Well, it took a while, but someone actually wrote a review of Technical Grappling, and posted it on the GURPS Forums

To quote from his conclusion:

Shall I rate the book with X out of Y stars? That doesn’t seem a helpful approach. Let me say instead that this book is highly useful if you have a campaign that fits any of these descriptions:
1) It uses styles from martial arts
2) It features close range combat gamed out turn-by-turn
3) It features any player characters who are supposed to be highly skilled in close combat
4) It challenges player characters with animals or bestial monsters or aliens
It also fairly useful to a GM who uses more of a minimalist, narrative style to run the occasional fight as it crops up, if that GM has little personal experience with grappling arts to base the narration upon.

His primary criticism was really organizational in a way, as it took him a while to get through it enough to realize that it seemed more complex than it played, I think:

The main issue with Technical Grappling isn’t its useability, but the challenge of wrapping your head around it in the first place, if grappling sports are foreign. But it’s a lot easier than a course in Gracie Jiu-Jutsu, I’d reckon. The secondary issue is that business I mentioned about fluctuating ST scores, and to some extent DX. These are manageable if you know the system: 2 levels of DX is a level of parry/block, and 4 levels of DX is a level of Dodge. Likewise 4 levels of ST is a die of swing damage, and 8 levels of ST is a die of thrust damage, at least in the human range, and in the super-human range, 10 levels of ST is a die of damage either way. Keep these system elements in mind and use them to estimate modifiers in play; don’t pause the action to consult tables or calculators, and you’ll find that Technical Grappling enhances your combat scenes without bogging them down.

Read the whole thing, and then go buy the book if you haven’t already (can’t blame me for the gratuitous plug, can you?).

And thanks to Gef for taking the time to actually write something down. Like it or hate it, it’s good to hear feedback!

Edited to Add: The poster munin chimed in with some helpful negative feedback about the structure and presentation of the document. Blog posts will follow. Oh, yes.

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, and The Devil’s Fist in previous posts.

Fusion Styles of Ytarria ( David Thomas Moore)
Once again, this issue contains support for a recently released GURPS product, this time GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles
While this is sort of in the nature of a Designer’s Notes type article, that part of it takes all of one sentence for David to cover: he loves Banestorm as a setting, has played games set it in often, and has written about Ytarrian martial arts in the past. So when a Banestorm-related item showed up on the wish-list, he screamed and leaped.
His first thought was to include non-human martial arts, and the playtest discussion on the SJG author’s forum was filled with discussion of “what would an elf martial art look like, when for an immortal or near-immortal being, “dabbling” might mean ‘I only spent 100 years studying the sword.”
So you’ve got all kinds of non-human arts in the main book. What does this mean for the article? he includes six styles that are born of the interesting and ahistorical mix of peoples and cultures found on Yrth as a result of the Banestorm.
In this review, I’ll say a short bit about each style. Fair warning, though: despite writing a book on martial arts myself, I’m not huge into styles. I see their utility, and as +David Pulver so ably demonstrated in the previously reviewed article, The Devil’s Fist, a well-presented style, with history and the more-human, less game-mechanical elements highlighted instead of the usual “N points in Ass-Kicking” focus, can really enhance a character’s background and the player’s immersion.

Cardien Saif-and-Buckler School
 This is a straight-up and well balanced sword-and-buckler fencing style, but focusing on the light Hazi scimitar, the saif. 
The style gives fighting advice as well – what kinds of maneuvers are favored by practitioners, and lists an interesting combination of Attack, Defensive Attack, and (Long) attacks, which seem very appropriate for a fencing-based style.
Defence Boxing

This one represents a style that grew up to counter another style, in this case the Orcish martial art Smasha. A brutal style, in training and execution, all of the skills are the traditional stand-up stuff when it comes to GURPS. Boxing and Brawling to allow effective use of all limbs and bits of improvised nastiness, plus Judo for the more-mobile parries and retreats, plus an ability to throw and utilize Disarming to ensure that a foe doesn’t have the advantages that weapons bring. 
Combined with a focus on mobility and swing-based or enhanced-damage techniques (Wrenches and stomps), this is not a style designed to make you popular or pretty. It may, however, keep you alive.
Your choice.
Goblin Swordplay

I find this style interesting, as it’s effectively an offshoot of another style in the book, called Harmony. But with an entirely different twist.
For the small-statured Goblin race, this is a shortsword-and-wrestling style, and I notice David really likes to include Brawling in his style’s technique lists. Can’t blame him.
This one is straight-forward, with an array of techniques suited to the sword and close-in fighting, and some interesting surprises for foes if the GM lets you take cinematic skills.
Kicizapi



This style, if you’ll forgive the shameless plug, would be way, way better using the rules in Technical Grappling, and even more so using the optional Destabilizing Strike included in this very issue (#3/61, p. 18).

Even so, this is a complete martial art, with striking via Karate and grappling via both Judo and Sumo Wrestling, which makes it unusual for actually including this skill, which is often overlooked.

It focuses on strength, which is cool, and would make a nice novel addition to any character whose background could include it and who also is very strong. Judo is almost certainly in there because of the emphasis on Sweep, though Wrestling and Sumo Wrestling, both with their ST bonuses (and again, even more so using TG) would be better. Actually, thinking about it, Wrestling would have been a better choice for everything but dealing with weapons – but the style is explicitly listed as a fusion of Te and the native art, and Te was built around dealing with enweaponed people while unarmed. Te also has a monster Technique list, so if one can read this style and think “kitchen sink Technique list,” it is also worth bearing in mind that Te is one of the candidates listed as a good “Ultimate Style” (Martial Arts, p. 144) and so it’s expected to have a lot of coolness to it. As such, Kicizapi does not disappoint.

Nomad Chain Fighting



This one’s interesting if only because it’s so very odd. Chain and entangling weapons are not usually a go-to for GURPS players – but as was pointed out in the TG playtest, they should be.

You can grapple from a distance, inflict a follow-on crushing attack, and because the basic attack mode isn’t penalized, Kusari skill neatly dodges the usual -4 to base skill for throwing an entangle. You only need to worry about the location penalties.

Since you can also entangle a weapon with it, it makes for a powerful way to deal with those with long reach. The fusion comes in by combining the Kusari skill with Brawling, Wrestling, and Knife, which makes this a very ugly style, and that’s meant in the nicest possible way. Not mentioned would be carrying several kusari, perhaps some with blades at the end, some not, so you could entangle a weapon, either disarming or rendering it harder to use, drop that one, and re-engage at a closer range with a new chain, entangling the legs, going for a takedown, and then finishing with the knife.

Silattte


This is a cross of Silat and Savate, which makes it a dangerous pairing of entirely unusual martial arts. This art, with its blend of punches, kicks, and knife techniques, plus a body of spells, makes for a potent mix.

Highly aggressive and highly dangerous, this fusion style is not just a fusion of martial arts moves, but a nice fusion of religions and cultures as well, as the Hindu and Christian elements are mixed in a nifty jambalaya here.

Parting Shot


David was probably right to cut these, since we all must bow to the Gods of Wordcount, but he was also right to seek to have them published. This article spends perhaps a half-moment on the “how did this book come about?” part of a Designer’s Notes entry, and focuses entirely and usefully on the outtakes.

This makes for a great stand-alone article, and it asks the question, and answers it repeatedly, “what would happen if styles X and Y, which never met in the real world, were to encounter each other, and be taught side-by-side.”

It’s a good read.

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, and Takedown Sequences in previous posts.

Eidetic Memory – The Devil’s Fist ( +David Pulver )

The Devil’s fist is a martial arts style – but inverted. Sure, the style part of it is there, tucked into the last section of the text. But that’s not the point of this column.  The article is in five sections, four historical and one dedicated to the style itself. Each of the four historical sub-sections could be used to provide a grounding for using that style in the game-world for a particular era.

in a fun bit of color, each section seems to more-or-less end with someone involved with the art being dead. Mwa ha ha, etc.

Renaissance Origins: Ialporim Iadna Qvasb

Let’s get one thing out of the way first here: I have no idea how to pronounce Qvasb. There we go.

The first section talks about the legend of the founding of the style. The importance and prominence of the legend of how a martial art is founded is almost always vitally important (to practitioners) and a matter of great pride and often controversy. Insult the founder, start a fight. (Seen They Call Me Bruce? No? Too bad; that’s what I’m talking about.)

So during this period, an 80-year history of the underpinnings of the art in question, there’s actually no practitioners.

This is a fun bit of detail that could have been glossed over with one sentence, but I’m glad it wasn’t.

Devil Boxing

The dark and  evil manuscript must eventually be found, and the second section talks about that discovery and the establishment of the art. It covers only 15 years, but they’re 15 years in the heart of the early pulp and Victorian era setting, so that makes it great inspiration for a style for bad guys. Can’t you just see a buddy of Moriarty practicing this?

The Ordo Satanica and The Pugno del Diavolo

The next section brings the style into the present, with a violent satanic cult being formed around the rediscovered style. It’s got all the requisite creepy elements: the charismatic leader dabbling in mysticism (maybe more than dabbling!), the brushes and investigations by The Proper Authorities, and enough mysterious happenings to lend credence to all sorts of secret histories.

Conrad Bacon and the Dirty Warlock Dojo

Ah, factionalism! Something seemingly no martial art can be without. This chapter deals with an offshoot branch of the art where a disgruntled practitioner decides to take it “mainstream.” Wackiness ensues.

Marketing, memetics, and a violent challenge between two practitioners who may or may not be actually in congress with the Devil?

Bring it on.

Pugno del Diavolo

The final section is the style itself. In truth, it’s not much. Th basics of the style are Brawling, Karate, and Wrestling for unarmed elements, and Interrogation and Whip as additional primary skills, owing to the oddball and nasty nature of the teachings.

It focuses on the damage dealing capabilities quite a lot, with Wrench (Limb) and Neck Snap being prominent, which means you’re going to want to be strong to make use of this. Naturally, Power Grappling features prominently on the Perk list, and if your ST is higher than DX, you’ll take this.There’s also an intresting focus on bting.

The optional stuff is where it gets interesting and appropriately weird, with swords, magery, occultism, and theology all featured strongly.

As a style, it’s a bit of a grab-bag. As an outgrowth of the fairly lavishly described history, it fits perfectly.

Parting Shot

This is a fairly interesting approach to a style, one I’ve not seen before in GURPS. My own real-world style, Hwa Rang Do, has a fairly interesting history, which starts – according to our internal legends – with the Hwarang knights around 1,500 years ago. The style legend is an important part of it, and the history and “lineage” is as important to some as whether it’s “effective” or “technical” or “pure.”

David traces the lineage of this fictional martial art from its theoretical creation to final form in the present day. This gives great color, for artists and stylists to argue about, to form the basis of in-character discussion and argument, and to provide campaign seeds.

The internecine conflit described in The Devil’s Fist is as much a part of the history of martial arts as the style itself. Many arts – even such a non-confrontational art like Aikido! – split into factions and sub-styles. The Korean arts are quite the muddle this way, for example, with several attempts to unify the disparate arts falling apart for various reasons.

The article shows how much color can lie behind a style, even not dealing at all with the fighting and game-mechanical elements themselves. In fact, the history of the style as an organzation, rather than a fighting method, is the real meat of the article. The style itself, especially without the mystical elements, isn’t much.

Treat this as a subtle lesson in world-building. Take the exact same style (Te, for example, or Hapkido – absent from GURPS 4e – or even better, Kendo/Kenjutsu) and wrap different organizational histories around them, and you will have a different feel to each one. Take this history difference in conjunction with some choices in how a PC fights, and you have just more than tripled the depth inherent in the choices made.

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
Positions

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 
Guard
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.

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.

More Power to Dungeon Warriors ( +Peter V. Dell’Orto and +Sean Punch )

OK, do I have to say more than just naming the authors? Yes? Fine. I’ll admit my bias here, in that Peter and Sean are both friends, but this article is probably 8.000-9,000 words of pure Dungeon Fantasticness.

This is a Power-Ups article, in the spirit of Dungeon Fantasy 11, oddly enough titled “Power-Ups,” and not-at-all oddly enough written by Sean and Peter. Sean recently allowed on the forums that this article, which with the proper end plates and formatting, would have been a 16-page DF-style supplement by itself, and that this article, coming it at 8,600 words is basically a way to sneak a bonus e23 DF volume in under the Ogre’s anti-air defenses.

Stealing blatantly from the intro from the DF book itself, Power-Ups are “nothing less than ways to make adventurers more powerful. Some crank existing capabilities up to 11; others add entirely new feats.”

This article is all about the slice-and-dice, featuring Power-Ups for Warriors, whose raison d’etre is beating the bejeezus out of people.

So, what’s in it?

General Combat Power-Ups

This section applies to anyone that satisfies the requirements, not restricted to any particular template or niche. There are eight Combat Perks, including one that riffs, I think, off of the rule mod in Technical Grappling that says, yes, you can do stuff that requires concentration while grappled, but prepare to suffer for it. This is so compatible with TG I weep I didn’t think of it.

The section also contains an amusingly awesome 3/4-page box on double-ended weapons. I’ll admit I was, when I saw this, looking for a nod to the lirpa and bat’leth.

Interdiction made it in from the forums, and is now as official as a published GURPS thing from Pyramid can be (meaning ‘quite’). Greater Weapon Bond looks like it’ll be popular too. Peerless Slayer Training (a Targeted Attack based on a ginormous Wildcard! skill) and Wizard-Hunter both seem spectacularly Awesome, if expensive.

There’s goodness in the intro section for just about anyone, and weapon fighters and unarmed martial artists will browse with glee.

Barbarian Power-Ups

The noble outdoorsman, mighty and strong, gets some boosts that only they can have here. There are three perks, with the awesomely-named Mountain of Meat being my favorite just because of the name, though I think it’s the best of the trio as well.

There are only two true Power-Ups, but they’re awesome. Greater Cleaving Strike amps up the technique on which it’s based, and costs a bunch. Even more is Naked Rage, which is based on Injury Tolerance and reads like a must-have for Barbarians who hew to the stereotype of the big guy with loincloth.

Holy Warrior Power-Ups

OK, as you’ve likely seen from my Dungeon Fantasy /Jade Regent play reports, I play a Warrior Saint in that game, about 315 points. So while these Power-Ups mightn’t be directly useful to me, they should be able to inspire more directed Power-Ups.

Holy Weapon? Yeah, I want that. Even with my Named Possession, shrivener in hand, the abilities that come with this power-up would be quite nice as a supplement, and the ability to dial-a-smackdown with various different instruments would be quite nice.
Knight Power-Ups


Of the four power-ups targeted specifically at Knights, three of them are based around leadership and protection. Rallying Cry seems like a real winner, especially in fights where you’re caught by surprise (or get hit by a power or area-effect stunning spell). Tactician is a very interesting application, I think, of bonus points from Monster Hunters to DF – though my group (with +Nathan Joy as GM) uses these anyway.

The purely combat oriented power up is defensively oriented. In consideration, Knights are such awesome warriors on the offense (talk to +Peter V. Dell’Orto about how studly a properly focused Knight can be) that defensively-oriented Power-Ups are probably welcome. None of these abilities is terribly expensive, so they’re easy to shoe-horn in.

Martial Artist Power-Ups



These are just cool, all of them. The Chi Blasts power is a set of innate attacks, powered by Chi, and providing a balanced set of abilities that mimic the crazy stuff you see in video games – and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Especially for more mundane fighters, these attacks can provide a nice set of options that might impact critters for whom a simple blade or club won’t cut it. Dragon’s Breath, for example, seems like a nice option against swarms or diffuse creatures as well as those more vulnerable to other stuff.

Fists of Power hits up the equivalent of a monster kick, but for fists, while Grand Flying Kick gives you something like a cleaving strike, but for a Boot to the Head. Peter and Sean even make the how-to explicit in one of several “Under the Hood” BOX-TEXT call-outs, where they (usefully) break down just how to make these powers. By and large, they don’t need to invent much when there’s so many awesome metasystems already extant, but they flex their muscles and inform us of just how these systems are used. The Under the Hood boxes are good stuff, and well named for what they show. You don’t need to go into the guts of the system to use the stuff . . . but they’re great object lessons.

In passing, the Inner Alchemy perk? Just Freakin’ Awesome.

Unarmed Master helps people using the Martial Artist template get through the veritable forest of spikes, swords, and other nasty bits that usually can induce injury, and may well be a near-mandatory (or at least damn useful) Power-Up for adventures that feature lots and lots of foes going after you with stuff that gives the free damage when using unarmed parries vs. such attacks.

Scout Power-Ups


Scouts are so naturally awesome that they hardly need extra power-ups. Still, the wonderfully named Mifter Teef is a fun bit, and has some great extras if you decide to be both a bowman and a grappler for some unholy reason.

There are also a few cool perks that are basically rules exceptions that GMs might want to insist on, for those Scouts that just love to fast-draw and quick-shoot and DWA their way into a game-halting series of die rolls. Every turn. Making these rolls go away?

To borrow a phrase: priceless.


Swashbuckler Power-Ups


Great Void almost seems too useful, especially on the infinite featureless plain that is such a staple of underground dungeon crawls. More seriously, the biggest issue with fencers is dealing with long-reach creatures and weapons, and this fairly low-cost ability will make many swashies grin from ear to ear. Relinquishment is interesting, and would really sing if there were a stronger mechanism for unifiying Beats, parries, and weapon breakage.

The four perks are fun, and also have some nice “Under the Hood” how-to information weaved in there.

Parting Shot

I said it in the intro, and I’ll say it again: This is an e23 supplement in Pyramid form. Some of these are just cool, and others will inspire you to dig out the Under the Hood bits so you can create your own variants.

In any case, this is a great article, and worth the price of admission for this issue all by itself.

And I still have four additional articles to review . . .


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
Head



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.

This one will be quick (mostly because I’m having lunch and behind my work firewall), but today’s Pyramid Magazine is out, and it’s tremendous.

What’s in it?

A truly stupendous article by +Sean Punch and +Peter V. Dell’Orto with DF power-ups for the swords and smiting set. This wonderful piece of badassery is 11 pages of pure awesome. Things that showed up on the forums make their appearance, something that seemed to be pulled from the concepts in Technical Grappling is in there (Willful Warrior), plus a nod to Trading Places.

Two articles by yours truly. The first covers how to do real-world moves using Technical Grappling, in step-by-step detail. I think it will appeal to both martial arts aficionados and those whose experience is limited, but also want to have the same sort of great detail that enweaponed fighters enjoy. The other is the TG Designer’s Notes. Those were fun, have some cuts, some notes, and cover how the manuscript came about.

Another DN article by David T Moore, author of Yrth Fighting Styles. It has MOAR STYLES. Seriously, these are really good, and I’m really glad this made it in. He also wrote the Odds and Ends  column in this issue, entitled Reasons to Fight. Good stuff.

Steven bookends the issue as usual, opening with a note that shows how quickly this issue, with its tight focus on hitting stuff, came together. I’ve seen some of what didn’t make it in, and I hope there’s a follow-up. He also hits the mechanics-light aspects of fight pacing and description, which in an often mechanics-intensive game like GURPS is a nice illumination of other ways to go.

More about this, and a detailed article-by-article review will be forthcoming . . . but this is a fun issue, and everyone should buy it.

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.

Options


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!