Shield Walls!


As I noted in the previous post, I’m going to publish all the house rules I used for my recently ended Dwimmermount campaign here on the blog. In the future, I hope to post here as I develop them.

Here are the rules I used for shield walls!

The northern barbarians of Thule who eventually overthrew the empire of the Red Elves of Areon and sent them back to their homeworld did so in large part because of the power their Gods and the Great Church gave them. But, also, because of their shield wall tactics.

Generally, a shield wall is utilized on a larger battlefield, but an adventuring party or two have been known to also fend off a horde of goblins with a well-formed shield wall in a dungeon corridor. Shield walls may entirely block narrow passes, corridors or gateways until broken and driven back. Assume 3′ of frontage per fighter (i.e. three fighters per 10′ of space).

Forming a Shield Wall

A shield wall requires at least three fighters, each wielding a shield, that form up on a linchpin character. The shield wall must be formed during the movement step of combat and before any fighters in the shield wall are engaged in melee.

Maintaining a Shield Wall

A successful morale check, modified by the CHA Reaction Adjustment of the linchpin character, allows the shield wall to retain formation and bonuses when advancing into melee or making a fighting withdrawal.

Weapons in a Shield Wall

You can use any weapon in a shield wall that can be wielded one-handed, whether slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning. A second rank can attack through a shield wall using spears or polearms.

Breaking a Shield Wall

Any of the following break a shield wall and negate its bonus until it reforms:

  • A fighter losing or dropping a shield,
  • A failed morale check from one of the fighters in the shield wall,
  • One of the fighters of the shield wall retreating or withdrawing without the rest of the shield wall,
  • Reducing a fighter in the shield wall to 0 hit points.

If a shield wall is broken, enemies may break through the shield wall (assuming they win initiative in the next round and/or the shield wall isn’t reformed). If this occurs, fighters who were in the shield wall lose their shield bonuses for a round against any attacks against them from behind the shield wall.

Benefits of a Shield Wall

First, all fighters in a shield wall reduce their AC for melee attacks by 1 (doubling the effectiveness of their shield). Secondly, all missile attacks against anyone in or protected by the shield wall receive a -4 due to cover.

Penalties in a Shield Wall

Movement is reduced to half of the slowest fighter in the shield wall (e.g. if the slowest member of the shield wall has a speed of 30′, the wall may move up to 15′ per round). Any fighters in a shield wall are vulnerable from the rear.

About the author

Michael Pfaff

It's pronounced P-aff -- the first 'f' is silent. I live in Louisville. I like games and reading about games. I hope to write about gaming stuff here.

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By Michael Pfaff

Michael Pfaff

It's pronounced P-aff -- the first 'f' is silent. I live in Louisville. I like games and reading about games. I hope to write about gaming stuff here.


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