Underworld Campaign Quick Reference - Defensive Combat

Defensive Maneuvers

It's a given that your character tries to avoid being hit in combat - that's why everyone makes attack rolls. Sometimes, though, all your character wants to do is avoid attacks. You may announce a defensive action at any time before your character's opponent makes an attack roll, as long as your character has an action left to perform. You can declare a defensive action on your character's turn in the initiative, or can even abort to a defensive maneuver. You must make a successful Willpower roll (or may simply spend one point of Willpower) to abort. If the Willpower roll fails, your character must carry out the action that you declared originally.

There are three types of defensive actions: block, dodge and parry. Your character can defend against virtually any kind of attack with these three maneuvers. However, your character may not be able to avoid every single attack that's directed at her. She can't dodge when there's no room to maneuver, and she can't block or parry if she doesn't know an attack is coming.

Each defensive maneuver uses the same basic system: The defensive action is a resisted roll against the opponent's attack roll. Unless the attacker gets more total successes, he misses. If the attacker gets more successes, those that he achieves in excess of the defender's successes, if any, are used to hit (the attacker doesn't necessarily use all the successes he rolled). So if the defender has fewer successes than the attacker does, the defender's maneuver can still reduce the effectiveness of the attack, even if the maneuver can't counteract it completely.

Block: A Dexterity + Brawl maneuver using your character's own body to deflect a hand-to-hand bashing attack. Lethal and aggravated attacks cannot be blocked unless the defender has Fortitude or is wearing armor.

Dodge: A Dexterity + Dodge maneuver useful for avoiding attacks of all types. Your character bobs and weaves to avoid Melee or Brawl attacks (if there's no room to maneuver, she must block or parry instead). In firefights, your character moves at least one yard and ends up behind cover (if there's no room to maneuver and/or no cover available, she can drop to the ground). If your character remains under cover or prone thereafter, cover rules apply against further Firearms attacks (see "Cover").

Parry: A Dexterity + Melee maneuver using a weapon to block a Brawl or Melee attack. If a character makes a Brawl attack and the defender parries with a weapon that normally causes lethal damage, the attacker can actually be hurt by a successful parry. If the defender rolls more successes than the attacker does in the resisted action, the defender rolls the weapon's base damage plus the parry's extra successes as a damage dice pool against the attacker.

Block, dodge and parry can be performed as part of a multiple action in your character's turn (punching then blocking, shooting then dodging, parrying then striking). Using a multiple action to act and defend is advantageous because your character can still accomplish something in a turn besides avoiding attacks.

Rather than make defensive maneuvers a part of a multiple action, you may declare that your character spends an entire turn defending. The normal multiple-action rules are not used in this case. Instead, you have a full dice pool for the first defensive action, but lose one die, cumulatively, for each subsequent defense action made in the same turn. It is difficult to avoid several incoming attacks.

Remember that any actions, including defensive ones, versus multiple attackers still suffer difficulty penalties (see "Multiple Opponents").