[Runequest] Shield & armor questions

Bjørn Are Stølen stolenbjorn at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 11 07:52:01 EST 2010

-Many good rule-related answers allready, I'll chip in with what I know about the shields you seek info on:


The Viking Round shield operates like the buckler (centergrip), that makes it very versatile. If you're familiar with the oldest european sword-manual; I-33, you can roughly do at least 70% of that stuff with a viking round shield, indeed, if one is to take the the icelandic sagas on their word, duels (holmgang) could often end up with the viking-round-shields beeing bashed to a degree, where only the center-shield-boss (and the grip) was left, making them more or less bucklars.


The buckler is a small round shield with centergrip, and it (IMO) have derrived as a sporting/self-defence version of the viking round-shield, indeed sources state that many swashbucklers (the word comes from the buckler) 


Both of theese shields can be used to box with, as shown in the I-33 manual (f.instance parrying with the buckler, setting the opponents sword aside with the sword, then banging the shieldboss into the face of the opponent. Theese types of shields are allso typical for fighting with little or no armor, as the shield is used to protect the right arm/hand, and making sure the rest of the body is outside the opponents reach.


Heather/target/kite shields are opperated completely differently. They are strapped to the arm/hand, and often have a strap going around the neck. Theese shields can be moved much less than the two above. I believe that in medieval europe, the kite was developed by the Normans (migrated vikings, very familiar with the viking round shield), as they learned the art of riding, they realized that it's difficult to operate a shield, reins and a weapon all at once. They solved it by swapping the centre grip with underarm-straps and a shoulder-strap, so that you operate the kite shield and the reins of the horse with the left arm, while you operate the weapon with the right. They then saw that it was not possible to move the shield much, and while the right-arm could defend the left leg with counterstrikes and low blocks, the left leg was vulnerable. This is why the original norman kite-shields looks like a viking round shield that have started to melt, ending up with the charisteristic "drop-design". Later, as knights started wearing more and more chainmail, and later plate, the need for a shield was less and less, and in the end, theese strap-on-shields ended up as only serving as the target you aimed at in a jousting challenge.


So any roleplay-rules conserning shields should try to take what I've described here into account, it seems that the SR-2 is an intended rule for the "boxing" option for the viking round-shield (the migration-era version actually did have a spike on the end of the shield-boss, as some other person mentioned in a previous mail on this topic.) IMHO, the bucklar should allso have this advantage.
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