The Dodge defense in particular relies on the character’s own alertness and natural AGL and guile to deceive and/or just plain slip out of the way of a foe’s attack so it misses him completely. Dodging is usually performed while within the character’s own Zone, although there are some exceptions (Acrobatic Dodge, Dodge/Advance, Dodge/Side-step, Dodge/Back-step).
The other Defenses the player needs to be conversant with are the Parry and Block. These can be performed with either a shield or weapons or other battle-worthy object(s). The Parry CAN be performed with a shield, the shield need not be used solely to Block. Indeed, using the shield to Block is usually the last resort because it is harder on the character, but may be more reliable when the Dodge is effectively exhausted. A Block can also be performed with a weapon, usually involving changing the grip momentarily to reinforce it to accept the force of the foe’s own weapon blow, or with a pair of weapons, crossing them so they reinforce one another and provide a “V” in which to catch the opponent’s weapon.
Due to the constraints of the flow of play, characters may be called on to perform certain actions at times which would otherwise be considered out-of-turn, especially defenses.
The only actions that may be made out of turn can either be planned actions (Opportunity Actions) for which a character has stood or lain in wait to make or re-actions such as the defenses offered against in-coming attacks, thrown up instinctively in direct response to a foe’s proximity or attack(s), or similar dangers. Defenses in battle are taken into consideration and the outcome of each attack resolved immediately when attacker gains the Initiative in the Resolution phase of his attack.
Defenses do NOT wait on the Initiative of the defender for the Resolution of the attack.
Because it takes time for a character to complete any given action, any third party that can move into adjacent acceptable FoA’s to a pair of combatants (GM’s discretion) by the end of the Movement Phase, even in the same CS just before the Resolution Phase in which the out-come of (an) attack(s) is(are) going to be decided, may participate in the exchange in defense either with primary weapon, shield, off-hand weapon, cape or net or even found object picked up on the scene, or in attack (creating a Combination if either or both are equipped with those skills), as desired, according to his abilities, skills and the manner in which he is equipped.
Any battle-worthy object equipped in hand can be used once for defense (as well as attack) over the course of each Action, as described previously.
This is one of the reasons for the popularity of cultivating a weapon skill for the off-hand or carrying some other combat-worthy object in the off-had to defend. Against a more skilled opponent, the player can expect more of the character’s uses of weapon, shield, etc. to be spent on defenses.
Having committed himself to attack with a weapon in hand, the character is still free nonetheless to use that weapon to defend as well as complete the declared attack, as the situation requires. The same is true of a shield held in hand and committed to a shield-bashing or rim-strike attack. It can easily be momentarily diverted for use in defense as well as attack with no penalty to attack AV/DV or defense AV/DV, respectively.
Dodges are always available as a defense in addition to the defenses that may be offered with weapon or shield, etc., in hand, even combined together to make Block and Parry defenses that are much more effective, so long as the character is not restrained in such a way as to preclude them, or committed to executing some sort of action that involves the whole body, such as an Acrobatic maneuver.
Each character may attempt to Dodge the attacks directed at him over the course of any given Action, however, his AV to do so is cut in half after every use, until the AV is reduced to a number rounding to zero. This indicates the character has no more recourse to it for the remainder of the current Action.
A Warrior, Assassin, Huntsman or Acrobat and/or Dancer character may make up to [1 per 10 SL’s)] Dodges over the course of any single Action before the AV penalty described above is applied.
Any of the defenses can be modified in the same manner that an attack can be modified – by a Turn, Sidestep, Back-step, or Advance. Combatants can Advance in the Movement Phase to press an attack and Back-step to give ground again in the Movement Phase to maintain the distance necessary to keep a larger weapon in play, shift to higher ground, step into and back out of the Close Melée mode to punch, elbow jab, knee or kick when his opponent has Bound his weapon.
While it is the GM who tracks the passing of the CS’s, it is each player’s responsibility to make sure that his character takes advantage of the action(s) he is capable of performing.
The GM can help out and remind the players, BUT it is ultimately the player’s responsibility to pay attention to the flow of play and progression of game time and take any extra actions his character may be due when it is his turn.
Otherwise, the generous GM can assume a Wait action has been taken and allow an Opportunity Action if one comes up that interests the player.