Talisman's standard combat rules assume all adventurers will throw themselves blindly into Attack, even in situations where they face a slim or no-win chance of success. With no other options (besides Spells or Special Abilities), lose of a life is (almost) certain. Another option exists by adding addendum rules and modifiers without changing the innate mechanics of the combat.
There are simplified factors to consider when the adventurer is focused on survival in Battle rather than defeating an opponent. Some factors are already built into the game's standard rules. These are:
- Evasion is already covered by the rules. But it occurs before Battle starts and depends upon and is limited to those characters who (1) have such as Special Ability on their Character Card or have obtained a Follower who allows them this ability. Evasion, however, is not Defensive, as it occurs logically before Battle can take place. It is away to avoid Battle.
- Strength can be broken into three sub-defintions. "Starting Strength" (more succinct thant Strength's Starting Value) is an adverturers innate physical capability. "Natural Strength" is Starting Strength plus any Strength Points built up, which represent skill acquired through adventuring, including skill for Battle. "Current Strength" is the adventurer's Natural Strength plus any modifiers from Magic Objects, Followers, and Spells, etc. All of these are factored into Battle by the standard rules and therefore will likewise already be part of Defensive Combat.
The additonal factors that affect Defensive Combat are similar for those of normal Combat. These are:
- Weapons have standard modifiers for Attack in battle, therefore these can with certain limitations also be applited to Defensive Combat.
- Shields, though classified in Talisman as Armour, are actually defensive Weapons. Classification as Armour was done to avoid complications and keep Battle simple. Within certain limitations, they already possess implied modifiers usable in Defensive Combat.
- Dodging is not the same as Evasion, as it takes place during Battle. Dodging is based on natural ability and not necessarily skill. In fairness, Dodging would be a flat modifier, which would be the same for all adventurers.
Defensive Combat Rules
- Pre-Battle: any adventurer can declare Defensive Combat as its option before or as Battle begins. They may not declare so after they have already rolled for an Attack or any attempt to kill an Enemy or take a Life from another adventurer by any means.
- Post-Battle: whether Defensive Combat is successful or not, no other action may be taken by the adventurer once Battle is finished. This includes Special Abilities, Spells, Follower Abilities, or other activities offered by the current space. The only action they may take is to face another Battle required in the same turn. This is the price of using Defensive Combat.
- Dodging: all adventurers declaring Defensive Combat get a +1 on their roll.
- Weapons: their base bonus is added just as for an Attack. No special abilities or conditional modifiers of a weapon may be used or applied. No additional modifiers for special considerations (Enemy Type, Space Type, etc.) may be used or applied.
- Shield: the typical Shield saves a lost Life during Post-Battle on an Armour roll of 5 or 6. With two success target numbers, the Shield therefor counts as +2 in Defensive Combat. Other shield types in expansions may have different target numbers for saving a Life. Count the number of target numbers and this amount becomes the special shield's bonus for Defensive Combat.
- Special Bonuses: Some adventurers (by their Character Card) have certain bonuses for Attack. These are often as for Weapons under certain conditions or against certain types of opponents. These do not apply to Defensive Combat, since no Attack is being made.
- Roll & Choose: some adventures (by their Character Card) are allowed to roll more than one die in Battle and choose the best roll. This choice is usually do to exceptional skills. This ability may be used for Defensive Combat.
- Mutliple Weapons: some adventurers (by their Character Card) are allowed to use two Weapons if neither are 2-Handed. This ability may be used for Defensive Combat, though it negates any option of Shield use. If the adventurer faces an encounter and has two weapons readied, it may not swap one out for a Shield carried in baggage, on its person as an additional item, or by a Follower.
The average unarmed adventure will have a +1 in Defensive Combat due to standard "Dodging." All weapons, including those classified as Magic Objects, provide a basic +1 in Battle. A typical Shield is +2. For Defensive Combat, an unarmed adventurer would have a +1, a typically armed adventurer would have a +2, and if with a standard shield as well, +4 in Defensive Combat. (If using 2 weapons, sans a Shield, that would be a +3 instead.)
Once all modifiers are counted up, the Battle is conducted as normal. The three possibly outcomes are modified as follows for an adventurer who has declared Defensive Combat.
- If the adventurer loses, the cost is losing a Life or as stipulated otherwise by the current space and/or card. Armour rolls may still be applied to save a lost Life. The opponent is unharmed and all normal rules apply.
- If the adventurer wins, the Battle is a draw. All normal rules for a draw are applied.
- If the adventure rolls a tie with the opponent, the Battle is a draw. All normal rules for a draw are applied.