Thursday, June 28, 2018

Fantastic (Dungeon) Grappling playtest in Felltower

Our group got a preview of Douglas Cole's grappling rules from his new Kickstarter, Hall of Judgment.*

It saw use during a session of our DFRPG game, Felltower.

We had only a single grappling situation come up in play, but it was a critical display of the rules.

A strong and powerful knight had been charmed by some murderous nymphs, and was prepared to march to his doom. "Reward" as he saw it. Another PC, a brand-new swashbuckler, dropped his weapon and grabbed his friend to keep him from doing so. In an amazing series of excellent rolls, he was able to prevent the knight from simply walking away from the group. He held him for a couple critical seconds before the group's most powerful PC, another knight, was able to drop his weapon and grab the charmed knight. Together they pull him from his feet and dragged him bodily to safety.

The Hall of Judgment rules? They were able to support that. They did so . . . okay. Well, but not exactly in a way that gave us results we felt reflected how it should play out. We modified them on the fly to support them. The Fantastic Dungeon Grappling rules were able to take that change without breaking.

Some of our experience was colored by the fact that we've been using a modified and simplified set of the rules from GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling for a while. Rules, in fact, developed by Doug and I, then simplified even further and twisted into shape by repeated contact with the PCs. So we already know that using Control Points is awesome and enhances the game - they've been doing so in our own game for a while. We already knew what kind of CP effect calculations we liked, how to resolve grappling as an attack and how to simplify the myriad of details in Technical Grappling into a DFRPG-friendly roll-and-resolve speedy system of play. We came into it with our own homebrew knowing what works and what was clunky. We already knew that CP make the game better and more fun. They add a small amount of detail and tracking for a lot of drama and excitement.

So naturally, therefore, there were bits to Fantastic (Dungeon) Grappling that didn't appeal to the Dungeon Fantastic family of adventurers. Mostly, areas where the new rules were very close to ours, but differed in little ways that didn't appeal to us as much as our own. But there were plenty that did.

Where we'd been using a calculation to determine DX penalties and movement penalties, Doug had a simplified table written. We found the table was much faster. No longer would we calculate everyone's CP, their modified DX, their modified ST - we could just record CP and check the table. Much better than before. We also liked the simplified bonuses for skills. We'd done basically the same thing a while back, so we really liked seeing that integrated into the system. The system changed some little things that we'd house ruled away in the past, too.

Our older rules didn't really address forcing someone to move around with you. These did - and as you can see, it was a big deal. That we came up with suggested changes to them shows how valuable we recognize they are - they're going to keep playing a role in our game. We sent Doug a long list of suggestions, questions, and comments that he integrated into the rules (or rejected, or modified) as he saw fit. I think we gave Doug the tools to make the Fantastic Dungeon Grappling rules a bit better. And I like that his version of "simplified Technical Grappling" meshed well with ours, which will make our game better.

So overall?

These are good rules, and you should consider backing Hall of Judgment just to get them.

* Not really a surprise, is it? Doug and I have co-written some material, we playtest each other's stuff - we even worked on grappling articles together and have done some basic work on a modified version of Technical Grappling for Dungeon Fantasy. He is even responsible for the name Felltower and the name of Sterick and hence Stericksburg. So this is news like "fire is hot" is news. But hey, for folks who don't know us - fire is hot.


  1. Nice. I would like to see the frogmarching rules, as that takedown technique (built out of an arm lock focused on an ulnar/coracoid entangled) was the one piece of grappling that I used in my security job transporting psychiatric patients. We qere told it was a build derived from the FBI four man takedown coupled with the Federal Corrections prisoner transport technique.

    1. Heh. The new forced movement rules have two options. The second one is "Grab and Go" for when you're trying to do a LOT of motion, so the rules/movement options are based off of Move and Attack (in spirit).

      The FIRST forced movement option is called "Frog March."


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