These are the current shield rules (approximately the third revision) for The Final Castle. To make sense, I have included preliminarily a few general combat rules as well. Combat Tests are d20, roll high, aiming to meet or exceed an enemy threat level (similar to the probably familiar armor class or difficulty class). Hopefully the fragmentary nature is not too hard to understand.
“Unbalanced” is a state, something like a temporary condition (in 3E terms) that persists until addressed by the combatant. Deflection is a reaction that can be taken in response to an enemy attack.
Exceeding the target number of an Ability Test by at least 4 or rolling a 20 prior to any modifiers is an Overkill. For Combat Tests, Overkill adds 1d6 damage and may have additional effects in other contexts.
Unbalanced combatants may only Melee, Shoot, Flee, or Recover and may not deflect attacks withs Shields. Recover balance with a maneuver.
To deflect an attack, deploy a shield. Deflection must be declared before rolling dice to resolve an attack. Deploying a shield Unbalances a combatant but does not require an Action. Shields may not be deployed when Unbalanced. Bypass Maneuvers cannot be deflected with a shield. Different kinds of shields offer other benefits. See the Shields entry in the Weapons section for details.
Resolve Maneuvers with Melee, Shoot, or Throw Actions depending on the character of the desired effect, substituting Maneuver effects for damage. Overkill applies to Maneuvers also. Thus, Maneuver Overkills cause the Maneuver effect and also 1d6 damage.
Recover from being Unbalanced, stand up from prone, or escape a Grapple.
To deflect an attack, deploy a shield. Deflection must be declared before rolling dice to resolve an attack. Deploying a shield Unbalances a combatant but does not require an Action. Shields may not be deployed when Unbalanced. Bypass Maneuvers cannot be deflected with a shield. Shields come in three varieties:
- Bucklers grant +4 to parry maneuvers, but are useless against ranged attacks and great weapons.
- Medium shields grant +2 defense against small missiles.
- Tower shields deflect all small missiles but are useless against standard or smaller weapons.
Putting this all together, it means that PCs with a shield can deflect (that is, totally nullify) one melee attack per combat (not per round) essentially for free, though the deflection must be “used” before rolling Defense (the equivalent in the system of an enemy attack roll). After a shield has been used for deflection, combat options narrow generally due to becoming Unbalanced, and specifically the shield may not be used again until balance is recovered.
Since maneuvers work like attack rolls, but substituting effects for standard damage and only inflicting any damage upon Overkill results (exceeding target numbers by 4 or rolling a natural 20), the effect is that a skilled fighter attempting a Recovery Maneuver is still fighting (not potentially “wasting” a turn), just at a disadvantage (approximately -4) if they wish to earn another use of their shield during the current combat.
(Don’t worry about Parry Maneuvers; they are beyond the scope of this post.)
Your combats must be long affairs. No?
They have not seemed so in practice during play tests. About as fast as I am used to for OD&D. Everyone does one thing per combat turn. Some interrupts (such as shield deflection and spell shields) can be declared out of turn. What makes it seem like they would be long affairs?
Also not stated directly, but Bypass Maneuvers can be used to avoid potential deflection, though you need an Overkill result to do damage with a Bypass.
What seems like it would take longer is not the resolution of a single action but the decision of which actions to take and the added complexity of additional rule choices. In my experience these kinds of rule additions only take extra time when you are first getting used to them or if they take a number of extra steps, but if they end up as rules that are used consistently then they become second nature and the decision making process takes very little extra time if any.
Yeah that has been my experience as well. Even for simple rules, it takes some time to get used to them. (In the first few play tests I ran, for example, my players often forgot about the ability of magicians to convert any prepared spell into a maleficence attack. More recently, it seems more natural.)
I am jonesing for more Necopraxis. Hurry up.
Sorry, blame grad school!