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Passive Blocking v. Sunder

posted Nov 16, 2012 00:24:40 by PatHenry
AFAICT, if an attacker gains the Sunder SE against a defender using Passive Blocking, the Sunder effect is applied first against the shield covering the hit location, correct? And the damage applied is applied first against the AP/HP of the shield, correct? Pass-thru damage is then applied as Sunder against location armor, then woe upon the body, correct?

Just checking this rule.

I like very much the idea of shields being rent asunder in combat.
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[Last edited Nov 16, 2012 00:26:04]
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13 replies
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DanTrue said Nov 16, 2012 08:20:07
No, this is not the case. Passive Block simply works as a parry against anything that hits that location, reducing the damage dealt. So if you hit his passively blocked leg with your greatsword and deal 8 damage, you subtract the damage as per a normal parry, regardless of sunder. If we say that half damage goes through, the sunder will then ruin the armour on the leg, if dealing enough damage. Sunder is for breaking armour, not weapons.

Of course, you CAN break his shield by using the damage weapon special effect, which means you've successfully manoeuvred into a position where the blow will damage the shield. If you fail to achieve this special effect, it means that even though you were trying to ruin his shield, the opponent was successful in making the blow glance of without ruining his shield.

And, if you gain 2 special effects, you can damage weapon and sunder.. which will ruin the AP of the parrying weapon, which is useful if it's made of metal or in other ways very robust.

- Dan
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PatHenry said Nov 16, 2012 19:00:12
Hm. I see your points, and they comport with the standard way combat works.

But Passive Blocking is not a parry. In fact, you forgo the opportunity to use the shield (or weapon) to actively parry so it effectively acts as mobile cover. So the shield would receive damage as per cover: “Any attack which hits those locations automatically receives the benefit of the weapon or shield, reducing damage as normal.” In your model, the Sunder SE would blow past the shield and ruin the underlying armor being protected by the cover. Conceptually, from the standpoint of visualizing what is occurring in combat, it is hard to see how your description would work.

Unpersuaded; but capable of persuasion on this point.

You might be correct overall, though, that Sunder is not the best SE to employ when someone is using Passive Blocking.
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[Last edited Nov 16, 2012 19:01:03]
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DanTrue said Nov 16, 2012 19:51:47
Huh, I have just read through it again. I thought the "reducing damage as normal.” referred to the damage reduction from a parry. I.e. "it works as if you've parried", but I can see now that it works as cover, as you say.

Hm, but sunder is still damaging armour, not cover. So RAW (as if raw matters) it would damage the armour underneath, if it had sufficient damage to overcome the AP of the shield. Visually this would be because perhaps a corner of the shield is chipped of, a point penetrated through or the shield is bashed out of the way by the force of the blow (which would take some energy from the blow, thus reducing the damage by the objects AP).

However, I think that it is sensible to say that a sunder could be used to sunder the shield. It makes a lot of sense.

- Dan
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PatHenry said Nov 16, 2012 20:49:53
There’s some additional wackiness in that Passive Blocking is a free action, as per Ward Location, while parry requires spending an AP. It makes shields a LOT more useful in combat (you’d have to be a fool to fight without one), but also invites player abuse as they freely switch back and forth between the Passive Block and active parry depending entirely upon what they see coming their way:

“I passively block with my shield. Oh, the attack missed? Well, then, I actively parry with my shield. Now back to passive block.”

I dither on whether some penalty should apply to maneuvers aborted mid-action, or whether this is just excellent responsive play. Speeders are often the best drivers :-/
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[Last edited Nov 16, 2012 20:52:20]
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DanTrue said Nov 16, 2012 21:08:22
Well, it specifically says that you are unable to actively parry with it. Of course some could say "well, it's a free action to stop passive blocking, and then I can parry anyway".. but it would quickly lead to bruises from being beaten with the book in my game ;)

So no, when you're passively blocking you cannot simply parry anyway and then resume the passive block.
Also, the passive block must be established before the attack roll, so you cannot simply say "oh, he shoots at me, then I passively block".

- Dan
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bluefenix42 said Nov 16, 2012 21:24:50
I treat Ward Location as a free action that can only be taken *during your own turn*. I allow players to drop their passive blocking in order to actively parry or do something else with the shield, but they can't re-establish passive blocking until their next turn.
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PatHenry said Nov 16, 2012 21:31:32
Interesting discussion.

If you read the discussion on Page 142 about parrying a missed attack, it’s pretty clear you are not committed to making a parry until you see the results of the attack roll. Then you can opt to spend the AP on the parry. Ward Location and Passive Blocking are free actions, which means—strictly—they can be started and stopped at any time during the combat round.

Putting these together it seems there is no particular rule (and in fact some statements that can be read otherwise) that you can just flick Ward Location and Passive Blocking on and off like a light switch throughout the combat round. Nothing specifically prohibits this; although the potential for ridiculousness chafes and burns. Makes me uncomfortable.

Again, I'm not sure whether players doing this should be whacked with the rulebook, or patted on the head for employing ingenious maximal strategies during combat. For sure, a player doing this is going to be a lot harder to take down.

EDIT: bluefenix42, your suggestion (which crossed this post in the mail :-) is a good one.
[Last edited Nov 16, 2012 21:34:48]
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DanTrue said Nov 16, 2012 22:00:31
If you read the discussion on Page 142 about parrying a missed attack, it’s pretty clear you are not committed to making a parry until you see the results of the attack roll. Then you can opt to spend the AP on the parry. Ward Location and Passive Blocking are free actions, which means—strictly—they can be started and stopped at any time during the combat round.

Putting these together it seems there is no particular rule (and in fact some statements that can be read otherwise) that you can just flick Ward Location and Passive Blocking on and off like a light switch throughout the combat round. Nothing specifically prohibits this; although the potential for ridiculousness chafes and burns. Makes me uncomfortable.


P154: "... but at the cost of being unable to actively parry with it".

As said, strictly speaking you can say "well, I turn it off as a free action and THEN I parry with it", but from the above sentence I believe this is not in the spirit of the rules, as the above would be rendered useless.

But, if we are reading strictly I believe this solves it:
P139: "Establishing a ward or changing the hit location must be performed prior to an opponent rolling to attack the character."
I would argue that stopping ward location goes under this, so that you cannot halt a passive block after the attack roll against you. Hence, you cannot simply drop the passive block and parry when you know the result of the attackers roll.

And in another point, on establishing it after a parry: It makes good sense to me that you can assume a passive block right after having parried. A fencer is practised in guards and where to hold the shield while fighting, so it seems natural that after actively using the shield it will return by reflex to some beneficial position if the wearer wishes to passively block with it.

- Dan
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PatHenry said Nov 16, 2012 22:12:23
Dan--

So you are suggesting somewhat the opposite of bluefenix42, that a declared block or ward cannot be dropped prior to or during an attack, to allow the parry, but can be freely applied following an attack?

Agreed your interpretation follows the spirit of what is stated about a passive block preempting or foreclosing on the option to parry (with that particular shield or weapon).
[Last edited Nov 16, 2012 22:14:33]
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DanTrue said Nov 16, 2012 23:03:43
Yes, I believe it is the intent of the rules.

I have not had any fights in RQ6 yet where passive block has come up, so until I have tried it out for real myself I must trust the designers decisions :)

However, if I found an error with it as it is, limiting the action to take a ward location action to one's own turn, might be the best way to start. And granted, if one of my players shifted the location covered many times in a fight, I would likely say "no, not anymore, you're changing so fast your character is practically weaving the shield all about the place now", as a gm can always do if something seems not-quite-right.

- Dan
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PeteNash said Nov 17, 2012 00:02:49
"So you are suggesting somewhat the opposite of bluefenix42, that a declared block or ward cannot be dropped prior to or during an attack, to allow the parry, but can be freely applied following an attack?"

Actually it is intended to be an either-or with that particular weapon. If you declare a passive block with your shield (and don't change your mind before the dice are rolled) then your shield is committed to passively blocking the incoming attack and you cannot retrospectively parry with it afterwards if the attack misses. However, that doesn't stop you parrying the missed attack with your other weapon.

Well, that's how I use my own rules anyway. Feel free to modify them to work for you.
[Last edited Nov 17, 2012 00:03:40]
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DanTrue said Nov 17, 2012 00:16:38
Actually it is intended to be an either-or with that particular weapon. If you declare a passive block with your shield (and don't change your mind before the dice are rolled) then your shield is committed to passively blocking the incoming attack and you cannot retrospectively parry with it afterwards if the attack misses. However, that doesn't stop you parrying the missed attack with your other weapon.


That is also what I meant :) "after an attack" here applies to the situation where you have parried an attack and everything is resolved, then you can freely choose to passively ward a location afterwards - i.e. parry an incoming attack, then brace the shield to prepare for the pilum his friend will be casting soon.

- Dan
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PatHenry said Nov 17, 2012 03:56:51
Actually it is intended to be an either-or with that particular weapon. If you declare a passive block with your shield (and don't change your mind before the dice are rolled) then your shield is committed to passively blocking the incoming attack and you cannot retrospectively parry with it afterwards if the attack misses. However, that doesn't stop you parrying the missed attack with your other weapon.


Thanks for this clarification. PeteNash. YRQMMV and all that, but I love trying to get my head around the rules. Not to obsess, but to understand and apply.

Blocking/Warding is a powerful addition to the combat toolset, that—properly applied—makes combat more survivable against multiple opponents than in earlier incarnations. The rule makes shields almost indispensable, and, yes, I understand about employing the primary weapon as active parry.

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As to the original question, DanTrue helped my understanding.

If an attacker gains the Sunder SE against a Passive Block, he can choose to attack the shield, and the SE then works for all practical purposes just like Damage Weapon. Or he can choose to knock aside the shield and attempt to ruin the underlying armor. Gives some flexibility to the maneuver. Makes it cooler.
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[Last edited Nov 17, 2012 04:11:49]
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