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Old 06-16-2019, 10:59 AM   #1
Boge
 
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Default Examples of "surprise" from B393?

I feel there should be more surprise situations in Gurps. I'm looking for examples of what you guys would consider a "surprise attacks" situation.

What about two people just having a conversation and one of them strikes the other? You see it in the movies all the time and the person getting attacked never even attempts a defense because it happens to suddenly and unexpectedly.
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Old 06-16-2019, 01:58 PM   #2
Plane
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

Perhaps a successful "Body Language" roll could help prevent being surprised by that?

This wouldn't help your average person though because it only defaults to Detect Lies or Psychology and not an attribute, so the "no double defaults" rule means people without either skill have no default in this.

B216 psychology does say "predict the general behavior of an individual" so that (defaulting to IQ-6) might be how an untrained person might predict a sucker-punch.

As B181 mentions "You can also use it to get a rough idea of what a party member is doing or about to do in a situation where he cannot communicate with you directly" it seems to imply that you would need direct communication with a person for Psychology to work...

So whereas Psychology might tell you the person you're talking to is about to punch you, Body Language might be needed to realize that guy sitting next to you who seems to be ignoring you, is actually preparing to attack you.
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Old 06-16-2019, 02:34 PM   #3
Ulzgoroth
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

I'd invoke Tactical Shooting's Threat Recognition rules (p33). Though yeah, for detecting threat signals from the social situation rather than the tactical situation would draw on different skills.

Notably, even action heroes and superheroes may not live up to the constant vigilance that that book accords to anyone with Combat Reflexes.

I'd probably require a successful Acting roll to not tip your hand to someone that you're socially interacting with about your intent to attack them. Not a contest. And if somebody successfully uses Body Language that would also give warning.
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Old 06-16-2019, 07:38 PM   #4
Plane
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

Some of it might have to do with personality though. I have trouble relaxing in bars and other social recreational settings around strangers, so due to "expecting trouble" I would probably only suffer "Partial Surprise" while someone who feels safe in a bar would probably suffer "Total Surprise", like me if I'm attacked in my sleep.

The bar situation could need some RP though, because I might shift from Partial>Total if I consumed enough alcohol to overcome my paranoia.
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:15 AM   #5
Stormcrow
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

The Basic Set says that "the GM is responsible for determining when the attackers have achieved surprise," but it does go on to help explain when surprise happens. Let's assume we're only talking about characters like adventurers or guards.

Total surprise: Something happens when the character is asleep, or something literally impossible to have anticipated happens. The book gives the example of werewolves charging through the door of a library. This rather assumes you're not monster hunters looking for monsters; in that case it would be only partial surprise.

Partial surprise: Something happens when the character is expecting trouble but not previously alerted to it. Awake adventurers are usually expecting trouble, so this is the most surprise they can usually suffer.

If you're not an adventurer or guard or the like, you'll probably bump partial surprise up to total surprise, and you'll be partially surprised by things that wouldn't surprise an adventurer.

One thing the rules don't explain is what happens if a party is partially surprised but the other party is not. I think in situations like that the initiative roll can be made as per the rules, but the unsurprised side will never freeze regardless of who wins initiative.

So let's think about some possible situations.

Two parties encounter each other rounding a corner in a dungeon. I'd give each party sense rolls to detect the other coming. If either side failed they'd be partially surprised.

A wild animal pounces from a hidden location on the adventurers. I'd use a quick contest of the animal's Stealth vs. the party lookout's (or the lead character's if no lookout) Vision roll to determine if the party can detect the wild animal. If the party fails they will be partially surprised and will freeze if they fail initiative.

An adventurer ambushes a non-adventurer. A roll of Stealth by the adventurer, modified by however alert the non-adventurer is. If successful, the non-adventurer is totally surprised.

Two non-adventurers in a bar, and one suddenly attacks the other. I'd allow the person attacked a Body Language roll if they have the skill. If they failed, they'd be totally surprised. If they succeeded, but only a moment before the attack, I'd consider them still to be partially surprised, and an initiative roll would be in order.
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:34 AM   #6
kdtipa
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

The first paragraph for surprise includes the sentence: "The GM is responsible for determining when the attackers achieved surprise". I think the idea is that if you think an attack would count as a surprise, it is a surprise. I think you're correct that two people in conversation with one suddenly punching the other would normally count as surprise. I think the other people responding mentioning the possibility of the defender noticing signs the person is about to do something make sense too (Body Language, Psychology, Empathy, and so on).

I think surprise is just likely to happen when the defenders are not aware of the attackers (like in an ambush) or when the defenders aren't aware of the intentions of the attackers (like in your example).

As a side note, I don't think I like the surprise rules. Being frozen for 1d seconds is near automatic death. It makes Combat Reflexes a near necessary advantage (in terms of game mechanics) instead of something to suggest the character is experienced with that type of high stress situation. And Partial Surprise is based on sides instead of individuals? It feels like the surprise rules are more abstract than normal for GURPS.

I am really tempted to make a house rule for surprise in my campaigns after having read all the surprise rules carefully. I might try for something like...

Each character in a potential surprise situation may get a perception roll to notice an ambush type situation, or something like a Body Language or Psychology roll to notice that someone is about to do something bad. Danger Sense can stand in for any roll to notice something bad is about to happen. The perception or skill rolls are likely to be penalized at the GM's discretion (ambushers hide and might be good at hiding). Danger Sense is not penalized.

If you notice before the attack occurs, you are not surprised. If you did not notice, you will be surprised. If someone shouts a warning, you get a new roll at +4, but it is not a guarantee because you might be confused by the warning. If you have Combat Reflexes and receive the warning, you also get your +6 to this roll to determine whether you notice.

If you are surprised, you are suffering from Mental Stun as defined on page 420 of the basic set. Combat Reflexes provides its +6 to recover from stun as normal.

Example: Ambushers vs PCs
The group that is about to ambush the PCs hides along a path. There are four of them, and one is up in a perch of some kind with a ranged weapon waiting to shoot the most dangerous looking of the group. There are four PCs walking down this street, and one of them is a scout type person with great perception.

The GM rolls for all of the PCs to see if any of them notice, and only the scout sees the person up on their perch. The scout notices and shouts "Ambush!" to warn his friends. His friends get a second set of perception rolls with the +4, and let's say one of them makes it this time.

The Ambushers are potentially surprised too because they weren't expecting the PCs to notice them. They were waiting until the group got closer. So, after the shout... the GM will make IQ rolls as though they were already surprised to see if they recover from the stun for the first round of combat. Let's say two of them make it, including the guy on the perch.

Now we figure out initiative normally. For the example, let's say it works out...

PC-Scout
PC-2 (surprised)
Am-Perch
PC-3
Am-2 (surprised)
PC-4 (surprised)
Am-3
Am-4 (surprised)

Now you have a pretty easy progression to handle. In that first second you play it out like normal combat. The Scout goes, and this his friend that didn't benefit from the warning rolls to recover from mental stun. If the Scout didn't shoot the Perch guy, it's his turn next, then a PC-3, and so on. The people who suffered from surprise are just considered mentally stunned instead of frozen, and you don't have to do the odd partial surprise rules.
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Old 06-17-2019, 11:29 AM   #7
Stormcrow
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
The first paragraph for surprise includes the sentence: "The GM is responsible for determining when the attackers achieved surprise". [...] I might try for something like...

Each character in a potential surprise situation may get a perception roll to notice an ambush type situation, or something like a Body Language or Psychology roll to notice that someone is about to do something bad. Danger Sense can stand in for any roll to notice something bad is about to happen. The perception or skill rolls are likely to be penalized at the GM's discretion (ambushers hide and might be good at hiding). Danger Sense is not penalized.

If you notice before the attack occurs, you are not surprised. If you did not notice, you will be surprised.
All of that is pretty much subsumed into the GM responsibility for determining surprise, no? The rest of the surprise rules are really about how long you're surprised (0 turns, 1 turn, 2 turns, etc.) rather than whether you end up being surprised.
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:08 PM   #8
Black Leviathan
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

I'd say in most cases the event you're describing is more of the "Two parties encounter each other rounding a corner in a dungeon." situation. Players are threat-aware and facing their attacker, they can see the attack coming. The actual attacker would not be surprised. Anyone specifically watching the attacker who makes a body language skill would also not be surprised. Allies of the attacker who were warned of the the target group would be subject to partial surprise.

The exception would be if the meeting had become so casual that the attack was unthinkable. Like dropping the cake you're showing your mother on Mother's Day and shiving her with the cake-knife unthinkable. If people on either side have turned away to have a conversation or are watching the game on TV or have wandered away from the group for a **** when the ambusher suddenly attacks, those individuals could be totally surprised. If you're in on the ambush plan, it doesn't matter if you're watching the game with the bodyguards or if you're eating cake with both hands or if you're squatting to take a ****, you cannot be totally surprised. You might suffer partial surprise because you weren't expecting the timing but you won't be totally surprised. Also, if your team is ready to wipe out the other guys and your leader gets a cake serving knife rammed through her skull, you might be partially surprised because you didn't expect the fight to kick off that way but you won't be totally surprised because this Mother's Day was never going to end with smiles.
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:27 PM   #9
Plane
 
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Leviathan View Post
The actual attacker would not be surprised. Anyone specifically watching the attacker who makes a body language skill would also not be surprised.
Where do you think the role for psychology might begin? It seems like there ought to be chance for anybody to read people.

B181/B216 would have someone with a point in Body Language (Per-1) way ahead of someone rolling at Psychology at default (IQ-6)

Assuming someone has same Per as IQ, it would take 2 points in Psychology to buy it up to the same (IQ-1) as Body Language since it's Hard whereas Body Language is Average.

So if someone had say, skill 9 in either of these, I'm wondering when you could apply psychology and when you could only apply body language.

I don't think you necessarily have to talk to someone to use psychology, you could observe them talking to others... but it seems like something that might take more time to size people up. You're reading their personality, not their movement.

Psych seems like "I think this guy might attack me, I'd better be alert" whereas Body Language is like "I don't think he's raising his hand to scratch his nose, I think he's raising it to punch me"

B200 has Holdout opposed by Search, B219 says that defaults to perception so that could probably be used to see concealed weapons...

B221 has Sleight of Hand opposed by Vision (or Observation), as does Filch on 195.

B211 has Observation default to perception like Search does, so that might be useful here...

monitor a location, a group of people, or your immediate surroundings for concealed or tactically significant details
..
gather information that is not specifically hidden. For instance, you could
case a bank for obvious cameras before a robbery, learn the schedule of sentries, estimate the size of a crowd, or gauge the strength of troops
Innocuous enough, but here is the important part...

To spot deliberately hidden details – e.g., someone trying to sneak up on
you, an armed man hiding in the crowd, or a concealed machine-gun nest – you must win a Quick Contest of Observation skill vs. the Stealth, Shadowing, or Camouflage skill (as appropriate) of the other party. The GM should roll the Contest in secret, and should not say, “You don’t see the machine gun nest concealed in the bushes.”
Even though I think Body Language should detect a sucker punch, I'm wondering if Observation might also do so, since a sucker punch is basically "sneaking up" part of the body (the fist) even if the rest is in sight.

It seems to fall under "monitor a group of people" and being sucker punched sounds like a "tactically significant detail".

Body Language would be superior (you just have to make an unopposed roll, not win a quick contest) and Observation has another option to make it further inferior:
The GM may require an Intelligence Analysis roll to interpret what you observe.
B201 you can use it at default, but it's a brutal default just like Psych (IQ-6) meaning that even if you observe a sucker punch coming, you might not understand it's a sucker punch without interpreting the intelligence. "allows
you to deduce enemy plans" sounds like you should understand he's planning to punch you and not just grab an eyelash off your cheek.
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Old 06-17-2019, 02:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: Examples of "surprise" from B393?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plane View Post
So if someone had say, skill 9 in either of these, I'm wondering when you could apply psychology and when you could only apply body language.
Body Language lets you determine an individual's feelings and lets you determine what a friend is about to do. Psychology lets you determine a general notion about what someone is about to do, whether an individual or a small group, and is specialized by race.

My feeling is that Body Language only requires a few moments of visual contact, while Psychology requires some insight into the subject, whether it's what they say or what they're doing. Someone sitting across the table from someone who's about to attack them could use Body Language to determine that the person is enraged or Psychology to analyze the direction the conversation is taking and realize the other person is about to go berserk because of it. Body Language would be useless against an invisible opponent, and Psychology would be useless if the subject had only been observed standing around for a bit, but the two would work well in the reverse situations.
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