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Old 12-02-2020, 08:18 AM   #7
Join Date: Jul 2015
Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
Without going point by point, yeah, the one-second arm lock was tuned down in TG. Note that unlike in basic set grappling, you can continue to attack to increase control in TG, so after a few seconds, maxing out at 12 CP (the skill level in the technique adds +1 to trained ST for arm lock), things do get worse for the other guy, to the tune of -6 to ST and DX.

So "one second, poof, you're immobilized" is off the table in TG somewhat by design (the phrase Arm Lock Reign of Terror was uttered frequently by playtesters).
First off, I want to thank you for replying directly to this. It's really cool how you and a few other GURPS writers are so engaged on this forum, and it really helps to be able to discuss stuff like this with the actual creators.

So while I agree that the one-second immobilization Arm Lock from GURPS Basic/Martial Arts is a little over the top, I feel like TG maybe goes too far in the other direction.

Sure, after 3 seconds of attacking to improve your grip, you'd have 12 or so CP on the other guy. But during those 3 seconds, he's also punched you 3 times. That's a problem both IRL, and at the gaming table.

With the system I train in, we always work on short time scales. Trying to hold a lock or trap for too long will get you punched or countered. We work positioning and angles (i.e. relative facing in TG) to minimize counter attack threats, but also try to avoid too much "2 for 1" (I use two of my hands to tie up only one of the other guy's, so he has a free hand to hit me with).

Outside of grapple-only sparring or sports matches, it just doesn't seem practical to grapple in a manner where your opponent gets essentially free shots at you unless you give up some or all of the grapple to defend.

In addition, we generally work the kinds of grabs/locks where we can use the grapple itself to short-circuit potential strikes, essentially performing a hands-free parry. We even work to weight foe in such a manner as to disrupt his ability to throw a kick or knee strike.

From a Tabletop gaming perspective, you run into the same issue. While I agree that going from a Grab to a Lock to a Throw from a Lock normally takes more than 1 second IRL, the nature of GURPS combat, with it's turn-based "you go -> I go -> you go -> I go" mechanics means your player is at significant risk with any set of maneuvers that takes more than 1 turn.

At least with Basic/Martial Arts, you can get the arm lock on instantly on your turn after a Judo/Wrestling Parry, and it's disruptive enough to make it easier to weather 1 turn of attempted attacks/counters from your foe before you do damage or execute a throw. With TG, it's gets really risky. If you grab the arm, there likely isn't enough referred control to provide meaningful penalties to your foe when he decides to punch you with his other hand. If you manage to survive that without giving up the grab or having to release one hand to Parry, then you can perform a lock, adding CP. Again, that doesn't do very much to your foe other than immobilize one arm (which is very good), and maybe face him with a -1 or so on that next punch which is coming. God forbid he perform a Telegraphic Rapid Strike on both turns. In that case, you either have to completely give up the grab/lock, give up one hand and hope you can absorb the multiple parry penalties, or risk Dodges which will likely still be low in spite of the bonus you get from your foe doing a Telegraphic Atk.

I think when most players, myself included think of a skilled character performing an Arm Lock (followed by a Knee Strike and a Kiss the Wall), they think of something like this.

The Parry happens at 1:16, the Arm Lock at 1:17, the Knee Strike at 1:18, and Kiss the Wall at 1:19. While you could make an argument for a Stun happening somewhere in there, none of that sequence would work if the bad guy got to make 2 - 3 punches in the middle of it.

I'm not saying The Raid is realistic, but in my experience, this is what most players are looking for when they build capable modern Martial Artists in GURPS (see also The Accountant, Atomic Blonde, John Wick 1-3, The Bourne Identity, etc.). To be able to pull off stuff like this in TG, you need a very strong character with very high skills, points in several techniques, and either the Cranking it Up or Quick and Dirty switches in TG. And even then, you still run the risks I outlined above.

For what it's worth, I think the Technical Grappling book is a masterpiece, and there are tons of components that I love (spending CP for dmg/lowering hit penalties, more details on armed grappling, relative facing, etc.). I just think it reduces the utility of a previously overpowered technique to one of almost uselessness outside of a sporting competition.

Has it come up in any of your games since TG was published, and how did it work out?
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