Why No Parry?


Rules Questions

The Exchange

Why is there no parry as a combat maneuver?


Good question!


What do you expect this combat maneuver to do?


See fighting defensively and total defense. Ask yourself what your dex bonus to AC means,


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

I thought that "Total Defense" was parry.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

Because every time you try the guard-turn-parry-dodge-spin-thrust combo, the quarterstaff bends your beak back.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For the most part, Pathfinder doesn't go into that sort of depth.

There are other game systems that have separate rules for block / parry / dodge. The exact names may change, but the basic concept is that those are the three ways to avoid attacks.

Pathfinder just assumes you are already doing all of that and it is rolled into the AC. Dodge would be the Dex bonus to AC, Block the Shield bonus, and some of the feats allow you to add to AC as well.

The closest that Pathfinder gets to a parry maneuver is the Swashbuckler deed Opportune Parry and Riposte.


Theliah Strongarm wrote:
Why is there no parry as a combat maneuver?

There is. For the Swashbuckler.

Opportune Parry and Riposte (Ex): At 1st level, when an opponent makes a melee attack against the swashbuckler, she can spend 1 panache point and expend a use of an attack of opportunity to attempt to parry that attack. The swashbuckler makes an attack roll as if she were making an attack of opportunity; for each size category the attacking creature is larger than the swashbuckler, the swashbuckler takes a –2 penalty on this roll. If her result is greater than the attacking creature's result, the creature's attack automatically misses. The swashbuckler must declare the use of this ability after the creature's attack is announced, but before its attack roll is made. Upon performing a successful parry and if she has at least 1 panache point, the swashbuckler can as an immediate action make an attack against the creature whose attack she parried, provided that creature is within her reach. This deed's cost cannot be reduced by any ability or effect that reduces the number of panache points a deed costs.

There are also Parry Feats available that you can select for other characters. (though some may be 3rd party add ons?)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

As mentioned above, Armor Class is used to standardize Parry mechanics. Both parties rolling for each attack doubles the dice rolled, which can be a slow down for the game.


Total Defense can be done without a weapon, though. We have a weird situation where people fighting without weapons are just as easy to hit as people fighting and blocking with weapons. The AoO for trying to hit someone with an unarmed attack (without IUS) captures some of the disadvantage, and you can say that it's balanced around a default situation where everyone happens weapons, but the realism/simulationism breaks down when it's weapons vs. natural attacks.

Sovereign Court

Cause 'parry' proved to be a bit overpowered when it's not limited by resources (like swashbuckler panache) - see the Crane Style errata. By making it a maneuver, people would just pump that CMB/CMD and that would trivialize many monsters.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

And the system is slow enough without adding a " yeah, I hit", " oh no you didn't", system on top!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Try playing a melee character in a high power Black Crusade game. You'll be glad there's no parry or dodge mechanic in Pathfinder.


There is also the Duelist PRC's Parry Class feature, it is the inspiration behind Opportune Parry and Reposte... but who takes prestige classes anymore. Why I remember the days when all characters were defined by what PRC they were aiming for, and we liked it! (rant continues into incoherence)
(five minutes later)
Otherwise, Fighting Defensively and Total Defense are the "parry" of Pathfinder, especially once you have 3 or more ranks in acrobatics. My GMPC meat-shield has used these actions to great effect in keeping his party alive (that and provoking on purpose to soak Attacks of Opportunity and let the party behave unhindered); those few extra points of AC really do help in the long run, especially considering that most enemies can't raise their attack rolls on demand.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Combat Expertise also simulates parrying.


Finally, I'd say combat manoeuvres are typically offensive in nature. You're trying to trip your foe, or disarm it, or shove it back, or run it over, or dirty trick it with a wedgie. A parry, while still something one would do, is in reaction to someone else doing a thing. If you're fighting a skeleton and it's your turn, it's the skeleton that wants to do the parrying.

Then we get into what I think of as the Samurai Shodown 2 issue where you get into fun arguments over what can parry what. (I use that as an example because a rapier can totally parry a Large kusarigama, or even a man-sized pillar, there.) And then how much parrying that goblin can do against Kitty Kukri and her TWF build.

Now, I do remember someone mentioning how a better combatant should have better defences, and I kind'a agree. Just how to implement it is a key question.

Then again, how often do people use defensive fighting or total defence anywaya?

The Exchange

Either it would have to apply to spells too, or it would be just another way for the Wizard to feel SMUG!!!


Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
Total Defense can be done without a weapon, though. We have a weird situation where people fighting without weapons are just as easy to hit as people fighting and blocking with weapons. The AoO for trying to hit someone with an unarmed attack (without IUS) captures some of the disadvantage, and you can say that it's balanced around a default situation where everyone happens weapons, but the realism/simulationism breaks down when it's weapons vs. natural attacks.

Honestly, that always bugged me too. I tried to change it up in 2E but had mixed results.

I personally think it would be best represented as having a weapon gives you a shield bonus... or Bonuses to hit unarmed opponents. I wouldn't want opposed rolls or anything wacky for parrys, I just always hated having an AC 15 with my weapon and an AC 15 without my weapon...


The Two Weapon Defense feat does give a shield bonus to AC. That's probably close?


Pathfinder falls apart when introduced to active defense. Hence all the nerfs to it.


phantom1592 wrote:
Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
Total Defense can be done without a weapon, though. We have a weird situation where people fighting without weapons are just as easy to hit as people fighting and blocking with weapons. The AoO for trying to hit someone with an unarmed attack (without IUS) captures some of the disadvantage, and you can say that it's balanced around a default situation where everyone happens weapons, but the realism/simulationism breaks down when it's weapons vs. natural attacks.

Honestly, that always bugged me too. I tried to change it up in 2E but had mixed results.

I personally think it would be best represented as having a weapon gives you a shield bonus... or Bonuses to hit unarmed opponents. I wouldn't want opposed rolls or anything wacky for parrys, I just always hated having an AC 15 with my weapon and an AC 15 without my weapon...

I've taken several different weapon fighting styles, and in each I've learned how to defend myself against those weapons while unarmed. In many slashing blade styles, weapon contact is last resort because of the damage to the blade. Many blocks and parries are done with the open hand against the hand wielding the weapon even while armed. Except with piercing and stick weapons and in movies, practiced fighters don't do a lot of blocking and parrying with weapons.


They errated Crane Style, because people were mixing it Snake Sidewind, and Snake Fang.

So later, they brought out the advanced class guide which introduced an archetype for monk called Kata Master, to presumably make up for the Crane Style erreta, that took the Swashbuckler's Parry and Riposte abilities. But then people multiclassed it with the Duelist to also gain it's own Parry and Riposte abilities, and slapped on Snake Sidewind and Snake Fang to that as well.

So they errated out the Parry and Riposte from Kata Master as well.

Parry is already there with Crane Style for unarmed, and Swashbuckler for light weapon fighting.


Because Paizo hates defensive characters and doesn't want PCs tanking. That's why it's so complicated to raise AC but it's effortless to raise attack rolls.


Theliah Strongarm wrote:
Why is there no parry as a combat maneuver?

Because with a game built on characters that get up to triple digit hit points, and all the other existing defense options, it prolongs the battle like mad.

Parry works in game systems where one sword strike CAN drop you dead,and you have fatigue systems that work in scales imposing penalties in real time. So for combats like those in Ars Magica, it works. D20...not so well.


Check out "The Dark Eye" RPG if you want active defense to be a big part of combat.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Why No Parry? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.