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Re: Rick's comments on the Defend Option

Hi Edward,
  If you want people with higher DX to be better at defending
just use one of the many contest's used in rpgs to handle it.
However, contests almost automatically require time to set 
up and or more dice rolling.  

  I'm looking for a tweak of the Defend to make it more 


  As a contest you can use any of these:

--- An X:XvsDX roll.  (Like my Battle of Wills.)  The attacker 
picks an integer X (where X is 3 or greater) and rolls that 
many dice.  If the attacker succeeds, the defender must roll
an equal number of dice to defend.  Only if the attacker 
makes his roll and the defender fails, is there a hit.  If you
want to make defending more useful, make it an X:X-1vsDX
roll.  So if the attacker rolls 5 dice, the defender must roll 4
to defend.

--- GURPS quick contest.  This is likely the simplest.  
Each player rolls 3 dice and remembers by how much they
made it by.  If the attacker hits AND makes the roll by more
than the defender, the attack hits.  (I would have ties go to
the defender to make defending more useful.)  The problem
is that defending against someone with a higher DX is 
just about useless, which is not what I'm looking for.  

--- Divide each person's DX by 3 and round down.  This is
their dice number.   Each player rolls that many dice.  Order
the dice from largest to smallest.  If the attacker has a die
larger than any defender die, he hits.  If tied, discard all ties
and compare the first pair of dice which are not tied.  If all
defender dice are discarded this way, look at any the largest
remaining attacking die.  If it is a 5 or 6, then the attacker hits.
To make this more attractive to defenders, you might have 
the defender roll an extra die.  This system is nice in that the
higher DX has an advantage, but there are upsets more

--- Have each side makes a pool of dice say 3 for the attacker 
and 4 for the defender.  Roll all dice in these pools.  If the dice
come up a 4, 5 or 6 discard them.  Then total the remaining
dice in the pool.  High total wins.  Using this system ties
are somewhat common, and the game this system is from treats 
ties as an interesting special case.  Using this system, you would 
want  something to happen on ties (say, the attacker does hit
but you also check for weapon breakage, or a hit and 
weapons knocked from hands, or a hit and grapple opportunities,
Or have both sides roll 3d6, but let the defender win
This system does not give any benefit for high DX, so 
you could divide each character's DX by 3 to get their dice
pools.  (But having a couple extra dice is a huge advantage.)
Or have the character who's DX is 1 to 3 higher add one
to their total, and who's DX is 4+ higher add two to their total.

--- Many others.  Lots of modern rpg's have very clever 
systems for doing contests.

Warm regards, Rick.

On 2018-01-30, at 12:05 PM, Edward Kroeten wrote:

Peter hits on two of the problems.
1. Defend is universal so it doesn't matter if my DX is 8 or 14 the benefit is the same.  Now for game play I am willing to give up some reality for game play.  But in this case someone with a 14 DX should be able to defend better than a low DX person.
2. Once you hit a certain DX defend is worthless because he would have to roll an auto miss whether you are defending or not.  This isn't how it works in real life, yes as Neil says you can hit a newb every time, once a person is some what skilled they can parry or slow you down.  A real life example: Duels with rapiers often took up to 5 minutes to get to first blood. This is partly because their real lives were on the line and no one likes to die, but also good duelist would take the time to set things up.  Beat feint attack, see reaction then beat feint attack to another line again see reaction.  Unless someone just berzerk's it a duel can last a long time. 
Again this is a game so our character's will jump out and hack it out with all comers.  In many a battle or duel in real life they were drunk as a skunk before the combat started.
So I think Defend is underpowered, but I am not smart enough to fix it.  I did add the talent Advanced Fencing which allowed for Scaramouche type characters.  It is posted over on Steve Jackson's website if you're interested.

    Edward Kroeten
7100 Stevenson Blvd Ste 105
Fremont, CA 94538-2485
License # 0E82876
510-646-1500 (Office)
510-579-0135 (Mobile)

------ Original Message ------
Received: 11:25 AM PST, 01/30/2018
From: Peter von Kleinsmid <pvk@oz.net>
To: tft@brainiac.com
Cc: tft@brainiac.com, 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>
Subject: 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.

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