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Old 12-01-2020, 12:12 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2015
Default Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

I was having a discussion about the utility of the ARM LOCK technique with one of my students who is also a GURPS player. His grasp of the mechanics was a bit different than mine, so I sat down with my books to catalog the rules and improve my understanding of how it all works.

My reason for posting this is two-fold. #1 is to have folks a lot smarter than me sanity check my write-up and let me know if I am making any glaring mistakes and #2 review my conclusions and let me know if I've missed something or if I am way off base. Also, it would be cool to hear from you all about experiences with the Arm Lock technique you've had/seen in your games.

I'm going to run through a scenario twice...once using just GURPS Basic and Martial Arts, and the second time using rules from Technical Grappling.

Our combatants in both scenarios will be PC and NPC. Here are the relevant stats for both characters:

Trained ST: 11, DX 10
Judo: 12, Arm Lock: 16

Trained ST: 11, DX 10
Brawling: 12

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-NPC throws a punch at PC
-PC attempts Retreating Judo Parry (eff skill 12), succeeds
-On his turn, PC steps into CC and Roll Arm Lock to hit (eff skill 16)
-Foe may Parry or Dodge (can retreat)
-If Arm Lock is successful, NPC's arm is trapped and cannot be used
-On NPC's turn, he faces the following
-His locked arm cannot be used unless he manages to Break Free
-Attempt to break Free is a QC of ST
-PC gets +4 in the QC, or +9 if using 2 hands (probably 2 hands)
-Also, NPC faces a -4 to DX for being grappled, though his active defenses are at -4 per the Arm Lock Technique
-NPC can attack PC with his other arm, but suffers a -4 to hit from DX penalty for being grappled (Telegraphic Attack is a good option here)
-If NPC does attack and rolls a hit, PC will have to release one arm from the lock in order to Parry. He can choose to Dodge instead and keep both arms on the Lock, but cannot retreat, regardless of which Active Defense he chooses.

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ARM LOCK MECHANICAL FLOW (Technical Grappling)

-NPC throws a punch
-PC attempts a Grabbing Parry at Parry -3 to establish a low to 0 CP grapple on NPC's arm. Effective Parry skill is 6, or 9 with a Retreat.
-Grabbing Parry succeeds, PC inflicts 1d-4 CP on NPC's arm (most likely 0)
-On PC's turn, Attack with Arm Lock technique (skill 16), Foe can Parry or Dodge
-If successful, roll 1d-1 CP (assume 3 CP) on Arm and NPC's Arm is Locked

On foe's turn, he faces the following
-His locked arm cannot be used unless he succeeds on an Attack to Break free.
-A Break free attack can be "parried" hands free by the PC
-If successful, the Break Freak attack removes 1d-1 CP (about 3)
-If attempted with the Locked Limb and successful, NPC's Arm is now unlocked even if CP remain
-Assuming 3 CP from the Lock, referred control to the rest of the NPC is 1 CP (3/2, round down) which is not enough to inflict any DX/ST penalties.
-NPC can use his other limb to attack PC at no penalty.
-PC cannot do a Hands-Free parry since NPC is striking and not grappling
-PC must Disengage a limb to Parry, lowering Grip ST from 11 to 6, removing 3 CP from the Arm Lock. This would set the CP at 0, but still maintain the lock

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Assuming all of the above is correct, here's my analysis. Please feel free to point out anything I am missing here, or wrong on.

*It seems like TG rules make an Arm Lock more difficult to execute, easier to counter, and less effective at penalizing a locked foe than the rules in Martial Arts do.

*I'll caveat the above by saying that playing with high cinematic characters and turning on stuff like the Quick and Dirty switches make Arm Locks positively brutal under TG.

*Under the Martial Arts rules, breaking free from an Arm Lock seems to be exceedingly difficult unless you are an order of magnitude stronger than your foe, your foe has you locked with a single limb, or both.

*A character suffers considerably heftier penalties when in an Arm Lock under Martial Arts than under Technical Grappling. You would need to inflict 16 CP with the Grabbing Parry + Arm Lock to give a foe a -4 to DX to actions with body parts other than the locked limb, which even exceeds the limits for Maximum CP for a Trained ST of 11.

*Under both sets of rules it seems like attacking your foe is a better option than trying to break free. If you have some skill to spare, making a Telegraphic Rapid Strike looks like the best bet for forcing a Judo character to parry twice and give up a lock. Incidentally, you only need to force a single parry attempt from a Wrestling character to get them to give up the lock. Dodging has a lower margin of success in this scenario, especially since you can't retreat without giving up the lock.

*The Hands-Free Parry option in TG is a great one, but it seems like it should be something you can attempt when you have someone in a Lock and they attempt a striking attack against you. It might be too granular for GURPS, but we use joint manipulation all the time in Eskrima to short-circuit punching, kicking, and Reach-C weapon attacks, and can do so without giving up the Lock. Indeed the joint lock is what allows you to do such defenses in the first place.

I do realize that I used fairly realistic characters in my scenarios, and that PCs with higher ST, higher Trained ST, Higher Skill, and Advantages like Extra Attack and/or Trained by a Master would significantly change the odds, but I wanted to see what this would look like with two fairly mundane characters. Also, it's really clear here how much more debilitating the MA version of Arm Lock is vs the TG version.

Like I said above, please feel free to chime and set me straight on any/all of my write-ups and/or conclusions. Feedback is appreciated.

Last edited by EskrimadorNC; 12-01-2020 at 12:17 PM.
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