Monday, December 14, 2020

The Rule of 16 for Feints

I've been thinking of ideas for dealing with very high skills. One way skills get used is to maximally crush foes with Feint. One way to deal with this is with fixed feints.

Fixed-Effect Feints

Another way would be to apply the Rule of 16.

Feints would be rolled against your skill, but their effect would be capped based on the Rule of 16.

For example, A feints B. A has Broadsword-24, and B has Broadsword-12. A roll a 10, as does B. A's margin is 16-10 = 6. B's margin is 12-10 = 2. B's defenses suffer a net -4.

A feints C. A has Broadsword-25, and C has Broadsword-17. A rolls a 12, and A's net margin is 17 (16 or the defender's skill, whichever is higher) - 12 = 5. C rolls a 9, and has a margin of 17-9 = 8. C suffers no net penalty to defend.

A feints D. A has Broadsword-24, and B has Broadsword-25. But A roll a 7, and D rolls a terrible 15. A's skill 24 is actually less than D's 25, so A uses full skill and thus A's margin is 24 - 7 = 17. D's marin is 25 - 15 = 10. A wins the contest by 7 and D's defenses are at a net -7.

Pros: Uses an existing rule.

Cons: Adds another step to calculation.

Pro and Con: Reduces high-skill contests to a 50/50 shot. This reduces the push for high skill to win Feints. That's only a part of the arms race of high skill - defenses and "to hit" also matter - but this can either be a net plus or a net minus depending on your goals.

For a different but related approach, take a look at the Rule of -10.


  1. There's really no reason the Rule of 16 should only apply to the supernatural. I've used it in grappling situations, for example, to give delvers a chance against high strength monsters without breaking out Technical Grappling.

    1. But why NOT break out Fantastic Dungeon Grappling? :Innocent Face:

  2. Doesn't that simply eliminate feints? If the attacker is 20 and the defender is 16 then DA will give -2 and Feint will average less, so attack now. If the attacker is 16 and the defender is 10 then the parry will probably fail anyway, so also attack now. I guess if the target is at parry 16 after DA then a feint knocking off a point or two could make a substantial difference but then crit fishing is probably better, so still attack now.

    1. It might, although your example means the attacker has to precisely know the skill of the defender. I don't share those for NPCs, so you'd need to guess.

      That might be a benefit for some - Feints slow down fight resolution, Deceptive Attack does not.

      And you could always couple this with Fixed Feints if you prefer to cap the odds at 50/50 for high-skill contests and remove the automatic victory for lopsided contests and fix the results as a specific margin.

      Either way, I haven't tried this in play, so I'm not sure how it would work out. I'm just putting it up as an idea to explore.

    2. Right, and we're also only talking about Feints where the skills are 20 or below. Once you get skills into the mid-upper 20s, or even 30s, that's when it starts getting ridiculous (though again, the one time I saw that in a game, the PCs still preferred Deceptive Attack and hated it when the enemy would Feint+DA and use Luck to devastating success (I also use Delayed Feint Gratification so PCs don't just go "Oh, the Feint was //that high//? I'll All Out Defend and/or run away on my turn").

      But then the few "I use Feint" builds really tend to build to using Feint against high defense targets and build in a fairly specific manner (Luck, if possible with "Only for Feints" as a Perk, maxed Feint Technique, often with Riposte).

    3. Geez, Luck (Feints Only) - I'd probably give them -50% tops, not even -80%. The folks taking it have a plan, and I'm loath to make that plan cheap. As a Perk I can expect almost everyone would take it, because, hey, 1 point and who knows when it'll be useful? Anything that seems so cheap you can't pass it up is too cheap for me. :)

      We don't roll feints until they actually matter, but mostly see them as part 1 of a multi-attack series, so that's right away anyway.

    4. Rolling Luck (One Skill -80%) is as per Kromm*... but I can see your point. However, as a Player at -50% I'd be tempted to just take regular at that point.


      "We don't roll feints until they actually matter, but mostly see them as part 1 of a multi-attack series, so that's right away anyway."

      Ditto. It's rare I see a Feint as the one 'attack' a PC does in a turn. I've done it as NPCs, but that's a fish of a different colour.

    5. One skill at -80% I can see, but:

      - Feints Only isn't a one-skill limitation. You'd need to make it, Broadsword Feints Only or something like that.
      - Even so, -80% is the maximum, and allowing one limitation at -80% to set a new base cost, and then limiting that, is almost certainly broken.
      - We know that +1 to Feint in one skill is 2 points; rolling 3 times per hour is mathematically going to be worth more than +1, so it shouldn't cost less than +1.

      I'd stand at -50% for Feints Only, and I'd allow -80% for Feints Only for One Specific Skill, in certain games (like, not Felltower, for my players who are reading.) I also limit Luck, so you can't take multiple iterations - Extraordinary Luck for 30, and then tack on Luck (Feints Only) and Luck (Death checks only) or anything like that. Like Magery, limitations are affecting parts of, or the whole of, a limited maximum level of luck.

  3. I forgot you were the one that introduced me to the Rule of -10... I've been using it so for long.

    1. Clearly it's been working if you kept using it. Overall, what do you think of it?

    2. Overall: It's good.

      It's faster and lighter and rewards high skill without feeling overly penalizing. Mostly it doesn't come up for mundane skills as often as the occasional over-the-top "badguy" supernatural/mutation (I've been running a Fallout game for the last few years). Most of the PCs don't bother pushing melee skills much past 20, so the two that did (one with Karate 22, the other Spear 24) feel the expanded benefit (when they Feint, which is rare - they vastly prefer Deceptive Attack). And when the occasional mutate pops up with some 'mind-blast' or 'emotion/pheromone control' the Players have grumbled, but then Players always grumble when an enemy outclasses them in some power or ability so it's just part of the background noise of gaming. However they haven't felt like the powers were //overwhelming// (even when the 'Sedusa' mutant with 25 Emotion Control warped them around her fingers like so much silly putty), and with several PCs with Will and/or HT in the mid-to-upper teens (17 Will is the highest general resistance, 22 vs Psi Powers; HT 14-16 is damned common with a few having vs Subdue hitting 18) they've felt the threat when the 'BBEG' mutants face of against them, instead of feeling like it was a coin toss.

      And the one PC who has "joined the Dark Side' and actively embraced his mutations and increased them, knows that someday it'll be his "Skull/Ball Crusher* 20+" power that benefits from the Rule of -10.

      * It's just a Psi Grab power that allows him to increase the "crushing ST" over time, so while he could grab limbs, he tends to only grab skulls/throats for Intimidation and groins when in fights. But he calls the ability "Skull Crusher", despite never having actually crushed a skull.

      Oh, he crushes cans with it as well.

  4. I see feints as a once in a blue moon thing anyway, even if skill is in the 30s usually people prefer deceptive rapid strikes.

    1. Yeah. The only time I see Feint is when the opponent is equal to or almost equal to them, but seems to have a higher Defense than they should. Then the occasional Feint comes out, to be paired with Deceptive on the next Attack to try to really crush the enemy's defense.

    2. My players are big fans of Feints, because they can lock in a 1:1 skill advantage as a 1:1 reduction in defenses. Since spells like Shield are pretty common, as are Enhanced Defenses, it's a good way to crush defenses. And with Extra Attack 2, for example, you can get off a Feint and 3 attacks (at -0, -3, and -3 with Rapid Strike, -0 across the board with Two-Weapon Fighting from DF3) and both flatten the defenses with an attack and saturate non-Dodge defenses. So Feint is a real consideration in combats in my games.


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