Monday, August 27, 2012

What's the Deal With Parrying in S&W Complete?

Alright, this has my head scratching (Swords & Wizardry Complete Page 14):

Parry: Fighters with a Dexterity score of 14 or better can fight on the
defensive, parrying enemy blows and dodging attacks, as shown on the
table below.

Fighter Parrying Ability
Dexterity Score Penalty to Enemy Attacks

14 -1
15 -2
16 -3
17 -4
18 -5

Is this in lieu of Attacking? In addition to? Is this like a super AC bonus? Does it stack with the +1 from a high Dex?

Heron Prior on G+ got me thinking about this and I'm not sure.

I've read a post on Dragonsfoot that indicates Matt intended it to be vague and open to interpretation. I find that answer to be disappointing, to say the least. If there are options on how to use something (ability, skill, spell, whatever), say so in the book - don't leave folks wondering if they have it right or wrong.

There is a post at the above link suggesting that it be limited to Fighters in light or no armor. Another post suggested the Fighter choose between Strength bonus to hit and a Parry bonus based on Dex - you can't have both in the same round.

I think either solution could work, but a Fighter in plate with an 18 Dex get +6 (+5 from parry, +1 from pure Dex) to his AC - so then I'd say know to the Hit OR Parry bonus scheme.

My vote is - light armor or no armor, the fighter can elect to gain a parry bonus from high Dexterity.

So let it be written, so let it be done ;)


  1. It's kind of addressed here: http://swordsandwizardry.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=3133&p=25533&hilit=parry#p25533

    Just to add to the confusion.

  2. I've never liked parry/dodge rules generally, and I don't think I'd want to use them in D&D. Yeah, I know they add a certain level of realism and granularity to the combats, but I feel like the rest of the combat system is so abstract (at least pre-2nd ed.), that it just overly complicates things. It also tends to extend the length of combats.

    It seems to me that the AC bonus from Dex already adds (in an abstract way) the sorts of things more concrete parry and dodge rules do. As do the increasing numbers of HP that fighters get with level advances.

    Long story short, I think it's already assumed in the other details of the system. Adding more granularity makes playing defense harder than playing offense, and that just seems wrong-headed to me.

  3. On the other hand, I could see how having some swashbuckling-style fighters (pirates!) would be kind of cool. There could be options for parry, parry-riposte, parry-disarm, etc. It would be sort of a game withing a game, tacked on to the combat system in certain situations (e.g., light armor, and light weapons, perhaps? Use of cloaks as defensive maneuvers?). That sort of thing is interesting to me. Endlessly stacking bonuses... not so much.

  4. Here's how I'd write this if I were inclined toward such a rule

    "Before attacking, a fighter in light or medium armor may declare he is fighting defensively. This means he's concerning himself more with dodging, parrying, and delaying his opponents than with actually striking them. Fighting defensively doubles the fighter's dex bonus to AC but imposes a -3 penalty to the fighter's own attacks for the round.

  5. It from Greyhawk Supplement One

    Dexterity affects both the ability of characters to act/react and fire missiles. It is also the prime requisite for thieves. Fighters with a dexterity of greater than 14 can use their unusual manual dexterity to attempt to dodge or parry opponents' attacks. For every
    point over 14 they are able to reduce their opponents' chances of hitting them by 1 (5%).

  6. adding that to a suit of plate is troublesome to me - not that OD&D / S&W has that many fighters with high dex roaming around with 3d6 in order 6 times ;)


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