Even the hot blood of the bravest on the battlefield grows cold in the daunting face of a shield wall. A barrier of wood and iron that makes assault upon those behind it difficult, and opens an attacker to a whole new level of danger. A small and determined group of defenders can successfully hold off a larger number of attackers using this simple technique.
Conditions For Forming A Shield Wall:
- A shield wall must have no less than three participants, unless two participants are in a tight area that offers a solid defense on each side (i.e. corridor, doorway, etc.)
- Each participant must be using a normal, heavy, or tower sized shield. Bucklers can not be used to form a shield wall.
- Only fighters, paladins, and clerics (but not druids) have the necessary training to perform a shield wall.
- Any character that can use a shield, and has spent time training alongside those with experience, can learn to participate in a shield wall.
- A spell caster that has trained with companions may use a Shield spell to participate in a shield wall, and acts as a tower shield.
Advantages of a Shield Wall:
- The armor class of those participating improves by 2, above and beyond what their shield already provides.
- Participants are 50% immune to normal missile fire (1 in 2) when using normal shields.
- Participants are 75% immune to normal missile fire (3 in 4) when using heavy and tower shields.
- Magic Missile spells are subject to the above immunity rules, even if set to "autohit".
- Enemy combatants can not directly attack those standing behind the protection of the shield bearers.
- Enemy combatants that rush a shield wall automatically provoke a free attack by one (possibly two) participants of the shield wall.
- Participants gain a +2d6 to their Unarmed Attack roll when attacking and defending. Losing to an Unarmed Attack means that a hole has been made in the shield wall that round.
Disadvantages of a Shield Wall:
- Defenders may only use thrusting weapons, or one-handed striking/chopping weapons, no daggers, thrown, or two-handed weapons.
- Those standing behind a shield wall may only use weapons with reach, like spears, polearms, etc.
- a breach/hole must be made in the shield wall to allow a spell caster to send a spell through, unless the spell uses an indirect method of attack, i.e. Flame Strike, Call Lightning, etc.
- The shield wall is limited by the speed of the slowest participant.
- A shield wall loses all benefits when attempting to move into an area that does not allow the participants to maintain formation.
How to Breach a Shield Wall:
- In order to breach a shield wall, an attacker must make a successful Unarmed Attack (Overbearing) against a participant. The defender gets a +2d6 to their roll.
- Any successful attack that kills, stuns, or otherwise incapacitates a shield bearer opens a hole for that round, until someone else can step in, or the wall reforms. A wall can not reform with less than three shield bearers.
- An attacker attempting to breach the wall, by overbearing, is subject to a free attack by one (possibly two) defenders.
- Many spells are capable of opening a breach, subject to the DM's discretion.
(These rules are written to be compatible with Swords& Wizardry Complete, but may be suitable for use with other OSR-based systems.)