One of the core nifty bits of the Judo Throw in GURPS is that you can damage people with it. A damaging throw can be used to inflict (more or less) thrust-ish damage to a location of your choice.

On the other hand, you can also use a grappling skill to obtain a joint lock, and then use Throws from Locks in Martial Arts/Technical Grappling to do freakin’ swing damage to that joint. An original comment in the TG manuscript noted that a throw from a Head Lock (which effectively does 1.5x swing damage to the neck location) is likely the most damaging grappling attack in GURPS.

However, one thing that is missing is a damaging takedown. As anyone who’s ever been knocked down and stunned/winded can attest, getting taken down hurts, or at least can hurt. If a bully (or a giant, or a giant bully) picks you up and throws you to the ground, it can hurt.

I think there are two ways using the rules to try and simulate this.

Damage From Thrown Objects

The first way to do it is to treat certain attacks as effectively throwing the foe to the ground, using the thrown objects rules in the Basic Set (p. B355). If a Trained ST 14 (BL 40) fighter wants to fling his 160-lb. foe to the ground (4xBL), he’ll do thrust damage, at -1 per 2d, rounding down. This is 1d-1 for ST 14.

I’d probably treat this as follows: You must execute a Force Posture Change to force your foe prone, and this should be an All-Out Attack (Strong) . . . but you don’t get the bonus for it, that’s the cost of admission to the thrust damage. You must have (and spend) Control Points to set the max damage, as well as impart any DX penalties to throw him and have him land badly. Your foe may reduce damage with Breakfall.

That’s not a complete rule, but that’s the concept. For most humans, you’re talking about thrust-1 which is basically striking damage.


The other way to do it is to simulate this as a collision with the ground, probably from roughly half the height of either the grappler or the target. Let’s say the target (I’ll get to why in a moment). This would typically be falling from 1 yard against a hard object, which means typically you’ll be suffering based on the falling velocity of 5 yards/sec, so 10 HP x 5 yds/sec x 2 = 1d.

That means that the thrown object or falling rules seem about the same for human scale. Not sure if it matters, then, which you use.

As is usual in the rules, Acrobatics or Breakfall can be used to mitigate the damage from a fall, and breakfall defaults to Wrestling or Judo. Certain games that involve a lot of collisions and being thrown to the ground, like football, hockey, and rugby, might buy a Technique Adaptation perk to allow Breakfall to default to the appropriate Sports skill.

Again, the attacker would spend Control Points to set the max damage.

Attack and Defend, Injury or Stun

In many cases, the damage from a takedown is likely incidental. This would be the plain-vanilla case of a usual Force Posture Change, where you roll 1d-3, and 50% of the time, there’s no impact to absorb. But I’ve seen enough people get landed on, or fall badly, and get winded or even concussed from takedowns that were emphatically not judo throws to desire a mechanic.

Now, this could just be a bad roll on the Grappling Critical Misses Table from Pyramid #3/61. After all, it doesn’t happen every match. I suspect, though, that given how relatively easy it was to take someone down and have it end badly for them when they did not know what they were doing, or anticipate the fall, that most of the time, such a takedown is not damaging because either the grappler doesn’t want to make it damaging (spend CP) and risk hurting a friend or getting disqualified in a competition, or the defender is reasonably trained and can mitigate damage with a Breakfall roll (see Martial Arts, pp. 68-69).

How many HP?

The nice thing about basing the takedown damage on the target is that each character can pre-calculate how much he risks taking when being taken down. It’s just 2 x HP x Falling Velocity/100 from half your height.

For SM +0 critters, that’s 1 yard, which means you will take damage equal to 0.1 x HP in dice. That’s just nice and easy.

First, though, you’re going to want to know if your HP are from weight or grit. Here are some guidelines for this for fleshy critters:

This will set rational limits on how much damage you can take from a fall if your character has HP disproportionate to his mass. Note that rounding conventions make this even easier to figure damage: if you are falling from 1 yard, 7-9 HP takes 1d-1, 10-12 HP takes 1d, 13-15 HP takes 1d+1.  That’s about it.

Fleshbag HP are just 2xcube root of weight in lbs, and the velocity from a fall is on p. B431 for non-humans.

If you decide to add your own weight to the fall, an All-Out Attack that has you matching posture, you may claim the +1 per die or +2 bonus for AoA(Strong), and figure HP as if you and your foe’s mass were added together. So if our 250-lb guy wanted to drop the hurt on a 160-lb. foe, velocity stays 5, but weight is now 410lbs, for 15 HP, adding in AoA(Strong) to get 1d+1, +2 for strong, is 1d+3. This can still be mitigated by breakfall, but could be quite painful.

Parting Shot

I think in general this rule is for those who really think you should be able to hurt people on a takedown. Like maybe this guy. who notes that you can’t really do a damaging takedown in GURPS with Wrestling.

Having this be a freebie with a takedown using GURPS RAW isn’t probably cool. The disadvantages of being taken to the ground are legion in GURPS, and that’s probably reward unto itself.

Still, being tossed to the ground while (say) wearing 100 lbs of steel should probably suck. Likewise, there are lots of ways to be kinda evil when you do a takedown, which you can maybe model with either a Dual-Weapon Attack or Rapid Strike (the usual way of ensuring you don’t get a freebie in GURPS is to take large penalties to get it done).

Anyway, this was on my list of things to cover for a while, and the comment I linked to above reminded me.

There are a few ways to model it, but it will add some die rolls if you allow it willy-nilly. With Control Points, though, you have to give something up (the CP, by spending them) to injure someone badly, which means you have to work for it.

On, one last thing: I’d only use the Damage From Thrown Objects rule for flinging someone down after a Pickup, when you’re actually throwing them. Otherwise, I’d use falling.

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.

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 article, More Power to Dungeon Warriors, in the previous post.

Takedown Sequences ( +Douglas Cole )

Kneeling Clinch

Fortunately for me as an author, but unfortunately for me as a reviewer, I’ve got two articles in #3/61. Both are basically about GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling.

I can easily give a bit of “designer’s notes” on this one, and the upshot is that the posts I did giving a play-by-play certain fight scenes like Natasha vs. Herd of Mooks in Iron Man 2, or the fight examples I’ve done, were quite popular. So I figured I’d write up some basics (and not-so-basics) using the system.
Side Mount

Positioning is what we call it in class when you work on moving from (ideally) one advantaged position to another. In point-based sport grappling, getting a new position scores you points. In real-life grappling, the position transitions are executed when a higher level of advantage presents itself, or the current position is no longer quite as advantaged as it used to be. 
This article gives several positions and how to execute them in Technical Grappling. It also provides a bit of definition guide 
Each position is given a general description of what it’s supposed to be, with some variations listed, as well as how to execute each one using the concepts in TG. It’s not overly, forgive the phrase, technical, in that there are no “you must achieve X Control Points to be considered to have acheive the [blah] position” comments, as that’s a game-by-game choice. The purpose of the section is to allow a common vocabulary and to give a starting point for later moves. 
It is not strictly necessary to know any of this information in order to grapple in GURPS, or grapple using Technical Grappling. Another way to present this information that might
Upper Side Mount
have been more game-useful would be with general advice such as “first achieve X CP on the torso and Y on the arm, and execute the following moves.”  In the end, the more-generic (and real-world) information that corresponds to how grapplers are often trained was what I judged to be more useful. The readers will decide!
Grappling Sequences

The heart of the article, from which the real utility is derived, is the step-by-step guides to executing certain

Arm Bar

moves in GURPS, using Technical Grappling. Four sequences are presented, all starting standing and ending up in an advantaged position on the ground. 

Throughout, the article uses the concepts from the TG book. While you won’t be lost if you don’t have it in many cases, you must be at least familiar with the additional options presented in the book, including Control Points and spending them, as well as some of the new concepts for relative facing, position (used as a term of art here, rather than as the generic term for a grappling position above), and a few others. 
Shoulder Lock
Each sequence is given a list of events and transitions, and a shorthand roll is given with penalties already figured (Attack at -6, or Quick Contest, Change Position at -2, etc.). Also provided are suggestions for how to combine these moves into (cinematic and costly) Combinations, which will appeal to those with large point budgets.
Finishers: Locks and Chokes

The largest section in the article, six finishing moves are given in some detail. The first is, of course, the classic arm bar, executed as a sequence of steps. That sequence is

Mount Position

used in a BOX to highlight a new kind of combination, in this case called a Positioning Move. The combo allows moves that are usually done as one huge transition – and restricted to Posture and Position changes in various flavors – to be bought up as a Technique. GMs, as always, have final approval, and each move must be explicit. Still, it’s an interesting way to take moves that are usually done all at once and represent and execute them in one roll.

Ankle Lock
Other moves presented include the Ankle Lock and Knee Compressions which both target the legs, the “Guillotine” and Triangle Choke, targeting the neck, and a basic shoulder lock (Arm Lock in GURPS parlance) common in submission fighting. Each one is given the same treatment as the previous section: a step-by-step guide to pain, and guidance on how to effectively turn it into combinations. 
Parting Shot
Triangle Choke
I can tell you that this article started a lot longer. It included a bunch of defensive moves as well, but there was so much content submitted for this issue, I chopped out all of the defensive techniques, which cut out over 1,000 words. That being said, if this issue and article are popular, it would be trivial to write another one that was all defensive moves and reversals. Plus another one – and this one could get really long – on grappling sequences involving fighters using weapons. 
It’s a deep sea, and easy to pull fish out of it.

A new revised version of Technical Grappling is now live.

If you’ve already got a copy, you’re going to want to download it again. The alterations are significant and beneficial. If you don’t have a copy, you need run right over and get one.

Thanks again to Steve Jackson Games and +Steven Marsh for allowing this sort of thing to happen. I love the fact that they take good advantage of the digital medium.

What’s goin’ on?

Two things happened here. One was a really productive discussion initiated by Ryan W that turned up what wound up being a clear Murphy. As I noted to Gef, these sorts of fixes aren’t discussed and iterated (and there’s always iteration) on the public forum – but they do happen, and the first set of related changes have to do with that.

The second thing that happened was that I hit the right combination of search terms that gave me raw bite force instead of what mostly I’d found before, which is bite pressure. A billion psi in a tiny mouth can still be pried apart with your little finger, while a relatively low pressure but a huge area imparts enough force to fully immobilize – so that wasn’t terribly game-useful. The new data (it was always there, I just rolled better on my Research/TL8 skill this time) led to a useful calculation that, yes, the force applied by a mouth tracked well with 8xBL, and for humans, that meant ST 7-9 for an average bite. Well hey, Control Points (usually based on thr) for a ST 8 are the same as thr-1 for ST 10 . . . and doesn’t that sound familiar (see p. B271). Given that new information, I felt it was only proper to make a comprehensive change, which renders a lot of my commentary here moot.

Here’s a list of what’s different, why, and the new text (most of the time).

pp. 5-6 Referred Control and Whole-Body Actions

The entire section got replaced and clarified to address the issue above. Referred control is now the same formula – a simpler formula – regardless of number of locations grappled. The ‘grapples can reinforce each other’ rule is still there, but only strong grapples qualify. If a location is grappled weakly enough such that the referred control from other sources is larger than a local specific penalty, you use the larger one. Whole-body penalties are slightly and usefully revised given that the neck was rolled into the head where it belongs, giving truth to “control the hips, control the head, control the person.” Also, it so happens that if you’re grappling neither the torso or head, but lots of other places, the Whole-Body penalty is based on simply the sum of all Active CP. So you don’t need to do complicated math – just take all CP, divide by two, and that’s your ST penalty. If you are grappling the torso or head in addition to other places, you take the active CP on the torso/head and still add total active CP/2. If you’ve got both, likely the reinforcement rules come into play, and thus it’s actually better to achieve a one-handed grapple on each of head/neck and torso than it is to do a two-handed on only one location. This pleased me as well.

If you hate the reinforcement rule (something I’ve not heard), or find it bogs down play, ignore it. No one will care.

p. 6: Mouths

Here’e the moment you’ve been waiting for, with the replacement of CP based on ST/2 revised upward to thr-1 based on the user’s full ST. This means that you’re going to need industrial equipment to pry open a croc’s jaws, while the ST/2 rule meant that if you take a fairly large critter, say a ST 18 big-ass bear, he’s going to be capable of being resisted by an attack to break free by a ST 10 man pretty easily. That didn’t work well, even if it was correct that it’s very hard to do funky grappling moves with that grip. I fixed that in a different way, on p. 29, in the Teeth section.

p. 13: Drop that Weapon

A quick change to comply with the fact that penalties to skill are now the worst of a grappled limb required to use the skill and the whole-body penalty. This makes it a heck of a lot harder to swing a sword when someone grabs your wrist. Again, sensible, and the direct clarification on pp. 5-6 of what penalties are used for skill use came in handy here.

p. 22: Dodge

This was altered to conform with the head/neck + torso change, and clarify that the Dodge penalty is 1/4 of the DX penalty, like just about all other cases in GURPS.

p. 27: Extra

This section referenced Bite ST, so got a tweak.

p. 29: Teeth

Here’s the other half of the biting rules change that makes a difference. When spending CP in Quick Contests, you need to spend 2 CP to get 1 point worth of effect on the roll. This has the effect of making biting half as effective as more-dexterous manipulators for doing techniques, but still quite powerful. Very strong biters won’t need the help anyway.

p. 36: Choke Hold

A wording tweak emphasizing the term of art “active CP” instead of the less-specific “scored.”

p. 44: Bears

Given the new Bite ST data, comparisons were made based on the 8xBL figure and black bears got a Bite ST boost, while brown and polar bears got an even bigger one.

p. 44: Canines

Same deal. Dogs bite quite hard for their body weight – much harder than humans. So they too got the boost.

p. 45: Felines

Housecats actually bite about proportionally to what humans seem to, but big cats get about half the boost of dogs.

Parting Shot

I hope these are the last fixes that need to be made that are closer to “Murphy” than “style.” In fact, I hope they’re the last fixes ever. The new information I got on bites actually allowed a great simplification on the whole Grip ST for bites issues: it’s the same as damage for strikes, and yeah, use the same roll. If you want to make two rolls (so you can have a very damaging bite that is a weak one, or vice versa), more power to you . . . but the capability for simplification is there. Also, now the Bite ST version of Lifting ST adds 1:1 to regular ST for bites, which will make those unhappy about needing 2 pts of Bite ST for an equivalent +1 to the Grip ST of the bite instead of 1 point less unhappy. So now, yeah, Bite ST = ST + levels of Lifting ST (Bites), and you do thr-1 for chomps and grips. Easy peasy.

The referred control fix is fun because it too makes things simpler, while fixing a real Murphy. I like it better, it scales better, and makes a lot more calculation possible using just “what’s my total CP I’ve got on the guy.”

Overall, good changes. Thanks to all for the feedback. Technical Grappling just got better.

I note today that Technical Grappling has now sold 300 copies since it went live on Sept 5 or thereabouts. 

Thanks to all who have purchased it, and I hope you are getting good use out of the book!

I won’t lie and say I’m done with it, though. 

Mwa ha ha.

If you haven’t bought a copy yet, I’d surely appreciate it if you would. If you’ve read it and have comments, especially concerning how it works – or could work better – in play, I’d love to hear them!

But mostly, I wanted to say thank you. 

Thursday is GURPS-Day, and thanks to the digital format of e23 releases, there have been some fixes and tweaks to Technical Grappling.

There were three that made it in:
1. (p. 7) The neck hit location has been formally made part of the head region, rather than belonging to both head and torso. The inclusion in both regions complicated referred control to the point that even I, as the author, didn’t know what to make of it. With this much-needed tweak, this becomes much simpler and more intuitive. Less recursive calculation.

New text: Grappling the Neck: The neck is considered part of the head, allowing CP to be spent from both the head and torso. It may only be attacked directly if purposefully grappled.

2. (p. 10) This one made it through playtest, but in retrospect shouldn’t have. Limbs lost their ability to provide stability if they were grappled for 1 CP or more. T-Rex grabbed by a hobbit? Unstable. That just didn’t work. The simple fix was to base being unstable on the DX penalty inflicted to that limb, and that’s the fix that was made.

New Text: A limb may not provide stability if it is maintaining active control or being actively grappled for more than -1 to DX.

3. (p. 27) This is a fine point, but the word “Fine” was dropped from the original text with this erratum, such that if you have no grasping hand but enough of a grip to grab stuff, you basically have No Fine Manipulators-level limitations, and suffer the appropriate penalties. The only thing this really says is that if you have a weak grip but can still write with a pencil or something, just use NFM. It’s a bit of a hair-split, but the difference between No Manipulators, No Arms, and No Fine Manipulators is called out in the rules, but for creatures that don’t really have a hand but can manipulate tools at full DX but less ST was not clear. This change more or less attempts to clarify that.

No Grasping Hand: Extra Arms only. Arms that do not have a hand, suction cups, gecko-hairs, or  hooking claws – but enough of a grip to not qualify for No Manipulators – have only 0.3¥ST per arm instead of 0.5¥ST.

Parting Shot
The first two tweaks, in my mind, really help the rules in play. The third is a semantic point brought about by a bit of phrasing.

But aren’t the Bite rules broken?

No. The difference between “bite to strike for damage” and “bite to grapple and control” are enough to merit the distinction. We decided in playtest that using the full ST of a bite just wasn’t right given the magnitudes of forces involves, plus the need to be able to react to your foe to be able to actually control them. While bite force enters into it, what you can do with that force is much less.

Fine distinctions can be made for those who want them. I could (and may still) write an expanded treatment of bites for Pyramid (the title of said future article is right there waiting to be used, an obvious play on words), but as, is things are more or less fine.

Injury vs CP

Injury and CP are supposed to be synonymous, though. So do you roll more than once to hit on a bite to grapple? Roll for injury and CP separately?

The (lack of) discussion doesn’t really help, but would lean towards rolling thr-1 for the initial bite, and Bite ST (basically thrust based on ST/2) for how much control is applied. For human-scale ST, these two values are usually either equal or about a point apart, so there’s really no harm there in just picking one and rolling it.

If you wanted to pick only one:

Use thr-1: If you do this, just say that while yes, you do potentially a large amount of CP, you spend them in the same way you can spend weapon-based CP: only on things that have a default to flat ST, such as takedowns, Wrench (Limb), etc. So yeah, you chomp down hard, but are limited in what you can do with it.

Use CP: The lower control points for higher Bite ST creatures suggests that once earned, you can spend them however you like. Joint Lock applied to a bitten wrist? Go for it. Furthermore, the ability to bite and worry for additional injury takes some of the sting out of the potential loss of initial damage on the bite. An alligator or crocodile probably doesn’t bite “just a little bit” so that they can hang on better, though, so I can see where this might not be preferable.

Sumo Wrestling is the ugly red-headed stepchild of GURPS grappling skills. It really doesn’t get much love in character design from what I can tell.

So, is that bad? Or is it appropriate to relegate Sumo to the dustbin of skills that should be eliminated, replaced, or otherwise shunned?

Sumo! Huh! What is it good for?

Slams and shoves are strikes, and so were not included in Technical Grappling’s consideration of combat grappling skills. And yet, Sumo Wrestling is the only such skill that adds to that damage. It contributes its training bonus to slam and shove damage using Sumo on the fast progression, like wrestling. So if you’re rockin’ Sumo at DX+7, you get a +4 bonus to Trained ST, and that doubles at ST 20-29, triples at ST 30-39, etc. If you like simple scaling as a multiplier, consult Harsh Realism: Scaling Trained ST on p. 7.

Sumo is the only skill that breaks into two progressions – perhaps another reason, though a new one, not to like it much. But what it’s good for is some pretty core stuff: making and resisting grapples, slams and shoves, breaking free, forcing a posture change, and sweeps. Everything else – such as locks, throws, position changes, and pretty much anything not on the “approved” list, uses the slow progression instead.

Staying Upright

Any time you go to the ground in GURPS, you’re going to be at significant penalties unless you’ve had the foresight to buy off Ground Fighting. That’s a very smart investment of 5 points to cancel offensive penalties and leave the defensive penalties at -1. Or you can spend an extra 2 points to buy Technique Mastery (Ground Fighting) and another single point into Ground Fighting itself, which gives 6 points in the skill, buying off the -3 penalty to defend on the ground completely. So, for 5-7 points, you’re as good on the ground as you are standing up.

That’s a pretty good use of points . . . if you want to go to the ground with your foe.

But in a swirling melee, especially an armed one with many foes, you often do not want to do that. The limited mobility can be a killer – literally.

With Sumo, a lot of the moves you will do once you get your foe down are on the slow progression, and often one or two points of Trained ST lower than the fast one. In reality, that’s probably only 1 CP different, but it will be 2 points different in Contests of Trained ST, so there’s that.

In any case, what can you use Sumo for? Getting someone on the ground while you stay upright.


The most basic is to grapple someone on one attack, and do a takedown (Force Posture Change) on the next attack. This could be done with the always-risky All-Out Attack (Double), as well as Rapid Strike. If you’ve got 25 points to burn, you can pull it with an Extra Attack . . . but you can also buy +6 to skill with those points, and just throw the Rapid Strike by itself and all other stuff with that skill.

The next one is the Sweep, which is done at Sumo Wrestling-3, and just dumps them in one move, with no grapple needed, and the contest can leverage Trained ST or Sumo Wrestling-3 on the offense (or Sweep if you’ve bought it up) on the offense. If you do grapple first, you can spend those CP to get your foe down, and since Sweep doesn’t retain CP, you should do this.

Finally, slams and shoves. If you do more damage than your foe, he has to roll DX or fall down, and he automatically goes down if you do 2x his damage. So this is a nice option with Sumo, since it can inflict actual injury, and might knock him down regardless. A shove will push a foe back one yard for every ST-2, and again, if any knockback is suffered, there’s a DX-type roll (check p. B378 for details) or fall down.

Instant Takedown, Just Add Weapons

Combining Sumo Wrestling and a good weapon skill can be all kinds of fun, especially with the right weapon. A “bearded” axe (or maybe any axe) can probably be considered a Hooking weapon (TG, p. 15) and be used at +2/die CP to perform an armed grapple. Shoving someone out of CC or Reach 1 to your preferred Reach (say, with a Bill or dueling bill), then using hook to grapple and perform a Force Posture Change using the extra CP boost from a rigid melee weapon on top of Sumo Wrestling can just be an exercise in badassery. The question of “how do I prevent someone from closing to Reach C or 1” can be answered with a Sumo Wrestling shove, or you just embrace it, grapple from Reach 1 using Committed (Long), or step in and grapple and takedown . . . or just sweep . . . with your unarmed grappling skill.

Parting Shot

I said this in TG, and I’ll say it again now: if you really want to be a weapon fighter, but want to have a good close combat option while remaining a weapon fighter, Sumo Wrestling should probably be your go-to choice. It’s not well known, but with the right tactics, it should be a devastating combination.

Hmm. I will test this, and make my upcoming Dwarven Loremaster with this ability. +Christian Blouin is using the TG rules in his game(s), so I’ll get the opportunity to see how this plays out, maybe even this Tuesday!

+Peter V. Dell’Orto asked me to run him through a fight with Technical Grappling, and we spent a while on Friday night going through one.

You can read Peter’s take on this match up over at Dungeon Fantastic.

Actually, we spent nearly an hour yakkin’ it up, since he’s a great guy to talk to and we have a very large number of overlapping hobbies. Anyway . . .

So, we ran through a fight between  João Dias and a nameless mook with ST 13, DX 11, Knife-12, and Brawling-12. 

Dias won, of course  . . . but that knife was really annoying. A few armed parries caused some damage to Dias, and I walked away with some great take-aways that I’ll probably expand upon later.

  • Like I say in the book, you need to exploit Posture and Position . . . and position is the new thing. Everyone more or less knows about posture – it’s right there in the Basic Set, but the options for Position are new, and should be minded. You really, really want to work into your foe’s side and rear arcs where possible.
  • Rule Zero matters. Always. When Peter rolled our thug over on to his face after throwing him down, technically, his grounded arm wasn’t grappled, right? Yeah, bullcrap. It’s pinned on the ground, and couldn’t be used to break free, and I ruled accordingly. Be sensible. If a grappler accepts the -6 penalty to acquire the foe’s rear arc in an interesting way, reward it.
  • We didn’t even use the weight advantage rules, but when we considered the impact, it meant that the move Dias used to control our thug would have been devastatingly effective, and validated the choice to remove the “Pin” from grappling in GURPS. It’s just not needed.
  • Peter’s ultimate choice was to grapple the thug’s knife arm (for 5 CP), and then follow up by more-or-less kneeling on his neck with the other leg (a 4 CP grapple with one leg). Combined with rolling him over, keeping him prone, and the (notional) weight advantage, this pinned him very effectively
  • The rules for referred control reinforcing through multiple holds work great once you get through the calculation. I need to work on a better description for that, and can think of a neat way to implement a little helper in Excel that will streamline this immensely. It can be done in your head, but why would you?
  • If you have different grappling skills (say, Wrestling and Judo) you will have different Trained ST with each, based on your relative skill level with each. So choose carefully what you’ll do. Control Points, once earned, are generic, so using (say) a superior Trained ST with Wrestling to gain CP and then using Judo to do a throw, spending those CP, and following up with Wrestling for a Takedown or (perhaps surprisingly) an Arm Lock is pretty key.
  • Dias stacked up a dominating positional and control point advantage over the thug. He was “pinned,” but he could still eke out an attempt to break free using an All-Out Telegraphic Attack for +8 to skill. That’s the go-to option when you’re trapped under something skillfull, strong, and/or heavy. In effect, you’ll likely be crit-fishing for a “multiplies CP by X” result . . . and again, this is likely correct.

The Most Important Point

Lastly: the most important points you will spend when creating a ground fighter who is interested in takedowns, throws, and lockouts is going to be buying off the Ground Fighting penalties for posture. The -4 to attacks, -3 to defenses you take by being prone is absolutely crippling at moderate point totals, and buying it off to where you are minimally impacted (even going so far as to buy Technique Mastery to totally buy off all penalties) is really crucial.

The relative disparity in “knows Ground Fighting” and “doesn’t know Ground Fighting” is really dominating in fights that go to the ground – this is true in realty as well. It’s not that a guy can’t get stuff done on the ground: He can. But he’ll have to make extensive use of All-Out Attack (Determined) and/or Telegraphic Attack to do it.

Parting Shot

Still quite pleased with the emergent behavior coming out of the rules, and Technical Grappling is a good addition to GURPS. (Everyone go buy it! I want to do more for SJG, and nothing says “let him write more” than good sales.). There are a few places where we can make it even easier, and I’ll get right on that.

In +Christian Blouin‘s campaign they’re using Technical Grappling (which is now over 250 sales!) and this seems to lead to more attempts to do grappling-related things. I consider this a win.

One thing that came up during play was Drolf, +Justin Aquino‘s character whom I was driving for the day, was going to run by an orc, dumping him onto the ground as he did.

We debated between Hook and Sweep very briefly, but were all inclined to sweep. Still, I’ve been thinking about sweeps vs. takedowns (in TG, Force Posture Change) a bit.

Let’s step on to the Grappling Mat for some guidance:


Skill-3, Wrestling at -4 was added as a “new basic attack.”

You roll to hit with Sweep, and if successful, you roll a Quick Contest Sweep or Trained ST vs his own Trained ST, DX, Acrobatics, or best grappling skill.

If you hit, he fails to defend, and you win the contest, he falls prone. You can’t change your posture to get bonuses.

The rules are the same if you start from a grapple, but you still can’t leverage posture changes. A grapple isn’t required, though, and if you sweep someone from a grapple, the assumption is you may not retain CP (p. 19 in the Takedown Table).

Force Posture Change/Takedown

A takedown in this manner requires a grapple. It’s also a contest that is basically even up: both parties’ Trained ST, DX, or best unarmed grappling skill. However, you take penalties based on what you want to do to them, and what you do.

Throw him prone, but stay standing yourself? You’re at -4, similar to a Sweep with Wrestling. Go all the way down with him, going prone yourself? You’re even-up.

You can maintain CP during this move unless you run into impossible positions (p. 11).

Parting Shot

This isn’t profound, but it drives tactics and intent. You do FPC when you want to retain a grapple, doubly so if you don’t mind (or actively wish) to drop with him.

You do a sweep when you want to remain standing, and want to put your foe on the ground without grappling him first.

If you have high Trained ST as your forte, you’ll roll against that in both contests, so you’d only do FPC if you really want to (a) retain CP or (b) change posture with your foe. By the way, the easiest way to retain CP while remaining standing is to ensure you have a grapple of a limb – this is commonly taught in my HRD class, and you can maintain that grapple from standing or (more likely) a crouch position.

Sweeps are really sweet when moving through a target, or if you really need that mobility. The fact that they default from weapon skill at -3 also means for warriors that have sky-high melee weapon skills (and maybe ST) but not a lot of unarmed grappling oomph they can put a guy on the ground at a decent clip. A DF character with ST 14 and (say) Melee Weapon at 20 will Sweep at 17 and have a Trained ST of 15 which isn’t too shabby.