Fine Tower Shield vs Fine Shield

In the Heavy’s loadout there are two shield options: At normal load there is a Fine Shield, at heavy load there is a Fine Tower Shield.

As far as I understand it, these are identical items: both provide 1 armor and improve your threat level because they are bot Fine. The only differences in descriptions are:

  1. The tower shield calls out missle and melee fire, but the regular shield says ‘Provides 1 armor against physical attacks’ so this does not seem different.
  2. The fine tower shield says it can be used to protect others, but there is already a Protect action that has no stress cost. Do I assume from this that you cannot otherwise use armor to reduce damage taken during the Protect action?

Can someone explain what, if any, mechanical difference there is between these?

Here is the text I am looking at:

Page 81:

Fine Shield: Fully metal shield embossed with any symbol you desire. Provides 1 armor against physical attacks. What insignia fills the front?

Fine Tower Shield: Replaces shield. Massive shield that can stop missile and melee fire and protect others. Grants 1 armor. Is it taller than you?

It is the same kind of discussion between a normal shield and a fine shield, between a fine hand weapon and a fine two-handed weapon…

There is no definite answer, so everything I say is just my own take on it.

First, see p.76 the “THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS” section, which is what the book says about dealing with equipment that has no obvious mechanical (rules) benefit : use Devil’s Bargains, but with less severe consequences than a “normal” DB.

One point: I don’t think the “…and protect others” in the Tower shield description is a reference to the protect group action. It’s just the normal, fictional use of the word protect. It means that several people can take refuge behind this massive shield, not only one.

Which means that you can use the equipment to consider the Position.

For exemple, with the Tower shield, you can probably say that a squad could traverse a place under missile fire in Controlled position, everybody grouped behind the Heavy to take advantage of the protection afforded by the Tower shield.

Or, in a melee with arrows and swords flying everywhere, the Heavy could be in Controlled or Risky thanks to this shield, while the others are in Risky or Desperate.

Or, in a resistance against a Spitter’s acid vomit, it could reduce damage and corruption to zero easily. Logical. A Fine shield would only reduce it by one level.

Or you can use the size of this thing for other purposes. You can use it as a footbridge over a six feet chasm. It can easily support the weight of armoured Legionnaires. Is it wood? It floats: you can use it as a raft to cross a river.

There is no reason to say that “you cannot otherwise use armor to reduce damage taken during the Protect action”. You can still use both armour and shield to reduce damage in a Protect action.

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I agree with @A_B.

The difference is fictional positioning and that is everything. It can change if you need to roll or not, change your risk or effect on action rolls you do make, allow you to resist consequences by justifying how you can or avoid the consequence entirely.

Maybe a tower shield will block the whole door, stopping the noxious gas from flooding the hall and killing the squad.

Maybe you jerry-rig a sled because most of a squad of rookies will die unless you can get them across this snowy plain ASAP. If you have a fine shield, save one; a tower shield, save them all.

My players have had a lot of success bull rushing with the tower shield

OK, I found an answer to this same question by one of the authors (John) on the old G+ Archive. Date is June 18.

“. A regular shield can absolutely stop a bullet or (more likely) a crossbow bolt from a Crow. However, a tower shield gives you a dominant position for most missile fire. In most cases, I would ask myself whether it’s even possible for the person behind the tower shield to be hit. Pushing forward against a bunch of arrows behind a tower shield isn’t really a roll to see if you’re hit. It might be a Maneuver roll to determine if you can move quickly, but that would be controlled, for sure, with the potential consequence that the reduced effect. These are not the case with a simple shield. The interactions of armor and weaponry are more fictional than mechanical.”

Nice !

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Awesome. Thanks looking that up @A_B.

And I just found the archive on G+ ( https://bitd.gplusarchive.online/category/blades-in-the-dark/blades-in-the-dark-hacks-and-add-ons/ ) so hopefully I can fish for myself in the future. The thread you pulled from ( https://bitd.gplusarchive.online/2018/06/04/as-requested-im-going-to-put-my-reply-from-the-previous-band-of-blades-thread-into-a-new-thread/ ) seems like particularly fertile ground…

Indeed ! But beware : at that date they played with the beta version, so there has been some changes since (example : they cite the “Vanguard” special ability which is not there any longer).

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Yep. Agreement with A_B here: the “difference” is fictional. Same thing with equipment on the lists that provides no given mechanical effect. The Legion banner, for example. What does it “do”? Depends on what you use it for! My players brought one with, and presented it to convince some villagers they weren’t just looters and bandits.

This then came into use as part of an action by the Officer to try and cow the villagers into compliance with their (literal) witch hunt: so I gave the player better position for the roll because they were clearly the Legion – unfortunately, they whiffed it and the Aldemari villagers decided they didn’t like foreign Legionnaires throwing their weight around and sticking their noses into village business.

I could also have decided it provided better position, or even given +1d to the action. It all depends on the fiction. OR it could just provide fictional or action benefits: it allows signaling intent across the battlefield (or, mechanically, this could allow a Teamwork Maneuver action that wouldn’t otherwise be possible), it could be used to inspire a squad of broken Rookies, or frighten off looters as the Legion approaches (no roll needed, they just don’t want to mess with the Legion).