Thursday, October 10, 2013

GURPS Rule Idea: Limiting Feint, Ruse, and Beat resistance

"You tricked it! It dies." - Alternate Reality: The City

What if you could only counter a Feint, Ruse, or Beat with the same attribute used against you, or take a penalty?

Right now, a Beat can be resisted by ST or DX based skill. A Ruse by IQ or DX based skill. A Feint by DX based skill. In other words, you can always resist a defense-lowering contest with DX-based skill. Since most warrior-types get both a high DX and a high skill, this means that Beats and Ruses are generally only useful* if you're stronger or smarter than you are agile, and no harder to counter by weak or dumb guys.

One idea I've been toying with is that you can either:

- resist with the same controlling attribute as you were Feinted/Rused/Beaten with (DX, IQ, ST)


- suffer a penalty and substitute in DX.

This would mean that, say, an Ogre (ST 20, DX 12, IQ 7, weapon skill at DX+2) could Beat at 22, against an elf (ST 10, DX 14, IQ 12, weapon skill at DX+4) who would either use 14 (ST + skill) or 18 minus some penalty. But that elf could use a Ruse at 16 vs. the ogre's 9, or the ogre could try to recover with his agility and skill at 14 minus some penalty.

It's determining what a fair penalty for substitution would be that's got me hung up. In the example, even a -4 for substitution means the ogre is still better off substituting his DX and getting a net 10 than his brains with a 9, and the elf rolls a 14 either way. A sliding penalty isn't typical for GURPS and isn't very fun to recalculate in play, either.

But I like the idea that "recover with my skill" (aka DX-based feint resistance) works best when it's a straight-up question of skill, but doesn't work as well against brute strength or when someone is trying to trick you.

So my current musing is, how do I set an appropriate penalty, and then, how will it work out in play?

* Leaving aside that Beat has some very specific benefits and limitations that make it unlike Feint and Ruse, of course.


  1. Hrm...

    Would using a fractional multiplier be too "math heavy" and further drive us into the weeds? Because you could substitute say 2/3 or 1/2 of the alternate attribute (the former feels right, but isn't quite as quick to calculate; the latter too harsh).

    1. It would just be odd - GURPS doesn't have any other "roll against 1/2 attribute + skill" situations, or "half your bonus" ones. So it would be basically introducing a new mechanic style.

  2. I'm going to go back and peruse Delayed Gratification on this one. Beat has always felt to me as a physical attack on your foe's weapon, knocking it out of line. You can resist with ST only if you don't get your stick out of the way (so to speak) with a parry or dodge, which is where skill comes in. Combined with the notion of Grip ST from Technical Grappling, and I think there's room for Beat as a shock event, attack-based, that might cause your weapon to be knocked out of your hand at worst, and at a penalty to defend at best. Kind of "you inflict and instantly spend CP."

    For the IQ-based Ruse, I am more sympathetic to the notion of a Per-based or a DX-based defense, other than the Per-based roll alerts the foe (metagame) that your foe is shouting "look! your shoe is untied!"

    1. I do think Beat could be subsumed into a general "disrupt the weapon" kind of move, but I was thinking more short-term than creating something like that.

      As for Ruse, it's largely useless now, which pains me. I do think dumb guys should be vulnerable to some kind of trickery, and right now, they're not.

    2. You know, having just written something on Sweep, it occurs to me that you can do something similar. Sweep is two rolls - an attack followed by a Quick Contest. Your Ruse could be something sort of similar, but backwards.

      You roll a Quick Contest of IQ-based weapon skill vs Per- or IQ-based skill. If the attacker wins, his ruse is successful, and the defender must roll vs. either IQ-based skill in his defense on the next attack when calculating Parry. If he does notice the Ruse, he can use DX-based skill.

      So, in short, Sword-18, IQ 14, DX 12 guy attacking IQ 8, DX 12, Skill-16 guy. He wants to try a Ruse, so he does a Quick Contest. I'd maybe do Trained IQ here? Anyway, QC favors the attacker, and he wins. So instead of Skill-16 defending with Parry at 11, he has to default to IQ, which turns him into Skill-12, Parry-9.

      It's not as powerful as a Quick Contest based on IQ, which will normally result in -6 to the defender, but it's something.

      I have another idea that was essentially given to me by Private Message, but I'll share that one with you offline. :-)

  3. I think that any penalty is better than none in this context. -4 rings well with me: it is the narrative "hard" level as in "it is *hard* to beat a ruse with straight agility". Of course, a really really agile or a really really dumb character will defer to finesses to get itself out of trouble, but not as well as if there was no penalty.

    1. Yeah, it's true. -4 is pretty steep, but not unfair.

      I'll have to try that out in some playtesting and see what happens.

  4. Having dumb guys vulnerable to trickery assumes they are listening to you. If you have Speak With Animals can you totally fake out the tiger every time?

    BTW, I had a feint question: What does an Eye of Death (no manipulators, no combat skills at all) use to resist a feint? DX?

    1. You can trick dogs with a stick and "Go get it!" so I'd let someone with Speak with Animals get a lot further.

      An Eye of Death would use DX to resist feints. although you might want to let it use Aerobatics if you prefer them to be even nastier. Generally, though, the problem with the EoD is that they'll hover out of range, up and away. It's hard to feint them without allowing Ranged Feints with bows, and even then, they've got a pretty good base to start from.


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