I’m curious – how often does the Defend move get used in your games?

I’m curious – how often does the Defend move get used in your games?

I’m curious – how often does the Defend move get used in your games?  My players (myself included) are pretty offensive-minded to the point that I can’t really remember a Defend even being rolled.  Probably this is partly a DM-ing problem, where I simply don’t think to call for Defend rolls even when they might be appropriate.  And part of it may be that we’re underestimating Defend (for one, the counterattack option seemed pretty lame when I was first level, but now that I’m 7th level, that’s actually more damage than I can do with an unmodified Hack and Slash.  Blink blink.  I’m going to have to look more closely at that.)

But I still think some of it also is that players are never prompted to go looking for a chance to Defend.  There are quite a few advanced moves that modify Hack and Slash, but the only class move that even mention Defend are the Paladin Staunch Defender and Impervious Defender moves.  Staunch Defender just gives +1 hold (kind of boring).  Impervious Defender is a little better, adding a new effect: on 12+ “instead of getting hold the nearest attacking creature is stymied giving you a clear advantage.”

But surely we can do better.  Anyone have any ideas to extend Defend in interesting ways?  Things that could be used as magic item effects or additional class moves or whatever.


* When you defend, you may also spend hold to ask one of the questions from the Discern Realities list.

* When you defend, also heal 1 HP.

* When you defend, you may also spend hold to throw back your enemy or knock them off their feet.

* You are so fast on your feet you may Defend as if your weapon had range reach.

* When you defend, take +2 armour forward.  (Class Warfare Defender)

* When you defend, you cannot be moved if your feet are planted firmly upon the ground. (Class Warfare Impervious Dwarf racial)

* As long as you have chi left, you may Defend with DEX instead of CON. (Class Warfare Martial Hero).

* When you use the natural formations of a cave to your advantage, take +1 to Defend and Defy Danger.  (Class Warfare Caver)

More interesting ideas?

9 thoughts on “I’m curious – how often does the Defend move get used in your games?”

  1. One of the disciplines in Fourth World offers this move:

    When you defend while wielding a shield, you may also spend hold on the following:

    • Knock the attacker down or back.

    • If it is mobile, the thing you defend may move or be moved somewhere safe from the attacker.

    • Take –1 forward and negate the attack’s effect or damage.

  2. Also from Fourth World, the Dwarf Archer’s racial move: You may defend an ally from a distance, rolling +DEX instead of +CON. You may only spend hold to redirect an attack to yourself if that attack could reach you.

  3. Yeah, it’s way more potent than it looks when you first read it. I dismissed it at first, but it’s pretty solid and has seen more use in games than I expected. The “halve the damage” option is great for someone who has 2-3 armor and a decent number of hit points.

  4. As for ideas to extend Defend… A number of playbooks from #Stonetop have Defend-modifying moves. Let’s dig some up…

    From The Judge

    Mirrorshield (requires Aegis of Faith, level 6+)

    When you Defend with a shield, you can spend 1 hold to intercept a spell or magical effect and redirect it to a different target (or no target at all).


    While you have hold from Defend, you and any ally you can see or who can see you gains +1 armor ongoing.

    A Mighty Rampart (requires Bulwark, level 6+)

    Increase the armor bonus from Bulwark to +2.

    From The Heavy

    Guardian (requires Staunch Defender, level 6+)

    When you have hold from Defend, you need not spend hold to redirect an attack from the thing you defend to yourself. You can just do it.

    From The Would-Be Hero

    Big Damn Hero (replaces In Over Your Head; req level 6+)

    When you leap into danger to rescue someone, hold 3 as if you’d rolled 10+ to Defend. You can spend your hold as normal to Defend or to:

    – Draw all attention from your ward to yourself .

    – Give your ward an opportunity to escape.

    Something to Remember Me By

    When you spend hold from Defend to damage the attacker, you deal +1d4 damage and scar, mark, or diminish them in some way. The GM will say how.

    From The Blessed

    Lightning Rod

    When you Defend while touching the ground, you can spend 1 hold to intercept any nearby magical attack and redirect it harmlessly into the ground.

    From The Marshal

    Shield Wall

    When you form a shield wall with your crew, you all get +1 armor and you get +1 ongoing to Defend.

    From the artifact Shield of Wisent Witch

    When you Defend with this shield and your feet are firmly planted on the ground, so long as you have hold you cannot be moved or tripped. When you spend hold to deal damage to the attacker, you also break their momentum, knock them back, and send them reeling.

    From the artifact Rune-Laden Scales


    When you witness a magical attack, you can either spend 1 hold from Defend or mark a consequence to redirect the magic so that it affects only you. You can then stand fast against it. (which triggers the armor’s main “ignore harmful magic” move).

  5. I’m a big fan of defending. From a pure strategy standpoint defending the right person or place can lower HP loss for the whole group. It makes for a strong narrative element to have someone trying to hold back the horde at a choke point such as a stairway while the rest of the team tries to do damage, work out a plan of escape, or if the defense is going poorly aid in that.

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