Most Witches who put themselves in harm’s way know this Invocation. Shielding weaves pure Essence around the Witch, protecting him from harm. Most Shields work only against hostile Essence effects; at great cost, Witches can also weave Shields that protect against physical harm. A truly powerful Witch may be virtually bulletproof thanks to Shielding. A Shield can be woven around another person, but at great Essence cost.

To the Witch, Shields may be seen with a Simple Perception Test. Their actual appearance is up to the casting character but primarily appear as a shield of energy. By spending more Essence, the Shielding can be made invisible, hiding its very existence. With such a Shield, a powerful Witch could pass himself off as a Mundane, fooling even the senses of other Witch. In addition to protecting the victim from harm and perhaps sight, Shielding also hides the person’s emotions and thoughts.

The main drawback of Shields is that they must be “fed” by a continuous stream of Essence, which must come from the Witches internal supplies (not ambient or from consecrated objects). This means that the witch cannot cast invocations so long as the shield is up. The character can keep the Shield around himself until an outside force destroys or neutralizes it, or until he drops it.

Essence Shield

This is the simplest Shield available; it blocks Essence-based attacks. For 3 Essence Points, the character gets a Shield with a Protection Level of 10 plus the Success Levels of the Focus Task. Each additional point of Essence spent adds 1 to that Protection Level. Any hostile Magic, psychic Power, or other supernatural or Witch power aimed at the protected character must have a Focus result higher than the Protection Level of the Shield, or the Metaphysical effect will not work at all.

For example, Lisa has a Shield with a Protection Level of 19, at the cost of 11 Essence (1 Success Level in the Focus Task). An enemy Witch tries to inflict a Lesser Curse on her. His Focus roll is 6, and his combined Willpower and Lesser Curse levels are 8, for a total result of 14. This is less than the Protection Level, so the Invocation fails. Only powers and effects that directly affect the target are resisted by the Shield.

Attacks that drain Essence (like Soulfire, and the powers of some supernatural beings) can damage the Shield. Any such attack reduces the Shield’s Protection Level by 1 for every 3 points of Essence damage inflicted.

In addition to this protection, the Essence Shield blocks any attempts to sense anything about the Witch (except that he is surrounded by a Shield).

Physical Shield

Physical Shields deflect any attack that seeks to damage the subject directly (i.e., by wounding him). It works against bullets, punches and laser beams, somewhat like armor does. A Physical Shield can have an Armor Value and a Damage Capacity. The Armor Value subtracts from the damage inflicted by an attack. The Damage Capacity acts like a cushion, deflecting some of the energy of an attack but getting weaker with every attack it dissipates. In game terms, each Essence Point used in this effect gives the character either 1 point of Armor Value or 5 points of Damage Capacity.

Any damaging attack that hits the Shielded character must first get through the Armor Value and then must exhaust the Damage Capacity of the Shield. Any remaining damage is applied normally. The maximum Armor Value possible is equal to the character’s Invocation level times 10. There is no limit to the Damage Capacity of the Shield.

For example, Jana has a Shielding level of 3. She is about to rush into a firefight with Combine agents, so she decides to put 45 Essence Points into protecting herself. She can have a maximum AV of 30 (her Invocation level x 10) so she spends 30 points to that purpose. The remaining 15 points she puts into Damage Capacity, for a total of 75 points. When she ventures out, the Combine agents open fire, and she is hit 17 times in a deadly fusillade. Out of the 17 shots, 14 inflict less than 30 points of damage, and so fail to penetrate the Armor Value of the Shield; they bounce off her (note that such an effect, in a public place, would be subject to the Crowd Effect, see p. 200 — the witch would be drained of Essence as per the Crowd Effect table; if he didn’t have enough, the shield would go down)! The other 3 shots do 34, 42 and 41 points of damage, respectively. Subtracting 30 points from each produces 4, 12 and 11 points, respectively, for a total of 27; these 27 points of damage reduce the Damage Capacity of the Shield from 75 to 48 (75 - 27). Jana is completely unharmed — for now at least.

All Physical Shields have a major drawback. They do not stop the effects of any movement or action taken by the Witch. The Witch can walk without bouncing off walls or people, and he can shoot or attack without interference from the Shield. However, the Witch could also run into a spike and impale himself, and the Shield would offer no protection. For the same reason, Shields are of no use against falling damage.

Invisible Shield

Any type of Shield can be made invisible at the cost of 15 Essence. Nobody will be able to see or sense the Shield until it flares up to stop an attack. Sensory Invocations and abilities will sense neither the Shield nor any special powers of the character. Insistent mental probing may pierce the invisibility. This is a Resisted Task, pitting the character’s Willpower and Shielding Invocation levels against the Witch or supernatural entity’s abilities or Invocations.

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