Maneuver Defense Feats for Pathfinder 1e

Some players just hate being disarmed. Or grappled. Or tripped. Or having their weapon sundered. Sure, it’s a reasonable and normal tactical option for GMs, but that doesn’t mean players don’t want ways to improve their defenses against such maneuvers.

(Art by Javier)

The classic answer is to take the appropriate Improved combat maneuver feat, which increase your CMD… but they also does a lot of other things. In fact, their primary abilities are offensive in nature, rather than defensive. Which means an all-defensive version is reasonable… but it needs to not stack, or defensive numbers can grow beyond what the game system is designed to allow.

CMD is also a place where spells and magic items don’t really make up the growing gap in value for characters not focusing on Strength and Dexterity. A wizard can use mage armor to boost their AC, and get ever-more-effective bracers of armor as they gain levels. But if they want to keep their Intelligence competitive, they can’t afford to boost their Strength and Dexterity as they go up in levels. Other classes have the same (or worse) problems, especially those dependent on multiple attributes.

There should be SOME way to make sure their CMD can stay in good defensive ranges if they expend character build resources on it, without also allowing high-Strength, high-Dexterity characters to become effectively immune.

Those are pretty narrow design spaces, but they’re certainly ones we can work with.

Combat Maneuver Defensive Focus (Combat)
You have trained yourself to avoid one specific combat maneuver.
Benefit: Select one combat maneuver. You gain a +4 bonus to your CMD against this combat maneuver. This bonus does not stack with the bonus to CMB from the matching Improved (Combat Maneuver) feat. When you gain a level, you may replace this feat with the matching Improved (Combat maneuver) feat if that feat is a legal choice for your character.
Special: You may select this feat more than once. Its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, you must apply it to a different combat maneuver.

Combat Maneuver Specialized Training (Combat)
You have learned to maximize the benefits of your natural talents to avoid being overwhelmed by combat maneuvers.
Benefit: When calculating your CMD, you may replace either your Strength bonus or Dexterity bonus with the ability bonus of one other ability score of your choice. Once these decisions are made, they cannot be changed.

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About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on October 15, 2020, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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