Feat Idea - Fancy Footwork

So this idea comes from a video recently uploaded by Shadiversity - I assume people on this forum are likely to be familiar with him but if not then go check out his videos, he has a great series on what real world weapons would be best for fantasy creatures/races. Lots of stuff in those videos can be applied to OL and I can assure your players will remember a battalion of orcs with ballista-like warbows more than your cut and dry orcs with battle axes.

His newest video was on Fairies and he basically concluded that because of their size, they would have more proportional strength than humans (because ants and physics) which means they could wield swords up to double their own height. They could then zip around with rather long, razor-like swords and use their momentum to slice their enemies to ribbons.

Interesting tactic, but it got me thinking. With this strategy, they would be very hard to hit, but if they were forced into a situation where they had to block/parry and couldn’t evade, they would be woefully ineffective, especially with brittle, razor-thin swords. This got me thinking about other races that are maybe small and nimble creatures (or even just swashbuckling types) but terrible at blocking attacks head on; so here’s my attempt at a feat to bring this concept into OL.

Fancy Footwork (I-III)

Cost: 2 points

Tier 1 - 3: None

Whether through cybernetic implants, muscle enhancing nano-machines or just pure dexterity you find your defensive talents are far superior when skilfully evading a blow as opposed to absorbing the force behind it with a parry or a block.


Tier 1 - When dodging an attack, treat your guard as 1 point higher, when parrying or blocking treat your guard as 1 point lower. Additionally, when using a Defend action to actively dodge you receive advantage 1. When using a Defend action to actively block or parry you receive disadvantage 1.

Tier 2 - When dodging an attack, treat your guard as 2 points higher, when parrying or blocking treat your guard as 2 points lower. Additionally, when using a Defend action to actively dodge you receive advantage 2. When using a Defend action to actively block or parry you receive disadvantage 2.

Tier 3 - When dodging an attack, treat your guard as 3 points higher, when parrying or blocking treat your guard as 3 points lower. Advantage and disadvantage for Defend actions are the same as in Tier 2.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever use this feat, I’m just theory-crafting it as an idea on how to make fast and frail characters feel simultaneously more nimble and more fragile. I don’t think that dodging and blocking being put into one ‘Guard’ stat is necessarily a bad thing but I think it’s a good idea for PCs to be given the option to specialise in one or the other if it fits their character. (Perhaps an opposite of this feat could also exist?)

I feel like overall this would be a buff to a character as in most situations they will be able to describe how their character evades the incoming attack and therefore gets the bonuses - but when they aren’t able to evade they pay the price. This also limits their ability to use Defend actions to heroically jump in front of an ally to absorb an incoming blow which I think is an interesting trade-off as it effects the rest of the party.

Let me know what you think, is there another way to achieve this (perhaps with a perk or some other mechanic)? Is it horribly unbalanced? Have I been a boob and missed an existing feat that already does this?

I would just do this with flat advantage/disadvantage if a player really wanted to do this.

And b/c there wouldn’t be much to stop them from choosing what to pick this seems bad as just a feat.

To do the “less guard” concept just do it via a flaw or something. Conversely, narrative you can just do it by not doing a defend action and taking the hit.

To show the smallness, just pick the “Defensive Reflexes” feat, which costs the same as what you offered, and allows them to do the defend interrupt to “dodge”.

Basically, I think this concept can be achieved by just doing a Perk/Flaw combo, and utilizing the mechanic of defend interrupts.

Perk that gives advantage X once per game session to a defend action.

Flaw that allows you to take disadvantage X, or a drop in Guard by X amount. (but this… isn’t a good flaw, b/c you’d probably be deciding after you see an attack against you).

Maybe an Auto Fail on Defend interrupt (so basically you are giving up your Major action to still be hit but gain a legend point [only 1x per session of course]).

and of course, OL is all about self-limitation.

Flat advantage and disadvantage works fine for active Defend actions but not necessarily for passive guarding - unless we’re also giving the NPC enemies advantage and disadvantage (which would work too) but as a DM I know that I would forget to do this all the time so think it would be best for it to remain in the player’s hands.

This would work but the player would have to self-limit themselves and only use it for dodging and evasion based defensive actions rather than all defensive actions.

Probably, but is it not more convenient to have all that in one feat rather than spread across a perk and a flaw? Though I do like the idea of a character trait that is simultaneously advantageous and unfavourable depending on the context.

To achieve the effect I’m going for this would have to only effect evasive defend actions, but unlike my feat, this perk wouldn’t effect passive guard - which was the main focus of the feat (to make a character harder to hit but more brittle if they’re forced to take a blow head on). It only being usable once per session doesn’t really fit the character fantasy either.

Interesting idea but yeah, as you pointed out it could probably be abused… Not quite sure how to fix that one unless like my feat it simply does both (or one, pre-determined by the player) as a permanent effect - but then that defeats the point of Flaws being things that you ‘activate’ to earn legend points.

This is my first attempt at homebrewing any kind of feat/bane/boon for OL so I’m completely open to it simply being a naff feat that only fits a very niché type of character - but I do think it achieves something that currently nothing else in the game does so maybe the idea just needs some tweaking?

I quite like the idea of a joint perk and flaw that need to be taken together - but I think this would need to be an ‘always-on’ effect unlike other perks and flaws to achieve the desired character fantasy.

can’t abuse it. Flaws already can only earn a Legend Point once per session.

I think why I dislike the present wording of this feat is because it creates a slight complication that is… so subjective and … not that important.

Dodge vs Blocking

And it can be argued pretty easy that Parry is similar to Dodge, and “blocking” is subjective to how you are describing it.

In the end, you, as a character, are always going to be doing a “defense” (represented through guard) in a way that is different than other characters. So seperating out 2 “versions” of guard creates unnecessary complication into the system as a whole.

This part is what the system is all about anyways. When you create a character and do some self-limiting to yourself.

That’s also why Flaws are nice, b/c 1) the player chooses to activate them, and 2) they can activate the flaw multiple times in a session, even though they get no mechanical benefit, and in fact might put their party or themselves in danger b/c they are playing their character.

There might be some other ways to work something like this out, but it is a bit too rough/complex for a concept like this right now (at least for me personally).

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When I said ‘abused’ I was referring to this:

This is a fair point - I suppose in a way it is very oversimplified for the limitless number of things that can happen during combat. I was intrigued by the duality of being difficult to hit but brittle when you are caught in a position where you can’t dodge and ‘guard’ as it exists currently doesn’t represent that idea. Which is completely fine in 99% of cases and it keeps things streamlined during play - but you may get the odd character that wants this kind of separation to fulfil the image they have of their character.

Definitely : ) I’m not saying this feat is the solution, but it was rolling around in my head and I wanted to get it out and wondered what others thought.

Honestly I really am intrigued by the joint perk+flaw idea but they would have to function different from other perks and flaw - which perhaps is fine since it’s very rare that a character would fit the concept behind this kind of house rule.

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You can represent it through:

Attribute Sub Tier 1 with anything (that makes sense) into Agility or Might.

The reason I say this is, it will increase your Guard, but then you can’t use that stat in order to actually do a defend interrupt. So that is one way you could represent it. So when they do get hit, they don’t have the chance to defend against it as well, etc.

I’m surprised @Great_Moustache didn’t jump on this, but remember that taking HP damage doesn’t mean that your character is getting hit. It represents them being strained, tired out by having to heave themselves out of the way of a blow of demoralised because of the flurry of attacks being rained down on them.

A character with a high Guard isn’t necessarily resilient to being hit, they just find dodging (Agility) or parrying/blocking (Might) easier and aren’t as affected by it. Your fast but frail character can be very easily represented by just having high Guard but low Toughness. No need for custom feats.

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Good point : ) I frequently remind my players of this as they think they’re about to die when they hit 0 HP. But the purpose of the feat was to address a very specific character archetype - really I designed this specifically for the concept of fairy characters or similar races that would be decimated by a direct hit from a human-sized weapon. If it could connect that is.

I figured these 5-inch tall, flying creatures would be incredibly hard to hit but incredibly frail and I wanted to translate that into the mechanics of OL. I’m not saying this feat is the answer, but it’s an answer, one of many possibilities that creates a divide between dodging and guarding when it’s contextually appropriate in these very niché situations. (I’ve only ever had one character play a fairy).

While a fairy taking HP damage doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being hit, there will be instances where they do take a direct hit - being immobile for instance. And they will be far less effective at actions like jumping into the path of an oncoming greatsword to save an ally than a fully armoured paladin would be - I was just trying to capture that reality in a mechanical sense.

I suppose so but if the enemy’s attacks target guard (which they more than often do) then it’s not going to give the player that feeling when these situations do crop up.

What I love about OL is that it seems entirely made so that you can play whatever you want and you feel like that archetype from level 1 - this is just an attempt to strengthen the feel of a particular archetype.

I mean, not really. How many times have you swatted at a fly, but the air pressure of your hand/fly swatter (weapon) just pushed the fly out of the way instead of actually hitting them?

All comes down to the flavor/fluff you give while in combat in the end. And the player can do that just as much as the GM.

Even in an immobile situation it doesn’t say you ignore your attributes, that’s only incapacitated. Immobile means you can’t move from your spot not that you can’t move in your spot. You can still squirm and worm around, possibly the entire 5’ square. Plus whatever is immobilizing you might “take the hit” instead of you when they swing, so it isn’t as effective. etc etc etc.

It’s true, this is the thing I point out the most, but usually when talking about HP directly, was narrowed in on Guard so didn’t end up pointing it out. Even the ends of my moustache can’t be everywhere at once.

Very true, but we can talk about mights and maybes all day - ultimately there will be a situation where a character takes a direct hit and it can’t be explained away.

My goal was just to add some character/race specific flavour that I felt was missing for extremely small characters, I just expanded it to other characters so that it wasn’t racially specific (plus I find the idea of buffing your own character’s evasion but hindering their ability to protect themselves or others head on an interesting trade-off)

This feat may be flawed and it may not be the best way to achieve my idea, but I think the concept is solid because ultimately all it aims to do is further specialise, inform and solidify a player’s experience of playing a particular type of character.

The implementation I’ve suggested might be flawed but I think it’s a solid concept that’s worth exploring.