Combat Expertise + Fight Defensively

Schmoe

Explorer
In another thread, someone suggested that you could not use Combat Expertise while Fighting Defensively at the same time. I had personally always assumed the combination was supported by the rules, but I admit I haven't researched it. Does anyone know definitively whether this combination is legal or not?
 

jodyjohnson

Visitor
It is called out in the actual PHB text as an option.

PHB 140 under the description for Fighting Defensively.
 
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phindar

Visitor
Yeah, its a little hinky because the text of Combat Expertise implies that the feat replaces fighting defensively, but the text of fighting defensively states that they can be used together.
 

Ender_rpm

Visitor
As long as you make an attack in that round. Important tidbit that. Had a player try to use the stacking rule, but not go full defensive so as not to give up AoOs. Umm, no.
 

Schmoe

Explorer
Ender_rpm said:
As long as you make an attack in that round. Important tidbit that. Had a player try to use the stacking rule, but not go full defensive so as not to give up AoOs. Umm, no.
First, thanks everyone for the replies.

Second, this sounds like a confusion between "Fight Defensively" and "Full Defense". You still threaten an area with "Fight Defensively", and can therefore make AoOs. Since you can fight defensively and use combat expertise, you could take a -9 to hit in return for a +7 AC and still threaten an area to get AoOs. You could not take Full Defense with expertise, as expertise requires you to make an attack and Full Defense precludes an attack.
 

phindar

Visitor
Yeah, that's the hinky part (I was trying to remember it). Expertise + Fighting Defensively gives you a better AC bonus that Full Defense. Its just kind of weird that with Expertise, you can be less defensive and get a better bonus out of it.
 

Ender_rpm

Visitor
Schmoe said:
First, thanks everyone for the replies.

Second, this sounds like a confusion between "Fight Defensively" and "Full Defense". You still threaten an area with "Fight Defensively", and can therefore make AoOs. Since you can fight defensively and use combat expertise, you could take a -9 to hit in return for a +7 AC and still threaten an area to get AoOs. You could not take Full Defense with expertise, as expertise requires you to make an attack and Full Defense precludes an attack.
Yes, that was the point I was making :)
 

werk

Visitor
phindar said:
Yeah, that's the hinky part (I was trying to remember it). Expertise + Fighting Defensively gives you a better AC bonus that Full Defense. Its just kind of weird that with Expertise, you can be less defensive and get a better bonus out of it.
At the cost of a feat with an Int prereq.
 

Schmoe

Explorer
werk said:
At the cost of a feat with an Int prereq.
You could interpret Combat Expertise as an active defense that hinders the opponent's ability to counter attack, thereby making it more effective than just "turtling" with Full Defense. Of course, that then implies that expertise would only apply to that one opponent, when it actually affects all opponents, even those making ranged attacks against you. I agree it's a little wonky, but no big deal IMO.
 

Darklone

Registered User
Schmoe said:
You could interpret Combat Expertise as an active defense that hinders the opponent's ability to counter attack, thereby making it more effective than just "turtling" with Full Defense. Of course, that then implies that expertise would only apply to that one opponent, when it actually affects all opponents, even those making ranged attacks against you. I agree it's a little wonky, but no big deal IMO.
Actually it's pretty realistic. Blocking someones weapons and moving around him (or with him), keeping him between yourself and his buddies is one of the best defensive tactics I've seen. Much better than simply standing there and trying to parry everything.
 

phindar

Visitor
I think its an issue of sacrificing all actions to be defensive and getting one bonus, or taking some actions while being defensive and getting a better bonus. It's a non-choice. "Do I give up any chance to hit the enemy or make AoO's and get a bonus to my AC, or take a chance to hit the enemy, continue to threaten, and get an even better bonus to my AC."

Like Schmoe says, wonky, but not a big deal.
 
At the lowest levels, there is a reason to go Full Defense, but once your CE + Fight Defensively gets equal to or higher than Full defense, you're right. It is a no-brainer. Or for that "C'mon 20!" option.

If you're being attacked at range at low levels, and, like many adventurers seem to, you have no ranged weapon, Full Defense + drop prone makes you really hard to hit. Saved my wizard from the kobold crossbowmen. ;)
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
phindar said:
It's a non-choice. "Do I give up any chance to hit the enemy or make AoO's and get a bonus to my AC, or take a chance to hit the enemy, continue to threaten, and get an even better bonus to my AC."
Do I give up any chance to hit the enemy and get a bonus to AC like any commoner can, or do I use my special nifty-bonus-to-AC feat?

-Hyp.
 

phindar

Visitor
Kmart Commando said:
At the lowest levels, there is a reason to go Full Defense, but once your CE + Fight Defensively gets equal to or higher than Full defense, you're right. It is a no-brainer. Or for that "C'mon 20!" option.
Yeah, but that caps out at about 3rd level for Rogues, and 2nd level for Fighters. That is the "lowest levels", but its hardly around long enough to notice.

Hyp said:
Do I give up any chance to hit the enemy and get a bonus to AC like any commoner can, or do I use my special nifty-bonus-to-AC feat?
My point is that a character who is trained at being defensive will probably be more defensive when being totally defensive than when said character is being partially defensive. Its a little wonky to say, "I can concentrate completely on my defense and get one bonus, or I can concentrate partially on my defense and get a much better bonus."
 

Darklone

Registered User
phindar said:
My point is that a character who is trained at being defensive will probably be more defensive when being totally defensive than when said character is being partially defensive. Its a little wonky to say, "I can concentrate completely on my defense and get one bonus, or I can concentrate partially on my defense and get a much better bonus."
Excuse the words, it's not meant to be offensive.

What do you think defensive means? Not getting hit. Standing around while avoiding to get hit is in every martial arts discipline I know and tried just one thing: Asking to be defeated. Grabbing one or two enemies and whirling them around to keep the others away while bashing on them here and there, twisting arms and blocking their weapons (or sticking them into them) is much more effective. Plus: You get cover.

So yes, by the D&D rules Combat Expertise plus fighting defensively plus consideration of soft cover and protection against ranged attackers cause you are in melee is much more effective than lying prone and trying to be evasive. And yes, it's also very realistic.
 

phindar

Visitor
Hey, I'm not offended. All I'm saying is that generally, in games, the more you give up the more you get. Typically. The more you sacrifice for defense, the more benefit you'd hope to see. To have a Partial Defense (for lack of a better term) that gives you a better AC bonus than Full Defense, and to have it happen at such a low level, is wonky.
 

Darklone

Registered User
The cost of a feat has been mentioned... you don't have that many, particularly at low levels.
 

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