Saturday, May 17, 2014

BL-based unarmed strike weights for GURPS.

In the day before yesterday's comments, I mentioned that I use a Basic Lift (BL) based "weight" for attacks for parrying purposes.

I can't recall exactly where I picked it up, except that I got it from Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch.

I found Kromm talking about it here:

. . . where he off-hand suggests BL/20 for strikes, BL/2 for slams instead of ST/10 and ST, respectively.

So this isn't remotely my idea, but I figured I'd explain my execution of this nice idea I stole.

What I've been doing is BL/20 for strikes, BL/10 for heavy full-body moves (and two-handed strikes). I haven't been using BL/2 for slams, though, I think mostly because I house ruled that you can't parry a slam. Well, you can, but all you do is get to inflict a potentially damaging attack but still get slammed. We got very tired very quickly of people with unbreakable sufficiently heavy weapons parrying full-sized humans without too much difficulty, so "no" was much easier. Dodge it or Block it.

What counts?

BL/20: Punches, most kicks, elbows, grapples, headbutts, strikers, shield bashes (sorry, shields don't count as weapons of their own weight in my games, because of this), etc.

BL/10: Bites, stomps, body checks, tail swipes, heavy strikers, two-handed combination strikes ("Hits with both clubbing arms" kind of stuff, or multiple-arm grapples).

BL/2: Haven't used it yet, but it would be for slams if I did.

Weapons I've generally been using the weapon weight itself, although for some I'll juice it up a bit or give them an exception if there is some reason why that makes sense.

Note: In all cases, calculate BL by Striking ST for strikes, Lifting ST for grapples. For example: A monster with ST 30, Striking ST 5 for bites only, and Arm ST 3 uses ST 30 for kicks, 33 for punches, and 35 for bites. This is rarely an issue, and you should calculate this ahead of time anyway!

I don't limit Block by weight, although for really heavy strikes I'll pull out the shield damage rules. The 3e ones made shields fragile, 4e extremely tough, but hey, if a giant strikes you for 7d+5 cutting, I'll going to want to check for breakage on your wooden Medium Shield. Of course, that only happens if you make it just by the margin of the DB. Otherwise, you've presented the shield well enough to cause the attack to glance off harmlessly.* Otherwise I've generally been ignoring shield damage as something I don't feel like tracking these days.

In any case, I think this would work fine for anything, not just DF, where I'm currently using it. I'd port this to any GURPS game. Parrying big animals should be tough!

* I've had people question that before, but the example I use is either car windows vs. gunshots (if they're familiar with that from reality instead of fiction) or taking (not checking) a kick. In my MMA training I routinely get kicked full power in the leg. If you turn into the kick and give it an angled thigh to hit, you can take it without much (if any) damage. If you don't turn into it, or you turn a little too poorly, you suck up the impact. Checking a kick is a GURPS Martial Arts Jam, and man that sucks for the kicker if you do it correctly.


  1. Looks like, thanks for posting on this.
    Gonna see if I got time to test it further in a couple solo test battles but I've already added an entry with attack weight on my NPC attack tables using your formula, much better than mine especially since, as you said, it can be sorted out during NPC design, not during play :)

    1. You're welcome. I write it in my DF Monster Statblock writeups as "Parried as X pounds." So "Punch (14): 5d+3, Reach C-2; Parried as 17 pounds."

  2. Have you considered allowing Sumo Wrestling to parry slams? Seems to be pretty core to that skills training. And a two handed unarmed parry doesnt seem too unbalanced, given that failure risks slam damage to an arm or the original target.

    Plus, another benie to Sumo Wrestling, which frankly could use it.

  3. Like this. Using the Unarmed Parry rules from now on. I was using a flat BL/10 but these are better.


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