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Old 09-24-2019, 08:55 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default GM Low Tech combat tips

Hello Folks,
Just curious what other GMs do in their low tech (generally fantasy campaigns, but could be historical as well!) campaigns for combat in the campaign.

For instance, if I want to be particularly irksome with a player (instilling respect in the player for how fun GURPS combat can be!), I'd do this:

NPC with the following combat skills DX 11, ST 12:

Broadsword 12
Spear 12
Ax 12
Shield 14

Broadsword Targeted attack(Foot) 10
Spear Targeted Attack(Foot) 10
Shield targeted Attack (Jaw) 11
Shield Feint 18

If this character were without a shield and wielding his spear 2 handed, he'd still have his best feint skill at 18, making it difficult to draw him out with a feint of any kind. If he's fighting with a shield and spear, then he opens up with a shield smash skill 14. This establishes the ability to use Shield Feint offensively later on.

As you might guess, targeted attacks with a basic skill of 10 is a 50/50 proposition. Inflicting 1d+3 damage with a broadsword swing, or 1d+2 with a one handed spear , or 2d6 swing with an ax - any damage done to the foot is going to be cause for alarm in game play. Since the weapons involved (other than the axe) inflict +2 or +3 damage, this will always result in there being at least 1 point of damage getting through the leather boot's DR.

Summary of sufficient damage to cripple the foot with damage in a single blow by weapon assuming only leather boots for armor:

Target HP 10 = 67%
Target HP 11-13 = 50%
Target HP 14-16 = 33%

Target HP 10 = 72%
Target HP 11-13 = 58%
Target HP 14-16 = 41%

Target HP 10 = 50%
Target HP 11-13 = 33%
Target HP 14-16 = 17%

My favorite however, is the shield smack to the jaw. If the player character is using an open face helmet or head gear - then there is zero DR covering his jaw. This means that all punch damage with a shield will score damage. However, the threshold for scoring Major Wound status for the head is less than that of the foot. Absent a crit success - which head shots are rolled against a different table, all that comes of the shield bash/punch to the jaw is 1d6-1 damage, which will be insufficient to reach a major wound status in a single blow. The plus side however, is that the player character will be at shock penalties unless they have high pain threshold as an advantage.

Note: There are some GMs who would be disinclined to allowing the shield to target the jaw. I've seen illustrations in which the rim of a shield can be used to punch forward directly into the jaw. It does position the shield outside of its normal role defensively, but then again, GURPS permits a broadsword or other weapons to be used both offensively and defensively in the space of a second. Shields would be no different.

Note too, that a critical failure with a shield attack does risk the shield becoming un-readied (and thus unusable to its full defensive capabilities until the NPC re-readies his shield, which takes 1 second per DB value).

In general, I look for the weakest armored location and then decide whether or not the NPC will go for those regions on a regular basis. This is why I often go for targeted attacks against weapon arms or hands (hands especially) with the knowledge that the player has to drop their weapon if they suffer sufficient damage to be crippled (ie damage in excess of 1/3rd HP).

Hopefully, others will share some of the things they've done to their player's characters with NPCs when it comes to low tech combat.
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