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Old 12-31-2016, 03:31 PM   #1
bearit
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Default Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Hey guys,

My group is about to start a western at TL 5. Starting points is 200 plus 45 in disadvantages.

I'd like help in optimizing a wandering Shaolin monk for survivability in a firearm and bow and arrow dominated campaign. No exotic or supernatural advantages can be taken, and the world contains no known supernatural or magical elements.

My weapon for optimization might be the Staff with Swing/Skull for disabling and subduing blows. Also Shuriken if I must resort to range.

Here is a general optimized build the points don't add up perfectly, but I just wanted to get the general principles out there. Essentially...High Basic Speed for Dodge vs firearms. High Staff skill and Skull Bash targeted attack for quick disables. Eventually I'll pick up either Disarm or Sweep. I expect most opponents not to have high MELEE skill levels, so Feint and Counterattack may not be needed.

Any help or advice in making a competent survivable MELEE fighter amidst ranged weapon wielding, horse riding enemies would be appreciated.

Edit:
With the high Staff skill, I was attempting to take advantage of consistent knockdown rolls against enemies by targetted the head and groin ( for males). Since in the wild West I expect most opponents to be unarmored, I supposed strength to be less important as I focused on stunning blows. But feel free to post comments arguing for either a high strength build or a high dexterity build.

Edit 2:
Ive removed the previous build for space. Here's what I've got so far.
Campaign start: Nevada City 1866
Zhen Li - raised since birth in a Shaolin temple in the southern mountains of China. Left at age 24 to travel and bring principles of Chan Buddhism to those less fortunate. Wandered China for 4 years, then traveled to US with an American businessman who sought to create an exotic acrobatics show. Performed for 2 years in East coast before venturing out west . Landing in Nevada City.

Total 200

Attributes 180:
ST +3 30
DX +6 120
Will +1 5
Per +1 5
HT +2 20

Skills 43:
Acrobatics 1
Brawling 4
Judo 4
Stealth 2
Staff 4
Thrown Weapon (Shuriken) 2

Autohypnosis 1
Body Language 1
Bow 1
Breath Control 1
Carpentry 1
Climbing 1
Diplomacy 1
Escape 1
Esoteric Medicine 1
Farming 1
Fast Draw(Shuriken) 1
Gun (Pistol) 1
Gun (Rifle) 1
Hiking 1
History (China) 1
Knot-tying 1
Mental Strength 1
Observation 1
Philosophy (Chan Buddhism) 1
Riding 1
Running 1
Search 1
Sleight of Hand 1
Survival (Mountains) 1
Swimming 1
Throwing 1

Techniques 0:
Disarm (Staff) 0
Targeted Attack (Staff/Swing/Skull) 0

Advantages 22:
Combat Reflexes 15
Grip Mastery 1
Off-Hand Weapon Training (Shuriken) 1
Off-Hand Weapon Training (Staff) 1
Weapon Bond 1
Language (English: Spoken-Accented, Written-Broken) 3

Disadvantages -45

Discipline of Faith (Chan Buddhism - Ritual meditation and training, vows of abstinence and minimalist living) -15
Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents, also attempts to subdue or maim before killing even bad guys) -10
Selfless -5
Social Stigma (Minority Group: Chinese) -10

Quirks:
Dislike (Extravagance)
Dull (Reserved, slow to speak)
Habits (Often speaks in proverbs)
Humble
Like (Logic Puzzles)

Yes not much of a speaker or leader, just a self sufficient martial arts peacemaker.

Last edited by bearit; 01-04-2017 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 12-31-2016, 04:24 PM   #2
bearit
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

The way I see it, I can either pump my DX up to high and become a DX skill generalist, or just focus on a few skills individually. The problem with introducing IQ based skills like Tactics and Holdout is I don't really have many points to spare for IQ based skills. There is a lot I can do and my character will grow organically as time passes based on need.

So I guess the question is: how to you guys like to start characters? As highly proficient in one thing to start, or more of general to start?
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Old 12-31-2016, 08:10 PM   #3
starslayer
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

One of the things that I like the most about GURPS is that bringing a knife to a gun fight is almost surely a way to die.

As such, Ransom has it right, the only way your monk is going to be able to be able to fight with gunslingers, riflemen, and natives with bows without having supernatural powers is going to be to use stealth, duplicity, and tactics to assure that any combat takes place on his level.

With that said, playing a monk in a non-supernatural western should not be about trying to lay down the kung-fu beats on armed gunmen. That's a battle you will loose. However advantages like 'honest face', 'pitiable', and 'charisma', and disadvantages like 'honesty' can make a very convincing individual, have a talent for speaking to others, and the skill to back that up allowing the individual to be a silver-tongued peacemaker, only needing to resort to stealth and duplicity for the most stubborn of foe (and hopefully by nature of them being so stubborn, able to be manipulated into a situation where there superior firepower does not apply).

Be sure to look into 'vow: No guns', which should be worth a pretty hefty amount of bonus points to help balance out what's going to be a more difficult to balance concept then 'expert gunslinger and law man'.

So much is going to rely on a few critical rolls that having the highest level of luck you can get it also going to be important (A gunman can fail there a few shots as long as there dodge is high enough or they are behind enough cover to keep shooting; you only get to talk the armed gang out of gunning you down at 40 yards when you walk out with arms extended once)

Last edited by starslayer; 12-31-2016 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 12-31-2016, 08:30 PM   #4
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Many real world places in the 19th century American west had laws against carrying guns when in town. So it wouldn't always be stick vs. gun fight.
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Old 12-31-2016, 08:48 PM   #5
talonthehand
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: LFK
Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Another thought would be to raise your Basic Move up by 3, and bring it to 11. It's technically not supernatural, the Basic set says that up to +/- 3 Basic Move can be justified for regular folks, but your GM might balk on it.

If you get it ok'd though, it's great, and it'll give you a step of 2, which is a huge mobility bonus. That said, when you're fighting melee vs gun, a lot of it is going to be taking as much cover as you can. Get to where the gunslinger can't see you, run up behind him and brain him.
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Old 12-31-2016, 10:40 PM   #6
Calvin
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Calgary
Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Vitals is a valid target for crushing attacks and a targeted attack can get the penalty down to -1, and if you miss the vitals by 1 you still get a torso hit so there's basically no downside to going for the vitals beyond the opportunity cost of striking somewhere else (head or groin as you mention).

You don't get the x3 wounding modifier like you would for any other attack type, but you do get the same knockdown rolls.
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Old 12-31-2016, 11:34 PM   #7
(E)
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: New Zealand.
Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Kasari in place of staff maybe?
Smoke bombs/regular bombs/thrown trickery?
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Old 01-01-2017, 12:12 AM   #8
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calvin View Post
Vitals is a valid target for crushing attacks and a targeted attack can get the penalty down to -1, and if you miss the vitals by 1 you still get a torso hit so there's basically no downside to going for the vitals beyond the opportunity cost of striking somewhere else (head or groin as you mention).

You don't get the x3 wounding modifier like you would for any other attack type, but you do get the same knockdown rolls.
Vitals can't be hit with Crushing attacks in Basic. Martial Arts allows it for kidneys, I think.
It's not like you can punch someone's heart, for example.
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Old 01-01-2017, 10:16 AM   #9
jason taylor
 
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Location: Portland, Oregon
Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Quote:
Originally Posted by starslayer View Post
One of the things that I like the most about GURPS is that bringing a knife to a gun fight is almost surely a way to die.

As such, Ransom has it right, the only way your monk is going to be able to be able to fight with gunslingers, riflemen, and natives with bows without having supernatural powers is going to be to use stealth, duplicity, and tactics to assure that any combat takes place on his level.

With that said, playing a monk in a non-supernatural western should not be about trying to lay down the kung-fu beats on armed gunmen. That's a battle you will loose. However advantages like 'honest face', 'pitiable', and 'charisma', and disadvantages like 'honesty' can make a very convincing individual, have a talent for speaking to others, and the skill to back that up allowing the individual to be a silver-tongued peacemaker, only needing to resort to stealth and duplicity for the most stubborn of foe (and hopefully by nature of them being so stubborn, able to be manipulated into a situation where there superior firepower does not apply).

Be sure to look into 'vow: No guns', which should be worth a pretty hefty amount of bonus points to help balance out what's going to be a more difficult to balance concept then 'expert gunslinger and law man'.

So much is going to rely on a few critical rolls that having the highest level of luck you can get it also going to be important (A gunman can fail there a few shots as long as there dodge is high enough or they are behind enough cover to keep shooting; you only get to talk the armed gang out of gunning you down at 40 yards when you walk out with arms extended once)
A non-cinematized Western should focus less on the gunfighting in any event. Gunfights were dramatic but rare, and in retrospect more of them were like a modern gang fight then a romantic "High Noon" duel.

Fisticuffs and bowie knives and all sorts of things figured in Western brawls to enough an extent that someone trained in an exotic fighting style could get by reasonably well.
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Old 01-01-2017, 10:45 AM   #10
Tomsdad
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Brighton
Default Re: Optimized Shaolin Monk in a Western

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Many real world places in the 19th century American west had laws against carrying guns when in town. So it wouldn't always be stick vs. gun fight.
True, but if he's going going up against bad guys doing bad things (shooting at people) than I'm not sure he can rely on city ordnances to protect him.

I.e if I'm going to rob a bank then obeying local weapons ordnances is going to be way down my list of priorities. Also even if the setting's bad guys do obey such ordnances he's going to be limited to those areas (but hey if it's largely set there than fine).

So that said I see 3 general ways to go with this:

1). Stealth Build (as has already been suggested)

2). Hide in plain sight, he's not going to register as an obvious threat in this setting, if the GM is willing he might get some mileage out of this (IIRC this is how the protagonist in "Kung Fu" got away with it). He'll likely need a good Move stat to allow him to surprise foes by getting into C/1 reach quickly. He's got 8 already and that's not bad. He'll also need combat tactics that include a lot of movement

3). If he's really going to go toe to toe, make him a serious dodge monkey with enhanced dodge. This may skirt the no exotic advantages once you go past a certain level. All out Dodge, Acrobatic dodge, Retreat and slip will be your friends. The build currently has a dodge of 12

Last edited by Tomsdad; 01-01-2017 at 11:15 AM.
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