In Das Schwarze Auge (4.1), when do I have to announce that I want to parry my enemy's attack? Do I have to declare that before his attack is rolled and I know if he hits me or not, or can I wait to declare it after? I can't find the page in the rules where this is stated. My guess would be to announce it after the attack, because otherwise you would just waste your one reaction per turn very often.
As easy as this question sounds, it is possibly one of the most discussed and overruled things in the DSA Ruleset... partially because it is so damn confusing/bad. Lets look at the rulebooks - Wege des Schwerts is the relevant one.
Since you asked for Rules as Written, let me translate that section from the book on page 53:
"The offensive action can be excecuted by the fighter when it is his turn in initiative, the defensive action can be announced at any time as a reaction to an enemies attack."
Now, is this before or after the check whether the attack is successful or not? We look at page 55, section "Attack and Defense". In the text flow, it says "Is [the attack] successful, the fighter hits his enemy unless the enemy [parries]". Furthermore, the options "Attack Successful - Parry Failed" and "Attack Successful - Parry Successful" are mentioned, but not "Attack Failed - X", leading us to believe that the parry is only tested when the attack is successful.
This is furthermore supported on page 59 in section "The (common) Attack": "If [the attack] is successful, the enemy has to win a check on parry or he is hit".
Thus, the book leads us to believe that only a successful attack warrants a parry check, in fact, while the wording isnt perfect, it seems to be the only reasonable conclusion.
The confusion usually arrives because 1) a lot of groups have house rules in combat, because the parry is much stronger than the attack in DSA and the chance to hit your opponent is actually very low (peaking at 25% for equally strong fighters with AT/PA of 10+)... and 2) because on Page 53, the book states that "At the beginning of the combat round, the game master asks if and how the Heroes wish to fight (Offensive and Defensive Actions) [...]". This is often interpreted as having to announce who you wish to parry, or what incoming attack. However, it is supposed to be interpreted as simply having to announce the amount of defensive actions you wish to make use of during the round, for example because you might want to cast a spell or draw a weapon or something with it instead.
The conclusion: If you are attacked, the enemy succeeds in his attack check and you have a defensive action left, THEN you can announce that you wish to parry his attack.
The only thing you have to announce at the beginning of a combat round, is the number of attack/defensive actions (ie 2/0, 1/1, 0/2, or later even more)
There is a special feat, that allows you to instantly change that (without having to announce at the beginning of the combat round), to use opportunities from e.g. the enemy fumbling which leaves you with an 'available' action (since your defensive action was not taken).
(Comment regarding house-rules: Yes, I for one require my players to announce in advance if they want to defend against the attack - we are mostly also LARPing and swordfighting, and it makes much more sense that way, you will have prepare for defensive action or you will only be able to take it if you are really good; That makes my NPCs last longer against my often fighting-skill-tuned players)
As a Naheulbeuk DM and player, a french RPG based on DSA, here how we fight a combat round :
- The attacker (PC or NPC) do an Attack roll while announcing where he tries to hit. If it succeeds, then :
- The target announces a parry or evade try. Evade is usually easier because it's a Dexterity/Agility roll but you'll loose your next turn to get back to fight.
- IF the target didn't parry or evade or failed trying to, then the attacker rolls the damages
I encourage doing the second steps meanwhile the first to make the fight flow better.
Critical success/fail resolution is always priority.