Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-24-2007, 10:26 AM   #1
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

In about a month, I'm holding the pre-session for my French swashbuckling campaign, Salle d'Armes, and happily, my copy of Martial Arts has arrived for me to study. I've picked a year when the transitional French fencing school is giving way to the smallsword school, and the PCs will be students of a smallsword master. But I don't get quite enough narrative sense of how things work in this era.

*If a combatant with Smallsword goes up against an equally capable combatant with Rapier, which of them has the advantage? Is the smallsword a superior weapon, or is it an inferior weapon that wins out because of lower cost, easier concealment, or the like?

*If I'm the guy with the smallsword, what do I do to compensate for the superior reach of the guy with the rapier? Are there any special techniques or maneuvers that work particularly well against Italian or Spanish styles?

*Do I have it right that a big part of effective combat with smallsword is skilled control of the distance between you and your opponent? Would this be represented well by choice of options ranging from All-Out Attack to All-Out Defense?

*If you wanted to integrate unarmed combat into your style, which skill would work best? I'm thinking Brawling, because it gives you improved kicking, which seems to make better sense than putting down your sword to use your fists. Does that make sense?

Thanks for any suggestions you can offer.

Bill Stoddard
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 11:25 AM   #2
Kromm
GURPS Line Editor
 
Kromm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Montréal, Québec
Default Re: Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs

If a combatant with Smallsword goes up against an equally capable combatant with Rapier, which of them has the advantage? Is the smallsword a superior weapon, or is it an inferior weapon that wins out because of lower cost, easier concealment, or the like?
The rapierist probably has the greatest advantage. In retrospect, the rapier is often regarded as the apex Western thrusting sword, as it possesses length, decent heft, and the potential to be sharpened into a deadly cutting weapon as well. The smallsword was certainly faster, but a lot of its deadly reputation came from being used by angry men in urban situations; it was the 9mm pistol of its day, where the rapier was closer to an off-duty soldier's .45 in an earlier era.

Reflecting the differences usefully requires using the fiddly rules in A Matter of Inches (p. 110). This will privilege smallswords for Fast-Draws, Feints, and multiple parries; favor rapiers in Beats; and could give either weapon the vantage for Stop Hits and Waits, depending on user and tactics. Aside from that, the smallsword wins out only for portability and (where relevant) concealability, while the rapier wins out on raw reach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs

If I'm the guy with the smallsword, what do I do to compensate for the superior reach of the guy with the rapier? Are there any special techniques or maneuvers that work particularly well against Italian or Spanish styles?
If a A Matter of Inches is in use, then you'll want to capitalize on your weapon speed by using Feint a lot; by denying your enemy the chance to use Beats by dodging instead of parrying and engaging weapons (and using Deceptive Attack and Feint a lot to ensure that he can't engage on a parry); and by avoiding Wait and Stop Hit scenarios like the plague (because the rapierist has a huge edge trying to intercept you) -- preferably by engineering situations where you're both drawing (where your short, light weapon has the edge) rather than standing around, armed and waiting. If not, then you'll be hard-pressed to compensate, but your best friends are things that let you close the gap at haste: All-Out Attack (Long) (p. 97), Committed Attack (p. 99) with two steps, Flying Attack (p. 107), Slip (p. 124), and Giant Step, Great Lunge, and Heroic Charge (p. 131). Also note that if you can manage to get into close combat, your weapon is inherently less penalized (and the dinky "dress smallsword" isn't penalized at all, as it's valid at reach C). That said, do note that a rapierist can use all the same tricks, and will often have a dagger for close combat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs

Do I have it right that a big part of effective combat with smallsword is skilled control of the distance between you and your opponent? Would this be represented well by choice of options ranging from All-Out Attack to All-Out Defense?
As my above answer should make clear, the answer is an uneqivocal "yes." You want to excel at gap-bridging, push for the corps-à-corps scenario, and at all costs not let your opponent maneuver to keep you at a distance. You definitely don't want to get into a standoff at range. The methods I suggest for this are all noted above. Beyond all of that, you'll usually want to open the action by using Move to rush in as close as possible -- even into close combat, so that if he does the "Attack, step back, then retreat when you attack" trick, he won't move out of reach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs

If you wanted to integrate unarmed combat into your style, which skill would work best? I'm thinking Brawling, because it gives you improved kicking, which seems to make better sense than putting down your sword to use your fists. Does that make sense?
Wrestling and/or Judo are preferred. You'll almost inevitably want to save unarmed tactics for controlling your foe's arm or weapon, disarming him, and tripping him. In particular, you'll want to use your live (empty) hand to grab and control his main-gauche hand so that he's disadvantaged in close combat and reduced to attempting to break free, kick, pummel, or stab awkwardly with his rapier -- all of which are less deadly than clean stabs at your vitals. Remember, too, that most "kicks" used in this context aren't sharp, hard strikes for damage, but attempts to unbalance. Judo, with Sweep and Trip, is a good choice here -- and while the name isn't Western, the body of technique in question certainly suits Western swordsmen. If you do get into hard kicks, then Brawling and Karate are both fine; Brawling is slightly better because you'll be at +2 relative to Karate, offsetting the -2 for kicking.
__________________
Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch <kromm@sjgames.com>
GURPS Line Editor, Steve Jackson Games
My LiveJournal [Just GURPS News][Just The Company]
Kromm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 01:46 PM   #3
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm
As my above answer should make clear, the answer is an uneqivocal "yes." You want to excel at gap-bridging, push for the corps-à-corps scenario, and at all costs not let your opponent maneuver to keep you at a distance. You definitely don't want to get into a standoff at range. The methods I suggest for this are all noted above. Beyond all of that, you'll usually want to open the action by using Move to rush in as close as possible -- even into close combat, so that if he does the "Attack, step back, then retreat when you attack" trick, he won't move out of reach.
Thanks! That's all very helpful. I'm printing it out now to save for reference as I build NPCs.

Bill Stoddard
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 01:53 PM   #4
Mailanka
 
Mailanka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Default Re: Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

>.<

Now I want this book even more

*Dreams up an Elizabethean MiB game, crossing Swashbuckling with Black Ops*
Mailanka is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 02:22 PM   #5
DouglasCole
Doctor of GURPS Ballistics
 
DouglasCole's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Burnsville, MN
Default Re: Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailanka
>.<

Now I want this book even more

*Dreams up an Elizabethean MiB game, crossing Swashbuckling with Black Ops*

"here cometh the men who dost wear black!"
__________________
The Deadly Spring "...probably the most infamous Pyramid article of all time."-Jeffro's Car Wars Blog
Gaming Ballistic: Home of Gaming Ballistic, LLC and my blog.
DouglasCole is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 02:23 PM   #6
Kromm
GURPS Line Editor
 
Kromm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Montréal, Québec
Default Re: Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

"I've got your neuralizer right here, mate!" <Lobotomizes target with rapier.>
__________________
Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch <kromm@sjgames.com>
GURPS Line Editor, Steve Jackson Games
My LiveJournal [Just GURPS News][Just The Company]
Kromm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 02:25 PM   #7
DouglasCole
Doctor of GURPS Ballistics
 
DouglasCole's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Burnsville, MN
Default Re: Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm
"I've got your neuralizer right here, mate!" <Lobotomizes target with rapier.>

"K...did you flashy thing me?"

"No."

"I mean it...did you flashy thing me?"

"You're still breathing, aren't you?"

"...right."
__________________
The Deadly Spring "...probably the most infamous Pyramid article of all time."-Jeffro's Car Wars Blog
Gaming Ballistic: Home of Gaming Ballistic, LLC and my blog.
DouglasCole is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 07:41 PM   #8
fredtheobviouspseudonym
 
Join Date: May 2007
Default Early-modern Europe martial arts -- not out of line

A friend of mine studies German "fechtbuchs" of the 1400-1600 era.

Much of the text & many of the illustrations show what a later generation would call "unarmed martial arts" -- how to seize an opponent & throw him, how to inflict serious damage with the bare hands, etc.

Now, of course, we know far less about these than about the later Asian martial arts, but their presence indicates that such techniques were known and fairly widely known, given how many "fechtbuchs" comment on them.
fredtheobviouspseudonym is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 07:44 PM   #9
Kromm
GURPS Line Editor
 
Kromm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Montréal, Québec
Default Re: Early-modern Europe martial arts -- not out of line

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym

Much of the text & many of the illustrations show what a later generation would call "unarmed martial arts" -- how to seize an opponent & throw him, how to inflict serious damage with the bare hands, etc.

Now, of course, we know far less about these than about the later Asian martial arts, but their presence indicates that such techniques were known and fairly widely known, given how many "fechtbuchs" comment on them.
You'll like Martial Arts, then. Several Western styles make use of "scientific" unarmed-combat skills that get Asian names in GURPS (i.e., Judo and Karate).
__________________
Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch <kromm@sjgames.com>
GURPS Line Editor, Steve Jackson Games
My LiveJournal [Just GURPS News][Just The Company]
Kromm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2007, 10:13 PM   #10
Lorka
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Default Re: Martial Arts: Competing fencing styles

Paradoxes of Defence by George Silver (1599):
Quote:
Of the vantages of weapons in their kinds, places, & times, both in private and public fight.
First I will begin with the worst weapon, an imperfect and insufficient weapon, and not worth the speaking of, but now being highly esteemed, therefore not to be unremembered. That is, the single rapier, and rapier and poniard.

The single sword has the vantage against the single rapier.

The sword and dagger has the vantage against the rapier and poniard.

The sword & target has the advantage against the sword and dagger, or the rapier and poniard.

The sword and buckler has advantage against the sword and target, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard.

The two handed sword has the vantage against the sword and target, the sword and buckler, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard.

The battle axe, the halberd, the black-bill, or such like weapons of weight, appertaining unto guard or battle, are all one in fight, and have advantage against the two handed sword, the sword and buckler, the sword and target, the sword and dagger, or the rapier and poniard.

The short staff or half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length, have the advantage against the battle axe, the halberd, the black bill, the two handed sword, the sword and target, and are too hard for two swords and daggers, or two rapier and poniards with gauntlets, and for the long staff and morris pike.

The long staff, morris pike, or javelin, or such like weapons above the perfect length, have advantage against all manner of weapons, the short staff, the Welch hook, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of vantage excepted, yet are too weak for two swords and daggers or two sword and bucklers, or two rapiers and poniards with gauntlets, because they are too long to thrust, strike, and turn speedily. And by reason of the large distance, one of the sword and dagger-men will get behind him.

The Welch hook or forest bill, has advantage against all manner of weapons whatsoever.

Yet understand, that in battles, and where variety of weapons are, among multitudes of men and horses, the sword and target, the two handed sword, battle axe, the black bill, and halberd, are better weapons, and more dangerous in their offense and forces, than is the sword and buckler, short staff, long staff, or forest bill. The sword and target leads upon shot, and in troops defends thrusts and blows given by battle axe, halberds, black bill, or two handed swords, far better than can the sword and buckler.

The morris pike defends the battle from both horse and man, much better than can the short staff, long staff, or forest bill. Again the battle axe, the halberd, the black bill, the two handed sword, and sword & target, among armed men and troops, by reason of their weights, shortness, and great force, do much more offend the enemy, & are then much better weapons, than is the short staff, the long staff, or the forest bill.
That said many believe him to be an intolerant fool.

IMO the main reason that Smallsword replaced Rapiers was because it caused to many problems with gentlemen contantly accidentially hitting each other with long rapiers. Remember some of them was pretty long, having such a long thing strapped to your belt means when ever you turn everything within a meter or two gets hit with your scabbard.
Queen Elizabeth (I think it was) once ordered her soldier to go into London and snap of all Rapiers over a certain length because it was becomming to much of a problem.

A smallsword is prefered on a battlefield as well - I guess this is where Silver got his opinion from, he didnt respect duelling fops. He also argues that a cut is better than a stab, since you can cripple with a cut and not a stab, unless you stab the vitals.
Lorka is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:21 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.