Defensive Techniques

A defensive technique defaults either to Dodge or to the Block or Parry score calculated from a particular combat skill. It might default to more than one of these defenses, in which case the buyer must specialize (see Specialties, pp. 92-93).

A use of a defensive technique is a use of the active defense to which it defaults for all purposes. It's only possible if the fighter could attempt the underlying defense - that is, never after an All-Out Attack or against a surprise attack, and only against an attack that the defense could affect. It takes the same modifiers as that defense; e.g., Combat Reflexes gives +1 and retreating provides +1 or +3. Where the rules limit the number of defenses possible or give penalties for multiple defenses, techniques that default to Block or Parry count as blocks or parries, respectively.

Most defensive techniques offer a way to "buy off" penalties to defenses. These have a default penalty equal to the situational penalty in question. Some examples:

-1 to defend against a Dual-Weapon Attack (p. B417).

-1 to parry using a knife.

-2 to block a flail.

-2 to defend against an attack from the side (p. B390) or above (p. B402), or a "runaround" attack (p. B391).

-2 to parry a kick if using Boxing or Sumo Wrestling.

-2 to parry using a whip.

-3 to parry weapons using unarmed skills other than Judo and Karate.

-4 to parry a flail.

The GM may permit other effects -either instead of or in addition to the above - each of which modifies the default. Examples include:

Opponent's Defenses: The defender can use his defense to "set up" his next attack. For each -1 to the default, the attacker is at -1 to parry the defender's attack, on the next turn only, if that parry involves the weapon that the defender warded off using this technique.

Own Attack Roll: Another kind of "setup." For each -1 to the default, the defender gets +1 to his attack roll, on the next turn only, against the attacker he warded off using this technique.

Own Defenses: -1 to default per +1 to one other active defense after defending with this technique, or +1 to default per -1 to all other active defenses after using this defense. The latter modifier can only offset penalties; it cannot result in a net bonus.

Special Benefits: Each built-in exemption from the standard rules - e.g., being able to drop to the ground or sidestep as a retreat against a melee attack - gives -1 to the default penalty. A few potent benefits might give -2; e.g., being able to retreat two steps or step directly toward your enemy and count it as a "retreat," either of which is cinematic if you can improve it!

Special Drawbacks: Each additional restriction on the defense adds +1 to its default penalty. This cannot give a net bonus. Some examples:

• An additional success roll required before attempting the technique. Failure means the defense fails!

• Attacker may opt to hit a more vulnerable target than his intended one if the defense fails. A common example is

Deer Antlers a weapon parry that involves risky hand placement on the parrying weapon, giving the attacker the option to strike a hand should the parry fail.

• Falling down on an ordinary failure.

• Inability to defend against a broad category of attacks: armed attacks, close-combat attacks, swings, thrusts, etc.

• Increased injury from the incoming attack if the defense fails. This is worth +1 to the default for +1 to the attacker's damage - or +2 if the attacker gets the better of +2 damage or +1 damage per die.

Example: A fighter wishes to use his Brawling parry to ward off swung weapons by stepping inside his attacker's guard and parrying the weapon arm instead of the weapon. Brawling has -3 to pariy weapons. The ability to step forward as a "retreat" is a special benefit that adds a further -2. The total penalty is -5. However, there's a major drawback: failure means stepping into the attack for +2 damage! This gives +2, making the final default penalty -3.

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