Defending Another in Fight

This came up in our game today. There were three enemies: a “boss” and two “minions”. The minions wanted to protect the boss. I scripted Block for the minions, with the intent being to block attacks directed towards the boss, not defending themselves. (The boss was busy doing something, and needed to buy some time.)

Did I do this right?

Also, am I correct that there is no way for the minions to stop the PCs from engaging the boss? The minions had to script “defend boss” because the boss was helpless to avoid the oncoming PCs engaging him… Correct?

There was much more to the situation, of course, but these are the specifics needed for my questions.

~ Dean

Absolutely not. There is no way to “defend another” in Fight.

Correct rules call would be to force the players to fight through the minions to get to the boss. The boss character isn’t engaging in the fight and the player characters can’t engage him until they get through the defenses.

Whoah. OK. That isn’t very clear in the book. So, the boss can choose not to be engaged? What if the situation were reversed? Could a PC who wanted to hang back choose not to be engaged?

I wish I had known this earlier. The session went very well to tonight, but the fight scene was rather meh.

Maybe it’s just an issue of the GM making a call based on the fiction? If the room is narrow enough and the henchmen are plentiful enough the GM can just declare that the boss can’t be engaged until the minions are dealt with? Or can only be engaged with missile weapons?

It probably wouldn’t hurt if at engagement time we announced something like “screen the princess” in a fight where each of us could intercept one enemy trying to engage the princess.

I would start with the minions engaged and the boss doing his thing. If the players want to engage with the boss they would have to A) Defeat the minions or B) Win a positioning test with the Intent: “I maneuver past the minions to engage the boss”. The minions would have intents counter to that.

Not all the minions have to be defeated in option A. Say there are 3 PCs and 3 minions. When the first PC kills his minion the PC can either team up on another minion or go after the boss.

Option B might not be available, depending on the fiction. Though I’m more likely to assign bonus dice to the minions than say just “no, not possible”.


^ Ten of Swords is one of the players in my campaign.

Also, is there a reason why “defend another” is not a valid intent when scripting? Is it just to make it not too easy for sorcerers and archers, or does it go with part of the “fight for what you believe” theme of the game, or something different?

Not to sound like a dick or anything, questioning the game design. This is a burning question that has been in the back of my mind for a while now, and really came to the forefront in the session yesterday. I feel like there’s something important I’m totally missing here…

  1. Simplicity of design. You introducte an entirely different set of exceptions once you introduce this rule.

  2. I’m not certain it’s an accurate portrayal of a fight. If you want to “defend another” you kill your opponent or tackle him. You don’t swat at his sword.
    2a) I believe the system handles the situation as is, once we remove our Hollywood-tinted glasses. We only need to look at it from a different perspective.

I think it works alright when the ward is comparatively hardy and/or quick, but let’s say you’re trying to protect your elderly and half-blind king from a single knifeman who’s willing to trade his life for the king’s. If you’re not surprised and you see him coming, you ought to be able to move yourself between the king and the knifeman, as a good bodyguard would. The knifeman would need to be cautious and sneaky and attack suddenly so that the king’s guard didn’t see him coming and he could get his precious strike in.

In BW, the knifeman would engage the king and you’d engage the knifeman. The knifeman would script strike immediately and nothing you do would interfere with that strike. If the knifeman had a reasonably good skill in knife he could certainly get 3 successes and inflict a superb hit, maiming or killing the king and making you a very poor bodyguard.

I guess at the moment the fix is that the GM just needs to decide when it’s possible to engage someone and when it’s not. The king has his bodyguards, the sorcerer PC has the soldier PC, they can’t be engaged unless you get past their defenders first.

So, in a situation where our knifeman has successfully engaged the King, a bodyguard has no real chance to Block for the King. A skilled bodyguard would be trying for some kind of Lock or Charge there, to control the knifeman.

But I’m in agreement that there is quite a sizeable grey area between “There’s a shield wall in front of the King, you must fight your way through before you can engage him” and “No one can possibly stop you from getting to the King.” There are a lot of fairly likely scenarios in which you’d have a chance at reaching him, but interception is also a solid possibility.

I feel like there should be a way to do this within the positioning system, (i.e. without hacking it) but I’m not sure how. Maybe something where the bodyguard helps the king and if you beat them both, you get advantage on both of them but if you don’t, the bodyguard gets advantage on you and the king’s safe?

There’s no “fix” necessary. What you’re suggesting is how the game is run. It is the GM’s job to frame the situation and obstacles. If there’s a bodyguard between you and the king, then you’re going to have to do something get by him – precisely what the Inconspicuous and Observations are for. If you make a frontal attack, you have to engage the bodyguard first.

Okay, but what if the bodyguard is a bit to the side? He wants to get between me and the King, I want to get past him. Okay, obviously we could just go with a Speed versus test and maybe that’s the best approach, but that seems a bit like double-weighting since we’re about to make another Speed test to engage.

I think you guys are thinking a bit too tactically.

All of the “I want to attack this guy, and the bodyguards are interfering…” ponts are trying to argue that a situation where you can’t engage the king directly is really one where you can.

Either you can engage the king directly, or you can’t. If you can, go ahead. You might get hit by the guards while you do it, but you do get to engage him.

If you can’t engage the king directly, you have to do something else, like sneak past the guards, or beat them up, or distract them, or do a positioning test(s), or something. Bypassing the guards may be your intent, but you have to test something in order to get that intent to happen.

IMHO, anyways.

As Anya points out, this is a matter of intent and task. This isn’t a matter of being a bit to the side.

Can’t the GM just say, the king is too far away from you to reach him before the bodyguards engage you. What do you do?

Isn’t it possible to position with Intent? The assassin would position with the Intent “Engage with the King” while the bodyguard would position with the Intent “Stop the assassin from reaching the king.”


No. This is all happening before any engagement is made.

You can position in relation to object though, right? Positioning with Intent to grab the MacGuffin?

Hmm, OK. In our particular fight, there were actually more combatants involved. It broke down like this:

2 PCs
Minion Group A
Minion Group B

My intent was to have Group B defend the Boss, while Group A did a full frontal assault. The PCs engaged the Boss straight away. I had Group A attack, while Group B scripted Block for the boss. (And I did that wrong, as was pointed out. It turned out to be a very quick fight, as the enemies were not tough, only plentiful. The whole point was to see if the PCs could stop the boss before his “evil plan” was carried out, and the boss was cut down in the very first exchange!)

So, going by what has been said in this thread, should the fight scene have instead been broken into “stages” for the PCs to work through? Like this:

Stage 1: PCs vs Group A
Stage 2: PCs vs Group B
Stage 3: PCs vs Boss

Each new stage might start at different times for each of the PCs, depending on how long it takes each PC to get past the minions that engaged them.

Is this correct? And if so, is it possible to reverse the situation, allowing the PCs to break up into different groups, forcing the NPCs to engage them in stages? ie. There are four fighters and a sorcerer. Two of the fighters rush forward to meet the enemy, while two of the fighters hang back to guard the sorcerer.

Stage 1: Enemies vs PC Group A
Stage 2: Enemies vs PC Group B
Stage 3: Enemies vs PC Sorcerer

Am I getting it now, or am I wildly off? This seems kind of wrong to me somehow. It makes it too easy to keep those sorcerers and archers safe…

Your concern is addressed by the engagement system. The archer and sorcerer can’t unload artillery unless they engage. And if they engage, they can be engaged.

Right. The sorcerer/archer must engage with a target in order to release a spell/arrow at that target. But is it allowed for the other PCs to block engagement with the sorcerer/archer while he is preparing his spell/notching and drawing, so long as the PCs outnumber the NPCs? That is what I really want to know.

And thanks for your replies!