Thursday, December 11, 2014

GURPS: Can Change Posture be merged into Move?

Occasionally, people will point out that the best way, rules-wise, to deal with a berserk opponent in GURPS is to trip him or her. Why? Because Change Posture isn't a valid maneuver choice for a berserker, and only Change Posture lets you stand up from prone, so a prone berserker cannot ever stand back up. You've now reduced your foe to crawling.

Pretty ridiculous, but there you go.

While I have my own other suggestions on re-working berserk, which will either become a Pyramid article (if it runs long) or a blog post (if it doesn't have enough meat to work into an article), I did end up thinking a lot about Change Position.

Do we need that as a separately defined maneuver in GURPS?

What if you shoved the Change Posture maneuver under Move? Thus making posture change just a way to Move?

Just off the cuff, here are some things I think would need to happen:

- you'd need to define posture changes as having a movement cost. These could be in movement points (much like forward is 1, change facing is 1, moving backward is 2, etc.) or as an effective percent cost in move (most of them are 100%, since they take the whole of your turn by the raw, but you could make that a 5-move cost if you wanted faster people to get to do more.)

- you'd need to clean up the various bits of posture changes subsumed into other forms of movement to match that. This is close to no work if you use the effective 100% cost assumed for most of these (B368's discussion of step and rising from kneeling, the various options in GURPS Martial Arts.)

- and that's pretty much it, I think.

That this would also incidentally take care of the "trip the berserker" thing makes this even more attractive. But it did make me wonder, why does changing posture need to be treated as a discrete option for your turn?

Alternatively, you could pry posture change out of everything. Make a section on posture changes and costs, much as the posture table does. So kneeling costs X Move (or 100% of Move) or your step, falling prone costs 100% of Move or Step, Crouch costs 0 (but changes movement cost after you do it), coming from prone to kneeling costs 100% of Move and has N/A under the Step costs (can't do it), etc.

It seems to me that you could do it either way, just as a way to make the options more clear and clean up the need to refer to changing posture and to movement separately. Or, with the table option, wholly move it to an overall modifier in the way that, say, crouching or crawling are.

If I wasn't working morning until night today I'd explore this in more depth, but lunch time is over now and I had to spend most of that studying. I will try to explore this idea a little further - anything that tightens up the number of discrete choices without restricting your options or freedom of action seems like a good thing to me. Ask me about Feint as a Combat Option sometime.


  1. Note that I do exactly this for my newly-defined Change Position maneuver in Technical Grappling. You can do it by accepting a penalty for any maneuver that allows a step, or you can do it by itself if required. A user pointed out that the second one was good when changing position needed to be done by brute force (a Contest of ST), where combining it with an attack or other move was when it needed to be done with skill.

    1. Good point. I should have dug further into TG. I think that shows the idea is basically sound - it doesn't need to be distinct.

    2. Problems I see here with trying to use the technique TG35 to solve the Prone Berserker Dilemma:
      1) "used to change facing, relative facing, or orientation while grappling" : the Berserker would need to grapple something first to use it. Would grappling his weapon and using it as a cane suffice?

      2) this technique only discusses "facing and orientation" (p10-11), "relative facing", (p11) and "weight advantage", (p9) not changing posture. It actually says "(Use Force Posture Change, p. 37, for posture.)"

      Looking at 37, it faces a similar problem:
      3) "When grappling or grappled, use this technique to change position – yours, your foe’s, or both"

      This is of no help to the Berserker unless he is grappling something!

      It leads to kind of a strange situation... if a Berserker could grab a nearby mouse, he could somehow use that Mouse to help himself stand up (as an attack) but could not do so on his own...

      I think maybe the option should exist here that you are "choosing to grapple the ground" or "I am grappling my own leg" (think how people push down on their legs to help stand up) but then I'm not sure how you work a Quick Contest when the other is not resisting, assume ST 0 and roll 18?

      Obviously you could not drag the earth to a higher posture or force it down, but using the ground to help roll yourself sideways or stand up.

      I'm not sure how that would work if you were trying to use a ground/own-leg grapple to aid your own standing up if someone else is grappling you though. That would probably be a cheap way to skirt around normal FPC procedures.

      I think in that case, people who are not resisting contests (people who are surprise-attacked, All-Out Attackers not using One Foe, inanimate objects like the ground or a weapon) would have their ST 0 supplemented using the "Pile On" rules by other grapplers, and due to their influence it is no longer a "take 18" situation and the dice must be rolled?

  2. I'm reminded of a similar technicality in the old FGU Daredevils game, which was ponderously complicated in many respects. Each turn was divided into two phases (probably to facilitate things like "opportunity fire"). A character was supposed to pick a mode such as "move" or "attack", to which they were committed for the whole turn. Our group was attacked by a bunch of the archvillain's henchmen, while he intended to duck down a trap door to escape. As it happened, we dispatched the various henchmen in the first phase, but the villain was trapped in the "perform a function" mode he'd had to choose to open the door, and therefore couldn't actually move in the second phase unless you count his final "bullet dance".

    1. I remember seeing that game, but I never did play it. Was it as complex as other FGU titles? They were the Bushido and Aftermath folks, right?

    2. It's been a long time, and I only played Daredevils rather than running it. I think the system was supposedly streamlined a bit from Aftermath, but I still remember it as kind of clunky. The "select an action" element is the only part I remember vividly because it so dramatically influenced play -- a very "wargamish" system that wasn't the best fit for a role-playing game.

  3. I don't think I'd change it, because the idea of a frothing, fur-clad berserker flailing around on his back like an upside-down turtle is just too amusing.

  4. Nice point of view. I really think that there must be a possibility for agile characters (Move 6+) to stand up from kneeling and move hex or two in the same turn. I asked Kromm about this, he said it's unrealistic (I disagree, but whatever), but trading 4 movement points for standing up from kneeling is an adequate house rule.

    I'd also say that going to kneeling or lying prone from standing shall cost 1 movement point as per MA98 (yes, those are rules for attacking, but if one can kneel down while attacking, he should be able to do this without attack too).

  5. I support giving posture changes flat movepoint costs. Standing from prone and running 5 yards strikes me as equally unrealistic as running 15 yards, and there are ways to get Basic Move 15. Also, anything that can be done with a step should be doable and then some with a Move action: I think that almost goes without saying.

    1. Yeah. It's about deciding where to set them - how fast do you need to be in order to exceed the current limits? Set rising to kneeling to standing as 4 points and average person can now do that and then step one more yard and a fast PC (6-7) can come up moving pretty far. Set it to, say, 6, and only the fastest people can stand and then move. Etc. There are a lot of little details, even once you've made that decision, but it's a big one - how many movement points is one full turn's cost for anyone regardless of their Move?

    2. I wonder why GURPS penalizes standing up from kneeling so hard. Soldiers are often trained to assume kneeling posture whenever it's possible, 'cause it minimizes their silhouettes, and I'm also sure they can quickly stand up and start running if necessary. Supporting leg's foot usually bumps into the ground, so that soldier can push off the ground and effectively begin to stand up and move forward simultaneously. It's much like "jumping" forward, finishing in standing posture. That's why I think 5 movement points is a fair price for standing up from kneeling.

      Also I've once watched a video at youtube, in which a grenade launcher failed to shoot, and grenade fell down a couple of yards away from the soldier, Hell, he got onto his feet in about 0.5 seconds!

  6. If using movement points it seems like a big penalty for slow characters. Then again, should someone in heavy armour be able to rise in a second?


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