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Old 03-06-2023, 02:17 PM   #1
Shostak
 
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Default Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

This IQ 10 talent makes shields more effective at both preventing one from getting hit and mitigating damage from successful attacks. By imposing a DX penalty to those attacking from a Shield Expertís front hexes, the talent gives a considerable tactical advantage. This advantage is especially well suited to being combined with similar benefits conferred by Weapon Expertise/Mastery. Like Weapon Expertise/Mastery, Shield Expertise makes committing to a two-handed weapon a much less attractive option. Shield Expertise also improves the offensive capabilities of a shield by increasing the odds of shield rushing an opponent to the ground.

In games I GM or play in, Shield Expertise is frequently chosen by those who play characters likely to find themselves in combat. Most frequently, they take a small shield to stop 2 hits and impose a -1DX penalty to attackers while suffering no DX adjustment themselves. Sometimes, Shield Expertise is the only reason that a character's IQ has been raised to 10.

Conversation Starters
  • Should Shield Expertise increase the damage inflicted by a spike shield?
  • Would Shield Expertise be improved if the penalty to attacks made against a Shield Expertís front hexes were based on the DX penalty imposed by the shield instead of a flat rate regardless of shield size?
  • Is the IQ10 prerequisite realistic or desirable?
  • Do you think Shield Expertise has contributed to fewer characters using two-handed weapons?
  • Do you have a house rules adjustments to Shield Expertise?
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Old 03-06-2023, 04:24 PM   #2
phiwum
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

I object to the title of this thread. Far as I can tell, we haven't had a Talent/Spell of the Week since Feb. 14 or so. I think I speak for all of us when I say we expect better from you, Shostak.

I find that players love Shield Expertise for all the reasons you mention. My NPCs have it only on occasion. It's very useful, but it should be reserved for characters who have the right background.

The IQ 10 requirement seems about right to me. It serves as a threshold, abstractly working to restrict the skill to warriors devoted to training, in my mind. If the requirement were lower, the skill would be too common. If higher, too rare.

No one bothers with shield rushes in my games, so the effects of a spiked shield are inconsequential. To shield rush, you have to make your to-hit roll and then the opponent has a saving throw. If the target is weaker than you, the saving roll is 3d, but weak targets tend to have higher DX, so this is not onerous. Moreover, most folks would just as soon attack the weak target as knock him down, since he's fairly squishy (unless he's well-armored).

If folks cared about capturing the enemy more often than killing them, a shield rush would be very useful. Once a target is downed, surrender starts to look like a good option.

I don't mean to drag you off topic here, Shostak, but I wonder if shield rush would get more love if you could do it after a full move, unlike other attacks. This would make shields even more advantageous, however.

Finally, does Shield Expertise lead to more one-handed weapons use? Absolutely. In our game, at least one PC toggles between a halberd and a bastard sword + shield because Shield Expertise is so useful. She's never used the bastard sword two-handed. She's unlikely to bother with the ST increase necessary for a two-handed sword. I'm not sure this is a bad thing, however. It makes certain choices more difficult.

The only problem with the tradeoff between Shield Expertise and two-handed weapons is, to my mind, the fact that a beginning character is fairly likely to get Shield Expertise before he's ever tempted by two-handed weapons. Defense is so darned important for beginning characters. But once you rely on the shield for easy defense, you are unlikely to change your character to use a two-handed weapon.
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Old 03-06-2023, 04:56 PM   #3
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

I wouldn't compare Shield Expertise against a two-handed weapon, but rather a weapon in each hand.
The errata has made the Main-Gauche an "Oh gosh, just ignore that thing" item, so compared to a second rapier the expert small shield is cheaper, much heavier, and effective against ranged attacks.
The best thing to combine Shield Expertise with is Dwarf, as these otherwise don't get to start with the Leet weapon talents and can easily manage the absurd shield weights.
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Old 03-06-2023, 06:38 PM   #4
phiwum
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

Henry, the comparison to Two-Weapons or Fencing makes sense only insofar as players are often thinking that they will go either with the IQ 10, 2 point talent of Shield Expertise or they'll go with one of the following:
  • Two-weapons at 2 points, IQ 11 and DX 11
  • Fencer at 3 points, IQ 11 and adjDX 12.

Shield Expertise is a cheap addition to a character, at least if IQ 10 isn't onerous for the build. Two-weapons or Fencer are not afterthoughts for a character. They're what you build the character around. Fencer, in particular, requires ST 9, IQ 11 and DX 12 for starting attributes unless you plan on spending 1500 XP to acquire it later. Two-weapons has enough leeway that your ST could be anything from 9 to 10.

If I'm going with a standard warrior, with some interesting or useful non-combat skills, then I'm not likely to even consider Fencing or Two Weapons. Those are interesting but exotic character choices.

On the other hand, the decision whether to go two-handed or not occurs any time a warrior reaches ST 13 (or 11, if he's a spear user). That said, I don't see a lot of PCs using two-handed weapons, slings, bows and crossbows aside. Even without Shield Expertise, a shield is mighty useful.

Last edited by phiwum; 03-06-2023 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 03-06-2023, 06:40 PM   #5
David Bofinger
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

I have numerous complaints about the advanced combat talents, in that they differ from each other in how they do things (this one assumes you use an axe, this one a sword, etc.) but don't have much diversity in their effect. So the player is not choosing how to make their character better, instead they are climbing a ladder defined by the game designer. It's the philosophy behind D&D, not TFT. I hate Unarmed Combat and Staff for the same reason; Thief was a problem in Classic but has been fixed in Legacy.

The benefit of Shield Expertise manages to combine the prosaic (+1 hits stopped) and the fiddly (-1 to enemy DX).

I would much rather if the advanced combat talents did different things, if one made you better at sweeping blows, another made you better at shrewd blows, another at fighting multi-hex monsters, another at defending yourself, etc. Then characters would excel in different circumstances and have genuinely different styles of combat.

One reason Weapon Expertise is attractive at IQ 11 is because a fighter picks up Shield Expertise along the way. So buying Weapon Expertise without buying Shield Expertise becomes inefficient. That's a whole category of Renaissance soldier characters it's hard to represent in TFT: I don't think I've ever seen an expert great swordsman or halberdier, instead those wielding two-handed weapons tend to max out their IQ at 9.

A common type is IQ 11, Shield Expertise and Sword Expertise, which chews up 8 of 11 talent points and leaves very little room for making the character distinctive. Combined with the difficulty of acquiring talents post-generation (what I call the Great Talent Desert) it drives PCs into cookie cutter designs.

Some of these problems may be difficult to fix in TFT's paradigm but the way Shield Expertise works at the moment is definitely not helping.
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Old 03-06-2023, 07:20 PM   #6
Bill_in_IN
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

Unless someone has already mentioned it here, as far as I can tell, Shield Expertise can stack with Weapon Expertise. If they are wielding their Shield and their Expert Weapon, they get a -2DX against hand attacks and the Shield Expertise -1DX even works against missile attacks.

Yes, Shield Expertise is a truly useful and very economical talent with respect to a character build. I agree that it does discourage progression toward 2-handed weapon use including missile weapons.
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Old 03-06-2023, 07:54 PM   #7
Shostak
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

Quote:
Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
... they will go either with the IQ 10, 1 point talent of Shield Expertise or ...
Just clarifying that Shield Expertise is a two-point talent.
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Old 03-06-2023, 08:43 PM   #8
phiwum
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
Just clarifying that Shield Expertise is a two-point talent.
Thanks, Shostak. I have edited my post to include the correction.
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Old 03-06-2023, 08:47 PM   #9
phiwum
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Bofinger View Post
A common type is IQ 11, Shield Expertise and Sword Expertise, which chews up 8 of 11 talent points and leaves very little room for making the character distinctive. Combined with the difficulty of acquiring talents post-generation (what I call the Great Talent Desert) it drives PCs into cookie cutter designs.
I've never seen such a common type of character. At least no PCs. I might have made an NPC like that, though I don't recall it.

Any character who is so darned good at combat is necessarily going to have few other skills. I just don't see this as a problem. He is distinctive. He is awesome in melee. That is his distinction.

So far, my players haven't invested so much in combat talents. I guess they figure that other talents are important too, either in a practical sense or for making a memorable character.
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Old 03-06-2023, 09:24 PM   #10
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Shield Expertise

Here is what a memory point soak this is:

Mouseketeer, Human, age 20
ST 9, DX 12, IQ 11, MA 10
Talents include: Acrobatics, Courtly Graces, Dancer (mundane), Fencer, Knife, Shield Expertise
Language: Common
Weapons: dagger (1d-1), fine rapier (1d+2)
Attacks and Damage: Punch (1d-3)
Special Ability/Weakness:
Armor: small shield stops 2 hits, up to -2 to be hit.
Special note: Nobody knows why the Order of the Mouse wears helmets with huge stylized ears on them. (As they can't read their own history.)

Compare with:

Soggy, Dwarf, age 20
ST 10, DX 12, IQ 10, MA 10
Talents include: Bow, Diving, Fisherman (mundane), Knife, Pole Weapons, Shield Expertise, Swimming
Language: Dwarvish
Weapon: horse bow (1d), very fine trident (1d+2), dagger (1d-1)
Attacks and Damage: Punch (1d-3)
Armor: small shield stops 2 hits, -1 to be hit.
Special note: Can't afford Missile Weapons talent.
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