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  • Defense and wound penalties

    Hey quick question forumites: I've been trying to look for an answer but haven't found it. Do wound penalties subtract from a characters Defense?

  • #2
    The CofD core book is not as clear as it could be, but I would say the evidence is in favor of yes unless I missed a clarification by the devs at some point.

    Wound penalties apply to any action the character takes, and applying Defense is an conscious action by the character even if it's mechanically a reflexive one.

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    • #3
      I would argue that no, it does not affect your defense mostly because when it comes to defense, it is one of those actions where you usually opt out rather than opt in unlike all other actions which are the opposite.

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      • #4
        That's... not really a distinction you see in the text though. It's "opt out" because the game assumes your character doesn't want to get hit as a default state; players don't need to say, "yes I'm going to apply defense," or lose it because it would be not-fun to lose your Defense every time you forget to declare you're using it.

        There's a stronger argument for involuntary actions (such as the existing exception of rolling to retain consciousness when full of Bashing) not being impacted by wound penalties.

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        • #5
          You don't apply wound penalties to resisted rolls, so I don't think they are intended to apply to defense. You can argue it's better that way, but I don't really see any indication in the text that you should.

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          • #6
            Wound penalties are dice penalties that apply to rolled actions. They are not penalties to traits.

            Defense is a trait that's not rolled unless you use Dodge, it's simply subtracted from an enemy's roll.
            Last edited by lnodiv; 12-20-2018, 10:09 PM.

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            • #7
              "As a character takes damage, it impairs her ability to act. When one of her three rightmost Health boxes has damage marked, she suffers a penalty accordingly. Subtract this penalty from every action she performs, including rolling for Initiative, but not including Stamina rolls to stay conscious."

              It is not stated as a dice-penalty specifically.

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              • #8
                It's a penalty to actions. Applying Defense or Resistance traits are reflexive actions, but they're not actions in the sense of the character actively doing something. I'm quite positive that it only applies to rolled actions since that's what "action" tend to mean whenever it's not referring to how something is applied during a combat turn (i.e. instant or reflexive actions).


                Bloodline: The Stygians
                Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                  "It is not stated as a dice-penalty specifically.
                  Calling it just a 'dice penalty' wasn't the best phrasing on my part since it applies to initiative, which isn't the same as functioning as a dice penalty, but the very obvious intent is that it doesn't penalize anything other than rolled actions, except where highlighted in the core (Initiative). If Defense was effected, it would be highlighted there.

                  And for what it's worth, lots of things aren't stated explicitly in 2E because they seem to have stopped trying to hammer everything out for people that insist on ridiculously over-technical readings - but here's a quote from 1E, where they went through greater pains to cover this kind of thing:
                  Wound penalties do not apply to your character's Defense or other Resistance traits - Stamina, Resolve or Composure - when those traits are subtracted as penalties from opponents' dice pools.
                  In the absence of any added clarity in 2E (such as the fact that it now only affects 'actions', and therefore no longer reduces the Speed trait), it certainly seems reasonable to assume that this holds true in second edition, especially given that there is not a single example in any single piece of written work for second edition of this ever applying as a penalty to resistance traits ever.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lnodiv View Post
                    Calling it just a 'dice penalty' wasn't the best phrasing on my part since it applies to initiative, which isn't the same as functioning as a dice penalty, but the very obvious intent is that it doesn't penalize anything other than rolled actions, except where highlighted in the core (Initiative). If Defense was effected, it would be highlighted there.

                    And for what it's worth, lots of things aren't stated explicitly in 2E because they seem to have stopped trying to hammer everything out for people that insist on ridiculously over-technical readings - but here's a quote from 1E, where they went through greater pains to cover this kind of thing:


                    In the absence of any added clarity in 2E (such as the fact that it now only affects 'actions', and therefore no longer reduces the Speed trait), it certainly seems reasonable to assume that this holds true in second edition, especially given that there is not a single example in any single piece of written work for second edition of this ever applying as a penalty to resistance traits ever.
                    Thanks, that's exactly the kinda thing I was looking for.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tessie View Post
                      It's a penalty to actions. Applying Defense or Resistance traits are reflexive actions, but they're not actions in the sense of the character actively doing something.
                      Except Defense is explicitly 'actively' doing something. If you're not actively moving to avoid an attack, you lose your Defense.

                      Lets put some basic logic to this:

                      Wound penalties apply to doing math. But you're saying they shouldn't apply to how fast you can run.

                      You can be so injured in a fight that you're having trouble landing your punches, but you can duck out of the way of your opponent's punches just as easily as you could before you took any hits.

                      That's what you're saying goes on in-character, ignoring how we want to interpret why a reflexive action isn't impacted by something that says it applies to actions without qualifier.

                      I'm quite positive that it only applies to rolled actions since that's what "action" tend to mean whenever it's not referring to how something is applied during a combat turn (i.e. instant or reflexive actions).
                      Action has a pretty solid definition that includes Defense:

                      "action — A task that takes all of a character’s time and
                      attention. The Storytelling System measures instant actions
                      (one to three seconds, taking place within a single turn) and
                      extended actions, taking longer (duration determined by the
                      Storyteller). Also, there are reflexive actions, which take no
                      time and do not prevent a character from performing another
                      action within a turn, and contested actions, in which two or
                      more characters compete in a task or for a single goal."

                      Actions are not defined by whether they are rolled or not, but the amount of time they take.

                      Applying Defense is an action. Wound penalties apply to actions. There is no 2e refutation of this.

                      Originally posted by lnodiv View Post
                      ...but the very obvious intent is that it doesn't penalize anything other than rolled actions, except where highlighted in the core (Initiative).
                      Citation for this from 2e? Where is this intent communicate in any way? I'd say omitting something as big as "Wound Penalties don't apply to Defense" from 2e is a giant sign the intent changed when they boosted the average value of Defense.

                      If Defense was effected, it would be highlighted there.
                      Why? Applying Defense is an action. Wound penalties apply to actions. There's no need to specify. Initiative isn't an action, so that actually matters to specify.

                      And for what it's worth, lots of things aren't stated explicitly in 2E because they seem to have stopped trying to hammer everything out for people that insist on ridiculously over-technical readings - but here's a quote from 1E, where they went through greater pains to cover this kind of thing:
                      Which seems a funny attitude since you're arguing for the ridiculously over-technical reading instead of the more obvious "you're hurt, of course you can't move out of the way of attacks as easily," interpretation.

                      (such as the fact that it now only affects 'actions', and therefore no longer reduces the Speed trait)
                      It doesn't need to affect the Speed trait itself. Applying Speed (aka moving) is an action that gets penalized. Your Speed is X. Applying your Speed to a Move action is X adjusted by bonuses or penalties.

                      This is all really simple: is an action with a roll or numeric rating? Yes, though wound penalties apply unless otherwise stated.

                      ...it certainly seems reasonable to assume that this holds true in second edition, especially given that there is not a single example in any single piece of written work for second edition of this ever applying as a penalty to resistance traits ever.
                      How many chances are there for this to come up in the text? Zero examples of out zero chances isn't really telling.

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                      • #12
                        Taking the books at face value you'd certainly be incorrect, but here's the largest flaw in all of second edition CofD: Game terms and their lack of definitions (and consistency). I still maintain that it's likely that Defense is not intended to be penalised regardless of what the text says. If it was any other game I wouldn't be as sure.


                        Bloodline: The Stygians
                        Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                        Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                        • #13
                          No direct clear answer.
                          Default to what works best for the chronicle.
                          I don’t believe I have sound penalties subtract from defense. But combat happens so rarely in my games.

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                          • #14
                            Rose Bailey
                            Dave Brookshaw
                            The Gentleman Gamer
                            impernious
                            Meghan Fitzgerald

                            I don't normally like to do the whole 'summon from on high' thing, and if you folks don't have time to respond (or don't want to encourage the behavior) I totally get it - but this is a system-wide point of confusion (apparently). Hopefully one of you can weigh in on the topic at hand:

                            Are wound penalties:
                            1) Dice penalties that apply to rolled actions except where explicitly noted [Wound penalties do not reduce eg. Defense, or the Resolve rating you subtract from some hostile supernatural powers]

                            2) Flat penalties to any and every number on a character sheet if that trait is being used in an 'action', where action is defined as 'anything a character does' except where noted. [Wound penalties do reduce eg. Defense, and the Resolve rating you subtract from some resisted supernatural powers]

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                            • #15
                              Having written the Violence section of the CofD core: Defense is a static, derived Resistance trait, not an action. Dodge is an action, it's the active version of Defense. Wound penalties don't apply to Defense, but they do apply to Dodge.


                              Meghan Fitzgerald | Onyx Path freelance writer & developer
                              Changeling: The Lost developer
                              Mage: The Awakening developer

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