Silly question, but why not make shields a hard roll vs +2 armor.

It’s a minor difference and affects the GM vs the players…but bad guys can have shields too…

It’s what my brain is dropping today.


Give us a few scenarios, let’s figure out what that would entail! :smiley:


Nothing much really, normally a shield would be +2 armor. But for an extra 5% it would be a cleaner +3 mechanically. But a hard roll for ease of flow.

Yogar (a PC) has an AC of 12+shield. In most circumstances that means 14. But what if it was 12+hard.

Allows me to have bad guys who have different armor class simply noticed.

Has the GM needing to remember that Yogar is AC 12 hard (ac 15) but 12 on next miss and 9 after 2 misses from the same enemy same attack…and enemies typically don’t last that long.
Also one thing creating a Hard situation, nullified all other things that do the same thing.

It really isn’t a huge difference, it’s more of a (if we are keeping things simple, why isn’t this a thing).


:thinking: I like this idea but I’d tweak it for my own use.

Instead of a straight up bonus to AC, I have a shield usage die. Player can choose to block an attack. Successful ATTEMPT blocks the shield’s value of damage. A roll of 1-5 on ATTEMPT decrements the usage die.

Adding in your idea, I would allow a player to actively defend (HUNKER DOWN) instead of attacking themselves. They must call this out at the start of their turn. Rolls against them are HARD and the shield blocks the amount of damage but this incurs an auto- decrement to the usage die.

One usage die exhausted, shield is useless unless repaired.

Maybe. Something like that anyway…


The bonus is just an abstraction. Bad guys can have shields, but it would be baked into the room’s target number, not an individual baddie’s AC.

The abstraction is further incorporated into the bad guys’ AC without needing mathematical calculations: the baddies in this room are chumps and poorly trained, so the shield doesn’t help them as much as the baddies in the next room who are highly trained with shield and spear.

You could certainly make it apply as a HARD roll for your shield-wearing players (or maybe it becomes HARD after they really earn in-game proficiency with the shield), but managing bad guy AC gets into minutia that I think the room target number strives to remove.


I see easy and hard being things that come up during play, not planned for. If I were to do something similar I would most likely make it an action that made the players have -3 to hit them for a round instead.


I think excellence in game design is to know when NOT to use an elegant solution.

When dnd next came out, I was blown away by advantage/disadvantage. But in 5e, it’s one of my least favorite parts. What has changed isn’t the mechanic, but which situations it applies to: it used to be an ad hoc reward for clever plans and fictional positioning, now it is a central rule interlocking with a bunch of other rules to the point where you are rolling 2d20 more often than not.

I think you risk the same thing by associating HARD / EASY with specific objects.


I prefer to apply advantage/disadvantage & EASY or HARD to implied rules. Your character is a bulky robot? Cool, you’re gonna have disadvantage on swimming rolls!


Good conversation!

A few shield ideas:

  1. Shields make its user HARD to hit unless hit from behind. Placement becomes more strategic for both attacker and defender.

  2. Shields do nothing but reduce incoming damage by 1d4

  3. Shields need some kinda downside, otherwise everyone would use them. The ruling to sac a shield to reduce damage to 0 is a good way to remove the bonus of having a shield, but what about Dex attempts are HARD?


I think it would be really cool to to take a page from the LoFP book.

Shields give +1 ac in melee and +3 ac ranged.

I also always love the sunder shield house rule


I love The reduces 1d4 aspect. But it does slow things down a tad.

As to needing a negative…can’t use 2 handed or bulky. But I’m ok with front only if you are playing with facings.

As to sundering and all that…sure, if you are also including weapon locking, and shield bashing…it quickly gets complex the more you want to simulate.

Another idea that was floating on another thread was it is 1 heart of damage…but it must be repaired/patched vs healed.

There are all sorts of ways to do it.


I like the 1 Heart Shield HP, nice mix of soak and core rulings. I might adopt that myself.


I have players roll dex (dodge) vs the room dc rather then roll monster attacks. Wearing a shield lets you use strength (block) instead of dex. I have armor absorb physical damage though. I only roll monster damage.

I like your idea also to make someone using a shield hard to hit.

I find shields have so much potential to be interesting as they take up a hand that could use another weapon or torch.


I tossed around this idea of shield die rolled to add to ac. Roll 1d4 for a basic shield, have a tower shield be 1d6 or 1d8. I threw out AC from my game completely though and just have players roll dodge and block vs the room.