Fighting Style: Sword and Shield

(Shields; • to •••••)

Prerequisites: Strength •••, Dexterity ••, Stamina ••,Weaponry ••

Your character has trained extensively with a weapon in her primary hand and a shield in her off-hand. She has learned to utilize the shield’s strengths, redirecting it towards incoming threats while overcoming some of the clumsiness involved in making attacks from behind a shield’s protective cover. Dots purchased in this Merit provide access to special combat maneuvers. Each maneuver is a prerequisite for the next. Sword and Shield maneuvers are based on the Weaponry Skill and function only when a character possesses a shield.

Cloak and Dagger (•): Your character’s extensive training with shields allows her to utilize improvised shields more effectively. This maneuver is named for the practice of using one’s cloak to buffet incoming attacks away. A character with this maneuver doubles the effective Structure of an improvised shield (usually an improvised shield can only deflect a number of attacks equal to its structure before being destroyed) and suffers a –2 penalty to attack rather than the standard –3. This penalty can be further decreased by the maneuver The Shielded Strike below, but improvised shields cannot be used to perform the Shield Bash, Shield Charge, or Stand Strong maneuvers.

Shield Bash (••): Your character has learned how to use the shield defensively and offensively. Attempts to strike another combatant with the character’s shield still suffer a –1 penalty, but gain a Weapon bonus equal to the shield’s Defense rating. Damage remains bashing. Drawback: A character using a shield to knock an enemy back is not using it for defense. A character does not benefit from a shield’s Defense rating on a turn in which she uses this maneuver. If she has already used the full Defense rating against an incoming attack during the turn, she may not use the maneuver.

The Shielded Strike (•••): The character’s use of her shield integrates seamlessly with that of her weapon. She may rest the blade across the top or side of a rectangular shield, pushing the weapon forward as if playing billiards. Perhaps she has developed a careful rhythm in which she lowers the shield for the bare instant necessary to deliver a fatal attack. Either way, when the character uses this maneuver to make an attack, she no longer suffers a penalty for using a weapon while benefiting from her shield, and her shield adds +1 to its Defense rating against the target of the attack. Drawback: The character’s concentration on coordinating her shield and weapon leaves her open to attacks from the flanks and rear. She loses her Defense against attacks made by any opponent save the one she is attacking. If she has already used her Defense against an incoming attack from another opponent during the turn, she may not use the maneuver.

Shield Charge (••••): The character charges forward, shield lowered before her, and crashes into the enemy line. The character makes a shield bash attack (see above) at a –2. The attack inflicts bashing damage, but if even a single success is scored on the attack, the character may send her enemy flying. An opponent who suffers the effects of this attack makes a reflexive Dexterity + Athletics roll; if he rolls fewer successes than the shield-user, he suffers knockdown (see the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 168). At Storyteller’s discretion, this maneuver may be used against multiple opponents, provided that they are standing close enough together. Each additional opponent targeted levies an additional –1 to the attack roll, and the damage rolled is distributed evenly among those hit. Those who suffer no damage do not check for knockdown, even if their companions do. Drawback: Use of this maneuver necessitates a charge action (World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 164), which means, among other things, she loses her Defense. If she has already used her Defense against an incoming attack from another opponent during the turn, she may not use the maneuver.

Stand Strong (•••••): The character digs in her feet, raises her shield, and stands as a human wall against an onslaught of attacks. She benefits from her full Dodge trait and shield defense bonus against attacks made from a single direction (Weaponry Dodge can be applied). Additionally, attacks from that direction do not decrease her Defense against later attacks in the round. For the purpose of this maneuver, a direction is approximately one third of the circumference of a circle drawn about the character (typically claiming defense against attacks from the left, front, or right is sufficient). Attacks made against the character from other directions suffer a penalty equal to Defense only, which suffers penalties from multiple attacks as usual. Note that while a single enemy might be able to move around the character’s defenses, no more than three characters can assault the character from a direction that she can’t fully defend against through this maneuver. Drawback: Using this maneuver requires an incredible exercise of will. A character must spend one Willpower point to gain the benefits of this Merit for one turn.