The deity of armored defenders, protection, and bravery is known as Sheld. It wishes to shield the weak from harm and serve as an inspiration and source of power for other mortals who also wish to protect the weak. Its followers typically include Paladins, War Clerics, Soldiers, Guards, Bodyguards, and a great many Dwarven Warriors.
To most mortals, Sheld possesses an androgynous form, its figure so heavily clad in thick, silvered plates of armor so that it almost resembles a golem. It bears a massive tower shield the height and width of its own body, and wields a heavy mace surrounded by rippling magical force. Through its helmet visor, two vibrant points of light would seem to serve as eyes. Those who have seen Sheld suspect that it is in fact a dwarf, if not for its extraordinary size, standing at easily 10 feet. Still, it’s body is squat and wide, with thick limbs the size of oak trees.
Sheld’s goals are very simple: to offer protection to mortals in need. It wishes to shield the weak from harm and bolster the strong who also wish to protect. It also focuses these gifts on goodly soldiers embroiled in war, not only reinforcing their bodies and equipment, but their fighting spirit as well. Sheld does not require much in terms of ritual or tradition from its worshipers, merely a will to do good in the defense of others. Followers that share this desire will never find themselves without Sheld’s aid.
Portfolio: Armor, Guardians, and Protection
Clerics of Sheld are trained in the art of war, specifically the mastery of armor, shields, battle strategies, and defensive divine magic. When they first begin this training, they are required to study the effective use of Sheld’s preferred equipment: Heavy Armor and Shields. They are taken into battle under supervision of a skilled Cleric or Paladin and forced to learn under duress, without magical aid. This teaches an acolyte to not become too reliant on healing, protective, and other divine powers, as there will certainly be times in the future where they will not have access to such gifts. It also hardens their resolve, training inner strength from a very young age. When this is ingrained in them, they become the most receptive to channeling Sheld’s energy.
At this point, they spend a great deal of time in study and reflection, learning of the moral principles that guide the Church of Sheld, and are expected to integrate these concepts into their duties as well as their personal lives. Sheld does not believe that great protectors are born with the tools necessary to help other, it teaches that they are forged. Heated and beaten in battle, then tempered with faith.
Once an acolyte has demonstrated their understanding on these matters, they are elevated to the status of Cleric. If one had chosen the path of the Paladin, they are required to spend two years campaigning under the guidance of an established champion of Sheld, building an extra layer of resolve and strength to protect them against corruption.
The One Man Wall
This is less of an official quest as it is an event that may occur in the life of a follower of Sheld. When a worshiper, be it a Cleric, Paladin, or simple warrior, finds themselves embroiled in a battle where they are the only thing standing between their side and certain destruction, they may become the One Man Wall. The defender persists through impossible odds, one standing against many, preventing the enemy from achieving their goal.
While history recites common examples of armored fighters absorbing relentless punishment while preventing the enemy’s progress, this is not the only way to achieve this feat. Several times in the past, less sturdy individuals have accomplished this through guile or wit. In one such instance, a female halfling rogue by the name of Sestra Featherfoot defended an entire keep against an invading gnoll barbarian tribe single-handedly by laying out a complex network of traps, decoys, and weaponry interconnected by pulleys and thin wires. On that night, not a single inhabitant of the keep, including Sestra herself, was harmed. A wounded High Priest of Sheld witnessed this incredible feat, and bestowed upon her the title of the One Man Wall. While not a follower of Sheld herself, the bravery and tenacity she displayed that night forever marked her as one of Sheld’s chosen (despite her protests).
Prayer of the Shield
I present the hand of Sheld, and deny them their violence. Beat upon my walls, demand in futility against the impassable barrier. Sheld denies, and so I stand.
The Rhyme of Resilience
Guard us from all foes
Sheld deliver us to victory
Protect us from their blows
Within your armor we shall find serenity
On a long stretch of land between north west Solmeria and east Tyranok lies Sheld’s Bulwark. This giant temple spans from border to border, an ocean on either side. It serves not only as a toll road for those using Tyranok’s travel system, but as a nigh impenetrable wall of defense against land invasions. The priests of Sheld have chosen Tyranok as their charge, and seek to protect it from all forms of attack.
The top of Sheld’s Bulwark is lined with heavy ballista, archers, and a company of wizards, sorcerers, and clerics specialized in dealing with aerial threats. The church-fortress even has an arrangement with a clan of gallant merfolk who reside within the ocean to alert them of underwater threats, and occasionally aid them in defense of their lands.
Within this incredible structure are roughly 10 built-in churches along key points in the building’s design, allowing both travellers and stationed clerics or soldiers a place to worship and congregate. It also houses both private living quarters, inns, taverns, barracks, and even several shopping districts. This is done to encourage the numerous humanoids who man it to stay at their posts, even allowing space for families to take up residence.
A rite of Sheld is usually conducted with a somber mood in mind, as these practices revolve around preparation for an oncoming battle or defending an area soon to be under attack. They are completed with a series of chants as perfectly symmetrical diagrams are drawn on the floor, representing a flawless defense.
Clerics and Paladins are particularly adept at Sheld’s rituals, specializing in protection magics that enhance equipment or an individual’s personal defenses, both physical and mental. As these types of prayers are commonly used among divine casters of many different gods, rituals conducted by a priest of Sheld are expected to be, and always are, extraordinarily potent.
Those who follow Sheld but do not practice Divine magic may still use these rites, but their efficacy is largely dependent on their skill and the intent behind them. If Sheld does not agree with the goals of the caster, the boons it grants may be substantially weaker or not function at all.
Burial Rites: Anyone slain in the line of duty, dying honorably in the defense of innocents, is afforded the highest honors among Sheld’s following, whether they worshipped the deity or not. Their body is most commonly interred within a well guarded and expertly sealed crypt, to protect their remains from looters or heretics.
If the deceased was a follower of Sheld, it is customary to read an account of their greatest exploits. The higher ranking the individual was, the greater this list tends to be. At times, this list can be over-embellished to a point of almost comical excess, but this is meant as a way for those grieving for the loss of a great protector to truly appreciate the sacrifices that were made by that person, and perhaps have them leave feeling inspired to follow in their footsteps.
Tithe: All Worshippers are expected to tithe 5% of their monthly income to the church, although this need not be in monetary form; equivalent value donations, such as armor, shields, wagons, oxen, lumber and stone are also accepted. Any resources that are valuable for erecting defensible structures or arming would be soldiers are always welcomed, as the church gains most of its money from hiring out its servants to aid worthy causes.
Clerics and Paladins donate the majority of their financial gain to the church every month, keeping a mere 10% for recreational use. In return, they are given room and board at any of Sheld’s churches found throughout the world, and provided with any equipment they might need in their daily activities. Particularly extravagant requests must typically be cleared with higher ranking members before being approved, but they are rarely refused unless the individual is clearly abusing the rules for personal gain.
Benefits: A powerful divine caster of Sheld can wield powers that strengthen and enhance their equipment, physical defenses, resilience, and even the fighting spirit of their allies. At the highest levels, their divine connection makes weapons ineffectual. They can become immune to fear itself and allies in their presence find their morale to be nearly inexhaustible. They can even grant those they protect the ability to easily overcome dangerous status effects that they would ordinarily succumb to.
All worshippers who follow the teachings of Sheld will find themselves protected by its mortal forces. Most communities fortified by a church of Sheld are well defended by a divinely backed military force. They also gain access to equipment and materials they can use to fortify their own property at heavily discounted rates. They even can call upon the church to assist in the labor of building these defenses as a communal activity. This serves a dual purpose of bringing church members closer together in addition to passively training them to protect one another.
Herald and Allies:
Masterson Manward [Herald]
The Herald of Sheld is known to mortals as Masterson Manward. He looks to be an overly muscular human paladin of impossible height, standing at 8 feet tall, clad in divinely etched full plate armor. The armor itself is lined with gold embellishments depicting Masterson himself performing acts of great heroism. At the back of his helm, a mane of pure golden hair flows freely, shimmering with holy luster. His raw strength, excessive boisterousness and irresistible charms are known to all of Sheld’s followers, told of in both legends and old wives tales. However, those that have seen this unusual being in person can confirm that the stories are in fact, not exaggerated.
In addition to his fabulous armor, he wields a circular shield comprised entirely of enchanted gold, along with a silvered sword reinforced with thick mithril plating along the crossguard, base, and grip.
When Masterson Manward appears, it is to lead the followers of Sheld to victory under dire circumstances. His incredibly upbeat demeanor is said to uplift even the most hopeless of company and inspires mortals to fight to the highest of their potential. Manward himself is a force to be reckoned with, and as of present day Nexxen history, has not been seen to have ever taken a single wound in battle.
Many races call themselves allies to Sheld. Humans and Dwarves in particular, but also Gnomes and Halflings.
Sheld’s Shining Shins [Ally]
A most unusual band of Gnomish mercenaries known as Sheld’s Shining Shins have garnered a reputation for being fearsome protectors of tiny folk that live within East Oblian. They are known for defending the smaller races against larger foes known for bullying easy targets, such as Giants and Ogres. Their name precedes their tactics and many brutish thugs have fallen to the Shining Shins through aggressively attempting to kick a magically reinforced Gnome warrior clad in thick armor. Without fail, the aggressors are always found by local authorities, clutching a broken leg, howling in protest that the Gnome did it.
While these incidents have become something of a subject of mirth among tavern patrons in the region, the tales are also known to be largely truthful, the only possible explanation for such feats pointing to the support of the Deity of Defenders.
Sheld also has allies in the form of other churches, something less common among the competitive pantheon of the gods. Both the churches of Dio and Sul opt to assist Sheld’s membership in their endeavors when it is convenient for both. They are all generally concerned with the welfare of goodly mortals, and recognize the church of Sheld as one of the world leaders in that regard.
Relationships with other Gods: Dio and Sul united with Sheld in the defense of Systra against a threat of Tarnian beasts. They formed the Holy Triad to drive the monstrosities back before the capital was overwhelmed. Since then, the three continue to aid each other in their just cause, wherever threats may lurk. This lead to the continued teamwork between their worshippers as well.
While this is perceived as an act of good by most beings, some of the other gods see it as a battle for control over the laws of reality itself. Even goodly gods can cause unbalance if they amass too much power, and the darker deities such as Hemotis and Vipis have begun to take notice of their increasing strength. It is fortunate for the Holy Triad that the enemies among their own race are too untrustworthy and narcissistic to work together for any length of time, otherwise Sheld would be among the first to be targeted. Recognized as the most resilient of the gods, Sheld would have to be removed to enable a clear shot at Dio, the Lord of Angels.
Sheld has numerous factions throughout Nexxen, caring more for the protection of life then how it is accomplished. Every region must learn the most effective ways to defend and win in battle, and these methods change based on climate, terrain, available resources, and the local inhabitants.
Churches of Sheld located in Solmeria, for example, tend to build resilient stone temples partially buried in the ground. This allows them to fortify themselves against many burrowing sand creatures, as their inner walls are backed with steel or iron.
The temples in West Oblian regularly contend with undead threats, as the region was host to numerous bloody battles in the past, which attracted necromancers and evil priests wishing to draw on the latent energy. These denominations are known for reinforcing their walls with large, burning light sources to detect approaching undead threats, as well as turn them to ash should they draw too close. Even the walls themselves are made of perfectly polished, smooth stone to deny these relentless creatures the ability to scale their surfaces.
Dwarf clans that worship Sheld are known for placing just as much faith in their warriors, constructing incredibly resilient armor, shields, and weapons designed specifically for deflecting attacks. Combined with their knowledge of cave networks, war machines, and fortifications, these Stalwart Defenders have become the subject of envy by kingdoms the world over.
As its name would suggest, this enormous tower shield appears to be made of a 6 inch thick slab of white marble, reinforced with thick veins of Adamantine. It is roughly 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide when wielded by a medium sized creature. When worn by a creature of a different size, it expands or shrinks to best fit the new owner. The entire item exudes an overwhelming, visibile, humming aura of force that threatens to repel any physical or magical attacks that land upon it with retributive energy.
The shield is heavy, but its inherent defensive properties make it far more resilient than an ordinary shield, so a warrior or cleric blessed enough to discover this item will most often gladly accept the burden of wielding it.
Skin of Sheld
This amulet features a large, circular pendant encasing thousands of tiny steel rivets extending out from the base. When the command word is spoken, these rivets magically expand and widen into thick bands that surround the wearer in thick armored plates. The plates adhere to the wearer’s form perfectly and move in accordance with the wearer’s desires. They appear very similar to a suit of silvered armor, covered head to toe in a impenetrable second skin. The Skin of Sheld is so receptive to the wearer’s needs that it can perceive their intended course of action the moment they make it, and aids the wearer’s movements.
Only two such suits are known to exist, one belonging to the current Hierophant of the Church of Sheld, the other in the treasury of an ancient Green Dragon, Skrimhalg. Unsurprisingly, very few have attempted to acquire either of them from their owners.