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Old 07-09-2019, 08:10 AM   #1
kdtipa
 
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Default What is the default for punching someone?

I'm starting a new campaign, and one of my players proclaimed he was going to take brawling instead of karate for unarmed fighting because it's better. A discussion ensued and now I'm reading the rules carefully. I've always liked karate better. While reading the rules though, I noticed that Brawling doesn't have a default, and maybe I'm remembering from 3e, or maybe I just imagined it, but I thought brawling was the simple one that represented what anyone without real training would do, so had a default. Thinking about it though, Brawling does provide some special extras, so it makes sense for it to not have a default, but where is the default for throwing a punch?

I started to try to find the rule for what to roll against if you didn't have points in any of the striking skills, because anyone can try to punch. But I can't find it in the book. I was expecting it on page 370 where unarmed combat talks about the striking skills that make you better at it, but it's not there. It even says: "Anyone can engage in unarmed combat, but certain skills make you a more effective unarmed fighter", but doesn't tell you how to handle it when they don't have the skills listed.

The weapon table on page 271 lists a punch; gives its stats; and lists DX as an option... not DX-2 or anything... just DX. So, does that mean the roll to hit with a punch is just DX? If I spend a point in karate and get it at DX-2, I would have been more likely to succeed when I punch if I hadn't spent any points? Or do I just rely on the default of DX when rolling to hit, and take the other benefits of having the karate skill? This seems odd that the only place you see the default for punching is on the weapon table.

So, does anyone have more information on this?
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

If you just want to punch someone, you use DX. Same if you just want to grab someone. All six unarmed combat skills—Brawling, Boxing, Karate, Wrestling, Sumo Wrestling, and Judo—provide special benefits over and above what an untrained person gets.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:23 AM   #3
malloyd
 
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

Here's http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=137152 an older thread on the same topic that contains a couple of posts discussing what you get extra from Karate or Brawling.

If all you want to do is swing at somebody for basic damage - i.e. you don't care about being deceptive, aren't playing with rules for hurting yourself or using the rules for techniques, don't plan to try to parry... then no, you don't gain much from the first couple points you put into Brawling.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:23 AM   #4
johndallman
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

If you have Karate at DX-2, you have two options for punching someone. Roll vs DX, and do the basic damage, or roll DX-2, and get Karate benefits. Those don't amount to much for a single point in Karate, mainly that you can attack with your "off" hand without taking a -4 penalty. The full benefits of Karate come when you have spent several points on it.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:29 AM   #5
kdtipa
 
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

I think my remaining issues are...
  • that finding that default means looking at the weapon table instead of the rules for unarmed fighting.
  • that the default for a punch is DX instead of something like DX-2. Someone with no skill just shouldn't have as much chance to hit in my opinion.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
  • that finding that default means looking at the weapon table instead of the rules for unarmed fighting.
While it would make sense to have a line such as "anybody can punch at DX, or kick at DX-2," it's not really errata, so you aren't going to see an update that adds that line in. Maybe when/if 5e comes out.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
  • that the default for a punch is DX instead of something like DX-2. Someone with no skill just shouldn't have as much chance to hit in my opinion.
You're already going to get a lot of argument at tables about a normal person only having a 50% chance to hit someone who doesn't defend themselves, dropping that to around 25% is going to make things worse. It also doesn't match with normal defaulting rules, which would put an Easy skill like Brawling at DX-4, and the latter is certainly problematic, particularly without having Telegraphic Attack (from Martial Arts) as an option (the normal counter to the idea that a normal person should have a better than 50% chance to hit is actually to agree - so long as said person isn't trying to keep their defenses up, i.e. so long as they're making an All Out Attack; at DX-4, or even DX-2, the +4 from All Out isn't really enough to get the hit chances against a stationary target to where they should be).
The benefit of spending [1] in Brawling is to get access to Brawling Techniques, or in more gritty settings to be able to actually Attack rather than being forced to All Out Attack.
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
[*]that the default for a punch is DX instead of something like DX-2. Someone with no skill just shouldn't have as much chance to hit in my opinion.[/LIST]
It would probably more elegant if Brawling listed a default -- perhaps DX-4 since it's Easy. That's a pretty significant reduction in the chance to hit for the untrained average person, though. (Though some of those YouTube fight videos I've seen make it seem that rolling a 6 would be about right... and you can always argue that's why untrained fighters Telegraph their attacks, though that's usually given as a way to get to a reasonable chance to hit starting from DX 10, rather than DX-4.) On the upside, you'd get a significant improvement in ability just from one point, and so avoid all the arguments about how a few points doesn't actually make you any better.

You could make it match the existing rules by listing the default simply as "DX". Not all skills follow the Easy -4/Average -5/Hard -6 pattern anyway; this could be one of the exceptions.
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

I don't know about anyone else, but when a character picks up a weapon they're unskilled in, I don't look up what the default is in the combat section, or by thinking about what skill it should use and looking that up. Instead I look it up on the weapon table. It follows that a fist attack's defaults will be found in the same place.
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

Someone correct me if I'm wrong because I've never found a clear cut rule for this, but the -4 for using offhand unarmed is an optional realistic rule and typically does not apply.
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Old 07-09-2019, 11:24 AM   #10
kdtipa
 
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Default Re: What is the default for punching someone?

I don't think the average person with no points in a striking skill should have a 50% of succeeding at a punch that does damage. I guess it's an opinion without real research and testing, but my experience suggests that untrained people are really bad at connecting if they pay attention to not getting hit, and really bad at defending if they pay attention to hitting. A high school fight I saw fit the second scenario perfectly for example. They just stood there taking turns hitting each other. It was ridiculous.

In 30 years of playing GURPS I have never use the weapon tables to look up a default. It's partly because defaults for weapons don't come up often in the campaigns I've run or played in... people usually get the skill for the weapon they carry. I'd still like there to be a written rule that says: untrained unarmed fighting is DX for a punch or DX-2 for a kick. Or better: DX-2 for a punch, and DX-4 for a kick.
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