Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Follow Me And Die Review of The Manor #8

There is a review of The Manor #8 by someone who purchased it to get at the grappling system written by Douglas Cole and I.

Review – Manor #8

First, I want to thank the author for writing the review. Authors get precious little feedback on their work - and what you get is often skewed to detailed complaints or vague praise.

I'm also glad the system reads as clearly as it's meant to play.

The goal of the system was to be use existing game stats from the minimal stat blocks of Swords & Wizardry. Nothing you couldn't quickly look up on your character sheet or monster stat block. Yet at the same time, we wanted to use the concepts that drive GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling, which is somewhat ironically the more complex option for GURPS.

"I think this system is what we have been needing for a simple mechanic for grappling, that makes grappling an option players would choose. Various options and outcomes that are realistic in grappling are discussed and addressed. While not perfect, I can’t think of how else to handle it without building yet another new subsystem just for grappling. This is simple enough that it can easily be implemented at your next session. I know that I will use it, if I need to resolve a grappling issue."

It's not a perfect system, for sure. We erred for "simple" whenever potentially "better" would be more complex. It's the hallmark of a good basic approach, I think - works well, most of the time. Handle the edge cases in a special way if those edge cases are truly important. What counts as important is really a group, genre, and setting issue - what in one game for one group is unnecessary detail is for another group the detail that drives the game forward and provides the drama.

Although it's bad form to complain about a review, there is one line that really bothered me:

"I have no idea how grappling works in other versions, or other rules, but they must all be clunky for someone who likes GURPS to come up with a simplified system."

Hey, what's with the backhand to GURPS fans? GURPS is pretty simple, at its core. It's not that other systems are so complex us even us apparently complexity-loving GURPS fans balked. It's that the other systems for grappling are both so different from normal combat and such a risky or ineffective choice that we went to work on a simpler, more consistent system. Like the one in GURPS.

It's just easier to see what that simpler system is, coming from a system background like GURPS, where grappling is an effective choice that doesn't require an odd subsystem.* It doesn't require an embedded mini-game. Since Doug had come up with a very cool way to make GURPS grappling more nuanced (and actually, a lot more fun in my games), it seemed reasonable to port that concept (grappling as "damage") to other systems. Lo and behold, it worked . . .

But I'm glad the article is going over well, and the elegance of the solution - which is still mainly Doug's solution, at heart - is coming across. I hope it makes peoples gaming better.

* It does function as a binary system based on Contests of Skill, instead of attack/damage, but GURPS has a lot of those. It's a basic system, widely used, even within combat.


  1. That sentence didn't come out quite right. I wasn't trying to slam GURPS. I have never played GURPS and only flipped through the rules 25 or so years ago at a store when they first came out.
    My intent was to say that grappling in AD&D 1st edition is clunky, and I assumed it must be clunky in other editions and other rules systems too. I should not have mentioned GURPS in that sentence. I made an assumption, and for that I was wrong and apologize.

    1. I didn't react to it much - I've got an awful lot on grappling and various systems and "grappling theory" on my blog, and overall the problem seems to be contained in a lost comment I made on your own site. That is, people seem to think grappling must be handled differently than striking even when looking at an abstract ruleset. This need not be true.

    2. Thanks so much for saying that. I appreciate it.

      And Doug - yeah. It's weird especially in a system where monsters grab just by using the striking combat system already.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...