I’m a cat herder.

by mshrm

Out of five full-time players, I’ve got three that are self-professed fans of professional wrestling. One, at least, that I know of, participated in organized, competitive wrestling (at the high school level? not sure I entirely caught the set-up on that story). Two own their own luchador masks and regularly appear in public wearing them. One has a side project in which he’s writing up all the pro wrestling moves in game terms — first HERO System, and now GURPS.  When I started thinking about using the more detailed Technical Grappling rules, I anticipated the player reaction to be somewhere between “meh” and dignified celebration. What did I find?

Nah, I tease. I got to touch base with a couple of the players yesterday, and while there is a certain amount of trepidation, they seem to be on board. I figure, as long as I’m harping on the subject, I might as well record some of the questions. Maybe the other players will have similar worries.

“Do we need more detail? I don’t recall there being a lot of grappling in the game thus far.”

On the one hand, this is true, most combats have been resolved through the use of intimidation and the poking with the pointy ends of weapons. I suspect there are a couple of different reasons behind this. One is likely just the dungeon crawl vibe. In my D&D experience, the rules for unarmed grappling in every edition were “DM gives you the hairy eyeball for suggesting such a thing and then asks why you can’t just whack the thing with your sword like a good little fighter”.

But, another reason could be the relatively flatness of the rules. The kind of combat we’ve had, with lots of striking for HP damage, wouldn’t be nearly so fun if characters only had three levels of injury:  “untouched”, “hurt”, and “dead”. By tracking HP, we gain detail and nuance and the ability to groan at a low roll or cheer at a high. In a nutshell, that’s what I’m looking to change. With the TG rules, we’ve got the mechanics for Alric to picks up a kobold and pwn him so completely that they can play “Why you punching yourself?” The potential for hilarity here is immense.

On the other hand, I would say that we’ve had a fair sprinkling of grapples. When TKotBO put Zomb-Mongo over the rail of the Great Bridge, he started by grabbing his ankle, and had to drop his morning star to do so. The giant mushroom was all about grabbing someone and swallowing them whole; it just never got a good shot at anybody before Alric tore it up. Doughal, the infamous invisible halfling, made his first appearance with a grapple, using a rope garrote to good effect. The zombies that have popped up here and there would probably go for an All-Out Attack with a two-handed grab with a bite follow-up, except they’ve always been turned, defenestrated, or otherwise nuked from orbit before getting going. (For all the party knows, the zombies are all actually friendly under their ugly exterior and lack of vocabulary. Maybe they’re all just going in for a hug.)

So, grappling is far from unknown. In all these examples — aside from those poor zombies — I feel we would benefit from the extra detail.

“How do you grab someone behind you?”

Page 11 of TG, you can attempt to initiate a grapple against a target behind you as a Wild Swing from an acceptable posture.

As it turns out, though, this wasn’t the real question. The real question was, how does one perform a backslide pin. Just looking at this clip, I would say we don’t get to see the grapple initiated. We come in with grapple already in progress.

Here’s how I see it, breaking down the linked clip:  We enter with a low-Control-Point grapple. I would say Black Trunks probably has no more than 1 or 2 CP, maybe even 0, to start with. During the first second, Black Trunks tries to improve his CP total, but Red Trunks manages to turn the tables, reducing Black Trunk’s total to 0 and applying massive CP of his own, on Black Trunk’s right arm. (At this point, it starts to look like Black Trunks might be stunned, perhaps by the pure, raw awesomeness of Red Trunks. Maybe there was some Rapier Wit applied?) From there, it looks like a Force Posture Change (TG p37) for Red Trunks to move into Black Trunks’ rear arc, and a successful grab of the other arm. (Maybe an All-Out Attack (Double) to do it so quick? Safe enough, what with Black Trunks taking a nap.)  Then, having racked up a sizable pile of CP, Red Trunks applied another Force Posture Change to take Black Trunks to the mat, dropping to a lower level himself to get a bonus to the roll. This triggers the win conditions of their brand of Wrestling Sport, and the ref comes in for the count. Sadly, it looks like Red Trunks must have finally expended all those CP, and Black Trunks kicks free.

“It seems like a lot of pro wrestling moves are going to have a lot of variants and take multiple turns…”

Well… yup. Guilty as charged. A lot of those moves are done over the course of several seconds, so they’re not going to translate, one-to-one, into GURPS maneuvers. Each step has to fit within a 1 second turn. If you want to chain those moves together so that a cinematic grappler can throw them around in a single turn, you’ll want to look at the rules for Combinations. Personally, I think that’s overkill, though. Pro wrestling is cinematic enough if you just accept what you see in front of you, and what you see is, folks taking several seconds to set up a move.

“How are you supposed to hurt an enemy with grappling, aside from chokes?”

See page 19 of GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling (I love typing the whole name, and I look forward to GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling: Transhuman Space: How To Stick A Thumb In A Pirate’s Eye In Ziggy, just for Hal), under the heading “How to Cripple and Kill”. There’s several ways to hurt a grappled enemy, but just squeezing them isn’t a great one, unless we’re talking about a choke or a bear hug. What you want is wrenching a limb (Wookie style!), throws, locks, and throws from locks.

Just like you’d expect, from real life and fiction, a wrestler would kill enemies by either tearing them limb from limb or by taking advantage of their control of the enemy to bash ‘im into something until ‘e stops squeaking. When Bane broke Batman, the set-up was a grapple, but the pay-off was a strike. (In GURPS terms, it’s a Backbreaker, but in the real-world, it’s damage caused by being rammed into the guy’s knee, not from being gripped tightly.)

NOT Sean Connery in a shark mask.

NOT Sean Connery in a shark mask.

Then, later, after I provided the page reference….

“Throw, from a lock, using CP to boost the damage limits? OUCH.”

Yes, yes, indeed.