I’ve got a question about the Defend move.

I’ve got a question about the Defend move.

I’ve got a question about the Defend move.

The Fighter is getting attacked at far range by archers.  He rolls a 10 on Defend.  With the archers is a warrior holding a couple leashed dogs.

The Fighter wants to spend his 3 hold to:

• Halve the attack’s effect or damage

• Open up the attacker to an ally giving that ally +1 forward against the attacker

• Deal damage to the attacker equal to your level

Now, a long time ago, I asked when do you say ‘No’ to your players?  The answer I liked best is, don’t say, no, ask them how?  In this case, the how is the player is taking NPC agency and saying a dog pulls free, rushes him, so he can deal his damage, and the whole thing provides a distraction for another PC to get +1 forward.  

I guess I’m not comfortable allowing that much agency over NPC’s to allow him to spend his hold.  He’s got an axe which is great at close range and he’s advancing, so he can’t really bank the hold.  I am a fan of the characters, but I feel this is too much.  I feel the how should be how he does it not how it happens.  Am I wrong?

34 thoughts on “I’ve got a question about the Defend move.”

  1. You failed to explain the solution I proposed!

    The fighter charges forward, blocking the arrows with his shield (so there’s the hold for half damage); then, due to his fury and loud, ferocious, bellowing war cries, he taunts or enrages one of the dogs that it breaks off the leash and charges forward.

    Fighter can spend his third hold to deal the incoming dog 1 damage (since he’s in the throes of defending) and by doing so, provides the distraction needed to get the archers to drop their guard for a second to give the ally (a mage in this case) +1 forward.

    I think this solution can totally work. It works with the fiction, it portrays something fascinating/interesting, and it lets the Defend move work to it’s full capacity on a 10 hit.

  2. Well, if you’re absolutely not okay with particular player input, say it. I, personally, don’t like it much too: I think to defend a character needs to defend, not to rush into a charge. I’d probably make an explicit exception in that case, but with a Defy Danger with Cha tossed in.

  3. When you stand in defense… 

    So, everyone, we certainly are NOT airing out any dirty laundry here, we both want to improve our understanding of the game, and THAT is what this is about.  Everyone is still happy!

  4. Hehe, of course. I still ask questions about the Defend move constantly. I know I’ve mentioned this example (well similar – still involving raising a shield to charge through and defend against arrows) to others before, and I kept getting the same response: Defend move.

  5. Alright cool, well I’ll agree with you there – the taunting/rushing isn’t defending. Rich and I are really trying to find a fictional solution for his.

    What about this for a solution then:

    The Fighter charges forward, using his shield to block the arrows, and defends very well.

    Now, despite the fact that the rule book says: when attacked, spend hold, 1 for 1, to choose an option (I take that to mean the exact moment you’re attacked, correct?), what if the Fighter spends the first hold halving the arrow’s effect… and then saves the other 2 hold and uses them when he finally reaches the dogs/archers?

    Would that work? Saving hold to use them when it makes sense fictionally?

    Or are the holds simply wasted? Because then it just seems like I rolled a 7-9 for Defend, not a 10. I also understand not every situation will allow every hold option to be used, but if there’s a possibility to make it work, why not try, right?

    Also, in terms of the rushing/charging… I can see the Fighter running forward then stopping to hold up his shield as the arrows hit. Then running forward again and repeating the same.

    Does that help fix the rushing/charging dilemma?

  6. As long as you stand in position to defend you can spend your hold. I found a cool thing to do is boost a defender with arcane arts so he does more damage on the counterattack.

  7. The fighter plants his feet, watches a volley of arrows headed towards him and THWACK smacks an arrow aimed right at his face with the flat of his axehead, sending the splintered remains back at the archers, burying the head of the arrow in one of his attackers and astonishing all of them enough for his ally to get the drop on them.

  8. matt greenfelder I thought of deflecting the arrows, but Rich described them as being very far away. So there’s a lot of distance to cover – not sure arrow splinters would travel that far. If the Fighter were close, this wouldn’t be an issue! 🙂

    And Tim Franzke I agree, that would be badass.

  9. The Fighter breaking out of his defensive posture seems a bit at-odds with making the defend move. Why does he need to take this action? Because he can’t counterattack, while the enemies can just keep shooting arrows? Mm, this is boring and makes the Fighter into an idiot. I think once he halves the effect of the arrows, he has set up an effective defence and they can no longer deal damage until they close on him, which is presumably the Fighter’s motive for making the defend move. Otherwise, he should be defying danger to avoid the arrows while he closes ranks.

  10. Hmm. For my games, I would be okay with advancing during a defend move – especially with the image of hunkering down behind your shield as you do it. Combining that with hurling your shield like a death-frisbee (eats up resources but cool as hell) to deal damage would work for me. But that’s my table, and my players, who are cool with crafting the scene like that, with back-and-forth and give-and-take. Losing he shield gains you the damage that wouldn’t have otherwise been allowed.

  11. I picture the Orc Fighter as matt greenfelder  described – raising his shield while trying to close distance (because the PCs are initiating the attack… the archers are staying in place, not advancing).

    But Johnstone Metzger  I totally see what you’re saying as well. I agree with Richard Robertson  – that’s a great answer. I know charging forward against an onslaught of arrows may seem like the boring alternative, but when I placed myself in the PC’s mind, it’s what I imagined the Orc to do – especially when he’s initiating the attack and the enemies aren’t moving.

    Your answer gives me other ideas though…

    So, then, I guess my real question is: is Defend really only for standing still and taking defense of something… or can it be used to block a projectile coming at you and move forward at the same time? 

    Like Rich said – it does say “when you stand in defense…”

    And based on most of the responses, it seems the consensus is “standing still and defending something” not just “raising a shield up to defend while moving.”

  12. Richard Robertson – note, the trade-off is that the fighter loses a key piece of defense (shield) to advance from far to near and deal damage. I see nothing strange about hurling a shield at someone in near range.

  13. matt greenfelder Yeah, I could see that.

    Misha Polonsky Ask this instead: What are you trying to achieve, first and foremost? What is the primary goal or motive? Is it to defend someone or something, come hell or high water? Or is it to get close to those damn archers and smash them, hopefully without getting skewered on the way? The answer should give you both the fiction and the move.

  14. What if Defend were just weaker against arrows?  It seems likely that it would be more difficult to defend against an arrow than a melee attack.

    Is that what you were suggesting Johnstone Metzger?  Allow the Defender to select the “Halve the attack’s effect or damage” multiple times, effectively nullifying any further effect the archer can have.  And then “letting it ride” as Luke Crane  might say?

    The bottom two options on Defend don’t really follow the fiction of defense very closely.  They seem more offensive.  Perhaps they indicate “the best defense is a good offence.”  If you smash that archer, he won’t be shooting you anytime soon.

  15. No, actually I was kind of saying that further attacks by the archers would be a dick move on the part of the GM, because it’s a successful roll, even if he can only spend 1 hold immediately, because the other two options aren’t feasible in the fiction. It’s not so much “let it ride” and more of a “you got a 10+, let’s make that actually count.”

    What I mean by that is that if you have archers and The Fighter decides to defend and you just decide that’s a dumb move and you hit him again with the archers at far range, you are saying The Fighter made a tactical error and thus you are making him look like a chump. But if you are a fan of the character, you might instead decide that even though he can only use 1 hold now to take half damage, he still has the position to block any further arrow attacks entirely (no damage at all), so the enemy must either advance or retreat in order to break this stalemate.

    Because if defend is a bad option, why is The Fighter choosing it? He’s The Fighter! So instead you decide, hey, he got a 10+, he’s The Fighter, he can save the 2 extra hold and the enemy advances closer, either into near range or into melee. And if he wants to spend a hold to surprise rush the closest dude and deal damage (“the best defence is a good offence”), cool beans, he’s The Fighter, he knows how to fight.

  16. Alberto Muti Yes, exactly!

    Johnstone Metzger  we finally went with that last bit. The Fighter halves the damage with one hold, keeps unspent hold for later and advances on their doomed archer asses.

  17. I don’t think Defend is what he should be rolling at all. I was originally going to say that Defend was meant to be for defending other people, but i was wrong. Check this out from the book: “Defending yourself is certainly an option. It amounts to giving up on making attacks and just trying to keep yourself safe.

    That doesn’t sound like what the Fighter is doing in the fiction at all.

    If the Fighter is charging across an open field being shot at by archers, and you want to see if be makes it there before being turned into a pincushion, then I think the move is Defy Danger: “When you act despite an imminent threat…” — the threat being volleys of arrows raining down out of the sky onto you — “say how you deal with it and roll.” A shield charge sounds like “powering through” (Str) to me.

  18. I think the move completely depends on what the Fighter said he was going to do. Remember,it’s the fiction first, and to do it,do it, right? 

    So if he said he was going to just turtle up and defend himself, then go ahead and make the Defend move. The thing you’re defending is yourself. Now if the Fighter wants to spend hold to deal damage, something in the fiction will have to cause it. That will be tough/impossible with the Fighters range.

    Check out the last sentence on pg. 62 regarding the move…

    _”Defending yourself is certainly an option. It amounts to giving up on making attacks, and just trying to keep yourself safe.

  19. I haven’t read through the comments yet, but: the players get to say what their character says, thinks, and does. The player can’t say a dog breaks loose. They can take some action to try to make that happen, maybe, but they can’t just say an NPC does something that in some way triggers the players’ move.

  20. If the fighter wants to deal damage then he obviously needs to advance while he’s defending against their arrows. His weapon doesn’t deal damage from far. So, he advances under cover of his shield. Welcome to close range.

  21. So, Defy Danger basically tells you if he does it, does it with a cost which sets up a GM move, or if the GM just gets to make a move. In this case, he’s spent hold, so we know he does it. And he’s set up the GM for all kinds of moves without the need to Defy Danger. He’s basically separated himself, put himself in a spot and we’re all set for the Gm to start asking really juicy questions about what he does next as the enemy encircles him and cuts him off from his friends. There’s no need for a Defy Danger here. Give him his damage and smile.

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