A List of Passive Defences? - Myth-Weavers

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A List of Passive Defences?

   
A List of Passive Defences?

I'm just wondering how many different types of defence there are in D&D 3.5. Defences being defined as 'stuff that protects a character from status conditions (especially being ded)'.

Um...what can I think of off the top of my head?
Armor Class: Gives a chance to avoid many types of attacks. Armor/shield/natural-armor bonuses can be countered by touch attacks, dexterity/dodge bonuses can be countered by invisible attackers.
Fortitude, Reflex and Will saving throws: Give a chance to avoid or mitigate the effects of many spells and supernatural abilities. Bypass with spells that use touch attacks (rays, for instance).
Strength and BaB: Used to defend against a lot of special attacks; bull-rush, disarm, grapple, feint...
Hit points: A second layer of defence after Armor Class. Bypass with paralysing, petrifying, instant-death, etc, spells.
Concealment: Gives miss chance to targeted attacks and can prevent targeting; countered by Faerie Fire, See Invisibility, darkvision, true seeing...lots of things, depending on the source of concealment.
Cover: Improves AC and Reflex saves and can sometimes prevent targeting. Comes from obstacles, tower shields, other creatures...
Damage Reduction: Reduces hit point damage from conventional weapons. Doesn't block any kind of energy damage or damage from spells/supernatural abilities.
Incorporeality: Very hard for PCs to get, but gives immunity to all non-magical attack. Countered by magical attacks, duh...
Fast Healing & Regeneration: One makes hit points return faster, the other converts HP damage to nonlethal damage AND heals it faster. Weaknesses vary.
Energy Resistance/Immunity: Reduces or negates hit point damage from a specific type of damage, like fire, lightning, cold...
Spell Resistance/Immunity: Gives a chance to resist (or, outright block) some spells and spell-like abilities, but not supernatural abilities.

Control Winds: Hard-counters ranged attacks and gases, and stops smaller creatures approaching. Countered by Dispel Magic.
Fly: Lets you stay out of melee reach of non-flying creatures. Countered by flight.
Protection From Evil: Hard-counters dominate spells, ghostly possession, and can potentially prevent summoned creatures from attacking.
Death Ward: Hard-counters death effects, energy drain, and negative energy effects.
Freedom of Movement: Hard-counters paralysis, grapples, and other movement impediments.
Delay Poison: Hard-counter (well, almost) to poison.
Antimagic Field: Hard-counters spells, spell-like abilities, supernatural effects, magic items, summoned creatures, and incorporeal undead. Though it also suppresses your own magic and magic items. Difficult to counter.

Ring of Counterspells: Counters a targeted Dispel Magic or Greater Dispel Magic, once, as long as you put the right spell into it. But you can't counterspell spell-like abilities...
Ring of Spell Turning: Expensive, but it can block up to 9 levels of spells or spell-like abilities, 3 times a day.

Hmm...what am I missing?

I guess Mind Blank is a specific form of spell immunity, so technically, that's covered.

Immunity to fear works against both magical and non-magical sources of fear, so that's probably it's own thing. Even better if you are immune to all mind effecting abilities.

Immunity to critical hits also protects against sneak attack damage, pretty useful.

Hmm, immunity to critical hits and immunity to mind-affecting stuff...it's a pity liches have to be evil (unless you've got Deathless from Eberron).
I could probably also note Protection From Energy, that's like temporary hit points applied to a specific energy type. And maybe the little things like Water Breathing and Endure Elements.

@RedRajah; Well, Entropic Shield works in a similar way to concealment, and so does Wind Wall...I guess you could classify them as some kind of ranged-attack-swerving? I did think of them, but I didn't end up including them in that list up there because they aren't really hard-counters (well, Wind Wall does hard-counter some projectiles, but I put up Control Winds instead), and they're similar to concealment like you mentioned.
@Raveled; Dunno, how does Dimensional Anchor fit in there? I guess it's a hard-counter against Maze and Plane Shift if you cast it on yourself...though it does come at the cost of not being able to use a few other teleportation spells, which might be necessary if you're outmatched.

I'm not sure you can include everything exhaustively because any new attack could be "resisted" by basically whatever it wants.

An awful lot of things can be bundled under immunity - including Dimensional Anchor, which is immunity to being teleported.

Hit Dice is a notable one (Sleep, Blasphemy, etc). Also applies vs Intimidate (which also has its own defence - more common in PF, I think, but "bonus to resist being intimidated" is a thing all in its own right).

There are miss chances which are perhaps not strictly concealment - Blink springs to mind. Miss chances vs things which aren't attacks (i.e. Swiftblade) also exist.

Also Invisibility - this is more than just concealment, since it may prevent you from being targeted in the first place. In the same vein, Etherealness, etc, though that starts to blend into simply "not being there".

Dexterity can be used to defend against many special attacks (e.g. trip) in place of Strength. Some are also resisted with things like Balance (such as spells which create difficult balancing conditions e.g. Grease). Actually there are a few things resisted by skills - Concentration is an obvious one, which protects you from having your spells disrupted, as is Sense Motive which protects you from Feint attempts.

You also have things like (Improved) Evasion, Mettle, Uncanny Dodge, Improved Uncanny Dodge (I guess this is sort of "immunity to flanking"), Fortification (immunity to crits/sneak but with a % chance).

Otiluke's Suppressing Aura [CM] is like a lesser Antimagic Field, suppressing spells in a manner which could be used defensively (the obvious is to suppress a school or descriptor you don't use, like an opposition school or an alignment which opposes your own).

Dampen Magic [CCh] also has a similarly-themed effect, weakening spells used against you and also lowering enhancement bonuses (great if cast at a high CL and combined with DR/magic).

Deflect Arrows (along with its Epic follow-ons) is definitely worth noting. Ray Deflection is similar and could just be categorised as immunity to rays, though Friendly Fire also lets you bounce them back - that's more of a retaliation than a defence, I guess.

Though actually, many offensive debuffs can be used defensively - anything which lowers your enemies' ability to harm you could count. Most of these are active, not passive, but Friendly Fire may work and there are ways to get various auras and things. A fear aura, for example, might scare people out of melee with you. Likewise gaze attacks, etc.

Forceward protects from force effects and ghosts.

Oh! Don't forget Mirror Image!

Contingency! (And other contingent effects, like Contingent Spells and Chain Contingency)

Stuff like Death Pact, Clone, etc - brings you back if you die. Can be put in the same bucket as Contingency, really.

You could arguably count Tumble (you have to be moving, but the Tumble itself is passive) and Ride (for cover - it's not really an action - though it's a subset of cover generally anyway). Speaking of cover, Total Cover is different and prevents you being attacked at all.

I'm sure that this list is not exhaustive.

Mm...Hit Dice is somewhat tricky to raise, though. Are there any ways to raise your HD for the purpose of spells like Sleep/Cloudkill/etc, outside of just plain levelling up? Not counting turn resistance possessed by undead?

*notices Death Pact and Clone and wonders if Clone is the 'non-evil' answer to lichdom*

Sure: Inspire Greatness. I'm not sure if it's the only one, though; they may be other "bonus hit dice" abilities but I can't think of any.

I did also forget Turn Resistance. There's another one.

You also have a bunch of weird arguably fringe cases; some of those I mentioned probably fall into that category - another example is high CL as a defence against dispels (and it's notable in that the Ring of Enduring Arcana boosts CL for that purpose only - so it's only defensive). Dispelling Buffer (the Kineticist power) is a more explicit defence against dispels.

I also very recently discovered Shimmermantle which probably deserves a special mention - it's a sort of miss chance/Stoneskin hybrid which works vs spells (though it's 3.0).

Less esoteric is Starmantle, which reduces damage and can destroy weapons. The "destroy attacking weapons" thing is pretty aggressive as a form of defence (but then, the best defence is a good offence) but it's totally passive - Vow of Peace also offers this, and some monsters (e.g. Caryatid Columns) have it too.

Hmm, there probably are a fair few class abilities to keep in mind. Going off the SRD (and ignoring the ones that are just common pluses):

Improved Uncanny Dodge: Neutralises flanking bonuses, and retains dexterity bonus even when flat-footed or attacked by an invisible opponent.
Inspire Greatness: As @TheFred noted above, a Bardic Music that gives a rare bonus to Hit Dice, and it doesn't seem time-limited or require concentration.
Aura: Ehh...if a low-leveled creature (half your HD) attempts to sense you via a Detect Alignment spell, they can be overwhelmed and briefly stunned by your sheer goodness/evilness/chaoticness/lawfulness. Very, very, situational. See also Detect Thoughts, which can be overwhelmed if you have 26+ Intelligence.
Cleric Domains: Can boost caster level (slightly improving the benefits of some defensive spells and increasing difficulty to dispel). Luck gives you a reroll on anything 1/day, Protection grants someone a major bonus to a saving throw once (for one hour, 1/day), Strength gives a 1/day big bonus to a Strength check, Travel gives you limited Freedom of Movement...
Trackless Step: Makes the character un-trackable in natural surroundings.
Venom Immunity/Diamond Body: Poison-proof, yay!
Timeless Body: Immune to the negative effects of aging and cannot be magically aged.
(Improved) Evasion: Makes 'Reflex Half' spells/effects into 'Reflex Negates', Improved Evasion halves damage even when the saving throw is failed.
Purity of Body/Divine Health: Immune to diseases. Purity of Body only works against non-magical diseases, Divine Health works against both natural and supernatural.
Perfect Self: Gain immunity to spells like Charm Person/Dominate Person due to not being classified as humanoid anymore.
Aura of Courage: Fear-proof, and gives allies a bonus for good measure.
Woodland Stride: Grants immunity to damage/hindrance/other effects caused by natural overgrown terrain.
Defensive Roll: If an attack would reduce a rogue to 0 HP or less, they can attempt to make a Reflex save against the damage to halve the incoming damage, 1/day...situationally useful for when a rogue low on HP is fleeing battle and gets hit by an arrow or something, I suppose...
Slippery Mind: Gives a second saving throw attempt against enchantment spells, one round after the initial save.
Poison Use: Prevents any chance of accidental self-poisoning when poisoning a weapon.
Spell Power: Raises caster level outright, boosting the effects of defensive spells and protecting from dispels.
Desert Terrain Mastery: Effects that would cause exhaustion only cause fatigue, and effects that would normally cause fatigue are negated.

Have I missed anything?







 

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