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Old 12-01-2020, 12:12 PM   #1
EskrimadorNC
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Default Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

I was having a discussion about the utility of the ARM LOCK technique with one of my students who is also a GURPS player. His grasp of the mechanics was a bit different than mine, so I sat down with my books to catalog the rules and improve my understanding of how it all works.

My reason for posting this is two-fold. #1 is to have folks a lot smarter than me sanity check my write-up and let me know if I am making any glaring mistakes and #2 review my conclusions and let me know if I've missed something or if I am way off base. Also, it would be cool to hear from you all about experiences with the Arm Lock technique you've had/seen in your games.

I'm going to run through a scenario twice...once using just GURPS Basic and Martial Arts, and the second time using rules from Technical Grappling.

Our combatants in both scenarios will be PC and NPC. Here are the relevant stats for both characters:

PC
Trained ST: 11, DX 10
Judo: 12, Arm Lock: 16

NPC
Trained ST: 11, DX 10
Brawling: 12

================================================== ======

ARM LOCK MECHANICAL FLOW (GURPS Basic + Martial Arts)

-NPC throws a punch at PC
-PC attempts Retreating Judo Parry (eff skill 12), succeeds
-On his turn, PC steps into CC and Roll Arm Lock to hit (eff skill 16)
-Foe may Parry or Dodge (can retreat)
-If Arm Lock is successful, NPC's arm is trapped and cannot be used
-On NPC's turn, he faces the following
-His locked arm cannot be used unless he manages to Break Free
-Attempt to break Free is a QC of ST
-PC gets +4 in the QC, or +9 if using 2 hands (probably 2 hands)
-Also, NPC faces a -4 to DX for being grappled, though his active defenses are at -4 per the Arm Lock Technique
-NPC can attack PC with his other arm, but suffers a -4 to hit from DX penalty for being grappled (Telegraphic Attack is a good option here)
-If NPC does attack and rolls a hit, PC will have to release one arm from the lock in order to Parry. He can choose to Dodge instead and keep both arms on the Lock, but cannot retreat, regardless of which Active Defense he chooses.


================================================== ======

ARM LOCK MECHANICAL FLOW (Technical Grappling)

-NPC throws a punch
-PC attempts a Grabbing Parry at Parry -3 to establish a low to 0 CP grapple on NPC's arm. Effective Parry skill is 6, or 9 with a Retreat.
-Grabbing Parry succeeds, PC inflicts 1d-4 CP on NPC's arm (most likely 0)
-On PC's turn, Attack with Arm Lock technique (skill 16), Foe can Parry or Dodge
-If successful, roll 1d-1 CP (assume 3 CP) on Arm and NPC's Arm is Locked

On foe's turn, he faces the following
-His locked arm cannot be used unless he succeeds on an Attack to Break free.
-A Break free attack can be "parried" hands free by the PC
-If successful, the Break Freak attack removes 1d-1 CP (about 3)
-If attempted with the Locked Limb and successful, NPC's Arm is now unlocked even if CP remain
-Assuming 3 CP from the Lock, referred control to the rest of the NPC is 1 CP (3/2, round down) which is not enough to inflict any DX/ST penalties.
-NPC can use his other limb to attack PC at no penalty.
-PC cannot do a Hands-Free parry since NPC is striking and not grappling
-PC must Disengage a limb to Parry, lowering Grip ST from 11 to 6, removing 3 CP from the Arm Lock. This would set the CP at 0, but still maintain the lock

================================================== ======


Assuming all of the above is correct, here's my analysis. Please feel free to point out anything I am missing here, or wrong on.

*It seems like TG rules make an Arm Lock more difficult to execute, easier to counter, and less effective at penalizing a locked foe than the rules in Martial Arts do.

*I'll caveat the above by saying that playing with high cinematic characters and turning on stuff like the Quick and Dirty switches make Arm Locks positively brutal under TG.

*Under the Martial Arts rules, breaking free from an Arm Lock seems to be exceedingly difficult unless you are an order of magnitude stronger than your foe, your foe has you locked with a single limb, or both.

*A character suffers considerably heftier penalties when in an Arm Lock under Martial Arts than under Technical Grappling. You would need to inflict 16 CP with the Grabbing Parry + Arm Lock to give a foe a -4 to DX to actions with body parts other than the locked limb, which even exceeds the limits for Maximum CP for a Trained ST of 11.

*Under both sets of rules it seems like attacking your foe is a better option than trying to break free. If you have some skill to spare, making a Telegraphic Rapid Strike looks like the best bet for forcing a Judo character to parry twice and give up a lock. Incidentally, you only need to force a single parry attempt from a Wrestling character to get them to give up the lock. Dodging has a lower margin of success in this scenario, especially since you can't retreat without giving up the lock.

*The Hands-Free Parry option in TG is a great one, but it seems like it should be something you can attempt when you have someone in a Lock and they attempt a striking attack against you. It might be too granular for GURPS, but we use joint manipulation all the time in Eskrima to short-circuit punching, kicking, and Reach-C weapon attacks, and can do so without giving up the Lock. Indeed the joint lock is what allows you to do such defenses in the first place.

I do realize that I used fairly realistic characters in my scenarios, and that PCs with higher ST, higher Trained ST, Higher Skill, and Advantages like Extra Attack and/or Trained by a Master would significantly change the odds, but I wanted to see what this would look like with two fairly mundane characters. Also, it's really clear here how much more debilitating the MA version of Arm Lock is vs the TG version.


Like I said above, please feel free to chime and set me straight on any/all of my write-ups and/or conclusions. Feedback is appreciated.

Last edited by EskrimadorNC; 12-01-2020 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 12-01-2020, 01:49 PM   #2
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

Without going point by point, yeah, the one-second arm lock was tuned down in TG. Note that unlike in basic set grappling, you can continue to attack to increase control in TG, so after a few seconds, maxing out at 12 CP (the skill level in the technique adds +1 to trained ST for arm lock), things do get worse for the other guy, to the tune of -6 to ST and DX.

So "one second, poof, you're immobilized" is off the table in TG somewhat by design (the phrase Arm Lock Reign of Terror was uttered frequently by playtesters).
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Old 12-01-2020, 03:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

As explained on page 119 of Martial Arts, a grappler can use their grappling arms to parry an attack from the person they grappled, without having to let go
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Old 12-01-2020, 03:59 PM   #4
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

Personally, I use none of the rules from TG because I prefer the rules in Basic and Martial Arts. In my opinion, all that the additional rules do is make combat more complex without adding sufficient utility to make it worth the effort. When you compare the two systems, anyone using the former system will be ground into the dirt by someone using the latter system.

When it comes to parrying, another possibility is using Special Setup (No Hands > Karate Parry), such as that provided by Pak Hok, which allows a character to parry with their body rather than their hands. Such a defense could be useful anytime that your hands are full and, if you are attempting to embarrass your opponent, do something non-combat related with your hands during combat like playing the violin. You could even potentially combine that with Special Setup (Karate Parry > Arm Lock), like that provided by Wing Chun, allowing you to parry with no hands into your waiting hands, though you would need to put the violin down.
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

I'm going to take a look at this later when I can process it better, but seeing a thread about arm locks reminded me of the 2nd to last match between Sheamus and Matt Riddle, Sheamus was forcing Riddle's arm behind him in a key lock and an interesting counter Riddle did to that was hooking his grappled arm under his tights.

This prevented Sheamus from pulling Riddle's hand up and deepening the lock. I'd never seen that kind of counter before, very high-IQ sort of thing to choreograph, made me wonder whose idea it was.

You couldn't do something like this without a waistband to grasp, clear equipment advantage here because Riddle's palm was facing away from his body so he couldn't have just grabbed some fur if he was a pantsless gorilla in a kimura.

I don't have the vaguest idea of where to begin classifying such a counter in TG terms...
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:10 AM   #6
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

I use TG without reservations, since I finally got round to reading and understanding the system.

I like it a lot, that a Grapple isn't a binary thing, so you can be more or less grappled, depending on the amount of CP rolled, which again depends on the Trained ST of the grappler.
And I like the fact that you can further improve grapples, and thet Breaking Free isn't binary either but can gradually reduce a grapple (unless the grappler re-applies it), and that you may eventually make a Reversal.
Plus we use Grabbing Parries, to set up grapple moves.

The use of CP can also be used to push or shove a grapples enemy around, bang them into a wall, expose one of their body parts for an allie's attack. It has worked quite well for us.

Personally I like the strong-man type of grappling more than the fancy, technical stuff. So grab and smash, or takedown more than locks or throws.

We play a semi-cinematic Cliffhangers campaign, where some of the grappler are quite good, and can pull off fun stuff. Two other players have also found a fondness for it. One has his character learning it. Two other players accept it but don't use it. And the last player hates it, because it takes time. His character refuses to grapple, but accepts that other do it.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:55 AM   #7
EskrimadorNC
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Personally, I use none of the rules from TG because I prefer the rules in Basic and Martial Arts. In my opinion, all that the additional rules do is make combat more complex without adding sufficient utility to make it worth the effort. When you compare the two systems, anyone using the former system will be ground into the dirt by someone using the latter system.
You aren't the only person that feels that way, and in fact a lot of folks that I game with feel that way about GURPS in general. Like anything else, it helps if you take the time to read through the rules more than once, and do some play testing so you can understand the flow.

I disagree about the part for not adding any utility. Let me call out 3 things specifically that the book adds that carry TONS of value:

1. Relative Facing and the ability to combine a movement to a foe's side/rear arc with an attack/grapple while in CC. Not only does this mimic my IRL in training with standing grappling techniques, it makes it easier to pull off grappling techniques and harder for your foe to counter-attack you. This is a HUGE benefit to grappler characters who were previously forever stuck in a foe's Front Arc under previous rules.

2. Spending CP to reduce hit location penalties. Again, this matches up with RL, and make strikes to the Face/Neck/Vitals/Groin much easier to pull off once you have established a grapple first. This is also a big points saver as you don't have to buy up Targeted Attack for each skill and target that you want to hit on the regular.

3. Spending CP to increase striking damage. This is another big one for me, especially since I like Grab & Smash. In Martial Arts, you get a +2 to damage for following up a grapple with a strike. In TG, you get a +1 to damage for every CP you spend when you do the same. With this rule, even relatively low ST characters can land devastating strikes on foes. A ST 10 Judo/Brawling character that has 6 CP on a foe can spend them all to throw a 1d+4 cr punch...that's the same average brawling punch damage as a dude with a 19 ST.

If you take nothing else at all out of TG, those three things are totally worth, and can really change how unarmed/grappling fights pan out at the table.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:28 AM   #8
EskrimadorNC
 
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdru View Post
As explained on page 119 of Martial Arts, a grappler can use their grappling arms to parry an attack from the person they grappled, without having to let go
Thanks for pointing that out. I totally missed it. Here's the specific text in question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GURPS MARTIAL ARTS Pg 119
If your attack roll succeeds, your opponent can try any close-combat parry with a free hand; a Jam, if you kicked; a grappling skill parry with the arms he’s using to hold you; or a dodge. The last two options represent shoving you aside. If he fails, you inflict your usual damage.
That would seem to allow hands-free parries using a grappling skill. However, I am concerned about the last bit that I highlighted and underlined. "Shoving you aside" could very well translate into a broken grapple. I don't see any clarity on that in the same section, so it would probably be up to the GM. In my games, I feel like this sort of parry via body control makes sense, and would allow it. But I'm not positive that Martial Arts gives you a carte blanche to do so, however, without giving up the grapple.
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Old 12-02-2020, 08:18 AM   #9
EskrimadorNC
 
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
Without going point by point, yeah, the one-second arm lock was tuned down in TG. Note that unlike in basic set grappling, you can continue to attack to increase control in TG, so after a few seconds, maxing out at 12 CP (the skill level in the technique adds +1 to trained ST for arm lock), things do get worse for the other guy, to the tune of -6 to ST and DX.

So "one second, poof, you're immobilized" is off the table in TG somewhat by design (the phrase Arm Lock Reign of Terror was uttered frequently by playtesters).
First off, I want to thank you for replying directly to this. It's really cool how you and a few other GURPS writers are so engaged on this forum, and it really helps to be able to discuss stuff like this with the actual creators.

So while I agree that the one-second immobilization Arm Lock from GURPS Basic/Martial Arts is a little over the top, I feel like TG maybe goes too far in the other direction.

Sure, after 3 seconds of attacking to improve your grip, you'd have 12 or so CP on the other guy. But during those 3 seconds, he's also punched you 3 times. That's a problem both IRL, and at the gaming table.

With the system I train in, we always work on short time scales. Trying to hold a lock or trap for too long will get you punched or countered. We work positioning and angles (i.e. relative facing in TG) to minimize counter attack threats, but also try to avoid too much "2 for 1" (I use two of my hands to tie up only one of the other guy's, so he has a free hand to hit me with).

Outside of grapple-only sparring or sports matches, it just doesn't seem practical to grapple in a manner where your opponent gets essentially free shots at you unless you give up some or all of the grapple to defend.

In addition, we generally work the kinds of grabs/locks where we can use the grapple itself to short-circuit potential strikes, essentially performing a hands-free parry. We even work to weight foe in such a manner as to disrupt his ability to throw a kick or knee strike.

From a Tabletop gaming perspective, you run into the same issue. While I agree that going from a Grab to a Lock to a Throw from a Lock normally takes more than 1 second IRL, the nature of GURPS combat, with it's turn-based "you go -> I go -> you go -> I go" mechanics means your player is at significant risk with any set of maneuvers that takes more than 1 turn.

At least with Basic/Martial Arts, you can get the arm lock on instantly on your turn after a Judo/Wrestling Parry, and it's disruptive enough to make it easier to weather 1 turn of attempted attacks/counters from your foe before you do damage or execute a throw. With TG, it's gets really risky. If you grab the arm, there likely isn't enough referred control to provide meaningful penalties to your foe when he decides to punch you with his other hand. If you manage to survive that without giving up the grab or having to release one hand to Parry, then you can perform a lock, adding CP. Again, that doesn't do very much to your foe other than immobilize one arm (which is very good), and maybe face him with a -1 or so on that next punch which is coming. God forbid he perform a Telegraphic Rapid Strike on both turns. In that case, you either have to completely give up the grab/lock, give up one hand and hope you can absorb the multiple parry penalties, or risk Dodges which will likely still be low in spite of the bonus you get from your foe doing a Telegraphic Atk.

I think when most players, myself included think of a skilled character performing an Arm Lock (followed by a Knee Strike and a Kiss the Wall), they think of something like this.

The Parry happens at 1:16, the Arm Lock at 1:17, the Knee Strike at 1:18, and Kiss the Wall at 1:19. While you could make an argument for a Stun happening somewhere in there, none of that sequence would work if the bad guy got to make 2 - 3 punches in the middle of it.

I'm not saying The Raid is realistic, but in my experience, this is what most players are looking for when they build capable modern Martial Artists in GURPS (see also The Accountant, Atomic Blonde, John Wick 1-3, The Bourne Identity, etc.). To be able to pull off stuff like this in TG, you need a very strong character with very high skills, points in several techniques, and either the Cranking it Up or Quick and Dirty switches in TG. And even then, you still run the risks I outlined above.

For what it's worth, I think the Technical Grappling book is a masterpiece, and there are tons of components that I love (spending CP for dmg/lowering hit penalties, more details on armed grappling, relative facing, etc.). I just think it reduces the utility of a previously overpowered technique to one of almost uselessness outside of a sporting competition.

Has it come up in any of your games since TG was published, and how did it work out?
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Old 12-02-2020, 09:46 AM   #10
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Arm Lock with and without Technical Grappling rules

My reply got too long, so it's broken into two pieces...which naturally appear on two pages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EskrimadorNC View Post
Outside of grapple-only sparring or sports matches, it just doesn't seem practical to grapple in a manner where your opponent gets essentially free shots at you unless you give up some or all of the grapple to defend.
As a broad statement, I'd of course agree. The point is to leverage your grapple and position to deny free shots. This means taking certain steps in game terms to mimic what you want to see happen.

Quote:
In addition, we generally work the kinds of grabs/locks where we can use the grapple itself to short-circuit potential strikes, essentially performing a hands-free parry. We even work to weight foe in such a manner as to disrupt his ability to throw a kick or knee strike.
That is a "weight advantage" from TG. Hands-free parries are part of both TG and MA, and an important part of leveraging the CP from an arm lock. So is exploiting relative position - this is given a drive-by mention on p. 18.

Quote:
From a Tabletop gaming perspective, you run into the same issue. While I agree that going from a Grab to a Lock to a Throw from a Lock normally takes more than 1 second IRL, the nature of GURPS combat, with it's turn-based "you go -> I go -> you go -> I go" mechanics means your player is at significant risk with any set of maneuvers that takes more than 1 turn.

At least with Basic/Martial Arts, you can get the arm lock on instantly on your turn after a Judo/Wrestling Parry, and it's disruptive enough to make it easier to weather 1 turn of attempted attacks/counters from your foe before you do damage or execute a throw. With TG, it's gets really risky. If you grab the arm, there likely isn't enough referred control to provide meaningful penalties to your foe when he decides to punch you with his other hand.
This is probably realistic unless you slide around to the guy's side or rear arc. If a fighter just stands there in the front hexes, he's going to get kicked or punched.

But if you're doing a grabbing parry, you get two chances back-to-back. You parry and secure a few control points - usually not many. But then it's your turn, and you get the opportunity to attack into an already-established grapple with a Lock. That lock:

* Is usually bought up, since of course you buy up Arm Lock. If you buy it up to Skill+4, you'll also benefit from an extra point of Trained ST regardless of your chosen skill, since all skills get +1 to Trained ST at DX+4 (Wrestling gets +3!), and if you were already high in skill, you get another +1 for each 3 points of relative skill.

* You suffer no hit location penalties, because you've already grappled that location. So one of the biggest sinks of skill (overcoming location penalties, even though they're usually halved for grapples), is not operating against you.

* You are attacking, and so can and should leverage change position to slide into the side arc (rear if you can). If this is successful, they defend against your lock at a further -2. Attacking into your side arc (for the bad guy) is at -5 AND skill is capped at 9: it's considered a Wild Swing. So you're at -5 to DX to punch, -7 to DX to kick, and both skills are capped at 9. You can also spend CP to reduce his skill roll even further, or boost your own defenses.

* Attack to gain extra CP, which impact the guy's actions next turn.

* If you're much more skilled than the other guy, you should leverage the Riposte option (MA pp. 124-125) to make it even harder for your foe to resist your follow-on arm lock on your turn.

Overall, if the sequence for a prospective joint lock is "I grabbing parry, stay in front of my foe, arm lock, still stay in front of my foe, wait for his attack, arm lock again STILL staying in front of my foe, etc." then the fighter is not exploiting all of their options.

The key one to not getting biffed by the other guy is achieving the side arc. This is - perhaps usefully - subsumed into many things in non-TG GURPS, but it's available, and really important to avoid the kind of counter attack you're describing. Making your foe's attacks at -5/Wild Swing is a big deal.
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