BAE How Shields Work
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Shields act as ablative armor, soaking damage before it can hurt the wearer. At its most basic, a shield has two attributes: Capacity and Recharge. Different shields will also offer helpful benefits, of course. In all cases, the maximum levels referred to apply only to what's available to PCs; foes (especially bosses and mini-bosses) can break these limits, as can GM-designed legendary shields!
A shield's maximum Capacity ranges from 2 to 12, though values above 8 are rare (for PCs).
Every time an attack exceeds your Toughness (including Armor), your shield automatically expends points of Capacity to reduce that damage, until either the damage is pushed below your Toughness or the shield runs out of Capacity points. Each point of Capacity reduces the damage by 2.
Example: Zeela has Toughness 7 and a Capacity 5 shield (currently full). A bandit shoots her for 11 damage. Her shield expends 3 Capacity points to reduce the damage to 5, so that Zeela isn't injured. But then a second bandit shoots her for 13 damage. Her shield expends its remaining 2 Capacity to reduce the damage to 9, still enough to shake her!
A shield with current Capacity 1+ is often referred to as "up" or "active" while one with current Capacity 0 is "down" or "disabled."
If you swap shields mid-fight, the new shield starts with the current Capacity of the old shield, or its own maximum Capacity, whichever is lower.
This is an abstraction of both recharge delay and recharge rate, represented as a die type (like a trait) ranging from d4 to d12 or higher. As for traits, each die-type increase above d12 adds a flat +1: d12, d12+1, d12+2, etc.
At the beginning of your action, roll this recharge die; Wildcards add their wild die, as usual. This roll is at -2 if you have been hit by a damaging attack (even if it didn't exceed your Toughness) since taking your last action. If successful, the shield regains one Capacity for each success and raise.
Except for special benefits marked with a *, these apply only while the shield is up. See BAE Shields for how to actually generate shield stats. Tediore shields do not have a special ability; instead, they add +2 to their Recharge value.
Every time the wearer is hit by a bullet or rocket (but not when caught in the splash of an area effect or attacked by an energy ray, vomit, etc.), roll a d12 (no wild die). On a roll of 12, the attack does no damage and the ammo is added to the wearer's supply. Higher levels of Absorption improve the range of the d12 roll, to 11-12, then 10-12, and finally 9-12 (the maximum).
The shield provides an extra +2 Protection (while up) against elemental attacks of the type that last hit the wearer, not including explosive. Being hit by a new type of attack (even a rapid-fire burst) does not immediately provide the extra protection; it kicks in on the second attack of that type. This offers no benefit against non-elemental or explosive attacks. Higher levels of Adaptive improve the extra Protection, to +4, +6, then +8 (the maximum).
If the shield is at full Capacity when the user fires a bullet (not a rocket or grenade) or throws a melee weapon (not a grenade), the shield immediately loses a wound (if it only had Capacity 1, it's now down). However, the attack does an additional +2 damage. Further levels improve this damage bonus to +4, +6, then +8 (the maximum).
Every time this shield loses a wound, it drops a booster. Any ally running over this booster may make an immediate Recharge roll for their own shield, with the usual modifiers. Higher levels add +1, +2, or +3 (the maximum) to this recharge roll.
The definition of "ally" is set by the user ahead of time, usually by designating specific party members; this takes about a minute to program.
Elemental Resistance (any except Anshin)
The shield provides an additional +2 Protection against attacks flavored with one particular element. Further levels improve the extra Protection, to +4, +6, then +8.
For explosive resistance, the bonus applies against the "splash damage" (but not direct hits) from grenades, rockets, and explosive bullets -- unless that damage includes another element besides explosive. In other words, area effect attacks are considered "explosive" for these purposes -- unless they also have any other element, in which case that element "overrides" explosive.
Nova (Maliwan or Torgue)*
When this shield loses its last wound, it unleashes a burst of damaging energy that lashes out and strikes all non-allies in an SBT centered on the wearer. The definition of "ally" is set by the user ahead of time, usually by designating specific party members; this takes about a minute to program.
For a Torgue shield, this does 3d6+2 explosive damage; for a Maliwan, this does 3d6 damage plus one level of elemental damage from one the other elements. Higher levels either improve the blast radius (to MBT, then LBT) or improve the damage by up to three "steps" on this progression: 3d6, 3d6+2, 3d8, 3d8+2, 3d10, 3d10+2, 3d12. (Or, for Maliwan only, improve the element damage level.)
Once discharged, a nova shield must recharge to full Capacity before the nova ability is rearmed.
While this shield is down, all melee and thrown-weapon (not grenade) attacks by the wearer do an extra +2 damage. Further levels improve this bonus, to +4, +6, then +8 (the maximum). Roid shields are at -2 on all Recharge rolls; for simplicity, note this in the Recharge stat.
Spike (Maliwan or Torgue)
This shield damages anyone who makes a melee attack against the wearer, successful or not. For a Torgue shield, this does 2d6+1 non-elemental damage; for a Maliwan, this does 2d6 damage plus one level of elemental damage from one the other elements. Higher improve the damage by up to three "steps" on this progression: 2d6, 2d6+1, 2d8, 2d8+1, 2d10, 2d10+1, 2d12. (Or, for Maliwan only, improve the element damage level.)
Toughness Modifier (Anshin or Pangolin)*
The listed modifier is applied to the wearer's inherent Toughness as long as this is the active shield, even while down. All that matters is that the shield is the active shield being worn. Note that this always comes with an equal and opposite change to the shield's Protection; e.g., an Anshin shield with Toughness +2 will also reduce its normal Protection value by -2. If this would reduce Protection below +0, this is an invalid improvement.
No Anshin shield starts with this benefit, but it can be added via improvements (to a maximum of +3 Toughness, -3 Protection). The drawback is part of Turtle shields (where the usual +1 Protection is negated to balance the +1 Capacity).
The shield's Capacity, and the usual limits on both its Capacity and Protection, are improved by +1. However, it also has a Toughness Modifier of -1 (see above). There are no higher levels of this benefit.
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