Feint the Talent needs fixing. First I will explain why it’s broken and then propose a fix.
Why is Feint broken then?
The description for Feint explains that for your action you may make a Feint, which is an Opposed Melee (Fencing)/Melee test. If you win, you get to add your SLs from your Feint to your next attack, just as long as you attack the same target before the end of the next round.
Sounds fine so far, right?
The trouble is you aren’t doing any damage to your opponent when you use Feint. Sure you will gain Advantage if you win the opposed test, but you could have done that and caused damage with a regular attack. Let’s look at some examples.
Let’s assume that both combatants have Melee skills of 50, Strength and Toughness Bonuses of 3 and are carrying Rapiers (SB + 4 damage). Let’s also assume that the attacker rolls a 49 each time they test their Melee skill, while the defender rolls 51.
Attacker using Feint
- Round 1: Attacker uses Feint and scores 2 SLs (1 from the roll and 1 from the Talent), while the opponent scores 0 SLs. The attacker wins the opposed roll with 2 SLs and gains 1 Advantage.
- Round 2: Attacker attacks and scores 5 SLs (2 from the roll, 1 from the Talent and 2 from the Feint), while the opponent rolls 0 SL. The attacker wins the opposed roll with 5 SLs and gains 1 Advantage. The attacker causes 9 Wounds (5 SLs + SB 3 + 4 – TB 3)
- Total Wounds caused = 9
Attacker striking normally
- Round 1: Attacker rolls to hit and scores 1 SL, while the opponent scores 0 SLs. The attacker causes 5 Wounds (1 SL + SB 3 + 4 – TB 3) and gains 1 Advantage.
- Round 2: Attacker rolls to hit and scores 2 SLs, while the opponent scores 0 SLs. The attacker causes 6 Wounds (2 SLs + SB 3 + 4 – TB 3)
- Total Wounds caused = 11
The above examples are very basic and I haven’t obviously factored in the defender doing anything on their turn. If they had it would just mean more SLs for the attacker, working on the assumption that they both freakishly roll the same every time. Even so we can see that attacking normally is going to be better. Imagine what happens if the attacker fails their second Melee test? If they were using Feint they’d score no damage at all. If they ignore Feint and just straight up attack, then they do score damage.
I also realise that a character with multiple levels in Feint would gain more SLs, but then that’s a lot of XP spent for a very specific use case, whereas just spending that XP on your Melee skill would probably serve you better (and gain you more SLs too).
I thought you said you were going to fix it?
I did! Okay then. Let’s look at what Feint is trying to do.
You have trained how to make false attacks in close combat to
fool your opponent.
Well that seems fairly straightforward. You are trying to fool your opponent to leave them exposed. Hmmm, now let me think. There’s a Condition that might work here and it is called Surprised. So how about the opponent gaining the Surprised Condition when you successfully use Feint?
So far so good, but what about Melee vs Melee? It doesn’t quite sit right with trying to fool someone, so how about changing it to Melee vs Intuition? You are making a false attack, doing your best to make it look real without actually committing to it, while at the same time your opponent has a chance to spot the deception!
One more thing. One of the big issues with the current version of Feint is that it takes a whole action. That’s a whole action where you aren’t causing damage, etc. Feints are supposed to be fast, or they don’t work, so why not change that whole action thing as well?
There’s another Talent that does things differently. Distract can be used during your Move Action and still allows you to attack normally afterwards in the same round. Distract and Feint are cut from the same mould, in that you are trying to deceive or confuse your opponent. However, in order to stop characters with Feint from abusing it (because really causing Surprise in your opponents is pretty strong), I think it should be triggered by spending 2 Advantage. That represents you getting the upper hand and then using that to your advantage (small a) to hoodwink your opponent.
So in my roundabout way, here’s my proposed alternative to Feint.
Max: Weapon Skill Bonus
Tests: Melee (Fencing) for Feints
You have trained how to make false attacks in close combat to fool your opponent. You may spend 2 Advantage to use your Move Action to Feint against a melee opponent. This is resolved with an Opposed Melee (Fencing) / Intuition Test. If you win, your opponent gains the Surprised Condition.
If you use this optional alternative, your opponent will be Surprised and unable to attack, leaving you free to do whatever you like. You could for instance attack them straight away and gain all of the benefits of attacking a Surprised opponent, or you might decide to leave them looking stupid and attack someone else, or you could try to disengage and run past them, etc.
Edit (01/Jan/2021): After some more thought, it’s worth looking at the implications of giving Surprise to your opponent. So assuming the character about to Feint has 2 Advantage…
- Move Action: Spend 2 Advantage to activate Feint. Assuming it is successful, the opponent is now Surprised and the attacker gains 1 Advantage. Advantage is now 1.
- Standard Action: The attacker strikes the opponent and gains +1 Advantage for attacking a Surprised opponent in melee. Advantage is now 2. There is also a bonus +20 to the chances of hitting, making a total of +40 unopposed. Once the attack is resolved the opponent loses their Surprised Condition and can act normally again. If the attack is successful, the attacker gains another +1 Advantage (for causing a wound without an opposed roll) and now has 3 Advantage moving into the next round.
Edit (20/Jan/2021): I found out today that the intent behind the Surprised Condition was that it lasts for the entire round and doesn’t drop when you get attacked as stated in the core rulebook. With that in mind the modification above is much more powerful. A simpler and more elegant approach that isn’t as overpowering may be the following.
Max: Weapon Skill Bonus
Tests: Melee (Fencing) for Feints
You have trained how to make false attacks in close combat to fool your opponent. You may now make a Feint for your Action against any opponent using a weapon. This is resolved with an Opposed Melee (Fencing) / Intuition Test. If you win, and you attack the same opponent before the end of the Round, you may add the SL of your Feint to your attack roll.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Oh and Happy New Year!