I'm not familiar with the mechanics of AD&D at all and haven't played many games like this before (I played Dragon Age: Origins). I tried looking on the web but there was very little information.

I'm a Chevalier (Paladin/Fighter) with proficiency in long sword and 1 sword / 1 shield style. Playing Baldur's Gate 1 in BGT.

There are 3 size of shields, and I don't know what the advantages and disadvantages of each are?

  • I'm not a BG2 expert, but I believe the smaller ones are mostly for classes that can't use the larger ones. If in doubt, use the biggest one you find, ie a tower shield ;-) Aug 15, 2011 at 19:40
  • The best weapon for a paladin in BG2 is a two-handed sword, so if you're going to play through the whole trilogy, you should specialize in that. Other than that, go for the tower shield. Missiles in BG1 are deadly.
    – Mihai
    Aug 19, 2011 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


IIRC, Baldur's Gate used fairly accurate 2nd Edition AD&D Rules.

In 2nd Edition AD&D, the size of the shield translated into the number of attacks per round that the shield provided an armor bonus against.

E.g. a small shield would provide a +1 bonus (+/- any magical modifiers) to only the first attack in that round. A medium shield could be used to block against more attacks per round than a small, and a large more than a medium.

The downsides of larger shields are weight restrictions (the bigger they are, the heavier), and class restrictions (some classes are restricted to small shields.

edit: I could find no reference to indicate whether BG implemented this rule. However, this site shows that larger shields provide additional bonuses against missle attacks.

Armor/Shield    Armor Class                                     Usable By
Buckler         -1, no protection from piercing and missiles    F/R/P/Th/B/C/Dr
Small shield    -1, no protection from missiles                 F/R/P/C
Medium shield   -1, protection from missiles                    F/R/P/C
Large shield    -1, –2 protection from missiles                 F/R/P/C
  • 2
    I don't remember ever noticing this facet of the AD&D rules in BG, or ever reading about it, so I'm not convinced it actually implemented this.
    – jprete
    Aug 18, 2011 at 23:39
  • Like @jprete says, I've never seen that particular variant on AD&D rules. IIRC, in 2nd edition, the primary difference between varying shield sizes is their effectiveness against ranged attacks, as truncheon notes in his answer. Aug 19, 2011 at 1:18
  • @Less I was merely thinking of Baldur's Gate itself, but if the AD&D rules themselves didn't include this, then this answer is entirely wrong, I'm sorry to say.
    – jprete
    Aug 19, 2011 at 1:26
  • @jprete it is on pages 75 and 76 of the second edition players handbook, although I've never actually played in a campaign that used that particular rule. You are correct that BG may not have implemented it, but I don't have the BG manual, and it could be implemented but not documented. Here's a link to an online copy of the relevant ad&d rule: coryj.net/CoreRule/corerule.php?page=PHB/DD01631.htm
    – Beofett
    Aug 19, 2011 at 2:18
  • @Less it is actually not a variant, but a core rule that was typically ignored.
    – Beofett
    Aug 19, 2011 at 2:19

If you're outfitting a warrior class party member, you'll want to focus more on the abilities the shield proffers, rather then the size of the shield.

For example, a Dragon Scale shield would offer some resistance against a particular elemental damage type, the Shield of Harmony would protect you against Charm, Hold, and Confusion.

As far as I know, the only difference between a small and a large shield is the bonus against missile attacks, bar the obvious difference of AC level.

  • 1
    This is correct. Shields are described on pages 125 and 126 of the Baldur's Gate manual: the descriptions are taken word-for-word from the AD&D manual as quoted in this RPG.SE answer, with the exception that all references to attacks-per-round are absent. On page 142, armor and bonuses are listed: modifiers against missile attacks are listed, but attacks per round are not. Aug 19, 2011 at 2:34
  • @Dave I have updated my answer to include a link to a chart showing the missle bonus for the different shield sizes. Since you appear to have access to the manual, could you please confirm whether the information in the link is correct?
    – Beofett
    Aug 19, 2011 at 3:14
  • @Beofett, yes, the table listed in that link matches the information in the manual: bucklers don't protect against missiles or piercing, small shields don't protect against missiles, large shields are -2 against missile weapons. Aug 19, 2011 at 3:30

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