PF "Bucklers": historical examples?

Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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The PF "Buckler" is a "small metal shield is worn strapped to your forearm". Which is not a real buckler as historians use the term: that's a dinner-plate-sized metal shield held in the fist. The PF buckler allows the hand to be used for other things; a real buckler doesn't. A PF buckler can't bash; a real one certainly can, and the user was fully expected to do so.

But that apart, the "buckler" as described sounds a perfectly plausible thing. It's really a sort of heavy bracer, and I can well imagine using it to parry while using my off-hand for something else. So are there any actual historical examples of this? Not as part of a suit of armour or a metal sleeve, but as an individual shield-like add-on.

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"Bucklers are strapped to your arm so they don't occupy your hand" is a creation of role playing games for game mechanical reasons (as a shield with fewer of the downsides of using a shield that also offers less protection.

But probably the closest historic analogue is the Scottish targe, which was sometimes attached with straps around the forearm and wrist in concert with a dirk held in a hammer grip in the combatant's off-hand (which would poke out underneath the coverage of the shield).

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Given it's size, the Targe is probably more of a 'light shield' than a 'buckler'

PF Bucklers are pure fantasy, so you aren't likely to find a real world equivalent (I'm certain one would have been mentioned by now if there actually was one): Reducing a shield's size down to the point that the wearer can freely use that hand for anything else would basically negate its defensive value to about the level of non-magical bracers...

ADDENDUM: FYI, the 'Fantasy Buckler' used in PF dates back to at least 1991's Arms and Equipment Guide for AD&D2.0 (I don't remember it appearing in AD&D1, but I missed a good deal of that edition).

Given that the "buckler" does give only +1 AC, it's clearly not expected to be anything amazing. It's a bit like just wrapping a cloak around your left arm to give something to parry with if you have nothing else, but fixed and metal.

The targe, like a RL buckler, is for all practical purposes a PF light shield. You can indeed use a dagger with it, but that's essentially producing a spiked shield and bashing with it; you certainly couldn't use anything meaningfully bigger than a dagger with a targe.

I'm pretty sure there was no buckler in 1e AD&D. A shield was a shield, and gave -1 AC (because backwards), and that was it. So I can't see where a buckler would fit in.

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