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Old 02-11-2021, 04:30 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Sin City
Default Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

That is a question a few players had for me. In a situation where folks start at close range they felt that a mage (Magery 3 limit, no innate attack) would have trouble vs. a weapon master. Or even a turtled tank with stacked armor.

A mage will not have the same amount of points available to put into physical stats that a non-mage would. As this determines Speed, it means the mage has to survive until his turn. This could mean 4 attacks from a dual-wielding weapon master.

And of course there is the fatigue issue...the warrior could be slashing long after the mage has used up his fatigue....

How would one go about making a mage that could fare well in such situations? (Wed be using GURPS Magic and the main rules.)
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
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Old 02-11-2021, 05:30 AM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

You don't win by going with your opponents strengths, so

A) prepare in advance, and

B) Play to your own strengths.

GURPS Magic has so many relatively easy to reach spells that let you screw up melee fighters that it's not even funny anymore. Levitation, for one.

Sure, if your mage get surprised by a melee fighter at close combat range, and the fighter has the initiative, the mage is screwed.

Edit: But sure, in that same situation almost anybody else would be screwed too. Say you have a knight who normally wears an enchanted plate and wields a magic poll-axe being surprised unarmed and unarmoured while walking in his dress gown from his mistresses bedroom to his own by a fighter in full kit at a melee range. Who is more likely to win that encounter?
AotA is of course IMHO, YMMV.
vincit qui se vincit

Last edited by Taneli; 02-11-2021 at 05:34 AM. Reason: See edit:
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Old 02-11-2021, 05:49 AM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Cambridge, MA
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

The mage should learn Blink and buy Blocking Mastery (Blink) [1] and Body Sense at a decent level. Now he can use Blink to dodge the first attack and hopefully get out of reach of the next attack. Then cast Flight, unleash your best spells (which you already prepared with Delay of course) like Ethereal Body or Steelwraith to be immune to attacks, and start hitting the fighter with save-or-die spells, lightning, creations, or whatever suits your fancy. Hopefully you have ER and power stone/power item for energy.

I will say that by limiting the mage to Magery 3 but not limiting the fighter’s ability to buy WM, Dual Weapon Attack, and Extra Attack 2 (which he’ll need to deliver those four attacks), you’ve stacked the deck in the fighter’s favor. Let the mage buy Magery 6 or even 10.
But even so, I think a mage built on equal points has a chance with the right spells.
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Old 02-11-2021, 10:31 AM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

A lot, and I mean a lot of this depends on whether or not the mage sees this coming and has a round or two to do something about it.

However, the premise sounds like things have gone really wrong and the wizard has to survive a round before they can act and I suppose retreat.

The stereotypical wizard has a staff, so learn how to use that sucker. +2 to parry rolls is fantastic, and use the defend-and-retreat option liberally. There's also no reason for a mage not to learn other weapon skills too, so a parrying dagger and rapier or similar fencing weapon is also very strong on defense (boo flails) in general. As someone pointed out, there is a selection of blocking spells that can be cast out of turn in order to survive an encounter. Iron arm is great, Blink, Blocking, Fumble, etc.

I doubt fatigue will matter much in the one round. Either the mage is gassed out in which case they're doomed, or they have enough to do something about the incoming attacks. No matter what the situation will be different when/if the mage gets to act even if that action is just to run away because they successfully parried. An armored knight who's burned all their FP on extra effort is just as bad off as the drained mage so <shrug>.

Really the thing to do is plan for the likely disaster, not the worst case situation. A dual-wielding weapon master isn't exactly the front line mook or light skirmisher that might slip by the other party members focusing on more important targets. Learn enough defensive things to reliably defend against a mook with 1-2 attacks. If that weapon master gets you, you're gonna get got.

Personally I'd go pretty mundane with my defenses. A handful of skill points in a defensive weapon, staff or fencing blade, and paying attention to positioning so that I have the option to defend and retreat. Doesn't cost fatigue and can often be incorporated into the magical equipment a wizard carries. Staff certainly, and you could definitely do something like embed a powerstone in a sword pommel and so forth.
I shy away a little bit from blocking spells, they are very useful but quite costly and dependent on the colleges you take. If you have easy access to Blink, fantastic, but an elementalist might have to prioritize something else.
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Old 02-11-2021, 11:54 AM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: LFK
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

Away from my books atm, but the Body Control college has some good stuff in it - Deathtouch if you're just looking for close quarter damage, Rooted Foot if you're looking to get some distance (just running away is a viable strategy).

But yeah, in general going up against a close quarter specialist in close quarters will not end well for you.
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Old 02-11-2021, 01:20 PM   #6
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

Oh, yeah,

Reflexed Teleport to get away, or Reflexed Teleport Other to remove the fighter 100 yards up in the air, or into a conveniently located nearby volcano.
AotA is of course IMHO, YMMV.
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Old 02-11-2021, 01:39 PM   #7
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

In general, the mage losing here is Working As Intended; mages generally have a lot wider range of options than warriors, so they should lose when forced into a situation that fits the specialization of a warrior. Honestly, my main problem here is that the mage has a chance of winning.
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Old 02-11-2021, 01:45 PM   #8
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

"Winning" in this context probably means surviving/escaping without being killed or disabled.

Now what gets scary is when you build a wizard (mage knight?) FOR close combat. That could get interesting.
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Old 02-11-2021, 01:46 PM   #9
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

From a game-design perspective, if two characters of equal point value encounter each other in a situation for which one was explicitly built and the other most certainly was not, the latter character should be in serious trouble - otherwise, something has gone horribly wrong. That said, you could certainly build a mage who is meant to largely fight in melee. He'll want high Staff skill - or Shortsword/Smallsword if using a wand (a baton) or two instead - and possibly an appropriate Weapon Master of his own (if it only works with weapons enchanted with Staff, you may be able to claim a discount). Touch spells delivered by the Staff would be his priority, and if there are good area-effect spells focused on the caster (like a fiery blast or whatever), those would also be worthwhile. Blocking spells are also good, in case your Parry gets overwhelmed by attacks (and perhaps to be able to affect things outside of your turn, like the example of teleporting the attacking fighter away from you). Things that render enemy weapons useless are also worthwhile - I believe there's a Steelwraith spell that makes most metal weapons pass through you harmlessly, while you can still wield a wooden weapon without issue. You may wish to emphasize "save or suck" spells, particularly ones that immobilize the foe if you're using a quarterstaff, as many foes will be stuck using Reach 1 weapons (and the quarterstaff can work at Reach 2). Some degree of ranged capability is needed, of course - and given the way standard magic emphasizes having lots of spells rather than a few at high levels, you're probably better off grabbing appropriate spells than learning how to use a crossbow or whatever.

As for specific spells, I'll leave that to those more well-versed in GURPS Magic.
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Old 02-11-2021, 01:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mages and CQC (close quarters combat)?

Essential Wood + Staff on one-handed fighting sticks, plus an appropriate martial art like Escrima, plus your favorite Melee spell -- probably Death Touch. Don't forget Body Control spells like Itch and Spasm. Shield and Armor on top, if you have enough FP or Energy Reserve.
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