1. Would shield bashing, or using the shield as a weapon, meet the requirements of the Pin Shield feat?
  2. Also, would Agile Shield Fighter have any effect? For instance, would that allow to "stand-in" for Two-Weapon Fighting; a prerequisite for Pin Shield?


When I see techniques by John Clements in the Nova documentary Secrets of the Viking Sword, it appears he is doing just that - pinning a shield with a shield.

I would like to say, "Yes I could pin a shield with a shield bash," since the SRD states:

Shield Bash Attacks

You can bash an opponent with a light shield or heavy shield, using it as an off-hand weapon.

Feat References

  • Pin Shield (Complete Warrior, p. 103)

    When making a full attack action, you may give up all your off-hand attacks. If you do, you momentarily pin your opponent's shield with your off-hand weapon...

  • Agile Shield Fighter (Player's Handbook II, p. 74)

    These penalties replace the normal ones you incur for fighting with two weapons.

Some Campaign Information

It is a no-magic, low-power, Norse campaign. The player characters will be among NPC's while aboard the longship. First encounters will be going up against other Vikings, of which both forces will utilize the Viking Shield Wall. There will be Berserkers (Barbarians) for Shocktroopers, Warriors (Fighters), a Skald (Bard without spells - bonus feat for each spell level), and a couple of Artisans (Artificer without Infusions, Rogue for poisons, and Rangers for traps) for repairs and such.

Breaking up the shield wall by lowering Armor Class, Bull Rushes, Sundering, etc. will be vital. After discussing this in very long detail, we want as much historically accurate fighting as possible. We are all very careful with our feat selections, class selections, etc. Without healing magic, we are relying upon the Heal skill, alchemy (using Craft Points from Unearthed Arcana), and the Skald using Healing Hymn to make us rest better.


2 Answers 2


1. Would shield bashing, or using the shield as a weapon, meet the requirements of the Pin Shield feat?

Yes, you can use a shield as an off hand weapon for purposes of the Pin Shield feat. Like with an ordinary shield bash attack, you lose any AC bonus provided by your shield until your next action. You would also suffer any other penalties for fighting with two weapons, treating a heavy shield as a one-handed weapon and a light shield as a light weapon.

2. Also, would Agile Shield Fighter have any effect? For instance, would that allow to "stand-in" for Two-Weapon Fighting; a prerequisite for Pin Shield?

No, you cannot use Agile Shield Fighter as a replacement for Two-Weapon Fighting in the prerequisites for Pin Shield. You must have TWF to take Pin Shield. However, if you fight with a heavy shield, have TWF, and have Agile Shield Fighter, the penalty on both attacks is reduced to -2/-2 (from -4/-4 with TWF). If you use a light shield, the penalties are the same (-2/-2 because the light shield is a light weapon).

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    \$\begingroup\$ While you are absolutely correct on 2., I feel like this answer really ought to recommend a houserule on the situation. Agile Shield Fighter doesn’t say it qualifies as Two-Weapon Fighting for requirements, but it should. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 6, 2015 at 18:22

In short IMHO your question doesn't seem to be answerable based on the context you've given as there isn't a shield pin in Viking tactics (as such) and the question doesn't seem to be about individual combat but in the context of a hird.

A shield wall is not the same as an individual using a shield. That technique has been around since the Greeks and can't be broken up by a simple rush, and battles came down to shield wall vs shield wall, with the type of armor worn usually being the deciding factor (all things being equal) The historic solution to the shield wall is second rank spearmen (for 'early' tactics) and then Pikemen.

I am only mentioning the individual portion as that's what the rules were designed for. The melee rules simply aren't designed for army or even squad level tactics. 100 heavily armored men have a chance at rushing a shieldwall, a PC has 0. The wedge formation (Svinfylking) is specifically not a bull rush (from an SRD standpoint - as it is an individual target- which even if "successfully" done- simply cannot be pushed back alone) and if used as such would require a lot of successive rolls of success on an individual basis, and historically was based on having very heavily armored individuals used as living battering rams (and didn't usually survive the effort).

I would consider creating an AD&D battle system variant that fits your needs so that each PC commands a Hird.

The wedge formation is a rush- I'm not saying that it isn't in real life but it most certainly is not a rush in DND rules, that's why I'm suggesting using the battle system rules. It seemed like you are trying to fit a square peg into a wedge shaped hole. If your are not trying to have PCs bull rush, sunder and pin in order to break up a shield wall then I have misunderstood the question. What I am trying to convey is that even the most heroic band of Viking warriors the world could ever know will never break a shield wall. If however you are looking at the skirmish portion of a battle then you are back to individual hand to hand combat which is perfectly suited to DND. As far as the shield pin goes it certainly doesn't feel Viking. The sagas talk about throwing the shield as a weapon but not pinning. Clements in the video is simply slowing down a basic block, (demonstrating how it can go wrong). If you're near Millbury, MA you can head to Valhalla and try it (http://www.hurstwic.com/training/index.htm). Pin shield should not require two weapon fighting (or rather two weapon fighting would be a default feat for a Viking). Hooking shields is mentioned in the sagas.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Undeleted. This answer doesn't speak to the exact rules question but is instead frame challenging with information on what real historical fighting would be like instead. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:38

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