5678 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Shields in the DC Heroes RPG

(Weapons Locker)


Introduction

This article deals in fighting shields, from the low-tech to the future tech.

Like with most Weapon Lockers articles, the primary goal is RPG stats. Still, it is readable in plain English. Except for some bits the first part with the rules, I guess.

As always with Weapons Locker articles, we are interested in fiction, with an emphasis on comic books, action movies, RPGs and video games. It’s not an historical study of shields. Especially since there isn’t that much conclusive material about older designs.

This article is forever in beta. It is slowly and gradually expanded.


Using shields, part 1

If you have a shield, it can be used in three distinct ways :

1/ To Block a given attack

The Block Combat Manoeuvre is on p149 of BoH:SE.

Howbeit, in this article, the OV/RV bonus from Blocking will be expressed as APs rather than as CSes, for greater granularity. This is best used in games with 1 AP-wide modified tables.

2/ To increase your combat OV

This is done using the Evasion Skill, possibly with the Must Wield Shield Limitation.

It usually represents advanced training and experience in using a shield in dynamic, forceful manners to control space and enemy weaponry.

Most mooks with a shield do not have such training. Thus, the shield changes nothing to their performance when it comes to baseline OV. They are dispatched as easily as shieldless mooks.

Furthermore it’s not uncommon to have Evasion (Must Wield Shield) APs but one AP above one’s standard OV.

3/ The Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre

A shield can be brandished to provide cover from attacks coming either from the front, *or* from the shield arm’s side. This Combat Manoeuvre will raise your Physical OV, based on the shield’s size. This stacks with the Evasion Skill.

But doing that limits your tactical tactical options. It leaves you with but the following possibilities :

  1. Charge. You can take one or both Automatic Actions to move, but the only Dice Action you can take is a Charge Manoeuvre. On the other hand, this means that you get to use two non-Initiative-dependent Combat Manoeuvres at once. Which isn’t usually allowed.
  2. Advance. You can take one Automatic Action to move, and a Dice Action with a +1 CS OV/RV. The penalty will be worse if you can’t see your target because of your shield. And of course one of your hands/arms is presumably occupied with brandishing your shield.
  3. Move around. This is done normally. If a Dice Action is necessary, it may be penalized with a +1CS OV/RV if the GM considers that actively wielding a shield hinders it. Most movement Dice Actions occur due to attempting acrobatic maneuvers.
  4. Stand and deliver. You can take one Dice Action at no penalty, but no Automatic Actions.

Nikolai Dante blocks gunfire with his cybernetic hand

Nikolai Dante demonstrates the Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre.

Attacking shields

The opposition could refuse to play along and specifically attack the shield instead. This is a Trick Shot, but it comes with significant bonuses to offset the usual Trick Shot penalties :

  1. The OV cover bonus that the shield can provide based on its size now works as a AV bonus for the attacker trying to hit the shield.
  2. If the targeted shield is currently providing an OV increase that works against your attacks (e.g. it is brandished as cover against attacks coming from the same direction as yours, or it is currently providing Evasion-based OV against your attack) the Trick Shot penalties are nullified.
  3. If the person is Blocking your attacks, see the Block Combat Manoeuvre instead.

Attacking shields can be critical for low-AV, high-EV fighters. Shields enhance OV by deflecting attacks, but attacking the shield itself allows for shifting the conflict to EV vs. RV.


Using shields, part 2

Shields and Gadgetry

Shields remain built simply as a BODY score. In most cases they’ll also have EV (since they can be used to strike) and a Recommended STR. More attributes may indicate a Gadget or Artefact rather than simple equipment.

A shield will also offer bonuses to the Block and Shield Cover Manoeuvres. This is points-neutral in Gadgetry terms. All sizes of shields have intrinsic advantages and drawbacks.

Design notes, part 1

Traditionally, shields in DCH are handled via the Block Manoeuvre. Of course, standing there and and blocking one attack isn’t what shield-slinging heroes such as Captain America or Battlestar usually do in the comics. Or what sword-and-board fighters like Alistair do in video games and genre novels. They are far more dynamic.

Battlestar charging with his shield

With the design of the Evasion Skill to handle OV concerns, we got a good tool for skilled shield wielders to become harder to hit. But it cannot be sufficient. Whereas Blocking was too static, Evasion doesn’t requires any Actions. And it doesn’t help characters with little or no training.

The Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre is an intermediary step between the two. Thus, we end up with a full spectrum that represents most fiction fighting scenes that involve a shield.

Design notes, part 2

Another point was not to make shields too powerful. If it is too easy to interpose the BODY of the shield between you and the blows (essentially making it /BODY/ for the price of BODY, and likely allowing for higher BODY scores than a comparable body armour) we have a balance problem.

Here, their use implies trade-offs to rebalance things. This means more interesting tactical choices.


Using shields, part 3

Shield bash

Shields have an EV, since you can bash people with them, hit people with the edge, ram people whilst charging, etc..

Captain America shield bash on Colossus

Captain America does a shield bash against a Colossus imposter.

Use of this EV :

  • Cannot be done on a Phase where you Block.
  • Is compatible with the Evasion Skill (the benefits of training !).
  • Can only be done in the same Phase as the Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre if you happen to be Pressing the Attack.

The EV can also be used during a Charge Manoeuvre, instead of your current speed.

Shield *and* weapon

If you aren’t using a buckler (see below), it is possible to hold a weapon in your shield hand. This *could* be sensible. For instance if the weapon is a spare or an alternate, or if it’s your melee weapon kept there while you hold a throwing weapon.

More awkward possibilities exist in dual-wielding weapons while also having a shield strapped on one arm. A good example is some Scottish styles where the shield hand also holds a dirk. In steampunk  settings, one could also hold a black powder pistol in reserve with the shield hand.

Scottish targe and dirk

Scottish targe wielded along with a dirk. Source unknown, unfortunately.

In such cases :

  • If you use the weapon you do not benefit at all from the shield, *unless* you are Pressing the Attack. If you intend to use the shield-hand weapon, you must therefore commit to that at the very beginning of a Phase, before people declare their Actions in Initiative order.
  • In melee, this will be useful as part of a Paired Weapons Schtick. It allows you to use the bonus, whilst retaining normal use of the shield.
  • If you only use the shield-hand weapon, its AV is lowered by the OV of the shield against ranged attacks (as an approximation of the shield’s cumbersomeness). This would be the case in, say, a hand axe + shield + pistol-in-the-shield-hand combo if you only fire the pistol.

Standard shields

As often in our weapons locker articles, we’re first going to review the basic models, then see the more exotic fare in a separate sections.

In the case of shields, the basic range is simple. Which is good.

Stats

SMALL SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 04, EV 02, Recommended STR 01, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 1 AP].

MEDIUM SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, EV 03, Recommended STR 02, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 2 APs].

LARGE SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, EV 03, Recommended STR 02, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 3 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 3 APs].

Notes

A small shield is almost as wide as your forearm is long, and weighs 8-ish pounds. These are sometimes called “buckler”, especially in video games. But that’s not the terminology we’ll use here. Because we’re pedants. They’re sometimes called a “targe”, too.

A medium shield weighs about 15 pounds. Shockingly, its size lies between the small shield’s and the large shield’s. Most were round, but kite shapes later became more popular, then heater shapes (at least in Europe). The advantages of kite shields are chiefly seen in mounted combat.

A large shield goes roughly from the user’s knees to their face, and weighs about 25 pounds. It’s a bit broader than they are. Especially for those shields intended to be wielded in formation, with the left side helping cover the next man in rank. Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation.

As always, these categories are arbitrary. A rectangular Roman scutum would be a large shield for a diminutive fighter like Alamen Tabris, but not for André the Giant.

Material

A vast range of materials can make a perfectly good shield. Metal-reinforced hard wood is common. But it’s possible to make a pretty tough shield out of paper and glue (the secret lies in the layering).

The popular image of a shield is a planked one. But planked shields are late designs, used by fighters in plate armour. The shield wasn’t as essential to their defense as with earlier, less armoured fighters.

Manhattan Guardian of the 7 Soldiers (DC Comics) smiling, white background

The Manhattan Guardian, with the shield of the Guardian (Jim Harper).

More durable shields are built using plied wood, often covered with some sort of leather or hide. As often with protection, heterogeneous layers work better than homogeneous material. And the covering really helps in holding damaged wood together.

Improvements include using treated linen instead of leather as the covering. It works just as well and is lighter. Another one is sealing the wood with oil so it doesn’t absorb humidity (especially at sea).

Unusual material

Some materials might result in an attack vulnerability.

For instance, a shield made of hide and paper (some Comanche warriors used that during the American genocides) likely would have an Attack Vulnerability (RV) against flame. An all-metal shield likely would have an Attack Vulnerability (RV, and perhaps even OV) against electricity.

The range of BODY scores depends ‘pon the material. The BODY scores for the standard shields assume a knights-and-castles, or generic-heroic-fantasy, tech level. Bronze Age of technology or earlier shields will likely have a lower BODY.

Conversely, a shield expertly made for a super-hero, using modern high-yield steel, will likely have a BODY of 12.

A “masterwork” low-tech shield likely will have a BODY higher by one AP than the stock model. More BODY than that will likely involve magical and/or exotic materials.

Shields without Hardened Defenses

These certainly exist. The more common cases are :

  1. Improvised shields. The archetype is the post-apocalyptic warrior wielding a road sign with added straps as a shield.
  2. Disposable shields made of a softer wood, such as spruce. It’s lighter and cheaper, heh ? Viking raiders may have used this approach. Or maybe the shields we’ve found in tombs were there for decoration and not combat, it’s hard to say.
  3. Very low-tech shields. We’re taking the animal-hide-on-a-wooden-frame level of tech here.

Less standard shields – the lighter stuff

Very small shield

Larger than a diner plate, but markedly smaller than a small shield. I’m not sure there are too many historical examples of this, since wielding a small shield would make more sense.

But there are comic book examples, such as the Fury. No one escapes the Fury !

VERY SMALL SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 03, EV 02, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 0 APs].

Fury (1963 comics by Alan Moore) leap attack vs. Voidoid

The Fury, with his shields on, attacks Voidoid.

Bucklers

A buckler isn’t distinguished by its size. What makes it a buckler is that it is wielded using a handle rather than forearm straps. Thus, it rests within your fist.

However, this is normally done on a small or very small shield. A larger buckler is hard and tiring to use, even with a mighty-thewed arm.

These have the same stats as a VERY SMALL SHIELD or a SMALL SHIELD, with the following differences :

  1. They can be Taken Away.
  2. A small-shield-sized buckler has a Recommended Strength of 02, and a very-small-shield sized one has a Recommended Strength of 01.
  3. You can drop or pick up a buckler just like you would a short sword or truncheon. And I guess you can throw them, if you’re a super-hero.
  4. Very small bucklers can also be kept on a weapons belt, which is handy.
  5. The handle and light weight allows it to move in a quicker, more dynamic way. It works well in combination with, or when opposing, fast and light weapons such as fencing blades.
    In DCH terms, a buckler can be integrated into a Schtick (Paired Weapons), with the other component likely being a rapier or some such.

In Western stories, bucklers tend to be associated with :

  • Classical fighters, such as Ancient Greek and Roman soldiers. But these guys tended to use larger bucklers. We’ll discuss the scutum later in this article.
  • European fencers using fighting systems designed around the rapier.

Grip of a buckler from Lynn Thompson's Special Projects (Cold Steel)

Grip of a modern-made buckler from Lynn Thompson (Cold Steel Armoury) .

Madu buckler

An Indian buckler whose handle is prolonged on both sides by a sharp blackbuck horn. Each horn’s exposed length is a bit longer than the shield’s diameter. This further helps in blocking swung melee weapons, and these can be used to stab by a trained fighter.

This is certainly more efficient than the small-shield-plus-knife-in-hand approach. If you don’t mind me saying. But it’s bulkier and harder to carry.

Bladed small buckler [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 03, EV 03, Recommended STR 02, Note:

  • the OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP (2 APs vs. swung melee attacks).
  • the the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 0 APs (1 AP vs. swung melee attacks).].

The EV here assume that the tip of the horn is shorn with metal. Otherwise, it would have Limited Penetration, at least in a more realistic setting.

Madu buckler, from India (sold by Oriental Arms)

A good example of a madu shield, once sold by specialised antiquarian Oriental Arms .

Transparent riot shield

These are usually made of Lexan or a similar plastic. These mostly started being used in riot control and corrections during the 1970s. These are robust, and much lighter than a low-tech shield.

Being transparent, they do not reduce spatial awareness. It also makes it easier to block slow-flying projectiles like rocks or bottles. Because you can see them coming all the way.

TRANSPARENT SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 04, EV 02, Note:

  • the OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs (3 APs vs thrown projectiles).
  • the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 2 APs.].

Transparent police riot shield

Plain old transparent riot shield from platics factory Guangdong Guoweixing .

The never-ending quest to electrocute those who can’t afford an attorney also led to electrified corrections shields. These have a much larger handle (this is where the large batteries go) and recessed copper wires along the surface.

There usually are two vertical handles, since the goal isn’t so much to block attacks than to walk into people shield first, shocking them and pinning them against a wall.

It has the same stats as above, but the shield has Aura of Pain (no Volume): 03. If the person cannot escape (say, because they’re pinned against a wall) add one or two APs of Lightning (No Range, Bashing Combat). These are Combined with Aura of Pain.

Ulysses 31-style energy shield

The reference might be obscure for non-Europeans, but these are shields made of shaped energy rather than solid materials. They are used just like a more physical shield of an equivalent size.

Usually, they manifest as a circular and rectangular plane of translucent energy. This plane is emitted by a device on the wielder’s forearm or wrist. Here’s a picture :

Ulysses 31 (cartoon) wielding his force shield

Ulysses 31 wields his force shield.

Such a shield can usually be turned on and off. They might be as small as a wristwatch when off. Add Insta-Change to the Gadget to represent this advantage.

Such shields will often have a high BODY, and might have additional Powers such as Energy Absorption (Limited to the shield itself, -1), Flame Immunity (ditto), Deflect/Reflect, etc..

On the other hand they might not have EV. And most don’t have Recommended STR.

If they can reach tower shield-like size, you could switch to the Force Shield Power and forget the rules for conventional shields. Such device will provide a large protection that can be moved very quickly, and will presumably be transparent. Therefore, none of the trade-offs of a physical shield is in play.

Gungan battlefield force cover

An example of this switch is the Gungan energy shield . This is an ovoid force pavis seen in Star Wars prequels. It can be wielded as a strapped-on shield, or as a buckler since it weighs so little.

Note the that frame, handle and superstructure are solid and non-collapsible.

FORCE PAVIS for yousa okay-dey ? [BODY 03, Force shield: 07, Reflect/Deflect: 04, Bonuses & Limitations: Force shield has No Range, Reflect/Deflect is Combined with Force Shield but only works on blaster  fire].

Gungan force shields (Star Wars)

Gungan line infantry with deployed force shields. Source: Starwars.com .


Less standard shields – the heavier stuff

Tower shield

A huge rectangular shield that’s almost as tall as, and broader than, the wielder. The additional coverage isn’t that useful in melee, but it’s appreciable when under fire from projectiles. This is essentially portable full cover.

On the other hand, tower shields can be terribly heavy – 30 pounds or more. That’s a lot to carry, especially since it will presumably come on top of body armour and weaponry. And a guige (see below) won’t help.

VERY LARGE SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, EV 03, Recommended STR 02, Notes:

  • the OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 3 APs (4 APs vs. ranged attacks).
  • the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 3 APs (4 APs vs. ranged attacks).
  • it is possible to use the shield to be under full cover, if you set it up and hunker behind it without taking Actions.].

Tower shield in Dark Souls video game

The Dark Souls video game famously has a big-arse tower shield.

Scutum

The scutum is a design used by Imperial Rome’s legion. Well, a series of designs, since of course gear and doctrine evolved over time. It is a medium shield, though it straddle the border of large shield-ness. The sides are clearly curved, “wrapping” the shield around the user.

During most eras, scuta are particularly robust. They are more durable than most historical shields. This also makes them unusually heavy – more than 20 pounds at some points.

Which is an issue, since it is a buckler design. The horizontal grip is in the bosse (more on bosses later). A scutum is part of a well-designed military fighting system where the shield is wielded dynamically to biff the opponent. This creates openings for the other weapon, presumably a gladius (stabbing short sword).

This means that legionnaires must be fit, strong and well-trained. In DCH terms, an expert would likely have Paired Weapons (Scutum & gladius).

They are also organised enough to rotate in a second line of men when the first line is too tired from wielding the weighty scutum. And some defensive fighting techniques involved resting the lower edge of shield on the ground whilst crouching behind it.

Stats

Scutum [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 06, EV 03, Recommended STR 03, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 3 APs].

There are other examples of medium-sized bucklers, such as Homeric shields. Meaning the shields used by the Greeks during the Trojan Wars, before switching to the apsis design and the phalanx doctrine. Their BODY wouldn’t be as good, though.

Roman legionnaire with scutum and gladius, from History.net

Nice didactic image from History.net .

Large ballistic shield

Firearms led to shields being phased out, since you need two hands to operate a gonne and their descendants.

Yet a shield-and-pistol style certainly could be used. In comic books, Captain America (Bucky Barnes) and Taskmaster have sometimes fought that way. But no military fights with pistols, which have terrible range and so-so power.

*Nevertheless*, there’s a room for a shield in modern tactical situations. It is chiefly used by SWAT-type units who need to make entry into buildings and rooms held by armed hostiles. The goal is to get in with the least possible risks to the officers and suspects.

Various shooter video games have also made use of the idea.

These are heavy affairs, meant to reliably stop full bursts by assault rifles with FMJ ammunition. As a result, a common setup is to have a strong and fit officer concentrate on wielding the shield, while a firearms officer shares its cover. It is possible for the wielder to see through a thickly armoured, transparent, horizontal band in the shield.

In a way, this is a return of the medieval pavises and mantlets. These were the same general thing, but made of reinforced wood. Pavises and mantlets were chiefly used during sieges, to provide cover for attacking archers.

Stats

BALLISTIC PAVIS [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 07, Notes:

  • this cannot be used with the Evasion Skill.
  • this can only be used to Block if one’s STR is 05 or more.
  • the OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 4 APs.
  • changing the facing for the Shield Cover manoeuvre requires three Actions of either kind (four with STR 02, two with STR 03, one with STR 04 or more).
  • the OV bonus when using the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 4 APs.
  • land speed is reduced by one AP for every AP of STR under 03, and Initiative is decreased by 2 for every AP of STR under 06.
  • the sheer size and cumbersomeness also amount to an MPR.
  • it is possible to use the shield to be under full cover, if you set it up and hunker behind it without taking Actions.].

If the pair of officers is well-trained and coordinated, the firearms officer benefits from partial cover from the front. They thus can only be hit by taking a Trick Shot. Maintaining this cover requires a Dice Action and an Automatic Action from the shield officer on every Phase, though no actual dice roll is normally needed.

BRI officers in Paris with ballistic shield, after the Bataclan assault.

French police officers with a large ballistic shield used during one of the 2016 terror attacks in Paris.

Duelling shield

This odd weapon is a combination staff-spear-shield. That is, it is a quarterstaff-length haft with a point on each end, which also serves as the handle for a tall, thin oval shield. It was used by champions in trial by combat, back when that was all the rage in Europe.

Duelling shield [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 04, EV 04, Recommended STR 02, Note:

  • the OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs (1 AP against ranged attacks).
  • the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 2 APs (1 AP against ranged attacks).].

Duelling shields Hans Talhoffer combat manual

A (relatively) famous illustration from Hans Talhoffer’s medieval combat manual .


Captain America’s shields

Over the decades, Cap (Steve Rogers) has used a variety of shields, from the 1940s hardened steel plate to photon shields and plasma shields. These usually were deployed when his signature indestructible tricolour disc wasn’t available.

So these are excellent examples of super-hero shields. And, as luck would have it, we have a whole article about Captain America’s gear that you can read.

Technical view and comments about Captain America's shield


Shield accessories

Most do not play a role in game terms. However, as with our other weapons locker articles we’ll quickly describe these things. It is mostly useful for those who like the patina of verisimilitude it brings to the game.

Bosse

A bosse (sometimes “boss”) is a hard, usually metallic, piece on the other side of the shield’s handles. It is the “hard core” of the shield, and its more durable and used section.

When it comes to heavy blows, the rest of the shield is there in good part to distribute the impact over a larger surface. The dynamic work to deflect incoming attacks is done with the bosse.

Most low-tech (but not *very* low-tech) shields will have a bosse. Most are shaped like a domed disk to better withstand blades and arrows.

But as body armour improves (especially gauntlets and vambraces), the need for a bosse in shields recedes. Eventually it becomes dead weight and disappears.

Guige

This is an additional strap for a shield. This one doesn’t go around your forearms but around your neck, a bit like when wearing your arm in a sling. The main function of a guige is to help support the weight of a shield when it’s not in use. Say, when marching.

Some very low-tech shields were hung by the guige, resting on the person’s torso. So they amount to a protective plate hanging from your neck. This certainly looks awkward, but if you don’t have good options for body armour…

A guige is also useful if you decide to disengage your shield – perhaps to transition to a two-handed weapon. Slip the shield arm out of its straps, and shove the shield back so it now rests on your back, held across the shoulder by its guige.

Norman horseman reenactor with shield held by its guige

Reenactor with a shield held by its guige, to have both hands free. From this reenactor event .

Blades, edged rim, spikes…

These will not usually modify the EV of the shield, given how APs work. But they can be useful when posing for a 1970s heavy metal album cover.

They *can* amount to 2 APs of Aura of Pain (no Volume) for the shield, only used against things and people grabbing the edges of the shield. This Power doesn’t consume any Action.

For instance, some corrections plastic shields have jagged edges. This are to prevent the shield from being pulled down by bare-handed opponents. These can also be used as a wrestling aid to apply pain holds.

Below is a puzzling museum piece that is a combination gauntlet-small shield-sword-spikes thingie, *and* a lantern shield (see below). It seems to be closer to a conversation piece than a practical weapon, but it sure looks striking.

Gauntlet lantern shield bladed clawed contraption

Curtain

A curtain or apron under one’s shield, sometimes made of feathers. This is surprisingly effective at stopping light, slow projectiles such as sling bullets, blowpipe darts, arrows or small thrown weapons.

The shield gains an additional AP of bonus (to OV/RV when Blocking, to OV when Covering), albeit only against such projectiles. Large shields or pavises receive no bonus – they’re large enough already.

Lantern shield

The simplest version is a hook to hang a lantern onto your shield. It is rather useful at night or underground when you expect things to go pear-shaped in a hurry. And in later eras, the lantern could be stout enough to survive blows from the lighter street weaponry of these times, such as rapiers.

A XVIIth century version is a small (hand sized) lantern, set over a bowl-shaped metallic sheet that directs the light forward. This low-tech tactical flashlight is affixed near the top of the shield.

The main advantage of a lantern shield is that you can see clearly without being seen. The darkness penalties will generally be lifted on the right side of the shield, but the other side will still suffer from them. Howbeit, they can attack the shield without darkness penalties.

If the opposition has its eyes adapted to darkness, and it is a dark night, the light *might* also dazzle and disorient. This likely doesn’t go above Flash: 01 in DCH terms, and that’s assuming the conditions listed above.

Blade traps

These usually are raised metallic bars on the shield’s surface. If the shield is hit by a sufficiently thin, long blade (such as a dagger or rapier), the shield bearer might be able to get the blade stuck between the bars and the shield. This works better with a buckler.

XXXXXXXXX


Almost shields, but not really

Parrying off-hand weapons

Various devices such as mains-gauche, parrying daggers, sai, jitte, full moons, spring-loaded triple daggers, saintie spears, etc. sort-of resemble shields, tactically. They are wielded with the off-hand to parry melee assaults, and can be used to strike if there’s an opportunity.

However, we do not consider them shields in DCH technical terms. They are of little use against projectiles, and the Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre doesn’t model their use. Instead, they are melee weapons with unusual properties.

Jennifer Garner as Elektra, with paired sai

Jennifer Garner with paired sai.

Forearm plate, armoured bracers…

Ola ! The exemplar here is of course Wonder Woman, but other characters use similar techniques. For instance Shang-Chi’s steel bracers get used to parry shuriken, swords, etc..

This is isn’t done via attributes of the equipment. Because a random schmuck given Wonder Woman’s bracers will achieve precisely nothing.

Wonder Woman's bracers

Rather, use the Precise Blocker Schtick, and perhaps the Evasion Skill (Must Wear Bracers) in certain cases. Note that the Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre isn’t possible, since bracers offer no cover.

The protective equipment can thus just have BODY, barring magical properties and the like.

Rolled cloak

Leather cloaks aren’t uncommon for low-tech travellers, for protection against the elements. In other circumstances one might wear a heavy cape made of thick fabric.

If a fight is coming, it is possible to roll the cloak or cape around your off forearm, and use it to block some attacks. This chiefly makes sense against light melee weapons such as knives, daggers, smallswords, truncheons…

This isn’t, in DCH terms, a shield. So no Blocking, no Evasion (Must wield shield), no Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre. What it does is :

STOUT ROLLED CLOAK [BODY 01, Blunting: 03, Skin armour: 01, Bonuses & Limitations :

  • All Powers are only active when taking a Laying Back Manoeuvre.
  • All Powers are only usable against melee attacks coming from the front.
  • Skin Armour also works vs. energy attacks.].

Тарч-equipped armour

Some designs of body armour also have a shield-like structure. The most telling example might be the Russian Тарч. In game terms, this is simply part of the armour, reinforcing weak points. It also adds Claws: 03.

The larger models, meant for static defense, likely add an AP of (No Range) Force Shield to the specialised plate armour suit it is built on. These are apparently meant to hold chokepoints, such as a wall breach during a siege.

Medieval Russian built-in targa shield.

Super-hero capes used as shields

Super-hero capes are usually decorative. They may in fact be deliberately easy to tear so they don’t get stuck in the scenery at a critical moment. But in some cases, they are reinforced for protection.

This was the schtick of the Spirit of ’76. And the likes of Batman (Bruce Wayne) or Batwoman (Katherine Rebecca Kane) have nanotube composites-woven cape for protection against arrows, flamethrowers and other attacks without a lot of mass behind them.

Batwoman (Kate Kane) on a bridge in the night

Each such cape would be an individual Gadget, however.

  • When just worn, it likely will offer protective powers with Partial Coverage Trick Shot, and a further -2 FC on top of it for only protecting from the rear.
  • When wielded as a screen, it becomes able to Block. The BODY of the cape will likely be low, but it’s going to have Powers such as Flame Immunity and a limited version of Skin Armour (say, Limited to attacks below a certain mass threshold).

The Force Shield power

The DCH rulesbooks have a Force Shield power. It is essentially a partial Force Field, in that it adds to RV against attacks that come from the front (and maybe sides, the text isn’t super-clear). It also, curiously, has a Range.

There are mentions of attackers going around the shield and that it’s 4′ in diameter. Thus it might resemble a physical shield in use. But there’s no mechanical description about getting past that shield, how many attacks it can parry, etc.. It also seems able to intercept all attacks without a roll.

Thus, Force Shield isn’t considered suitable to model most sorts of shields. The exceptions are discussed above.


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Helper(s): Eric Langendorff, Pawsplay, Ethan Roe.

Writeup completed on the 16th of June, 2017.

Subscribe to our newsletter!