Everyone in combat is assumed to attempt to avoid being hit. That's why attack rolls are necessary. No roll is needed to hit bound captives or others stationary, immobile targets who cannot avoid the blow. However, there's a significant difference between merely moving around in an attempt to avoid being hit while actively doing something else, and purposefully choosing to make defense your character's first priority. You can announce that your character is taking a defensive action before any of the character's opponents makes an attack roll, as long as your character has an action left to perform. Defensive actions can be declared at the character's initiative or you can abort a planned action and perform a defensive maneuver instead. As stated earlier, aborting an action requires a successful Willpower roll. If the Willpower roll fails, the character performs the previously declared actions. Spending a Willpower point allows a character to abort an action automatically.
There are three defensive maneuvers: block, dodge and parry. Using these three maneuvers, your character can defend against almost any attack, but each of the maneuvers works best in different situations. For example, a character can dodge any attack, even one coming from an uncertain source. However, the character must have sufficient room to dodge. It is impossible to dodge while crowded in a narrow hallway. While blocking and parrying both require considerably less room, neither can be used if your character doesn't know where the attack is coming from. Defensive maneuvers all use the same basic system. The defensive action is a resisted roll against the opponent's attack roll. Unless the attacker scores more successes than the defender, he fails to hit. Even if the attacker succeeds, the successes you gained in the defensive maneuver are subtracted from the attacker's successes, lowering the potential damage of the attack. Even if it fails to stop a blow, a defensive maneuver will usually lessen it.
Combat Maneuvers typically
have a difficulty of 6. Maneuvers with specific combat effects
may modify the attack roll, the difficulty or the damage dice
Traits: The Trait combination used for the action being taken. If your character lacks the needed Ability, default to the base Attribute.
Accuracy: The dice added to the roll to hit an opponent. A "+3" adds three dice to the dice pool for the maneuver.
Difficulty: Any additions or subtractions to a maneuver's difficulty (which is normally 6). A "+2" means the difficulty increases from 6 to 8.
A Dexterity + Brawl maneuver that uses your character's own body to deflect bashing hand to hand attacks. Lethal or aggravated attacks cannot be blocked unless the defender is wearing armor, using magic or using some sort of specialized training (like the Do of the Akashic Brotherhood).
A Dexterity + Dodge maneuver where the character simply jumps, bobs or weaves out of the way of a hand-to-hand attack. Dodging requires several feet of space, and characters must block or parry if there isn't room to maneuver. Dodging missile weapons is also possible, but the character must move at least one yard and end up prone or in cover. At this point, cover rules apply against further attacks by guns and other missile weapons. Unlike the other two maneuvers, you do not need to specify the attack being dodged. Choosing to dodge means that the character dodges the first attack directed at her in a turn, unless you choose specifically to dodge a particular attack.
A Dexterity + Melee maneuver that uses a weapon to block a hand-to-hand attack. If an attacker makes a Brawl attack and the character parries with a weapon that causes lethal damage, the attacker can actually be injured by a parry. If the defender rolls more successes in the resisted action to parry, the defender may make a normal attack roll plus any remaining successes against the attacker. Each of these defensive maneuvers can be performed as part of a multiple action. A parry followed by a weapon strike, or a shot followed by a dodge, are popular and exceptionally useful combinations. While both maneuvers are less efficient than when performed alone, combining an attack with a defensive maneuver allows your character to do both in a single turn.
Sometimes, all a character wants to do is to avoid being hit. Instead of using defensive maneuvers as part of a multiple action, you can state that your character spends the entire turn defending using a single defensive maneuver. This action is called desperate defense. The normal multiple action rules are not used for all-out defense. Instead, your character has her full dice pool against the first attack, and loses one die (cumulatively) for each subsequent defensive action made in that turn. Remember also that all actions, including defensive actions, suffer difficulty penalties against multiple attackers. Avoiding multiple attacks is more difficult than avoiding one, and avoiding attacks from several different targets is even harder. (+1 for each target to a maximum of 9.)