I'd like there was a Dodge Action in PF 2


Rules Questions


Hi everybody, for me, I think that probably when it comes out, PF 2 will become my game of choice for mid crunchy heroic fantasy rpg.
However, just a small thing: I'd like there was the possibility of a sort of Dodge Action in combat: I conceptually like the idea of trying to actively evade incoming blows, or doing something similar.
I know, AC increases with levels, but this is not what I'm thinking of. I know, you can spend an action to raise your shield, but what if you're not proficient with shields? What if you're a mage unwillingly caught in a melee combat, and you're just trying to avoid being hit? I know, the Maingauche weapon has the Parry feature, but, again, what if I don't have that weapon?
If I'm not wrong, in Pathfinder 1 you have the possibility to Defend yourself totally, foregoing your attacks in order to have a +4 Bonus to your AC, and to Fight Defensively, getting a -4 penalty to your attacks and a +2 Bonus tu your AC.
I'd like there were something similar in Pathfinder 2!
Many thanks,happy summer, happy gaming and happy life!


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

There were two general purpose actions in the playtest that somewhat fill that space.

There's the 'Drop Prone' action to get a small bonus against ranged attacks (and some negatives).

There's 'Take Cover', which doubles the cover bonus to AC/reflex, assuming you have a source of cover. Lasts until you move or take an attack action.

The 'Raise Shield' action limits the possibility for a general purpose action that increases defense. The requirement to be wielding a shield, and have the action from a feat, means that a general purpose dodge action would need to be weaker. Likewise with the Rogue's 'Nimble Dodge' Reaction

There might be space for an action that gives a +1 bonus to ac/reflex, until you move or attack at the cost of one action. That's weaker than the Raise Shield increase, w/o any extra training/hand requirements. Its also weaker than Nimble Dodge (but doesn't consume a reaction). Raise Shield has the additional advantage that you can enter your defensive posture, and then move (if you're worried about triggering a reaction, for example).


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Using a shield lets you spend an action to increase AC. That pretty much rules out a pure dodge action being freely baked into the game- why use a shield (requiring an item and using one of your arms) when you can just dodge without those limitations?

Like you said, what if you don't have a shield or the right kind of weapon? Well, you came unprepared to the fight, and you'll either need to find something else to put between you and the enemy (take cover) or have a feat or feature that lets you dodge more than your Dex bonus is already doing.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Fighting defensively sounds like a mid level fighter/champion/monk class feat (possibly slightly altered for each class, like TWF). But spending two or three actions to take “total defense” might work as an alternative to shields. Especially if it requires a general feat to unlock as an activity.

Edit: or as an acrobatics skill feat.


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There isn't a general dodge action, and their probably can't be without negating the purpose of shields and party weapons. There is a take cover action if you have cover to take. But we also have class feats that can help with this. Rogues have the nimble dodge reaction, and multliclassing into rogue seems like a pretty logical step if you want to have a nimble wizard for example.

The other thing against having a dodge general action is the more weird single actions you add to the game, the more complicated baseline combat becomes. The PF2 philosophy is to make such things "opt-in." Picking it up with a feat like Nimble Dodge means it makes the game less complicated for everyone who doesn't pick it. The trick is trying to balance that with avoiding feat taxes for stuff you would just want to do anyway. Some are quite successful, like Sudden Charge. Everyone can now move twice their speed and attack, and doing so is easier than PF1. But fighters get a feat that enhances that.

Other stuff, like fighting defensively. Is trickier to implement.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Besides the fact that dodge is built into dex bonus to AC, I could see being talked into allowing a combo delay and "dodge" action that gives you an extra bonus to AC.

Two actions to delay, moving in initiative order, and using a "dodge" action against a single enemy, seems pretty reasonable.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

The other bit to consider, is that if there were a 'Dodge' action it would need to be weak enough that it wasn't 'always take as your third action' ability, but still useful enough to want sometimes. The tighter math of PF2 makes that a harder design space to fill.


There were several non-shield defensive actions in the playtest- fighter had some stances for AC when using a single weapon or two weapons, rogue has a level one dodge, monk has crane flutter: a dodge and strike reaction (on top of crane stance giving +1 AC).

By necessity i think 'dodge' either needs to be a stance or reaction, and a general one would need to be weaker than what the classes get.


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The Dodge action is taking a Step backwards now. Because then the opponent must take an action to also take a Step to strike you.

For AC bonus, there is the Take Cover action as others say (which reminds me of modern shooters). Since standing beside a wall already qualifies for that action, it should be widely usable in a dungeon. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If your GM allows you to designate yourself as the "ally", you could use the "Assist" action to give your attacker -2 to hit you. That seems to cover the idea the OP is looking for. It requires you to make a successful attack roll against the baddie, and only applies to that one enemy instead of boosting your overall AC, so it's not clear whether it steps on a shield's toes too much.


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Voss wrote:

There were several non-shield defensive actions in the playtest- fighter had some stances for AC when using a single weapon or two weapons, rogue has a level one dodge, monk has crane flutter: a dodge and strike reaction (on top of crane stance giving +1 AC).

By necessity i think 'dodge' either needs to be a stance or reaction, and a general one would need to be weaker than what the classes get.

Here are those examples from the Playtest Rulebook.

[Action] CRANE STANCE FEAT 1
Monk, Open, Stance
Requirement You are unarmored.
You enter the stance of a crane, standing on one leg while folding your arms in an imitation of a crane’s wings. You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to AC, but the only Strikes you can make are crane wing attacks. These deal 1d6 bludgeoning damage; are in the brawling group; and have the agile, finesse, nonlethal, and unarmed traits.
While in Crane Stance, you gain a +4 conditional bonus on Athletics checks to jump, and when you Leap, you can move an additional 5 feet horizontally or 2 feet vertically.

[Reaction] NIMBLE DODGE FEAT 1
Rogue
Requirements You are not encumbered.
Trigger You are targeted with a melee or ranged attack by an attacker that you see.
You nimbly dodge out of the way, gaining a +2 circumstance bonus to your Armor Class against the triggering attack.

The fighter can learn to parry with a weapon or two, but that is not described as dodging.


A single action to defend yourself needs to be significantly worse than the shield action, so I don't think that's going to be possible, without serious acquisition costs or restrictions (i.e. a mid-level class feat as suggested above).

A triple action defence activity to defend yourself could work without breaking the game — you are giving up your entire turn — other than your reaction. I'm not sure how often it would be used ... but then I'm not sure how often full defence was used in PF1.

An interesting question, and I'm not sure what the answer would be, is if a two action defence activity could work and be occasionally worth considering.


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For the cost of 2 feats anybody with 14 dex can grab:
- training in stealth or thievery and another skill of your choice; training in light armor.
- a skill feat
- surprise attack (enemies that have not acted yet are flat-footed to you)
- that nimble dodge reaction.

I don't think that's bad at all, especially if you're a wizardy person who is not already trained with light armor.


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I honestly forgot that there are class specific Dodge variants / AC boosters when posting. Wow.


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masda_gib wrote:
I honestly forgot that there are class specific Dodge variants / AC boosters when posting. Wow.

One thing that will take getting used to for PF2 is that the standard now is "the rule for being able to do something is attached to the skill, feat, whatever that lets you do it" rather than in PF1 where we have all the rules in the rules chapter (which makes it harder to find a specific thing.)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
vale_73 wrote:
I know, you can spend an action to raise your shield, but what if you're not proficient with shields? What if you're a mage unwillingly caught in a melee combat, and you're just trying to avoid being hit?

I'm surprised no one mentioned the Shield cantrip from the playtest. One action for one AC, and the option to potentially Shield Block once.

Between that and the many other good and interesting options people have mentioned, it's not hard for any character to have an option to increase AC at some kind of action cost. I'm a big fan of recommending the character move away and/or take cover, because dynamic battlefields are more interesting and it's an appropriate suggestion for someone who wants to be out of melee range.

I would strongly discourage trying to add more options for increasing defense without any barrier to entry. Even +1 or +2 AC is very powerful in the new, tighter math (as NielsenE has also mentioned), and it would completely invalidate a lot of existing abilities or equipment that already have some opportunity cost in choosing them.

Taking your idea of fight defensively giving -4 to attack and +2 bonus to AC, here are some other challenges with trying to balance an action like that:

  • Has to be your first action, basically, or the penalty doesn't really affect anything
  • Competes thematically with stances and the like in existing classes unless you stack or increase bonuses
  • Spellcasters casting spells that won't use an attack roll effectively ignore the penalty

You could make it a multi-action activity that includes a strike, to solve a few of those, but it still competes with other class features, and you start getting into weird questions like interactions with ranged weapons.

I could maybe be talked into a 2 or 3-action activity where all you did was try to defend yourself, but even that gets messy with things like Haste potentially giving an extra action for a Strike...so...probably not.


If there was a generic dodge action, it would probably be something that must be done as your first action if you're going to do it, and give a multiple attack penalty as if it were a strike action. Even that could be too powerful with spells.

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If I was the GM and one of my players wanted to go all defense, I'd probably let them ready an action. Spend two actions and get a reaction that gives you a +1 to AC. I'd consider doing something similar to snipers who wanted to take extra time to aim before a shot.


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You could ready an action to step when an enemy comes next to you. Not a great defence but it could force them to spend one more action moving and one less attacking.


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Charlie Brooks wrote:
If I was the GM and one of my players wanted to go all defense, I'd probably let them ready an action. Spend two actions and get a reaction that gives you a +1 to AC. I'd consider doing something similar to snipers who wanted to take extra time to aim before a shot.

Isn't that what feats like Incredible Aim and Favored Aim are for?

Bardarok wrote:
You could ready an action to step when an enemy comes next to you. Not a great defence but it could force them to spend one more action moving and one less attacking.

Actually, as written you could STRIDE away from an enemy who comes next to you.


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Bardarok wrote:
You could ready an action to step when an enemy comes next to you. Not a great defence but it could force them to spend one more action moving and one less attacking.

This might be my favorite, actually. It's such a dynamic and appropriate representation of dodging. Little annoying to be on the receiving end of, but enemies tend to live in a target-rich environment.

Take Cover can also be quite good, particularly that it lasts between turns. And the idea of Shoving enemies out of cover just makes me happy.

I don't see either coming up a ton, honestly. But both play into the general theme of combats being a lot more dynamic and the battlefield taking a more active role.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
Actually, as written you could STRIDE away from an enemy who comes next to you.

In the playtest with my monk I would often ready an action for winding path to step and stride when an enemy entered melee range. With monk speed plus a 10'step from tiger style this was silly/amazing. If you have an action left and no one is left in punching range, it's not a bad option.


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Dude, Ready a Step when attacked... 2 actions, but that is so awesome! Nice idea, Bardarok!

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