An enemy who becomes predictable becomes much less dangerous. You anticipate their mode of attack and prepare to defend against it.
Choose an offensive Melee or Brawl maneuver. Your opponent gains a Penalty Die to use it against you. This lasts until you disengage (either on purpose or by Yielding Advantage), or use Guard again to name a different maneuver.
Mastery: Choose 2 maneuvers when you use Guard.
The GM will secretly roll a Savvy + Swordsman (Career) test for you vs. the opponent's Swordsman Career. If you succeed, you learn one fact about their fighting technique. On a Mighty Success you learn 2 facts. On a Calamitous Failure, you learn a false fact. Some examples of facts you can learn (you get to choose what type you want to learn):
- What dueling style the opponent is using, and their level of mastery.
- Their best Quality.
- Their Rank in one Combat ability you've seen them use.
- Their Rank in Swordsman career
- What defenses they have against one particular maneuver. This would include if they are using Guard against it, as well as the difficulty to use it on them.
- Their bonus to up to two maneuvers you've seen them do (includes whether they are a master of that maneuver or not).
As for Study Opponent, any other example "Facts" you should be able to discover?
The reason for creation of these two would be to increase the creativity of people engaged in a duel and prevent "Rinse & Repeat" use of dueling maneuvers (this hasn't been a problem in my own games, but I could see how some people with a particular technique maxed out might just keep using it all the time). If the enemy keeps using Bind, you Guard against Bind, and now they have a penalty die to try to Bind you. So they might just try something else. Since you can also choose to Guard against Bladework, you might make the enemy have to do something more risky like Lunge, or based on a less powerful Quality like Quick-Cut.
I was also considering creating a new Dueling Style that uses both these maneuvers (it is a very academic approach to swordsmanship) and one of the benefits of the style would be if an enemy uses a maneuver you are using Guard against and misses you, you can use Riposte against them.
As for execution at the table, I can see two ways of doing this.
1. Open declaration. When you use Guard, you say "I am guarding against X maneuver". This means the other person is probably less likely to use it on you.
2. Secret "match and show" style. When you use Guard, you write down the maneuver on a slip of paper. If someone uses the maneuver on you, you reveal it, and the penalty die is applied to the roll.
Both methods have their pros and cons. I'm thinking that which style (Open or Secret) be left up to the GM.
Do these maneuvers seem useful? Would you use them in your game? I am seeking questions and comments?