In light of the recent Defend poles, i thought id give defend a look over.

In light of the recent Defend poles, i thought id give defend a look over.

In light of the recent Defend poles, i thought id give defend a look over.

Its something that has come up many times in my games and a topic of much discussion in past here at the Tavern.

So, one problem ive run into with Defend, that has been over come with a sense of reluctance, is that it specifies ‘attack’ and is gagged towards physical damage and attacking damage. Sure, this had been worked around, but it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth afterwards.

Second, is when a player takes to defense before the actual threat is near, then rolls a 6-. The GM moves can at times feel forced. We make it work at the table, but it just doesn’t always feel smooth.

My thoughts are as follows:

1) Don’t roll before the under threat. After all that’s why we roll. When there is a chance of failure.

2) Remove anything that deals primarily with numerical damage. Though it’s not specifically stated that way in the current move, it leans that way and can influence the thought process of players and GMs.

Rough ROUGH draft follows:

Rather than rolling to take up a defense. Just portray the player taking such a Stance. “I take up a defensive position in the passage and give my comrades time to flee”.


When you defend a person, place or thing, your demeanor changes and you take a more defensive stance. So long as you maintain a defensive stance, you can only react to actions taken against that which you Defend. You gain +1 to rolls made in defense. Changing your stance while under threat is dangerous and may call for a GM move.

This is my preliminary thoughts and would appreciate feedback. Thoughts?

13 thoughts on “In light of the recent Defend poles, i thought id give defend a look over.”

  1. How can you remove the numerical damage from the move? That’s what most fighting is about, that’s why this was introduced since the crappy armour on a wizard makes the fighter or the barbarian try to stop damage from being dealt on them, the only real effect most monsters have in a fight.

    What you’re describing is a completely new move that preempts the need to take a stance before the damage is dealt. Why shouldn’t the fighter say: “Oh yeah, I see those crossbow bolts coming for the wizard and at the last moment try to prevent most of the damage”. Sure, in the narrative you can say if he rolls well, he can’t take all the damage but only half it if you feel that’s what happened, but they’re heroes! Saving someone last minute is what they’re supposed to do, even if that someone is one of them.

    And most of what you’re describing is a simple defy danger roll in other situations, not defend. “Want to defend your friend in court, stop her from being thrown in jail? Roll defy danger + CHA I think, with the danger being her getting locked up for 30 days”.

    Finally, why should the PC be allowed only to act in defence of that other person or thing? For how long? Throughout the fight? That is silly and unnecessary, kill the immediate danger to the wizard and move on to the next guy. Wizard is in danger again from something else and you can physically make it to them to defend again with that one last hold you’ve kept? Why the hell not, you’re always protective of him anyway and always know where he is on the battlefield.

  2. Stan Fresh id use this in any situation where one character Defends another. This would include all situations that the old Defend moves covers, and my hope is to make some of those situations flow more smoothly.

  3. Emir Pasanovic

    My hope is to make a move that is inclusive of both numerical and non-numeric. The current Defend is used this way already, but personally i find it comes with some bitterness at the table.

    What i have described is infact a new move, yes. And all those examples you gave are to be included and valid cases in the move im attempting to create.

    What changes would you make to my current draft?

  4. Then name it something else than “Defend”. It doesn’t do the same thing and what you’re describing, it’s more akin to defy danger, except the defy danger means automatic success and doesn’t require you to roll again on something you’ve already succeeded in doing. What’s the result on a 7-9 roll in your move, anyway? No matter what you get, 7 or 14, you only get +1 to your next roll whatever it might be, as long as it’s against the attacker? What if you roll spout lore about the creature or a rain of fish endangering the cart you’re defending that would do 1d8+3 damage to anyone inside it, what has your “defensive stance” have to do with local weather patterns to give you a +1?

    If you however defend, you use the holds whatever they may be, or defy danger to get out of the cart and manage to avoid the damage but with a 7-9 are now lying on the ground smelling of fish as the cart starts rolling back onto your leg. And then you might decide to spout lore if you want, but you don’t get a +1 just because you smell of fish, since you’re still completely clueless where that rain of fish might have come from. There’s a reason why people made (and play tested and re-tested) all of these moves and ask you repeatedly to think about when to invent new ones whether you’re trying to do the same thing that’s already achieved. If somebody around your table doesn’t want someone else to defend them, they can always roll defy danger (maybe make the defend roll into aid or interfere?), and can then be bitter about the dice.

    Without further examples of the bitterness around your table, I’m afraid I can’t be of much help and can only continue dispensing my “wisdom” of how useless what you’re writing would be. 🙂

  5. In the move ive described, there isn’t a roll. So the defending player wouldn’t have a die result of 7 or 14, at least not at the moment of declaration that they wish to defend.

    The +1 is an ongoing +1 for as long as the defender maintains their stance. So yes, they could Defy Danger or even Hack and Slash if they wanted so long as it was in reaction to a threat towards what they are defending. Fiction would determine that.

    The draw back to this would be the changing of there position or “Stance”.

    This is in no way a finished product and needs testing, of course. I’d just like some freed back that’s all.

    As for the bitterness around the table. The RAW Defend move focuses mainly on physical combat and my players want a more agnostic Defend move. We’ve used Aid/Interfere. We’ve used Defend and flavored it. However, a move focused on Defending and not all about attack is more what we want.

  6. Let me paint an image for you to better portray what I’m trying to convey into a move.

    When the Fighter with his towering shield yells out “You shall go no further” in defense of his team. Then wields his shield in front of himself, blocking passage of the oncoming threat. His overall look and the way he is holding himself has changed. He has taken a defensive stance. Its this stance that im trying to convey into a move. Preferably a move that is worded in a way that can be used oustide of battle.

  7. I’m still not convinced it needs a mechanic within the game rules to convey this stance. If your fighter describes he’s much more aware of people trying to melee attack his group and himself, protecting his range attack friends while their attention is somewhere else, he can roll discern realities and potentially get that +1 with additional information about who’s really in charge, what’s about to happen and anything else from those questions that might be relevant to the situation, and to an actual defend roll that might become necessary to save their lives.

    If you really feel this is necessary, then I would make it an advanced move for specific classes, not everyone. There’s that improved fighter move “I’m your opponent”:

    I’m Your Opponent (STR)

    When you engage an enemy in melee combat, they are forced to acknowledge you. When an enemy you are engaged with makes a move against anyone other than you, roll +STR. On a 10+, the move is cancelled – their attack is blocked, their escape route cut off, their spell interrupted. On a 7-9, the move is intercepted – rather than

    target whoever they want, they must make the move against you. On a 6-, they make a mockery of you – in addition to making their move against whoever they want, they make another move against you.

    But again, it is largely left to the roll of the die, not automatic and not against many enemies since it is supposed to be nigh impossible to defend everyone from everything in a fight and people shouldn’t be bitter about the fact they can’t do everything they want from level one with a wizard, a halfling thief or something.

    Finally, there’s a Paladin move “Charge!” that you can suggest to your fighter to take as a multiclass:

    When you lead the charge into combat, those you lead take +1 forward.

    it’s easy enough to change it into “Retreat!” and give the character in the rear of the retreat +1 as it also makes narrative sense that anyone she’d try to defend is also doing everything they can to protect their retreat.

  8. Interesting. I like that repurpose of Charge.

    What about this alternative to Charge?


    When you stand to protect someone, those you protect take +1 Forward.

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