Feinting, Combinations, and Two Weapon use...

David Summers
copyright 1998

I've been doing some thinking about what a feint does represent, and what it can represent, and how to handle multiple weapon use.  This post combines a few things I've proposed before and expands them a bit, covering ideas on weapon combinations and what advantages there is to using two weapons.

Realistically, feinting should be the primary way to get by a high defense and always felt they were underutilized (they should be a part of any combat between skilled fighters of more than few rounds).  Also, people have talked about how to handle thing like combinations in weapon combat.  This has generally involved proposals for entire new sets of maneuvers.  Maneuvers which often have problems because the get into more detail than the basic system and than can be consistently handled by mechanics.  This is a fundamental problem because the combat system wasn't designed around worrying about details about the swing and how initiative flows within the split seconds of combat (it not clear you can make a playable system that will).  The answer is, of course, to handle this at the level of abstraction that the system uses for combat.  I think that, with a few simple modifications, the Feint can handle this in a flexible and simple manner that encourages its use.

All methods of using your weapon skill to get by a foe's defenses involve some investment of time somewhere along the line.  My experience is that you can't attack every single second and still outwit your opponent.  Instead you tend to get predictable.  This is partially why you see fighters pause in combat, to keep on top of the tatical situation.  So the extra round with a feint reflects the time it takes to think, spot holes in your foes defenses, make deceiving motions, decide on a combination move, etc.  All these can be considered to be part of a Feint, with its investment of a second to make sure you know what is going on, what you want to do, and to prepare/start doing it.  It is also possible to try and follow up a partially successful attack, or take advantage of an unexpected opportunity, etc.   However, you then need time to then reassess the situation.  For this reason, the extra round that you need for Feint could also come _after_ the actual attack.  You roll the feint and the attack, but then must recover the next round.

When it comes to attacking with two weapons, the Dual Weapon Attack maneuver doesn't handle the situation realistically.  In fact, the main use of two weapons is not to attack more often (if you attack twice every second and still try and defend, you pretty much end up just flailing away), it is to set up combinations.  Since we are using Feints to express combinations, we express the advantage that two weapons gives one as simply as a bonus to one's Feint.

Thus having two weapons, against a foe with one, gives you a bonus of +2 to all rolls to initiate or resist Feints (I've been thinking of raising that to a +3 or even +4).  There is no bonus for two weapons against two weapons.  (You can extend this for characters with multiple arms to a +2 for every weapon someone has in excess of the number his foe has).  The feint uses the higher of a fighter's two weapon skills as long as they are withing 4 levels of each other.  Otherwise, subtract 1 level for every 2 levels that the lesser skill is more than 4 levels under the higher one.  A shield counts as a second weapon for resisting feints, but not for initiating them (unless the player has actually been able to do damage with it in that combat).  As an optional rule, an attacker with a shield normally doesn't get a +2 to feint.  However, he does get a +4 feint if he uses it for the follow up attack (the one that comes after the feint roll and will produce the damage roll).  A foe can declare he is watching for a shield attack and avoid the +4 by giving up the +2.

In all cases, the feint should be declared as usual, but not actually rolled until the round in which the actual attack comes.  It is also explicitly stated that a critical success in a feint prevents any active defense of your opponent.  My suggestion is also to disallow the feint killing aspect of Body Sense (or just punt the skill entirely).