Pyramid #3/61: Coming to Grips with Realism (Technical Grappling Designer’s Notes)

In Pyramid #3/61: The Way of the Warrior, we see a very, very focused set of articles: six articles plus +Steven Marsh‘s intro and Random Thought Table, contributed by five authors . . . and the lead article was co-authored!

That being said, this one was interesting. “How about a theme issue,” said Steven. BAM! And stuff rolled in. Lots and lots of it. The fact that we have two Martial Arts Designer’s Notes articles in here – long ones – only highlights the fun that is the other six.

This is the second issue I’ve done an article-by-article review on, and yes, that might have something to do with my having two pieces in it. Still, it’s very good, and very on-topic for me. So, here we go.

You can find my commentary on the first articles, More Power to Dungeon Warriors, Takedown Sequences, The Devil’s Fist, and Fusion Styles of Ytarria in previous posts.

Coming to Grips with Realism ( +Douglas Cole )
This article contains the Designer’s Notes for the relatively new release GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling. I will likely cover this briefly; reviewing my own Designer’s Notes for my own book is a bit too recursive for my tastes.
This is a relatively long article at over 5,200 words, and opens with a long quote from TV Tropes, expounding on why grappling is so very different than regular combat. 
Hogwash, in short.
Mission Statement

In this chapter – and yes, this article is long enough to effectively have chapters, or at least major subsections denoted by using the GURPS Style Guide’s B-HEAD – I laid out the mission for TG, and where I was allowed or encouraged to wander, and where I chose to avoid.
The new stuff is pretty straight-forward: Control Points and optional bits on stability and weight-based penalties. The expansions and clarifications flow from those concepts pretty directly. Lots and lots on weapons, important stuff on posture and position, and the very important concept of Trained ST. Plus a bunch more on how to use all your limbs to grapple. 
Technical Alternatives

The article presents two ways to ease yourself into TG without some of the perhaps-fiddly mechanics. Though Control Points and their effects aren’t that much different than damage and the lingering impact of getting nailed with a sword, some mighn’t want to bother, and a rule for penalties imparted by a grapple that work for ST 8 and higher is presented.
Of course, the reader is left to work out that penalties are zero for ST 7 and lower, which is an oops here. The simplest thing in that case is use Control Points. But for ST 8 and larger, you can use variable penalties for grappling instead of the flat -4 to DX.
The other alternate rule, which did receive playtesting for a while, so it should work well, is to disallow the spending of CP to affect the outcome of Contests. That’s a big part of the TG rules changes, but it can successfully be done away with with a few other tweaks.

There are effectively five different cut bits of different quality and importance. The first was a drive-by at using the Trained ST progression with other skills, including Melee skills (I covered this in more detail in Trained ST and Striking on Sept 10, 2013). Most of the cuts are inconsequential, which is, of course, why they were cut.
Critical Hits and Misses

This one was fun to get printed, and provides far more detailed critical hit and miss tables, based on the Unarmed Combat criticals, for use with TG. Lots and lots of the critical hit entries just multiply your CP by up to a factor of four, while the miss entries are more interesting and varied.
Final Submission

A quick summary of take-aways from the playtest, including the surprisingly awesome results possible with cinematic action using the new Control Point rules.
Parting Shot

As I said, this one was quick. The Designer’s Notes were extant for a long time prior to publication of both the manuscript and the two rounds of errata, but that didn’t change much in them. Overall, between the DN, the new Takedown Sequences article, and the content on the Grappling Mat, I think TG is getting good support, at least from me.

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