What if every ability score could be added to defense?


Strength based defense means you parry the enemies attack or catch their weapon.

Dexterity based defense means you nimbly dodge out if the way.

Constitution based defense means you shrug off their blow or they don’t pierce your thick skin.

Intelligence based defense means that you use your background knowledge of this type of enemy to predict what they’re going to do.

Wisdom based defense means you quickly notice where they’re going to strike next and move out of the way accordingly.

Charisma based defense means that you weave a distracting string of words that throw the enemy off and cause them to miss.

Pros of this method:

  • Way more flavor to the different character styles.
  • Great opportunities for fun role-play.
  • No more confusion for why characters can’t add dex to their defense.

Cons of this method.

  • Obviously constitution would need a rework, something like +2 hp per point in con.
  • Everybody would have the same chance of dodging an attack.

So, even though balance would be thrown away for the sake of fun, isn’t that what this game is all about? Let me know your thoughts.


In Alfmarches, my main ICRPG GMing haunt these days, that would just mean everyone’s got 20 DEF, all the time.

A weird phenomenon there is that we get 70%+ of character going all-in on one STAT and one Effort. A lot of +6 WIS Priests, for example.

So that applied to that context wouldn’t really work - I mean, it would, but instead of ‘taking balance for fun’ would just optimize most of the characters. Character would attack and defend with the same STAT - thus bringing back the whole issue with DEX all over again, but sixfold.

So it highly depends on the group of players you’re interacting with.

I’d say most of your pros are dead wrong IMO. I’d say that doesn’t really add flavor at all - players can do that without needing numbers to back them, thus taking out your second point too; and way more confusion as to why each one is adding a different modifier to DEF.

Breaking CON into HP implements would be a major detraction from the simplicity of Hearts, and your last con is dead on.


Assuming everyone still has 6 points to distribute to stats, everyone would start off with 16 defense, exclusive of lifeform bonus and starting loot. This means everyone would have 20 or close to 20 defense at level one after those choices …. Not exactly a fun way to play (it might seem like a good idea, but it’s not), and you make your life much harder as a DM to challenge literally every level one character. Also, you’re diluting your characters: “Hey, I’m hard to hit because nimbly strong with wisdom and a tiny bit of charisma.” LOL.


I view a defense stat as something passive. How hard is it to deal a blow to a character, without that target character expending any effort. A lot of those ability based stats sound like an active action. Maybe you can have those consume an action somehow so that, under the right circumstances, a nimble character can indeed dodge, but in doing so they sacrifice their ability to perform an action next turn.

[small edit to rephrase for clarity]


I like that you’re playing with ideas, but as others have pointed out, it’ll lead to a lot of sameness and high defense PCs. Another way of achieving your goal is to have abilities, Loot, or Powers that allow the PC to use an alternate stat in certain situations or for a short duration.

For example: You could have a brainiac that can spend “X” number of turns analyzing an attack and then use his/her INT for defense instead of CON/DEX for the rest of the combat.

Don’t forget you still have saves that allow other stats to shine as well.


I would not add all stats to defense, BUT I would let the players make Stat based Defense Saving throws instead of just rolling the defense stat (And would go one step further and do player facing rolls where the players are saving vs every attack instead of the DM rolling to hit).

My giant ogre tries to crush you with it’s club? You can make a Dex Defense roll to dodge it. Character A might have +3 Dex, but Players B might have zero. Your examples fit with this method, and that solves your balance problem.

Oh and either just remove the defense stat or make it damage soaking.

I wouldn’t add +2 HP for Con as it throws off the point of Hearts. There are lots of monster attacks that could be Con saves.


Ah! You’re saying we remove the Armor or Defense stat and use Saving Throws like D&D 5E? Then just make contest checks and you should have a fun time! Cheers! :smile:


I like this idea a lot, and The Black Hack 2e uses it. All rolls are Player Facing, and each enemy/monster has a specific stat listed that is used to defend against each attack. It’s beautifully simple, and works great at the table.

So yeah, in ICRPG, you could easily have a Defense for each Stat, but I would probably have it be like Arc says above, just have the Defending stat be whatever you wish based on the context of the attack. If Armor would help, then use CON + Armor, if agility is paramount, then it’s a DEX + Loot mods, and if it’s a mental attack, WIS + Loot mods, etc.


I use player facing rolls, and so far I’ve allowed people to roll any physical STAT + ARMOR.

So a fighter is gonna roll STR + ARMOR, a rogue is gonna roll DEX + ARMOR, a Dwarf will probably still roll CON + ARMOR.

I also limit how much armor a character can wear. The rule of thumb is, you can wear your CON stat in layers of armor. So 3 CON, means you can wear +3 armor.

You can also get Armor Proficiency, which allows you to wear armor above your CON with no penalty. If you wear more armor than your CON + Armor Proficiency, then all rolls are HARD.

So here’s the thing. I have many reasons for doing all this, I think armor should be tied to CON. I think you should be able to train and wear more armor. I think you should be able to use your quick feet to step out of the way of an attack. The question is, does all of this add anything to the game other than more stuff to track and worry about, and slightly beefier DEF stats, when PCs could instead have a choice.

“Should I focus on offence or defense?”

On this question I’m undecided.

Also, I love what @Arc and @NRod suggested of calling for specific stats. “ROLL STR! Add your ARMOR!”