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Passive vs Active Defenses and Glancing Blow Rework Thoughts

So I’ve been thinking about two things for awhile but haven’t been able to think of any good ideas regarding them, but just recently thought of how the two could interact.


Defense systems can generally be boiled down to being either active (requiring interaction) and passive (static buff). Each is important for facilitating different playstyles and engaging the player. Passive systems do not rely on optimal play, but increase the users capabilities assuming they maintain the same quality of play, useful for gating content and giving a feeling of progression. The available active defense systems inevitably dictates how a player reacts to given situations, if the only system is physically dodging then players will kite mobs, add in potions on kill, and players will make a choice between finishing the kill or running, add in a “negate damage” button and it presents even more choices.

LE Passive Defense Systems:

  • Health
  • Health Regen
  • Damage Taken to Mana Before Health
  • Block
  • Dodge
  • Chance to Receive a Glancing Blow
  • Protections
  • Sometimes Ward
  • Reduced Damage Taken
  • Stun Avoidance

LE Active Defense Systems:

  • Health Leech
  • Potions
  • Movement Speed
  • Attack/Cast Speed
  • Status effects (Chill, Slow, Stun, Blind*)
  • Sometimes Ward
    *I’ll have something to say about this one in a later thread

LE has an abundance of passive systems with Dodge/Block/Health/Protections/Glancing all feeling about the same in what they add to the character.

A majority of active defenses come from skills, which means there are not many “exciting” choices to make when building gear or passives, which are generally passive by nature. What we do have is potion and health leech, which require similar actions for similar rewards, and speed enhancements to improve the ability to physically dodge things. Ability to use status effects as a defense mechanic is interesting, but they’re usually strong capped in effectiveness (non-stacking).


There’s been quite a bit of negative feedback around this mechanic lately, mostly revolving around how mandatory it feels.

what feels good:

  • Percent damage reduction (it scales well)
  • Doesn’t require significant investment

what is not great:

  • Cap is easily achievable, relying solely on gear
  • It’s linear (can only effect the chance outcome, meaning there aren’t many variables to change)
  • Fundamentally similar to Block or Dodge, lacks thematic separation

By reducing the availability of the affix, it really only addresses the first not great point.


Thinking up this idea, I turned to the thematic representation of a glancing blow. A glancing blow can be thought to occur as an attack is diverted, barely dodged, or the enemy themselves aimed poorly (perhaps due to intimidation).

The more attacks a person receives the less likely any of those scenarios becomes (you can only divert so many attacks within a given timeframe). The concept for the mechanic is therefore, your chance of having a glancing blow decreases as you take more hits within a short timeframe. For simplicities sake and visual fidelity, this could be represented as a resource, something like “Preparedness” for example.

A player would by default have 100% glancing blow chance (represented by “10 preparedness”) each hit taken would result in the loss of “1 preparedness” and therefore 10% glancing blow chance. After taking 10 hits they would no longer have a chance to receive a glancing blow. Every (~)2 seconds a player could regenerate one preparedness (irregardless of being hit). In this way the mechanic defends mostly against one off attacks and loses effectiveness with sustained hits from multiple sources.

But wait Geo, wouldn’t this encourage kiting, like health regeneration does?
Health regeneration generally requires a longish time to regenerate (so that spike damage doesn’t become the only way to actually finish the player). By attaching it to damage reduction rather than life, it has the opposite effect of making sustained damage rather than spike damage the better player killer.

In thinking of games with a similar mechanic I think of the recently released “Shadows of Seikro” and their posture mechanic. Obviously they differ, but the main emphasis is on becoming weaker/more vulnerable over sustained engagements. What I envision the gamestyle this would most likely promote is a more position oriented/movement based hit and run style combat where you stop to deal a few attacks and then move on to a better location. You can be presented with the choice of standing in one AoE to deal your attack, knowing that the first hit at least will be buffered somewhat.

What advantages does this offer?

  1. Reductions of spike damage, players are less likely to have that ever so frustrating one shot life sentence.
  2. Smaller mobs are made more threatening in a manner that is acutely obvious to the player (unlike the stun mechanic before)
  3. Several more options for expanding on the system (see below).
  4. Players are encouraged to avoid static positions

That’s cool, but how can we build with it?
For Items the base modifier would be % of damage reduced by a glancing blow. It could also include modifiers for % of Spell/Melee damage reduced by a glancing blow.

For Passives here are some ideas:

  • Increased preparedness regeneration rate
  • Increased damage when at low preparedness (this offers a counter gameplay style in which the player is more focused on absorbing hits to deal more damage)
  • More preparedness, each point of preparedness represents less glancing blow chance.
  • Potion immediately regenerates preparedness
  • Preparedness also subtracts from the base damage of attacks that hit you
  • Increased Movement speed at high preparedness
  • Increased Movement speed at low preparedness
  • Reduced preparedness regeneration, increased effectiveness of glancing blows
  • Small random chance to not lose preparedness when hit
  • Lose double preparedness on hit, doubles effectiveness of a successful glancing blow
  • … and many more to be though of, or slight variations of the above

This additional mechanic actually sounds like a very flushed out (optional) playstyle variation for the rogue class. The whole theme really screams 5e Rogue (for better or worse) — especially “uncanny dodge” and the fact you referenced %/total later able to be applied to spells also kind of lines up with the basic structure of “evasion.”
I like the basic concept, but I generally always stay away from stats that cycle. Imo, it just feels bad to go from big d*** to limp noodle every 10/20s.
I personally would rather make it an active ability that starts at a moderate % and gains x%/y-seconds for z-seconds or starts at a high % and decays moderately x%/y-seconds for z-seconds. This approach would lead to more player autonomy (amazingly, without introducing immunity frames!) and still achieves anti-1-shot mechanics but would be significantly less effective against getting smorked.

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It does sound really interesting and appealing. But I also see the point that @Vainqueur515 makes. I’m sure some kind of combination could be optimal.

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