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Old 01-31-2014, 09:31 AM   #1
JMason
 
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Default [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

So a new player joined my DF game and rolled up a Martial Artist. I warned him that (1) MA is not something I've every really done much in all my years of GMing, and (2) I felt that he was going to be under powered compared to the rest of the group. But, as I often do, I looked over his sheet gave some feedback and said that we would see how it plays then adjust.

Then he was killed in the second round of his first combat.

So... I took a closer look at the template, and I just don't see how you make an effective Martial Artist.

First, he wanted to go with "fists and feet", and I understand the issues there. But beyond that. The template gives (for DF), low ST, HP, HT, and defenses. So survival is already an issue. Enhanced Defense should be mandatory IMO.

The "strength" of the character seems to be in the special skills granted from TbaM, but requiring a bunch of these instead of just a couple with lots of points makes them mostly useless in combat. Combined with most of them based on IQ, Will, Per, or HT (only 5 are DX based) means that there is no way to buy them up to effective levels. And since many of these take a -10 to use instantly, -5 for one second, means that a skill of less than 17 isn't worth it.

Maybe I am way off base here, but I feel like the MA needs 50+ CP in order to start to get to where he can match the other templates in survivablity, combat utility, or anything other than some need tricks running and jumping after meditating for half a minute.

So, does anyone have any tips or examples of an effective 250 MA? Preferably one that take the Vow(Always fight unarmed).
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

I've found that, oddly enough, the Martial Artist is most suited to a ranged weapons role. Throwing Art is a very good skill, and it gives them a bonus to damage. If they use boomerangs, they can deal much more damage than the party Scout.

Here is a sample ranged specialist I made. I know it's not much help in the feet-and-fists department, but it is an idea.
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

The original template was meant to be hard to play . . . a bit like the monk in AD&D First Edition. In fact, exactly like that – you're correct in your opinion that it's a template that needs 50 points to get going. If you dislike that or believe it's too silly, allow Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups abilities right from character creation (or even look into the ones in Pyramid #3/61: Way of the Warrior). It can also help to make the campaign more fists-friendly by treating barehanded attacks as weapon attacks for anybody with Trained by a Master, so that there's no downside to punching a corrosive slime or being parried by a swordsman.
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

Well.....

Assuming that your player doesn't want to use weapons, that alters two considerations:

First, you can't do the ranged weapons specialist just posted.

Second, you are giving up on swing damage, which is much more effective than thrust damage, as well as most easy access to damage types like cutting and impaling.

So, if your player wants to give up easy access to a lot of damage sources, they are going to be automatically unable to keep up in the damage-dealing department. That's just a given.

In addition, DF templates aren't all equally optimized for combat effectiveness, anyway. Thieves, for instance, just aren't the guys who are supposed to be hauling their weight in a fight (avoiding one, or ending before it starts, maybe).

However, having said that:

Take DR 2 (Chi, Tough Skin). You can still wear some light armor, as well, to give some protection.

Combat Reflexes will boost all of your defense rolls.

Take Enhanced Parry, at least.

Consider allowing Feverish Defense (and take Breath Control if you do allow optional fatigue uses in combat).

Make frequent use of the Retreat bonus.

Since your player has chosen to relinquish easy sources of damage (melee weapons and missile weapons), they should probably focus less on Karate and more on Judo. Since you admit that you haven't done much with Martial Arts, this may be a challenge, but someone needs to develop a good familiarity with the rules and options (not Technical Grappling level, necessarily, but at least the options in Martial Arts itself). Throws, trips, grapples, locks, etc., become very much more important.

This also means that your Martial Artist needs to be a team player. If you have a damage dealer (Warrior, etc.), then trip and disarm people so she can kill them. If you have a wizard or other fragile but potent caster, throw and trip people to keep them away from the glass cannon.

Also, given that straight massive damage isn't an option for this type of character (given the restrictions), the player (and you, unfortunately) will need to be knowledgeable about hit locations and crippling thresholds. You don't need huge damage if you can rapid strike feint and rake to the eyes. It doesn't matter how much DR someone has on their chest if you cripple their arm with a good joint lock.

Especially for DF, where the standard 'death dealers' put out huge totals of hp damage through multiple high dice attacks, this type of martial artist is going to be a finesse character, bordering on finicky. Assuming, however, that as a GM, you don't send them up against a bunch of golems all the time (or anything else with uniform DR and no vital spots), I think it can be effective. It is just going to require more system mastery to do so.


Also, I'm not sure about low defenses. Just throwing one together, I can easily hit an 11 dodge and 14 parry, without using Retreat or Feverish Defense. It's not HIGH defenses, but it doesn't seem low (for someone not using a shield or buckler--which, technically, he could do).
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

You might also throw in Striker (Limb) as a power up or base option, letting him convert his arms and legs into strikers (and thus avoid damage when parrying and being parried). Doesnt help with caustic slimes though.

You can get a LOT of mileage out of using Judo Throw off of a high Judo Parry. Lay em down in front of the Knight, thats -4 to their attacks and defenses for being on the ground.

Against stuff too big to throw (which... by RAW is nothing, but still), spending a few seconds to build up breaking blow or power blow can still let the MA do something. Breaking Blow, in fact, is a bread and butter TBaM skill, given the (5) armor divisor and ability to make Golems Fragile (Brittle). Shatter their arms and legs!

Kiai is another good defensive skill, especially against low-will opponents.

Powerblow is kind of a non-combat skill until much later in your career, Id avoid it. Use Breaking Blow, Pressure Points, and Kiai. Push can be nice too.
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

I have used the martial artist template several times, and like others have said, finesse is key.

High acrobatic skill to do acrobatic dodges, combined with retreats that's +5 to dodge!

Using the evade skill (based off acrobatics or judo) to get behind opponents and then judo throw or sweep them. Arm lock and locks in general.

Pressure points, breaking blow, and kiai are the best as said.

This template needs a player who knows the rules for combat inside and out, and can make tactical decisions.

A martial artist can take out several goons on their own if they plan it right!
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:12 AM   #7
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

If it's truly imperative to go with a baseline martial artist for this, you want to look at something along these lines:

ST 11 [10]; DX 16 [120]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 12 [20].
Damage 1d/2d-1*; BL 24 lbs.; HP 11 [0]; Will 11 [5]; Per 10 [0]; FP 12 [0].
Basic Speed 7.00 [0]; Basic Move 8 [5]; Move 8 (No Encumbrance).

Dodge†: 11 (13 w. Acrobatics); Parry†‡ 14 (Karate), 13 (Judo), 13 (vs. missiles).

Punch 1d+2 (w. gauntlets); Kick 1d+3 (w. boots).
Power Blow (Striking ST 26): Punch 2d+6 (w. gauntlets); Kick 2d+7 (w. boots).

Advantages: Chi Talent 2 [30]; Combat Reflexes† [15]; Damage Resistance 2 (Chi, -10%; Tough Skin, -40%) [5]; Enhanced Parry 1 (Unarmed)‡ [5]; Signature Gear (Dwarven Heavy Gauntlets) [1]; Striking ST 2 (Chi, -10%)* [9]; Trained by a Master [30].

Disadvantages: Disciplines of Faith (Chi Rituals) [-10]; Overconfidence (12) [-5]; Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions) [-5]; Stubbornness [-5]; Vow (Always fight unarmed) [-15]; Wealth (Struggling) [-10].

Quirks [-5]

Skills: Acrobatics (H) DX-1 [2]-15; Climbing (A) DX-1 [1]-15; First Aid (E) IQ [1]-10; Judo (H) DX [4]-16; Jumping (E) DX [1]-16; Karate (H) DX+2 [12]-18; Meditation (H) Will-1 [2]-10; Running (A) HT-1 [1]-11; Stealth (A) DX-1 [1]-15; Tactics (H) IQ [4]-10; Throwing (A) DX-1 [1]-15.

Special Skills: Breaking Blow (H) IQ+1 [2]-11; Flying Leap (H) IQ+1 [2]-11; Immovable Stance (H) DX+1 [2]-17; Kiai (H) HT+1 [2]-13; Parry Missile Weapons (H) DX+1 [2]-17; Power Blow (H) Will+3 [8]-14; Push (H) DX+1 [2]-17. All include +2 for Chi Talent.

Equipment: Boots (DR 3; $80; 2.25 lbs.); Heavy Leather Leggings (DR 3; $60; 3 lbs.); Heavy Leather Sleeves (DR 3; $50; 1.5 lbs.); Leather Armor (DR 3; $100; 7.5 lbs.); Leather Helm (DR 3; $20; 0.38 lb.); Ordinary Clothing ($0; 2 lbs.); Dwarven Heavy Gauntlets (DR 7; Signature Gear; 2.25 lbs.). Suit of armor has Fortify +1 DR ($50) and Lighten -25% ($50). Add DR 2 to all armor for Tough Skin. Total: $410 ($90 unspent); 18.88 lbs. (No Encumbrance).
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:26 AM   #8
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

Tactics-wise, my sample character wants to focus on crowd-control of mooks. He can easily use Rapid Strike to hurl two attacks at skill 15 every turn; if the GM is cool with more than two attacks for Trained by a Master, that's three at skill 12, easy. If the mooks are too tough to hurt, Push is only a level lower than Karate and can send even fairly strong fodder sprawling.

His defenses are good and, more important, numerous. He could parry once with either hand at 14 using Karate, then dodge with his retreat bonus at 14, then dodge with Acrobatics at 13, and then parry again with either hand at 12 (only -2 thanks to Trained by a Master), which ought to stand him in good stead against hordes of kobolds, rats, and other fodder. If they hurl spears, even better – Parry Missile Weapons defends at +4 (17), so he could parry two at 17, two more at 15, etc. thanks to Trained by a Master.

When confronting a boss, he'd be well-advised to rely on his friends and Concentrate for a few turns to get the Power Blow penalty down to -4 or -3, and then throw a Deceptive Attack with Karate. If the boss is a low-IQ brute, he might use Kiai first to mentally stun the thing (good luck with that IQ roll, monster!) and then concentrate. If the boss is under ST 20, it might be more effective to use Push to knock him down instead. Or heck, do both.

He isn't a soft target. Leather armor (DR 2), an enchantment (DR 1), and natural DR with Tough Skin (DR 2) give him DR 5 most everywhere. His Signature Gear gauntlets make that DR 9 on the hands. I don't really see him easily ending up crippled.

Finally, don't ignore Move 8, Acrobatics-15, and Jumping-16. See Speed is Armor! (Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 12) for details.
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

Overall, I agree with the OP: starting Martial Artists are a bit weaker than other fighter types. However, there a few mitigating factors:
--I have used Kromm's house rule with some success: if a character has TbaM, treat his fists and feet as if they were weapons. This goes a long way toward helping the unarmed Martial Artist.
--Don't overlook Kiai. It's HT-based and doesn't take crazy modifiers. I've ruled that it works on almost every type of enemy (because everything has chi, and a Kiai disrupts your chi. Or something.) Also, it counts as an attack, so if you have Extra Attack, you can use one attack to stun an enemy and the next to take advantage of that stun with an attack.
--Let Martial Artists use Backstabbing (DF2:11-12), along with the Thief. Don't let other templates use Backstabbing even if they have Stealth.
--Every once in a while, but the PCs in a "bar fight" or other scenario where they are unarmed. There, the MA shines...
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Old 01-31-2014, 03:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: [DF] Help making an effective Martial Artist

Thanks for all the help! This is definitely a case where I (the GM) didn't know enough about the role and what are the best TbaM skills. I feel a lot better about the template now, and what it can an can't do.
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