Shields are too weak

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I would expect a shield to be +2 vs everything around you to represent the shields general protective ability. Then add +2 to every enemy that is in front of, or to the shield side of you. Then you should be able to add even more protecton with feats, talents, whatever. Not to go into all the different types of shields or ways they could be handled in game. I just hope shields get a complete reworking, and actually become usefull like they are in real life.
I would expect a shield to be +2 vs everything around you to represent the shields general protective ability. Then add +2 to every enemy that is in front of, or to the shield side of you.

Ugh. Say no to facing in a purely turn-based combat system. It's a form of added "realism" that just encourages people to run around to each other's backs while other person stands there (because it's not their turn). It adds complexity with little benefit.

At least, that's my experience with tactical JRPGs that have a facing system.
This could cause some serious mechanical problems.

GM: "Okay, the Kobold to your right barely manages to push past your 18 AC -"
Player: "Nu-uh. My AC is 20 on that side"
GM: "You just told me two rounds ago that you were holding your shield to the front."
Player: "Well, that was two rounds ago. Now, my shield is to the right!"

If shields were to be beefed up, then body armor needs to be nerfed. I'd rather have a generalized and balanced game than a complex and imbalanced one. Besides, where the shield is being held and how the block is achieved should really be represented only with the player or GM's description of the action, not with the game mechanics.

This is all opinion, of course. I don't mean to make it sound like "me right, you wrong."

EDIT: I agree with Valdrax.
The only thing that ever bothered me about shields were that light and bucklers provided the same bonus to AC.
Aesop had it right 2,500 years ago, "By endeavoring to please everyone, he had pleased no one, and lost his ass in the bargain".
Shields are a little tricky, because if they're too good everyone wants one, but if they are too lame everyone wields a big weapon. For 4e, we've taken an approach with shields (and most other weapons) where classes that are supposed to be good with something have options and abilities that augment that thing.

So, a fighter might take maneuvers or feats that improve his shield use. A cleric might carry a shield, but the cleric class lacks any specific mechanics to make the shield better.
Shields are a little tricky, because if they're too good everyone wants one, but if they are too lame everyone wields a big weapon. For 4e, we've taken an approach with shields (and most other weapons) where classes that are supposed to be good with something have options and abilities that augment that thing.

So, a fighter might take maneuvers or feats that improve his shield use. A cleric might carry a shield, but the cleric class lacks any specific mechanics to make the shield better.

You tease. ;) That was just enough info to get our hopes up. Between this and the Paladin info, you whet the appetite of many gamers.
Shields are a little tricky, because if they're too good everyone wants one, but if they are too lame everyone wields a big weapon. For 4e, we've taken an approach with shields (and most other weapons) where classes that are supposed to be good with something have options and abilities that augment that thing.

So, a fighter might take maneuvers or feats that improve his shield use. A cleric might carry a shield, but the cleric class lacks any specific mechanics to make the shield better.

Excellent.
Shields are a little tricky, because if they're too good everyone wants one, but if they are too lame everyone wields a big weapon.

Historically, almost everyone did want a shield, even if only a little one. Even a disk of steel or wood on your forearm made a big difference when trying to keep arrows off exposed areas of your face and upper body or deflect weapon blows. Using some form of shield was the default option; it was forfeited only when you had a specific technique that required both arms (archery, long pole-arms or swords that doubled as pole-arms, and the occasional fighter for whom sheer offense was more important than protection).

In contrast, D&D 3rd plays-down the shield. The tower shield - an enormous hunk of portable cover - gives the same AC bonus as a chain shirt or similar light armour, when in practice it gave protection comparable to or exceeding full plate. Of course, shields have a much higher manoeuvrability cost than most armour, too.

While I fully support the idea of "shield manoeuvres", any gumby should be able to pick up a "heavy" shield, cower behind it taking appropriate penalties, and be at least as well protected as if they were wearing a breastplate (at least against a single foe).
Historically, almost everyone did want a shield, even if only a little one.

Fantasy. Game.

Keep your simulationist limitations away from my happy fun time.
Shields are a little tricky, because if they're too good everyone wants one, but if they are too lame everyone wields a big weapon.

Everyone already had one in 3.5.

Animated shields for the win!:D
Fantasy. Game.

Keep your simulationist limitations away from my happy fun time.

Fun/game also equals making shields as good as if not on the highest end of powerful side compared to the other two melee styles. The last thing we need is the most viable and used style in RL being the worst or second best of three styles when it should be first.

I mean seriously "I'd like to play the typical kick ass sword and board fighter, but it's just not optimal compared to ____" is something one should never hear.
in every current world 'sword and board' style i've studied, the first thing they teach you is 'don't punch with your shield', the second is 'don't cover your head with it, use the leading corner to punch block' and the third
is 'here's how to get around his shield and how he'll get around yours.'

really big shields are better used in gangs. really small shields are best used with small weapons. 'large' shields are best with broadswords.

but i've witnessed guys who were death on legs with no shield turn into idiots on their asses when given a shield. its far from easy to just hang it out in front and hope they swing at it madly like people shooting at the goalie instead of near the goalie.
1h/shield should be a viable choice, unlike in 3e. Of course. What I don't want is 'everyone must use a shield, because IRL two-weapon fighting is nigh-impossible'.
Fun/game also equals making shields as good as if not on the highest end of powerful side compared to the other two melee styles. The last thing we need is the most viable and used style in RL being the worst or second best of three styles when it should be first.

I mean seriously "I'd like to play the typical kick ass sword and board fighter, but it's just not optimal compared to ____" is something one should never hear.

And sadly, that is why I have never played a one-hand and board fighter. I did it once as a cleric of war, but only because the cleric's deity favored the heavy mace. It was one of the only melee characters I've ever played that felt right.
I agree very much that Shield needs to be more powerful.

I DO NOT agree that facing is a good thing to add to the game. Does anyone remember how broken 3.0 "Shield" spell was; +7 "3/4 cover" AC from one side? Complicated and highly subject to argument and min-maxing (all thigns 4E doesn't want to promote).

To Improve shields, I would do all of the following:
A) make shield proficiency rolled into armor proficiency. This further requires shields to be divided into light, medium, and heavy armor. So
LIGHT ARMOR: Buckler, Small Shield
MEDIUM ARMOR: Large Shield
HEAVY ARMOR: Tower Shield

B) make the base shield AC bonus (unmodified by enhancement) double when fighting defensively or using total defense option. Turtling behind a shield is very protective and this niche should exist. So the +1 from a Buckler is +2 when fighting defensively, the +4 from a Tower Shield is +8 when fighting defensively.

C) Remove non-standard penalties from all shields. This means the Buckler "-1 to hit if you're using that hand" or the Tower Shield "-2 to all attacks" is gone. This is both to make shield more effective and to reduce "bookkeeping". Off topic, but I would similarly remove extra penalties for firing certain crossbows one-handed; wtf is up with that?

D) Make the Shield AC bonuses into the following:
Buckler +1 (can't attack with)
Small Shield +2 (light weapon)
Large Shield +3 (one-handed weapon)
Tower Shield +4 (can't attack with)

***
Another point, can you use your "primary hand" for your shield hand and your lighter off hand for a weapon? Has anyone else every thought if you could, say, use a Shortsword in one hand (a light weapon) and a Large Shield (a one handed weapon) in the other hand, but only receive light TWF penalties because one of your hands (or arbitrarily your "offhand") is light?
Oh yeah, and delete the "animated" +2 enchantment for shields. Never have I seen such a sensibly out of place and mechanically overpowered ability. I have heard some outrageous stories about Monks circumventing their restrictions by using "Animated" shields. I haven't seen the +4 "Dancing" enchantment for weapons quite as bad, but I'd give it a goings-over with a fine tooth comb.

Basically, it comes down to: you choose your own equipment and actions, and therefore are penalized appropriately for it. No "fantasia" weapons and armor that fight for you (freeing up your time and hand) or auto-protect you (without the penalties or occupied hand).
Dancing weapons suck because the attack they make is at your bab + weapon's enhancement bonus only, meaning that most of the time, your weapon will be missing. Nor is it cheap (a +1 dancing weapon already costs 50000gp), so most of the time, it just bogs down the game with pointless attack rolls that will likely never hit. That is why no one ever uses them, much less complain about them being game-breaking.

The same cannot be said for animated shields though.
Fun/game also equals making shields as good as if not on the highest end of powerful side compared to the other two melee styles. The last thing we need is the most viable and used style in RL being the worst or second best of three styles when it should be first.

I mean seriously "I'd like to play the typical kick ass sword and board fighter, but it's just not optimal compared to ____" is something one should never hear.

While I agree that is idea to wish that no one will decide one option over another is optimal, this often going to be very hard to achieve and still retain the feel of differance.

What I hope for that it is at least close enough that there is debate on which option has value in different builds and circumstances.

There will always be a few that claim an 'optimum' for the CO boards. What is good is to be able to make the gap between optimum reasonably small that it takes extra effort to obtain that differance.
another thing I'd like to see is that larger shields (Tower, Large) would add bonuses to such things as overrun and bull rush. I mean, if yer trying to run over a foe, you put the shield up and PUSH!!!! much harder to avoid than just a guy coming straight at you.

Edit: Oh, and it should also be harder to grapple those peeps. You can't really get your arms around him if he blocks your approach with a shield. Ever tried getting to someone behind a door? :P
Edit: Oh, and it should also be harder to grapple those peeps. You can't really get your arms around him if he blocks your approach with a shield. Ever tried getting to someone behind a door?

Yeah, you punch right through the door, wrap your arms around him, and then pull then through what remains of said door...:D
Shields need options that help you hit and hurt others with your primary weapon. Not just give you more AC and allow you to hit people with your shield. ONE of the shields PRIMARY uses was knocking other weapons aside to create openings and throwing your enemy off balance so you could hit him easier.

If all I'm doing with a shield is getting a higher AC, or attacking people with it like it's a weapon I don't feel like I'm using a shield, because a mechanic that fills one of it's primary uses is missing.
Shields SHOULD be considered one of the options of 2nd hand weapon options.

ALL second hand weapon options SHOULD increase your AC to some degree. The primary point of having one is to deflect incoming blows. The shield is just particularly apt at it. So using a shield would no doubt incurr a higher chance of deflecting those blows and thus a higher AC bonus.

However, like other second hand weapons you SHOULD be able to hit people with a shield. Now, obviously smacking someone with a shield doesn't do as much damage as stabbing them with sword, however it does make it quite a bit more difficult for them to hit you back.

As such, bashing with the Shield should be an attack made just like with a secondary weapon, but this attack would have low damage (1d3), but would do a fortitude attack against them. The larger the shield, the easier it is to hit with this fortitude attack. The attack, if successful, would give the opponet a substantial penalty to their attack on their next turn. (I was considering suggesting it would stun the person, but that would obviously be too powerful).

Shields SHOULD be considered one of the options of 2nd hand weapon options.

ALL second hand weapon options SHOULD increase your AC to some degree. The primary point of having one is to deflect incoming blows. The shield is just particularly apt at it. So using a shield would no doubt incurr a higher chance of deflecting those blows and thus a higher AC bonus.

However, like other second hand weapons you SHOULD be able to hit people with a shield. Now, obviously smacking someone with a shield doesn't do as much damage as stabbing them with sword, however it does make it quite a bit more difficult for them to hit you back.

As such, bashing with the Shield should be an attack made just like with a secondary weapon, but this attack would have low damage (1d3), but would do a fortitude attack against them. The larger the shield, the easier it is to hit with this fortitude attack. The attack, if successful, would give the opponet a substantial penalty to their attack on their next turn. (I was considering suggesting it would stun the person, but that would obviously be too powerful).

I sorta like your idea but disagree with it.

A shield makes it easier for YOU to hit them as well as making it harder for them to hit you. A shield is already doing the second part simply bt having an AC, it's the first part that's missing. Also, you don't usually do any substantial damage at all when knocking an opponent off balance or knocking their weapon to the side and it's a typical aspect of using a shield, so I don't think it should require an off hand attack either nor do I think it should do damage. Just by being skilled and using a shield you should be able to do this.

Defensively shields are already pretty good, it's offensively that's the problem, as is the idea that using a shield offensively means hitting people with it for damage when it usually means opening up their guard so that their vitals are exposed to that sharp pointy thing in your other hand that's far deadlier than a bonk to the noggin with a shield.

Your idea would better represent a shield if they had to make a reflext save and if they lost they lose their dex bonus or recieve a ac penalty against your next attack against them.
At the same time though, your aveage mook picking up a shield that is not trained with it extensively will be only able to block or attack. Not both (what you are recommending). Shield Specialization should, IMO grant a +1 to hit with your primary weapon in addition to the increase in the shield's output. Would that work?
At the same time though, your aveage mook picking up a shield that is not trained with it extensively will be only able to block or attack. Not both (what you are recommending). Shield Specialization should, IMO grant a +1 to hit with your primary weapon in addition to the increase in the shield's output. Would that work?

A lot closer. I like your idea a lot. Though a +1 is a bit minor, however we can't ask for the world. A +1 to attack would at least shows they recognize this fact. It's a start but I wouldn't want it to be the end all beat all, I'd like maneuvers and such as well, options to go further into it the more trained you are.

The big problem is, it doesn't much training to get the basic benefit of this, I'm not sure it should require more than the training any class that has shield proficiency has. I mean seriously this is HOW you use a shield, if you can't do the basics of this I wouldn't call you TRAINED in shield use.

So yes if you are a untrained mook picking up a shield you shouldn't get a benefit, but I don't think it should require any feats beyong simple proficiency.
One thing that the designers could do to focus more on shields and TWF is to allow people that are trained in these items to have a series of immediate actions or swift actions that they can choose to use.

Immediate actions and Swift actions are a great control mechanism as you get 1 per round. Higher levels of ability can give you more powerful versions of the Immediate action and Swift action to use but once you commit your weapon to an action then that value is used up.

This then makes it easy to represent the extra hit with the TWF (or multiple hits with a more powerful version).

You could also have things like the stunning bash of the shield or using the shield as an immediate action combined with a 5' step to stop people from walking past the shield fighter. This control keeps the fighter from wandering all over the battlefield and doing that shield bash combined with five other extra things.
Bingo! Swift and Immediate Actions dependant on TWF and/or fighting with a shield. I mean, creating "Parry" or "Shield Block" abilities would be easy using Immediate Actions. Along those lines, I'd say Shields are better at preventing ranged attacks and against many opponents at once, while TWF (I mean here an offhand weapon, not a shield you hit with) is easier to prevent attacks from a single opponent.

Existing feats and abilities like the "Deflect Arrows" feat should be examined (remember there was an Epic Deflect Arrows type feat that worked with any WF weapon). I love the idea too of a bodyguard-eque feats that allow you to prevent attacks against other allies around you or prevent that especially nasty critical hit. Existing thigns here would be like the Rogue "Defensive Roll", which btw was a req for Epic Dodge- that broken epic feat which just let you pick one successful attack per round that just plain misses you. This also harkens very much to some central ideas that I see within the "Defender" archetype (or role I guess is the term).
I could see an immediate action parry manuever to allow an opposed role for an attack. I could also see a swift action to attack the reflex defense and grant yourself combat advantage (+2 hit, counts as flat footed from 3.x).
I could see an immediate action parry manuever to allow an opposed role for an attack. I could also see a swift action to attack the reflex defense and grant yourself combat advantage (+2 hit, counts as flat footed from 3.x).

This is a good comprimise. But if you choose to bash someone with the shield, you SHOULD take the same penalty (if any) that you take when using a second weapon.

Although it may be easier to hit someone with a shield when they are already up in your face, you would normally charge in and move your shield before yourself in such a way that trying to slash them at the same time would be difficult, but once you have succeeded in striking them, your follow up attack would be easier.

But, also, it is important in terms of game balance not to make shields ultimately superior to having a second weapon. Although realistically a 2-weapon fighting mode is inferior to a shield in just about any given scenario, there needs to be an option in the game for the fake fantasy cliche even if it is not realistic.

Bingo! Swift and Immediate Actions dependant on TWF and/or fighting with a shield. I mean, creating "Parry" or "Shield Block" abilities would be easy using Immediate Actions. Along those lines, I'd say Shields are better at preventing ranged attacks and against many opponents at once, while TWF (I mean here an offhand weapon, not a shield you hit with) is easier to prevent attacks from a single opponent.

Gotta take exception to that, historically, at least, though I know historical stuff really has nothing to do with D&D. ;)

Shields that don't provide a large amount of cover aren't that great at anti-ranged defense if the person with the bow is directly targetting you. A bowshot at a close enough range that the trajectory of the arrow is relatively flat easily gets past a shield, simply because the defender doesn't have enough time to react. (In indirect fire situations, where you've got people firing in flights at long range so that the arrows come in at a steep angle, smaller shields are slighly more useful than normal, if only because it's easier to shadow your smaller profile from that angle.) Large shields work well against ranged weapons because they effectively provide cover, but they only work very well in a rank-and-file sorta combat; if you get flanked, you're fragged, 'cause large shields are unwieldy. But when you come up against the front of a phalanx with large shields and stabby weapons (spears or gladii,) you're screwed. On the other hand, smaller shields are immensely useful in skirmish combat, because the very nature of a shield tends to create openings to strike into. Two-weapon fighting is historically limited in scope, and seemed to be primarily used against piercing weapons, where a minor deflection was all that was needed to turn an attack into a miss. It works significantly less well against 'power' weapons like longer, heavier swords, scimitars, and axes/mauls; you don't have the leverage to properly counter an incoming strike, and you'd be better off with a shield or a two-handed weapon. And it's no use at all against ranged weapons.

...Okay, now that I got that off my chest...;)

I love the idea too of a bodyguard-eque feats that allow you to prevent attacks against other allies around you or prevent that especially nasty critical hit.

Yes, yes, yes.
I think one of the biggest problems in making Shields attractive and optimal is in their current passive/support nature. While guys wielding big two-handers get to roll big damage dice, dual wielders get to make more and more attacks per round, adding a shield basically results in you doing LESS at the table (taking damage, but heck it's something). I think what might be an optimal solution to the shield problem is to given them a small amount of reactive immediate actions, actual blocks and such or maybe blade catchers/counter attacks. This would then elevate the aid the shields gives to an active benefit instead of a passive one-of-many-bonus.

People tend to de-value that which isn't active or right in front of them. But when you look at the AC's of shield users versus non-users it's pretty obvious that they are getting some nice bonuses. Even 3-4 points of extra AC means getting hit 15-20% less. And because of non-stacking type bonuses, anything that one could use to "make up" for not having a shield, the shield guy could probably grab too, so he'd still have the edge.

So, in summation, shields don't need that much more power, they just need to quit being passive. Go out there and grab that spotlight Buckler!!! heh nd meds-bye!
I hope they revise bucklers. The "strap on" bucklers are ridiculous and unrealistic; they are meant to be held in the hand.
Gotta take exception to that, historically, at least, though I know historical stuff really has nothing to do with D&D. ;)

Shields that don't provide a large amount of cover aren't that great at anti-ranged defense if the person with the bow is directly targetting you. A bowshot at a close enough range that the trajectory of the arrow is relatively flat easily gets past a shield, simply because the defender doesn't have enough time to react. (In indirect fire situations, where you've got people firing in flights at long range so that the arrows come in at a steep angle, smaller shields are slighly more useful than normal, if only because it's easier to shadow your smaller profile from that angle.) Large shields work well against ranged weapons because they effectively provide cover, but they only work very well in a rank-and-file sorta combat; if you get flanked, you're fragged, 'cause large shields are unwieldy. But when you come up against the front of a phalanx with large shields and stabby weapons (spears or gladii,) you're screwed. On the other hand, smaller shields are immensely useful in skirmish combat, because the very nature of a shield tends to create openings to strike into. Two-weapon fighting is historically limited in scope, and seemed to be primarily used against piercing weapons, where a minor deflection was all that was needed to turn an attack into a miss. It works significantly less well against 'power' weapons like longer, heavier swords, scimitars, and axes/mauls; you don't have the leverage to properly counter an incoming strike, and you'd be better off with a shield or a two-handed weapon. And it's no use at all against ranged weapons.
.

The part you mentioned on the unwieldy nature of the big shields like the tower shield made me think.

Would be proper to give these shields maybe a slight improvement in AC but at the cost that they hamper movement like wearing Medium or Heavier armour hampers the movement rate?

This would definiately make these types of shields work more like the turtle and phalanx tactics of history as these formations were not known for speed.

Just a thought.
the "problem" I see with Mearls soln is that sword and board may become more attractive for fighters but not for clerics. So the clerics will still be wandering around with 2-handed swords while the fighters will be using shields....

doesn't feel right to me. IMHO shields shouldn't be hard to use, so they should be an attractive choice for the classes who aren't experts with weapons. On the other hand defending yourself with a 2handed weapon while fighting
should be something that requires some training ....

just my opinion of what "feels" right
the "problem" I see with Mearls soln is that sword and board may become more attractive for fighters but not for clerics. So the clerics will still be wandering around with 2-handed swords while the fighters will be using shields....

doesn't feel right to me. IMHO shields shouldn't be hard to use, so they should be an attractive choice for the classes who aren't experts with weapons. On the other hand defending yourself with a 2handed weapon while fighting
should be something that requires some training ....

just my opinion of what "feels" right

I think you're confusing what he's actually saying here. Shields may or may not be an attractive option but, like all weapons and armor, a Fighter will have more options and more abilities with shields than other classes. For a Cleric, it's still bonus armor and cover. Two handed swords don't give him that. And he can still use a weapon of his choice without really penalizing himself. A Fighter, though, has more 'shield' abilities than the Cleric would by virtue of being a Fighter. Just like he has more 2H Sword abilities, more Glaive abilities, more Halberd abilities, more Longsword abilities, et al.
We've gotten the rapier-wielding duelist, and that's awesome. But, one thing they failed to produce (in fact, the Duelist prestige class is specifically against it) is this
IMAGE(http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/dgbuck1.jpg)

I would certainly love 4th Edition to make this possible, as this was a very effective art and presents some nice character options.
still think a shield should be a bit better of an option without having to invest feats/talents in shield use
still think a shield should be a bit better of an option without having to invest feats/talents in shield use

Explain yourself.

The shield can never be better than itself without character-based modifications to its use.
Explain yourself.

The shield can never be better than itself without character-based modifications to its use.

I think what he's saying is that shields should provide more advantage without a heavy investment in feats than they do in 3e. I'd agree with that.
I think what he's saying is that shields should provide more advantage without a heavy investment in feats than they do in 3e. I'd agree with that.

Oh, I don't see how this changes the fact that Fighters can, and will, have more options for shield use than someone who isn't Mr. Profficient In All Combat Stuff.
Oh, I don't see how this changes the fact that Fighters can, and will, have more options for shield use than someone who isn't Mr. Profficient In All Combat Stuff.

It doesn't. I think he may be worried (as I am) that Mike Mearls' post hints that any utility from various styles of wielding weapons will be limited to characters with Fighter (or Defender or Martial) levels.

Even without the amazingly cool powers available to a Fighter, a shield should offer some material advantage. Weapon & shield and polearms are the two combat styles most commonly used by peasant conscripts, so advantage shouldn't be purely limited only to those with advanced training.