Defend vs. Defy Danger

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Defend vs. Defy Danger
« on: August 04, 2011, 08:50:11 AM »
Last night we ran a Dungeon World game and a rather interesting semantic argument came up. A lizardman was menacing the wizard with his spear, it went something like this:

GM: "The lizardman snarls and says "Mmmm tasty elf!" and tries to stab you with a spear, what do you do?"

Player: "I hold up my bag of books to defend myself"

GM: "Ok, so you're defying the danger of the lizardman!"

Player: "No, I'm acting in the defense of a person or thing, the person being myself."

This got argued to a stalemate, I (the GM) eventually just let them use Defend to keep things going, but this strikes me as pretty wrong. In my mind, Defend is used to describe an interaction between three parties: you, the thing you're defending, and the thing attacking it. Defy Danger is used to, well, defy any danger that's threatening YOU.

Any advice on this?

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2011, 10:00:13 AM »
Funny, I was just hypothesizing about this exact problem to myself yesterday.

The way the move is written, it does indeed imply a three-way situation as you describe. However, it goes on to say that you may spend hold when either the defendee or yourself is the target.

One of the options don't make sense narratively (you direct the attack to yourself) and some are mechanically disadvantageous if you roll a 7-9 and get only one hold (open the target up for attack to your allies). Generally speaking, it's disadvantageous for someone to use Defend instead of Defy Danger (unless their CON is much higher than DEX, I suppose - or if CON is highlighted but DEX isn't). However, I see no reason why there'd be a restriction to using it to defend yourself - on a 10+, you could:

Halve the attack’s effect or damage
Open up the attacker to an ally giving that ally +1 forward against the attacker
Deal damage to the attacker equal to your level

which seems like a perfectly fine set of options while defending yourself.

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2011, 10:10:31 AM »
When it comes to defending yourself, it depends on what your action is.  If you want to do nothing but defend yourself, use the defend move.  If you want to do anything else or make any other move, defy danger.

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2011, 12:44:00 PM »
If it's the case that Defend works the way mease19 describes, then the move should probably be rewritten slightly.

Defend (Con)
When you stand in defense of yourself, another person, item, or location under attack, roll +Con. On a 10+, Hold 3. On a 7-9, Hold 1. So long as you stand in defense, when you or the thing you defend is attacked you may spend hold, 1 for 1, to choose an option:
If defending something other than yourself, redirect an attack from the thing you defend to yourself
• Halve the attack’s effect or damage
• Open up the attacker to an ally giving that ally +1 forward against the attacker
• Deal damage to the attacker equal to your level

In addition, to Kevin, remember the mantra of always tying it back into fiction (which I'm slowly grasping myself).

GM: "The lizardman snarls and says "Mmmm tasty elf!" and tries to stab you with a spear, what do you do?"
Player: "I hold up my bag of books to defend myself"
GM: [asking "how do you do that"] "Really? With a bag of books? Not a shield or something more suitable?"
Player: "Listen, my book bag is filled to the brim with old tomes. It's a perfect tool to block a piercing weapon like a spear."
GM: "Cool, roll it."
[Player rolls, gets a 10+]
Player: "So, I halve the attack’s effect or damage, open up the attacker to an ally, and deal 2 - my level - of damage to the attacker."
GM: "Okay, great! So, the lizardman snarls and stabs into your book bag, hard. You take 2 points of damage as you stagger backwards from the impact, hitting your head on a stalagmite. But he's unbalanced, giving Brianne here an momentary opening to slash him in the back is she chooses to. You do some damage too, how do you do that?"
Player: "Oh, I, um, see a sharp rock and hurls it at his head."
GM: "Okay, you give him a big gash in the forehead with the sharp rock. Also, there's now a deep cut in the fabric of your book bag. What's the heaviest tome you have in there?"
Player: "Oh, probably the 'Compleat Treatise on the Kingdom of Insectoides' by Lavellus Tor."
GM: "Yeah, you're pretty sure that's what the spear's tip got stopped by. Gee, I hope it didn't ruin the chapter on the mating habits of firebeetles, that was an exceptional work of science, and the only one that exists as far as you know."
Player: "Oh crap."


Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2011, 02:40:18 PM »
I thought this was a pretty cut-and-dried case.

(in the text I have) Defy Danger says "act despite an imminent threat." It's precisely act under fire. You're trying to do a thing, while you're endangered, and in doing so you open yourself to danger. Its weak hit and miss make this quite clear.

Defend meanwhile is clearly when you act in mitigation of a threat. Again, its hit options make this clear.

If you're in danger and trying to get shit done, you defy it! If you're in danger and you don't want to get hurt, defend yourself!

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 03:53:46 PM »
If you're in danger and trying to get shit done, you defy it! If you're in danger and you don't want to get hurt, defend yourself!
My hangup on this is that the results of Defend is actually like:
"If you're in danger and you want to get hurt less, and/or shift the tide of the battle, defend yourself!"
While one might easily read Defy Danger as:
"If you're in danger and don't want to get hurt at all, you defy it!"
This is handled neatly by Hack & Slash, because when someone says "nono, I don't want to defend or dodge or anything, I want to hit him back before he hits me" then I say "that's Hack & Slash - on a 7-9, both of you get hurt". But if it's "nono, I don't want to defend or dodge or anything, I want to cast this spell on him before he hurts me" I say "that's Defy Danger, and then Cast a Spell if you succeed". That makes it a mechanically superior move to "I want to steel myself to reduce the impact of his blow, and cast my spell" because that's a Defend (-myself) which doesn't negate the damage, only halves it.

The general reaction of any player, when faced with a threat and asked "what do you do?", is to try to negate it entirely followed by a attempting to get the full impact of their own action. They're rarely interested in trading consequences, especially if it doesn't increase their own chance of success.

What's missing from the equation is that Defend on a 10+ provides more opportunities (3 Hold) than Defy Danger (immediately get out of a bad situation). Also, on a 7-9, Defend gives you at least some immediate benefit, while Defy Danger effectively postpones your success or failure, or trades an immediate success for a potentially worse situation. In light of this, I'm pretty confident I'd allow either move to be used interchangeably, given suitability in the fiction, for the basic effect of "compensate for being put in a spot". Both moves are thematically appropriate for different M.O.s, with "Defend" more likely to be used by a Fighter or Cleric, and "Defy Danger" more likely to be used by a Thief or Wizard.

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 05:05:08 PM »
I don't think that's the way Defy Danger works. The results are specifically telling you how successfully you do the thing you're trying. They don't really tell you anything about the risk you're up against.

It's like, "Hey Nekhbet, the scorpion-men are stabbing you with their vicious hooked swords and poison stingers. Their leader is asking you questions about where you hid the treasure."

Nekhbet: "Okay I'm gonna Defy Danger and cast Jigsaw Organ Condition on the leader so his lungs fall out and he dies of suffocation." *rolls* "11!"

MC: "Cool, so, you manage to gasp out the words of the Jigsaw Organ Condition just as one of the scorpion-men thrusts a stinger down your throat, and the last thing you hear as you black out is the distinctive squelch of falling lung tissue."

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 06:19:37 PM »
Hm.  This is certainly less than obvious.

While Sheyas' interpretation is valid if you just look at the move, if you look at the long description of Defy Danger ("Moves in Detail"), it suggests that Defy Danger will indeed let you avoid said danger in pursuit of whatever else it is you're trying to do.

It may seem a little unbalanced, but I think it's mitigated by the fact that Defy Danger is somewhat less reliable than Defend and if you're making another move, basically offers another angle for failure as well.

Also, I'm not sure it's kosher to get stabbed in the throat on a 10+.

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2011, 07:00:47 PM »
Dodge seems like the obvious choice to me.

Now, I can see the argument for all three. But Defy Danger seems iffy to me.

EDIT: the reason I think Defy Danger is so iffy is because of the very precise wording of the Move.

Was the lizard man a higher level and already do damage, was it using a special attack?

Really Defy Danger reads almost exactly like the Harm Move from AW to me: it is a Move that is a response to specific circumstances.

EDIT 2: well. Crap. Apparently I'm talking 1eAD&D and you all are talking 4e D&D (wrong edition). Nevermind! :P
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 12:22:15 AM by Irminsul »

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2011, 08:49:37 PM »
Hmm. That's weird. The wording of DD is exactly the same as AUF but its Move in Detail text is like....totally dissimilar. Ludanto, I see your point about what the book says; nonetheless I'm uneasy with that usage. I feel like the bit where it says, "Defy Danger is for those times when it seems like you clearly should be rolling, but no other move applies." is the critical piece of text. If there is another move, DD does not apply. In the situation Kevin describes, it seems like Defend is clearly applicable, so DD is not.

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2011, 09:26:21 AM »
Extending the quote somewhat, it reads
Quote
Defy Danger is for those times when it seems like you clearly should be rolling, but no other move applies. Defy Danger also applies when you make another move despite danger not covered by that move.
I've been reading this as "when the inherent danger in what you're trying to accomplish isn't built into a more obvious move, you're going to need to DD first to get a chance to accomplish that move". As in:

GM: "Hey Nekhbet, the scorpion-men are stabbing you with their vicious hooked swords and poison stingers. Their leader is asking you questions about where you hid the treasure."
Nekhbet: "Okay I'm gonna Defy Danger and cast Jigsaw Organ Condition on the leader so his lungs fall out and he dies of suffocation."
GM: "Okay, first you have to Defy Danger, the danger being their stingers. Roll it."
Nekhbet: [rolls, gets a 7-9] "Shit, that complicates things, no?"
GM: "Right, so, you ramble off the first couple of syllables, but then spot a stinger racing towards your face. You crouch down, it misses you, you quickly scurry out of the way of the next one, but your concentration is lost. Their leader starts waving this wand made out of a human skull-and-spine towards your general direction and mumbling in some guttural language you don't recognize. What do you do now?"

In other words, the GM recognizes that Nekhbet shouldn't be hurt or receive any other imminent major consequences of failure, because he did succeed at defying the immediate danger. However, the GM is now putting Nekhbet in a spot - he is once again under threat by the stingers, and now additionally threatened by this unknown curse their leader is concocting. If he proceeds with casting his spell now, he will get pierced by those stingers; if he evades the danger of the stingers, he will get afflicted by the curse. Hopefully he has a friend nearby who can help with at least one of those (such as Defending him from the stingers), else he's pretty much fucked.

On a 10+, Nekhbet would've ducked around the stingers, completing the verbal and somatic components of the spell and getting a chance to roll to properly Cast it (with yet more risk of failure or half-hits, as Ludanto points out).
On a 6-, perhaps Nekhbet would've gotten hurt by the stingers (the obvious choice), or become overrun and pinned, or the spell backfired due to the distraction.

That's how I'm reading it, at least. I'm not sure how else you would run this situation - just tell Nekhbet that if he attempts anything but Defy Danger, Hack & Slash, or Defend, he's just going to fail in the end due to the imminent melee danger he's in?

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2011, 10:40:48 AM »
I think this latest reading is a good one!

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2011, 03:37:24 PM »
Yep. That's how act under fire works. Same deal.

Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2011, 04:02:42 PM »
That's how I play it.  Still, the move or description could be clearer.

*

sage

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Re: Defend vs. Defy Danger
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2011, 05:25:36 PM »
We got asked this question in person at GenCon. It's a good one! The wording could be clearer. Here's the answer, you've probably heard it before:

The fictional action determines the move.

Diving out of the way of something certainly isn't "stand(ing) in defense." In fact, defending yourself isn't "act(ing) despite an imminent threat" at all, or at least no more so than attack with a sword is.

So, when you stand in the way of a threat and take action to diminish it, you're Defending. When you leap out of the way so you can continue doing what you wanted to do, you're Defying Danger. Note that you still have to take action, just because you carry a shield doesn't mean you're always defending.

Think of it a bit like All Out Defense in some editions of D&D. When you take action that's about defending, you Defend. The rest of the time it's just assumed.

(The end condition, when you no longer stand in defense, still applies. It's just more likely to be because you dropped your defensive position than because you got separated."