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Old 12-31-2014, 11:19 AM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

Last Week: Clairsentience
Next Week: Combat Reflexes; Enhanced Defenses; Enhanced Time Sense

This week we are looking at the Claws [Varies] (p. B42-43) Advantage. Based on the write up in Basic Set Characters, the purpose of Claws is to alter the damage done by someone with unarmed strikes and in one instance, provide some built in DR for the striking limb. Despite the name, Claws can be pretty flexible as with all GURPS Advantages, the "crunch" can be separated from the "fluff"; as long as it functions identically in terms of significant game mechanics, with differences either proving completely inconsequential or that the GM agrees will "balance out", your Claws can be something very different than the physical structures described... though be careful of crossing over into the territory of other Advantages that if applicable, should be bought alongside Claws.

Except the text on p. 42 clearly states there is no discount for modifying less than all your hands and feet, so I might be quite wrong. It might seem a bit silly but especially when you're focusing on the crunch, dealing with unusual unarmed fighting techniques or non-humans, there are quite a few times when you're wanting to modify the damage done with Strikers because even if it isn't practical, it is a logical consequence of body/power/whatever design and you just know its going to eventually matter in an ongoing campaign. Also going against this interpretation is that it starts to infringe upon Spines and Teeth, which we are also covering today, but besides working a bit different, they don't seem to be meant to modify your head for headbutting, your elbows or knees for strikes with those, etc.

Returning to the actual RAW, the in text forms of the Claws Advantage are
  • Blunt Claws [3]
  • Hooves [3]
  • Sharp Claws [5]
  • Talons [8]
  • Long Talons [11]

Blunt Claws provide a +1 per die damage bonus for unarmed attacks, similar (but separate) from the bonus you get for having Brawling at DX+1 and the real world example are the blunt claws of a dog. Hooves like that of a horse are priced the same but only apply to feet, where they also provide an additional point of DR. Sharp Claws and Talons are intriguing because they convert the damage done by your unarmed attacks instead of just adding to the base damage done. The former converts the damage from crushing to cutting and by default are like the claws of a cat, while the latter allow the character a choice between cutting or impaling damage and no text book equivalent is given, just a size range of upwards of 12" long, so they sound Wolverine (of Marvel Comics fame) like. Long Talons are literally Talons with the damage bonus from blunt claws, and are supposed to represent huge claws akin to sword blades; again no specific book example but its sounds like Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (sorry to remind people of that). Of course, as long as it is valid to fudge the fluff for the crunch, this could also still be Wolverine style claws, with the excuse of superior sharpness (Wolverine's Claws are usually made of the fictional super-metal adamantium) justifying the damage increase in lieu of the greater reach that they should technically have (then again, the text doesn't indicate Reach for any of the examples). Note that the cost of Long Talons is simple the sum of the cost of Blunt Claws and regular Talons.

Spines [1 or 3] (p. B88) are quite specialized, but that is likely why they are priced relatively low for the damage they provide: 1"-2" long (so Reach C) spines doing 1d-2 impaling for 1 point or 2' long doing 1d (but still only Reach C) for the three points. These are defensive weapons, like those of a real world echidna or porcupine; they are to discourage attacks, not be used to actively attack others, video game echidna (and hedgehogs) to the contrary. The character endowed with these does get a DX-4 roll to hit each foe in close combat as a free action, at +2 for foes that are attacking from behind (likely because this is where the spines are traditionally located). This is again passive; a foe that grapples you is hit immediately and automatically and those that slam are immediately and automatically hit for maximum damage! Of course such features are likely horribly inconvenient in a modern, real world setting (or most forms of civilization); you're going to need very durable furniture unless you have a means of somehow turning them "off".

Strikers [varies] (p. B88) are a part of the character's body that can deliver an aimed blow or parry using DX or the Brawling Skill, though it is treated like an armed parry and not an unarmed one. This could just as easily (and perhaps should have) been saved for when we get to Extra Arms and Extra Legs (likely to be reviewed together), but it has a lot in common with Claws. In the Third Edition, Revised Rules (specifically Compendium I pages 66 and 67) "Strikers" is a term that covers not only 4e Strikers, but Claws, Spines and Teeth and a few other things that in 4e are the entirety of Strikers.

Strikers can only attack at Reach C without an Enhancement, inflicting thrust damage based on your ST, with a +1 per die bonus. For 5 points, this is Crushing or Piercing damage. For 6 points this is large Piercing. For 7 points it Cutting while 8 points means Impaling. This Advantage does not have to confer an additional limb but can be taken to modify an existing one (a -20% Limitation for Striker according to p. 47 of Martial Arts). For example, to make Super (or even simply a martial artist in a sufficiently cinematic setting) a better unarmed fighter, or when whatever is added is modifying an existing body structure, such as a super or non-human with horns on its head that is supposed to be proficient at using said horns in combat.

Teeth [Varies] (p. 91) come in three forms, all of which do thrust-1 damage when biting, though different kinds of damage. The default is Blunt Teeth like an herbivore (or apparently mostly blunt teeth of an omnivore like a human), which allows one to bite for thr-1 crushing damage... which doesn't sound quite right that a human jaw could bite for up to 3 points of damage, even if its only when doing maximum damage. I am embarrassed to say I can't find detailed rules on biting in combat, so let me know if I missed something like the old 3e rule where your effective biting ST wasn't equal to your full ST (at least under the default rules). A Sharp Beak or Sharp Teeth are both worth a single point with the former doing Large Piercing and the latter doing Cutting, while for two points the character can do impaling damage.

Relevant Modifiers has some overlap; all of these are by default "Always On" and get no discount for the character having to always deal with them. According to Powers p.91 Switchable at the +10% level works for these assuming that it is appropriate given how the modified Advantage works; it will be easier to justify for some rather than others. While technically inexpensive, without other Enhancements the rounding involved will jump it to at least one point; while proportional this is still pretty relevant for Advantages that are all less than 10 base points and in some cases are worth just one point on their own. An Armor Divisor or Multiplier (p. B102, B110) is useful to model more or less effective versions of many of these traits; claws effective at rending human (and other DR 0) flesh but little else.

Otherwise its just Striker with specific Enhancements and Limitations. Long allows you to increase the reach: +100% per +1 SM if you can attack at any reach from C to your maximum or +75% if its your maximum reach or nothing (including not in Close Combat). No option is given for if you can do either Reach C or Maximum Reach.

The Limitations are more numerous and useful for really tailoring it to represent some real world examples. Cannot Parry (-40%) removes that Defensive option from the Striker. Clumsy gives your Striker a -20% per -1 to use penalty because while you've got it, it isn't as easy to use as your arms or legs. Limited Arc (-40%) restricts the direction in which you can attack with your striker; useful for modeling natural creatures that often can only attack straight ahead or only straight behind etc. You have to select a single direction (relative to the rest of you) that your Striker can hit and if you can't line yourself and your target up correctly, you just can't attack with your Striker at all. Weak (-50%) removes the +1 per die damage bonus.

There are a few Perks worth mentioning (but not detailing*) as well in association with the above Advantages. All are from GURPS Power-Ups 2: perks:
  • Biting Mastery (p.5)
  • Fur (p.10), an Exotic Perk
  • Iron Hands (p.6), a Combat Perk
  • Long Fingers/Thumbs (p.11), an Exotic Perk
  • Racial Gifts (p.12), an Exotic Perk

and probably others I am forgetting about (please mention them!).

So

1) What is your personal experience with any, some or all of these Advantages? Please share!

2) Do they seem well priced? Redundant with other traits? A needed variant?

3) Anything else that you think would be relevant to a discussion of such things, including feedback on how I write these threads out.

*Plus I always worry that not only is going into too much detail hurting discussion instead of helping it, but that I might be giving away too much "for free" of others hard work. >.>
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Last edited by Otaku; 10-19-2015 at 04:00 AM. Reason: Updated Next Week from "Pending"
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
Teeth [Varies] (p. 91) come in three forms, all of which do thrust-1 damage when biting, though different kinds of damage. The default is Blunt Teeth like an herbivore (or apparently mostly blunt teeth of an omnivore like a human), which allows one to bite for thr-1 crushing damage... which doesn't sound quite right that a human jaw could bite for up to 3 points of damage, even if its only when doing maximum damage.
That seems fair to me; people have been known to e.g. bite fingers, noses and ears off of each other, which is right around 3 damage IIRC.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

I tend to use traits like Blunt Claws, Hooves, Sharp Claws, and Sharp Teeth on racial templates quite often, and Crushing Strikers with various limitations on occasion. My personal opinion is that the Sharp Claws could possibly stand a price drop down to one point (comparable with Accessory: Small Knife), or else give some sort of reduced penalty for Climbing without equipment.

Of course I'm one of those people that wants to slash prices for lots of things.
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
[Striker] does not have to confer an additional limb but can be taken to modify an existing one (there is no discount or additional cost for this).
My copy of Martial Arts, on p. 47, gives Limb as a 20% discount for Striker. Has some later source superseded this?
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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Originally Posted by Toptomcat View Post
My copy of Martial Arts, on p. 47, gives Limb as a 20% discount for Striker. Has some later source superseded this?
Is Martial Arts a part of the Basic Set? ;)

Kidding aside, thanks for pointing that out and I'll edit the original post. It is why this is a discussion here and not on some blog somewhere else: so I can find these things out. For reference materials, all I own is GURPS Basic Set Characters, GURPS Basic Set campaigns, GURPS Powers, GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks, GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents and GURPS Social Engineering... and all of those are courtesy of generous forum members. :)

Yes, even with as annoying as I can be. ^^'

Anyway, if I don't own it I haven't read it and thus probably can't reference it (exceptions are things I've seen mentioned often enough on the boards).
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
That seems fair to me; people have been known to e.g. bite fingers, noses and ears off of each other, which is right around 3 damage IIRC.
You might be right. I honestly wouldn't expect a lot of damage necessary to remove a finger, nose or ear: are the damage needed for crippling/severing those in [Basic]? With what I do have from p. B420-423, an eye is crippled by HP/10, with twice that much being enough to not just cripple but cause dismemberment. So... while a nose or ear isn't as fragile as an eye, I find it hard to believe it would take a full 3 point of damage to bite off.

I mean, max damage for a ST 10 human biting is (6-3=)3, right? An 9 HP human could have his hand or foot crippled by that strong of a bite. Then again, maybe that too is realistic? What should a bite worth 3 points of damage really equate to in GURPS, and should a human mouth manage that about 1 in 6 times?
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
You might be right. I honestly wouldn't expect a lot of damage necessary to remove a finger, nose or ear: are the damage needed for crippling/severing those in [Basic]? With what I do have from p. B420-423, an eye is crippled by HP/10, with twice that much being enough to not just cripple but cause dismemberment. So... while a nose or ear isn't as fragile as an eye, I find it hard to believe it would take a full 3 point of damage to bite off.

I mean, max damage for a ST 10 human biting is (6-3=)3, right? An 9 HP human could have his hand or foot crippled by that strong of a bite. Then again, maybe that too is realistic? What should a bite worth 3 points of damage really equate to in GURPS, and should a human mouth manage that about 1 in 6 times?
Can a human actually perform that bite? A major limitation of the human jaw as a weapon is what you can wrap it around. My teeth can only go half-way around my wrist and maybe a third of the way across my hand, and that's with me cooperating with the bite as much as I can.

What does Martial Arts say about the body parts a human can actually bite? I don't remember the exact scheme but it is certainly quite limiting.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
Anyway, if I don't own it I haven't read it and thus probably can't reference it.
Fair enough.

I buy Striker (Crushing; Limb, Shin, -20%) reasonably often for realistic martial artists, as GURPS MA permits and encourages for those who practice martial-arts styles that focus on shin conditioning. Such as Muay Thai.

Having a built-in Reach 1 attack striking at Thrust+1 before Karate bonuses, not being subject to Parrying Unarmed Attacks, and making your opponent subject to Parrying Unarmed Attacks is a sweet deal.

It's a little less of a sweet deal than the less realistic but identically-costed Striker (Crushing; Limb, Arm), since per the rules for Shin Kicks on MA p. 112, Hurting Yourself still apply as normal, with the damage applied to the leg rather than the foot. (Shin Kicks get a worse-than-normal version of Hurting Yourself for those without a Striker.)

If you use the optional rules for Parrying with Legs or Feet on MA p. 123, the deal starts to seem a lot less sweet: you can only use your shin to parry attacks to the lower body, and you aren't allowed to make a Retreating Parry with the legs. So unlike the Arm or standard versions of Striker, you can't subject unarmed foes to the Parrying Unarmed Attacks rules on most of their attacks, and even when you can you probably don't want to, because not being able to retreat really sucks.

Since a shin Striker both subjects you to Hurting Yourself and makes applying Parrying Unarmed Attacks kind of complicated, it loses two important benefits ordinarily conferred by Striker. For this reason, I probably wouldn't be inclined to force the purchase of a 'Special Exercises' Style Perk to take it, as Martial Arts suggests.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
What does Martial Arts say about the body parts a human can actually bite? I don't remember the exact scheme but it is certainly quite limiting.
Most biteable hit locations are only available to those using the optional extra hit locations from GURPS MA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martial Arts p. 115
You can’t bite his skull, spine, veins/arteries, or vitals. You can bite his face, neck, torso, or limbs, but you’ll merely nab a fold of flesh. This can only cripple a limb on critical hit results 7, 8, 13, or 14. You can target a tendon within a limb at an extra -3. Handle this like an attack on a joint – it can cripple. You can also target and cripple an ear, nose, or extremity (or, at another -3, the tendons inside an extremity).

...

Injury can’t exceed HP/4 to a nose, an ear, or the tendons in an extremity, or HP/3 to an extremity or the tendons in a limb. Keep rolling damage, though! Further attacks inflict full shock. Should total injury reach twice that needed to cripple a nose or an ear, you bite it off.
Twice the amount to cripple a hand removes a finger (see Missing Digit, p. B144). You can’t remove an entire extremity or limb.

Last edited by Toptomcat; 12-31-2014 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 12-31-2014, 03:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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Originally Posted by Toptomcat View Post
Most biteable hit locations are only available to those using the optional extra hit locations from GURPS MA.
Okay, so that does allow biting to cripple hands and feet, but (as I thought) rules it out for limbs without special targeting.

I'm a bit dubious of allowing a crushing bite to target tendons.
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Old 12-31-2014, 03:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#25): Claws; Spines; Strikers; Teeth

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I'm a bit dubious of allowing a crushing bite to target tendons.
Limb tendons, maybe not. Hand and foot tendons are pretty close to the surface, though.
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