I'm working on a fantasy RPG where I plan for things to start out on the more realistic side in terms of weapons and armor, but let the higher end gear move into weapons and armors that wouldn't be practical in the hands of an ordinary human of our world.

One of the things I plan to do is allow players to use metal shields. The entire shield would be a solid metal plate in the same shapes as we would see shields in medieval times, likely a quarter inch in thickness, give or take. I intend for the stronger characters to wield them as easily as an ordinary warrior would wield a wooden shield of the same shape/size.

In terms of modification to the strength of these characters, I'm talking about things like muscles and bones being stronger, possibly denser, than humans of our world. Though there will also be magical means for them to achieve this level of strength, I'm focusing on ordinary physical strength training and possible changes to biology of the races of my setting. I just want to know how much stronger they need to be.

How strong would humanoids need to be in my setting to wield such a shield? Are real world humans theoretically strong enough to do that already if they trained enough to do so?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You could also try adjusting the gravity of the setting. $\endgroup$
    – Galaxy
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ I was considering that as well. $\endgroup$
    – Arvex
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 18:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Frame challenge - allow your blacksmiths to work titanium. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 18:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I was planning to make a fictional material that was similar to titanium in properties as well. $\endgroup$
    – Arvex
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Arvex - be aware that reduced gravity does not change inertia. I get a rough estimate of ~50kg for a 1/2 inch 16-inch-radius disk of steel. Even if your people are 100kg, that means that the person's center of mass will be moved around by ~1/2 as much as the shield is moved. (Tthere are torque considerations also.) This would likely change combat styles. $\endgroup$
    – TLW
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


Steel is roughly 12 times denser than wood. Surviving wooden shields from the Vikings have mostly been in the range of 1/4" to 1/2" inches thick. This means your shield is somewhere between 6 and 12 times heavier than a wooden shield, depending on how thick the wooden shield would have had to be. Obviously they make shields as thick as they need to be, and no thicker.

There are a lot of ways to trade to get strength. The most common trick in the animal kingdom is to move the attachment points for muscles to get more leverage. This comes at the price of decreased mobility. But with magic at your disposal, there should be options.


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