Thursday, April 25, 2013

GURPS Weapons & Tactics: Using Shields Offensively

I already posted about the offensive and defensive tradeoffs of using a shield. But how is it as a weapon? Not bad, actually. Here is a quick look.


Shields are Weapons

Perhaps the most important takeaway point of this post is this - a shield is a weapon. It's a defensive weapon, but it's a weapon. You can Block with it, smash people with it, charge behind it, or slash with the edge (if it has blades or a rim blade, as in Low-Tech Companion 2, p. 20 or Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables, p. 35). But it's a weapon.

This means Shield is a valid specialty or part of a valid specialty for Weapon Master. Yes, cumulative Blocking (Martial Arts p. 123) at 1/2 the penalties, +1 or +2 per die of damage, and halved Rapid Strike penalties.

You have two basic options for attacking with a shield - Shield Bash, and Shield Rush.

Shield Bash - just bash him with your shield. Damage isn't very high, though, even if you add spikes (or a conical boss or disarming spikes, from LTC2, p. 20). A long, sharp spike (also from the same page) will make the damage impaling, but they can break off pretty easily when you block, so they aren't good long-term additions. But if it doesn't do that much damage, why bash?

The real reason to bash is, you're giving yourself a valid outlet for a Dual-Weapon Attack while also retaining the benefits of having a shield. Plus you've got another factor going for you:

Weight - Shields are heavy, often really heavy (25 pounds for a Basic Set Large Shield, and 15 for a Medium Shield!) This makes them hard to parry without worrying about breakage. Few one-handed weapons can try a parry without checking for breakage, and the smaller ones are so light they'll break if they try and fail the parry as well. The lighter shields in Low-Tech, though, work against you a bit here. The heavier the better for bashing versus parries.

Shield Rush - a Slam behind a shield. This has a few things going for it.

- you roll against Shield to hit, and Shield will almost certainly be better than your DX (or you might want to reconsider being a shield-wielder, if it's not)

- you get extra damage on the slam equal to the DB of the shield. Spikes add here, too. The bigger and better your shield is for your protection, the better it is at helping you slam. For a Large Shield with a spike, we're talking +4 to slam damage. This can turn even a moderate-speed slam into some real damage, which increases your odds of knocking your opponent down.

- your shield takes the damage when you slam. So you won't get battered as much even if you get in a heavy slam; it's hard to really damage a shield badly.


If you're using the shield options I mentioned above (rim blade or blades) you can even get some swing/cutting damage going, which means much more damage on a weapon much too heavy for breakage-free parries by most opponents. It also makes them more lethal, but even just with Basic Set, shields are a serious offensive weapon as well as a defensive one.

11 comments:

  1. I've always considered shields to be weapons with some special rules. In fact, the rules could use some refactoring to make this clearer. Shields are a special kind of weapon that suffers -5 instead of -4 on successive parries, that has some special ways to be gripped (normal vs buckler vs guige), and that provides DB. Shield slam rules should be merged with the slams with weapons rules. Not only it would make the rules clearer, but it would also save word count

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looked at this way, if shields get a DB, what other weapons should get a DB? Quarterstaff? Qian Ku Ri Yue Dao?

      Delete
    2. I'd say none, but I also think very small shields (Light shields) should get 0 DB, and just give you a Block. I don't think having a qian ku ri yue dao or staff should give you a better chance to dodge, but have the weapon hit. Unless you normalize that out to any weapon, which is just a headache.

      Delete
  2. I've always been a little suspicious towards the whole "bladed rim swing/cutting" thing. When you combine that with their weight, some decent ST, and Weapon Master, what you end up with is a virtually unparryable cuisinart. If swinging damage wasn't already overstated, it might not be so bad, and with the Edge Protection rules it's a bit more palatable, but it can get out of hand in a hurry.

    The other issue I get troubled by is "Why does sharpening the rim make it a swinging weapon?" Presumably you can already whack fools with an unsharpened rim, but that just gets sucked into the thrust/crushing bash line, so why shouldn't a sharpened shield rim do thrust/cutting instead of swing/cutting? Am I misunderstanding what's meant to be represented by that modification?

    (And while I'm miniranting about shields, and since the thrust of the post was that Shields Are Really Weapons, why don't they have MinST ratings? Why can a fourth grader and a college football lineman wield a Large Heavy Shield equally well (and have the same access to weapon-shattering power) if they can't do the same with a pollaxe?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The line in 300 about being strong and agile enough to lift the shield comes to mind.

      Delete
    2. @Walker: I think it's generous, too, but knives get it. I'd like to say you can get swing, but maybe it's fair to restrict it to bucklers. Strap it on like a shield, you get thrust/cut. Then you're trading stability for damage.


      @Doug: Ah, 300, the longest video game cut scene I ever sat through. I kept pushing "A" over and over but it wouldn't let me skip to the parts where I get to do stuff!

      Delete
    3. Oh yeah, and you could easily give shields a by-weight ST stat. Treat shields as a two-handed weapon, bucklers as a one-handed weapon. I did that in 3e, but I don't have the numbers handy. You do then get shields that normal soldiers can't carry pretty easily.

      Also, that kid and that linebacker? Not the same SM, are they? The kid should be at a higher encumbrance and have a penalty for an oversized shield.

      Delete
  3. Some nice tips to remember (especially for a newb like me).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Would it be completely ridiculous to make a duel-wielding shield user? As in, two weaponized shields? Or maybe it wouldn't give any benefit over a weapon and shield. I just like the silly image of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not very productively. You get the DB from the better of the two shields, not from both, and you get two Block scores. It's a very inefficient way to fight, really.

      Delete
  5. What book has the rules on the DB damage bonus and whether you roll against dex or shield on a rush?

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...