Quick thoughts on unarmed combat

By John Dallman


We have Fighting as a strength-based skill that seeks to do damage; let's equate that loosely to the GURPS Karate or Brawling skills. But there's no way to describe unarmed combat skills based on restraint, or throws, or the like. Hmmm... Let's try this, since it's what I found myself running last weekend:

Grappling (Agility or Perception), default -1
A successful Grappling attack (it can be Dodged normally) means you have hold of your opponent, and their Fighting, Small Weapon, or Ranged Weapon (for pistols) attacks are at a penalty equal to your check digit. Large Weapon or Ranged Weapon for weapons larger than pistols are at a penalty of twice your check digit.

You can't attack someone you've grappled without letting go of them, but their Dodge against other contact attacks is reduced by the Grappling check digit. Participants in a Grappling combat don't get a Dodge against ranged weapons fired into the fight, but who gets hit is random - or at the GM's discretion.

An aware target of a Grappling attack gets to attack first in the round, and the Grappling attack against him automatically fails if he scores damage with a Small Weapon or Large Weapon skill (grappling Malakim with swords from the front is unwise).

Escaping from being Grappled requires winning a contest against the attacker's Grappling with your Strength or Grappling, or stunning the attacker. A grapple can be improved by making a new Grappling attack; the target's Dodge roll is at a penalty of the previous Grappling check digit.

Yes, grappling does work in celestial combat - it's how you take prisoners.

While I'm at it, let's define:

Martial Art (name), Precision, no default
A Martial Art is used to improve one of Fighting or Grappling - some rare martial arts schools improve both, but this requires learning and paying for two separate skills - and have a prerequisite of Fighting/6 or Grappling/6. Many schools also require a Knowledge/Philosophy or Knowledge/Religion skill at an equal or better level to the martial art. A successful roll against an appropriate Martial Art, made at the same time as a Fighting or Grappling roll, adds its check digit to that of the Fighting/Grappling roll, or allows a feat such as a judo throw, breaking a solid object, or otherwise spectacular accomplishment. One feat is learned at each level of the Martial Art skill; Characters and GMs will find many ideas in GURPS Martial Arts.


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