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Old 04-03-2023, 12:30 PM   #1
Shostak
 
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: New England
Default Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

Available at the low IQ of 7, Brawling essentially buffs unarmed attacks, but it has the additional benefit of letting someone with the talent be able to improvise a weapon to function like a club or throwable stone. "Friendly" brawling damage is boosted by 1, and unfriendly is boosted by 2, so a ST 11 figure can punch for 1d damage. Brawling gives one a chance to "keep a brawl friendly," whatever that means, with the caveat that if a Brawler utilizes the +2 damage, the fight is automatically "unfriendly".

Brawling comes across to me as not fully thought out. The concept of "friendly" brawls seems like it is meant to support characters acting like immature jerks in pubs and inns. I can't say that I've ever witnessed a brawl in which the combatants were not doing their darnedest to hurt others and come out on top. The improvised weapon benefit breaks credulity; does one really need a talent to be able to use a table leg as a club, or to throw an earthenware beer stein as though it were a stone? The rules also do not state if Brawling stacks with Unarmed Combat (the UC description only states that higher-level UC talents replace rather than stack with their lower-level prerequisites), which I have seen lay the foundation for some protracted arguments between GMs and players. For my part, I go with the spirit--rather than letter--of the rules; I don't think they are meant to stack.

Despite my criticisms, Brawling is a useful talent for characters who are built around a concept that precludes their ability to learn Unarmed Combat yet who are likely to find themselves in unarmed combat situations, and it crops up with some frequency in games I GM or run a character in.

Brawling might be usefully tweaked by keeping the damage at +1, but letting a character have a higher functional MA (+2?) for the purpose of determining HTH eligibility. Perhaps a second level of Brawling might be available that gives a +1 to hit or replaces the damage bonus with +2, and/or gives the figure some other HTH benefit like rolling 3d to disengage. Or perhaps it lets one punch twice per turn as though they had Two Weapons.

Conversation starters
  • How often do you choose Brawling for your characters or NPCs?
  • Do you use Brawling as-is, or have you found tweaks that make it better for your style of game?
  • What are your thoughts about "friendly" brawls?
  • When Brawling is used in your games, is it ever for just the +1 damage?
  • What are your thoughts on the Brawling/UC stacking debate?
  • Have you found other talents or spells that work especially well when combined with Brawling?
  • Has Brawling ever been decisive in a melee in on of your games? If so, share details!
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Old 04-03-2023, 12:51 PM   #2
hcobb
 
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Pacheco, California
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

  • Stacking of Brawling with Unarmed Combat covered at Hexagram #9, p 3.
  • Can a Naturalist fight dirty against non-humanoid figures?
  • How does Brawling work for gargoyles, reptile women, and dragons?
  • Is Brawling required for club use (for figures who lack Ax/Mace)?
  • Do brawlers engage (armed, unarmed, animals?), or is that restricted to UC I?
  • Can brawlers defend and if so against what?
  • Even with the dirty fighting bonus Brawling is never better than an ordinary dagger and worse than a club in combat and will find themselves pinned in one turn by a UC I and executed the next turn.
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Old 04-03-2023, 01:09 PM   #3
JimmyPlenty
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

Very much liking the idea of 3/DX to disengage HTH.

The effective MA+2 boost (for entering HTH only) is good as well.

I think the friendly fisticuffs is like the Irish bareknuckle contests. They have beef, but are not trying to kill each other. They are just "having it out". So that means, in any other bar fight, it's +2 damage, which changes how powerful the skill is.
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Old 04-03-2023, 01:12 PM   #4
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
Brawling comes across to me as not fully thought out.
Indeed, at least in terms of the mechanics having appropriate values.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
The concept of "friendly" brawls seems like it is meant to support characters acting like immature jerks in pubs and inns. I can't say that I've ever witnessed a brawl in which the combatants were not doing their darnedest to hurt others and come out on top.
Oh, I have. I've had people thrown at me several hexes across a bar room, and caught them, but they weren't actually injured by it. Fights, especially between hot-headed and drunk people, are often limited to some sort of contest, and then may or may not escalate (though it's not just two levels). I've seen many people think they're fighting as best they can, but not really trying to seriously injure or kill each other, even if they weren't thinking about the distinction. It's a big distinction, and one that's already partly captured in the Taking Prisoners rule (which Brawling's rules don't seem to me to have been considering).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
The improvised weapon benefit breaks credulity; does one really need a talent to be able to use a table leg as a club, or to throw an earthenware beer stein as though it were a stone?
No. Rocks and improvised weapons can be tried by anyone. The rules in Brawling tell the GM to let players do it easily, leaving it up to them to figure out where the bottles, mugs, and broken furniture are, and what non-Brawlers can do with them, exactly.

I think that should vary, and I think it's sort of ok to leave that to the GM (but it could also be developed into much more consistent guidelines for brawls, perhaps for a Hexagram article).

My main gripe is the notion that a Brawler can automatically make a bottle into a dagger, and that that dagger would be as good as a steel dagger (except for throwing), and better, for example, than a bronze dagger, RAW. I don't think improvised bottle weapons should be even as good as a bronze dagger.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
The rules also do not state if Brawling stacks with Unarmed Combat (the UC description only states that higher-level UC talents replace rather than stack with their lower-level prerequisites), which I have seen lay the foundation for some protracted arguments between GMs and players. For my part, I go with the spirit--rather than letter--of the rules; I don't think they are meant to stack.
I agree they're not meant to stack.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
Despite my criticisms, Brawling is a useful talent for characters who are built around a concept that precludes their ability to learn Unarmed Combat yet who are likely to find themselves in unarmed combat situations, and it crops up with some frequency in games I GM or run a character in.
Yeah, conceptually, it makes sense, though I think there are plenty of people who can fight as well unarmed as a bar brawler, who don't have any bar-related social skills. So it seems a bit peculiar to me that Legacy Brawling combines those.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
Brawling might be usefully tweaked by keeping the damage at +1, but letting a character have a higher functional MA (+2?) for the purpose of determining HTH eligibility. Perhaps a second level of Brawling might be available that gives a +1 to hit or replaces the damage bonus with +2, and/or gives the figure some other HTH benefit like rolling 3d to disengage. Or perhaps it lets one punch twice per turn as though they had Two Weapons.
There are all sorts of possibilities for other kinds of combat talents. Personally I'd rather those were broken out rather than put under (bar) Brawling, though.
  • How often do you choose Brawling for your characters or NPCs?
    - Often, when appropriate.

  • Do you use Brawling as-is, or have you found tweaks that make it better for your style of game?
    - I think there has been too much bonus damage creep since basic Melee: +2 is way too much damage, particularly considering steel daggers do only 1d-1, or +3 in HTH. I think bronze daggers need to be significantly better than brawling punches, or else it's not a very good representation of the situation.

  • What are your thoughts about "friendly" brawls?
    - see above

  • When Brawling is used in your games, is it ever for just the +1 damage?
    - yes, and also non-lethal

  • What are your thoughts on the Brawling/UC stacking debate?
    - Definitely non-stacking. The +2 is even way too much, and it would mean all UC fighters are lame unless they have Brawling, etc.

  • Have you found other talents or spells that work especially well when combined with Brawling?
    - Sure. Toughness, Stone Flesh, Shock Shield, Carousing . . .
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Old 04-03-2023, 01:21 PM   #5
timm meyers
 
Join Date: May 2020
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

As a person who prefers rules that support roleplaying over rules that support power gaming, brawling is an obvious defining character choice.
The ruff and tuff merc/thug is good with their fists, head butts, knees while the more educated career soldier/boxer/monk is "trained" in close combat. The big differences are
1. Brawler can make a dagger out of a bottle (no one else can)
2. Brawler gets +2 bonus in damage no matter what armor is worn (UC requires no more than clothe armor can be worn)
3. Brawler cannot "defend" against weapons (and probably shouldn't be allowed to stop enemies in their engagement zones as they are weaponless)

Brawling is not a combat career choice, just nice to have in the occasional argument.
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Old 04-03-2023, 08:21 PM   #6
David Bofinger
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Sydney, Australia
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

I've never seen a tweak to Brawling that works better than deletion. It's just an oops.

I think the Unarmed Combat talents, like Staff, are an egregious example of D&D-like thinking intruding into TFT - ladder climbing with player choice minimised. They and the Brawling abilities should be thrown out and replaced by more of a TFT-like supermarket of talents, along the general line of:
  • Boxing (and Expert Boxing)
  • Wrestling (and Expert Wrestling)
and the specialised skills separated:
  • Nerve Strikes (discount with Physicker for Wong Fei Hung)
  • Disarm?
  • Maybe some kind of improvised weapon talent that lets you make a club out of anything with no penalty (normally improvised clubs are less effective than purpose made ones).
  • Some kind of defensive talent
The talents would start out mundane - you just know how to punch - and at the top levels could be mystical. But it should be possible to be a great boxer or wrestler without being a mystic. If you want to go full Hong Kong movie then add:
  • Mobility talents, leading up to the ability to run on treetops and/or fly on wires.
  • Who knows, maybe the ability to parry spells.
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Old 04-04-2023, 06:21 AM   #7
phiwum
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Boston area
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

The primary concern I have with Brawling is the unmotivated distinction between clean and dirty fighting. There's something to be said for distinguishing a friendly brawl from an unrestrained beatdown, but it should be something closer to the notion of hitting to subdue, but even that should be tweaked so that a friendly brawl doesn't leave one on death's doorstep with weeks of healing required.

But this distinction would be a change primarily to unarmed combat, allowing one to do something like fatigue damage for the most part, with only a percentage of the damage being wounds. I don't know how to give a brawler additional benefit in that case offhand.

I don't like the fact that a brawler can do the same damage as a dagger-wielder in HTH, per RAW. The dagger wielder does ST damage + 3, the brawler does ST damage + 2 (dirty fighting) + 1 (bonus for HTH from ITL 122). It makes Brawling almost a required talent for any fighters, since HTH will happen and Brawling makes failure to draw a dagger inconsequential.

I've never had anyone take the "clean fighting" option even once, but perhaps that's a bit on me as GM. In all the fights I've seen, death of the opponent is almost always the aim and when it's not, then subdual damage with weapons is more effective than HTH or unarmed combat. (Again, changing unarmed combat damage would probably change things, so that trying to take a prisoner doesn't require nigh killing him.)

I haven't found improvised weapons making a difference in my game. In HTH, due to the dirty fighting bonus, a broken bottle provides no benefit at all. I rarely see unarmed combat aside from HTH.
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Old 04-04-2023, 06:25 AM   #8
Rolando
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Panama
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

A friendly brawl is what you do when you don't want to kill someone in a tavern fight, just bruis them a bit.

Also for barabrians and other rough types it may be a more friendly contest, I know I had my share of friendly brawls, no beef at all, just friends punching each other for fun.

I think it is a good flavorful talent with some use for many character concepts.
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Old 04-04-2023, 10:48 AM   #9
phiwum
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Boston area
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolando View Post
A friendly brawl is what you do when you don't want to kill someone in a tavern fight, just bruis them a bit.

Also for barabrians and other rough types it may be a more friendly contest, I know I had my share of friendly brawls, no beef at all, just friends punching each other for fun.

I think it is a good flavorful talent with some use for many character concepts.
Sure, but TFT damage is hardly a bruise. Each point of damage takes two days to heal.

Hence my suggestion (NOT original with me, I think) that most hits in a friendly brawl should be fatigue damage. Maybe brawling should allow that to be all hits are fatigue damage, while in a dirty fight, a greater percentage are wound damage. (The latter, however, is not much of an advantage, since if you intend to kill the person, it doesn't much matter whether you do wound or fatigue damage -- once he's knocked out, he's dead.)
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Old 04-04-2023, 02:16 PM   #10
hcobb
 
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Location: Pacheco, California
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Brawling

Yes, Brawling and Carousing are new in Legacy, but see Adventures-2 for a character based on Carousing. (The half-human.)

https://www.hcobb.com/tft/legacy_first.html#Talents
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