member, 112 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 19:37
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
Sorry musta missed the low level, low magic portion in my skimming.

You're between a rock and a hard place.

You give it to him and then every bad guy uses the same trick and pisses off the other players cause they loose the bonus as well.  *shrugs*  About the only angle you can go with if you don't want to cause strife with him right now and suck up the others first irked at you and then at him for removing their bonuses.  Like the others said...luck to you.
Killer Rabbitt
 member, 389 posts
 He's got huge sharp fangs
 Run away! Run away!
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 19:39
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
In reply to Killer Rabbitt (msg # 32):

Make it a feat and give everyone (including NPCs who use feats) an extra feat.

That doesn't really solve it because then it's still "free" without any drawback -- you're not paying the feat slot you'd have to pay, since you're getting it for free.
 moderator, 15433 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 19:39
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
Give it to him.  Then never have any enemies try to flank him ever again.

Personally, friend or not, I'd just tell him "No."  If he didn't accept that, he'd be out of the game.  At some point a player has to accept that the GM is occasionally going to refuse them something.
 member, 13 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 19:50
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
The problem if you just give it to him you should definitelly give a similarly strong boon to other players as well otherwise they will feel bad about this. I was playing in a game (actually more than one) where there was a GM's favourite character and I hated it being a second class player, so in the end I've left those games.

As mentioned before it should probably need a feat in either case and should not make "immune" against all flankings unless it is a magical shield which can be everywhere. In either case if a shield would make characters immune against flanking a plate armor should do the same, so I would give a boon as well to classes using flanking so their non-flanking attacks should be better to balance out the weakening, as most of the NPCs would wear a shield in their backs as well if this is so good. IMHO. So I would suggest to boost thieves and the like in some other way.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:51, Tue 12 Sept 2017.

 member, 431 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 19:56
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
Killer Rabbitt:
That doesn't really solve it because then it's still "free" without any drawback -- you're not paying the feat slot you'd have to pay, since you're getting it for free.

But you're also not gaining any advantage over anyone else, because everyone also gets a free feat, which 3.5-type games have assured us is balanced.
Killer Rabbitt
 member, 390 posts
 He's got huge sharp fangs
 Run away! Run away!
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 19:58
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
The thing is, I give it to him, I give it to everyone.  So I have an unflankable party, immune to precision hits, without any real drawback from this (aside from normal AC penalty).

Like I said, I really only have one option anyway.
Killer Rabbitt
 member, 391 posts
 He's got huge sharp fangs
 Run away! Run away!
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 19:59
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
In reply to engine (msg # 39):

Yes, sorry if this wasn't clear.  If he's able to do it I'd automatically open it up to the rest of the party in terms of fairness.  It wouldn't be something he'd just automatically get and no one else.
 member, 432 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 20:09
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
In reply to Killer Rabbitt (msg # 41):

Okay. I don't see why you have to give that particular option to everyone. Let them pick whatever extra they want.
Killer Rabbitt
 member, 392 posts
 He's got huge sharp fangs
 Run away! Run away!
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 20:30
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
What I mean is, if I wasn't giving it as a feat I'd give it to everyone as an option they can do with the equipment automatically without the extra training a feat represents.

But giving it as a bonus feat still doesn't actually entail any drawback to it -- it's a feat they're getting for free.  This actually makes it *worse* because then if I want NPCs to use the same style they have to buy it with a feat.  Or, as you propose giving everyone else a free feat...that just over-complicates it, honestly.  That opens other options to players who may not want to go this route.  Sure, my NPCs get a bonus feat as well, but that's really only to catch up with them in a kind of meta-arms race.

At this point, I just feel burnt-out on the issue.  So...
 member, 3835 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 20:34
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
Have it be a specific item. Something he can find. Make it so it can be put into his armor like a add-on. He can still be flanked but has a higher AC towards 1 person (+1 or +2) towards 1 person flanking him. Gives him a edge at times. Make it so he can swap it out but have it have other negatives.

Make up other items for the group they can find and use. Like say a sword or a bow. I know its low-magic.
 member, 650 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 21:56
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
Ok, if he insists on being able to use it, then why not say.  Ok, you can use a back shield, which when you use it, you take the armor check penalty for its use, [meaning attacks and physical skills] and you can apply the shield bonus to reducing the flanking bonus vs. one designated opponent, similar to a dodge bonus.  Do note however, if I was handed that rule as a player, I'd admit, I'd at least contemplate trying to get a masterwork shield, so it its armor check penalty would drop.  Just warning you.

But then you are allowing the behavior, so he shouldn't complain too much.  Like you said, when you get something, it should have 'some' sort of cost.  You could even give in even a little further, saying you only have to take the action check penalty when you use/become flanked.  Otherwise, you ignore the shield, since it is just weight on your back like a backpack.

It is disappointing that your friend would break up a game over a ruling that [at least in my mind] makes sense.  Obviously, I'm going to grant there might be a chance said individual honestly can't understand how they could be wrong.  However, I honestly just don't see how wearing a shield on your back, passively, can net more of a defensive benefit, with less restriction, than wearing one actively on an arm.  But I would definitely focus more on making sure the game remains fun.  If that means making your game a bit comical in that sense, so be it, as long it is fun for everyone, yourself included.  You could even, if you don't feel like you can just 'make the call' you could present the matter to the group to make a silent ballot vote to determine the matter.
 member, 208 posts
 I stand in noone's shadow
 except my own...
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 22:16
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
I think there was something in the Oriental Adventures book along this line. It was a turtle shell worn on the back. I forget how it affects the mechanics, but I'll look it up when I get home this evening unless someone looks it up first.
 member, 2135 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 22:56
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
Why doesn't he just get better armour if he's concerned about his back?  *sigh*  He sounds like more than a bit of a pain.

I keep imagining the logistics of wearing a shield on one's back.  Tell him he has to wear a shield on his back in RL to at least 3 gaming sessions and then you can discuss it again.  ;-)  The weight of a good shield is going to change his centre of balance, the strapping to hold it on is going to inhibit motion and probably become a literal source of pain, and for what?  If he is flanked by more than one opponent, it's only going to (possibly) work against one, and probably give the other an advantage while he's manoeuvring toward the first.  And I'd assume in the meantime there would likely be an opponent in front of him who should be getting a big plus while his attention is so divided.  Again a RL demonstration might be in order.

If you do decide you have to cave in, in the interests of peace, make it on a trial basis, and play up the difficulties in any combat, including having him flanked by more than one at a time.  I'm assuming encumbrance isn't an issue, but certainly the extra weight should come into play at some point.  His time getting equipped is going to be longer; no jumping out of bed and just pulling this on, the straps are going to need adjustment every single time, else the shield is just going to be swinging around.  And as someone has mentioned, he's not going to be able to carry anything on his back, or if he does it's going to be quite inaccessible, even out of combat.  If other characters have to carry more than their share of party supplies, maybe the flanking he'll have to worry about will be coming from his companions.  ;-)

Finally if you have a decent artist in your group, get someone to draw a picture of how silly his character looks with a shield on his back, all the strapping it takes to hold it securely in place, and with an opponent there aiming for one of the places that is still quite exposed!
 member, 79 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 00:16
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
This sounds less like a game mechanic issue, and more like a lack of respect issue. This "friend" wants you to run your game his way -- or he's going to blackmail you with his behavior in and out of the game.

He doesn't respect your authority as the GM, and speaking bluntly, he doesn't respect you as his "friend" if he's pulling this kind of tactic on you.

You've already decided to give him what he wants... and it's soured your interest in the game. Now you just need to decide if it's worth your time to keep investing in something you don't really enjoy. No one else can help you with that answer. Bear in mind though, that this is training him to know you will cave if he applies enough pressure... and it'll happen again.

I've dealt with "friends" who failed to uphold their side of the friendship fairly, and it really sucked, to discover just how unfair they'd take it. I'm still "friends" with the individual, but it's a very carefully measured, limited "friendship" -- I ask for nothing, offer nothing, and expect nothing, where I know they'll fail to meet me evenly. We still have fun doing stuff together, but I keep them at arm's length, and my respect for them has dropped substantially.

But, some people just aren't emotionally able to meet you as equals. This friend of mine is one of them. Sounds as if this guy you're dealing with is another. Decide what you can live with comfortably, and act accordingly.
 member, 255 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 01:04
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
I'm sorry, I just can't resist.  I've already admitted to having no GM cred in this system, so take what I say with a Small Siberian Salt Mine in your hip pocket.

I still think the best course is to let this fellow have his back shield.  Have him describe it in in-character terms as well as in game-mechanical terms, the more detailed the description the better.  It needs to become a living part of him.

During the first combat, let the devil that lives in those details do his worst.  Don't think of it as revenge - it's Karma in action (and, yes, I know I'm mixing iconographies and metaphors with gay abandon here...)

Let him feel the hot wind of a dragon's breath sweep him off his feet and blow him back-side over tin cup for many points of damage.

Let his sword arm shoulder pauldron catch on the edge of the thing just as he's about to make a called shot.  (Be fair with the dice on this, of course, but take the advantage when it presents itself.)

Let the party be cheesed off by his lack of noise discipline just as they are preparing to surprise some orcs.

It doesn't have to happen all at once, either.  In fact, it's more believable if it happens at truly random intervals.

If he's reading this thread, let him think and consider where this is taking you.
 member, 1493 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 01:26
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
"armor provides DR, while shields provide defensive bonuses"
And there you have it. Shields provide defensive bonuses rather than damage resistance because they are active, rather than passive in nature. That is, they are actively wielded not just soaking up damage.

A 'back shield' as others have pointed out would be just a clumsy bit of added armor and just add more damage resistance, not a defensive bonus. This is why in many centuries of manual combat the back shield was not adopted by warriors in the field.

But in the end, as many have noted, this is not about reality or game mechanics or anything else other than this 'friend' wants to get his own way. Whether you knuckle under to his blackmail or not, he will keep behaving like this until it comes to something you will not or cannot permit. Then he won't be your friend any more.
 member, 1385 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 01:47
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
You should tell him "no" and stick to that.
 member, 42 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 14:11
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
As far as I'm concerned the game doesn't give you a flanking bonus because someone is behind you. It gives you a bonus because you have to fight on two fronts. They could be on your left and right or diagonally across from eachother.

Inside your square you are assumed to be moving constantly. Which is why the game has no facing like you might have in a hex based game. Therefore no one ever attacks from the back per se. Meaning the back shield is pointless. Since you are constantly maneuvering your front to defend from attacks from both sides. Hence the bonus to hit.

I believe this might be part of the reason why backstab was turned into sneak attack.

Just my two cents. There is no mechanic where you are attacked from the back so no need for a back shield.
 member, 156 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 14:50
Re: House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
If he's not willing to pay a Feat for a massive mechanical advantage, he doesn't want it bad enough.  His 20 level plan will have to get adjusted, oh no.

That's the way it works in D&D, especially 3.x.  If you want an advantage, you have to give something up.  Want Sneak Attack?  Get a d6 hit die.  Want to cast arcane spells?  Enjoy your total lack of armor.

Just wearing a shield on your back without some kind of special training or technique might be advantageous, but it might not be advantageous enough to be modeled within the system.  You don't get a morale bonus to saving throws for eating a hearty breakfast, unless that breakfast was legitimately magical.

Additionally, if we want to get all pedantic and dip into game design: as stated above, the bonus for flanking is a bonus to the attacker.  It rewards the attacker for creating a condition where the defender has to divide his attention, and penalizes the defender for being drawn out of position and getting bogged down by enemies.

In fact, you could argue that a normal large shield (+2 AC) is specifically designed to negate flanking bonuses by covering an entire flank.  And in 3.x a Tower Shield does that and more, at a modest attack penalty.  You just have to, you know... use the shield.

In short, persistent benefits that let you partially ignore mechanics (flanking) or gain off-book mechanics (gaining an extra "hand" to use a shield) is the purview of Feats.  If you're not willing to pay a Feat, you get to play by the same rules as everybody else.

Edit: When determining what is and isn't worth a feat, remember, it's worth examining the lower threshold of Feats as well.  Remember, Dodge is a feat and all it gives you is +1 AC, some of the time.  Heck, Skill Focus is a feat and it just gives you +3 to specific skill checks.

The benchmark for your use case is Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword.  This feat lets you use a bastard sword one-handed, allowing you to gain use of a shield without the investment of a "wielding hand," at the cost of the various bonuses that come with two-handed wielding.  If the benefit is greater than that, it's worth considering implementing as a feat.

Not that the feat has to be/should be that bad (see my draft above), but that the bonus that the player wants is significant enough benefit to warrant the player invest some of his advancement resources into.

Edit: holy typos batman

This message was last edited by the user at 18:35, Thu 14 Sept 2017.

Jordan Task
 member, 5030 posts
 All glory to the
Sat 23 Sep 2017
at 14:02
House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
In reply to Killer Rabbitt (msg # 1):

You can say that a shield bonus already does negate at least part of the flanking bonus, no matter how it's used. A small shield adds + 1 to AC, if I remember correctly, and a large shield adds +2.

If you consider it from a historical perspective, shield bonuses are actually kind of silly. A large shield, something like a Kite Shield in particular, if properly used, essentially cuts off the line of attack that it is worn on. If anyone tries to attack from that angle the attack can be negated almost entirely by moving the shield a couple of inches. It also makes you almost immune to missile fire from whichever direction it's pointing. These are HUGE advantages in combat, that aren't really accounted for by a +2 bonus. But historically minded dnd players don't complain because a simple +2 makes the game play better and doesn't unbalance it. If you look at the typical equipment of an ancient infantrymen it almost always includes a shield. Even some people who carried two handed weapons as primary weapons carried a shield for situations where they were using their sidearms. This is also why shields are still used today in some contexts.

There are a couple of problems here though. First up, the same argument that your players use for a shield should also be used for plate armour. No matter what argument you're using, most weapons are not going to breach the plate unless they are specifically aimed to exploit the gaps in plate. Most knights were probably killed after being knocked down, and then their opponent sitting on top of them and stabbing them through the breathing hole or eye holes in the helmet. Heavy blunt weapons like maces or war hammers might have a chance to injure the guy inside by transferring the energy from a powerful strike that manages to land fairly solidly. So, the rogue trying to stab you in the ribs from behind should hit solid steel 9 times out of 10. A guy in properly made, well fitted plate is literally the medieval version of a tank, and real plate armour should cost the modern equivalent of a Ferrari. As soon as you start doing it for shields, next it's "but what about muh plate armour?" Then its "But half-plate!" Ad nausem until the flanking bonus vanishes entirely.

The second problem is that properly made and fitted armour is designed to be articulated. Meaning it's designed for you to be able to move while wearing it, often sacrificing levels of protection so that you *can*. Plate armour is protected at the joints by chain mail, since there's only so many ways you can angle and attach plates that allows the joint to bend in a useful way. A large piece of stiff wood strapped across your back? Not so much. It's restricting to your movements in a way that makes you less able to dodge, etc. So the bonus and penalty should cancel each other out.
 member, 774 posts
Sat 23 Sep 2017
at 14:23
House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
Shields were not really as passive a thing as they are treated today.  It wasn't simply a big thing between you and the enemy, it was used actively.  You put it where you need it.  Roman legionaries were trained to shove their shields into their opponent's face, blocking his vision, and then stab below the shield with their sword.  (this tactic was why the Romans preferred shorter swords.)

Soldiers are not stupid, they generally do whatever they can to protect themselves.  They can be extremely creative at this.  So a good way to judge "what actually works?" is "what soldiers actually did it?"  Guaranteed, if wearing a shield on the back was an advantage, it would have become very, very popular.
 member, 14 posts
Sat 23 Sep 2017
at 18:31
House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
These would be reasonable explanations why it would never work in the real world. Obviously this player never actually asked for this bonus because it is reasonable. He wants a magical bonus because why not and if he would like to explain that "I'm immune to flanking because I'm wearing a cape" the GM would just laugh on the explanation. He could have said "I'm immune to flanking because I have green eyes". There is absolutely no realistic sense in this, so this is the sort of just give me my bonus category.

I have to say I had similar players. Most of them left as I don't really like this type. If they really want I can give them bonuses for sure but for every similar bonus I would give a much bigger flaw.
Yes sure, your back shield will make you immune to flanking no problem, but it is also very unwieldy and eliminates all your movement based defense bonuses (like dodge and similar) or it makes you impossible to do a critical hit as your arms just don't have enough place to move.
 member, 43 posts
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 21:26
House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
In addition to the mention of shields and being passive...

You had to use them to DEFLECT attacks.
The idea was to make attacks glance off the shield rather than take a direct hit.
A shield that took direct hits got damaged and destroyed quickly.

IF you use this rule. Apply damage as per sunder for every hit to the backside.
(Obviously this would apply to every hit as every attack gets +2 ac)

Shields would not last long for sure.

Furthermore, be sure to recognize non-stacking bonuses. Shield bonuses not stacking with other shield bonuses.

Also remember there is now no location for a backpack. And if they try to put the shield ON the backpack, there is no real stable way to put it there. So carrying ANYTHING on your back is nonsense.

Finally since the shield is no longer being wielded I believe there are rules for STEALING things not being wielded. So if this shield is being a huge problem for a ROGUE, any sane rogue would do the thing they're good at. Just remove the problem.

Finally and most importantly. This sounds like a Toxic player. If you don't want to play anymore because of it, you should have an adult talk with this person. If they can't handle it, kick 'em out. You probably want to surround yourself with people who are reasonable folks than energize you to play rather than drain you. You'll probably want to make a point that this back and forth has just reached the point of too much and we need to just fruiting play already or not at all.
 member, 1 post
Tue 9 Jan 2018
at 20:53
House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
In reply to AramilNailo (msg # 57):

1.) Do not bring up realism.  That is folly.

2.) Do not offer special rules, feats, equipment, etc.  That is dancing around the issue.

3.) Do not say no or yes outright.

Ultimately, despite how silly the idea of a back shield providing any specials protection is, that is not the issue.  The issue is the argument.  Give him two options and be done with it:

1.) Eliminate flanking for one flanker only.  Take a penalty to attack.

2.) Back shields do nothing.

He can argue all he wants but it's not about realism or who is GM.  Your only reasoning needs to be if there is a special bonus there has to be a penalty to offset.

This message was last edited by the user at 21:12, Tue 09 Jan.

 member, 46 posts
Sun 14 Jan 2018
at 06:11
House Rule Rebuttal:  Back Shields
In reply to Percivalos (msg # 58):

Perc, the IF was in caps intentionally. I wouldn't do this at all. Ever.