Ki Information

Q&A on GURPS Martial Arts

By Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch

What follows are some clarifications and answers to questions about GURPS Martial Arts, Second Edition. These questions were originally posed on the Internet, and have been edited here for clarity and brevity, and to preserve context. Feel free to send your questions to Dr. Kromm.

Concentration and Cinematic Skills

1. Can you concentrate on, say, Zen Archery and Power Blow simultaneously?
2. How about aiming and Zen Archery?

1. No. You can "stack" multiple cinematic skills on a single attack, but their concentration times add together. If you have Zen Archery-16 and Power Blow-17, then you have to concentrate for (20 - 16) + (20 - 17)=7 seconds to use them together.
2. No. Although the Aim maneuver can be used in conjunction with cinematic skills, it takes additional time. For instance, to use Zen Archery-16 on an aimed attack, you must concentrate for (20 - 16)=4 seconds and then aim.


Where a maneuver has a prerequisite or default that refers to "Combat/Weapon skill," does that include Guns skill?
-- Tom

In general, no. For most maneuvers, "Combat/Weapon skill" refers to a hand-to-hand combat skill. The GM has the final say on this, but very few maneuvers make sense as defaults from ranged weapon skills, and exceptions are generally noted.

Multiple Attacks

If a martial artist using Chambara fighting rules (multiple attacks) gets wounded after his first attack, are his subsequent attacks on that turn affected by shock?
-- Michael Bowman

Shock penalties apply from the moment of injury until the end of the victim's next turn. If a Chambara fighter gets hurt by a defensive maneuver (e.g., an Aggressive Parry, Riposte or Stop Hit), by a foe who has taken a Wait, or by punching DR 3+ or having his hand parried by a sword, then he takes a DX penalty on all subsequent attacks that turn.

1. If a character has several skills that give multiple attacks, can her attacks each turn be split between them? If so, how?
2. In GURPS Supers, there is an optional rule that gives extra maneuvers to characters with high Move scores (one additional maneuver for every 6 full points). Does this mean that someone with Karate-18 and Move 12 would be able to make 6 attacks per turn?

1. A character can make as many attacks as her highest Combat/Weapon skill allows, but attack #N cannot come from a skill that grants fewer than N attacks. EXAMPLE: A character has Katana-21 (4 attacks), Karate-18 (3 attacks) and Shortsword-15 (2 attacks), and is armed with a katana and wakizashi. She can attack up to four times (based on her Katana skill); however, only attacks #1 or #2 can be made with the wakizashi, and only attacks #1, #2 or #3 can be Karate attacks. Any or all of the attacks can be Katana attacks.
2. No. She would only be able to make 4 attacks. She would get one basic maneuver, just like everyone else, plus two extra attacks and parries due to high skill, plus one extra maneuver due to her high Move.

Specific Maneuvers

Aggressive Parry p. MA43

1. What is the defense against an Aggressive Parry?
2. Does an Aggressive Parry count as the parrying character's attack for that turn?
3. Can retreating (p. B109), Dodge and Drop (p. CII63) and the All-Out Defense option of Increased Defense (p. CII56) be used with an Aggressive Parry?
4. What is the difference between a weapon parry vs. an unarmed attacker and an Aggressive Parry?
5. Why is it not considered cinematic to attack a weapon with a punch, but it is to Aggressively Parry that same weapon?
-- Ron Yon

1. There is none! (Except for DR.) One can only defend against attacks, and Aggressive Parry is not an attack -- it's a defense. A successful Aggressive Parry means an attack is stopped by hitting the incoming limb; therefore, if the parry succeeds, the attacker immediately takes damage.
2. No. Aggressive Parry is an active defense, not an attack.
3. No.
4. All armed parries vs. unarmed attacks are effectively "aggressive," at no penalty, but have an extra skill roll thrown in to see if the weapon connected using one of its striking surfaces (see p. B99).
5. When an unarmed fighter attacks a foe's weapon, he is striking it on his own turn. The weapon is in the "guard" or "recovery" position, usually either unmoving or moving away from him. When he parries a weapon, he is warding it off on his opponent's turn. The weapon is in the "attack" position, usually moving toward him. This second situation is much more dangerous; if you were to aggressively parry a fast-moving weapon, you would almost certainly be hurt. In highly-cinematic settings, of course, this maneuver works despite common sense.

Arm Lock p. MA44

1. If you're attempting an Arm Lock on an armed opponent, is the grapple at +3, as per p. B111?
2. If you grapple someone successfully, but then try to apply an Arm Lock and lose the Quick Contest, are you still grappling your opponent?
-- Duke York

1. No. Grabbing a foe's weapon arm always skill vs. skill, where your "skill" can be DX, Judo, Sumo Wrestling or Wrestling. The +3 does not apply.
2. Yes. You simply didn't apply the lock effectively. This does not mean that you released your grip altogether.

Feint p. MA48

1. What happens if a defender chooses to do a retreating defense against a Feint? Does he retreat or not, and does it give a bonus?
2. What happens if the target of a Feint chooses not to defend himself, perhaps because he has much more dangerous attackers to worry about? Does this mean that he's not fooled by the Feint, or that he is taken completely by surprise?
-- Maxwell C. Dancer

1. You don't actually roll an active defense vs. a feint, so you can't normally retreat. The GM may still allow a retreat in response to any attack, even a "miss" that's really a feint, if he feels it would be more realistic. This won't help, though -- if you retreat in response to a foe's feint, you may be doing exactly what he wants you to do!
2. He must still roll vs. skill to resist the feint. He may not care about the attacker launching the feint, but the feint attempt is distracting, whether he cares or not.

Ground Fighting p. MA49

Just what can you do with the Ground Fighting maneuver?
-- Maxwell C. Dancer

First, the -4 to attack from the ground is replaced by -(Combat/Weapon skill - Ground Fighting maneuver). EXAMPLE 1: If you have Shortsword-15 and Ground Fighting (Shortsword)-11 (the unimproved default level), then you make any attack, feint, et cetera with a shortsword at -(15 - 11)=-4. EXAMPLE 2: If you have Karate-15 and Ground Fighting (Karate)-13, then you make kicks, punches, knee strikes, et cetera at only -(15 - 13)=-2.
Second, if you have studied Ground Fighting, you may roll against it before you make a defense roll. On a successful roll, you are at -1 rather than the usual -3 to defend when on the ground. EXAMPLE 1: The fighter with Shortsword-15 and default Ground Fighting-11 is attacked while on the ground. Since he hasn't studied Ground Fighting, he defends at -3. EXAMPLE 2: The fighter with Karate-15 and Ground Fighting-13 is attacked while on the ground. If he can roll 13 or less, he can defend at only -1.

Hook Kick p. MA51

1. Normally, if you miss a kick, you roll vs. DX or Kicking to avoid a fall. However, the description of Hook Kick states, "If the attack misses or is successfully parried, the attacker must make another Hook Kick roll or lose his balance (-2 to all defense rolls)." Does this mean that if you miss the Hook Kick and this other roll, you are at -2 to defense, but you don't fall over like on a normal kick?
2. It also says that a Hook Kick is -1 to Parry. There is no penalty to Dodge or Block, right?
-- Maxwell C. Dancer

1. Yes.
2. Yes.

Neck Snap p. MA53

Neck Snap defaults to ST-4. If I have ST greater than 20, does the default "max out" at 20 - 4=16 like skill defaults do?
-- David Pidcock

No. The "default penalty" for a maneuver is just the skill penalty to carry out that action; this is not a true skill default. A maneuver is means of buying off a skill penalty, not a skill per se. You would no more limit Neck Snap to 20 - 4=16 for a character with ST 21+ than you would limit a kick to 20 - 2=18 for one with DX 21+.

Riposte. MA54

The description of Riposte says, ". . . he can instantly attack (or Feint) at -4." If you are using Riposte (Karate), what is the attack you are allowed to do? Is it a punch, a kick or some other move of your style?
-- Maxwell C. Dancer

The normal Karate defense is a Hand Parry, so Riposte (Karate) delivers a Hand Strike (i.e., a punch). If you defend with a Parrying Kick, then the Riposte could be a kick at -4 (skill-6 in total). Riposte (Kicking) would be a separate maneuver, defaulting to Karate-6.

Stop Hit p. MA55

How does Stop Hit work? The last line of the Stop Hit maneuver in Martial Arts says, "If someone uses a Stop Hit in response to a feint, he is at -3 skill to resist the feint." Does this mean that the GM has to say you are being attacked, you choose a defense, and then he tells you that the attack you defended against was only a feint?
-- Maxwell C. Dancer

No. Unlike an active defense, a Stop Hit must be announced the moment your foe declares an attack on you, but before he rolls to hit. If your foe really is trying to hit you, this means that you attack him instead of defending, and then he rolls his attack on you. If your foe is actually trying to feint you, not hit you, then things get more complicated.
Whenever a foe tries to feint you, the GM is supposed to tell you that you are being attacked, not that it is a feint attempt. You then have two options:
First, you can just wait for the "attack" to land, and make a defense roll if it does. If you choose this option, the GM will tell you that the "attack" (which is really a feint) missed. He will reveal this "miss" to be a feint when it comes time to defend against your foe's next attack.
Second, you can immediately declare a Stop Hit in response to the "attack," before you know whether the attack has hit or missed. If choose this option, the Stop Hit proceeds normally and you may try to hit your foe, but you will be at -3 in the feint contest. The idea is that if you respond to a feint with a Stop Hit, you are treating it as a real attack, so the job of feinting you becomes easier.

Sweeping Kick p. MA56

Apart from maybe tripping the defender up, does Sweeping Kick do any damage?
-- Maxwell C. Dancer

No. Sweeping Kick represents all manner of sweeps, leg hooks and trips; its only effect is to knock the opponent over. It does not represent an aggressive kick to the legs -- for that, aim a damaging kick at the legs.

Specific Skills

Combat/Weapon Art or Sport p. MA32

Does the Combat/Weapon Art or Sport skill include firearms?
-- Tom

Yes. You can learn Combat Sport versions of most Guns skills. These represent competitive marksmanship without training in basic firearms tactics, and are therefore used at -3 in a real fight. The same is true for Bow skill and competitive archery.

Flying Leap p. MA37

In the description of the Flying Leap skill, it states that you can use this skill to triple your ST for jumping purposes. One of the prerequisites for this skill is Jumping, which allows you to use your skill level in place of ST when attempting a leap. Does the Flying Leap skill allow you to triple your effective Jumping skill level if it exceeds your ST?
-- Dennis C. Hwang


Main-Gauche p. MA33

Does a fighter with Main-Gauche skill get a Parry equal to 2/3 skill when using only a knife?
-- Montejon Smith


Parry Missile Weapons p. MA34

There seems to be a conflict between the Parry Missile Weapons (PMW) skill and the usual rules for parrying thrown weapons when it comes to skills where Parry is 2/3 skill, like Staff. Do you use the 2/3 skill Parry when parrying thrown weapons instead of 1/2 PMW skill?
-- Peter Brodt

Your Parry when using Parry Missile Weapons is equal to one-half PMW skill, regardless of the weapon you are parrying with. However, PMW allows you to parry knives at +2, and larger thrown weapons at +4. Anyone can parry thrown weapons without PMW, but at -2 for knives and -1 for most other things. Always use the rule that gives the higher Parry in a particular situation.

Tonfa p. MA35

Why is Tonfa skill P/H?
-- Ron Yon

Skill difficulty is based on real-life difficulty, not effectiveness. In real life, the tonfa is a tricky weapon to master; therefore, Tonfa is P/H.

Weapons & Armor

1. Why is there a -2 penalty when using a shuriken with the Throwing skill?
2. What changes, if any, should be made to the damage, reach and weight listings of weapons used by races larger than humans?
-- Runar Magnusson

1. The star-shaped shuriken has sharp edges all around, and cannot be gripped and thrown like most other weapons. This is why Shuriken skill is P/H, and not P/E like most other Thrown Weapon skills. As a result of Shuriken skill being two places harder, it defaults to Throwing-2 and not to Throwing (like most other Thrown Weapon skills).
2. There is a very detailed system for this on p. 110 of GURPS Mecha. If you don't have Mecha, then use the rules suggested in Fantasy Folk: multiply the cost, weight and Min. ST of the weapon by (racial average ST)/10, but leave all the other stats the same.

Article publication date: November 20, 1998

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