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Old 03-19-2006, 12:42 PM   #1
Polydamas
 
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Default Classifying Shields

GURPS classifies shields fairly finely, but doesn't explicitly state what sizes of shield each category is expected to represent. Admittedly, shields appear in almost infinite variety, but that makes knowing how to rate a historical example in GURPS terms even more important. How have various people on the boards done this? Does anyone know of a clear statement on this anywhere?

My general impression is that the generic three-foot round shield is medium, that anything a foot in diameter or less is a buckler, that shields about two feet across like the Greek pelta are small, and that a rectangular or oval shield the size of a Roman scutum (four by two and a half Roman feet or so, although designs varied over time) or North African lamt is large. A lot of shields donít fit within these clear categories, though. For example, is a two-by-three-foot rectangular shield medium or small? Even these basic classifications might be hard to make if I were new to GURPS.

GURPS Fantasy (4e) rates a third-century AD oval Roman scutum as Medium.

GURPS Greece rated both the hoplon and the figure-eight shield as Medium. Elsewhere I believe that the hoplon was rated as Large but with special rules.

GURPS Low-Tech rated the Central American chimalli as Small.

GURPS Compendium 1 had a variety of shields listed on p. 43-5. There are some discrepancies: Saxon shields are Medium, but Viking ones are Large with special rules, for example.

Should weight, surface area, or largest dimension be the deciding factor when classifying? While we keep within the standard GURPS rules (where shield material doesnít matter) should shields of flimsier materials be rated as smaller than their size would indicate?
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

IMO the only shields that can be classified as Large are those which are used in a particular manner. Examples might include Roman rectangular scutae, Mycenaean Figure-8 and Tower shields, Medieval pavises, etc. Though some had other uses, the primary use of this typology is as a mobile wall to stop missiles.
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Old 03-20-2006, 01:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polydamas
While we keep within the standard GURPS rules (where shield material doesnít matter) should shields of flimsier materials be rated as smaller than their size would indicate?
No, instead use the 'Damage to Shields' rule on page B484.
Any shield can take at least one good hit. In fact some were designed to take only one good hit. That hit may totally destroy the shield, but the area covered and so on should not be adjust for the material. IMO, you are confusing functionality with durability.

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Old 03-20-2006, 03:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polydamas
My general impression is that the generic three-foot round shield is medium, that anything a foot in diameter or less is a buckler, that shields about two feet across like the Greek pelta are small, and that a rectangular or oval shield the size of a Roman scutum (four by two and a half Roman feet or so, although designs varied over time) or North African lamt is large. A lot of shields donít fit within these clear categories, though. For example, is a two-by-three-foot rectangular shield medium or small? Even these basic classifications might be hard to make if I were new to GURPS.
You're also conflating size with usage style. There is a note on B287 clarifying that buckler is not a shield that is smaller than a Small shield, but rather refers to the way in which the shield is used; if the shield is strapped to your arm, then it is a shield, whereas if it is held in one hand by a grip in the center of the shield, it is a buckler. Bucklers can be small or medium.

However, I'm in accord with you regarding your main point, being that there are no guidelines concerning how to classify any particular example of a shield. Perhaps this should be noted somewhere as an appropriate issue to be addressed in Low Tech or possibly in Martial Arts (along with customisation rules for bows ;-) ).

I have also had some problems in classifying examples of shields. I treat the Viking round shield as a Large buckler (with specific special modifications) despite the Basic rulebook saying that only Small and Medium shields can be bucklers. Speaking of which...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Howard
IMO the only shields that can be classified as Large are those which are used in a particular manner. Examples might include Roman rectangular scutae, Mycenaean Figure-8 and Tower shields, Medieval pavises, etc. Though some had other uses, the primary use of this typology is as a mobile wall to stop missiles.
While I might agree with you on the first three examples, I would be of the opinion that pavises no longer qualify as shields of any description and should be classified as portable cover. I would say that the term "shield" should be reserved for any object that can be carried by one man, in one hand, to be used to block attempts to harm the wielder.

Be that as it may, I shall eagerly join the baying mob, howling for the publication of clear guidelines on the classification of shields.
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Old 03-20-2006, 09:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

Quote:
Originally Posted by joncarryer
You're also conflating size with usage style. There is a note on B287 clarifying that buckler is not a shield that is smaller than a Small shield, but rather refers to the way in which the shield is used; if the shield is strapped to your arm, then it is a shield, whereas if it is held in one hand by a grip in the center of the shield, it is a buckler. Bucklers can be small or medium.

However, I'm in accord with you regarding your main point, being that there are no guidelines concerning how to classify any particular example of a shield. Perhaps this should be noted somewhere as an appropriate issue to be addressed in Low Tech or possibly in Martial Arts (along with customisation rules for bows ;-) ).
...
While I might agree with you on the first three examples, I would be of the opinion that pavises no longer qualify as shields of any description and should be classified as portable cover. I would say that the term "shield" should be reserved for any object that can be carried by one man, in one hand, to be used to block attempts to harm the wielder.

Be that as it may, I shall eagerly join the baying mob, howling for the publication of clear guidelines on the classification of shields.
You're right about 'bucklers'. I forgot that they were renamed "light shields' in 4e, although I did remember that Shield skill has been split into two styles (a great idea, IMHO).

Concerning pavises, weren't there a variety of sizes and styles? Some were relatively small and mobile for cover on the battlefield, and some were almost mantlets for use at sieges.

As a side note, the Roman Republican scutum was large but seems to have used a single hand grip without a strap. I wonder which skill it would use ...
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Old 11-13-2008, 09:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

Well, heres the quick answer

Size - Diameter - Thickness
Light - 17" - .75"
Small - 24" - 1.5"
Medium - 33" - 1.5"
Large - 42" - 1.5"

I arrived at the answer like this.

Argument By Similarity:
I assumed that all the stats given were for wooden shields of similar tech and material.
Argument By Density:
I assumed that the Weight, implied the volume of material
Argument By Material Properties:
I used the Materials Table (B558) and the Shiled Properties(B287) being careful not to forget that B558 gives data for 10 square feet.

First I decided on a one to one ratio of Weight to Volume. Weight is in the table, so If i figure out thickness, the area will reveal itself through algebra/geometry.

So I started with small shield and made an estimation of X number of inches thickness and Y number of inches diameter.

Using a spreadsheet I fiddled with the number untill I got values that seemed reasonable for all of them with the understanding that technology would contribute to both the DR and the HP of the shield. Examples of technology at work would be layering, binding, iron rimming, lacquering etc.

What it left me with essentially is
Size - MatDR - MatHP - Thickness - Diamter - Area - Volume
Light - 1 - 8 - .75 - 17 - 226 - 170
Small - 2 - 15 - 1.5 - 24 - 452 - 679
Medium - 2 - 20 - 1.5 - 33 - 848 - 1272
Large - 2 - 25 - 1.5 - 42 - 1414 - 2121

Which imples that most of the ability for shields to take a blow is wrapped up in how its built.

Now that we have a basic size, we can do the thickness for the Iron/Bronze shileds. (4e treats Iron and bronze as same)
Metal Shields
Size - Thickness
Light - 1/16"
Small - 1/8"
Medium - 1/8"
Large - 1/8"

Assuming Iron progresses like this
Iron DR HP
1/32" 1 6
1/16" 3 16
1/8" 6 26
3/16" 9 31
1/4" 12 36
1/2" 25 46
1" 50 58


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Last edited by Nymdok; 11-13-2008 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 11-14-2008, 02:17 AM   #7
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

On the subject of shields

As I am designing NPC packages based on some historical references, i keep finding Small Shields (8lb range) to be the more common shield. I find the DB of +1 being an absurdly small bonuses to Block given that these shields have a surface area that can cover the Body, head and Arms hit location quite easily.

BTW like the description of Dodge, Shields should be able to afford a defense for the character against simultaneous multiple attacks that come from the same direction.

Will the a Shields' Position, being used as Cover or Readied be in Low Tech?

Strangely I've also found that given that that shields are actually quite disposable in battle, that there was a specialized role to refurbish warriors with shields, namely shield bearers. Without waiting for Low Tech are there any handy rules for shields anyone has devised?




Bonuses to Block. I'm surprised that
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

Quote:
Originally Posted by nik1979
On the subject of shields

Strangely I've also found that given that that shields are actually quite disposable in battle, that there was a specialized role to refurbish warriors with shields, namely shield bearers. Without waiting for Low Tech are there any handy rules for shields anyone has devised?
Sadly, as far as the GURPS rules are concerned, small shields with their DR of 6 and their HP of 30, will generally outlast an ordinary fighter's involvement in any combat. For a ST 10 fighter, the odds of rolling enough damage to bypass the Shield's DR is exactly a 1 in 6 chance. A fighter with a skill 12 in shield, generally has a base 3+12/2 (or 6) = 9 base shield block value. The odds of successfully defending with a skill 9 on 3d6 is 37.5%. The odds of success with a +1 bonus due to the shield raises it to 50%. 50% minus 37.5% = 12.5%. This means then, that a professional soldier with a skill of 12 in shield, will generally have only a 12.5% chance per successfully prosecuted attack against him, of having his shield take a square hit on it.

.125 x .167 = .020

That is, there is only a 2% chance PER incoming hit by an average ST 10 fighter using a broadsword, of doing precisely 1 point of damage to the small shield.

ST 11 fighter using a broadsword will of course, have a better shot at doing damage, but not a whole heck of a lot. The odds jump from 2% to a whopping 4%

Short of the GM just saying "You need to buy a new shield at the end of this major fight", the player is going to realize if he keeps track of damage done to his shield, that it doesn't need to be replaced - at all.

Chances are better for the NPC or PC using a shield will die before he needs a new shield.
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Old 11-14-2008, 01:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

A few thoughts...

shape... add kite (elongated narrow heater)

material... add 'frame and skin' type leather, wicker and turtle shell shields.

damage rules... can add a lot of realism , but require a lot of bookeeping to do. without running any numbers I would guess that you would loos a shield about the same percentage of time if you just had all crit failures with a shield against melee attacks ruin it. (strap broke, face cleaved, whatever depending on what it was defending against)

clasification by utilization vs clasification by shape/size...
I'm more inclined to pick BOTH.
certain maneuvers with a shield are easier with a canter-grip than a strap, others ar harder. list those as bonuses and penalties to their skill rolls. certain shapes are lighter for the amount of coverage they provide, others heavier (and probably cheaper). The thing is, with a matrix or grip-type, size, shape and material we can produce detailed game effects on technique bonuses/penalties, cost, weight, durability, repairbility (if we want that detail) and pretty much any other attribute we might desire to model.

e.g.1 A medium plywood center-grip round with a rawhide edge.
The plywood construction gives it a bonus +20% HP, but doubles the construction cost and tripples the time required.
The center grip could allow it to be fought at extension for X turns by expending a fatigue point, letting it count as a large shield against one opponent for the duration. However the center grip makes slams more difficult, when attempting a slam the bearer is at -1 and on a failure the shield is unready until he can make a successful DX check (min 1 round).
The rawhide edge blunts the first point of damage to the shield if the block is successful by more than 3. If the block succeeds by 0 (barely made it) the rawhide is destroyed (but may be replaced if the shieldbearer lives long enough).


e.g.2 A steel medium-sized strapped heater
Thin steel is heavy, expensive and very durable. add +X% weight, +Y% cost and +Z% construction time. it is repairable with appropriate armory facilities.
The steel edge can inflict damage on wooden weapons swung at it, damage = 1/3 margin of success with the block (min 0).
A strapped heater is very good at blocking torso and head on the shield side, (+1 to attempts to block from those directions) but not good at blocking legs or the weapon side (-1 to attempts to block in those directions) and it cannot block shots to the foot without kneeling (MV=1 in any turn where this is attampted).

These are just a few quick thoughts... guys who use shields regularly can come up with a LOT more about individual size/shape/strapping peculiarities.
Perhaps someone will write a pyramid article on it.
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Old 11-16-2008, 05:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: Classifying Shields

I think that rather than breaking it down around size/shape perhaps it would be better to think in terms of how much of the body the shield can cover.
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