Monday, October 27, 2014

Rulings from yesterday's game

A few things came up yesterday:

Parrying in Close Combat. By the rules, when an attacker first enters close combat, you can use a non-close combat reach weapon to parry normally. For example, see Dealing With Charging Foes, (Martial Arts, p. 106 or Long Weapons in Close Combat, Martial Arts p. 117)
However, I ruled that Vryce couldn't do so yesterday. Why?

Basically, because Vryce put himself back to a wall, with no room to get behind him, or even to get out of the 180 arc he has for front hexes. He had nowhere to back up or move. Since my own experience is that if you're cornered it's extremely hard to stop someone from grabbing you, I figured it was reasonable to say that a non-C reach weapon simply couldn't get a parry off in such cramped conditions. To be fair, I should have allowed a parry at -4, per Martial Arts p. 117, but even so, saying no parry but a dodge was fine seemed okay considering the circumstances.

Now, you might say that not being able to Retreat and suffering a parry penalty is harsh enough, but I figured there must be a downside to being somewhere where your opponent can easily get well inside the minimum reach of your weapon with no way to move out of it. So I ruled how I ruled. It's the tradeoff for fixing yourself in place with terrain, in that you have no space to take the inches you need to parry. It's no longer a case of getting your weapon in the way, but rather a case of not being to get it in the way at all - you've got no space to do it.

I'm sure it seemed a little unfair, since I didn't warn folks ahead of time this was the case. But for me the logic of circumstances is the critical bit - like when I ruled that SM +1 Raggi needed to crouch to get through a 6' x 3' tunnel, and that Asher couldn't swing while inside that space. Back against the wall is a bad way to keep your distance from a grappler or knife fighter or biter, and saying if you've taken all your ability to move away you can't get off a parry as they come in seems fair to me. I'd do this again if someone is fixed in place, especially if they've fixed themselves in place.

And to get this out ahead of time - yes, if a foe has Altered Time Rate (say, from Great Haste) and ends their first of the two maneuvers in your hex, it no longer counts as the "first turn" for purposes of parrying, blocking, DB of a shield giving penalties, etc. So Great Hasted grappler can move into your turn on turn one and not attack, thus giving you no chance to Retreat, and then grapple on the next turn, giving you a penalty to parry with your non-C weapon. Just be happy they didn't run around behind you and then grapple since you'd suffer a Runaround attack (-2 to defend) and be unable to parry because he's outside the arc of your weapon anyway and now has standing back mount on you. So it could have been worse!

No, I meant Parrying while in Close Combat. Another one came up yesterday - troll grabbed Vryce, Vryce broke free, and then an orc attacked while the troll was in close with Vryce yet not grappling. Can Vryce parry with his sword?

This one is a bit obscure, but it's actually covered by the rules. You apply the Close Combat striking penalty (-8 for a 2-hex weapon) and thus a -4 to parry normally if you try to parry an attack from outside. This is from Striking into Close Combat, p. B392 and Long Weapon in Close Combat. Generally folks step out of close combat or shoot into close combat, so the answer is always "Try to dodge!" anyway. Not yesterday.

This is one to keep it mind, though, if you are doing many-on-one. It does mean crowding someone is a great way to reduce their defenses. Of course, attacking into close combat is a good way to accidentally clip your buddies, so this is best left to expert swordsmen and callous overlords who say things like, "Shoot zem. Shoot zem both!"

Rear Vision. The Rear Vision spell gives you the 360-degree Vision advantage. How does that interact with helmets? Basically, I said helmets are a problem. To clarify, vision restrictions are a problem. I just can't see someone with, say, a helmet that gives No Peripheral Vision getting a Rear Vision spell and thus having the exact same arc of vision as someone with a helmet that doesn't restrict vision at all.

Basically my ruling is that vision restrictions due to gear will also restrict the spell. Otherwise, the spell is extremely powerful - if it gives 360-degree Vision regardless of restrictions, does that mean it works even if you can't see? In other words, does it let you put on an armored bucket (no eye openings) and this spell and see with no restrictions?

I feel like there are three options:
- gear trumps the spell - restrictions trump the benefits.
- the spell trumps gear if you can see at all - the spell trumps restrictions.
- the spell trumps gear even if you can't see at all - it doesn't matter what the restriction is, it gives you 360-degree vision even if you can't see at all.

I prefer the most restrictive version, because the spell is easy and cheap, and it makes having ridiculously high DR headgear* restrict even your magical options.

I'd allow a helmet enchanted with Rear Vision to let you see all around yourself, though, because that would be consistent with the above but also interesting. In that case, I'd still argue you must be able to see at least a little bit - no bucket with Power 3 and Rear Vision on it "Always On." In general, though, I like that vision arc restrictions are harsh and even magic doesn't just wave them away unless there is a lot of magic involved.

Reverse Grip Broadswords I ruled that, contrary to a pedantic and lawyerly reading of the rules for Reversed Grip, a broadsword (Reach 1) held in reversed grip isn't perfectly handy and totally unpenalized in close combat. A shortsword, sure, but with a longer sword I'd still want to give it half of the Close Combat penalties for thrusting - essentially splitting the difference between "short enough to work fine in close" and "too long to get a close strike anyway." That makes the shortsword a very sensible choice for a backup blade, not just a poor cousin to "the longest knife possible" aka a broadsword in reversed grip.

In short, this would mean a shortsword is -0 in close combat with reversed grip, a broadsword -2. Seems fair and interesting, and adds another interesting choice to the backup weapon discussion - how much do I value damage over potential close-in utility? You can call this a one-off merging of "A Matter of Inches" (p. 110) and Reversed Grip (p. 111-112)

Still, someone like Vryce is still better off pommel striking with his greatsword or just sucking up the -8 for a Reach 2 weapon in close combat because he gets the Weapon Master bonuses to do so.

Wrestling. Not a ruling, but man, everyone needs this. Vryce's DX+2 in Wrestling is why he wasn't hauled down by a troll and dog-piled by orcs.

* Typical headgear in my games is a cloth or leather cap under a mail coif under a pot helm. Great helm wearers sometimes skip the pot helm or coif. Even the basic trio is DR 11 with skull DR, before enchantment or enhancement. The cap/coif/greathelm combo is a bit more. So I'm not exactly crying for those poor guys who want to see directly behind themselves and have to shuck down to a mere 11 DR.


  1. 'I'd allow a helmet enchanted with Rear Vision to let you see all around yourself, though, because that would be consistent with the above but also interesting. In that case, I'd still argue you must be able to see at least a little bit - no bucket with Power 3 and Rear Vision on it "Always On." In general, though, I like that vision arc restrictions are harsh and even magic doesn't just wave them away unless there is a lot of magic involved.'

    I think the 'eight eyed helmet' or something that gives its wearer magical vision in all directions (along with a mix of Dark vision, see invisible, pentrating vision etc) would be a cool DF item. Kind of like Mad eye moodys eye only in helmet form. Even better the helmet can actually be said bucket no eyeslits (maybe no mouth piece if it is upped to epic level immunity to suffocation).

    1. I'd probably do that as a helmet with actual eyes on it - painted or etched or mounted, which give 360 degree vision but also can be targeted and blinded. So the helmet would protect your skull, you'd get 360 degree vision, but foes can knock out the eyes one by one or throw Flash at you to mess you up.

  2. I am obviously not an experienced GURPSer but I feel like RAW Vryce should have been able to parry when the troll entered the hex. Maybe this is my wealth of experience in those other systems, but just because it would be cramped in "real life" doesn't mean that it needs to change in the game system. It seems like being trapped against the wall with very difficult Evasion rolls needed to escape would be enough of a drawback to me. I guess GURPS is all about the realism though, right?

    The Great Hast bit makes plenty of sense to me, though. Does this mean that you will do the -4 (per Martial Arts) going forward?

    I don't really have a horse in the Rear Vision race (although Galoob should REALLY get a helmet) but what about if there was some kind of reduced vision? Is there such a thing in GURPS? So maybe it gives normal vision to the side hexes and obscured vision (or something) for the rear one? I guess the spell is so cheap that it would be easy to make the maintenance free, thus making the only cost be the -1 to the caster's further spell checks?

    1. " I guess GURPS is all about the realism though, right?"

      Not really. It's about realty-based verisimilitude.

      I'd make the same ruling again. I think it fit the circumstances. Had he somewhere to go, had he not basically put his back to the wall to ensure he didn't suffer any downsides of his vision-restricting helmet, then I'd have gone with the normal rule (which is no penalty to parry, period.) Instead, ruling the way I did meant that there is a severe tradeoff for doing that. Had he not also been surrounded on all sides, he'd have Retreated and I'd have allowed the normal parry on top of that.

      It just feels to me like GURPS's rule is solid but slightly generous, and I feel like it refers to a normal set of circumstances, not being deliberately crowded while you'd in a position where your only movement is lateral and that's been cut off.

      As for Rear Vision, there are restricted vision disads but I don't think they mesh well with RV, and it'll get complex and messy and end up with some weirdness if I try to bolt them on.

    2. "It's about reality-based verisimilitude."
      This makes a lot more sense. So in the future with your back against the wall no parry in that situation, not the -4? Not that Galoob would ever be in that situation, but just curious.

      I remember when Vryce's player was initially telling me about the adventures in Felltower, specifically The Teleport. Body Sense rolls, Swimming rolls, etc. My first thought was "man that's a lot of little things to worry about" but through this blog (and two sessions, woo!) I've come to really appreciate what this approach can offer. Excellent one-line summary of the GURPS philosophy, sir.

      "it'll get complex and messy and end up with some weirdness if I try to bolt them on."

      I am a huge fan of your general approach to make rules simple, straightforward, and fun to play. This doesn't sound like it would be any of those things but it is interesting to think about.

    3. I'm always willing, as the GM, to put the rules aside and say, "Yes, you can" or "No, you can't" if I feel that's the only answer that fits.

      Generally, if you bet the rules will protect you and/or always work in a specific way regardless of the circumstances, you'll get in trouble. The rules are there to help things along, not dictate what happens.

      And generally, in a high-powered heroic-but-gritty game like I run, I'm a little more likely to rule just "yes" or "no" and see if you can use your own wiles and your character's other abilities to make up for it.


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