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Old 09-05-2015, 04:54 AM   #1
joppeknol
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Default On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

Something that has been bothering me for some time.

Let's say I'm a default GURPS character. I take a karate course for self defense. I practice twice a week for two hours. After a year I have roughly earned 1 cp in karate (200 hours).

I'm average, so my DX =10 and my karate skill is 8. My offensive capabilities haven't increased at all. Parrying while retreating is at 10 (4+3+3) instead of 9 (5+3+1). I parry weapons at 7 instead of 5. I still feel cheated after one year of intensive training.

In general, the problem is that a low karate skill is worse than the DX-based score for unarmed combat. Am I correct in this assessment? If so, are there any house rules for correcting this without changing the whole system?
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Old 09-05-2015, 05:25 AM   #2
Dalillama
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

200 hours of practice in a year is hardly 'intensive training '.
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Old 09-05-2015, 05:25 AM   #3
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

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Originally Posted by joppeknol View Post
In general, the problem is that a low karate skill is worse than the DX-based score for unarmed combat.
One solution is to ignore the DX-based untrained combat, and instead consider untrained characters to default to Brawling (at DX-4, as is typical of other Easy defaults). Why should the (unnamed) default combat skill have a special default, higher than other defaults?

If you like the "normal humans have some inherent coordination for moving body parts; that's what DX means" train of thought that seems to lead to the untrained defaults, then another attempt at an answer is to treat DX as a floor on trained unarmed combat skills. At least punching with Karate doesn't become worse than untrained punching. It may take some study before Karate starts to pull above the floor, but at least it's never worse.

Similarly, you could "slide" the skill cost chart up one place for unarmed combat skills and allow a 0-point skill value rather than the typical defaults at -4 to -6, so that 0 points gets you Brawling (Easy) at DX, and any training shows improvement over the default. Anyone with a modicum of familiarity with Karate (0 points) gets it at DX-2. Karate is Hard, so it's still two places behind, and will take some study to catch up. Perhaps you can justify this as novices that to use all those complicated moves they don't yet properly understand and have in their muscle memory as doing themselves more harm than good.

Yet another variation would to be consider anything less than 4 points in Karate to be usable as Brawling instead. (So the effective skill progression is 1 point: Brawling DX; 2 points, Brawling DX +1; 4 points; Karate DX.) You've not quite gotten to the science of the scientific methods yet, but at least your half-trained wild punches are better than no training at all.

Which leads us back to the version in RAW: just use the unnamed default unarmed combat skill at DX until you get 4 points in Karate so that the training shows some net benefit. You get to choose what skill you use, so having Karate-8 doesn't mean your punches get worse. It just means that you don't yet have enough training to benefit from the complex advanced skill in combat. (The skill points might still have a game effect when it comes to things like recognizing styles or floating skills, for example a Karate-IQ check for knowing things about Karate, like knowing famous masters or the locations of dojos.)
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Old 09-05-2015, 05:38 AM   #4
Sam Baughn
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

The improved parry would be easily worth the one point you spent if anyone actually parried at low skill. However, since Dodge is so good, you usually use that instead.

The -4 penalty to hit your attacking limb with a weapon is quite nice, although your chances of beating an armed attacker who has a high enough skill to parry seem pretty slim anyway.

But in general, a single point into any unarmed striking skill is pretty much a waste.

For a house rule to make that not the case, I'd suggest removing the ability to make unarmed strikes and parries at DX and instead have Brawling default to DX-2 or something. This solves a lot of issues with crappy weapons actually being worse than no weapons for untrained people as well as the weakness of low-level unarmed training.
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Old 09-05-2015, 05:54 AM   #5
Gold & Appel Inc
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

1 point in Karate or Brawling also gets you two unpenalized Parries if you have two hands free, which is huge, and opens up a variety of Techniques that may not be especially useful at that level, but add fun variety and have no default without the skill.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:01 AM   #6
malloyd
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

Even with just the Basic Set rules, it's not quite so useless. The big improvement is you can attempt techniques that default to Karate - probably the most important ones are Disarming and Feint, but Back Kick, Elbow Strike, Jump Kick, Knee Strike and Lethal Strike are also in Basic. You also get a default to Karate Art and Karate Sport, which allows you not to look like a total idiot at Karate competitions and displays, which admittedly isn't all that big a deal for an adventurer, but is something beginning students definitely care about.

And face it, 1 point is *very much* a beginning student. This isn't "intensive training" in a year, it's slightly preferred hobby. Intensive *starts* somewhere above a full time job - 2000 hours a year.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

A scrap with DX-2 characters might be a hilarious affair.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:33 AM   #8
joppeknol
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd View Post

And face it, 1 point is *very much* a beginning student. This isn't "intensive training" in a year, it's slightly preferred hobby. Intensive *starts* somewhere above a full time job - 2000 hours a year.
I agree that 200 hours is still not much. However, I expect a very noticable improvement when I get into a fight when I have practiced 4 hours a week for one year.

Setting the default punch at dx-4 while still allowing the telegraphic attack so that people can still hit each other might solve my problem. Thanks.

- posted from phone.
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:07 AM   #9
CeeDub
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

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Originally Posted by joppeknol View Post
However, I expect a very noticable improvement when I get into a fight when I have practiced 4 hours a week for one year.
After two years of twice-a-week strip mall "karate" (in the GURPS sense) it is my opinion that the most noticeable improvement comes from the strength and cardio training during the classes, and maybe flinching a little less when you see a punch coming. Definitely better than a sedentary lifestyle, but don't expect to gain a lot of real-world fighting prowess.

Less traditional, no-nonsense martial arts (all of which have in common that they skip the "arts") like Krav Maga or MCMAP may be a bit different, but even they put a lot of focus on strength and cardio.
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:17 AM   #10
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: On the uselessness of a karate course in GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by joppeknol View Post
I expect a very noticable improvement when I get into a fight when I have practiced 4 hours a week for one year.
You'll find other posters that are annoyed by the sudden jump from the default to the 1-point skill level (usually 4 skill levels at once). They'd prefer a more smooth increase. (The Dabbler perk is perhaps the best RAW solution, allowing what's essentially fractional points in a skill.)
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