According to the Belegarth Book of War
2.2.1. Shields and Bucklers are rigid objects that are padded on the front and sides, and are equipped with handles or straps. A Shield may not be constructed in a manner that would confer the advantage of unbreakable armor.
There are four primary types of shields in Belegarth as distinguished by construction and use, though all shields are treated identically under the rules
These are the Belegarth version of the traditional medieval European shield. It has two straps on the back, one of which goes around the arm a few inches past the elbow and the other which is gripped in the (off) hand. They usually have a plywood core, although plastic cores (such as riot shields), sleds, and all-foam ("coreless") versions also exist.
Strap shields come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, the most common being the round, heater, kite, and tower. See constructing a strap shield for example images.
Strap shields have advantages in resisting being moved by a kick, bash, or weapon blow and are better suited to bash with than a punch shield, but they are also usually significantly heavier than a coreless shield and are thus harder on endurance and footspeed. They are also far less maneuverable than a punch shield due to their being attached to the arm rather than the hand.
The closest historical counterpart to a core-less Belegarth punch shield is a zulu-style African woven shield. They have a handle which is centered horizontally and typically located around the upper third of the shield, which is gripped in the off hand. They are used to aggressively punch block, rather than the somewhat more passive arm block commonly used with a strap shield.
Punch shields are almost always, though not quite exclusively, made of an all-foam or "core-less" design. They are often formed with a boogie board or foam sled as the core with padding added, or they can also be made out of a sheet of rigid Polyethylene foam (as is the case with punch shields purchased from Edhellen). A few punch shields are made with a wooden core like a strap shield. However, a shield of comparable weight is much more fatiguing when held in the hand than when strapped to the arm, so this style is quite uncommon.
Punch shields can come in the same variety of shapes and sizes as strap shields, but most commonly are a roughly half-tower design. See Constructing a Punch Shield for example images.
Punch shields are generally used much more aggressively and actively than strap shields, since they can be moved more easily and widely. They also tend to be quite light, and are thus often favored by fighters who rely on foot-speed and tactical movement, such as flankers. Due to their light weight and they relatively weak manner in which they're held, however, they're quite vulnerable to being knocked about and moved out of line by kicks and weapon strikes, particularly from Polearms.
Bucklers are shields worn on the arm which do not require the use of a hand. They are most commmonly worn by polearmsmen and red-weapon wielders, but can also often be found on archers and florentinists. While they tend to be small (often the minimal 12" round) they still provide a very useful element of protection. They make the torso a much more difficult shot for archers and provide a legal blocking surface against arrows aimed at the head as well. This is particularly useful, since archers otherwise tend to focus on these types of fighters, due to their lack of shield protection. A buckler can provide very useful defense against non-missile weapons as well - for polearms, they tend to protect the forearm of the forward-most arm, which is usually the only target that is at all close to in range for a fighter with a blue weapon facing a polearm.
Backstrap shields/slung shields
These are generally regular punch or strap shields with a long cord that allows them to be slung over a shoulder or behind the back, providing a larger area of passive protection than a buckler while still leaving both arms more or less unimpeded and both hands available for weapons. Like bucklers, they are worn by polearmsmen, archers, red wielders, and florentinists. Backstrap shields are often set up much like a backback, such that they cannot be easily removed or shifted to a shield arm for "traditional" use like a slung shield, but allowing much greater freedom of movement. They tend to be preferred by florentinists, in particular, while polearmsmen tend to prefer the greater flexibility and frontal protection provided by a slung shield.
Shields in Belegarth
Rules regarding shields
- 3.5. Shields and Bucklers
- 3.5.1. Shields can be destroyed by two solid strikes from a Class 2 Weapon. Subsequent strikes to a destroyed Shield continue into the Target Area on which the Shield is worn.
- 3.5.2. Shields may be used in any reasonable manner and still be considered a Shield.
- 3.5.3. Only one Shield may be used by a person at a time.
- 3.5.4. Shield Bashing, Checking, and Kicking is allowed.
- 18.104.22.168. A Shield Bash is defined as using a Shield to strike an opponent from a distance further than two steps away.
- 22.214.171.124. A Shield Check is defined as using a Shield to strike an opponent starting from a distance less than two steps away
- 126.96.36.199. A person may not Bash or Check an opponent's rear quadrant. Shield pushing or incidental contact in an opponent’s rear quadrant is allowed.
- 188.8.131.52. Shield Kicking of small Shields and/or Bucklers is discouraged.
- 184.108.40.206. Shield contact to the Head or Neck is discouraged.
- 2. Shields (Appendix A, Section 2)
- 2.1. Shield must be padded on the edges and face so as not to cause injury when struck with a forceful blow of an arm/hand.
- 2.2. The maximum width of a shield is 3 feet.
- 2.3. The maximum height of a shield is 18 inches less than the height of the wielder.
- 2.4. The minimum dimension on the face of a shield is 12 inches.
- 2.5. Shield spikes are allowed for decoration.