Help me understand fighting defensively, Crane Style, and Stalwart


Rules Questions


SO, I'm planning on playing an Invulnerable Rager Barbarian with Crane Wing and Stalwart, but wanted to figure out how this all works in actual play.

My understanding:
-At the start of combat, no stance is active, no fighting defensively is active.
-On first turn, can activate Crane Style as a swift action (functionally does nothing until next step).
-When attacking, can then declare fighting defensively as part of the attack.

My questions are:
-Is there any way to have FD and CW up in combat before taking first action?
-Is there any way to have FD up before making first attack (say, if moving before that attack, and wanting the benefits for any AoOs incurred on the way)?
-What happens at the start of the next turn? Is FD off until I attack again? Can it be maintained round to round?
-Can FD be declared on a charge?
-Can FD be declared on an AoO (say, if I have Combat Reflexes and make an attack before my first turn)?

Can anyone who has actually played this sort of character speak to how effective the strategies is in actual play?


yeti1069 wrote:

SO, I'm planning on playing an Invulnerable Rager Barbarian with Crane Wing and Stalwart, but wanted to figure out how this all works in actual play.

My understanding:
-At the start of combat, no stance is active, no fighting defensively is active.
-On first turn, can activate Crane Style as a swift action (functionally does nothing until next step).
-When attacking, can then declare fighting defensively as part of the attack.

Looks good.

Quote:

My questions are:

-Is there any way to have FD and CW up in combat before taking first action?

Not that I know of. If you know combat is coming you could have the first attack by making a surprise round, but otherwise I don't think so.

Quote:
-Is there any way to have FD up before making first attack (say, if moving before that attack, and wanting the benefits for any AoOs incurred on the way)?

The only thing I can think of is if their attack triggers an attack of yours, eg an AoO, a Swashbuckler's Parry, or a Barbarian's Come-And-Get-Me attack (which I guess is an AoO). But check below about AoOs.

Quote:
-What happens at the start of the next turn? Is FD off until I attack again? Can it be maintained round to round?

Yes it's off the next round. It can be maintained by continuing to attack (It should continue until you act again, so even a readied action shouldn't get in before your defensive bonuses wear off).

Quote:
-Can FD be declared on a charge?

Sure, I don't see anything that says it can't.

Quote:
-Can FD be declared on an AoO (say, if I have Combat Reflexes and make an attack before my first turn)?

I think you can declare fighting defensively "on your first attack of the turn", whether that's a standard action attack, a full-attack action, a combat maneuver, a quickened scorching ray or an AoO. The only limitation that I know of is that it requires an Attack roll (and fighting defensively will continue until the beginning of your next round whether you want it to or not).

I could be wrong about this though, so maybe check this.

(Also note that even if FD works off-turn you'd still need a swift action for Crane Style etc).

Quote:
Can anyone who has actually played this sort of character speak to how effective the strategies is in actual play?

I haven't played it, but I imagine if you spec it right having DR:10 for most of the fight will be pretty good (DR:10 of course coming from Improved Stalwart). Like anything in this game it's something you'd have to think about, it won't work on every build but it would be amazing on others.

Also consider carrying some Shurikens.:
Sometimes you might want to block space with AoOs (so no Full Defense) but without being in range to attack anyone, and you don't want those pesky archers to get shots on you while your defenses are down. Shurikens can be drawn as a free action so you can throw them at an enemy to get your defenses going without sacrificing your AoOs. Just a thought.


My last question was in regards to actually playing with the character, who would have no bonus AC or DR before acting in combat (low initiative means defenses are down), won't gain the benefit if having to move through AoOs to first attack, and won't gain the benefit if moving through AoOs on subsequent attacks. AC will be rather poor in general probably.

My question really boils down to: is it worth it to focus so much of the character around this strategy?

Liberty's Edge

CRB 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.

....
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.

I don't see options to Fight defensively besides when taking a standard of full action. Neither Crane Style nor Stalwart change that.

So you can't start it when taking an AoO, a parry or a Come-And-Get-Me attack. You need a standard or full action.


Diego Rossi wrote:
CRB 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.

....
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.

I don't see options to Fight defensively besides when taking a standard of full action. Neither Crane Style nor Stalwart change that.

So you can't start it when taking an AoO, a parry or a Come-And-Get-Me attack. You need a standard or full action.

Fair enough.


yeti1069 wrote:
my question really boils down to: is it worth it to focus so much of the character around this strategy?

It depends what else you're doing with it. Getting +10 DR on an Invulnerable Rager with Come-And-Get-Me and Dazing Assault this would be pretty amazing.

Or I had a Paladin idea that would be almost Invincible, but I haven't played it.

Vincent the invincent-bul:
Human Paladin-4/U-Monk-2/Fighter-1/Paladin-4 (Hospitaler/Scaled-Fist/Unbreakable). I had him at level 11 for PFS potential, but he'd be fine going forward.
Traits: Unscathed, Cautious Warrior.
Feats:
1. Fey Foundling, Power Attack (Human).
2.
3. Greater Mercy.
4.
5. Dodge (Monk), Crane Style.
6. Combat Reflexes (Monk).
7. Endurance (Fighter), Diehard (Fighter), Stalwart.
8.
9. Ultimate Mercy.
10.
11. Improved Stalwart.

With Cautious Warrior and Crane Style (and 3 ranks in Acrobatics) that's -2 to hit for +5 AC. With Improved Stalwart it's DR:10/- instead.

Add Bracers of the Merciful Knight and he's healing 7d6+14 (~38.5) HP per LoH. With a Meditation Crystal he can convert his channels to more LoH uses, so with 18 CHA he's looking at 17 LoH/day that's ~654.5 HP worth of healing per day.

Human FCB also gives you Acid/Cold/Electricity/Fire resist 4 (with Unscathed).

The Monk and Fighter levels were for the feats, but Monk also gives you Unarmed strike, and if Unarmoured also Flurry, CHA-to-AC and Evasion.

He also ended up with saves of: F+20, R+14, W+14.

You could absolutely swap out Greater/Ultimate Mercy for something more useful in combat, I just like them.


The problem with fighting defensively is that the description contradicts itself - the header says "as a Standard Action", the description says "when attacking". "As a" denotes an active ability, "when" denotes a reactive/triggered ability. It can't be both, though, so one of the two must be erroneous.
The full-round version does the same, the header talks about "as a Full-Round Action" (active ability), while the description talks about "when taking a full-attack action" (reactive/triggered ability).

Now, if we look at the table on pg. 183 of the CRB, fighting defensively is not listed as its own action, a strong indication that it's not supposed to be one. Also, if we take the headers literally, you couldn't make any normal attacks when using either option (as it uses up the standard action), and the "full-round action" version would have no reason to exist because it would do the same as the "standard action" version, only for a higher cost. Going by the assumption that rules segments actually do something, the only logical interpretation is that the "full-round action" version can be used whenever you take a full-attack action, as the description says, and the header is for classification purposes. Now it gets confusing, because the "standard action" version says "attacking", which is not an action. It could mean that you can use fighting defensively whenever an attack is made as a standard action. Still, I think it's very clear that "full-round action" actually and only refers to the "full-attack action", a subsection of the former, and it is reasonable to presume that "standard action" likewise refers to a specific action that's a subsection of the standard action - and that can only be the attack action. I thus suspect that "when using the attack action" is what they were actually intending for the description, though, albeit it's not what's actually written.

yeti1069 wrote:
-Can FD be declared on a charge?

As per my above reasoning, no, unless you have pounce (i.e. Greater Beast Totem) (going by this FAQ).

yeti1069 wrote:
-Can FD be declared on an AoO (say, if I have Combat Reflexes and make an attack before my first turn)?

Definitely not, as fighting defensively can only be activated as part of an actual action (standard or attack action, or full-round action).

yeti1069 wrote:
-What happens at the start of the next turn? Is FD off until I attack again?

"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."


My question would be if you can use crane style while raging. Rage specifically calls out that you cannot use any ability requiring patience or concentration. To me adopting crane stance would require concentration and patience.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
To me adopting crane stance would require concentration and patience.

Does it say so? Do the style feat rules say so? No? Than there is no problem.


Yeah the things that can't be combined with Rage are pretty well spelled out, Crane Wing is fine.


Derklord wrote:
...there is no problem.

Agreed.

Maybe your character's rage is a frothing madness, a battle-lust that turns you into a frenzied madman.
If that's how you picture it, then yeah. I can't see how they work together.

But if your barbarian becomes hyper-focused and intense--the quiet eye in the howling storm--then can I see them batting aside enemy blows, jaw clenched, muscles straining, every inch of them focused on the act of denying their foe victory? Absolutely.


I also want to point out that unBarb has not only stance rage powers, but also a "Guarded Stance" that is described as "The barbarian can take on a more defensive posture." I don't see how Crane Style is notably different from that.

And because it irks me:

Derklord wrote:
Does it say so? Do the style feat rules say so? No? Than there is no problem.

*then


As an extra suggestion, if you cant single move to an enemy and attack in a round (and there are still people who would want to enter melee with you), you can single move and full defense as a standard action with crane wing (second feat in crane style) to completely negate the first attack that would hit and your AC is only +1 dodge lower than it would be otherwise from crane wing (+3 from full defense vs +4 from crane wing fighting defensively).


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Acrobatics wrote:
Skills If you have 3 or more ranks in Acrobatics, you gain a +3 dodge bonus to AC when fighting defensively instead of the usual +2, and a +6 dodge bonus to AC when taking the total defense action instead of the usual +4.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You can use monk styles while raging. The game did not offer a classification system of "this is an offensive style and acceptable during rage" and "this is a defensive style not acceptable during rage" so no restriction exists.

As evidence, this clip actually shows an invulnerable rager using crane style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=5pL6uUYdWbU


A side note - you're going to have less offence than the average barbarian. I mean, you can still have Str 18 and a greatsword or whatever, it's not terrible, but no power attack or other feat based tricks makes a much less impressive engine of doom.


Thanks everyone.

The idea had seemed more impactful before I realized I would have defensive fighting up most of the time, but I’m committed so we’ll see how it goes.

As for offense, I definitely have Power Attack. Not giving that up! Will eventually grab Combat Reflexes as I’ll be mostly using a reach weapon. Rage powers still somewhat up in the air, but Reckless Abandon is certainly one I’ll be picking up.

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