Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rehabilitating the Shield Bash

First off, if you're American: GO VOTE! I'll wait for you. I'll be right here. Back? Ok.

Shield bashing in 2e is lame. Even with the Combat and Tactics rules, this is what you get:

Shield Type Size Speed Reach Damage Knockdown 
Small Fa (2) 1d3 d6 
Medium Av (6) 1d4 d8 
Large Sl (8) 1d6 d10

That doesn't look too impressive, does it? Your small shield is as useful as a knife—not very. The knockdown on the shields is fairly good considering, but there's still little reason to use your medium shield as a punch ever unless you happen to have two ranks in TWF or your dexterity bonus completely negates the off-hand penalty.

What the hell would make shields useful as weapons? Well, after taking a look at a video from the Mosgard Museum in which viking shield-fighting is explained, I got some ideas.

With that in mind, anyone struck by a blow from a shield must save vs. paralyzation (at a +2, 0, -2 bonus/penalty for small/medium/large shields) or lose their next attack as they flinch and overbalance. Characters hit with a shield-punch also lose any dexterity bonus to their AC if they fail this save until the beginning of next round, making a follow-up blow from a sword a much more certain thing.

I think that brings some dignity to shield-punching and more accurately represents why you would ever want to do it. I have yet to use the rule in play, for I thought of it just this morning in the shower, but I am changing all shield-punching in the 10th Age to run along these lines until I determine its a bad idea.

Note: this maneuver is still more useful for higher level characters -- both because it will land more successfully and because it serves to break up a high level foe's attack pattern.


  1. Nice video. I was thinking about writing a bit more about shields myself. I've touched on a few weapons and techniques so far, and shields in combat almost always leave me feeling let down. The feeling of the edge of a shield driven upwards into your jaw or raked hard down onto your leg is never as effective as it should be using most game mechanics.

  2. Another example of why showers are important to the growth of the hobby.

    Are you listening, catpiss men? Take a shower, and be a smarter gamer.