Armor vs reflex defense

Why is a character sometimes better off relying on reflex rather then wearing armor? Is there any happy medium. Im very new I apologize for the dumb question. Thankyou

It isn’t a dumb question at all!
Can you explain what you mean by “reflex”? “Ranged Defense”? “Side Step”-type talents?

I’m answering assuming you mean Soak versus Defense.

First off, they are two different mechanics meant to simulate two different aspects of avoiding damage. Soak from armor is damage absorption. You get hit by a baseball bat but you are wearing riot armor and you barely feel it. Defense is all about not getting a “hit” in the first place. You catch the arrow on your shield or your spaceship’s deflectors bounce the laser away. Some armor actually has Defense which is hard for some to wrap their head around and has been cause of endless debate in old forums. Defense from armor represents the hit being deflected away. It isn’t the armor soaking up a hit, but completely negating it. Imagine a musket ball hitting you directly in the chest while wearing plate armor, it penetrates the steel but slows the lead down and splinters it. You avoid some damage, but some of it gets through and still harms you. That’s Soak. Now imagine the musket ball hits at an angle, puts a mark in the steel but is deflected away. You take no damage. That’s Defense.

So which is better? That’s not easy to say since there are two different dynamics going on.

So, compare 1 Soak to 1 Defense directly. 1 Soak negates 1 point of damage, always, 100% of the time. But1 point of Defense has only a 33% chance of giving a Failure symbol when rolled. So, if your opponent rolls 2 net Success, then your opponent rolled the added Setback what happens? 33% chance the roll is reduced to 1 Success, which negates 1 point of damage. Yep, in that situation the Soak is much better since it has 100% chance of negating 1 point of damage. Now instead let’s say the roll was one net Success with a base damage of 5. You’re looking at receiving 6 damage with the 1 Success. If you had 1 Soak, you are receiving 5 damage instead of 6. It helps, but not much. But if instead you have a point of Defense and your opponent adds a Setback to that roll, there’s a 66% chance you receive 6 damage (1 point more). BUT, there’s a 33% chance you receive no damage at all. I’m gambling with the Setback in that situation.

Of course it’s going to be very difficult to predict whether your opponet is going to get 1 net Success or multiple net Successes. The chance of either is going to vary by each opponent’s stats and be up to luck of the dice. It’s kinda like saying which weapon should I pick a bow or a sword? Well at range, obviously the bow. In close combat, the sword. But, if you don’t know what range the next encounter is going to be at, it’s difficult to decide which to carry if limited to one or the other.

LOL I hope this is what you were asking.

ETA: One more thing to complicate the decision. Each Defense has a 33% chance of giving a Threat. Threat negates your opponent’s Advantage. That’s very important in combat for lowering the chance of getting hit by a Critical. A sword with a CR of 2 needs 2 net Advantage to wallop you with a critical. Like the example above, that 33% chance, even if rolled, may or may not remove the Critical against you. But it could. Adding 1 point of Soak could also negate the Critical by resulting in all of the damage being Soaked (can’t get a critical unless you receive damage), but ONLY when all of the damage but 1 had already been soaked up.


That’s an excellent answer. I don’t have much to add.