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Re: Rick's comments on the Defend Option

I would love to see this and any other comments in the thread over on SJG Forums where he asked this question!

The Fantasy Trip - Page 45 - Steve Jackson Games Forums


From: David Bofinger <bofinger.david@gmail.com>
To: tft@brainiac.com
Cc: Matt Fraser <mathesonfraser@gmail.com>; CJ <chrjames@gmail.com>; Alec Morrison <alphaalec@gmail.com>; dan nicholson <kootenayvalleydan@yahoo.ca>; Jayson Webster <jayson_webster27@hotmail.com>; "gosel@tutanota.com>" <gosel@tutanota.com>; Steve Reinhardt <cpassport@mail.com>
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 4:39 PM
Subject: Re: Rick's comments on the Defend Option

Rick - thoughts on DX and Defend. 

In your rules there are very useful not all that expensive talents with DX requirements, like Weapon 2 talents, Fencing 2 and Shield 3. So characters tend to buy the DX because they need it for the talents, and this channels characters along particular paths. A fighter has a strong motive for getting to DX 16, but not much to go further. (And once they have the IQ and DX requirements they buy all the talents fast as they can.)

Because characters acquire high DX for reasons unrelated to attack rolls, they tend to laugh at Defend actions. So the weakness of Defend is in fact driven by the superficially unrelated DX prerequisite system for talents.

I can't recall ever seeing a magic item of any kind in The Slope, or anyone deriving a benefit from DX>16 in a melee attack.

If you think DX>18 is useful then I'd be interested to see a character design on a reasonable number of attribute points with DX>18. I think you'll find it very hard to build one that is efficient, unless perhaps you have a godlike number of attributes and go for your IQ 17+ bonus attack talents.

I suspect the ineffectiveness of Defend is mostly intentional. The designers didn't want characters adopting a static defense strategy, but they recognised it made sense and in play testing occasionally a player said they just wanted to just defend themselves. So they made it not very good.

The problem with Defend and Aim is that it is only superior to defend if you value causing your opponent damage, and that's exactly the circumstance in which you want to Attack rather than Defend.

The problem with Defend and Edge Away is that it is only useful if you value withdrawing from combat, and that is exactly the circumstance in which you want to Withdraw immediately rather than Defend.

These two actions each have multiple benefits. But the benefits don't play well together - one is good in circumstances where the other is bad. So they generally don't fit well with any particular strategy.

The issue with automatic miss is that against the most capable opponents maybe you don't want them to have one chance in three of missing.

Have you considered giving Defend one or more hits stopped in addition to the extra die?


On 30 Jan. 2018 9:01 am, "Rick Smith" <rick_ww@lightspeed.ca> wrote:
Hi everyone.
I have argued before against any sort of parry as a free action. But what about the Defend option? I feel it is not powerful enough.

Against characters with low to moderate attributes it is fine. But when you are fighting against experienced figures it is a waste of time.

Some people argue that DX above 16 to 18 are useless. However, in my campaign, people are often fighting at DX negatives, so higher DX is useful. (You are hitting someone with a height advantage and they have a Haze ring for a total of -4 adj DX on your roll. If you change facing you are at an extra -2 DX for rough ground, etc.)

So experienced characters do not think that DX 16 is a stopping point.

But let us look at a Selina, a DX 16 figure. You are in a fight with her and need to buy a few turns so your friends can help you. If you defend, she has a 76.08% chance of hitting you. Usually it is better to just take the hit and strike back.

My first crack at improving the Defend option was to allow you to "Defend And Aim". Each turn defending (up to two turns) gave you a +1 DX when you eventually tried to hit the opponent. (If you were defending against several opponents, you got the +1 DX against whichever you decided to eventually hit.)

I also allowed "Defend And Edge Away". If you took this option twice, you got a free 1 hex retreat at the end of two turns, after all second shot missiles and other retreats. 

These improved defend options helped but they still were not enough vs. Selina and other high DX figures. I was thinking that when you defend, and the opponent hits you with a total that is evenly divisible by 3, then they auto-miss. 

(On 4d6 this would result in an automatic 33.33% chance of a miss, rounded off to two digits.)

So against weak opponents a Defend is a great option, that vastly reduces your chance of being hit. Against strong opponents, you get at least a 33% chance of blocking their blows.


I've used the two options: "Defend And Aim" and "Defend And Edge Away" for a long time and quite like them. The idea of 1/3 of the time is an auto-miss, is new and I've not playtested it. It is an extra rule designed to help reign in the problem with attribute bloat. 

I welcome comments!

Warm regards, Rick.