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D&D 3E
OK rulesmeisters 
29th-Nov-2004 02:57 am
dunder
Ok here is the problem.

Feat1) Sacred VOw. You are seen as an almighty good person by all the other good people.

Feat 2) Vow of Nonviolence. You get bonuses to spell DC's that don't do damage. The price is that you may never deal lethal damage again! If your allies slay a helpless or defensless creature within 120 feet of you they take a -1 to all attacks for a number of hours equal to your level. This -1 can keep stacking up to the caster level and each time a new slaying occurs, the time starts over.

Rogue Ability: SNEAK ATTACK! OK, the book says "If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage..."

The person who took the vow is not the person who is the rogue. The person who took it was entirely in charecter when they took the feat and I will not penalize that because that person had been acting that way almost all game and it only made sense for them to take it.

Now, I as a DM saw this Sneak attack to be included in the Defensless trait and only if he killed them would he get the negative.

Do you all agree with me that a rogues sneak attack is considered to be attacking a defensless person? This person also uses feinting to remove the persons DEx. I think this adds to my point of defensless, let me know what you think.

Any suggestions?
Comments 
29th-Nov-2004 09:10 am (UTC)
I'd say the rogue doesn't get the minus unless they deal the killing blow while the creature is still defenseless.
As relates to the nonviolence thing, as the DM I'd say a creature is defenseless only when they really can't defend themselves, not when the combat rules say they aren't allowed to defend themselves. For instance, a monster who wants to attack the rogue and will attack the rogue if he gets the chance, but happens to still be flatfooted is not defenseless for the purposes of the nonviolence thing. While a monster with no weapons, armor, and his limbs tied together is actually defenseless and the rogue should get the minus if she deals the killing blow.
29th-Nov-2004 10:00 am (UTC)
I'm with this guy, there's a pretty meaty difference between 'helpless' and 'denied dex bonus to AC'. Hopefully the Vowing character can realize that.
29th-Nov-2004 01:24 pm (UTC)
This isn't a game mechanics call. It's a scene call.

If I leap out of the shadows and surprise a merc wearing armour and carrying a great big axe - I'm not attacking a defenseless person.

If I leap out of the shadows and surprise Little Red Riding Hood - I am attacking a defenseless person.

Also, I wouldn't let surprise attacks and feints stack. A feint is a dumby move, you start to veer off to the right but actually strike on the left, you throw a glance towards your target's exposed shoulder behind his small shield but actually go for his knee, etc. You can't feint if your target can't see you doing it. I'm not sure if that's what you meant by saying they also use feint.

I agree, it's certainly the case that by feigning a move you're not making someone helpless or defensive.
29th-Nov-2004 02:27 pm (UTC)
I agree, it depends on the situation.

But if the rogue leaps out of the shadows and stabs an armored merc, who then lies bleeding on the ground with a dagger through his temple, I'd call that a violent attack.

If your player is a good roleplayer as you've suggested, I'm sure he'll be able to tell when something is good and when it's not. If you disagree, mention it to him. If he can support his opinion, then go with it. If not, penalty.
29th-Nov-2004 01:33 pm (UTC)
Helpless is someone who is completely unable to move (held, asleep, tied up perchance, etc).

I would define defenseless as someone who is unarmed and unarmoured, although the second a caster begins to cast or someone punches you for real damage, I'd say the defenseless ness option goes out the window.
29th-Nov-2004 01:35 pm (UTC)
No, sneak attack is not necessarily attacking a defensely person, it's just catching a person off-guard. There is definitely a difference.

A defenseless creature isn't capable of defending itself. A sneak-attack victim just isn't doing a very good job of it right now :)
29th-Nov-2004 02:38 pm (UTC)
I've always found all of those vow feats to be unbalanced.

I agree, the sneak attack does not mean attacking a defenseless person.

However... any character WITH this feat who was not seriously offended EVERY time the rogue did something like this may not be playing the spirit of their vow seriously enough. The role playing is what makes this vow hard, not neccessarily the mechanics.
29th-Nov-2004 03:42 pm (UTC)
I agree with the above that "denied Dex mod" is not necessarily "defenseless".

Though to get around it completely it might be in the rogue's best interest to use subdual damage in his sneak attacks.
29th-Nov-2004 08:02 pm (UTC)
I think there is a distinction between "unable to defend himself effectively" and "defenseless." The first implies that this is a momentary thing - even the best trained person in the world can be caught by surprise, and be unable to defend him or her self as effectively as they normally would, which is why the Sneak Attack rules exist in the first place. "Defenseless," on the other hand, implies that the person has no effective means of defense, period.

Unconscious due to wounds, drugs, magic, etc. - that could, I think, reasonably be considered "defenseless." Tied hand and foot? Probably counts. Sleeping, possibly. An ordinary commoner minding his or her own business? I'd say an argument could be made for considering such a person "defenseless" for purposes of the vow and its effects.

But, say, the BBEG or his/her henchies? Monsters? Assuming that they have some combat ability, I don't think just being denied their Dex bonus makes them defenseless. Plus, I think it's kind of unfair to the Rogue to essentially nerf such a central class ability because of something that another character chose to do.
29th-Nov-2004 08:41 pm (UTC)
Valid points, all, really.

"Defensless" would have to mean that the opponent can offer absolutely no defense whatsoever.

If your enemy feints and you fall for it, that doesn't make you defenseless, it makes you vulnerable because you messed up. The same holds true for being flanked or caught by surprise.

Defenseless is a man that was knocked unconcious and is no longer fighting getting visciously stabbed in the throat. Another example would be staking the baker's wife to the wall with your longsword.

Those are defensless people.
2nd-Dec-2004 07:56 pm (UTC)
Isn't there also a beefed-up sap (called a "truncheon," IIRC, although that word makes me think of a cop's nightstick) that does nonlethal damage in the BoED?  And couldn't a rogue use that—or a regular sap—in a sneak attack?

-Qit
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