If my party has a Chanter (with no scroll and a defense of 1) and a guard (defense 2) and attacks something with 1 attack, can the guard take the attack and not be killed or does the chanter die?
The general rule for combat in PoE is that unless your total armor outweighs the total attack value coming towards you, one of your units is going to die.
Damage is lethal to whatever card takes the brunt of it. The only thing the defense value offers is the ability to absorb damage in the hopes that another card doesn't also have to take damage and die.
SO in the case above, one of your cards in the party will have to die, the Chanter or the guard (your choice).