Friday, May 15, 2015

Hit Location: Feet (Part II)

Following up a little on yesterdays Targeting Locations: Harder to Hit the Extremities?, here is a possible unified approach.

Feet (-5): Crippled on a single blow of over HP/3.

Hands (-5): Crippled on a single blow of over HP/3.

Optional Rule: Hitting the Floor. It's tricky to attack a supporting extremity without risking hitting the surface supporting it. In other words, a stab at the foot might hit the floor. Any Critical Failure on an attack against a foot, a hand supported on a table, a body resting on a bed, etc. hits the supporting surface in addition to the normal results of a Critical Failure. For hard surfaces, such as stone, hard wood, metal, etc., roll full damage and apply it to the attacking weapon. For softer surfaces, apply the same damage at half damage.*

In addition, attacks that blow through a target in contact with a surface (a hand on a table, or a foot on the floor) may hit the surface beneath the foot, at the GM's option. ("Nail that man's foot to the deck.")

* If you are using Technical Grappling, soft surfaces will inflict CP on a 1:1 basis with damage and will require Attacks to Break Free to get it back.

Notes: I think this would be a very simple adjustment. Slightly harder to hit the extremities, which makes them a viable target but adds a lot of better targets into the mix for similar difficulty. The risk of hammering your weapon into the floor makes high-powered ankle-cutting a workable tactic but a bad idea with a delicate weapon, and the overpenetration issue means you can use arrows to nail people's feet to the floor, potentially.

For additional rules about focused defenses and the effects on hands and feet, see GURPS Martial Arts: Gladiators.


  1. I have 2 spiked axes now. Someone is getting their foot nailed to the floor with Flaming Weapon...

    1. Don't get too excited, you're in a stone-floored dungeon. This isn't Highlander with stonecutting weaponry. ;)

      Besides, it's just an idea. I'd need the whole group to jump in and say it's a good idea before I'd try it.

  2. Leg/Feet attacks: At least from what I'm exposed to in WMA, attacking the legs (and thus the feet) has two special hells. One -may- be represented in GURPS via hit penalty, in that you can remove them from play pretty easily by slipping your leg back. That may or may not be a form of "dodge" bonus.

    The other is that it lowers your ability to defend yourself on the high line. By making use of Time, your opponent can void the leg strike in some manner and reposte at your head quicker than you can defend yourself in response.

    That said, in actual sparring many people are somewhat shakey on actually moving themselves around the weapon, so leg hits are still effective.

    To think of it, if you are swinging at a foot, you are not going to be able to strike with the center of percussion; otherwise the tip of the sword would be cutting through the ground en route. Similarly, a thrust would probably slide right into the surface pretty easily. Thus, maybe a thrust Hits The Ground as above way more easily than just a Critical failure, and perhaps Swings should have a damage penalty, akin to a Tip Slash?

    1. I brought this up in the comments last time - there is the issue of posture, body morphology, nevermind some I didn't mentiond, like weapon length, limb length, relative height, etc. So "attack the foot and suffer penalties to defend high line" presupposes standing human combatants with melee weapons. I think you'd need to basically expand the posture and relative posture rules, and make rules for all of those bits I mentioned, just to make the feet a little less easy of a target. Resetting to a purely SM based approach (a foot is probably around SM-5 on its own, so -5 to hit) is just simpler.

      I'm not sure I'd want a rule that said you do less damage depending on where on the blade you hit with a sword - rather, I'd say, if you roll a low damage roll, then you hit non-optimally with the blade. Plus, again, universality - a small wedge-tipped axe or a mace or a dagger or whatever isn't going to have a "didn't hit with the center of percussion" issue to deal with.

      All that said, it's probably possible to make non-fiddly rules that deal with this, but like other high-resolution rules (A Matter of Inches being a favorite example), they would add a lot of detail and thus add complexity. It would make an interesting Pyramid article, though.

    2. Agreed; going over the top with granularity wouldn't really be great to implement. -5 works for me!

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  4. For simplicity's sake, this sounds like a good proposed change. I kind of like hands to be easier to hit than feet with a weapon that doesn't have hands -4 with any weapon, and feet at -6 with close and regular melee weapons, -4 with a spear or other reach weapon. Having said that: probably too complex to administer. -5 across the board with the possible downside of harming the weapon is a good idea.

    1. Changing hit location penalties by weapon type would be big deal in GURPS - essentially saying, Reach is not only how far you reach, but the penalties inflicted when you do so. You'd get the oddity of a person in close combat with another is -6 to stab the feet but a person 2 yards away is -4 because they're six feet of spear away from the target. It's one thing to change the difficulty of a small target due to a specialized weapon design, I think - Estocs vs. Chinks in Armor - and another to say length affects "to hit."

      I wonder if -4/-5 for hands and -5/-6 for feet might work - hands being easier if only because they're more likely to be presented, at the end of a weapon, etc. and feet are a little trickier. -5 on both is just easier though.

      Like I said to Tom, though, using this would take people jumping on board with it. I suspect they won't because I don't have NPCs attack the feet very often, so it would probably be seen as nerfing a cheap PC vs. humanoid NPC tactic and not as balancing anything.


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