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Monday, December 17, 2012
Alternate Shield Rules (3E)
In history, the shield was described as a warrior's most important piece of equipment. Used dynamically, it protected a warrior from harm. In D&D, this important tool has been reduced to a mere bonus.
Instead of treating the shield as a passive bonus, we can treat the shield as an armor substitute.
The new thing that we add here is the armor bonus. The shield becomes a substitute for armor.
The armor bonus is only received while the wearer receives (or could receive) his dexterity bonus.
Armor bonuses do not stack.
Any shield enhancement bonus also provides an armor enhancement bonus.
Essentially, this lets melee classes operate effectively with only a shield for protection, yet their AC should come out approximately correct.
This approach does flout wealth levels a little, but not by much.
If a shield is so great, then why bother with heavy armor at all? One reason is being flat-footed. If you lose your dex bonus, you lose your entire armor bonus.
In sea adventure campaigns, this should help even heavy armor classes better operate.
Finally, these rules give a DM a way to give NPCs a larger AC without having to throw in large amounts of wealth into the game. All that you really need to do is pick the appropriate shield, which is far less valuable as treasure.
This is another article which I first posted to the D&D Wiki.