When you get hit by an attack you first use parry as passive defensse and if you fail you use active defense in the same knack, correct? For active defense you use an action.

But isn't an active defense roll always lower than passive defense? Example: red has finesse 3 + attack 3 and green wits 2 + parry 3 Red hits with 22 which is above passive defense of green ((parry 3 + 1)*5 = 20)

Now green uses an action and rolls 9 9 6 5 2 and keeps 9 9 which gives him 18. So he already rolled high in his roll but is lower than the 20.

In my opinion will beginner characters have a fighting / parrying skill of 3 and wits mostly on 2.

Do I miss something about active defense?


1 Answer 1


There are multiple reasons to go for Active Defense. The odds are in fact against you most of the time when your Wits is a 2, an AD can be pretty farfetched. What you are typically aiming for is at least one explosion if they have already succeeded at the attack. IN the situation above, it is difficult especially when facing an opponent rolling and keeping more dice than you. The other downside to AD is that they cost either a held/current action, or two future actions (as per the Interrupt Action rules) unless you have school abilities like the Torres or Desaix schools, or the Lightning Reflexes advantage. When a character lacks a swordsman school

However, what you are ignoring:

  • Not getting hit can be the difference between getting a dramatic wound, or worse crippled.
  • Drama Dice can bring the roll home if you fall a bit short
  • Swordsman mastery abilities have a high sway with AD. Some schools (Ambrogia, Villanova, Torres, Donovan, Gaulle and Eisenfaust to name just a few) have some potent mastery abilities.
  • A lot of schools give you a +5 to your active defense with certain weapons. Double Parry and Riposte are AD only.
  • The Advanced Knack "Sidestep" requires a successful AD to activate
  • You can use an AD when your opponent falls short of your PD if you want, especially to activate Swordsman/Advanced Knacks

Is there anything else you were concerned about?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I must have misread. My interpretation was always that the Passive was determined by the attack, and Active could be anything reasonable. I can't use Footwork to evade someone when I'm prone, but it makes sense that I can just deftly "dance" around a stab (or the "Parry 9" as we call it in fencing, IE retreating out of attack range), or that the rules disallow parrying an unarmed attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just looked it up and sure enough there it was. \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought active defense is not only for swordsmen. I thought it's somethingt that also helps the small man on the street without swordsman school. The chance that it helps with beginner stats and without school is really small. And thanks for your good answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 26, 2013 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ My first two points are how is helps the average guy. It just really shines when you have special abilities. \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Commented May 26, 2013 at 12:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @SteffenSchindler You can also make a character with a high wits. Such a character won't deal out much damage, but will be able to parry effectively (and will be great at social scenes). \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Commented May 26, 2013 at 16:01

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