the same weapon.

2) Attempts at parrying without the use of a shield, suitable parrying weapon, or a longer reach weapon are Difficult (and no parrying rhinos...)

3) Shields are able to take more abuse than a melee weapon.

No.1 can be integrated with no fuss at all. You'll have to use Strike Ranks for it to make perfect sense, but if your game raises the issues of this post, you probably use them already.

No.2 is a bit more hardcore, specially if there are more than one opponent.

No.3 is also quick to slot into the game, although you'll have to to some extra work with the AR/HP in the weapontables.

This doesn't require me to break apart the game and cobble together my own personal rules. The all-or-nothing parry is still in effect(which I don't mind-if a hit doesn't kill or incapacitate you, it really doesn't matter). And it makes a shield a useful thing to carry around, even if people isn't just throwing rocks at you.

Would this work, or should I go and put on my hat? The red, pointy one that says "DUNCE"?

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All are sensible solutions - though using all at once may be over-complex. 1 probably doesn't work so well in BRP as under RQ, unless using the SR option since DEX-ranks won't produce ties so often; 2 leaves you needing to define "sensible" (and what constitutes a rhino); 3 I prefer, since halving non-shield AP isn't too much work.

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Not knowing a thing about Blocking, an average Joe could probably defend better than 15% with a bar stool.

I would go with the base 25% of a club, if the character is strong enough to wield a bar stool as a weapon. But the average Joe could also Dodge at DEX x 2 which is not that bad.

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1) You cannot attack and defend(this also would include dodging) on the same SR with the same weapon.

2) Attempts at parrying without the use of a shield, suitable parrying weapon, or a longer reach weapon are Difficult (and no parrying rhinos...)

3) Shields are able to take more abuse than a melee weapon.

I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to dodge and attack contemporarily if you do not have two weapons. Also note that if you use DEX ranks, a clever fighter with two weapons can delay its action until his opponent with one weapon only strikes by simply stating "I counterattack on the DEX rank he attack", and gone is the one-weapon-user ability to parry. So it makes sense even without strike ranks. This simulates the manoeuver in which a fighter engages his foe's weapon with a parrying weapon or shield and finishes him off with the other weapon as he cannot use his single weapon to parry in that precise instant.

Months ago we discussed something about usage of a main gauche in combat on the mongoose forum, and Pete Nash explained he is particularly fond of such tactics.

The other options are viable too.

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a clever fighter with two weapons can delay its action until his opponent with one weapon only strikes by simply stating "I counterattack on the DEX rank he attack", and gone is the one-weapon-user ability to parry.

Err..no. It would force the one weapon guy to go on the defensive and hold off his attack until the next Strike/DEX-rank. Something that could be painful if it was a grand melee with several attackers.

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