Steve Jackson Games GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

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7. Martial Arts

7.1 Can Kicking be improved?

Yes, but it may not be raised above the level of the skill to which it defaults. Kicking defaults to either Karate-2 or Brawling-2, and has been changed from an Average to a Hard maneuver in Martial Arts, 2nd Edition.

7.2 Can a martial artist use techniques not in his style?

Yes. If he has seen the technique performed he can attempt it at his default.

7.3 Is there a defense against Arm Lock?

Arm or Wrist Locks can be defeated at several points. The locker may miss his parry or grapple, or fail the initial Quick Contest. If he succeeds at all those rolls, the victim can try to break free in following turns with Quick Contests of ST or Judo versus Arm Lock+4 or ST - at a cumulative -1 each round.

Source: Sean Barrett

7.4 Unarmed martial artist vs. armed fighters (melee weapons).

Unarmed martial artists may be faster than armed and armored non-martial arts types, but they are at a disadvantage for the following reasons:

  1. Armed opponents usually strike first: Armed fighters usually have a longer reach than unarmed ones. Using the Step and Wait maneuver, the armed fighter will usually be able to strike first.

    [Note from Jim Duncan: I personally assess the effects of weapons damage immediately. For instance, shock takes place as soon as the damage is done and lasts until the end of the next turn; therefore, striking first holds a definite advantage! Tied initiative scores are the only simultaneous actions I allow. This is contrary to the stated rules, but I have always felt that the effects of shock are too brief anyway.]

  2. Parries are dangerous! Unarmed combatants attempting to parry weapons run the risk of having the parrying limb seriously injured. On a failed parry, the attacker can choose to either have the attack count against the parrying limb or the original target (p. B101).

  3. Bare-handed attacks can be parried with weapons! An unarmed fighter attacking an armed foe with a weapon can have his attack parried with the weapon. If the armed opponent parries with the weapon and succeeds, he may roll vs. skill (or skill-4 vs. Judo and Karate) to hit the limb of the unarmed fighter.

  4. Punching armor is painful. Any time you strike an opponent with DR 3 or better with your hands or feet, you must roll vs. HT or take 1d-2 damage to the body part you are striking with (p. B51).

In order to be successful against an armed opponent, an unarmed martial artist needs to either disarm or knock the armed fighter to the ground. Since weapon reach normally will give the armed fighter first strike, a martial artist will need to make at least one defense roll before he can move into close combat. Alternately, he/she could use the Slip maneuver from p. SW25 to get into close combat while defending. If the martial artist can't get or don't want to get in close combat, his/her best way to go would be to use a feint.

7.5 Are there any martial arts rules beyond GURPS Martial Arts?

Yes. GURPS Swashbucklers contains additional Fencing styles and maneuvers that are also applicable to other martial arts.

As for the additional rules from the now out-of-print GURPS Martial Arts Adventures, they were assimilated into the expanded second edition of GURPS Martial Arts, as were several Roleplayer and Pyramid articles dealing with martial arts rules.

Both Bunnies and Burrows and Lensman contain setting-specific maneuvers and styles, however.

7.6 The Wrestling skill differs in GURPS Martial Arts and Imperial Rome. Which is correct?

In Martial Arts, 1st Edition, Wrestling is P/A and defaults to DX or ST. In Imperial Rome, it is P/A but defaults to DX-5 or ST-5. In Arabian Nights, it is P/E, with DX-5 and ST-5 defaults. The skill descriptions in Imperial Rome and Arabian Nights are the same, and are slightly more detailed than the one in Martial Arts.

This has all been cleared up in Martial Arts, 2nd Edition (p. 35), mirrored on p. CI136: Wrestling, like Boxing, Brawling, Judo and Karate, has NO default. It is a P/A skill. Only people who buy the Wrestling skill get the (skill/8) ST bonus in Close Combat and access to the special maneuvers that default from it.

7.7 How do you use the Hit Location maneuver?

The way Hit Location works is much clearer in Martial Arts, 2nd Edition (and also Compendium I). It simply lets the attacker reduce the penalties for hit location. It is never rolled against; instead, each level of Hit Location gives the attacker a bonus that can be used to offset hit location penalties. This bonus is +1 if Hit Location is known at skill-2, +2 if it is known at skill-1 and +3 if it is known at skill. No further improvement is possible. This bonus can never result in the attack being made at a higher level than the prerequisite skill; it can only be used to offset hit location penalties.

7.8 Is the attack granted by the Riposte maneuver an "extra attack"?

No. A Riposte does not give an extra attack; it just replaces the character's next attack. This has three advantages over waiting for one's turn to attack, however:

7.9 What is the Reach of a bare-handed attack?

Unless otherwise specified, all bare-handed attacks (including the special maneuvers in GURPS Martial Arts) have a Reach of "C, 1." That means that they can be used on targets who are in close combat or who are one hex away.

All kicks have a Reach of "1", unless specified otherwise. The Reach "C" Karate "kick" mentioned on pp. B101,111 is really the GURPS Martial Arts Knee Strike maneuver in disguise.

Source: Kevin J. Chase

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