The defend move in dungeon world allows you to spend hold to

Halve the attack’s effect or damage

However it is not clear to me whether this occurs before or after you reduce the damage by armor. The description for armor in the SRD doesn't clarify either.

It protects you from harm and absorbs damage. When you take damage, subtract your armor from the total.

My suspicion is that the damage is halved first, because it is done "when you or the thing you defend is attacked" while the armor reduction is done "When you take damage", and it seems like the former precedes the latter, but I can't really find a source to back that up.


To me there's pretty clear timely connection between the two events:

Defend halves the attack's effect or damage.

Armor resuces the damage you take.

Taking damage occurs as the result of an attack's effect or damage, so I would first halve the attack's effect or damage, then apply the damage and reduce it by the armor value.

Also, from the SRD in the Defend Move section:

Defending something means standing nearby and focusing on preventing attacks against that thing or stopping anyone from getting near it.

An attack is any action you can interfere with that has harmful effects.

Emphasis mine. To me it is already clear from these parts that the Defend Move must be resolved first and only then it can be decided who takes how much damage.

Let's make up an example for better illustration:

An Air Elemental casts Wind Gust on your Bard. The Paladin is currently defending the Bard with her shield, partially blocking the wind. Still, half of the wind force is applied, knocking the Bard back into the Spikes on the wall, but with only half the force. The bard takes half the usual damage that you would apply for such an event (possibly D10), minus Armor.

Let me reiterate: you halve the damage or effect of the attack, not the damage you take.


Fiction first: The defender's defensive action to halve the damage has to happen before the target has taken the damage, otherwise halving it makes little sense. What would the defender be doing after the character has taken damage and how would it reduce the damage?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Using their staff of persistence to make them take multiple arrows but still keep standing, for example. But these are edge cases and as you said, "Fiction first". \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    May 9 '18 at 13:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @edgerunner In that case the fiction would be magic! \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    May 9 '18 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly. Rare but possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    May 9 '18 at 16:31

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