Thursday, August 4, 2016

Penalty for Cumulative Feints on the Same Target

I was thinking about repetitive uses of Feint the other day. This was occasioned by me totally catching someone flat-footed with a good feint, but then seeing him clue into my feints.*

A cumulative feint penalty makes sense, much as the same way as the cumulative bonus to defend against repetitive moves does.

This admittedly assumes that your feints more-or-less resemble each other.

It's not enough that your opponent knows you like to Feint - overly-examining incoming strikes as if they were feints is effectively the same as falling for them, in my experience. Also, just knowing it might get used doesn't mean you recognize them when they do.

Still, it can get boring in a "climactic" duel where both the NPC and PC generally just use Feint until someone rolls really well. Cumulative penalties mean you really have to consider when to launch it, not just fire one off every turn in the hope of a good roll by you and a bad one by your opponent.

Fool Me Once. Repetitive uses of Feint against the same target are less and less effective. Each Feint past the first in a given engagement is at a cumulative +1 in the Quick Contest for the defender.

Alternatively, Ruses suffer a penalty of +2 for the defender for each one - it's much harder to keep saying, "Hey, look over there!" with any real effect. Beats would be unpenalized - they're not subtle tricks, they are physically forcing you out of position. Knowing they are coming doesn't help very much!

I toyed with the idea of +2 (and +4 for Ruses) but I didn't go for it because it seems a little on the high side.

I haven't tried this, but it's an interesting idea. It might make sense to bust it out only when it's a very particular combat, say a duel or a fight with a boss villain.

* Basically, SHOOTO as taught where I trained uses a step-feint that is identical to the step-jab except for the part where the jab doesn't launch. I did that and immediately launched a cross and caught my sparring partner wide open as he reacted to a jab that wasn't coming, before he could cover the straight. Had I actually just did the usual 1-2, the straight would have been a bit delayed and he'd probably have been able to cover it.


  1. This ties in a bit with your "Reputation for using the same move" trait. I'd love to tie this concept into signature moves and trademark moves. It feels like a lot of GURPS material is sort of floating around this idea of a body of specific, focused moves and countermoves, where excessive reliance on the same technique could get you into trouble... but I haven't quite put all the pieces together.

  2. I admit, I only relatively rarely see characters try to use feints, is this an issue that really needs addressing?

  3. This is something I had actually thought about as well. My thinking was simply a cumulative -1 to successive feints, at the time.

    In all honesty, I'm not hugely a fan of "Feint". From my own experience, a real feint is more like a Deceptive Attack, in that it's such a component of the real attack that it can't really be taken as two distinct actions. I believe Delayed Gratification comments on this in Pyramid, but it's been a while.

    1. Delayed Gratification does something like that. For me, though, I have trained a style that uses clearly distinct feints so I am not terribly sympathetic to the idea of getting rid of them. Some styles and instructors say they don't really exist but I think that's a style issue not a reflection of all combat.

    2. What method? I had been wondering where we could fit them in. I can't say ditch them completely, but as far as my experience reaches it never quite felt "right".

      Something I've been fiddling with lately has a way to improve feints a little bit, though.

    3. "This is something I had actually thought about as well. My thinking was simply a cumulative -1 to successive feints, at the time."

      That's my feeling as well. But as I rarely see Feints (or Beats, or really anything too tricksy beyond Deceptive Attack) I probably won't implement any such house rule.

  4. Yeah, I am not sure that a thing to weaken feints is really needed, since, rarely seen to begin with. If anything they could maybe use some help

    1. Right now (in my group) Feints occupy a strange position: Useful* if one's skill is "mid-line", ie 14-17, or useful if one's skill is very high and the opponent's defense is very high (done as a mix of Feint and Deceptive in order to radically lower a defense).

      * By useful I mean "the Players say they'd consider using a Feint, but I as GM have never seen it".

      Beats occupy that dusty intersection of "mid-line skill and very high ST", which is pretty rare in my games, so Beats are also never seen.


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