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Old 04-08-2021, 08:24 AM   #1
JulianLW
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Default Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

I want to find a solution for this problem (in this thread: http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=57884):

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris1982 View Post
There should be a catchall default of for every melee weapon skill to each other melee weapon skill (even if only best melee skill -8 or something) - There are some basic concepts that melee fighters learn that are true for every weapon: distance, parry concepts, reflexes, attack modes, feints etc.

I find the notion of the great swordmaster with 25 broadsword skill that hits at DX-5 when using an Axe or DX-4 for a knife rather unrealistic...
The issue was already raised again in this thread: http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=58042

A lot of solutions were proposed, but mostly the discussion focused on Talents, which isn't really a satisfactory solution. Here's the one I'm thinking of, and I want some feedback on whether you think it's balanced - and how you'd modify it.

House Rule: Improved Melee Defaults

For every 12 CP spent in Melee Skills (as defined on Martial Arts 55), raise effective DX for all melee skill defaults (including unskilled punching) by 1. Defaults gained from Melee improvement are not subject to the rule of 20.

The same house rule could apply to the Ranged Combat Skills on the same page in MA. Optionally, access to these improved defaults could be granted with a Perk: Improved Melee Defaults.

I chose 12 CP somewhat at random. But intuitively it feels right to me. Someone who has Karate at DX+2, for example, is going to be a little bit better at using a Knife, I think, than someone with no combat skills at all. And I really think there should be some kind of rule to reflect that.

It just seems wrong to me that someone trained to use a Two-Handed Sword at DX+3 uses a spear at DX-5. They're both long pointy things! At DX 12, this character (not really at all an unlikely build, either - in fact, it might well be in a DF template) has Two-Handed Sword at 15, but he fumbles around with a spear at ... 7?!

That makes no sense to me.

With my house rule, this character would fumble around with a spear at ... 8. But if he also had a few other combat skills... He could get up to a 9 with that spear.... Maybe it should be for every 8 CP spent in Melee Skills you get the improved Default. After all, Jack of All Trades has "for Defaults only" (which includes non-melee skills like Driving and Acrobatics) at -80%.... Or alternatively, 12 or 16 CP for the first +1 in defaults, but another +1 for each 8 CP after that?

Last edited by JulianLW; 04-08-2021 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:42 AM   #2
JazzJedi
 
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

A simple solution is to say that all Melee Weapons will default to each other at -5, or -6 in the case of Flails or Whips. I think many of the GURPS default penalties for melee weapons are too harsh anyway: Flail and Two-Handed Flail default to each other at -3? Knife defaults to Shortsword at -3? Polearm defaults to Staff-4? I'll admit I'm no HEMA expert, but I do have a strong Karate and Kendo background, and all that Kendo training certainly makes handling any melee weapon much easier than without it. Nearly everyone in my gaming group has 15+ years of martial arts experience in a variety of martial arts, from Bando to Wing Chun to Krav Maga, and so on. We all agree that GURPS default penalties are too harsh and punitive.

So I've reduced a lot of the default penalties between melee weapons by 1 and some by 2, never better than skill-2.
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

Is "I think the premise is flawed" a solution to the problem?

I think you're neglecting the fact that Dexterity is a trainable ability and that your DX score is not just your natural agility. That underlying similarity between weapons you're looking for is subsumed into DX.

In other words, if you're looking for more realistic weapon defaults, construct a more realistic character. Rather than DX 10 [0], Two-Handed Sword 25 [60], Spear 5 [0], make it DX 12 [40], Two-Handed Sword 17 [20], Spear 7 [0], or whatever other combination you think generates the right defaults.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:11 AM   #4
JulianLW
 
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
Is "I think the premise is flawed" a solution to the problem?

I think you're neglecting the fact that Dexterity is a trainable ability and that your DX score is not just your natural agility. That underlying similarity between weapons you're looking for is subsumed into DX.

In other words, if you're looking for more realistic weapon defaults, construct a more realistic character. Rather than DX 10 [0], Two-Handed Sword 25 [60], Spear 5 [0], make it DX 12 [40], Two-Handed Sword 17 [20], Spear 7 [0], or whatever other combination you think generates the right defaults.
You're the one who has created the unrealistic character here. Nobody but you has said anything about a DX 10 character with Two-Handed Sword at +15. And if you think Two-Handed Sword 17 [20] and Spear 7 [0] is realistic, then just ignore this thread.

The character I proposed - DX 12, Two-Handed Sword at 15, Spear at default of 7 - is very realistic, in terms of a character build. There are probably thousands of examples of this character in GURPS games right now.

And, as I said, creating a Talent or saying that higher Attributes is the solution doesn't solve the problem with this character. It simply adds more costs to making him realistic. But training in one Melee Skill should logically give some improvement to other, untrained skills.

Also, simply improving the default levels from Melee skills - or creating an overall -6 default from best skill or whatever - ends up creating a talent for all melee weapon defaults that costs only 4 points. Maybe that's really the solution - for defaults only. I'd like to hear more opinions.

Last edited by JulianLW; 04-08-2021 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:14 AM   #5
ericthered
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

Quote:
Originally Posted by JazzJedi View Post
A simple solution is to say that all Melee Weapons will default to each other at -5, or -6 in the case of Flails or Whips. I think many of the GURPS default penalties for melee weapons are too harsh anyway: Flail and Two-Handed Flail default to each other at -3? Knife defaults to Shortsword at -3? Polearm defaults to Staff-4? I'll admit I'm no HEMA expert, but I do have a strong Karate and Kendo background, and all that Kendo training certainly makes handling any melee weapon much easier than without it. Nearly everyone in my gaming group has 15+ years of martial arts experience in a variety of martial arts, from Bando to Wing Chun to Krav Maga, and so on. We all agree that GURPS default penalties are too harsh and punitive.

This is the camp I'm in. Let all melee weapons default to each other at -5 unless you are defaulting to a hard skill.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:17 AM   #6
JulianLW
 
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
This is the camp I'm in. Let all melee weapons default to each other at -5 unless you are defaulting to a hard skill.
Thanks for the input, Eric. I've read quite a lot of your blog, so I respect your opinion on GURPS rules. How do you respond to the counterpoint that this solution ends up creating a 4/level talent for all Melee Skills?
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
This is the camp I'm in. Let all melee weapons default to each other at -5 unless you are defaulting to a hard skill.
Great minds think alike, I suppose. I designed a complex, three-tiered system and discovered that I could get the exact same result by letting all weapons default to each other.

I do think that if you do this, you should have a cap on how good you can get from defaults. Something like the "rule of 20" for skills. (I think "rule of 20" should apply to all skills, actually).
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

Quote:
Originally Posted by JulianLW View Post
But training in one Melee Skill should logically give some improvement to other, untrained skills.
Just spitballing here, but what if you lump all the melee/unarmed combat skills into a single VH skill, then allow buying up what were previously individual skills as Average Techniques, up to +4 over Melee Combat (or whatever you name the single skill)? You might be able to boost this to +8 with a Technique Mastery Perk, if you really need someone who's emphatically a sword-master or whatever. Note that, due to the fact it's rarely worth the points to buy 3 Techniques for the same skill (and almost never worth it to buy 4 or more, unless you can reliably stack them), you'll probably end up with characters with only one or two favored weapon types... but that's already pretty common.
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Last edited by Varyon; 04-08-2021 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:47 AM   #9
Donny Brook
 
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
Is "I think the premise is flawed" a solution to the problem?

I think you're neglecting the fact that Dexterity is a trainable ability and that your DX score is not just your natural agility. That underlying similarity between weapons you're looking for is subsumed into DX.

In other words, if you're looking for more realistic weapon defaults, construct a more realistic character. Rather than DX 10 [0], Two-Handed Sword 25 [60], Spear 5 [0], make it DX 12 [40], Two-Handed Sword 17 [20], Spear 7 [0], or whatever other combination you think generates the right defaults.
Yes, this is what I think too.

The penalties moving between different weapons seem pretty correct to me, particularly when we are talking about using them in life and death, difference of an inch, situations.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JulianLW View Post
Nobody ... has said anything about a DX 10 character with Two-Handed Sword at +15. And if you think Two-Handed Sword 17 [20] and Spear 7 [0] is realistic, then just ignore this thread.
If the character is attaining high skill levels based on high DX, the situation of Sword 17 and Spear 7 doesn't happen.

Anyway, GURPS already has the solution if you want omni-competence in weapons -- Wildcard skills.

Last edited by Donny Brook; 04-08-2021 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:53 AM   #10
JulianLW
 
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Default Re: Improved Melee Defaults for Skilled Combatants

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Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
Yes, this is what I think too.

The penalties moving between different weapons seem pretty correct to me, particularly when we are talking about using them in life and death, difference of an inch, situations.




If the character is attaining high skill levels based on high DX, the situation of Sword 17 and Spear 7 doesn't happen.
Again, the character I'm proposing: DX 12, Two-Handed Sword at 15, Spear at default of 7 - is not only realistic in GURPS terms but likely extremely common. This character wins competitions with a Two-Handed Sword but has real difficulty poking the side of a barn with a spear.

All it takes to get to Two-Handed Sword 17 and Spear 7 is to put 20 points in Two-Handed Sword from DX 12. Look at the Swashbuckler or Barbarian build in DF: 20 CP in 2HS (if I recall the options correctly) but none in Spear.

Give this guy a quarterstaff and he'll hold it in the 2HS grip and whale on three mooks at a time. But give him a spear and he's liable to drop it if he tries anything except a straight poke at the torso - which he's almost certain to miss.

You don't see the problem there?
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