Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Untested House Rule: Fixed-Level Ripostes

Over on the SJG forums we've been having a discussion on counterattack, which spun into discussions of Riposte. It's here if you want to read it all.

Out of that discussion I got an idea. This is totally untested, but doesn't seem prima facie broken. Basically, ditch Riposte. Replace it with Deceptive Parry, from the GURPS Martial Arts Designers' Notes.

Fixed Level Riposte. Remove the Riposte mechanic from GURPS Martial Arts. Replace it with Deceptive Parry, from the designer's notes. (Short version: Parry at -4, opponent's defenses are at -4). Deceptive Parry becomes a Combat Option, not a technique, and cannot be purchased or improved.

You can combine this with:

Fixed Level Deceptive Attack. Deceptive Attack is now a flat-cost option. A Deceptive Attack is -4 to your skill in return for -2 to your opponent's Active Defenses against that attack. All other rules apply normally - you can't reduce your final effective skill below 10, you can't combine it with certain other attacks.

This turns DA into a mirror of Telegraphic Attack, and simplifies the choices available. Either you do it or you don't.

If you wanted to do this to Setup Attacks, too, it's easy enough - -4 now for -2 later, other rules options as selected from Doug's article.

It's debatable if you'd need Counterattack (also from Martial Arts) or not. I'd say yes since it fills a niche (Obvious Attack vs. Sneaky Attack, Risky Parry based techniques vs. Risky Attack based techniques). You could always cap it at between default-1 and default-3 if you want it to be harder than a normal attack, but I don't personally think that's necessary.

Pros: This would simplify riposte, since it's a -4 all the time. If you allow Deceptive Parry to be learned as a technique (it's original intent), you might want to consider Gnome's suggestion. That limits your improvement to default-2, so you can get better at it but not by so much it's always better than a normal parry.

Cons: Less options for the highly skilled. Makes for very fixed options in combat instead of true ability to leverage skill. Untested.


  1. Just so I'm following the intent - the goal here is strictly simplification of combat options?

  2. This post put me in mind to look at a comprehensive "what options are available" type of chart. I'll probably start something on my blog, but looking at something like:

    Technique To Hit Change Defense This Turn Def Next Turn
    Telegraphic Atk +4 +2 -
    Deceptive Atk -2x -x -
    Setup Atk -2x - -2x

    We'll see. The reason I thought of this is that there are going to be some missing combinations, and it would be interesting to see if they can or should be added.

    1. It would be a good way to spot missing valid options and unnecessary duplication.

    2. I'll throw down a draft tonight. I've got a few other ideas I want to start getting on paper.

  3. From Strictly Combat effective Fencing perspective, there is nothing like Deceptive Parry. None of those fencing styles (schools) I've studied so far (Spanish Rapier, Italian Rapier, late French Smallsword, british Navy Saber, German Slegerfecht dueling saber) teaches risky defense to decieve enemy.

    CapoDiFerro (Italian) even calls some parrying techniques foolish to be even tought about during a sparring routine. When it comes to fight where injuries are serious thred the primary goal of combatant is to defend oneself with the sword.

    Riposte in terms of fencing is "offensive ansver to an oponents attack AFTER sucessfull deflection of his weapon". Delivered "A Ferre" (on iron) by folowing the bond of blades and thrusting back directly.
    Footwork is: step back and parry -> lunge and thrust

    Everything else is "anything" BUT Riposte.

    1. I couldn't tell you how common it is in fencing, but it's not like "cut my parry a bit short and get right to the offense" doesn't happen in fighting. If you miss the parry, it didn't work. If you get it, it was a good gamble. The die roll tells you what happens when you try.

      Consider this a way to represent aggressively skipping from defense to offense more quickly. If you don't accept that as valid or possible, you shouldn't accept Riposte as written, either, and rename Counterattack to "Riposte." That would mechanically fit in its spot if you banned parry-based risk.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I didn't mean to argue about mechanics of GURPS, neither question them, or people trying to improve it, by some tinkering. I just ment to bring up some information that might be helpfull and interesting as well... Keeping in mind, that Riposte (word and it's definition) originates to early fencing styles with rapiers, namely Italian founders and masters Marozzo, CapoDiFerro, Agrippa ..

    4. Oh sure, I understand.

      One thing that happened a lot during the GURPS Martial Arts playtest, and before and after it, was people tripping over terms that mean something very specific in one art. Terminology gets grabbed for a similar-but-not-same technique in a different style, or a different name is applied to the same thing. One person's parry-and-counter is another person's riposte and another person's counterpunch and so on. We needed to find terms that sat right in the middle of "most accepted" and then make them generic. Inevitably, you'll get some weirdness when you do that.

      And my response wasn't meant to sound defensive. I'm just saying, if you think that kind of thing doesn't exist, you need to take a few different pieces of the system out to get the whole chunk removed. Otherwise you're just removing one way to do it when you mean to remove all ways to do it.


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