Situations for Total Defense


Rules Questions


The rules only state that Total Defense is a standard action. Can you...

* use Total Defense when being shot at from long range (ranged attack, but not melee)?
* use Total Defense while you're not under attack? E.g., you anticipate that you might be under attack at some point. Alternatively, maybe you just want to walk around with Total Defense "on".

Also, same question for "Fighting Defensively".

Liberty's Edge

I often will have my Aldori Swordlord use the total defense action before moving up to striking range if the foes are many or have reach. It's a standard action, so you get one move action in that same round. I like to sue it when I know I'm walking into a place that will have people attacking me. That dodge bonus will definitely allow you to defend against ranged attacks.

You could, in theory, have total defense up at all times. It would mean that you cannot take any attacks of opportunity, gain a dodge bonus to your AC (which would go away when you're flat-footed), and restrict you to slower but more cautious movement.

If a character was walking around with total defense "on" at all times in town I would probably have NPCs point out that he is being pretty paranoid walking around slowly with his hands up in a defensive position, looking around with wide eyes.

Sovereign Court

Frank Daniels wrote:

The rules only state that Total Defense is a standard action. Can you...

* use Total Defense when being shot at from long range (ranged attack, but not melee)?

Yes, there's nothing in the rules stopping you.

Frank Daniels wrote:


* use Total Defense while you're not under attack? E.g., you anticipate that you might be under attack at some point. Alternatively, maybe you just want to walk around with Total Defense "on".

This is a bit tricky in practice. The issue is that you don't get Dodge bonuses to AC (like total defence) when you don't get Dex to AC. There are two common causes for this:

1) An enemy you didn't know was there. Stealth, Darkness, Invisibility etc; if you don't see them coming, no AC bonus.

2) Flat-footed at the beginning of combat. Until you've taken an action in combat, you're flat-footed and don't gain Dex to AC.

#2 is the tricky one, because many GMs will not let you get the jump on a combat by always being in full defence, always having a readied action, or even always having your weapons already drawn. The pros and cons of that are varied, but basically: expect table variation.

Frank Daniels wrote:


Also, same question for "Fighting Defensively".

You can only fight defensively if you actually attack something.


Thanks, guys!


Ascalaphus wrote:
Frank Daniels wrote:


* use Total Defense while you're not under attack? E.g., you anticipate that you might be under attack at some point. Alternatively, maybe you just want to walk around with Total Defense "on".

This is a bit tricky in practice. The issue is that you don't get Dodge bonuses to AC (like total defence) when you don't get Dex to AC. There are two common causes for this:

1) An enemy you didn't know was there. Stealth, Darkness, Invisibility etc; if you don't see them coming, no AC bonus.

2) Flat-footed at the beginning of combat. Until you've taken an action in combat, you're flat-footed and don't gain Dex to AC.

#2 is the tricky one, because many GMs will not let you get the jump on a combat by always being in full defence, always having a readied action, or even always having your weapons already drawn. The pros and cons of that are varied, but basically: expect table variation.

What about in certain context sensitive situations? Such as right before turning a specific corner, or before someone opens a door?

Or would all of this be covered under readied action? As in, "I ready an action to use total defense if there is anyone/thing on the other side of that door"

Obviously, you can't go through the whole dungeon like this, but you could at least be prepared at key gateways and choke points.

Scarab Sages

If an archer, or a ranged spellcaster that is targeting your Touch Armor Class, that is really giving you trouble and you have nowhere to run or provide cover, you can actually do two things:

- First is to drop Prone. It is a free action to drop Prone, providing you with +4 to your Armor Class against Ranged Attacks.

- Second, as a Standard Action, you can go into Total Defense. This will Provide you with another +4 Armor Class (Dodge). If you have 3 Ranks in Acrobatics, you get a +6 instead.

Now, if you have another person blocking the direct line towards you and the Archer does not have Improved Precise Shot, you get a +4 Armor Class (Cover) against the attack.

So if you position it right and have at least 3 Ranks in Acrobatics, you can effectively get a +14 to your Armor Class.

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