This article originally appeared in Pyramid #17

GURPS Questions & Answers from the Internet

By Doctor Kromm (

Every effort has been made to preserve the exact wording of the original question, but in some cases, the original text has been edited for brevity or clarity. In these cases, the original meaning has been kept the same.

GURPS Basic Set (Combat)

Active Defenses

Q: A standing character with the Acrobatics skill, a broadsword and medium shield who takes the Move, Wait, or Step & Attack maneuver, or Change Position if it resulted in standing, is attacked five times before his next turn. Can he take five active defenses, one per attack (e.g., Parry, Block, Dodge & Retreat, Acrobatic Dodge, Dodge)? He would not be limited to one defense type - true?

- Peter von Kleinsmid


A: Yes. Unless you take All-Out Attack or All-Out Defense (both of which affect defenses), you may Block once per turn and Parry once per turn (twice with a fencing weapon), and you may Dodge any number of times per turn. The Acrobatics option can be taken on one Dodge per turn. Retreat may be taken once per turn as well, and can be added to any Active Defense (Block, Dodge or Parry). Although the character is limited to one Active Defense per attack, he may defend against more than one attack each turn, and may use a different Active Defense against each attack.

- Kromm


Q: (1) Can the Fast-Draw skill be learned for an unbalanced weapon, such as a mace? (2) If so, can it be used to ready the weapon so that you can strike each turn?

- Aerron (

A: (1) If the player and the GM can come up with some way that the weapon could reasonably be carried and which would allow it to be grabbed and readied quickly, then yes. Otherwise, no. (2) No. Fast-Draw is the skill of quickly extracting a weapon from its sheath or hiding place. It eliminates the need to take a Ready maneuver when drawing a weapon, but it does not eliminate the need to ready an unbalanced weapon after an attack or a Parry.

- Kromm


Q: (1) Does the range condition for Feint apply to what the character could have done with a Step & Attack or an All-Out Attack, and not to where the character actually steps, which can be in any direction? So if I have a 2-hex reach and a Move of 8, can I Feint an enemy who is up to 6 hexes away, then step backwards to 7 hexes away? (2) Can I Feint, step back out of reach, and still benefit from the Feint if I attack on my next turn? (3) What if the foe backs out of weapon reach on his turn? (4) Does being in reach of the foe's weapon count as being in reach for a Feint?

- Peter von Kleinsmid


A: (1) You cannot Feint a foe unless you could have attacked him with a Step & Attack or an All-Out Attack; a Feint is just an attack that serves to lower Active Defenses rather than to inflict damage. If your foe does not start out within reach and cannot be brought into reach either by taking a Step or after moving half your Move on All-Out Attack (with the Feint and Attack option), then you cannot Feint him. In all cases, the foe must be within reach of your weapon when you Feint; you cannot hang back outside the reach of your weapon and Feint. (2) Sure. If Attack & Step is permitted (see Maneuvers, p. B103), then so is Feint & Step. After all, your Feint might simply be to trick your foe into thinking that you are backing off so that he will lower his guard. (3) If you cannot reach the victim of last turn's Feint with this turn's Step & Attack, All-Out Attack or Wild Swing, then you lose the benefits of the Feint. Otherwise, your Feint still counts. (4) Yes. In real life, you can beat a foe's weapon aside, fake a long-range attack (like a fleche or a lunge), or fake a disarm attempt against his weapon. These tactics all qualify as Feints in GURPS. Since you could have attacked your foe's weapon, you could have attacked him, and so you may attempt to Feint him.

- Kromm

Flying Tackle

Q: The only defense against a Flying Tackle is to Dodge (like dodging a weapon attack - there is no Slam-type DX contest) or to try to win the ST contest. Moreover, no DX roll is required to hit with a Flying Tackle. True?

-Peter von Kleinsmid (

A: Not quite. A Flying Tackle is identical to any other Slam, except that the attacker can move an extra hex, gets an extra +2 ST and falls, and the defender may choose either to try to win the Quick Contest of DX (watching his foe's every move) or to try to Dodge (madly diving out of the way, which means that he will be off balance, and thus at -2 ST, if he fails). This is to keep high-DX characters from always hitting with what amounts to uncontrolled flight.



Q: (1) To Grapple a foe by the neck in preparation for a Choke/Strangle attack, an attacker must step into his foe's hex and win a Quick Contest of DX+3 vs. DX. Since the attacker is at -5 for hit location, this becomes DX-2 vs. DX, correct? (2) If Q has X grappled by some body part other than the neck, does he have to try all over again to Grapple X by the neck, is it a Free Action, or what? (3) If I can Grapple someone around the neck to them from breathing, can I also Grapple them over the eyes (to keep them from seeing) or the mouth (to keep them from screaming) just as easily? (4) Why is a Grapple done at DX+3 vs. DX, while grabbing a foe's weapon (or weapon arm) is done at DX vs. DX? If what matters is being armed, what counts? A knife? A sword (which can't be used in close combat)? A shield or weapon in the other hand? A pistol? A spiked boot? (5) Is there an additional penalty to attack with a weapon or an arm that is grappled?

- Peter von Kleinsmid (

A: (1) No. Hit locations are not used for Grapples. A Grapple is always a Quick Contest of DX+3 versus DX; the part being grabbed is merely a special effect. So to choke or strangle, you simply state that you are Grappling with both hands and trying for the neck, then you roll DX+3 versus DX. The same goes for Grappling the head, leg or arm in unarmed combat. It is much easier to grab someone than to hit a specific body part with a weapon. (2) A new Grapple would have to be carried out, but since someone who is already Grappled is at -4 DX, this is usually quite simple (i.e., DX+3 vs. DX-4). (3) Yes. To blind or gag someone with your hands after you have Grappled them by the head is a Dirty Trick that requires winning a separate Quick Contest of DX every turn. (4) When you grab for the weapon or weapon arm of an armed foe, it is more difficult (i.e., DX and not DX+3) simply because the presence of a weapon makes the feat more dangerous. "Armed" means that your foe has an offensive weapon that he is holding on to with his hand and that you could conceivably take away from him. Boots, brass knuckles, shields and so on do not count, since they are worn, not held, and cannot be taken away. A knife, pistol or sword would count. (5) There is a -4 DX to all actions taken while Grappled. This includes Arm Locks, Leg Grapples and other special holds from GURPS Martial Arts. Moreover, if a weapon or weapon arm is Grappled, you simply cannot attack with the weapon in question, as it is being fought over, and cannot be used by either fighter until one of them gains control of it. A nasty GM could roll dice every turn to see if one or the other fighter has managed to get accidentally cut or shot!

- Kromm

GURPS Grimoire

Q: (1) Regarding the Rain of Fire spell from GURPS Grimoire. In the spell description, it says that the affected creatures take 1d-1 "burning" damage. Later, it says that "armor protects in the usual fashion" This seems perfectly straightforward until one asks the question: Do I use the rules in the Basic Set for flame damage? (p. B129) If so, then "armor protects in the usual manner" would mean the usual manner vs. flames. So low-tech armor protects completely for DRx3 turns, and then the wearer only suffers fatigue loss from heat if he fails a HT roll. Any clarifications? (2) The Enlarge spell (in Grimoire) doubles (or triples, etc.) the subject's Hit Points. My question is, what happens when an injured subject returns to normal? Does the damage taken remain at the same HP value, or do the cuts and wounds retain their relative level of injury?

- David Pidcock (

A: (1) When a combat spell like Rain of Fire inflicts dice of damage, the damage is always applied to DR as if it were a physical attack, unless the spell specifically states that DR acts in an unusual manner (or not at all) against that spell, as is the case for spells like Deathtouch. (2) Most transformations in GURPS (e.g., were-forms) specify that damage carries over between forms on a one-to-one basis. This is how it should work here, too. If you have 10 HP, Enlarge into a 20 HP giant, take 20 points of damage and pass out, then you will revert to a 10 HP human who is at -10 HP when the spell expires, and you will immediately have to make a HT roll for survival. After all, if a ballista bolt hits you as a giant, it does not shrink to crossbow bolt size when Enlarge ends (the spell affects you alone), so the wound canal should not shrink either.

- Kromm

GURPS Martial Arts

Q: I was under the impression that a Weapon Master can learn any cinematic skill or maneuver that can be used with a weapon. Is this true? For instance, can a Weapon Master learn Dual Weapon Attack? Also, does a Weapon Master have to take a style that includes a special ability, or can he (for example) learn Zen archery without learning Kyudo?

- Edmund M Bradley (

A: A Weapon Master can learn any of the cinematic skills listed under the Weapon Master advantage on p. MA25, if the skill in question applies to his weapon. A specialized Katana Master cannot learn Zen Archery, nor can a Bow Master can learn Throwing Art, but a general (45 point) Weapon Master can learn all of these skills. It is not necessary for a Weapon Master who wishes to learn such skills to actually learn a specific cinematic style that includes them. Nowhere does it say that a Weapon Master can learn cinematic maneuvers, though (see p. MA42). If you want to learn those, then you do have to learn a style that includes them. However, if you are a Weapon Master and you have also studied a weapon-based style (e.g., Kenjutsu, Kyudo), then you are permitted to learn the cinematic version of the style without also having to pay points for the Trained By A Master advantage. In this case, a Weapon Master may learn cinematic maneuvers.

- Kromm

GURPS Supers

Q: Does the Recovery advantage on p. 44 of Supers speed up the Regeneration, Regrowth or Resurrection advantages?

- unknown

A: No. Recovery is intended to let you make Hollywood psycho killers and cinematic boxers who get up within seconds or minutes of being rendered senseless by blows, and not to speed up any other kind of recovery process.

- Kromm

Q: Does the Resurrection advantage allow you to heal missing body parts while your body is "down for repairs," so that when you wake up (whenever that is), you will have all of your limbs again?

- unknown

A: Yes. To quote p. SU44, "Even if you have been hacked to pieces, those pieces will slither together and rejoin. If any parts were destroyed, they will regrow spontaneously."

- Kromm

Article publication date: February 1, 1996

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