A strong fighter can try to batter down his enemy's guard in preparation for an attack. This is a Beat. An option for a ready melee attack, it requires a Feint maneuver. Unlike a feint, a Beat must target one particular defense:

• If the fighter successfully blocked or parried an attack immediately prior to this turn, he can use the limb, shield, or weapon he defended with to Beat. He must target the weapon or shield he defended against - or his enemy's unarmed guard, if the foe attacked barehanded.

• If the fighter attacked his enemy this turn or on the immediately previous turn, and his opponent successfully blocked or parried, he can attempt a Beat with the attack he just used. He must target the weapon or shield his adversary defended with - or his rival's unarmed guard, if the foe defended barehanded.

• If the fighter has his victim grappled barehanded or with a weapon (via Entangle, Hook, etc.), he can target his opponent's Dodge or unarmed guard by pulling him offbalance or holding him in place.

Resolve the Beat as a Quick Contest of melee combat skills. This works like a feint, but the initiator makes a ST-based skill roll. His victim may try either a DX-based skill roll to break contact or a ST-based roll to meet force with force.

If the aggressor wins, his margin of victory lowers the targeted defense like a feint would. A Beat against a weapon or a shield affects its Parry or Block, one on an unarmed guard penalizes all barehanded parries, and of course Beats against Dodge affect Dodge. That defense is reduced against attacks from anyone! There's no effect on other defenses. The penalty lasts until the end of the next turn of the fighter who made the Beat.

action. Nobody can trigger a Wait in between! Nervous fighters are free to flee from every opponent who gets tricky, but they can't selectively react to successful feints.

On the other hand, a failed feint or Ruse is obvious. The same goes for any Beat, successful or not - this isn't a subtle maneuver!

It's possible to be ready for a feint, though. If your opponent has studied one or more styles and you have Style Familiarity (p. 49) with them all, you have a good idea of the kinds of tricks he's likely to try. This reduces the defense penalty by -1. As discussed under Evaluate (p. 100), if you're taking an Evaluate maneuver against someone who successfully feints you, your current Evaluate bonus offsets the defense penalty. These effects are cumulative, and defray offensive and defensive feints, Beats, and Ruses alike, but can never give a net bonus.

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