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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Called Parries

Timrod put up some parry rules. They aren't too bad, although more complicated than my taste. But it did make me think of my own attempts at parry rules, which I'm not going to link to, because they were unsatisfying.

The problem with parry rules is that the abstract d20 attack roll is supposed to include multiple attacks and parries. So, the question becomes: how do we make a player's "I parry!" statement meaningful, without changing the meaning of abstract combat as it stands?

I tried doing this before by making "I parry!" a declaration of intent to all-out parry. Forget that. It's bleh.

Instead, here's a new idea:

  1. Only one parry per round --- the called parry --- has special benefit, and only against one opponent's attack with a hand-to-hand weapon (or bite/claw/stinger.)
  2. A called parry aborts any non-combat actions, like casting a spell, or any combat action that doesn't involve using hand-to-hand weapons, like firing arrows. If you've already taken a special action like that, you can't call for a parry.
  3. If you use a called parry against an opponent, that attack roll must be higher than your Dex as well as higher than their normal target number. If not, the attack is parried.
  4. Any other attacks against you made after the called parry are treated as always. They can be parried, blocked with a shield, dodged... whatever.

And, to re-iterate, you can still attack with a mêlée weapon. Also, I'd allow sacrificing a weapon (having it knocked from your hand, or in some cases broken) to avoid damage, just like in "Shields Shall Be Splintered".

The advantage of this rule is that it doesn't add any extra die rolls, is easy to remember, and quick to resolve.


  1. Hm. Seems to be kind of limited in utility unless you have pretty high Dex.

    1. Right. It's not for everyone.

    2. OK, actually, maybe I should explain further: when facing low-level men or monsters, it's not much more effective for PCs with average Dex or lower, Having the best armor possible is a better option. High Dex characters, though, may be able to get by with light or no armor, relying on speed and talent and the ability to limit the number of opponents.

      However, with high-level opponents, where they may be able to hit you on a 4 or 5, a called parry could help even a Dex 6 character, and certainly a Dex 10 or 11 character.

  2. My mog campaign uses a simple parry rule: a character can parry whenever they wish but lose their next set of attacks. The parry bonus is a dex modifier (and fighters get one extra point). The boosted AC lasts for the remainder of the round.

    1. See, I had something similar, based on that starting idea of giving up any attack in the same round. But a set bonus for certain actions introduces more focus on the system, plus it's an extra bit of complication. I don't want players thinking before hand "which maneuver or set of maneuvers will give me the best mechanical mods?"

      So I thought about it a different way: the player calls out "I parry!" What do I do to make this statement seem relevant, without adding a lot of rules? I decided to just interpret "I parry!" as "I want my Dex to matter" and add a second condition to the opponent's attack roll. It doesn't affect combat in any other way, but it does commit the player to mêlée combat, at least for this round. No major rules impact, that way, but it does acknowledge the player's decision.