22 thoughts on “Quick question. Do you let player characters use defend on themselves?”

  1. Yes, I do. Defending yourself is explicit in the move text: As long as you stand in defense, when you or the thing you defend is attacked… Also for defending the place where they stand to avoid giving ground.

  2. I believe the tone of the Move is clearly that you are acting to protect someone or something else. You are permitted to spend Hold if you or the someone or something else is attacked … but the ability to spend Hold when you are attacked seems to me a side-effect of the Move (I’m ready for you!), not the purpose of the Move.

    (On the other hand, there’s nothing that says the person you are defending can’t be yourself … but on the other-other-hand, that makes the “redirect damage from target to self” option a non-choice, not to mention not heroic at all.)

  3. Definitely. The tigger is:

    When you stand in defense of a person, item, or location under attack… The PC is definitely a person.

    Scott Selvidge: DD is not necessarily better for them! If you’re a high-armor (say, 3+) character facing a low-damage (1d6 or even 1d8), then Defend is totally better. A 7-9 gets 1 hold, and that halves the damage. If max damage is 6 and my Armor is 3, then I’m negating their damage fully on a 7-9 (and losing just 1 HP of 7 or 8 damage). On a 10+, I’ve got 2 more hold! I can damage my attacker, create an opening, or hold on to it and negate their next attack, too!

    With DD, a 7-9 is going to involve a worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice. And a 10+ doesn’t necessarily improve my position.

    Now, if you’ve got no armor, or the foe does messy or forceful damage, or piercing, or just a lot of damage… then Defend might not be so great. But against average foes, it’s a beastly effective move.

  4. Anders Smith  Bob Portnell  I am pretty sure that was the intention of the move, but as written (as others have pointed out) a PC is a person therefore you should be able to defend yourself but that’s beyond the point of my question (see below).

    Jeremy Strandberg  Marshall Miller I agree with you, but here is my next question; If you can defy danger with all 6 stats, shouldn’t you also be able to defend a person, thing, or location with other stats as well?

  5. Marshall Miller, I read that bit of text as meaning when you are attacked while defending something/someone (else). I mean, no harm either way you read it, right, so to each his own? DW is flexible like that. But I actually don’t let players use Defend on themselves.

  6. Victor Julio Hurtado “shouldn’t you also be able to defend a person, thing, or location with other stats?”

    Eh. You go down that road, and you get into “shouldn’t I be able to attack an enemy in melee with any stat?” or “shouldn’t I be able to closely study a situation with INT?” or or or.

    Which isn’t inherently bad (I’ve made at least one hack where every move is just roll+STAT), but move+stat pairings are pretty close to the core of Dungeon World’s system.

    You start tinkering with that, and it ripples. Pretty soon you’re stepping on the toes of class moves that let you swap stats for a move, or making the high DEX character even more effective, etc.

    Personally, I wouldn’t let someone Defend with anything but CON, unless a move or an item allowed it.

  7. No. They explain how they are protecting themselves (roll if it is needed to preform the feat) then I uses a move against them that isn’t dealing damage directly to them.

    Example: If you want to raise their shield to stop an incoming attack I let you do it (defy danger+strength if the attack is particularly powerful). Then say you’re hit so hard you’re sent flying out of position leaving your wizard exposed. But your shield absorbed the blunt of the damage for you.

  8. Jeremy Strandberg That is very true and that is my line of thinking, still, I wanted to see what was the general consensus on these topics.

    By the way, for those who were wondering if you can defend yourself, someone pointed out to me that on page 64 it says it does, and I quote *”Defending yourself is certainly an option. It amounts to giving

    up on making attacks and just trying to keep yourself safe.”*

  9. PS. I’m stewing this over. While I still don’t think the move is intended for defending yourself … it does open up some interesting possibilities! I may start allowing it if someone asks to do it.

  10. Depends on GM/Players. Since Dungeon World was made to be flexible, this is just one of many things. I also do not let players use Defend on themselves. This is simply my position on the topic.

  11. 1) The last line of the Defend move is, “Defending yourself is certainly an option. It amounts to giving up on making attacks and just trying to keep yourself safe.”

    2) Defy Danger is for attempting an action despite a imminent threat/calamity – you are defying that danger in order to accomplish the action. Its AW analogue is “Act (while) Under Fire.” It’s not applicable to normal combat, as “For example, hack and slash assumes that’s you’re trading blows in battle—you don’t need to defy danger because of the monster you’re fighting unless there’s some specific danger that wouldn’t be part of your normal attack.” (e.g., spikes shooting out of the walls at you while fighting, in which case you’re rolling DD to accomplish your attack /despite/ the spikes). That’s why the 7-9 roll (get what you want, with complications) is not about avoiding the calamity (you get that on a 10+) – it’s about the chance to accomplish your goal while suffering calamity.

    DD is for doing something despite bad shit going down. 10+ you do it and avoid bad shit; 7-9 you either do it or avoid the bad shit going down, not both. “Avoiding bad shit” is not the goal; it makes 7-9 nonsensical, and removes the “complication” bit.

    Defend, on the other hand, you know, repeatedly says “defending yourself or…” and ends with the explicit statement “(this is for) giving up on making attacks and just trying to keep yourself safe.”

    This isn’t an ambiguous rule. It’s all written really explicitly in the moves.

  12. Jeremy Strandberg which is why I said I let them know if it is better to Defy Danger, for those few times that it would be better. 🙂

    Say a dragon breathes fire at the fighter. He says he wants to defend. The dragon gets 14 damage ignoring armor. The fighter gets a 7-9, halves it to 7, no armor to help out. If he had rolled for DD instead and got 7-9 I would have had him take no damage, but something else happens like his shield starts melting or he can’t breathe as the fire starts burning off all the oxygen around him, etc. It’s those kind of specific situations where DD would result in no damage at all where I suggest it over Defend.

  13. I do think that Defend is meant for defending yourself.  This is what it called full defense.  The trick here is you as the GM get to roll damage and the player gets to choose how to defend. Yes it does make the “Deflect the damage to yourself” null as an option but it works.  By blocking, parrying, and otherwise “Holding the Line”.  It does not get you out of the way and in defending yourself you focus your opponent just as if you were defending someone else.  You could just as easily say you are defending the Mage and step in front of them.  But if you are alone, you Defend yourself.  Now by the description you choose defend.  “I stand there and fend off his attack with my weapon, parrying and blocking all that he has.”  Boom Defend.  Different description for Defy Danger, “I dodge out of the way and evade him.”  a follow up question can be asked just HOW you evade.  If it is by agility and movment alone: +dex, if it is by throwing big things in the enemy’s way as you are running away, +Str.  If it is by putting a door between you and bracing the door, that could be +Str or +Dex.  If it is by wisely retreating into cover of say a forest, +Wis.  Not sure how it would use +Int.  But +Cha could be, I talk him out of it and keep him off balance with my witty banter (like from a bard).

    Each method comes with risks and depending on character style and how they handle it is what you roll.  Story first.

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