Sword and Board Combat Style
As some players of D&D may or may not have noticed the use of a single weapon and a shield is unfortunately extremely weak in comparison to two handed fighting and even two weapon fighting, there is literally no reason to use it, magic compounds the problem further by offering the "Animated" enhancement.
I would like to offer up a few ideas that i had (admittedly when i was watching "immortals"):
- Damage needs to be on par with the other combat styles
- Shields need a more active roll in defending
The proposed solution
To address those issues we could;
1. For each bonus to defense a shield grants (1 for buckler/light shields, 2 for heavy and 4 for tower) it also grants an additional die of damage to your weapon, e.g. a Longsword with a buckler would have 2d8 damage while a longsword with a tower shield had 5d8. This change may make sword and board more desirable for damage (testing would need to be done for balance sake)
I know what some people may be thinking, that thats far to overpowered and you may be right, but consider this; at level 10 a full BaB class with power attack and two handed fighting will get weapon damage+str and a half+20 power attack
Human Fighter A wielding a greatsword with 24 Str full power attacks for 2d6+10+20
Human Fighter B Wielding a longsword and heavy shield with 24 Str full power attacking for 1d8+7+10
If my math is right Fighter A deals on average 38 Damage, while Fighter B deals on average 22, thats a difference of 16 damage all because fighter B wanted an extra 2 AC, which fighter A can get with an animated shield anyway.
If we change fighter B to use the proposed rule and add 2 dice of damage (for the heavy shield) his average damage then becomes 3d8+7+10, which is on average 32 damage, which makes it a difference of 6 which is a healthier number.
2. One possible option to add to make shields more actively defensive may be from the SW Saga game, the Block talent from one of the Jedi tree's could serve as a very good feat for a sword and board warrior. The talent basically allows a opposed roll to block a melee attack, each use of it between turns decreases the effectiveness of it, i feel it would work something along the lines of
Shield Block [General]
Your skill at blocking incoming attacks are unmatched
Prerequisite: Dex 13(to maneuver the shield quickly), Str 16(to take it like a man)
Benefit: As a reaction1 when you are the target of a melee attack, you may attempt an opposed roll of 1d20+BaB+Unmodified Shield Bonus+Str, the DC of the check is equal to the result of the attack roll you wish to negate, and you take a cumulative -5 penalty on your roll for every time you have used shield block since the beginning of your last turn. You must have a shield that you are proficient with drawn and not animated to use this feat and you must be aware of the attack and not flat-footed.
1: A reaction is classed as an immediate action with no limit on uses per round
Shield Bearers Surprise [General]
Through intense training with your shield you have learned that power isnt all, you have learnt to maneuver your shield at just the right moment to redirect an attack
Prerequisite: Shield Block, Base attack +6
Benefit: Once per round when you successfully shield block an attack, you can make an immediate melee attack against another target within melee threat range of the original target, if the attack succeeds, it deals normal weapon damage to the target
These two feats, shamelessly taken from SW Saga work to allow shields a more active roll in defending (something the animated shield cannot offer) and also give the sword and board style a touch more damage (assuming you get targeted for attack)
Man Of Steel [General]
When the going gets tough, the tough hide behind a shield
Prerequisite: Must Not have Evasion(is this needed?), Proficiency with a shield, BaB 7
Benefit: You may substitute your Reflex save with your Flatfooted AC while wielding a shield your proficient with and not animated.
Any thoughts are welcome