Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tricky Throwing

Yesterday I mentioned I had an idea for throwing weapons in GURPS.

The "problem" I see is that you throw a perfectly good weapon, and it's not terribly hard to defend against. But what if you want it to be harder to defend against?

Here are some options:

Tricky Shooting (GURPS Martial Arts, p. 121)

You've got two options here:

1) Prediction Shots (aka Deceptive Attack, sort-of). A -2 per -1 to Dodge only (it's prediction shooting, not really a sneaky attack.)

2) Ranged Feints. It's minus range, darkness, etc. - all penalties apply! This also kicks open the door to All-Out Attack (Feint). This does affect Block and Parry - note that only Prediction Shots says Dodge-only.

A New Technique?

Here is a highly optional, completely untested idea.

Another option is to build a new technique that allows for a combined feint-and-attack setup, but which might backfire. This is similar to the approach to Spinning (Strike) from GURPS Martial Arts, so it will use some similar language but come off a different build.

Spinning Throw

Based on All-Out Attack (Feint).

- +2 damage or +1 per die (-4)

- DX roll to stay standing (+1)
- Feint can penalize the attacker (+1)

Net: Skill-2 to throw, allows a Feint (but it can backfire), hits harder (because you're doing a big spin), and you can lose your footing (because you're spinning.)

(By the way, if you are the kind of person who allows thrown weapons to use melee attack's maneuvers (Committed Attack, All-Out Attack, etc.) as written, just use Spinning Strike as written. Simply add a note that the defender can use a Thrown Weapon or Throwing skill to resist the "Feint" portion of the attack. It's fair that if you're a shuriken expert you aren't likely to be distracted by a tricky throw. Note to my players, by whom I mean Greg, I don't allow thrown weapons to do this.)

Spinning Throw (Hard)
Defaults: prerequisite skill-2.
Prerequisite: Throwing, or any Thrown Weapon skill; cannot exceed prerequisite skill.

This technique involved turning in a circle or taking an extra-long windup before throwing your weapon with your full weight behind the attack. You must specialize in a particular skill (or in Throwing, for rocks and similar objects). This is a special option for All-Out Attack (Martial Arts, p. 99-100) - use the rules below instead of the normal ones for those maneuvers.

The goal behind this technique is to generate some extra power for the throw and to deceive your opponent. This may work on a less-skilled adversary, but a skilled fighter is likely to detect your plow and defend more easily. To simulate this, roll a Quick Contest of Spinning Attack against your opponent's best melee combat or thrown weapon skill before you make your attack roll, with any penalties due to range, darkness, etc. If you win, subtract your margin of victory from your foe's defense against the blow. If you lose, you "telegraph" your intentions and true target and your foe may add his margin of victory to his defense!

Next, make an attack roll against Spinning Attack, minus any penalties for range, darkness, etc. to hit your target. If you hit, your throw does +2 damage or +1 per die, whichever is more. You have no defenses. Your your spin is so severe that you must make a DX roll to remain standing regardless of whether you hit or miss with your throw.

If this is combined with Deceptive Attack, you must apply the penalty to skill to both the Quick Contest and your attack roll.

What about DF?

Obviously, you need a power-up:

5 points

Allows you to use the Spinning Throw technique; roll against full skill (minus situational penalties) for both the Quick Contest and the attack roll.

Unique Technique (Spinning Throw) [1]; Spinning Throw+0 [4].

Like I said, I haven't tested that. Like most ranged feints, it'll be good for skilled shooters vs. close targets, only less effective if you roll badly. On the upside, it's only a Feint at -2 plus range and a throw at -2 plus range and does some extra damage. You could easily break this out into a "hard throw" technique, too, that's based on AOA (Determined) and gets the damage bonus and the DX roll not to fall but doesn't otherwise have the feint, and it'll also be Skill-2. That's useful for throwing at foe's backs, for sure.

For my players, I'd probably allow that power-up . . . but it is untested. I may have to nerf it or juice it up. I may decide it's fine at 5 points and as-written and you may decide it's bad. And no, you can't "default" the technique, because DF doesn't use techniques . . . you have to drop your 5 points before you can try it. Buyer beware!


  1. Hmm. In the future I might test this one. I like the idea, but I'm not sure how many rocks Mo is gonna throw in a Berserk rage. He already killed one harpy with a rock.

    1. The first two - prediction shots and ranged feints - you can do. The power-up, it's buy it or don't do it, much like Running Hit or Cleaving Strike or Coup de Jarnac, you can't default them.

  2. I wonder if there's room for a Curveball Technique that allows straight-up Deceptive Attacks with throw weapons. You might have to pick from a list - a chakram (frisbee!) or discus or boomerang or baseball can probably do this, but maybe knives and shuriken can't. But "Bend it like Hackham" has a nice ring to it.

    1. You could, if you don't mind throwing masters nailing people past shields and swords. It's -4 default for a flat -1 to all defenses.

    2. It might be one of those things that only works once. Appropriate for putting stuff past mooks nearly always, but the big bad might have done his homework.

    3. But I could also see it for tricks like Captain America and the Eternally Bouncing Shield.

    4. Sounds more like a Trademark Move, possibly with a custom technique - prepared foes will get a bonus to defend. Like, say, Achilles's attack in the movie Troy. Nails the unprepared but the quality foes see it coming and it doesn't work on them.

  3. I think Hjalmarr may consider prediction shots with his throwing axe against shieldless foes.

  4. Ha, I got a call out, wooooo!
    I love the idea of throwing weapons I just think that they really aren't that good in GURPS. So don't worry, this ONE post probably doesn't tempt me that much.

  5. What are your thoughts on overpenetration? Both for defeating shield blocks and for trying to sneak in more damage from a high ST throw?

    I keep looking at overpenetration rules as a possible save for barbarians using spears and for crossbows in general. Still wouldnt bother to track damage to a shield, but it isnt hard for a thr+3 thrown spear (backed by ST 19+) or a high effective ST crossbow to make a successful block basically turn into +4 DR.

    Also really good for slings. An "aboriginal" barbarian with a Spear focus and a Woomera could be a lot of fun. Or an alternate scout build if whoever is writing the DFD: Scouts books releases scouts from the chains of only using a bow. And lining a few guys up to punch through them with a crossbow bolt is a pretty classic move, fictionally speaking. Though the sling bullet or woomera launched spear is more likely to work.

    But I think overpenetration, despite being in the basic set, is optional for DF? Still, being able to turn a block into just bonus DR might bring Spears into competition with Axes as a melee/thrown option.

    1. I haven't really had a situation where anyone is doing so much damage versus a relatively low-effective penetration DR target that overpenetration would matter. It could potentially happen, but thrust-based damage isn't that high. A ST 20 thrown spear does 2d+2 impaling, and even against a DR 0 HP 10 target that's only 4 points of overpenetration. With DR 2 front and back, it's 0. So it's tough to manage.

      With a shield as cover, yeah, if you make your Block by the DB of the shield you could potentially get a shot right through. I'm not sure where you're getting +4 DR, though. A medium wooden shield is DR 7, HP 40, which means you need to do 18 damage to get 1 point of overpenetration, p. B484. Even a light shield has DR 10 for these purposes. Unless I'm badly misreading that Damage to Shields box.

    2. Ah, a conflation of the DR 4 Low-tech gives most shields and treating them like a wall or door in the overpenetration rules. But yes, that box does explicitly give shields "full" cover DR.

      Low-tech in general reduced the threshold for getting through a shield. Basic set shields are probably too tough for anything but cranked crossbows or swing based damage to manage.

    3. Ah, okay, that makes sense. LT changes a lot. By the Basic Rules, a thrown axe might break a shield but it can't overpenetrate - that takes impaling, piercing, or tight-beam burning.

    4. Yeah, with Basic Set shields, you'd need a barbarian pumped AP spear thrown from a woomera (or javelin from an atlatl) or a cranked crossbow, probably AP bolts as well. The Barb spear thrower gets 3d-1 to 3d+1 imp (2), which is a pretty good bet for getting through the shield at lest a little bit. Fine, dwarven whetstone, etc all help. That could even get you a shot at a second orc (HP 14, DR 4 mail = 18/2 for AP is 9)

      A Knight cranked crossbow (ST 42 with a x3 crank) is 4d+5 pi (2), so is a decent bet too.

      Neither are as nice as I thought with LT Shields of course. But both are missile weapons (no parry), and so mitigating a block and predicting a dodge might make em okay.

      Which makes me wonder if Weapon Master (Spear) would apply to a spear _thrower_, or if you need a 25 or 30 point upgrade to cover that off. Weapon Master (Crossbow) or a version that covers Crossbow actually looks pretty nice for a Dwarf Knight though, as they could get to ST 15 + Lift ST 2 =17x3 (crank) =51 ST pretty easy... and 5d+2 thrust with crossbow, bolt, and Weapon Master is almost a real weapon. Open with a Slurbow in a sling (thr+2 imp but 1x5 ROF, 5d+16 imp with fine, sharpened bolts or 5d+14 pi (2) with armor piercers), and then Fast Draw (long arm) as many other crossbows/slurbows on slings as your GM will let you get away with... and you almost make crossbows useful :)

    5. Weapon Master (Spear) - personally, I wouldn't apply it to Spear Thrower, but require you upgrade it a bit to the 25 point level. Seems fair since the throwing lever is so significantly different. Plus, in games where I use WM, I don't brook a lot of whining about 5 points extra. :)

      The problem isn't even the DR, though - it's that it's not terribly common to have blocks hit the shield squarely. 5d+2 is scary, but it's scarier if it hits. Better to shoot at the shield-armed guy's shiedless friend, it's the Block portion not the DB of the shield that matters most of the time, and then 5d+2 is worth about as much as 1d-5. :)

  6. Aha, I thought that was only when the shield DB helped a dodge or parry. I thought you could poke through the shield on any block. Interesting... Ill have to petition my GM, see if he will change it in his game. More likely to help me and my shield than hurt my ranged attacks :)

    1. I know some people play it that way, but it seems pretty clear the intention is defenses by the margin of the shield's DB hit it and can damage it. Otherwise, Shield is just "stick my shield flush into the strike" or "take the attack on my shield" instead of actually involving any deflection. That seems very wrong - Parries aren't "take the hit on my sword" or "take the hit on my arm," so why would blocks be any different?

      Shields are a wee bit too sturdy in 4th edition GURPS (compared to MtM-3rd, especially), but they'd be in pieces constantly if all they did was act as ablative HP.


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