In this post on the GURPS Forums, TheOneRonin was asking about how to fight multiple opponents in GURPS while unarmed. This was sort of interpreted to mean “I should be able to beat up many foes if I have Karate and Judo!”
That wasn’t precisely fair, but the advice he received: expect to lose; expect to get hurt; expect to die. This is more or less spot-on in real life.
But GURPS isn’t real life, and when I dug in to the situation a little by private message, I’m revising my opinion. The character in question could rock out with Jason Bourne. The bad guys were utterly unimpressive . . . and there were but two of them.
Meet the Combatants: The Good Guy
DX 13, ST 14, Basic Spd: 7.0, HT: 14, HP: 14
Trained ST: 15 (1d+1 CP)
Very Fit, Combat Reflexes
DMG: Thr 1d, Swg 2d (Punch w/Karate : 1d+1, Kick w/karate: 1d+2)
-Judo: 18 (Judo Parry: 13 w/combat reflexes)
-Karate: 18 (Karate Parry: 13 w/combat reflexes)
–Joint Lock Judo (improved to Judo+4 )
–TA: Karate/Exotic Hand strike – Neck (improved to max ), 1d+2
–Kicking (Karate), improved to max (18)
–Judo Throw for damage: (17), 1d-1 crushing
–Judo Grab: 18, 1d+1 CP
He automatically gets kudos for using Technical Grappling. Everyone should. Still, what you have here is well into the “badass” territory, with Karate-18, Judo-18, ST 14 and Trained ST 15. His defenses are good. Parry(Karate or Judo)-13; Dodge-11. If he retreats, he gets +3 on any defense. He gets a parry for each limb. He gets -2 damage for another +1 to defense.
Meet the Combatants: The Bad Guys
Two bad guys:
• DX 10, ST 11, Basic Spd: 5.0 HT 10, HP: 11
• Trained ST: 12
• DMG: Thrust: 1d-1 (1d-2 w/punch)
• Brawling: 10 (Brawling Parry: 8)
• Dodge: 8 (11 w/retreat)
• No improved Techniques
These guys, with only Brawling-10 and low defenses aren’t impressive. Not sure why they have Trained ST 12 (that, with only brawling, is for defending against grapples only, but requires DX+1 to get there if I recall correctly). We’ll leave it.
True Lies: Fight in the Bathroom
The scenario was described to me by the original poster as follows.
I blew a PER (my PER is 15) check to notice them follow me into the bathroom. It was in the middle of being remodeled, so there was an “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” sign on the door. The inside was partly demolished, and there was a large drying fan blowing in the corner so it was hard to hear. I’m guessing a had a few penalties, but it was probably close…the GM rolled for me.
Once I got in sight of the back corner of the restroom and didn’t see my contact, I turned around and there they were…Ivan and Dimitri or whatever.
They were already closing for the attack, hoping to take me from behind. The GM allowed me a quick Observation roll to size them up. Average size/build, poor posture, bad teeth, gaudy/fake jewelry, 2nd hand clothes, didn’t look at all like professionals.
Also, since we were inside one of the terminals and past security, it was a safe bet that they were armed…at least not with anything that couldn’t slip past airport security.
Nothing about this seems unfair to me. He was given the chance to make a Per roll to note them following into the bathroom. That’s a 5% chance, but he got jumped anyway.
The Starting Scenario
The fight starts with the bad guys more or less bracketing our Agent (Z). The agent has higher speed than the other guys, so gets to go first.
The first rule of many-on-one fights is “never be attacked by many if you can help it. Also, unless you can go for an instantly incapacitating option, making it a one-on-one fight, you are better off playing a defensive game, especially with Judo, a skill weighted to the defense.
What are the options?
I’d say there are two. Defensively, he should step back one hex, and Wait. He can even trigger the offensive option on the Wait, but the first thing to do is back the heck up.
Offensively, he’s looking to score a cripple. His kicking damage is pretty good: he’s got Karate kicking at full skill, Karate-18, and does 1d+2 if he hits. That puts a 6HP instant leg cripple at 50% if he can land it.
But can he? He’s at 16 or less to hit the leg, so he can either go for a critical or he can try -2 skill loss for a -1 deceptive attack. The thug is at 8- to defend, 11- if he retreats, 9- if he parries. At this skill level, they’ll be doing a lot of retreating Dodge, I think.
So let’s say he steps back, and Waits. He’s going to attack with a low leg kick the first guy that steps into range.
A attacks, stepping close – but wait, he can only get in range, that is, Close Combat, for a punch if he does Committed Attack. Let’s say he does that – he’s going to do Committed Attack and take two steps. This nerfs his defenses a bit.
Our hero, Agent Z, gets his kick in. He opts to throw it deceptive, since with Committed Attack, his foe Dodges at -2 (and is -2 to hit for the second step). That’s a net -3 to Dodge, and the foe can’t retreat. Net is Dodge-5, which is a near-certain failure, against Karate Kick-14, a near-certain success. Five times in six, Agent Z will strike the leg. He’ll do enough damage to potentially cripple it half the time. The HT roll to resist seems to be for Knockdown and Stunning; the limb is automatically crippled if Agent Z does 6-8 points of damage.
Thug A at this point could be out of the fight – or at least Knocked Down and Stunned. Let’s say he’s not, though – he takes 4 points of damage to the leg instead. OK, he’s now at -4 to hit for shock penalties, and -2 for Committed Attack (a wash with the +2 for Determined). So he attacks at Brawling-6. He tacks on Telegraphic to get it back up to 10.
In this case, Agent Z actually hopes he hits. He rolls a 10, and does hit. Good for Z, because it means he gets to do a Retreating Judo Parry.
The red lines show Thug A’s two-step path of attack, while the blue arrow shows Agent Z’s step backwards. The Judo Parry is a base 13 anyway, +3 for the Retreat. Net of Parry-16, so he might as well Riposte for -2. Parry-14, and Thug A is -2 to defend if the Parry succeeds. The roll is a 7; Thug A has been Judo Parried and may be thrown next turn.
Note that Z is now three steps away from B. Thug B can do a Committed Attack and kick at range 1, but has to give up his bonus to do it. That’s Brawling-8. Not good. He can do a running tackle, basically a slam. That allows the +4 AoA bonus, giving him a 14-, but he can’t defend against the agent. He can play it safe, and Step and Wait, with the intent to Committed Attack and punch Z. Let’s say he does that.
Well, it’s Z’s turn, and he does not need to step into CC to throw A (“within one yard”). So he’ll do that, assuming he’s going to rapidly be backed up against the bathroom wall. Judo Throw is a roll against full skill on the defensive, and our Thug A is already at -2 to defend from the Riposte . . . and he can only dodge, since he did CA on his turn, nor can he retreat. The RAW don’t let you stack Riposte and Deceptive attack (though it’s a common enough house rule). Might as well go for a JT for damage, and see what happens. He attacks at 17, rolls a 15, and hits. A tries to defend, rolling Dodge-6, and biffs it as expected. He’s now prone, but only takes 1 point of damage. He’s now down to 5 HP. He makes his HT roll to avoid stunning.
Z steps back again, putting his back to the wall (we’re assuming a 5yd x 5yd bathroom here, mostly because that’s the size of the mini-map I drew).
A’s turn now, and he needs to get to kneeling, because even an All-Out Attack for him while prone is likely a waste of time. But why not? He tries to grapple at DX to Z’s foot. He’s at -4 to attack for being prone, -1 for the foot, +4 for All-Out, and toss in another +4 for Telegraphic. Net is DX+3, or 13. He rolls a 17. Sucks to be him.
Technically B can move through A with no penalties (p. B368). So B will do this, stepping up twice into CC with Z to punch him. This is a flat Brawling-10 attack, but he’s lost his ability to parry. Alas, he rolls a 14 and misses.
Agent Z goes again, and he’s in close combat with his foe. Let’s go with an elbow strike to the jaw, Committed Attack for the +2 bonus. So Karate-18, -5 for the face, +2 for CA. Gives a net of Karate-15. He rolls . . . a 15, and hits. B can only dodge, at Dodge-5 again. He rolls an 11, and fails. 4 points of damage to the head, and it’s a head blow . . . he rolls a 12 and fails his HT roll, and is knocked down and stunned.
With both of his foes on the ground, and good defenses, he could probably finish this fight any time.
Inflection Point 1
Bolded up there a ways is “Let’s say he does that,” which is where B took Step and Wait. What if he’d have done a Move and Attack, for a slam? He’d actually hit, but Z has already retreated, so he’s relying on his (not bad) Dodge-11 or Judo Parry-13. Two times in three, he’ll dodge out of the way and B will slam face-first into the wall behind him. Ouch. However, one time in three, he’ll do 1d-2 slam damage on each other. 50-50 chance of forcing a DX roll to Z to fall down. This isn’t really a high-value option, even it if works.
Ultimately, I think the initial mistake made was closing with the foe rather than backing off and playing for space. With skills as low as the Thugs have, and as high as the Agent’s abilities, this two-on-one fight should really stay fairly one-sided on the part of the Agent.
Toss in guns or knives on the part of the thugs, and it’s a different story, since the injury potential is higher, and an All-Out or Committed Attack to the vitals of our Agent is a totally legit threat.
A third attacker would make for a real problem, too. Especially if they can move to flank. A bit of cautious Evaluation might be in order for Thug A, B, and notional C, but the scenario setup was they were already attacking.
Still, I think it comes down to tactical initiation – attacking into the foe or not stepping allows the other guy to come in from a flank or rear hex. That’s never good.
How did it play out in TheOneRonin’s Game?
Actually, not too badly for the Agent. Ironically, the Agent’s player received this from his GM:
So my GM sent this to me today. I immediately called him and said “no way…the fight was much harder than that.” So we talked through the scenario, and sure enough, this is probably what it all looked like. Still, I made some very sub-optimum choices.
Two unarmed Thugs are in hexes adjacent to the Agent, in his front arc
Agent goes first, then Thug1, then Thug2
Agent decides to throw a kick to the Thug1’s leg
Use DA @ -2, hits
Thug 1 attempts a Dodge, fails
Damage roll sucks, only 2 damage, limb not crippled
This is the same opener I used, but you can Attack and step back, which is what the Agent should probably have done here.
Thug 1 suffers Shock (-2 DX/IQ)
Thug1 takes a step into C with Agent and throws a wild haymaker
AoA(D), Telegraphic Atk, TA Face. Hits.
Agent attempts an aggressive Parry. Success
AggP targets hand, Hits. Dmg : 0 (Crappy roll)
Aggressive Parry precludes a Retreat, I believe. But had Agent used a Judo Parry, he could have taken another step, and Thug1 would have certainly been open to a Judo Throw next turn.
Thug2 steps into Close Combat with Agent and throws a body punch
Agent attempts a parry, fails.
Thug’s punch connects to Agent’s ribcage: 1d-2, (1 total dmg)
While Agent couldn’t do a retreat on the Aggressive Parry, he could have done one here. Sometimes the dice are cruel, but that extra +3 for a Judo or Karate retreat would be a big equalizer.
Agent suffer’s shock (-1DX/IQ)
Agent throws a spear hand strike to Thug1’s throat
Exotic Punch TA/Neck, hits
9 dmg to neck, a Major Wound!
Thug1 suffers a Major wound and is reduced to 0 HP
Immediate HT Roll (success) Not knocked down or stunned
HT Check (failure)
Thug1 falls unconscious and collapses into a heap
Thug2 tries for another body blow
Agent attempts a Parry, (success)
Personally, I’d still be looking for ways to step in and out. Defensive Judo Throws can be done from Reach 1, where you don’t have to step into CC.
Since he parried the last attack, Agent attempts a judo throw for damage
Judo Throw TA Face (Hits)
Thug 2 attempts to parry (failure)
Agent dumps Thug2 on his face
Dmg: 3 dmg to Thug2’s face
Thug2 is prone. HT check to avoid stun (success)
That’s a bold move; Judo Throw to the face is -5, leaving him at Judo-12. But with only one foe to worry about, it mightn’t be that bad. Besides, it worked.
Thug2 is shocked (-3 DX/IQ) and prone
Thug2 uses CHANGE POSTURE maneuver to get up to his knees
Agent attempts to grapple Thug2’s neck
All out Attack Strong Judo Grapple, TA Neck, DA -2
Thug2 attempts to parry (failure)
Agent inflicts CP: 1d+3 CP (base + AoA Strong) for 7 CP
For active Control, Thug2 is -3 DX/ST for Torso/Head actions
Now here, I’d have just kicked Thug2 in the face. Maybe even Committed or All-Out. I loves me my grappling, but to do this right Agent wants to get around behind Thug2.
Attempts Break Free (failure)
I’ll take it to mean Thug2 attacked with Brawling to Break Free, or using DX, and missed his roll, removing no CP from the Agent’s grip. Removing CP and breaking free are not binary using Technical Grappling!
Agent attempts to combo Lock & Throw from lock
1st Attack: Joint Lock on Head/Neck: (success), 1d+3 CP (6, for a total of 13)
2nd Attack: Throw from lock attempt
• CP Spent: 6 (counts as 12)
• QC Lock vs. ST 7, succeed by 10
• Swing dmg: 2d+1 (7 dmg)
• Thug2 takes 11 damage (7 * 1.5)
Thug2 must immediately make a HT roll for being below 0 HP (failure)
Thug2 falls unconscious
And we’re done!