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 . . .

My copy of Ogre was delivered this week. I supported the Kickstarter, obviously, and despite the fact that it pushed my book, Technical Grappling, out by maybe a year or more, it was fun to finally get this thing.

The pictures from the various sources do this thing no justice whatsoever. It’s huge. Mindbogglingly huge. The thing barely fit in my trunk. Now, I drive a WRX, so it’s not a big trunk. But still. Damn.

I finally got it home and got the cardboard off. First thing I noticed (no pix) was that it was quite cleverly packaged, with the counter sheets outside the box, and covered in cardboard and some styrofoam. There was some trivial damage on the outer box, but nothing to get persnickety about.

Opening it up, I got my first glimpse of the simply outstanding production values of the game and its contents. And it’s still huge. I provided a convenient four-year old girl for scale. Not sure where she came from, but hey, you use what you’ve got.

The box is sturdy and simply gorgeous. As soon as you open it up, you can see how much care went into the creation of the packaging, since the Ogre Garage is right there in front of you. It took me a while to find that the assembly instructions are on the back side of the giant piece of paper – but it didn’t matter. You can mostly figure them out, and the “put this figure in the garage in this way” underlayment in the Ogre Garage provides enough hints to allow full assembly. Then I found the instructions, but didn’t need them by then.

The packaging is complete and well thought out all around. I’ve put up some of the pictures, with my helper showing me what to do, giving instructions, and generally demanding to start playing the game immediately. That being said, if you ever want to distract a small child for hours, give her this game. Its 1,000+ counter pieces will prove an irresistible challenge. A gauntlet thrown down that she will only too gladly pick up. The only casualty was a section of road/tracks that we had to creatively adjust from a 3-hex length to a 1-hex and a 2-hex set. So now there are 1,001+ counter pieces.

I was surprised and pleased with how easily and well the counters popped out. They’re in the sheets tightly enough to not go anywhere, but not so tight that you’ll break them. That being said, there are a lot of small areas that could come off – the Ogre masts in particular – so take care not to break them just for caution’s sake. They’ll pretty much pop out though.

Some more pictures:

Filling the Ogre Garage bit by bit
Oh? 1,000 pieces? I . . . accept.
Popping out terrain features

Finally, the assembly of the Ogres. Difficult? No. I did the first one, we collaborated on the second, and then, saying “Let me get my model!” this is what happened next:

Carefully set out the pieces

Grab the first tread

Slide it carefully on

Snug it up tight!

First front tread installed

Line up the last tread

Try and get the slots alignted

Try again. This one was tricky.

OK, now we nab the center piece
Line it up

Slide it in tight

OK, that looks good
Turret has to go here. It’s so obvious.

Nozzle thing last, and done!

So there you go. Even a four-year-old can do it. The only comment is that some of the pieces might be a little loose. If that’s the case, a toothpick and a tiny dot of white glue will fix that right up.

I have a feeling we’ll be playing this – though I’m positive that the rules (which I’ve never learned; I never really played Ogre back in the day) will be irrelevant. But we’ll play eventually, and she likes rolling dice.
I still don’t know where I’m going to put this thing, but it’s a great big huge box of fun.


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 have a co-worker, Jay Meyer. He designs games. He found out I had an RPG book coming out, and we started talking about his game play/game design group.

And then he went to Gen-Con, and got inspired.

Now he’s got a kickstarter:

I’m not a huge board game guy . . . but Jeffr0 is. I hooked those two up, and apparently they hit it off, and Jeff just posted his interview with Jay here.

Everyone should check it out. The Great Northern Games website is pretty good, and the 17 principles of game design bear thinking about even for dedicated RPG types.

Also please do check out his Kickstarter page – there has been a lot of good work and really fun/spectacular artwork, so while I recommend becoming a backer, I really recommend going over to check out what he created. It’s worth your time.

Congrats to Jay for launching the Kickstarter and for what looks like a great game. Spread this announcement around, because however we can boost the hobby, we should!

Yesterday was GURPS-Day, but I was on a plane, so I missed it. Sorry.

My own book was the crack in the dam. Since then, we’ve seen a bunch of new GURPS releases, in addition to our monthly dose of Pyramid.

So, what’s new?

Well, we’ll start with my own work.

Technical Grappling cranks up the potential resolution for close combat, armed and unarmed. It’s been revised once since publication, and based on a pretty good forum discussion, I think there’s one more thing that probably needs to be done. And no, it’s nothing to do with Bites.

I’ve copied the e23 page for each book, and the cover images are live.

GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling 

An e23 Original!



For GURPS 4th Ed.

Avg. rating (24 votes): 4.5
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Written by Douglas H. Cole
Published by Steve Jackson Games
51-page PDF (1.2 MB)
Stock Number SJG37-1644, $9.99

Master Grappling . . . or Face Defeat!

The canny warrior knows that grappling is fundamental to fighting. Any melee — from a brawl to a swordfight — could suddenly move into the clinch. Some fighters even specialize in such tactics!
This is a hard subject to get a hold on, however; volumes have been written about leverage alone. GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling brings this depth to GURPS. Expansions to the GURPS Basic Set and GURPS Martial Arts rules include:
  • Trained Strength. Discover how technical proficiency complements raw power.
  • Control Points. Transform grappling from an all-or-nothing affair to a matter of degree.
  • Position Revisited. Achieve leverage by jockeying for not only posture, but also facing and orientation.
  • Armed Grappling. Control and entangle your foes with a surprising variety of melee weapons.
  • Combat Options. Narrow your focus with the One Foe option, exploit Committed Attack to force a posture change, pass a limb to trap your opponent, and more.
  • Techniques. More than 30 of them — some new, some modified. Use an Escaping Parry to break a clinch, or Change Position to establish a weight advantage.
  • Fighting Styles. Learn Jacket Wrestling or Shuai Jiao — and distinguish between between bear and lion attacks — with six classic styles plus four specifically for animals.
Whether your campaign features athletes wrestling for prizes and honor, lawmen who must control and disarm suspects, or historical warriors trained to fight to the death, Martial Arts: Technical Grappling will add detail and realism to your battles.
This supplement requires GURPS Martial Arts for GURPS Fourth Edition.
Visit the official web page for more info, resources, product support, and links.
***
Next, a hugely-awaited release: Ritual Path Magic. This alternate magic system is calculation-intensive, but there are some helper programs out there. Also, it’s awesome. I’ve played in a test-campaign with it, and it’s tons of fun. For additional help, someone went and converted all, or nearly all, of the GURPS Magic spells to RPM for you.
GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic 
An e23 Original!


For GURPS 4th Ed.GURPS Monster Hunters and GURPS Thaumatology
Avg. rating (19 votes): 4.5
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Written by Jason Levine
Published by Steve Jackson Games
56-page PDF (2.2 MB)
Stock Number SJG37-1653, $9.99

You Can Do Anything!

Magic is a creative force, and those who can harness its full potential can change the universe. This is the core of GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, a complete, stand-alone, and self-contained magic system forGURPS. Designed to emulate the magic of real-world traditions and popular books, movies, and television shows, this framework permits practitioners to cast improvised spells, elaborate rituals, and everything in between. This supplement empowers you to:
  • Master the traits necessary to become a Ritual Path magician, from specialized advantages to the core and Path skills behind every spell . . . or alter them to fit your campaign needs.
  • Learn how to craft rituals to produce the effect you want with the skills you have, and what can help or hinder you when gathering the energy to make the ritual work.
  • Acquaint yourself with the benefits and pitfalls of various methods for making spell-casting easier, including charms, elixirs, grimoires, places of power, enchanted items, and more.
  • Discover ways to modify the basic system, how to combine it with other magic systems, what awful things happen when you mess up a spell, and exactly what you cannot do with Ritual Path magic.
  • See how the system works with over 80 sample rituals that cover all the major effects the average caster relies on, such as healing, injury, communication, and protection.
With this system, you can augment the arcanists of the GURPS Monster Hunters series (or other modern-day magical myths), wend new ways for wizened wizards, and provide new possibilities to power for any setting. With GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Visit the official web page for more info, resources, product support, and links.
***
The shambling hordes – or not so shambling – made their appearance in October as well. The first hardcover release in quite a long time. I’ll admit I haven’t dug through this one fully yet. But I will. I got comped on this one, largely I think for making suggestions that didn’t make it in the book.
GURPS Zombies 
An e23 Original!


For GURPS 4th Ed. and GURPS Horror
Avg. rating (21 votes): 5.0
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Written by Sean Punch
Published by Steve Jackson Games
163-page PDF (13.7 MB)
Stock Number SJG31-1004, $19.95

Undead, Infected, or Just Plain Cursed?

So . . . you think you know zombies. Are you sure? You want to be certain about something like chopping off an arm after a crazy person gets bitey, and it would be most unfortunate if you were looking out for the walking dead when a little kid with a fever lunged for your brains. If only there were a guide to all this stuff!
GURPS Zombies aims to please. It goes into detail on all kinds of zombies — undead and living, slow and fast, supernatural and superscience, and more. Its pages include:
  • A rules-free survey of zombies by fictional and folkloric origin, physical and supernatural type, and dramatic role.
  • Systematic guidelines for creating custom zombies to surprise your players.
  • Ready-to-use examples for the zombie-master in a rush: B-movie and fantasy undead, living-but-infected crazies, necromancers’ pets, science experiments gone horribly wrong, surgical constructs gone disturbingly right, and many others.
  • Rules for topics dear to the zombie-lover’s heart: horde management, splatter and contagion, cures, and even inventing new kinds of zombies!
  • Information for those who must confront zombies, including gear recommendations, rules for avoiding infection and simply surviving, and templates for survivors, zombie-hunters, and zombie-makers.
  • Advice on using all this in any genre. Who says zombies are only for horror?
Get ready for the time of your life — or unlife, if need be. Every zombie fan will find something to cackle about here! GURPS players get the bonus of detailed rules and stats to tell them exactly how hosed they’ll be when the zeds turn up on their doorstep.
Visit the official web page for more info, resources, product support, and links.
***
I helped a bit with the next one, since Michele is a friend of mine. It’s a fictionalized Gothic Cathedral, and can be dropped in to anywhere such an edifice is important. Given the importance of such structures to to social fabric of the times, this is a great piece of work. 
GURPS Locations: St. George’s Cathedral 
An e23 Original!


For GURPS 4th Ed.
Avg. rating (11 votes): 4.5
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Written by Michele Armellini
Published by Steve Jackson Games
32-page PDF (2.0 MB)
Stock Number SJG37-1415, $7.99

A Spire to Godliness

The church: so central to medieval times, it can be difficult to grasp today. Communities poured great resources into monuments built in awe and fear of God. Now perhaps viewed as stone skeletons from a pious past, cathedrals were the most impressive structures of their era . . .
GURPS Locations: St. George’s Cathedral presents a grand example of such an imposing edifice. Though fictitious, it is based on fact and suitable for use in any place and time that can call its Gothic corridors home. Open these pages and you shall:
  • Explore the immense structure from crypt to roof, discovering the artwork, relics, and other contents of each room. Detailed maps (including variants that preserve this site’s secrets) present all of the features mentioned in the descriptions, while GURPS stats spell out the challenges faced by visitors bent on unscrupulous entry.
  • Learn key details about the community that supports the cathedral, including local political problems and prominent people. A map shows the church’s location relative to other significant buildings in its vicinity.
  • Become acquainted with notable priests, lay workers, and other locals who might be found at St. George’s. Discover why the church is often the perfect meeting place.
  • Unearth a dozen adventure ideas involving the cathedral, plus several lenses to customize the locale to different campaign styles and settings – whether as a place of power, a modern-day curiosity, or a despoiled former jewel.
  • Peruse an extensive list of inspirational resources that can provide GM and players alike with more information about church architecture, religion in the Middle Ages, fitting fictional plots, and specific real-world cathedrals.
Lightning flashes, illuminating the silhouettes of the gargoyles perched on the edge; their stony faces betray no emotion as they await your visit to St. George’s Cathedral. Will entry bring your heroes closer to the divine . . . or remind them of their own insignificance amid the endless echoes?
Visit the official web page for more info, resources, product support, and links.
****
Another one I got to play with early, Yrth Fighting Styles is a great resource not just for Banestorm, but for how to blend martial arts with magic. Each presented style takes a cultural background and reason for existing and builds fightin’ words around them. Even if you’re not playing a Banestorm campaign, it’s a great worked example of how to design styles – and also some nice examples of non-styles.
GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles 
An e23 Original!


For GURPS 4th Ed.
Avg. rating (7 votes): 5.0
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Written by David T Moore
Published by Steve Jackson Games
38-page PDF (1.4 MB)
Stock Number SJG37-1681, $7.99

Become the Best Martial Artist on Yrth!

GURPS Martial Arts looks at hand-to-hand combat of all kinds, with an emphasis on what’s feasible on our Earthly orb. But what can fighters do in a world where “fantasy” is reality? GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Stylesexplores the violent possibilities in the GURPS Banestorm setting . . . and offers many options that can enhance the combatants of your own fantasy realms.
  • Discover more than a dozen armed and unarmed fighting styles specific to Yrth, and use the included lenses to focus suitable Martial Arts styles into Yrth-based ones.
  • Find out how existing advantages, disadvantages, and skills work in a fantasy world, and augment your heroes with new perks, techniques, specialties, and variants.
  • Fight like an animal (literally!) using expanded rules that cover everything from sharks to giraffes — or exploit guidelines that let you take the action underwater.
  • Depart from the traditional! Power up styles with Imbuement Skills from GURPS Power-Ups 1: Imbuements . . . or use the included werewolf template and related abilities to bring out your inner beast.
  • Live as a knight, legionary, mercenary, dwarf, or dark elf, thanks to insight into daily routines and suggestions for suitable character templates (including two new ones).
  • Learn the martial history of Yrth’s civilizations — not only human, but also dwarven, elven, many others — and read about the great warriors who influenced that world’s fighting styles.
Whether you’re seeking new options for fantasy adventurers, more details to enliven your elves, or fitting threats for Yrth’s mightiest heroes, you’ll find it in Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles. The fields, forests, and seas are more dangerous than ever. Give your champions a fighting chance!
Visit the official web page for more info, resources, product support, and links.
***
And finally, yesterday’s release is yet another supplement/variation on a theme presented in Thaumatology, showing off the toolkit nature of GURPS. I haven’t purchased this one yet; it’s not immediately my cup of tea, but I’m something of a completist so I’m sure I’ll get it eventually!
GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers 
An e23 Original!


For GURPS 4th Ed. and GURPS Thaumatology
Avg. rating (2 votes): 5.0
Written by William H. Stoddard
Published by Steve Jackson Games
42-page PDF (1.3 MB)
Stock Number SJG37-1654, $7.99

Wield the Might of the Five Elements!

The Chinese view of the elements (xing) is rich and nuanced, with cycles of creation and destruction: earth refines into metal, smothers fire, is covered by wood, and absorbs water. These interactions are as flavorful as they are balanced — perfect for a magic system! GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers blends the concepts of qi (chi) and magic, empowering elementalists with gifts that truly capture the feel of xing mastery. With it, you’ll be able to:
  • Master more than 60 fully worked abilities — and 20 new perks! — spread across the five elements, from the literal (summoning water as fog) to the metaphorical (using water chi to target the heart’s fire).
  • Combine Talent, Meditation skill, and the new Focus technique to push your elemental abilities beyond their limits and use them in powerful ways.
  • Supplement cinematic martial-arts skills with peaceful but equally fantastic feats of Alchemy, Erotic Art, Esoteric Medicine, Fortune-Telling, and Herb Lore.
  • Use the expanded advantages, disadvantages, and skills to build the magician you want — or just adapt the sample elementalist, Wang Laowu.
  • Learn how the concepts of xingqi, and yin and yang permeate Chinese culture, and then use that understanding to work this magic into your campaign.
Whether you’re playing mystical wu and brave xia in ancient China, modern martial artists locked in a secret street war, or classic fantasy dungeon delvers questing after a unique power-up, GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers puts the power of the elements in your hands!
Visit the official web page for more info, resources, product support, and links.