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This is in regards to Mutants and Masterminds 3E Deflect.

Action: Standard • Range: Ranged • Duration: Instant • Cost: 1 point per rank

You can actively defend for characters other than yourself, deflecting or diverting attacks against them at a distance, and may be able to more effectively defend yourself, depending on your rank. See the Defend action in Action & Adventure for details. You use your Deflect rank in place of an active defense. You still add 10 to a Deflect die roll of 10 or less, for a minimum roll of 11. Deflect modifiers are limited by power level. Like a ranged attack, if you Deflect at medium range, you have a –2 circumstance modifier on your check. At long range, you have a –5 circumstance modifier. Range is Measured from you to the target of the attack you are deflecting.

I had a player invoke Deflect with the idea of staving off the next attack coming in and there arose a discussion on how to interpret who gets defended. My ultimate decision as a GM was that the spirit of the description was that you choose a single target for the Deflect, and they get the bonus, but you do not. So effectively, it lets you do a Defend action and then have the effects apply to that person until the beginning of your initiative count. As regards the picking of targets, that works for a Readied action, picking a situation and being able to preempt it.

There used to be a forum for asking the game designer, Steve Kenson, for clarifications, but that hasn't been available for a long time. There was some discussion on the official boards, but nothing that I felt directly answered my question.

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Nothing in the Power limits the effect to a single target.

Deflect

You can actively defend for characters other than yourself, deflecting or diverting attacks against them at a distance, and may be able to more effectively defend yourself, depending on your rank. See the Defend action in the Action & Adventure chapter for details. You use your Deflect rank in place of an active defense. You still add 10 to a Deflect die roll of 10 or less, for a minimum roll of 11. Deflect modifiers are limited by power level.

Like a ranged attack, if you Deflect at medium range, you have a –2 circumstance modifier on your check. At long range, you have a –5 circumstance modifier. Range is measured from you to the target of the attack you are deflecting. Like the defend action, Deflect does not work against area effects or perception ranged attacks, nor versus attacks targeting defenses other than Dodge or Parry.

Contrast this with the Defend action, which is explicitly limited to the defending character.

Defend

Rather than attacking, you focus on defense. Make an opposed check of your appropriate active defense versus any attack made on you until the start of your next turn.

Add 10 to any roll of 10 or less that you make on these checks, just as if you spent a hero point (thus ensuring a minimum roll of 11). The attacker must equal or exceed your opposed check result in order to hit you.

A character using Deflect can defend against any attack that can be accurately perceived within the power's range, regardless of target or attacker. Subtle effects cannot be deflected unless the defender has some ability to detect them, and the limitations of range, area attacks, perception range attacks, and attacks against other defenses are already mentioned in the power.


Note that certain power descriptors may limit the effectiveness of Deflect, especially when interacting with other descriptors, but that's too situational to be covered in this answer.


Also of note is that the GM adjudicates all unclear or unusual situations, so the GM is correct by definition. And if a particular ruling is more fun for the table than another ruling then the more fun option is more correct. Again, this fact is too situational for the scope of this answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ {nods} Which seems to make it a bit too powerful, especially if the person doing it is defense-shifted and rolls well. But given the points you have to spend on it, maybe it still works... \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Duggan Jul 7 '18 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeanDuggan It is a good support ability, especially to protect hostages or squishy teammates, but it takes the same action as ranged damage and can't remove a foe from combat (unlike ranged damage), it also requires a roll for each attack deflected. I've only seen it used by combat characters with the Action extra to make it a move action or less to use - even when the character actually had it ready to use. \$\endgroup\$ – ValhallaGH Jul 7 '18 at 22:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm sorry that I haven't accepted your answer. It's a good one. I just don't know if it's the right answer, admittedly shaded by that I don't like it as an answer. :-P I just want to let you know why it's hanging there. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Duggan Jul 11 '18 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I figured you didn't like it. But I'll take the upvote. :D More seriously, just because an answer is correct doesn't make it right - that's why I included the last section. \$\endgroup\$ – ValhallaGH Jul 11 '18 at 19:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Despite it not being the answer I want, it does make sense. I do plan on making it PL-limited, though, since the player who was using it was heavily defense-shifted. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Duggan Oct 18 '18 at 13:27
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Some good points were made in these forum posts that Deflect should be limited to a single target.

My interpretation is that Defend gives you a special defense bonus (ie the reroll) against all attacks against you for that round, and of course you can extend that by using up another Standard Action next round. Deflect is roughly the same thing (replace subject Defense rank with Deflect plus reroll) done for another subject at range, however it can be only one subject for that round. So you could put Deflect on yourself OR one other ally, but not on both. Essentially, you could Deflect for one subject per Standard Action; I'd probably allow 2 Deflects if a PC used Extra Effort for a second Standard Action in the same round.

If you want to defend more than one target with a single power, there are a few ways. The core book actually states that Deflect cannot be used over an Area and recommend Enhanced Dodge and/or Parry with Area instead; this is directly opposed in the Power Profiles where there is an official example of an Area Deflect power, so that causes problems with interpretation. Generating some kind of protective field could also be done as a Create Effect, or possibly an Area Protection. An inexpensive and overlooked possibility is putting Split on Defend to cover two or more targets, although the rank is split up.

Just to back this up, the Power Profiles: Air Powers supplement from Green Ronin specifically adds "Area (Burst)" to the "Deflecting Winds" power so as to affect an area at once, and Power Profiles: Gravity Powers states in "Gravitic Deflection", otherwise merely Deflect with a particular descriptor, that:

By default, this power protects a single target but you can apply the Area modifier to allow you to exert Gravitic Deflection over a larger area and protect multiple subjects at once.

In the future, I'll use it that way, you get to pick one target, which might be another person or yourself, and that they are defended against all attacks (up to the PL limit corresponding to the target's Toughness) using the single roll.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure how to reconcile that with "you defend for characters other than yourself". It seems pretty explicit that it applies to multiple characters, which I'm surprised no one in the forum post mentioned. \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Jackson Aug 15 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StevenJackson: Except, of course, that that line is saying who you can apply the power on, not who it applies to with each use. I appreciate your input, but much like how I wouldn't interpret a power that starts with "This power lets you attack villains you face by twisting their brains" to mean that the power always allows affecting multiple targets, I don't see that line as justifying always being able to defend for everyone, or even that person and yourself. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Duggan Aug 15 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've only looked at a few other examples, but for attack, the wording is "You can inflict damage on a target by <...>" and for healing, the wording is "You can heal Damage conditions by touching a subject". It seems to commonly describe who you can target per use, not generally. Unless healing or attack are limited to a single target ever, which seems ridiculous. I think it would improve the answer if you could provide actual examples of rules using a plural (indicating what types of targets are valid) despite the effect only being applicable to a single target per use. \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Jackson Aug 15 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StevenJackson: Luck Control, Create, and Move Object, for example, open with statements of affecting a potential plurality, while actually limiting things to a single target each. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Duggan Aug 15 at 18:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ And in the process of searching Power Profiles, I've found that Green Ronin explicitly stated that Deflect is a single target power, requiring an Area modifier to apply to more than one target. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Duggan Aug 15 at 18:39

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