Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Simple Unarmed Rule; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Grappling

I'm rather surprised at how useful this blog has been.  I'll admit that I was quite dubious at first: why bother writing things here when I could be writing them directly into my game?  But that turned out to be wrong: just the act of making the ideas public has been helpful in ordering my thinking, not to mention the comments from my perspicacious, hypothetical readers.  So, thank you blog and bloggites alike.

A good example of this concerns unarmed fighting in Under the Dying Sun.  I posted of my anxiety over this subject a few weeks ago.  I received a goodly number of suggestions and, although none of them struck me as quite right, just having it out there helped me to think more clearly.  I was, as you doubtless recall, concerned about how Armour Class would affect things, since Dying Sun uses the Chaimail-derived Weapon vs. AC mechanic.

Well, I'm no longer concerned because it is bloody obvious how to solve that problem: all grappling acts against AC 1 (unarmoured).  Given the abstracted nature of combat, it really doesn't make a difference whether you are trying to grab a a guy in plate mail or one who is naked.  The only question left in my mind is whether the grappled one gets an immediate STR Save to get loose or whether he has to wait until his turn, thereby automatically losing his attack.  I favour the second option right now.

A grappled foe is subject to various actions from his grappler.  The grappler can simply continue to hold the foe, preventing further action; he could hold the foe to help someone else attack him (or himself if he's a four-armed Scorpion Man), negating all Defense and granting a +4 bonus to the Combat Roll; he could throw the foe, causing him to become prone and wasting another turn standing back up (unless he's on the edge of a cliff, of course); or he could crush the foe, automtically hitting as per a Small Weapon (2D, take the lesser damage).  The grappled object can't do anything until he makes a STR Save and breaks loose.

I feel pretty good about that mechanic: it's simple, straight-forward, and uses existing rules.  As one of players pointed out, given that there is a 1-in-36 chance of your weapon breaking every round, I should expect to see a lot more grappling than in the usual game.


  1. My simple grappling rule is that anyone you grapple turns out to have been made of lava all along.

    By the way, have you considered turning on name/url commenting? It makes things a lot easier for a lot of people, and you'll likely get more comments.

  2. By favoring making the opponent lose his attack in order to get out of the restraint, you make hoards of weak monsters really powerful.

  3. Simple answer to fix David's suggested problem:

    Give the target of the grapple a free attack. If the attack hits, the character gets a choice to either cancel the grapple or do damage and get grappled anyways.

  4. @Demon--I honestly have no idea what that is and I don't see soemthing like that in the Settings. But tell me more.

    @David--good point and @DeadGod--good idea. That blog again shows it's usefulness.