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Throughout history, the shield was 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 was from these traditions that shield adepts drew their inspiration, as well as personal experience in regards to a shield's effectiveness.
To many fighters, particularly guardian fighters, the shield was 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 was more useful and even then, that ally's life might well depend on the fighter's swiftly placed shield.
Shield adepts relied on their shield to protect their allies and fulfill their duties. They also used it as a weapon with which to deal blows, surprising foes who tended to focus solely on the fighter's sword or hammer.
Shield adepts were 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 used their shields to cover allies as well as themselves, whom they defended 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 were unique in their use of a shield as a weapon rather than simply a defensive instrument. Sudden shield bash and reverberating shield were both such techniques, with the former being an actual attack and the latter being a sudden parry that deflected an enemy's blow back at them. Shield adept exploits were not purely offensive, however, and the shield wall technique took its inspiration from phalanxes and boulder formations in forming a defensive line that provided cover for allies against missile fire.