Thursday, September 17, 2009

Musings on Shields

In my Planet Algol campaign, characters are free to use any weapons or armor, as long as they fall within the following:
  • We use the weapon proficiency rules as our basis
  • You can only be proficient with weapons that you have a high enough strength and/or dexterity score to wield properly. (These requirements are cribbed from RuneQuest/BRP.)
  • You may not use your classes special abilities while wearing armor that is ordinarily prohibited for that class; i.e. No backstabbing, no spell casting. However, there is a chance you can get away with using Read Languages while wearing plate mail.
Of course, I immediately had the players of sorcerers (magic-users) and thieves asking if they could use shields. My initial response was "Sure, if you spend a weapon proficiency for it."

Upon further consideration, one factor became apparent: I cannot think of a more iconic item of the "Fighting Man" archetype than the shield. If I see a picture of someone using a shield, I assume they are a Warrior with a capital "W". Sure, other archetypes use all sorts of arms in "influential materials" and pop culture, but once a character has a shield strapped to their arm, they become a knight, a soldier, a barbarian raider, or some other kind of full-time professional fighting-man.

Of course this runs contrary to the classic D&D trope of the Cleric (think Van Helsing crossed with a combat medic); but clerics are an odd duck and more something that emerged from game play in the early, developmental days of the game than an accurate depiction of an archetype.


  1. Thanks! More will be forthcoming. Also I asked a question about Cactoids.

  2. Oops. went back two to get the link, went forward one and posted.