One interesting thing struck me from the previous post, especially when one considers the often-repeated admonition that just because you have located your miniature figure on a hex-map in a given spot, doesn’t mean that you’re sitting in the middle of that hex at all times. In fact, you’re probably anywhere in it.

Evil Math?

So, what does that imply? It means that if the middle of the hex is “zero,” then you can be anywhere between -0.5 and +0.5 yards. Tack on the length of a kick, and you’re from 0.5 yards to 1.5 yards. Basically, you cover the entirety of your adjacent hex (0.5 to 1.5 from the center of your own). So no problems with Reach 1 for kicks!
But with punches, you have a situation where your normal reach will vary from +0.2 yards treating the arm as 0.7 yards) to 1.2 yards. Hrm. That’s a little short, but the foe’s hex is about 70% covered.
You should be able to punch into his hex. Maybe not reliably, but it should be possible. And it shouldn’t require, necessarily, a Step.

Is it?

The Usual Suspects

There are longer-reach options on the books already. Interestingly, none of them are in the Basic Set, but are covered in Martial Arts.

All-Out Attack (Long) (MA p. 97) : This lets you perform a full-extension jump or lunge. A full extra yard is added to your Reach. There’s a damage penalty for swing attacks. This doesn’t feel quite right.

Committed Attack (MA, p. 99-100): This one’s better, but you have to work for it. There’s no Committed Attack (Long) option, but you can do an attack with two steps, and those steps can be forward and then back. So Committed Attack (Determined), but with two steps (one out, one back) works out to be an attack at full skill that has an extra yard of reach, but at -2 to defend (and you can’t parry with the hand(s) used to attack). This is probably a good fit. 

That’s about it for formal options.

Attack Options

What would be nice, though, is to get the benefit of a bit of extra reach, but be able to tack this on to existing strikes. Basically, an enhanced-reach Attack Option, like Telegraphic Attack (MA, p. 113).

Which honestly is probably about what it is – something that is a bit out of your reach, but not requiring more than a bit of a lean.

This little discussion will be wrapped around a human norm. I’m sure it’s possible to consider how a creature with a 5-yard reach might well just get more than a single extra yard out of an All-Out Attack (long), but not today.

Option 1: Trade Reach for Skill

All-Out Attack provides us with an extra yard of reach being the same as +4 to hit, so we’ll go with that. You’re not giving up defenses to  get there, though, so it’ll have to be worse than just each 0.25 yards being a -1 penalty to hit. 

So let’s double it. 

Each 0.25 yards of reach is -2 to hit. Using the RAW reach options, where your arms seem to be treated as 0.5 yards long, you cover from 0 to 1 yards with a punch, and thus need to add 0.5 yards to your reach. That should be -4 to hit, in exchange for a Reach 1 punch.

Using my suggested 0.7-yard reach, you only need -2 to hit, since that takes you from 0.45 yards to 1.45 yards. That nicely mirrors a kick, in a way. -2 to hit in exchange for getting the next yard of reach. It’s -1 damage, but you can’t fall down. 

Option 2: Trade Reach for Defenses

Maybe those long attacks are easy to see coming. So it’s somewhat of a Telegraphic Attack. Instead of getting +4 to hit, you can trade that for +0.5 yards of Reach, in exchange for the usual +2 bonus your foe gets to defend, assuming a 0.5-yard punch.

For my rules tweak, Telegraphic Attack (Long Punch) still covers the same Reach 1, but your foe is only at +1 to defend instead of +2.

Parting Shot

I like all three options: Committed Attack, plus the variant Telegraphic Attacks, where you can either trade a lower hit chance or higher defenses for extending your punches to Reach 1.

If you want to be a stickler for “full hex coverage,” then you don’t even need to bother with my distinction of 0.5 vs. 0.7-yard punches. 0.45 to 1.45 yard coverage for the longer arms does not fully cover the foe’s hex, so the Rule of Slavishly Following Breakpoints kicks in, and both cases compress down to the harsher penalties.

Ridiculously Fine Distinctions

If you play games that can benefit from such, looking at reach in terms of yards rather than hexes can make calculation of Reach a bit more nuanced, and puts some rigor behind A Matter of Inches (MA, p. 110). Apply breakpoints ruthlessly, decide on effective lengths for each class of weapon, and then apply the additional reach above.

For example, treat each class of weapon 

  • Very Short: 0.25 yards long
  • Short: 0.7 yards long
  • Medium: 1 yard long
  • Long: 1.25 yards long
  • Very Long: 1.5 yards long
  • Extremely long: 2 yards if reach 3

This isn’t the overall length of the weapon, it’s how far it protrudes past the hand closest to the foe. If you know this from a real weapon (a 24″ baton held 16″ past the grip, for example) go ahead and use that – batons are thus about .45 yards.

It’s ridiculously fiddly, of course, and you don’t want to entertain people using inches of height and weapon length to munchkin the game (though they will). But if such things matter, there’s a way to make them work out.

5 thoughts on “Punching at Reach 1

  1. Ridiculously fiddly is right – once you start sub-dividing where you are in a hex, you're going to end up with a lot of vagueness even as you have figures with specific facings in specific hexes. That's going to cause a lot of trouble. People are going to want to say, "I'm a fraction of a hex further away from him, so he can't punch" or "I'm in this portion of my hex, not that one." You can say no, but the rules here are saying it's really important but you can't control it except at the moment of striking, and your opponent is always at +/- zero when you do so. I might go with the A Matter of Inches approach here off a map, but on it? Eh.

    As for Telegraphic Attacks – long strikes aren't necessarily easier to see and stop, so I'm not sure I'd allow that. "I really stretch to reach him, so it's easier for him to defend" doesn't gel with my own fighting experience very well. Plus, it oddly means you are saying Telegraphic Attack can be used to offset your own penalties to defend – instead of using AOA (Long), you can use TA (Long) and retain your defenses by giving your opponent better defenses. The comparison to AOA (Determined) isn't really fair, since they can stack.

    CA (Long) at a -4 probably works out, though. Allowing an extra Step on top of that (for a -6) might be iffy, but it might not be.

    1. My proposal, though it may have gotten lost, is to use the math to determine which weapons get Reach [whatever] prior to play, not in play.

      Forbidding the extra step on CA(Long) would be fine. I think.

      The long reach = easier defenses thing is (a) game balance, but also to (b) represent having more distance to fade away from the blow. The defender can use just a few more inches of fade to avoid the blow, and the attacker is at the limit of his reach.

      Your point is well taken, but I don't know if I'd see it as a dealbreaker yet. Actual Play required, I think.

    2. I get the idea of pre-play computation, but it's based on a fudge-factor in hexes. That opens a potential argument point about where in a hex you are. Remember that whole "which part of the hex are you aiming for" stuff from the arguments about Cone enhancements?

      I get the logic behind "more time to fade" but if it's true, it should be true of all long attacks, shouldn't it? Or are we saying AOA (Long) at +0 to defend is because of the math you get if you put AOA (Determined) plus TA (Long) plus Deceptive Attack to cancel it out? You could do that, but then you need to make some hard rules about what can stack with what. Also, you end up saying that a maximum reach stretched attack doesn't really compromise your defenses, which is something GURPS right now says is not true.

    3. That's why I suggest that you "rigorously apply breakpoints." If you cover 100% of the foe's hex, you aren't shaving inches, you've got his whole hex. I need to go back and recheck my math, though. Something above is bugging me.

  2. I like the general idea, and was wondering about it myself recently (in regards to reach C weapons). I'd probably go for Option 1, between the two.

    This may also work a bit nicer on a gridless deployment.

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