Dungeon Grappling is the DriveThruRPG Deal of the day today. This means it’s 70% off – on sale for $2.85 in the PDF format.

These are the best grappling rules that DnD-flavored games have seen to date. Bold statement? Yeah, but don’t take my word for it: Read the reviews.

And at $2.85, what are you waiting for?

Grappling in one form or another, from fighting using active shield manipulation to a lion strangling a foe in its jaws to a giant ape holding a victim over its head, should be part of nearly every fight. Getting dogpiled by kobolds is a time-honored tradition. But mostly, the rules have gotten in the way of the fiction. Until now.

Resolve grappling with the same basic mechanical flavor as the rest of the game: roll to hit against a target number; if successful, roll damage. That damage can accumulate to restrict and impair the foe, or even traded for injury.

I ran the Dungeon Grappling rules at GenCon for 15 folks who had never used them before, including a few skeptics and a few folks who were eager to try out grappling rules that finally didn’t suck. Two game sessions, and the most common feedback was the rules made grappling both worthwhile and fun.

Try ’em out – and then in a week or so, you can sign up to try that same adventure yourselves . . . but more on that later!

CreateSpace is inexpensive but has been extremely uneven in quality. Extremely.

DriveThruRPG (via Lightning Source) has been very reliable and consistent in quality, but is more expensive than I’d prefer.

I’m looking for other short-run printers that might do the job. The minimum offset quantity I can usually find is 500 copies, but rumors have scattered about of lower-minimum-number available.

I’m probably looking for a US-based printer, but I’m OK with nearly anything, and something with both US and UK (for example) outlets has real advantages.

In any case, help wanted!

I was at GenCon’s 50th Anniversary this past week, and I had the honor of observing the first of Gaming Ballistic’s Dungeon Grappling demo games, and playing in the second. Here are my thoughts, for those that are considering its use:

Summary

It’s not as scary as you probably think.

Qualification

I have 20+ years experience with D&D in general, maybe five or so with Pathfinder, and a month or two with 5e. I have always felt like grappling, in general, has gotten less attention than it deserved in pretty much any system, including all editions of D&D, and have had characters/moments in-game where I’ve found myself grappling (with the rules and/or the enemy) and found them a bit awkward. At the point of the convention, I had not read the Dungeon Grappling book (and still haven’t as of this writing—but I will), though I am quite familiar with its spiritual-ancestor, GURPS Martial Arts – Technical Grappling, so I did have a basic understanding of how it works beforehand.

Observations

In my brief exposure to the Dungeon Grappling system, I found it to actually be very easy to understand and smoothly integrated. It uses the normal attack-damage mechanics. “Control” is just damage of a different sort, the accumulation of which inflicts one of a handful of “grappled” conditions. Those conditions are well-defined and sensible, using established mechanics. A character can “attack” to add more to his own control, reduce his enemy’s control, aid allies’ grapples—it’s very intuitive. It works the same against larger or smaller opponents. The book has all the right cheat-sheets in easy-to-find places. I know the book does delve into more detailed grappling situations—and I generally like the more crunchy stuff—but really, the little bit that I observed is all you need to make grappling in D&D a bit more interesting, and it’s simple enough that I couldn’t give anyone a good reason to not use it.

And, I’m told Dungeon Grappling addresses that burning question I’ve always had in D&D and never found and answer for: how far can you throw a halfling? 😛

Note from Gaming Ballistic: Pretty darn far if you’re an Ancient Red Dragon

My 2¢.

This is a guest post by Discordian and Forumite Kalzazz, who answered my challenge around high point total characters in GURPS, but doesn’t have a blog of his own.

—Gaming Ballistic

Possible?  The same way as any campaign, you get a group of people willing to give it a whirl!  Given the incredible diversity of RPGs, there is bound to be a market for them.

More seriously, GURPS markets itself as the be all, end all of RPGs, and as such it takes a fair shot at supporting a wide range of power levels.  For instance, the Monster Hunters series considers 400pts as base weight.

As a personal preference, I consider 300pts to be firmly stuck in the middleweight category . . . which is my usual favorite play range back from my pre GURPS days of DnD 3.0 and such when I usually gravitated around level 10 as preference.   Middleweight characters can have some cool tricks, and can do some cool stuff, and if they use the tried and true PC dogpile tactic they can take on some credible foes, but they aren’t so scary they can’t be dogpiled in turn by oodles of riff raffs.   To me, low weight characters can be much less fun, as you have a harder time coming up with challenges weaker than they are, so it closes off half your options as a DM.  Unless you are specifically aiming for fun such as ‘Watch the party get eaten by housecats!’  (which CAN be fun, my low weight campaign was specifically designed around such, and was definitely fun).   High point characters?  Much the same.  Its harder to properly throw heavier weight stuff at them (this is less a complaint in GURPS, in GURPS it is always easier to throw heavier weight stuff, because my lazy DM tendencies are thwarted by my lack of a stack of various monster books with easily marked CR ratings).

Another note is that in its desire to cover everything, some cool options simply do not become available on lower point totals.   Even realisticish ones.   Consider say a knight, who wants to ride into battle astride a fine charger, kitted out nicely with arms and armor, and with his manor to go home to.  He needs Status (he is a knight), Wealth (lots of Wealth, remember only 20% by default can be used for adventuring gear for a settled person), and say he wants to be a strong, healthy guy who is a good fighter and a good administrator of his manor.   And he isn’t a dysfunctional screwball.
Or not so realistically, with low points you will never get to play around much with neat advantages like Altered Time Rate or Extreme Regeneration, and to me, playing around with the tools in the toolkit can be part of the fun.

How it works with big numbers?   Four things to start.

  1. Enjoy the big numbers! You want a Wizard with 18 Int?  Sure, Wizards with 18 Int are definitely cool in a 3-18 scale system, so enjoy Mr. Wizard being able to make knowledge checks by default, and on the skills he has studied doing even better.    The player probably wants Mr. Wizard to be good at that sort of thing.   Same Agile Acrobats and such, its fun to be good at things.
  1. Penalties are everywhere. You don’t even need to go looking for them.   Even basic things such as trying to shoot an ork with a bow can accumulate penalties like nobodies business.  And thats before you deal with the ork may just go ahead and dodge you that knave, so maybe pile on some deceptive? Non combat skills are the same way, consider for instance Kung Fu.   Being sneaky enough to walk on rice paper, or strong and willful enough to heft a giant burning cauldron that scars you? It is cool when PC weight characters can pull off such stunts that riff raffs can’t.
  1. Excess skill is fun, and where the thinking can happen! I love fighters with high skill, and why do I love it?  Because it is fun to play with.   I can ponder between deceptive attacks, rapid strikes, called shots oh my.   Low skill fighters?  How boring, I just swing away and hope for the best, because I don’t have much skill to allocate between coolness points.
  1. The DM can muster bigger numbers. The DM is the DM, so it really isn’t much a problem.   Delving into Kal’s Lazy DM Cheatbook, a simple way is to just give badguys races or such.   Sure, your PC weight swordsman might carve human riff raff into kibble, but how does he fair against vampire riff raffs?

Anyway, having run GURPS from 62pt characters, 300pt, and well above 300pt, I can assure that to me, GURPS doesn’t break any more at higher point levels than it does at lower ones.   GURPS has its hair pulling foibles, but they are fairly well point weight independent.

One thing I specifically want to point out is that just because a character is higher point weight does not mean they necessarily need to feel like a level 20 deity.   For instance, consider the Int 18 Wizard.   Groovy.  In AD&D if the dice gods are with you, then you can be a level 1 wizard with 18 Int!  In GURPS, you can be an IQ 18 Wizard to, who fortune smiled upon but is not yet a hardened adventurer (and with starting wealth being what it is, unless you pony up the CP for a lot of it, you won’t be kitted out like a hardened adventurer either).   You can be a greener than green starting adventurer with 18 IQ, no one is stopping you.

That same 18 IQ can also be on a 1000 year old middling replacement level lich if you like.  Or have 21 ST on a level 1 half dragon, it is all good.
But basically, my points boil down to.

  1. As a DM and player, I like cool stuff.
  2. Being given points to play with expands the realm of cool stuff.

and most importantly . . .

  1. It really doesn’t matter, if you can get interested people to give it a whirl, a cool DM and players can make it work!

My friend died yesterday.

“There is… so much I still don’t understand” “As it should be.”

I don’t know details, but he and his wife were driving on a Sunday morning – he would appreciate a Babylon 5 Sunday Drive reference here – and two cars were racing. They apparently slammed into him sideways, and hit other cars as well.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

What can I say? He was at least 10 years younger than I am, and he was kind. We gamed together for years, and if you hear me mutter about the power of the Tickle spell in GURPS, I’m talking about Jason. We did Hwa Rang Do demonstrations together, we grappled, sparred, and fought with weapons, and I trusted him. You were safe fighting with Jason, because to him it was all one joyous, goofy game. A serious game, and he played to win, and played to learn, but I don’t think it was ever in his nature to take things personally.

Jason (seated) and the HRD crew jammin’ to Rock Band

He had many deep convictions, many of which I did not, could not share. But he lived those convictions. He wanted to help others, so he did not send emails or post facebook memes – he joined the Peace Corps and lived and worked and led and taught martial arts in Vanuatu. Where’s that? Google it. It’s way the hell away from everything, and of course Jason went there.

If there was a cause, he marched for it, was physically and mentally active for it. He committed to his passions, while at the same time embracing a devil-may-care attitude towards life itself, and very much took the ‘tude that life was way too important to take seriously, I think.

Finishing a Demo. Jason pushing my head to the floor: “Stay DOWN!”

We hadn’t seen much of each other recently. But when I say things like “learning how to do Viking Axe Fighting is the most delightfully impractical thing I’ve ever done,” I can picture him unrolling a scroll, and that parchment hitting the floor, and rolling down the hall.

“Oh. You’ve done something delightfully impractical, have you? You should try some of these . . . ”

And it wouldn’t have been one-uppsmanship. That was not in his nature. It would have been “let’s pick something new for you to do.” Burlesque. Poi fire spinning. Over the top cosplay (OK, I’ve done that one). I’m sure his friends would pile on endlessly and with great entertainment value. Jason did stuff.

He had an amusing as hell relationship with my children. My eldest was terrified of him, for no good reason (maybe she mentally knew he found children tasty, and good with ketchup?). He naturally took this in stride.

I’ll miss him. The world is a poorer place with him not in it.

I think he’d find it appropriate were I to end with a movie quote:

“Tell me how he died?”

“I will tell you how he lived.”

Like most seminars, this one was a bit of a blur. Not the least of which reason was that I’m new staff for Asfolk.

Asfolk? It’s a group that is one of several that attempts to rediscover, train, and teach what is basically a lost martial arts style – that of the Vikings of roughly 700-1,000AD. There’s not exactly – real or apocryphal – a fight manual that you can look at to discuss these particular forms. What there is, though, are the Sagas, such as The Sagas of the Icelanders, and the Poetic and Prose Eddas (available for free on Kindle; you might want to do some research on which translations are the best – I’d suggest heading over to the Iceland Reddit.

A word on these guys. I have been to many Reddits, as I’m sure you have as well. Mostly, the best way to get info from, say, an RPG Reddit, such as those concerning DnD, is to purposefully post something wrong, and let folks come and correct you, mostly in the most condescending, patronizing, and abusive way possible. Strip that out, though, and you get a pile of usually contradictory information that will most often advance your state of knowledge, though you must filter and sort yourself, like any good researcher should.

Not so over at the Iceland Reddit. When I had questions on Icelandic names and grammar, I got great answers, and they were not afraid to converse and amplify. There was no sniping or rudeness, just a genuine interest in helping me, even though my questions were about Dragon Heresy and “faux Norse” information rather than truly Icelandic history and culture. So it’s woth a trip over if you have questions.

Anyway, our guests for the weekend included William Short and Reynir A., both of Hurstwic Viking Combat. We also had a guest from the Oakeshott Institute, as well as Darrell Markewitz of the Wareham Forge.

So, what did I do? What did I learn? Tons of stuff. Again: jumble. So I’ll just write some things, and see what my memory jogs up. Continue reading “Viking Raid Debrief”

Idle conversation on the Discord chat about a full-auto .50 BMG rifle (as opposed to a machinegun) led to the comment that for sufficiently strong and large races or creatures, they really should be kitted out with battle rifles in sufficiently impressive calibers.

I mean, why wouldn’t a large-enough race make a rifle capable of firing 14.5mm KPV rounds?

Now, it’s been a while, but I don’t think a character’s ST has any impact on a weapon’s stat line.

Let’s look into fixing that. Continue reading “Rcl and ST in GURPS”

This is a follow-up post to my own on why Brandon Blackmoor, in his search for a fantasy system to run a game, should use GURPS. GURPS Forum poster and Discordian Kalzazz made a suggestion, and I asked him to write it up, and I’d post it. Here it is!

An option to consider is Open D6, potentially specifically D6 Fantasy.   Open D6 is the descendant of the West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying game of days long forgotten, and while that august game is out of print, this descendant is readily available for free due to Eric Gibson kindly releasing it as OGL.

D6 Fantasy is however professionally done and if you look at the credits you will see famed names such as Nikola Vrtis and Steven Marsh among others. Continue reading “Why not Open D6? (Guest post by Kalzazz)”

I was chatting with a fellow Discordian about a space fighter carrier he was making. I remarked offhand that for such a short vessel as he was making, he had an awful lot of embarked craft. He claimed (correctly) that it was rules-legal.

I looked about, and the smallest two space fighters I could find were still the Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica and the Starfury from Babylon 5. I decided to break out Eric B Smith’s Spaceships design sheet and see how small I could make a starfighter.

Turns out, you can get pretty small.

Continue reading “GURPS Spaceships: Viper Mk VII”