Guard Condition

Hi all, I’m new to Conan and the 2d20 system. I’m a bit confused about ‘guarding’, how it works and is activated and its effects. Can’t seem to wrap my head around it. If someone could explain it to me that would be great, sorry if I seem a bit dense.

Guard is a status that you just have during combat. It is not activated. It basically means that you are prepared for a fight. In most cases, you (and enemies) have Guard automatically.

There are Momentum spends which can make you (or an opponent) lose Guard. This means you/they are distracted somehow. You can regain your Guard again as a Minor Action.

The effects of Guard are relevant to melee combat. When attacking in melee, you always compare the Reach values of your and your opponent’s melee weapon (usually a value between 1 and 3).

If your opponent has Guard, a long weapon is beneficial for them because attacks with shorter weapons are more difficult against longer weapons (e.g. dagger vs. spear). However, if your opponent has lost Guard, shorter weapons suddenly are better because they gain additional d20s.

In numbers:

  • Defender has Guard: +1 melee attack Difficulty for every point of Reach the attacker’s weapon is shorter
  • Defender has no Guard: +1d20 on melee attack for every point of Reach the attacker’s weapon is shorter

I hope this clears it up.


Thanks very much, totally clear and kind of obvious now I’ve read your reply. Much appreciated.

Sarge, i had the exact same question. So it wasn’t super clear from the book. The reply does confirm what i thought.
Well explained.

I’m just reading the rules before playing next month so I’ve not played yet. But is seems very expensive. 2 momentum to drop a guard which is just one minor action to recover. I suppose it could work with teamwork. But even still 2 momentum seems a lot.

Do griblies have guard?

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Indeed the real benefit comes out of team work - someone drops the attack and then the people with shorter weapons charge to finish the enemy off. Or you can even follow up with swift attack.

This is important strategy when you are facing enemies with weapons with higher reach than yours - spears, whips etc. If you use it as GM to drop the guard of the players, the mobs with daggers suddenly become a problem for the sword-wielding fighters.

In what stage, do one use the momentum to make the opponent lose Guard? Do you use it before the attack, i mean when doing skill test d20 rolls to see if you hit or not? If so, do the difficulty become less with -1?
Or you can only remove the guard after you succeeded in the attack?

The Break Guard momentum spend has wording that “May only be used on an attack or a Defend Reaction. The target loses Guard.” Therefore, the character can use it after successful attack or defend reaction.

Therefore, you can’t use it to “weaken” the opponent before your first attack, but you can use swift action to have second attack, or have the next character to take advantage of this condition and be with potential +xd20 if there is difference in the weapon’s range.

PS: I know it is not mentioned that you must succeed, but for me this is the logical way AND the fact that it is MOMENTUM - you need to generate at last 1, ergo having a success in your action. I might be wrong here though… the wording in the book is not solid.

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My dagger-wielding thief is most likely to use the break guard momentum spend after defending an attack, which means I’d get to attack (usually at +1d20) before the target can regain guard.

Worth also noting that it’s a minor action and a Parry check to regain guard, so not automatic.

I have read this before either here or in the old forum, but Break Guard does not necessarily come from an attack or Defend Reaction. There was an example where a ninja-like character made an Exploit action and then used Momentum to Break Guard.

As a GM I tend to reward creative gameplay, so if someone finds a creative way to e.g. use Exploit, I would allow Break Guard if it fits narratively. I think the ninja example was some sort of flip or combat roll, which is definitely something that could break someone’s Guard.

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As an extension to this, the most common way to lose guard in my games is normally suffering complications while in melee combat - letting your guard down or overextending yourself to leave yourself open, for example.

I like that idea.
I need to change how i think in order to use doom properly.

So it is a complication. 2 doom points worth.
Looking at page 271. Worse than a minor inconvenience.