Saturday, July 15, 2017

Countering Feints / Recovering from Feints

I like the concept of recovering from a Feint. Douglas Cole presented one way to do this in his post on Viking Shield Fighting. I think it could use a tweak or two, but I think this is a good, playtest-ready rule:

Feint (Recovery)

You can attempt to recover from the penalty inflicted by a successful Feint against you. Roll against your own weapon skill, using the same statistic used to counter the original Feint (ST or DX for a Beat, DX for a Feint, IQ for a Ruse.) Apply your margin of success against the penalty imposed by your opponents feint, negating the penalty on a one-for-one basis. This never provides a bonus.

Example: Sir Agrippa uses a Beat against Sir Ferro's rapier. Sir Aggrippa has Rapier-16 and makes his ST-based roll by 5, Sir Ferro has Rapier-15 and makes his DX-based roll by 1 and is at -4 on the next turn. Sir Ferro takes a Feint (Recovery) on his next turn, and rolls against his Rapier-15. He rolls a 12, making it by 3. Sir Agrippa's Beat only imposes a -1 to Sir Ferro's Parry the next turn. Had Sir Ferro rolled, for example, a 5, his margin of success would have been 10. He would remove the entire penalty for the Beat, but not gain any bonus to defend.


Notes: One issue with this is whether this is a Ready (you're spending a turn to recover) or it's a variant Feint used to just reset yourself in position. This is an issue because of the rules for Feints and Multiple Attacks (GURPS Martial Arts, p. 127). If you can swap in any kind of Feint for an attack (even part of a Rapid Strike), then you should be able to do a Feint (Recovery) as well.

The downside to this is that it makes Feints even less useful against foes with Multiple Attacks (just swap in a Recovery, every time) and useless against high-skill foes with multiple attacks from any source. The upside is this makes high-skill multiple-attacking martial artists, swashbuckler-types, wuxia swordsman, and chambara movie samurai able to engage in really cinematic combat. It also means feints are a very useful way to deal with multiple-attacking skilled foes, if you're skilled as well - make your Feint, force them to choose between an attack or undoing the Feint. So attacks and feints and attacks and recoveries are all meshed together in a web of action economy until someone cracks.

Making a Ready means it takes your whole turn to avoid suffering from the Feint.

Making it a Ready is probably the most conservative approach, and imposes the most cost.

If you play with hidden feints, like many do, this is pretty much useless unless it's a Beat (which is always obvious.) So you'll need to allow people to notice a feint.

Noticing Feints

At the beginning your next turn after your opponent has attempted a feint, roll against your best Per-based Melee Combat or Unarmed skill. If you succeed, you know your opponent has attempted a Feint. You don't know how much the contest was won or lost by, however - it won't be resolved until your opponent's next turn. If you take a Feint (Recovery) action, resolve it first and apply your margin of success against the results of the Feint normally.


  1. I like these rules, but I fear they would never come up in most games I play. Just about the only use of Feint I see is a Feint as part of a Rapid Strike or Extra Attack, so it's Feint and immediately attack, with no opportunity for the foe to recover.

    If I was going to use these rules, and I'm strongly tempted to, I'd would probably allow the defender in a Feint + immediate Attack situation to make a Feint (Recovery) attempt out of turn (at the usual cost on their next turn and a -2 penalty on their Recovery roll). I think it's still advantageous to use Feints in this situation, but it provides an opening for the defender to attempt Recovery no matter what the attacker does.

    One other question: you can't get a bonus through Recovery, but can you increase the Feint penalty? I think you should be able to, to represent the defender thinking "aha! Now I know his plan! He'll do that strike one more time, and then disengage which I will counter with a circular parry - wait, why is he striking at my head?" and other instances when the defender makes his situation worse.

    1. I don't like turn-breaking actions, so I wouldn't go for allowing an immediate Feint (Recovery). I'm not sure what that would represent, either - you've had your chance to see what your opponent is doing and the follow-on is too quick for you to recover. That seems fair and consistent, based on the combat rules as a whole.

      I wouldn't allow Feint (Recovery) to inflict a penalty on yourself. Nevermind that it would be very rare to have this happen unless combat skills are sub-14. Why even include it? I'd say the "Now I know his plan!" moment is represented by a poor Feint (Recovery) roll - you get feinted by, say, 10, and make your own roll by 3, and think, "Aha!" but it's not really the "Aha" you thought it was. So it's combination of "won't come up often enough to matter" and "why penalize people further for sacrificing?"

    2. I like these rules (I have my own particular problem which I'll detail in another post), but in your specific case (mlangsdorf):

      Maybe allow they Feint Recovery as an iterative defense? They make one Parry or Block (at an immediate -2? maybe) and this Recovery counts as their first defense?

      This allows for the Feint - Attack - Beat set-ups I've seen to be recoverable during the Rapid Strike sequence without it being an out-of-turn Action.

      It also solves one of my issues...

    3. Having it count as a defense and an attack is a possible solution. You're definitely giving something up to reduce the value of the feint, but there's less weird out of orderness that way.

    4. Not sure i like it as costing an Attack... if the (N)PC just takes AOD the next turn, it cost them nothing. I'd prefer it be penalized on the Recovery Defense, or even count as 2 active defenses. Say your first two Parrys or Blocks. Or even just being at -2 for the Recovery roll. It keeps it simpler, you don't have to remember the character is down one attack next turn, it doesn't have ignorable costs, etc.

  2. My own issues are two-fold; Personal house rules and ideological/philosophical:

    House Rules: I no longer have a Ready Maneuver. My best way to solve this issue I answered above: Use a defense in place of the ready, possibly at a penalty.

    Philosophical: I'm against giving a second resistance to something like this. They failed the resistance when they failed the Quick Contest... granted it is an /expensive/ recovery, but in a "slower"* combat that expense is often worth it.

    * No Rapid Strikes, no Extra Attacks. You know, /low-powered/ GURPS melee combat.

    Also It's also not something I've seen in real fighting (granted I've never done much/any Stick and Board, I'm a polearm guy)... or maybe it is but I'm calling it something else.

    Actually the more I think about it the more this feels like some sort of "Recovery" action, taking a step back, shaking the sweat out of your eyes, readjusting grips, taking stock of the swirl of the conflict, taking a moment to breath, etc... things most GURPS characters do not do as a general thing.

    1. From a philosophical standpoint, I see your point. But GURPS has plenty of cases where you fail a roll, but then get to spend turns to undo the effects of that failed roll. Off the top of my head, here are a few:

      - cyclic poisons
      - stunning
      - surprise
      - breaking free

      So I'm not sure that's a wholly new concept. Plus, in cases like Beat, I can see the point - your weapon is totally out of line, why can't you pull it back into line? You could literally drop it and Fast-Draw a replacement - and suffer the same penalties. With a buckler, you could drop it and Fast-Draw a weapon and suffer none (albeit you lose the shield's DB). Why isn't it possible to re-ready the weapon? Extending that to Feint, and a "recover from bad things" roll ala Stunning/Surprise/etc. doesn't seem necessarily bad.

      That it would slow down fights at lower power levels doesn't seem a real cost to me on the surface - it makes it all the more important to chose your blows well, and decide if protecting yourself next turn is worth some or all of this turn's actions. It imposes a real cost even if the value seems higher.

    2. Oh, I agree. It's just a bit of knee-jerkiness on the "We're adding yet another thing that gets multiple resistances? Why would I ever Feint/Beat when they can resist twice? I'll just stab him and be done."

      i have a feeling that this will end up one of those things where the Players love it when it works /for them/ but hate it when it works against them.

      And I really do like the "Take a Defense to Resist the Feint/Beat"... it 'feels' less like another resistance and more like a Defensive Action (even though Take A Ready is far more expensive). I might even allow both... with most (N)PCs probably only taking a Ready action when their defenses have failed them.

    3. I will note that the weirdness of feint in this circumstance is obviated with both setup attacks and (in my opinion even better) modeling the shield jostling as control points. I think this is worth following up further, maybe with pictures. The interplay is complex.

    4. I'm curious to see how you extend the shield-on-shield jostling using CP to more general cross-armament encounters.

    5. Agreed. There are some things in polearm fencing that I think are more inline with TG control points than anything else. But I'm not sure going down this rabbit hole of detail is worth it for my games (I run ACTION!)... though if simple enough, it might just facilitate a nice "realism/action" blend.

      I really need to sit down and get fluent in TG.

    6. I'm not sure I'd make it fully generic, but I've experienced it now with two style: sword-to-sword stuff with kendo/kumtoogi, and now the shield work in viking combat. That doesn't mean it can't be ported over, but it might come with downsides.

      As an example, it's ridiculously easy to avoid this sort of jostling by not engaging in the shield-to-shield contact. The defender just has to withdraw. I need to think of proper upsides for initiating it, for responding in kind, and then for jostling (or fuhlen, as we call it).

      I also need to think if we're doing the shield contact because that's what we're told to do.

      But basically, it's really hard to strike around the shield. It covers half the body vertically, and twice the width of the body horizontally. Ish. For both folks. So you've really got to get around that obstacle, and the jostling is a good way to do that - I just need to find out if this is too much "fair play" (oh, we both touch shields, like good little rules-obeying combatants) or if it's something that would be on-again, off-again, and why.

      Game-wise, as we've talked about before, it has to be a viable option without being "I win." Or even worse, either "I always lose" or "this is way too much complexity for the trouble."

      Finally, this sort of thing is often a subset of existing rules: the skill-based Beat you mentioned with a Perk, a Setup Attack, a freely-broken shield grapple, or a Feint.

    7. For fun:

    8. From that video it looks more like Feint/Counter-Feint, Beat/Counter-Beat, and aggressive Evaluates (probing strikes with sword or shield) going on.

      Don't get me wrong, I can see possibly chaining some stuff together in a TG format as a series of Control Engagements to setup for an attack... but I'm not sure it really needs to be more than Feint/Beat. Specially at the speed at which these engagements take place. It could be something going on along beside attacks and probes but I can't imagine how.

    9. Check the date on the video, though. Roland's thoughts on how that stuff works has evolved, at least based on the time I spent with him. Even so, you may be right. "Aggressive Evaluate" is interesting, but may wind up being a variant of Feint or Setup Attack.


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