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Friday, August 21, 2015

Rulings On Shields and Helm For Your Swords & Wizardry & Other Old School Fantasy Campaigns

+Talysman the Ur-Beatle has recently posted some updated rules for shields and helms for use in old school RPGs. I like it. However, I would house rule a bit differently, and it's rather a shame that this wasn't thought of prior to the release of Goldenrod Guides: A Guide to Swords & Wizardry Combat. These rules may have made it into the document. So, allow me to riff on Talysman for a minute.


I have long been fan of the Shields Shall Be Splintered rule, though I have not used it in actual play when I am running a game. I also like Talysman's rule that shields absorb damage rolls of 1. HOWEVER, I am an asshole Referee and don't think that this should be automatically allowed. Therefore:

Any creature using a shield can attempt to fend of a blow with said shield absorbing damage dealt. Any damage roll of 1 (and only 1) may be absorbed by a shield with a 4 in 6 chance of success. This reflects successful blocking with the shield.

The wielder of the shield (upon being damaged) can attempt to splinter their shield, absorbing all of the damage dealt. This causes the shield to splinter and become useless. There is a 2 in 6 chance of success to absorb all damage. On a failed roll (3 - 6 on 1d6) only half of the damage dealt is absorbed.

Additionally, if a rule is used allowing a character to make a shield bash attack (such as the "Sword & Shield Combat Style" in the aforementioned Goldenrod Guide) the wielder of said shield can splinter it on a successful attack (again rendering the shield useless) causing it to deal an additional 1-6 damage.

If  a shield being splintered is magical it gains a 2 in twenty chance to survive per +1 point of magical bonus. Thus a +2 shield survives splintering (still absorbing damage) on a roll of  1-4 on a d20.


My rule for helms is far more specific and applies only in two specific situations (one requiring the use of critical hit rules.)

Any creature wearing a helmet may make a roll to avoid damage that would normally take them to 0 or fewer hit points. There is a 1 in 6 chance of success. Additionally if critical hits are being used in a game there is a 2 in 6 chance that a helm prevents the critical hit and only normal damage is dealt.

Well, those are my thoughts. And that, as they say, is that.