[generic] All-Out Defence

#1
I have been re-reading the Tribe 8 combat rules, and it has an All-Out Defence option. As do a whole bunch of other RPGs I own from Ye Ancient games of the 80s to the hip, new, down-with-the-kidz games of the last few years.

But I am scratching my head trying to remember a time when my players actually chose to use All-Out Defence. I'm also struggling to think of a time when I ever used it as a player. It just doesn't feel interesting or exciting or as if it achieves anything.

Are we doing something wrong? Are we not getting something? Or is All-Out Defence just a fossilised relic from the prehistory of RPGs which is in there for completeness?
 
#6
There’s a modern Marital Art called “Krav Maga“. I’m no expert but its principle seems to be all out attack which is why - from Batman Begins onwards - Superhero film directors seem to love it so much. It’s very cinematic.

All out defence in films is less interesting and is usually used to make a point or show how a tough opponent can be tactically outwitted. ”Coach Carter” for example or - to a lesser extent - Rocky. But they seem to have to explain to the audience well in advance that this ios what they’re going to do.
 

Dom

Administrator
Staff member
#7
Isn't Aikido effectively a defensive form which uses the opponent's energy against themselves?

One of my colleagues was an instructor and we had demo. It involved an 8-month pregnant lady throwing big lads all over the place without breaking sweat.
 
#10
The One Ring has the option to take a Defensive Stance. My dwarf nearly always did, and it was quite effective. I kind of viewed him as the rock on which the attacks broke. Plus he protected other party members.
Does your Defensive Stance just allow thew dwarf to defend? Or can he attack as well?

I was thinking more of games where the options are:
  1. Have an attack and a defence (default option)
  2. All-Out Attack for a bonus to hit or to damage, but you get no defence (or a penalty to defence)
  3. All-Out Defence for a bonus to avoid being hit, but you get no attack.
 
#11
I think for all out defence options to be interesting, other than in extreme circumstances, it needs to do something more, like setup a counter-attack or protect another character. Otherwise it basically feels like wasting both the character and the attacking monster's turn.
Humbly, but vehemently, disagree. Full defence doesn’t WASTE time, it BUYS time.

On slight side note - I’m a fan of the unbeatable monster.

There’s a debate ATM about whether the existence of “challenge ratings” in games like (eg) 5th Ed is distorting play. Some Refs feel that an encounter has to be of an appropriate rating for the party (I think it may even be stated explicitly in some rules). So players come to feel that every encounter should be “balanced” for them and get a bit disgruntled if they aren’t.

Pure bollocks, of course.

”A no-win scenario is a possibility every Starship Captain might face. How we face death is as important as how we face life.”

Watching how players cope with unbeatable monsters is one of the great joys of the game. Making new players aware that you can’t - shouldn’t - fight your way out of every situation is a solemn duty.

I just wrote an intro game for newbies - The d6 Hack - and the Boss Monster in the introductory dungeon is deliberately such an undefeatable foe, specifically to teach this lesson. (There are, of course, several ways to ”win” without beating it. “Hack” games don’t have full defensive options but there are things like the Warrior‘s ability to sunder their shield to avoid damage which serve the same purpose.)

So it was immensely amusing to watch a group of experienced Grognard players in a well oiled late night game at Contingency trying to “monster” me with their experience, determined to kill it outright with their first level characters. Bless ‘em they did managed to damage it - which in itself should have been impossible - and the survivors regrouped and returned with reinforcements and better plan.

I also remember the first “Advanced Fighting Fantasy” rulebook. Both example dungeons in the book were good, but the second was VERY good IMHO. The final room was guarded by an unbelievably tough T-Rex skeleton. The point being, you didn’t have to kill it - you just had to get past it.

Full defence and a BRAVE fighter would be very useful In both of these encounters.

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Dom

Administrator
Staff member
#12
Does your Defensive Stance just allow thew dwarf to defend? Or can he attack as well?

I was thinking more of games where the options are:
  1. Have an attack and a defence (default option)
  2. All-Out Attack for a bonus to hit or to damage, but you get no defence (or a penalty to defence)
  3. All-Out Defence for a bonus to avoid being hit, but you get no attack.
You can still attack, but it is harder to secure a hit (TN raises). However, your opponents suffer a similar penalty to attack you.
 
#13
I think for all out defence options to be interesting, other than in extreme circumstances, it needs to do something more, like setup a counter-attack or protect another character. Otherwise it basically feels like wasting both the character and the attacking monster's turn.
You have reminded me that in Fate the defend action (+2 for Full Defense) generates a Boost for the defender if they
succeed with style, therefore using Full Defense increases your chances of having getting a benefit for the next round. It's not much, but it means the situation possibly changes.
 
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