Fighting Defensively (can we end the hostility?)


Rules Questions


6 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

As the title suggests, there is some hostility floating around surrounding the mechanics behind "attacking defensively as a standard action."

Can we get a clear answer on how this works?

Pathfinder PRD wrote:
Fighting Defensively as a Standard Action: You can choose to fight defensively when attacking. If you do so, you take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC until the start of your next turn.

Link: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/combat.html#_fighting-defensively-as-a-s tandard-action

Does the above require you to make an attack action (as in, using your simple action attack against a foe such as with the Defender weapon property) or can you just declare you are "attacking defensively" and gain the bonus to AC/penalty to attacks without doing anything other than declaring?

Please FAQ


Don't forget this bit of rules text, page 187:

Fighting Defensively as a Full-Round Action: You can
choose to fight defensively when taking a full-attack action.
If you do so, you take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round to
gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC until the start of your next turn.

Can you give an example of a situation where there is ambiguity as to whether you can Fight Defensively or not?


And a developer answered this the other day...

SRM quote

Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

Stephen repeatedly emphasized expending the attack action, not rolling a dice when I pressed him.

Thus, using up the action is the key. You could probably do most of them as a free action, but they are symbolic of the fact you are spending your attack action.

==Aelryinth

::sigh::

No, I repeatedly emphasized that it was when you make either an attack action (which is a standard action) or a full-attack action (which is a full-round action) as it states in the rules.

Using a standard or a full-round action is not the key, using an attack action or a full-attack action are the key. Those actions are defined and explained in the Core Rulebook.

Yes, you need to actually make an attack action to fight defensively.


Ya know, I posted this thread after I started reading that other one, but before I got far enough to see Stephen had chimed in and clarified. :P

I figured it wouldn't get broached there since this discussion is off-topic for that thread. Oh well!

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Neo2151 wrote:

Can we get a clear answer on how this works?

Does the above require you to make an attack action

Please FAQ

I'm bewildered as to why we got clear answers (You must make the attack action standard action) and yet we have people asking for a "clear" answer?

I don't know how much more clear you can get an answer.

Liberty's Edge

You didn't read the entire thread, because Sniggevert pointed this out, and Neo2151 acknowledged that.


If you want to "fight defensively" without attacking, why not just use the Total Defense action any way?

CRB wrote:

Total Defense

You can defend yourself as a standard action. You get a +4 dodge bonus to your AC for 1 round. Your AC improves at the start of this action. You can't combine total defense with fighting defensively or with the benefit of the Combat Expertise feat. You can't make attacks of opportunity while using total defense.


If you don't want to have to make an attack you could always use the total defense option.

Quote:

Total Defense

You can defend yourself as a standard action. You get a +4 dodge bonus to your AC for 1 round. Your AC improves at the start of this action. You can't combine total defense with fighting defensively or with the benefit of the Combat Expertise feat. You can't make attacks of opportunity while using total defense.

Edit: Damn, ninja'd by a lot.


Thymus Vulgaris wrote:
If you want to "fight defensively" without attacking, why not just use the Total Defense action any way?

Because..

CRB wrote:
Total Defense ...You can't make attacks of opportunity while using total defense.

I should note that you do *threaten* while on Total Defense (unless there's another rule elsewhere about that). Just no AoOs.

Scarab Sages

Well, you could use your attack action to swing at any invisible creatures that may be in an adjacent square if you you want to fight defensively without actually attacking anyone. You don't hit anything, but you did make an actual attack.


I mean...there should be some sort of drawback. You shouldn't just get a free AC bonus.

Shadow Lodge

Has the question been asked anywhere about readying an action and fighting defensively?

For example, can an archer declare that he is fighting defensively and ready an action to attack if the enemy Wizard casts a spell?

Liberty's Edge

PatientWolf wrote:

Has the question been asked anywhere about readying an action and fighting defensively?

For example, can an archer declare that he is fighting defensively and ready an action to attack if the enemy Wizard casts a spell?

Yeah, it was talked about in the other thread.

You can certainly ready an action to fight defensively, but you won't get the benefits of fighting defensively until your attack is triggered.


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No he can ready an action then when that action is triggered fight defensively.

Fighting defensively is an action if you haven't taken the action you can't fight defensively its that simple.

If you have no nearby enemy but want defence go full defence.

The game works off actions not actions you plan to take if you have not taken the action you receive no benefit.

Shadow Lodge

Thanks for the clarification. I really think that is a horrible ruling but at least I know.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

2 people marked this as a favorite.
PatientWolf wrote:
Thanks for the clarification. I really think that is a horrible ruling but at least I know.

I think the problem is that people have been playing Fighting Defensively how they wanted the rules to work but not how it works.


This is nice, because it reinforces the point that literally anyone could have dealt with old Crane Wing, even single vital striking T-rexes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns Subscriber

Why can't you "attack" an empty square? If you think there is an invisible opponent in that square you can do this, so why not even when you are pretty sure there isn't an invisible foe? Probably a little dumb from a roleplaying perspective, but you can play it off as dashing swordplay or some such.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Knick wrote:
Why can't you "attack" an empty square?

You can, but people don't want to.

They want to "attack" and then move and and complete the attack but still be able to AoO while enjoying the AC boost.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns Subscriber

Ohhhh.

Yeah that isn't going to happen. Best you can do for that is a 5ft. step which doesn't provoke anyway. Would be nice for my Imp Stalwart IR Dragon Totem Barb though...


LoneKnave wrote:
This is nice, because it reinforces the point that literally anyone could have dealt with old Crane Wing, even single vital striking T-rexes.

I think this difference in how people have used fighting defensively was at the core of why some people didn't see the issue with the old Crane Wing, and yet other people thought it too powerful.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Remy Balster wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:
This is nice, because it reinforces the point that literally anyone could have dealt with old Crane Wing, even single vital striking T-rexes.
I think this difference in how people have used fighting defensively was at the core of why some people didn't see the issue with the old Crane Wing, and yet other people thought it too powerful.

Can you refresh me on the old Crane Wing?

Also what is the issue with a T-Rex with a big Improved Vital Strike natural weapon he uses the Attack Action to Vital Strike?


James Risner wrote:
Remy Balster wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:
This is nice, because it reinforces the point that literally anyone could have dealt with old Crane Wing, even single vital striking T-rexes.
I think this difference in how people have used fighting defensively was at the core of why some people didn't see the issue with the old Crane Wing, and yet other people thought it too powerful.

Can you refresh me on the old Crane Wing?

Also what is the issue with a T-Rex with a big Improved Vital Strike natural weapon he uses the Attack Action to Vital Strike?

With the old Crane Wing, you just block a single melee attack per round when fighting defensively or taking total defense. So the T-Rex with just a bite could do nothing against someone fighting with it if it continued to simply attack.


However, with this clarification, now there's no doubt that the T-rex could (if he doesn't want to try a maneuver, for example) prepare an action to strike before the crane-winger attacks, since he has to attack to get into CW.

Or use full defense and do literally nothing.


I started out thinking that Readying an action was enough to satisfy the conditions required for Fighting Defensively. It never seemed right to me that a Ranger could fire a bow and gain a +2 AC immediately, but a Fighter who hiked up his shield and readied his weapon for the anticipated incoming attack didn't get his bonus until later...meaning anything shot at him before the trigger didn't allow him the +2.

But the rules seem to say that an attack must be done and the bonus doesn't happen until that does. Readying an action is not an "attack action", it is a "standard action"...even if it is being used to ready an attack. So by RAW, it doesn't seem to count, although it would be simple enough to House Rule it that way. But at least there are a number of other options still open to our Fighter. :)


Really I was not aware this was an issue. How prevalent is this in say pfs? In our home games its never come up and really I cannot see why the fighting defensively rules are clear on rhe actions needed.

Are people un aware of action sequence?

As far as readied actions go the part that needs to be undetstood is readied actions are a standard action in potential if the trigger has not happened you have not done your action.

I'm curious how much this affected the crane wing thing though I myself have bo issue with the change. I can see how doing foghting defensively wrong would have made the old version syronger.


*giggle*

I just realized that with varying potential moves and readies and AoOs from movement, that an old (or new) Crane Style user might actually want to take Strike Back feat, so they can be sure to get their AC bonus.

Dark Archive

Any mention of useing fighting defensively with aid another? I always felt.they were seperate standard actions but I see other people doing it. For that matter, if you can FD on a full attack, why nit a spring attack or vital strike?

Liberty's Edge

PatientWolf wrote:
Thanks for the clarification. I really think that is a horrible ruling but at least I know.

Alas, it's not a ruling, it's how it's always worked.

Shadow Lodge

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HangarFlying wrote:
PatientWolf wrote:
Thanks for the clarification. I really think that is a horrible ruling but at least I know.
Alas, it's not a ruling, it's how it's always worked.

I might have to live by it but you can't make me like it! :P

lol

Liberty's Edge

PatientWolf wrote:
HangarFlying wrote:
PatientWolf wrote:
Thanks for the clarification. I really think that is a horrible ruling but at least I know.
Alas, it's not a ruling, it's how it's always worked.

I might have to live by it but you can't make me like it! :P

lol

Lol.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's a moot point, isn't it? Whatever ruling we end up getting (or have already received) isn't going to change that you can choose to attack the ground, or a square, or whatever, and still get the benefits of fighting defensively.

You MUST attack to fight defensively.
- "Then I attack the ground with my unarmed strike, stomping my feet menacingly."

You don't have to actually attack to fight defensively.
- "I fight defensively expending the appropriate action to do so."

Doesn't really change anything.


Lets not forget you can also chuck a shuriken or dagger (or improvised anything for that matter...) at the target to qualify. I don't see anything in Fighting Defensively prohibiting ranged attacks from triggering it.

Shadow Lodge

kyrt-ryder wrote:
Lets not forget you can also chuck a shuriken or dagger (or improvised anything for that matter...) at the target to qualify. I don't see anything in Fighting Defensively prohibiting ranged attacks from triggering it.

There's not anything that prevents ranged attackers from fighting defensively. However, that means the archer I mentioned above can't wait to disrupt the enemy caster with a well times shot to the face AND fight defensively so as not to get pummeled by said caster's friends while standing there waiting.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Conceptually I'm fine that you can't ready an action defensively. You're focused on getting the jump on another person, waiting for them to make their move. You're not as focused on what everyone else is doing to block their attacks.

Honestly the amount of concentration required to ready an action almost should provoke an AoO.


Our monk would punch himself to fight defensively.


PatientWolf wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Lets not forget you can also chuck a shuriken or dagger (or improvised anything for that matter...) at the target to qualify. I don't see anything in Fighting Defensively prohibiting ranged attacks from triggering it.
There's not anything that prevents ranged attackers from fighting defensively. However, that means the archer I mentioned above can't wait to disrupt the enemy caster with a well times shot to the face AND fight defensively so as not to get pummeled by said caster's friends while standing there waiting.

Which makes sense doesn't it? You can't focus intently waiting for one person to do something and be focused on fighting defensively at the same time.

Shadow Lodge

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Claxon wrote:
PatientWolf wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
Lets not forget you can also chuck a shuriken or dagger (or improvised anything for that matter...) at the target to qualify. I don't see anything in Fighting Defensively prohibiting ranged attacks from triggering it.
There's not anything that prevents ranged attackers from fighting defensively. However, that means the archer I mentioned above can't wait to disrupt the enemy caster with a well times shot to the face AND fight defensively so as not to get pummeled by said caster's friends while standing there waiting.
Which makes sense doesn't it? You can't focus intently waiting for one person to do something and be focused on fighting defensively at the same time.

I had not looked at it from that point of view. Dang it...no! I said you can't make me like it! Quit trying to use confuse me with really good reasons!


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Whether it's a standard action or an attack action, why would anyone think you could fight defensively AND ready an action? Where is the extra action coming from?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Ravingdork wrote:
Whether it's a standard action or an attack action, why would anyone think you could fight defensively AND ready an action? Where is the extra action coming from?

I think the idea was that you were readying an attack that would include defensive fighting, and the hope was that the AC bonus from defensive fighting would apply before you made the attack. I think.


Yes, the reasoning went something along the lines of:

I see the orcs and know they are getting ready to close with me. Some of them have swords and some have bows. I gain initiative so I hike up my shield (taking up a defensive stance) and ready my weapon to strike at the first orc that comes within reach. The attempt here is to gain the +2 to AC against those bows without losing my whole attack option to Total Defense. Meanwhile my Ranger friend declares he is also fighting defensively, fires off an arrow or two and immediately gets his +2 against anything coming in at him.

So his +2 bonus is assured. The question becomes since I'm committing my action to an attack as I take up a defensive stance, is that enough to satisfy the condition of Fighting Defensively? Before this topic came along, without giving it much thought I figured sure, why not? But in seeing and participating in the debate over this elsewhere, I'm not so sure about that anymore. RAW does seem to give strong indication that Readying is not enough (mainly because Readying is a Standard Action and not an Attack Action as the conditions require...even if I am Readying an Attack).

Having said that, is this an abuse of the idea? Personally I don't think so. If a GM wanted to Houserule that Readying could satisfy the condition, I'd be ok with it. By Readying I am committing myself to a specific action, in this case attacking. If the trigger happens, then I get my attack and the cost of making my attack is at -4 because of the +2 AC I've been enjoying. If the trigger doesn't take place, the cost is that I've lost my attack and only gotten a +2 AC for it...whereas if I had just stuck with Total Defense I could have lost the same attack and gotten twice as much bonus. So the cost is in the gamble.

That's the general idea of how the thinking on that went.

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