5838 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Shields for RPGs and other stories


Context

This article presents shields used in combat, from the low-tech to the future tech, with DC Heroes RPG stats.

For DC Heroes players, the extended shields rules are found in .


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Disclaimer

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.


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, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Recommended STR 01, Descriptor: Bludgeon, 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, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 04), Recommended STR 02, Descriptor: Bludgeon, 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, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Recommended STR 02, Descriptor: Bludgeon, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 3 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 3 APs].


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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.


Other shields – low-tech, small 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, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Descriptor: Unarmed, 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.

Except in Classical times, this is usually done with 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 or 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 a trained fighter can also stab with the tips.

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, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Piercing, 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 .


Other shields – low-tech, larger 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, Enhanced (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Bludgeoning, 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 straddles 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 Schtick (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, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Bludgeon, 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 .


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, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 06), Descriptor: Piercing, 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 .


Other shields – higher-tech, small stuff

Forearm shell

An elongated polycarbonate shell that protects the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. It is held around the forearm using straps, and the hand grips a thick handle within the shell. So it’s a bit like your forearm plus the back of your hand being four times thicker, and armour-plated.

The shell makes it much easier to defend against most forms of unarmed blows, knife thrust, truncheon swing, etc.. However it offers next to no protection against bullets, and is of limited use against many kinds of projectile. On the gripping hand , it provides hard surfaces. These are useful both when hitting people and when forcing them back.

The handle is hollow, which means a compatible mace spray can be slotted in – then secured in position. And the two “fingers” about the hand help with using a baton as a restraining aid.

Such a shell is less useful than a riot shield. However, it :

  • Is more discreet (especially when the officer also wears riot armour).
  • Doesn’t immediately evokes fighting. It looks more like some sort of protective equipment.
  • Is easier to manoeuvre.

A real-life example of this is the Monadnok Impactor.

Riot police officer with Monadnok Impactor and baton

Stats

FOREARM SHELL [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Recommended STR 02, Descriptor: Bludgeon, Attack Vulnerability (-1CS RV vs. Ballistic, Laser), Notes:

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

This equipment makes it easier to use a baton as a wrestling aid. In technical terms, using the Skilled Use stats for a truncheon should be allowed for a broader range of Characters. See the Melee Weapons – Chapter Zero article for Skilled Use.

The spray will be a Mid-Sized Spray, as statted in the Small Melee Weapons article.


Transparent ballistic buckler

These are niche police supplies. These resemble a miniature riot shield, about 18 inches high. You hold it in front of your face, with the handle roughly at chin level. It weighs less than 10 pounds.

This allows an officer to protect their head if there’s a risk of running face-first into an hostile person or animal. For instance when looking under a bed, climbing a ladder to enter an attic, turning a corner, during some traffic stops… The shield is completely clear so it doesn’t impair vision, and there are small but powerful flashlights built in.

This kind of shield stops handgun rounds, and improvised melee weapons. The projectile will likely remain embedded in the polycarbonate after it hits, which is safer. And makes the lives of forensics people easier.

A real-life example of this is the Cide face shield from Citadel Defense.

Cide Citadel Defense mini ballistic shield

Marketing photo from Citadel Defense Technologies . The clusters of three spots under “POLICE” are the flashlights.

Stats

Transparent ballistic buckler [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Flash (Steady IO): 05, Recommended STR 01, Descriptor: Unarmed, Attack Vulnerability (- 1CS RV against attacks with an EV of 06 or more, unless they are Unarmed or Bludgeoning), Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 1 AP].

If the shield is correctly held in place and the head is attacked, the Block attempt is automatically successful and only takes an Automatic Action. This usually occurs when the head is the only exposed target – as the shield-wielder is taking a peek around an object or corner.


Martial arts sparring pads

These are kinda like small, hard cushions you wear over your forearms and hands. Depending upon the exercise, additional “cushions” can be worn around the belly and groin, and over the shins and ankles.

The are mainly use for training. They allow for sparring exercises to be done with greater speed and strength, while remaining safe. Usually, one person will wear the pads and have a mostly defensive role, and the other will attack.

In super-hero stories there could be odd situations where they get used in a fight. Say, against somebody with a death touch. Or as part of a plan by two fighters attempting to take on a single, much more skilled opponent.

The first thing that came up for me when searching for sparring pads on Amazon.com .

Stats

SPARRING PADS [BODY 02, MPR (wielder’s EV is lowered by 1CS, limited to Bashing combat), Attack Vulnerability (-1CS RV vs. Ballistic, Laser), Notes:

  • OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 3 APs (1 AP vs. Ranged).
  • the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 2 APs (0 APs vs. Ranged)].

In-vehicle reaction shield

A ballistic plate about 16 inches high and 9 inches wide. There’s a thick grip at one end, and a strap to secure it to the forearm. It’s essentially a narrow small shield, albeit one proofed against handgun rounds. The ballistic fabric housing around the plate also lowers the odds of a ricochet.

It is small enough to be stored on the inside of a car door, with the grip readily accessible. Thus, if the person in that seat realises that they’re about to be shot through the window, the shield can be quickly drawn up to protect the shoulders, neck and head. The lower body is protected by the car door.

Being readily on-hand, the shield can be grabbed and strapped on when leaving the car to respond to a situation. It could thus be a distinctive schtick for a Batman-like hero.

A real life example of this is the Riggs police shield.

Riggs emergency in-cruiser police shield

Marketing material from the manufacturer . Left: the shield stored in-cruiser ; right: a conversation about favourite hair styles goes wrong.

Stats

REACTION SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Descriptor: Bludgeon, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 1 AP (0 APs vs. projectiles)].

In the standard use case (raising the shield whilst sitting in a motorcar), the Block attempt will automatically succeed if the shield-wielder reacts in time.


Other shields – higher-tech, large stuff

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, Enhanced (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Descriptor: Unarmed, 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 plastics 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.


Ballistic pavis

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.

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.

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.


Wheeled ballistic shield

An even bigger bulletproof pavis, mounted on a sort of wheeled cart. So it doesn’t have to be carried. But you run into issues with stairs, mud, sand, narrow openings and corridors, etc.

A real-life example of this is the “Special Operations Bunker” product range.

Militarised SWAT officers with a wheeled ballistic shield

A SOB wheeled shield, marketing photo from the manufacturer . The four officers using it move as a common SWAT formation called a “close stack”. For some reason, they are disguised as soldiers. Perhaps they were at a costume party.
I picked the narrowest configuration so you can see the chassis, but the shield is usually markedly wider.

Stats

WHEELED BALLISTIC PAVIS [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 08, Notes:

  • this cannot be used with the Evasion Skill, or to Block.
  • changing the facing for the Shield Cover manoeuvre requires three Actions of either kind.
  • the OV bonus when using the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 4 APs.
  • the sheer size, cumbersomeness and terrain issues amount to a SPR.
  • it is possible to use the shield to be under full cover, if you set it up and hunker behind it without taking Actions. Three persons can do so.].

Ballistic tower shield

Early ballistic portable cover had to be pavises, for weight reasons. However, it since became possible to have tactical shields more akin to tower shields. These are more mobile, and are operated by a single person. I mean, just one person. Their marital status is irrelevant here.

Use the tower shield stats, but the BODY is upped by 2 thanks to modern materials.

Real-life examples of these include the Body Bunker and Deadstop products.

Tactical police with a deadstop ballistic shield

Men with sunglasses protecting a beleaguered dog. Perhaps it is their guide dog ?


Other shields – future tech

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. They 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 APs of Enhance (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 .


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 using 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.

A shield without a bosse (usually a planked shield) usually has its BODY lowered by 02. However, it is common in stories to have shields visibly lacking a bosse, but performing as if they had one.


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 add APs of Enhance (EV) to the shield, given how APs work. And they’ll likely not be large enough to modify Descriptors. But they can be useful when posing for a 1970s heavy metal albüm 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 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 DC Heroes RPG 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.

Blade trap mechanics

We’ll assume that such a manoeuvre can be the turning point of a duel, and thus warrants some detail.

  1. First, the shield wielder must execute a successful Block Manoeuvre against a suitable weapon. Blade traps normally only work against slim, fencing-style weapons. Daggers, rapiers, épées, foils, the slimmer designs of jian swords, bayonets, etc..
  2. The shield wielder may then commit to attempting to break the blade on the next Phase.  Their Dice Action for the next Phase is spoken for, and is unmodifiable.
  3. The shield wielder receives a special +5 bonus to Initiative on the next Phase, to conduct this Dice Action. If their opponent nevertheless acts first, they may spend a Dice Action (DEX/DEX vs 03/04) to disengage their blade from the shield trap in time. The shield wielder will then waste their Dice Action, since there’s no blade to break.
  4. The shield wielder then attacks the trapped blade as a Dice Action, pitting their DEX/STR against the blade’s BODY/BODY. Wielding a buckler lowers the OV/RV by 2CS, wielding a shield lowers the OV/RV by one CS. This Action *also* counts as a Take Away Manoeuvre, with the same shield-derived bonuses.
  5. Once the shield wielder has taken their Dice Action, the other character can disengage their blade — if they still hold it — as an Automatic Action.

Gadgetry and blade traps

Blade traps raise the FC of the shield’s BODY by 1. When constructing a blade-traps-armed shield as a Gadget, these count as an additional ability with an OV/RV of 05/05.

(The difficulty is highballed to help explain why these are rare.)


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. 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 are common for low-tech travellers, for protection against most climates. 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 have a shield-like built-in 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. This Coverage has a further -2 FC 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).

Captain America’s shields

Over the decades, Cap (Steve Rogers) used shields ranging from an early hardened steel plate to photon shields and plasma shields. Most 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


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.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

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

Writeup revised on the 13th of September, 2018.

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