Shields Shall Be Splintered!
With thanks to J. Brian Murphy (from his article in “Fight On!” fanzine)
Shields work. They are (along with the helmet) among the poor warrior’s most trusted items. In this setting, however, shields act as a form of ablative armour.
Shields still add +2 to your Armour Class, as per the main rules. In addition, any time that you take damage, you can opt to say that your shield bore the brunt of the blow. The shield then shatters, and must be discarded, but you don’t take any damage from that strike. This works against any damage caused by an attack roll, including spells.
If you have an enchanted shield (such as a +1 or +2 shield), every time you use the shield to absorb damage in this manner, it loses one of its plusses (or other magical effects). Once reduced to +0, it becomes a mundane shield and will splinter the next time it bears the brunt of a blow as described above. You know, some adventurers whisper that some very talented armourers can repair magical shields… but whether it’s true or not is up to the GM.
Armour is great! It also gets battered and, from time to time, breaks. Your AC works just as described in the Player’s Handbook, meaning that armour usually makes you harder to hit, but there is an additional rule.
Every time you take damage from a critical hit (usually a natural 20 on the attack roll), your Armour Class is reduced by 1. The armour has been damaged, and it ablates. If the armour’s base value is reduced to 10, then the armour is ruined and must be discarded. Thus, for example, a heroine wearing a chain shirt (13 + Dex modifier) can suffer three critical hits before her armour is ruined. She still gets to add her Dexterity modifier to her AC, but the armour is of no further use.
Armour that is not ruined can be repaired – the GM will decide what the cost of such armoury services might be in the local community – if you can find a suitably trained armourer. Sometimes the costs are very high.
Long Rests Don’t Auto-Heal!
This is a clarified version of the “Slow Natural Healing” rule from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 267.
The long rest is still an 8-hour period of extended downtime, as described in the Player’s Handbook on page 186. Characters don’t, however, automatically regain all lost hit points at the end of a long rest. Instead, the hero can spend Hit Dice to heal at the end of a long rest, just like they can during a short rest.
Each character still regains spent Hit Dice (up to a number of dice equal to half their total Hit Dice) at the end of the long rest.