The usage of a shield is a must for one-handed weapon combatants if they wish to be on even field with those who make use of two-handed weapons. This additional layer of defense will change the tides of battle into your favor. Shields can also be used to inflict damage to an opponent or even push them back. They will also sometimes protect you from incoming blows that will take you by surprise.

Shields and combat maneuvers can be used together to form a very solid defense.

Skill Info Ranks Taught by Trainer
Skills/Actions Difficulty Range Wound Gilven Hroth Majell Cottus Cula Cralus
Shields - - - 75 120 120 125 ? 90
Shield Simple Block Easy - - 75 110 110 - ? 90
Shield Overhead Block Average - - 75 110 110 - ? 90
Shield Cross Block Average - - 75 110 110 - ? 90
Shield Low Block Difficult - - 75 110 110 - ? 90
Shield Missile Defense Difficult - - 75 100 110 - ? 90
Shield Push Back Average Short - 75 120 110 100 ? 90
Shield Bash Average Short Bruise 75 120 110 100 ? 90
Shield Upward Bash Average Short Bruise 75 120 110 100 ? 90
Shield Edge Bash Difficult Short Cut 75 120 110 - ? 90

Directions to Gilven (Iridine): Walk to Bronze Lane, Ex2, NEx2, N, Ex5, Nx2, E
Directions to Hroth (Stromheim): Travel to Stromheim through the Rock Valley wilderness.
Directions to Majell (Town of Rock Valley): Walk to Hospice, wait for drover to appear, follow drover, Ex10, Nx2, Wx3, Nx9, Ex2, Nx2, E, Nx3
Directions to Cottus (Town of Rock Valley): Walk to Hospice, wait for drover to appear, follow drover, Ex12, Nx2, Ex20, Nx2, Ex2, Nx2, W
Directions to Cula (Blackvine): Walk to Vetallun Road, Walk to Vetallun Crossroads, Walk to Blackvine, S, SE, Ex9, Sx2, E, S
Directions to Cralus (Blackvine): Walk to Blackvine, Ex4, Sx5, Wx2, S

Additional Notes

As posted by Japes:

Instead of providing any penalty for anyone trying to hit a shield-bearer, the shield takes a certain fraction of the hits that would have normally damaged the shield-bearer. This occurs regardless of whether the wielder has any skill in the shield. The larger the shield, the greater the fraction of hits it will take.

Shields taking hits will absorb damage. You can check on the shield's condition using the INSPECT command. Having the shield repaired regularly is usually a lot cheaper than purchasing a whole new shield when one is destroyed. To repair a shield, offer it to the smith who specializes in the metal or substance the shield is made of. Then say "FIX" or "MEND" to the smith. Non-custom bucklers, long shields, hoplite shields, and Iridine wall shields all have bronze as their primary component. (That means you go to Beeblemouse to have them repaired.)

Generally, shields will outlast you in battle. The typical long shield has a lot more hit points than the typical player character. It takes only a single good sword stroke to kill or incapacitate a human being. It takes half an hour of hacking to fully destroy a sturdy bronze-covered shield. Keeping a top-notch wall shield intact should take nothing more than a weekly visit to the armor smith.

Expect the endurance of a shield to correspond with its cost. Iridine wall shields are known for their sturdiness. Wooden round shields will often splinter in the middle of an intense battle. The material of the shield and the weapon both have an effect in the damage dished out. A tin gladius striking a bronze long shield will barely scratch it. An iron mace striking a wooden arm protector will deal heavy damage.

Some attacks have 'special effects' above and beyond the damage they do. In some cases, these special effects are nullified if they are absorbed by the shield. In other cases, they will still apply.

Shield Simple Block

The most basic shield maneuver. Hold the thing up in front of you and hope that your opponent hits the shield instead of hitting you. Crude, but effective. Defends against simple attacks to the midsection.

When you see this in use you see:
Hroth raises his shield, blocking a thug's attack!

Shield Overhead Block

Lifting your arm upward and flexing your elbow against an incoming blow, you attempt to deflect or absorb an opponent's attack that might otherwise hit you in the face or the side of the head. This maneuver defends against almost all attacks aimed high, making it a valuable defensive tool against attacks such as Spears Overhead Thrust.

When you see this in use you see:
Majell raises his shield over his head, blocking a thug's attack!

Shield Cross Block

When your opponent slashes at you from the side, you'll need to act quickly to avoid getting sliced in half. Mastering the cross block maneuver means that you are able to quickly recognize such blows and swing your shield toward the opponent's incoming weapon to deflect or repel the attack. Defends against slashing attacks aimed anywhere.

When you see this in use you see:
Gilven sweeps his shield sideways, deflecting a thugs blow!

Shield Low Block

Dropping your shield toward the ground, you attempt to cut off any attacks aimed at the feet or legs. Managing to get low quickly in the heat of battle is no simple task, though, particularly if you're carrying a heavy shield or wearing full armor. However, those who manage to master this maneuver will find that it defends against almost every low-aimed attack they'll encounter, with only a few exceptions.

When you see this in use you see:
Majell drops his shield down low, blocking a thug's attack!

Shield Missile Defense

With enough training in Shield Missile Defense, the wielder is able to effectively deflect arrows with the shield, which not only prevents the wielder from being wounded, but it also preserves the shield, preventing the kind of significant damage that it might otherwise sustain if an arrow strikes it straight on. Grandmasters in this skill are able to fully utilize their knowledge of other shield blocks to deflect oncoming arrows. Those lesser skilled in this technique may only be able to apply some of the knowledge they've learned about other shield blocks to their attempt to deflect an arrow.

When you see this in use you see:
Hroth raises his shield over his head, blocking an archer's attack!
Hroth raises his shield, blocking an archer's attack!
Hroth drops his shield down low, blocking an archer's attack!

Shield Push Back spushback <target>

Using your shield as a barrier between you and your opponent, you throw your weight into them, pushing them backward and possibly off balance. When executed successfully, this will keep your opponent occupied for a few seconds, and if you're lucky, they might even leave an opening that you can exploit with a quick follow-up strike.

When you see this in use you see:
Hroth throws his weight towards a thug, pushing him back with his shield.

Shield Bash sbash <target>

Using the knob, dome, or front side of your shield, you bash forward suddenly at your opponent. While not particularly complicated, this bruising attack can still catch someone off-guard if you time it right.

When you see this in use you see:
Gilven bashes a thug with his shield!

Shield Upward Bash supbash <target>

Tilting the lower edge of your shield forward, you bash suddenly at your opponent's shin or ankle, using the lower rim of your shield to deliver a rapid bruising strike.

When you see this in use you see:
Cottus bashes upward at a thug with the foot of his shield!

Shield Edge Bash edgebash <target>

You slam the upper rim of the shield or buckler at the opponent. Typically this is aimed at the opponent's face or head, but you can also try to surprise them with an edge bash aimed low. The force of this attack is capable of stunning them momentarily and unlike the other shield attacks, delivers cutting damage as oppose to bruising.

When you see this in use you see:
Tilting his shield forward, Gilven slams the rim up into a thug! She suffers a cut to her head. The solid blow stuns her!

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