Thursday, January 13, 2022

Two Optional Hit Location Rules

Here are two untested optional rules for hit locations:

Revised Miss by 1 hits Torso: For swinging attacks, a miss by 1 against the skull, face, or neck hits the torso instead. For thrusting attacks, a miss by 1 against the skull or eyes hits the face, a miss by 1 against the vitals, or neck hits the torso. For either type of attack, a miss by 1 against the groin hits the either leg (1-2 and 3-4) or the torso (5-6); optionally, make it torso by default.

Why? This removes the oddness of trying to stab someone in the eyes and hitting their torso instead. Also, of swinging at the groin and hitting the torso only. And the leg never taking the shot for a groin miss is just odd.

Shield Arm and Hand. The shield arm or hand can be hit randomly, past a (strapped-on) shield. However, the roll must be confirmed. If the original "to hit" roll would have hit the arm (-4) or hand (-8), it hits. If not, re-roll. A second result of the same arm or hand hits it regardless!

A hand-held buckler only protects the hand in this manner.

Why? It's weird that the shield and buckler don't actually make getting hit randomly in the covered locations less likely.

I have no idea how these would work in actual play.


  1. For what it's worth, I ran games where "making the roll by 3+ for projectiles to the torso hit the vitals" for years, and it worked out well. It's just how you aim.

    Inverting that, "if you make a roll to stab the face by 4 or 5, you can choose to hit the eye." I'd maybe halve it the other way: if you miss by 1 or 2 stabbing to the eye you hit the face. That's a lot of slop, but the eye is a tiny, tiny target.

    It's an interesting thought, regardless. I have to ponder super-simple "you hit something important!" rules for Mission X this year, so this kind of trade-off, by choice or by default, is going to be on my mind.

    1. I can see that on ranged combat with a human vs. a human, or vs. a target you have made the appropriate Physiology roll against.

      As for the second suggestion, it takes away a lot of the risk if you do that. Instead of aiming for the eye, aim for the Face. It's -5, and a miss by 1 hits torso, so it's a -4 to hit overall. Make it by 4 more and you hit the eye . . . it's a no-risk attempt to stab the eye. I'm not sure that's a good way to go. You'd really need to revise a lot of location rules if you always get a choice at a better location - essentially for free - and never need to make a tough call. How it would interact with Slayer Training in DF / Targeted Attack from Martial Arts would also be tricky.

    2. Yah. On the first (hit by 3+, assumed physiology, hits vitals) I can report "yes, I've done it in play. It works." So there's that.

      For the rest, some of this is a reflection of being a still-amateur in the HEMA arena, where "I'm going to kill him in as good a place as I can, assuming it happens to be open" happens a lot. A bit of "Nice shot!" "I was aiming for his HEAD" going on, so to speak. Sometimes things work out better than you planned, etc.

      I'm not sure where I'll land. In the abstract, it would be desirable to have room for the expert to say "I'm going to stab that guy in the eye" and pull it off. There should be room for the less-expert to get lucky, or aim for the eye and hit something close by.

      GURPS has a basic philosophy of front-loading a lot of this. Even if it's not a perfect answer in all cases, having it be "look, declare your intent, adjust target number accordingly, roll the bones" for EVERYTHING has a lot of value, and mucking with it is contraindicated.

    3. An especially good hit in GURPS is probably best modeled as a critical hit. There is already room to aim for something good and get something else instead - and my optional rule above is just changing what the "something else" is. Also, taking the best thing available is also available - random hit locations, where you can get lucky and lop off a hand, cut the neck, stab the vitals, etc. with no penalty to hit.

      And unlike a lot of real fighting, in GURPS it's easy to specify a location and get it over and over, with sufficient skill. That comes up a lot in high-skill games, and players will inevitably specialize to get the best weapon to hit X, a higher enough skill to target X, and any advantages that maximize either. So Rapier-20 with Ultimate Slayer Training (Eye), or Bow-24 and Targeted Attack (Vitals) and so on.

      I just don't like stabbing for the eyes and hitting the torso when you miss by 1.

  2. I like the revised miss by 1 rule. I am not crazy about the idea of making it by a lot meaning that you can hit the eye (Doug's idea). Too easy, I think. I don't dislike the idea of projectiles making it by 3+ hitting the torso meaning a potential vitals shot. Probably hurts delvers more than monsters (for the same reason critical hits do), but still--not a bad idea. Shield and arm hand revision also looks good to me.

    1. I think the "hurts delvers more than monsters" bit is more a truism than a truth. Delvers also get many more options for avoiding criticals, shielding vitals hits, etc. and much broader and more common access to meta-game mitigators (Luck, Extra Life, etc.) It just feels like crits hurt delvers more because you're running the delver.