View Full Version : Shields as Cover

2007-03-16, 07:32 PM
We all know that Tower Shields can be used as Total Cover. The relation of Light and Heavy Shields to this got me thinking, though. Could a Character use a Shield as cover as an alternative to getting a Shield Bonus? It strikes me that this would be quite useful with regards to Shield Walls and Ranged Combat.
The 'Degrees of Cover' Rules have sadly undergone a revision in the change from 3.0 to 3.5, but I wonder whether it would be a viable House Rule to let them be used in this way, maybe letting Light Shields act as +2 Cover and Heavy Shields as +4 Cover or something or maybe even +3 and +6 respectively.
I don't think it would work by 3.5 RAW, but I wonder if it could have by 3.0 RAW?

2007-03-16, 11:30 PM
I'm all about adding options for players in different circumstances, so I like the idea. My concern is how to balance it with normal shield use. If the AC bonus is higher, then it should have some balancing limitation, e.g.
- only works vs ranged attacks
- only affects attacks from a specific side (because you're not blocking incoming attacks, you're cowering behind your shield)
- cannot attack (see above)

Just ideas.

2007-03-17, 08:45 AM
Well, if it works as cover it would apply to both combatants (i.e. the cover claiming character's opponent would also be able to claim cover). How that would work in the case of two Shield using combatants, I don't know...

2007-03-17, 09:20 AM
They'll have to put the shield down and 'hide/crouch' behind it.

-5 on spot, halves speed, needs two hands, ...

2007-03-17, 10:57 AM
They'll have to put the shield down and 'hide/crouch' behind it.

A sapling in your square provokes +2 AC and +1 to Reflex saves according to the DMG, and you don't have to pull any Looney-Tunes disappear-while-walking-behind tricks to get it. Revising the shield mechanics to give more of them the ability to provoke cover would be interesting. Note that the +4 cover AC replaces the tower sheild's AC, so only the +2 shield AC from a heavy shield would convert to a RAW cover category- minor cover like a thin tree. And while you are doing it you should probably make the cover mechanics for shields actually worth using, since the FAQ rules...suck, to put it lightly. Spending a standard action is too much of a penalty for what equates to an exotic shield's special ability. Extending a lesser benefit to heavy would also help sword-and-boarders (but not clerics, since they need light shields free a hand to hold their weapons while casting with their main hand).

2007-03-17, 11:06 AM
I like the idea of allowing someone to give up all attacks in a round to gain cover. Sort of like tower shields, but more useful.

2007-03-17, 11:37 AM
Might just make shields effective again.

2007-03-17, 11:53 AM
Yeah... Cause, If you think well... All the the shield + armor mechanics in D&D have some minor or major failures...

The tower shield mechanics say that if in total cover you may not attack... But I agree that Big Shields should give at least 4/5 Cover status and Small shields give's 3/5 cover, same way the Tower does: You may not attack during the time you are covered this way. Also "uncovering" is or should be a movement action.

Bukclers... Well... They are too small for any usable cover...

BTW, the shield bonus in the AC comes from the fact that the character knows how to fully use that shield for some sort of mix beteween deflecting and absorbing blows.

Another funny thing to consider... Why can't I attach spikes to a tower shield? Ok, he may not be used to attack directly as a normal shield, but if you wan't to prepare the shield against a charge? It is totaly possible in the "real world".

I always use a tower shield in my character's first lvls (fighters and paladins with some fighter lvls) so I may completely cover myself and the person behind me, my allie. I know It is'nt the rules covering somedody else, but it make's sense with a linear point of view

Curiosity: Have you guys ever noticed that if, let's say, a fireball is cast on someone covered by a Tower Shield the cover simply disapears? And when the fireall explodes near the same person the cover applies normaly (theoricaly), except that maybe the shield will be destroyed in the process? You noticed that you may use a Tower Shield to Fully Block a dragon's breath (if the shield can resist to the damage)?

2007-03-18, 09:52 AM
And while you are doing it you should probably make the cover mechanics for shields actually worth using, since the FAQ rules...suck, to put it lightly.

Yeah, I think you are right about that. I can't decide what would be an appropriate Cover Bonus at the moment. I guess I would have to revise all three Shields to be consistant, as well as the Cover Rules. A Standard Action certainly sounds too much. So:

Light Shield: +1 AC (or +3 Cover)
Heavy Shield: +2 AC (or +6 Cover)
Great Shield: +4 AC (or Total Cover)

Too much, I wonder?

2007-03-18, 07:51 PM
Total cover is way to good. Complete immunity to even Improved Precise Shot...yeah, I'll take that. Personally, in exchange for not being allowed to make attack rolls (give up your attacks as it should be- how bad is it when WotC assume that the only standard action a Fighter can perform is Attack?), one side of your square grants you...

Light = +1 AC (bringing you to +2 total), +1 Reflex
Heavy = +2 AC (+4 total), +2 Reflex [Normal Cover]
Tower = +4 AC (+8 total), +4 Reflex [Improved Cover]*.
*The benefits of cover apply to any line that passes through the designated side of your square, making it a true obstruction for everyone behind.

[Bracketed names] are the actual categories of existing cover you are emulating with your existing shield bonus. Of course, none of them stack with real cover, and a Light Shield (emulating a small tree) wouldn't prevent AoOs.

2007-03-18, 08:34 PM
Eh? Tower Shields already grant Total Cover, though, why would we want to weaken them in that way?

2007-03-18, 10:47 PM
OK, I totally forgot that tower shields grant total cover by default. Attacks that go through corners of your shielded side only get cover by the FAQ (which I read again for the first time in years), which is what I remember. I thought you were improving it lol.

I do feel that improved cover that counts as a normal obstruction (since the RAWish version only gives it benefits for you) is equally good as total cover. +8 AC pretty much prevents anyone from making an attack from that side.

And I just realized the problem with removing the standard action clause- you technically run into people using total defense behind the shield. Fixing that can be clunky.

2007-03-19, 08:09 PM
Actually, I don't think it is a Standard Action to use a Tower Shield as Total Cover, as far as I can see in the SRD, a Character just has to 'give up his attacks'. Proportional Cover was a much better rule, though.

Back in 3.0 it could only grant a Cover Bonus, and not a Shield Bonus at all.

2007-03-19, 09:46 PM
The problem is "give up your attacks" doesn't mean anything in DnD, since it is never used anywhere else. The FAQ thinks that means a standard action. Which makes tower shields blow, since that is the only thing that is not a house-rule (its just a WotC house rule, which are slightly more official and always crappy). So yeah, the standard tower shield is horrible. It was supposed to be good. Removing the standard action (or more precisely, confirming that it was never supposed to cost one if the books were decently written) and the attack penalty are both good ideas.

2007-03-20, 09:03 AM
I use a shields-as-cover rule. I apply it when you're doing nothing but hiding behind your shield - i.e. when using the total defense action.

The cover bonus I use is twice the normal bonus of the shield - so, light shield +2, heavy shield +4.

2007-03-21, 12:54 AM
Perhaps something along the lines of this;

If you have a light shield and take the Total Defence action you may gain the benefits of Cover instead of the +4 dodge bonus. If you have a heavy shield you may gain Improved Cover instead of the dodge bonus. You can't use the Hide skill with cover gained in this way and the Cover does not apply against targeted spells.

2007-03-27, 07:13 PM
Hmmn. I think Golthur has the right of it here. I am still not sure if I would double or triple the Shield Bonus, though. I'm leaning towards trebling at this point [i.e. Light Shield +3, Heavy Shield +6]. Obviously, that wouldn't stack with Shield Specialisation or any other Shield enhancing Bonus (including Magical ones!).