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Re: Rick's comments on the Defend Option

Hi Rick,

"Against characters with low to moderate attributes it is fine. But when you are fighting against experienced figures it is a waste of time." - It's often still a waste of time with low-to-moderate attributes too, because it takes all your turn's action, and just reduces the enemy's chance of hitting you. There's no benefit of taking a turn to Defend unless you expect the situation to improve next turn somehow (e.g. due to other characters' actions, map movements, or injury penalties wearing off), so it's often just a completely wasteful option to take.

Yeah, DX 16 (or even adjDX 15) is not actually the highest useful value because of various modifiers, Aimed Shots, being the first one to act, etc. (Not that there isn't still an unfortunate limiting effect at adjDX 15 on unmodified to-hit rolls. More in my reply to David below.)

Your Defend and Aim option is an improvement and I like it, but it's only a minor effect. It _would_ make that option something useful to take - in fact, I can see a lot of people taking it as standard practice on the approach to combat, but I don't think it really solves the core issue with Defend or the general lack of ways to fight defensively (it even adds another +1 to-hit modifier).

Your Defend and Edge Away option also seems ok but not liable to make much of a difference except in certain cases. If anything I think it's a bit stingy requiring two turns to back away one, and if someone wants to get away, they might rather just Disengage since it's faster.

For the extra Defend effect on rolls where the total is divisible by 3, I don't mind the intended part of the effect, and actually like it because it has the aspect that GURPS defenses give, where something the defender does actually counters the hit rather than just making it harder (and being trumped by high DX). What I don't like about it is that to me the "divisible by 3" mechanic seems gamey and has peculiar side-effects by adding a new meaning to particular die-rolls, which masks their usual meaning (e.g. adjDX 9, 12 and 15 are no better than 8, 11, and 14 against Defend) and that the defender's ability level has no part (also a problem with regular TFT Defend).

But none of those rules really impacts what I see as the main issues with TFT Defend, which are that: 1) There is no real way to engage cautiously or defend oneself skillfully with hand weapons other than moving smartly and taking out your opponents first. 2) Except the Defend option, which is almost always just a bad idea to take compared to Attack except in special situations. 3) There is no effect of character ability on how well they avoid being hit (unless you have fight unarmed and have crazy skills - Unarmed Combat IV or V).

At 04:38 PM 1/29/2018, David Bofinger wrote:
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.
Yes, excellent point, especially if the added talents are strong effects such as adding dice required to hit someone.

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 his added talents are like the ones we had when Rick was GM'ing Thail, then they add to the dice required to hit people with them, so that adds considerably to the value of higher DX, though I'd still get those powerful talents first.

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.
People keep saying this, and I'm not sure why exactly. Sure I get the point about the 3d6 to-hit roll, but even without house rules, it seems to me there are MANY reasons to want a higher DX, for example, to offset armor and shields (up to 8 more points of DX can be useful this way), broken ground (especially if fallen bodies are broken ground, another -2 DX), Aimed Shots (makes up to more 6 DX very useful), the Blur spell, thrown attacks (or spells), DX adjustments from injury, various combat circumstances such as darkness, horseback, fighters who want to cast spells with an iron penalty... and of course, getting to act before other characters, possibly taking them out before they get to act.

So for example:
ST 12 Longbow 1d+2
DX 21 (17)(20 bow) Fine Plate 6 -4DX
IQ  9 Fine Broadsword 2d+1, small shield, dagger
Bow, Sword, Shield, Missile Weapons, Literacy
Fires 2 shots per turn, generally aiming for the head (-6 to hit, 5/6 chance of a hit one-shotting unarmored people, for which even more DX would be good to have).

I suspect the ineffectiveness of Defend is mostly intentional. The designers didn't want characters adopting a static defense strategy, but they recognized 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.
Good points.