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Shield adepts are fighters trained in the expert use of shields. To many fighters, particularly guardian fighters, the shield is a symbol of honor and identity as well as the warrior's best friend and a lifesaver. To these fighters, only a comrade in arms is more useful and even then, that ally's life may well depend on the fighter's swiftly placed shield. Shield adepts rely on their shield to protect their allies and fulfill their duties, as well as a weapon with which to deal blows, surprising foes who tend to focus solely on the fighter's sword or hammer.
Throughout history the shield has been a staple of armies and soldiers around the world. Phalanx formations were the pinnacle of shield use, representing an unbroken wall of shielded soldiers, each protecting their comrade or using their shield to push back foes. Similarly, dwarves developed the "boulder formation," which placed the shields of a unit in an overarching arrangement that formed a seemingly impenetrable wall. It is from these traditions that shield adepts draw their inspiration, as well as personal experience in regards to a shield's effectiveness.
Shield adepts are trained not just to use their shields as blunt instruments with which to block incoming attacks but rather as a valuable and versatile tool. Inexperienced shield adepts use their shields to cover allies as well as themselves, whom they defend with even more vigilance than most fighters. Shield adepts also receive significant training in increasing their fortitude and using a shield to divert most physical effects of an enemy's attacks or special abilities.
Shield adept exploits are unique in their use of a shield as a weapon rather than simply a defensive instrument. Sudden shield bash and reverberating shield are both such techniques, with the former being an actual attack and the latter being a sudden parry that deflect an enemy's blow back at them. Shield adept exploits are not purely offensive, however, and the shield wall technique takes its inspiration from phalanxes and boulder formations in forming a defensive line that provides cover for allies against missile fire.