From Exalted - Unofficial Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

NOTE: The release of some better errata likely solved some of the problems mentioned here. It also probably added some new ones. At some point, I need to edit this with the errata in mind, but that hasn't happened yet.

The passive defense system in Exalted Second Edition uses a Defense Value (DV) that is more complex than it first appears. The original intent of this page was to provide concrete examples of how DV worked, particularly how charms interacted with the defense system. As the page matured, it became clear that this was not actually possible, because the rules for defense value are inconsistent and, in some places, blatantly contradictory. Instead, this page will explore what the rules for defense actually say, describing exactly how the rules are inconsistent or incomplete and where the contradictions lie. The primary aim of this page is to present as complete a picture of what book rules affect defense, so you can make a choice as to which of them you actually want to use. The SuturedDefenseValue page suggests a number of different ways rules can be cherry picked to make more consistent defense systems. The examples that were intended to be listed here should instead be listed on such pages, as they will have made concrete decisions to remove ambiguity.

This page will make use of terms and definitions defined in several other pages. They are:

A Theory

Before getting into the meat of the analysis, a brief speculation as to how the rules got into the published state. It is worth mentioning at the start because it makes certain parts of what follows easier to wrap your head around. This speculation is presented without proof, but what seems to have happened is this:

When initially adding static defense into Second Edition, the designers started by basing the system on math. The central idea was that characters had a defense pool (as they did in 1E) that they could use automatically but, instead of rolling the dice in the pool, they would just take the average number of successes. This would speed up play by eliminating rolling, but would still leverage existing concepts like internal penalties (which altered the pool) and external penalties (which altered the successes of result). This system made a great deal of sense, and fit in with the way the rest of the mechanics worked.

Somewhere along the way, probably after feedback from playtesters, the designers decided that, even though it was consistent, the "pool-based" system above was a bit to complicated in play. The idea, after all, was that static defense was supposed to speed up the game. In response, they changed the system to divorce it from pools and the internal/external nature of penalties. Instead, all that mattered would be the defense value (DV) number, and everything in the game would modify that directly. The calculation of base DV, while looking sort of "pool-like" wasn't really a pool, just a calculation. While this did slightly odd things to the math (such as making some kinds of penalties mathematically twice as bad for defense as they were for offense), overall they considered the system tighter and more easily usable in practice.

The problem is that, having made this choice, they should have tracked down and either eliminated or altered all references to the original pool-based system from the book, but they did not do this. Many references to more pool-like mechanics remain and it is not always easy to tell which is which. It is these references which make DV harder to understand than it needs to be.

It's possible that it didn't happen this way. Maybe the "direct DV manipulation" method came first and the pool based system second. Maybe they just never truly decided between them. Maybe they intended it to work some other way and just didn't explain it properly. In short, it's not exactly clear which of these system is "official" or, indeed, if either of them are. In any case, the page assumes a duel of sorts between these two systems, and will mention them both repeatedly.


Rules for defense are scattered throughout the core book, and depending on which of these rules you read first, you can get drastically different impressions on how the DV system is supposed to work. In some cases, it is unclear of certain rules are even supposed to be used for DV or not. Briefly, the following contain rules that may be useful for defense:

  • Definitions of DV and general mechanics (ex2e.145-148)
  • Modifiers chart (exe2.147)
  • Charm interaction rules and limits (ex2e.185)
  • Limits for exalt types other than solars (ex2e.324, exdb.127, ex2e.329, ex2e.335, ex2e.341, ex2e.284)
  • The Order of Modifiers chart (ex2e.124)
  • Specialties and defense (ex2e.123)
  • Wound penalties (ex2e.147, ex2e.121, ex2e.124, ex2e.150)
  • Mobility penalties for dodging (ex2e.147, ex2e.374)
  • Defensive stunts (ex2e.147, ex2e.124)
  • Virtue channeling used for static values (ex2e.127)
  • Hearthstone bracers and dodging (ex2e.381)
  • Weapons with reach (ex2e.373)
  • Mechanics of the Excellency charms (ex2e.183-185)
  • Various defense charms

A Simple Idea

The basic idea of defense in Second Edition is that when you are attacked, you calculate your defense value (DV), taking into consideration the kind of defense you are making, with what you are making it, what you did during your last turn, the environment you are in, charm use, and other factors. This value then acts as an external penalty on (i.e. it reduces the successes of) the one attacking you. The concept is simple and, often, so is the calculation to determine DV. This page deals with the cases when it is not so simple.

For many, the first confusion about DV is that, even though it may be listed on your character sheet, DV is not a set value. It's value is calculated each time you are attacked, based on all the factors mentioned above. Because taking actions imposes DV penalties, the natural tendency of many starting players is to track DV itself (e.g. "my sheet says my DV is 6, and the action I just took gave me a -1, therefore my DV is 5"). This mentality tends to be more of a hindrance than a help. Instead, it is generally more useful to track your DV penalty than your DV itself.

Defense Pool?

To calculate DV, you start by using an Attribute + Ability combination, typically Dexterity + Dodge, Dexterity + Melee or Dexterity + Martial Arts. This certainly looks a lot like a dice pool, but the book never directly calls it so. As will become clear, many of the choices you need to make when deciding how DV will work in your game come down to one question: even though it is not actually rolled is this really a dice pool? This has a correlated question: do points of DV act like successes?

If it is a pool, then presumably effects that manipulate pools (charms, internal penalties, etc.) can manipulate it, using the Order of Modifiers chart (ex2e.124). Also, it would suggest that points of DV act like successes do, so effects that alter DV directly are external penalties or bonuses, equivalent to adding or removing successes.

If it isn't a pool, then presumably effects that change the calculation don't work like internal penalties do, but are something separate. Similarly, DV is just a number, having nothing to do with successes.

In the various definitions, DV is referred to as a "trait" (ex2e.146), not a pool. In fact, the phrase "defense pool" doesn't show up in the core book at all. Other parts of the book, however, refer to static "pools" (ex2e.185) and defensive "dice" (ex2e.381), which suggests pool mechanics. Maybe there are other clues? Perhaps the rules detailing DV limits can help. Or maybe not….


How high can DV get? The rules for charms and pools mention DV explicitly, saying "for unrolled activities such as DV…, Charms increase a character’s static rating by adding to (the relevant Attribute + Ability)" (ex2e.185), with the implication that standard dice caps apply, suggesting pool-like mechanics. It also says "Charms that add automatic successes or remove penalties do not count as increases to a dice pool unless otherwise stated", which would imply that charms that add to DV directly instead of a "defense pool", if DV really does map to success mechanics, have no upper limit. However, in the very next paragraph, it says that "no combination of Charms…can increase a static rating by more than half the (Attribute + Ability)" (ex2e.185), which places a very concrete limit on such charms. This raises some immediate questions, such as:

  • This this static limit in addition to dice pool limits or does it replace them?
  • If it intended to replace the pool limits, why even mention them in the previous paragraph?
  • If it is not intended to replace the pool limits, does it essentially act as a special exception to the "automatic successes" being unlimited rule?
  • Is this limit always "half the (Attribute + Ability)" even for static values that are not divided by two, such as leaping distance and feats of strength?
  • Are unrolled values that are not divided by two even called "static values"?
  • Is this limit always "half the (Attribute + Ability)", or is it supposed to be "half the usual dice limit"? That is, is it "half (Ability + Specialty)" for terrestrials, for example?

How are the contradictions resolved? Are they even contradictions? Interestingly, if either of these paragraphs were removed, the remaining result would be consistent; only the presence of both makes them confusing.

One important thing to note here is that there is little mathematical difference in either saying there is a defense pool limited by Attribute + Ability vs. saying a static DV is limited by half of (Attribute + Ability). In many cases, these are actually different ways of saying the exact same thing. So if, for example, the intent is that both of these limits stack and are both applied, in most cases having one will automatically enforce the other and vice versa. There is, however, one major difference: how this limit interacts with charms that alter DV directly. Using the "defense pool limited by Attribute + Ability" mechanism is irrelevant to such charms, as they take affect after the pool has been "rolled". The "static DV is limited by half of (Attribute + Ability)", however, does cap such charms.

Either way, it's clear that there is tended to be some cap on DV and that cap either is, or is some variation of, the standard pool caps. The bound of this dice cap depends on the type of character:

  • Solars may only add up to Ability + Attribute dice from charms to normal pools (ex2e.185).
  • Terrestrials may only add up to Ability + Specialty dice from charms to normal pools (ex2e.324, exdb.127)
  • Lunars may only add up to Attribute dice from charms to any normal pools (ex2e.329)
  • Sidereals have somewhat inconsistent rules in the core book, because their Excellencies work much differently, both from each other and from the Excellencies of other exalts (ex2e.335). This makes a general rule for them harder to state with authority. It is likely that the general rule for Sidereals will be that they may only add up to Essence dice from charms to any pool. In First Edition (and probably in the Second), this limit did not apply to Martial Arts, which allowed additions from charms of up to Ability + Attribute.
  • Abyssals may only add up to Ability + Attribute dice from charms to normal pools (ex2e.341).
  • Mortals may add only Ability dice from charms (usually charms cast on them by others) to normal pools (ex2e.185).
  • Spirits most likey are limited by Virtues in some way, but this has not been explained as yet.
  • Fair Folk might not be able to use charms to enhance their already high traits (ex2e.284), but this has not been explained as yet.

Note that this dice cap applies only to charm effects, so bonus die such as a weapon's Defense rating or from an artifact like Hearthstone Bracers do not apply to this limit, nor do stunts, anima effects or virtue channeling. Just charms. The dice cap is affected by any charm effects, however, not just those you cast yourself.

If the theory mentioned above is correct, it is probable that "static DV is limited by half of (Attribute + Ability)" is the sole intent of the rules, but this cannot be proven.

One last note about terminology: portions of the book seem to differentiate between "static values" which are divided by 2, and other types of "unrolled values" that are not divided by 2, such as feats of strength. If this is intended to be an official distinction, it is not used consistently (ex2e.122, ex2e.185, ex2e.224, ex2e.232). It appears, however, that a number of rules become more clear if you consider "static values" only to be those that are divided by 2, whereas nothing appears to be gained by treating something like feats of strength as a "static value" rather than an "unrolled value". This suggest that the intent really was to treat these at separate. If you make this choice, some of the above gets slightly clearer. One presumes the idea is that the "static DV is limited by half of (Attribute + Ability)" is a rule meant to apply to static values, while unrolled values are limited by full (Attribute + Ability) increases.

Order of Modifiers

If the defense pool really is a pool, then it would be subject to the Order of Modifiers (ex2e.124). If DV (and, potentially, other unrolled values) are just numbers, then it is not clear if the Order of Modifiers is supposed to be used or not. Either way, this chart contains some glaring omissions and a few limitations that require some guesswork. In particular:

  • Different charms apply at different points in the order of modifiers, and it is not always easy to determine which. The next section breaks charms into "families" based on how and when they function.
  • There is an implied "Step 0: Determine your base pool".
  • Some rare bonuses may actually modify traits directly (see "trait adders" in CharmTypes2E). This indirectly results in extra dice, but is not exactly a dice bonus. It is suggested that these be applied during the aforementioned step 0.
  • It is unclear if the minimum pool calculation (step 5) applies to defense pools or other static value pools. Lacking a statement that it doesn't, this pool minimum is assumed to apply.
  • There is an implicit step missing: "Step 5.5 - Determine Pool Result". This would mean rolling the dice for rolled pools or, if using defense pools, dividing the number of dice in the pool by 2 and rounding. This generates a base number of successes (or the DV for defense pools).
  • The chart doesn't include external penalties. This page assumes the existence of one or moe implied steps on this chart for application of external successes and penalties. External penalties reduce DV directly.


A huge source of confusion for defense are the first two excellencies. These charms are not that confusing in and of themselves, but most people assume when reading them that because they are common, cornerstone charms, that they act as the standard for illustrating how charms affect DV. This impression is augmented by a number of other effects explicitly saying they work like certain excellencies. Unfortunately, it is not clear if excellencies are really the exception or the rule.

The Second Excellency (ex2e.184) is clearly an exception to the rule when used to buy successes for normal rolls. It's clear that "Charms that add automatic successes …do not count as increases to a dice pool unless otherwise stated" (ex2e.185) and the Second Excellency definitely "otherwise states", that there is an upper bound on successes it can purchase, associated with dice limits. When used to augment DV, it clearly applies a similar limit. It is not clear if this is an exception in this case. It depends on what ex2e.185 really means (see above). In any case, Second Excellency clearly acts as a bound adder (see CharmTypes2E).

First Excellency is even more strange. It is clearly a pool adder (see CharmTypes2E) when used for normal rolls; however, when used to augment DV it becomes a rolled adder (again, see CharmTypes2E), where the number of dice actually rolled are not bound by dice caps, but the successes generated by the roll are. This might be taken as evidence that there is no such thing as a "defense pool", as if it existed why wouldn't this charm just add dice to it?

So, one excellency is an exception to the rule when used for static values, the other is an exception when it isn't. While the mechanics of these charms work in unambiguous ways, the lesson here is to avoid thinking of these charms as examples of the general mechanics for defense, as it isn't clear that they are.

Stunts, Virtues and Defense

The core book contains two contradictory rules regarding using stunt die for defense. One ruling (ex2e.147) treats stunt die for defense as rolled adders like the First Excellency (see above). Another rule (ex2e.124) claims that each stunt die is treated as a success from a bound adder, essentially making stunts twice as effective on defense. The first ruling is a bit more consistent and seems to be what the writers actually intended. Note that, in either case, dice from stunts are not charm bonuses, so do not count against the dice cap.

Dice from channeled virtues presumably work like stunt dice do; however this makes the picture even fuzzier. For other unrolled values, like feats of strength (ex2e.127) or leaping distance (ex2e.127), both stunts and virtues add their rating directly. For DV, however, virtue channels are not mentioned. Consistency suggests they work like stunts when used for DV, however that is intended to be.


Certain charms, situations, or even choices by the defender can make one or more types of defense inapplicable. It is clear from the rules (ex2e.146) that when a defense becomes "inapplicable", this means the DV value gets set to zero. What is not clear at all is when exactly this happens. The rules do claim that "bonuses and penalties apply to inapplicable DVs after the reduction to zero, so a character huddled behind a rock may still benefit from its cover, and so on." But it isn't exactly clear what types of bonuses and penalties are being discussed. Does this mean anything that manipulates DV directly, including charms? Or does this just mean modifiers in the chart on page 147? For example, if someone makes an unblockable attack against you, but you have a charm that adds to your PDV, can you block the attack anyway? Can you apply the bonus of a shield against an unblockable attack? Literal reading of the rule quoted above suggests that you can do both.

Calculating DV

As mentioned above, while DV is often called a "static value", in reality, it is fairly dynamic, changing as your situation changes. Whether or not DV is supposed to used the Order of Modifiers (ex2e.124), this discussion will use a modified version of it to go step by step. This version uses the same step numbers when it can. Though the length of this description may appear daunting, in most cases DV is a simple calculation. We go slowly here to illustrate some more problem spots for DV.

The following will refer to defense pools. Even if they are not intended to actually be pools, the word functions as a decent shorthand for "something that might be a pool but also might just be a number".

Step 0: Determine your base pool

When defending, you may either dodge, parry or do neither. Usually, you can use your best defensive value. If you are not sure which is best, just calculate them both and choose one. Your base dodging pool is:

Dexterity + Dodge

When parrying, your base defense pool is:

Dexterity + Ability (usually Melee or Martial Arts)

Trait adder charms (see CharmTypes2E) apply at this step.

Step 1: Apply Non-Magical Bonuses

Any internal, non-magical bonuses are then added as dice to the base pool. For parries, the Defense rating of the weapon is applied. For dodges, if your Essence is greater than one, you add Essence you your pool. You can also add up to three applicable specialty dice (ex2e.123).

For normal dice pools, stunts and virtue channeling would apply during this step; however, because of the way these (likely) work on DV (see "Stunts, Virtues and Defense" above) they do not apply during this step for defense.

Step 2: Apply Non-Magical Penalties

Any internal, non-magical penalties are applied to the defense pool. For some reason, many of the penalties that are considered internal penalties in other situations are confusingly not considered internal for defense. These seem to be rules altered away from "pool based" defense, in favor of "everything modifies DV directly" mechanics. In particular:

  • Wound penalties are clearly listed as internal penalties for most purposes (ex2e.121, ex2e.124, ex2e.150); however they are clearly stated as acting as external penalties for defense (ex2e.147), where they "subtract directly from DV".
  • Mobility penalties have a similar issue to wound penalties, except that one rule implies that mobility is an internal penalty for defenses (ex2e.374) while another claims mobility is an external penalty for defense (ex2e.147).

Unless mobility truly is an internal penalty, there appear to be no non-magical internal penalties that apply to defense. Note that penalty reducing charms (see CharmTypes2E) may prevent some of these penalties, if they actually exist, from applying.

Step 3: Apply Magical Bonuses

Any pool modifying magical benefits are added to the defense pool. One unambiguous canonical example would be the bonus dice for dodging granted by Hearthstone Bracers (ex2e.381). Any charms that add to the defense pool (see "Pool Adders", below) would apply at this stage, if any such charms actually exist.

Step 4: Apply Magical Penalties

Any pool modifying magical penalties are applied to the defense pool. It is unclear if charms exist that do this to defense. Also, if such charms do exist, it isn't clear if they effect dice caps or not. For example, if you have a cap of seven dice, and someone uses a pool reducer on you to remove three dice, could use charms to gain 10 dice, for a net of seven? Because the rules (ex2e.185) say "no combination of charms may exceed", and such combination explicitly includes charms from any source (also ex2e.185), it suggests that such charms are intended to be included against dice pool limis.

If defense pools really exists, this is the point at which a check against caps would be made. Determine the net number of dice added to the pool from charms, regardless of who cast them. The value will be referred to in this document as B. Check this number against your dice cap (see above). If B exceeds your cap, reduce the dice added to the defense pool until B exactly matches your cap. Left over dice are wasted.

Step 5: Determine Minimum Dice

It is unclear if this step is intended to apply to defense, but nothing indicates that it isn't. Instead, if your Essence is both greater than one and greater than your modified defense pool, set your defense pool equal to either your Essence or the original, unmodified pool (whichever is smaller). Normally, wounds would be subtracted here, but since wounds are not internal penalties for defense, this is skipped.

Step 5.5: Determine Pool Result

At this point, you have completely determined your defense pool. Barring pool minimums that may or may not be relevant, it is, when dodging:

Dexterity + Dodge + Essence (if 2 or more) + specialties + min(dice from charms,cap) + other internal bonuses - other internal penalties

or, when parrying:

Dexterity + combat ability + weapon's Defense rating + specialties + min(dice from charms,cap) + other internal bonuses - other internal penalties

To determine the base of your defense value, which this document will call A, divide the pool by two. At this time, do not yet round the result, holding fractional results until the end.

If the rules are inapplicability allow modification of charms after the pool is reduced to zero (see "Inapplicibility" above), then DV would be reduced to zero now.

Step 6: Apply External Bonuses & Penalties

How to proceed in this step depends on exactly how the inapplicability rules are supposed to work. If they are truly meant to apply to any effect that alters DV directly, then as just mentioned, DV is reduced to zero in the previous step and all the bonuses and penalties are applied at once.

If, on the other hand, only certain types of bonuses and penalties are are meant to survive past the application this step needs to be broken into pieces:

  • Apply penalties and bonuses trumped by inapplicability.
  • Apply inapplicability.
  • Apply penalties and bonuses that survive inapplicability.

In either case, should any fractions arise in this case (generally due to charms that add half of something to DV), retain them. Note that caps come into play for bonuses and penalties from charms at this stage (see "Limits" above).

Modifiers such as the following apply during this step:

  • Penalties from previous actions
  • Wounds (see note above)
  • Mobility (Dodge only) - if you believe ex2e.147
  • Shields (provide bonus to DV, but may also reduce it for dodges via extra mobility penalties)
  • Stunt successes (see above)
  • Virtue channeling successes (see above)
  • DV reductions from charms
  • DV bonuses from charms
  • Cover (if better than shield bonus)
  • Onslaught
  • Terrain
  • High or Low Ground. These rules are also bit confusing (ex2e.147), but the intent appears to be that the person on high ground gets a external bonus to DV, while the person on low ground gets a corresponding external penalty to their own DV, unless using weapons that eliminate this penalty (ex2e.373).

Step 9: Rounding

At this point, round the result to get the final DV. Round up for exalts and other magical beings, down for mortals.

Applying Defense Value

The final DV acts as an external penalty to the attack, not as a difficulty rating. It is not clear if DV really is an external penalty for all purposes. For example, a charm like There Is No Wind (ex2e.187) "nullifies all penalties" for the attacker. If DV really is a penalty, then this charm would seem to ignore the target's DV, which does not appear to be its intent. (The charm, for example, doesn't mention being both unblockable and undodgeable). A literal reading suggests that DV really is an external penalty (ex2e.148), but "reading between the lines" suggests that the intent is that DV behaves like an external penalty (in that it reduces attack successes), but isn't considered one by charms that affect external penalties. Charms have specific language to make DV inapplicable.


A number of past comments applied to an old draft and have been incorporated into the main text. They have been preserved in DissectingDefenseValue/Discussion.

Re: Inapplicability. The rules are completely silent on when inapplicability should be applied, and I think you'd be better off clarifying the justification for your stance and explaining what the alternatives are (assuming you mean this page to be more than your houserules, which has been the apparent case thus far). Specifically, stating that inapplicability applies so late in the process eliminates the possibilty of using Excellencies and the like to raise DVs set to 0 by inapplicability; this is an option that I, for one, maintain is valid. Also, I am curious as to why you say in Step 5 that "it appears that inapplicability is not intended to apply yet" - is there a particular Charm or rule that implies that to you?

Also, and this is a minor annoyance that may someday be a serious problem, but isn't yet: feats of strength and leaping distance, etc., are not static values. They are unrolled values. A static value is an unrolled value that has been divided in two, presumably to represent the statistical success average if the unrolled value were, in fact, getting rolled. - Hapushet

The only concrete thing the rules say on inapplicability is "bonuses and penalties apply to inapplicable DVs after the reduction to zero, so a character huddled behind a rock may still benefit from its cover, and so on." I made the assumption that this didn't include charm manipulation, but you're right in suggesting that that is just my own assumption and not provable. Looks like "unblockable" attacks really aren't that unblockable. I'll update this a bit later. As for "static" vs. "unrolled", some of the rules read like what you say is true, some of them don't. Page 185 calls feats of strength both in the opening sentence that mentions them. Lightening Speed refers to excellencies increasing "the static rating of (Dexterity + Athletics)" (ex2e.224). Notes on linguistics talk about "increasing the static rating of Linguistics with the Linguistics Excellencies" (ex2e.232). The rules also suggest that not all static values are divided, using phrases like "if the value is rounded" (ex2e.185) and "often have to round" (ex2e.122), but then of course follow this with text that suggests that all static values are rounded. They also don't officially define "unrolled values". I think your approach is better though, making "static" and "unrolled" have specific meanings. - Wordman

I think we can easily infer from context that the bonuses and penalties to DV referred to by that statement are only those which do not benefit the innaplicable form of defense (such as the defense of a weapon or a parry-enhancing charm against an unblockable attack), but only those which apply regardless of the form of defense (certain highly potent charms might do this, but no printed ones that I know of - also, shields and cover work this way). - IanPrice
I beg to differ. Essence manipulation in all its forms is magic. Thus its ability to mitigate inapplicability should not be denied outright, especially when the rules as written allow it to do so. If somebody wants to max out his First Dodge Excellency when he's being targeted by the Godspear, then it is reasonable to allow those 10 motes to give him 5 Dodge DV. Yes, in first edition, it doesn't work that way. But this is second edition, and together with ticks and excellencies, you also get inapplicability mitigation. - TonyC
An interesting thought; but what then, is the relevance of a callout on which charms can block the unblockable, and which can't? SSE leaps immediately to mind, insofar as it's effect has nothing to do with DV, so a reduction to zero wouldn't eliminate it's effect. -Vaegrim
I have problems with that. Inapplicability-producing effects are far more difficult to obtain than DV bonuses, and almost all of them are Essence-based. Excellencies are the lowest form of this manipulation, and should not be offering defense against the Essence 3+ charms and high-dot-level artifacts which tend to be the causes of inapplicable defense. Therefore, I favor a strict interpretation of the rules towards "inapplicability means you just don't count it." Since penalty-removers specifically can't get around it, I also infer bonuses can't. Similarly, if a player in my game wanted to circumvent Adamant Skin Technique with Fire and Stones Strike (a perfect "removes all raw damage" soak with a post-soak damage adder), I would say no - Adamant Skin Technique perfectly defends against damage. Other things not necessarily, but damage yes. - IanPrice
There are a horde of misstatements in this paragraph. First of all, the rules give a specific definition of what "unblockable" or "undodgable" mean: the relevant DV is set to 0 before bonuses. Nothing else is offered as a game effect; therefore, the "strict interpretation of the rules" is what is given above. What it used to mean in 1E is not relevant. As for the relative Essence level of the effects, I would like to point out that an Integrity 1, Essence 1 Charm completely negates all uses of an Essence 6 SMA Charm for an entire day. Being able to only partially negate a Charm that is a point or two of Essence higher is hardly beyond reason. Your point about penalty reducers holds no water, because the rules specify that setting your DV to 0 is not a penalty - hence, penalty reducers have no effect. The same rules do permit bonuses after the DV is set to 0, however, so DV bonuses apply. Finally, there is no appropriate analogy between a perfect defense and an inapplicable attack. The two have nothing to do with one another. - Hapushet