Taking Aggro: Shields in Fantasy

If you’ve ever played any kind of RPG, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of ‘tanking’. Basically, because nobody except a warrior is allowed to wear decent armour or carry a bit of metal to stop their arms from being lopped off, they have to keep their cloth-clad, squishy bodies out of the way of enemy steel.

If you do have the good fortune to be a warrior in your fantasy realm of choice, you’ll be further subdivided into two groups: those who deal damage (DPS) and those who take it (Tank). But if you want to ascend to the illustrious position of ‘tank’, you usually need to own a shield. And not just any shield – a nice big one that you can barely see around, adorned with fire-breathing lion heads and more spikes than an acupuncturist’s utility belt.

Shields in RPG’s have been reduced down to their very basic form. They are solely the tools of the tanking warrior, who uses them to block, bash and occasionally even throw. But if we overlook the ridiculousness of a warrior throwing his shield at the charging enemy and then expecting it to boomerang and return to his waiting hand, we are left with a very versatile piece of weaponry being used for precisely two purposes.

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