+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:

Sweep

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.