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Flint Area Tabletop RPG and Board Gamers Message Board › Moving Defensively (Pathfinder or D&D 3.5)?

Moving Defensively (Pathfinder or D&D 3.5)?

John B
knotty_prof
Group Organizer
Goodrich, MI
Post #: 325
I am looking for other people's opinions on this issue.
In 3.5 and Pathfinder there are two defensive options listed for combat (not counting any feat specific options or skill related bonuses) Fighting defensively or Total Defense. Fighting Defensively is tacked on to the character's normal attack action (standard or full round) causing a -4 to hit to gain a +2 bonus. Total Defense is a standard action in which the character foregoes attacking to gain a +4 bonus to AC.

Issue is if a character does not attack, but takes two move actions can the character deside to "Move Defensively" to gain the +2 AC bonus? Typically the rendition is I move to location X defensively with the expectation to gain the bonus. However, the character does not attack so technically he is not fighting defensively. The bonus is not considered for any movement through enemy threatened areas but the idea is to end up next to an enemy and gain an AC bonus before the enemy's attack.

I did some googling on this subject but have not found anything that really touches on the idea of moving defensively. If anyone can site specific rules for it, it would be appreciated.
Paul R.
user 10189942
Clio, MI
Post #: 204
3.5 PHB Page 140 "Fighting Defensively as a Standard Action. You can choose to fight defensively when attacking."

So doing a double move wouldn't qualify for Fight Defensively, since there is no attack made. It is represents the character deflecting incoming attacks, not them doing the Captain Kirk roll :)

As a house I see no problem with it, but I would halve movement to represent the being more weary. I also think there a feat that something like that too. But I have to ask my more learned friends.
John B
knotty_prof
Group Organizer
Goodrich, MI
Post #: 326
I don't have an issue with house ruling it in but would like it defined. Another good one is aiding another defensively. Aiding another in combat is a legitimate action but no where can I find a version where it is done defensively. Also, aiding another only grants the ally either a +2 to hit against the opponent (or +2 AC bonus against the opponent's next attack). Not sure how you can harass an opponent effectively while doing it defensively.

Update: Looking into some forum posts about this and since Aid Another is effectively at attack against AC 10 (not sure what the rationale is for this but it is RAW) the character could do so defensively (applying the -4 to hit penalty to the roll). Also, another part of this rule I think hasn't been applied is that all attacks the defensive character makes during the round suffers the -4 penalty which includes AoOs.
Will
user 13863660
Saginaw, MI
Post #: 7
Not really sure if that is needed, as you are allowed to withdraw from combat with real penalty... I would almost rather a defensive movement tbh.

Both 3.5 and pathfinder quote

Withdraw

Withdrawing from melee combat is a full-round action. When you withdraw, you can move up to double your speed. The square you start out in is not considered threatened by any opponent you can see, and therefore visible enemies do not get attacks of opportunity against you when you move from that square. Invisible enemies still get attacks of opportunity against you, and you can't withdraw from combat if you're blinded. You can't take a 5-foot step during the same round in which you withdraw.

If, during the process of withdrawing, you move out of a threatened square (other than the one you started in), enemies get attacks of opportunity as normal.

You may not withdraw using a form of movement for which you don't have a listed speed.

Note that despite the name of this action, you don't actually have to leave combat entirely.

Restricted Withdraw

If you are limited to taking only a standard action each round you can withdraw as a standard action. In this case, you may move up to your speed.
John B
knotty_prof
Group Organizer
Goodrich, MI
Post #: 327
I was waiting for the someone to mention Withdraw. As far as I know this is the only "defensive" movement mentioned in the rules. The issue isn't a character moving out of combat but rather the opposite, using a double move to end up next to an opponent and then wishing to gain the "defensive" +2 AC bonus. The rules as written really doesn't have anything that grants that for a move action, just as an attack action.

As a result (as far as I am aware) it is up to the DM then to adjudicate whether or not someone can end a movement action in the defensive (to get the +2 AC bonus).
Sully
seluR_ziW_ezeehC
Grand Blanc, MI
Post #: 292
Fighting defensively... Take a penalty get a bonus. Covered (while not very well) in the rules
Moving defensively... No penalty, get a bonus. No rules, just supposition.

Seems pretty cut and dry. If you don't like the idea, or you think certain characters or players are taking advantage of implied loopholes. Simply disallow it.

I don't see any problem at all with "aid another" on the defensive provided, as you said, all attack rolls until that character's next turn have the defensive penalty.

Sully
John B
knotty_prof
Group Organizer
Goodrich, MI
Post #: 328
Fighting defensively... Take a penalty get a bonus. Covered (while not very well) in the rules
Moving defensively... No penalty, get a bonus. No rules, just supposition.

Seems pretty cut and dry. If you don't like the idea, or you think certain characters or players are taking advantage of implied loopholes. Simply disallow it.

I don't see any problem at all with "aid another" on the defensive provided, as you said, all attack rolls until that character's next turn have the defensive penalty.

Sully

Just looking for feedback. I don't have a problem house ruling in the move defensively option, after all if you can to attempt to move away from combat defensively (Withdrawal action), then why not move into combat defensively. The same penalty/bonus would be gained -4 for +2 so any attacks of opportunity taken by the defensive character would suffer a -4 penalty.
Sully
seluR_ziW_ezeehC
Grand Blanc, MI
Post #: 293
So your suggestion would be something like:

You can move into combat defensively, but all attacks until the beginning of your next turn will be at -4.

Seems like something that will be easily taken advantage of. I mean, what about movement that doesn't quite get you into combat range? Perhaps you can't move that far, or perhaps you don't want the opponent to get all of their attacks on you by moving into their threat range. From a metagame standpoint, a +2 bonus on the armor class as a general rule can be a little dangerous. I am walking through the dungeon on the defensive...?

Sully
John B
knotty_prof
Group Organizer
Goodrich, MI
Post #: 329
So your suggestion would be something like:

You can move into combat defensively, but all attacks until the beginning of your next turn will be at -4.

Seems like something that will be easily taken advantage of. I mean, what about movement that doesn't quite get you into combat range? Perhaps you can't move that far, or perhaps you don't want the opponent to get all of their attacks on you by moving into their threat range. From a metagame standpoint, a +2 bonus on the armor class as a general rule can be a little dangerous. I am walking through the dungeon on the defensive...?

Sully

Which is why if I bring it in as a house rule then certain requirements must be met and defined.

First off, action is only allowed during combat situations (no dungeon crawling defensively)
Second, the character must have a melee weapon in hand (or natural weapon that does not provoke attacks of opportunity such as the Monk's natural attacks or someone with the Improved Unarmed Combat feat)
Third, the character cannot be considered flat footed. Note that according to Uncanny Dodge the rules do NOT state that the character cannot be caught flat footed, only that the character does not lose his Dexterity adjustment to AC.
Fourth, Character's movement ends in an area threatened by an opponent.
Fifth, Combat Reflexes does apply to this benefit.

Overall with the guidelines given above I think the rule makes sense and really is only effective at lower character levels. At this point it has kind of been the way it has been played anyway.

Edit: Sixth, AC bonus is only gained at termination of movement, not during movement so it does not apply to AC for any AoOs against you as you move to the spot you want to be defensive. After all Withdrawal only grants the immunity to AoOs in the square the character starts in and this is basically the opposite of withdrawal.
Sully
seluR_ziW_ezeehC
Grand Blanc, MI
Post #: 294
Complicated, but only because you are trying to cover all your bases. Sounds reasonable to me.
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