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Martial Arts and Grapple


Evilschemer

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We were making characters last night and this question came up about Martial Arts: What benefit does Martial Arts provide to Grapple?

I mean, Martial Arts doubles damage for Brawl and Melee Weapons, but Grapple only does 1D3 + db damage if you put someone in a hold and decide to do damage. Martial Arts doesn't seem to have any other effect on any other Grapple maneuvers.

Any ideas?

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Christian Conkle

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Well, actually the "martial arts" skill is kind of... Wrong!

From personal experience:

If brawling represent a non trained combatant throwing punches, then i wouldn't let grapple go past 25 or maybe 50% without martial arts. People without grappling training really don't have a clue, and even a novice grappler can defeat a heavier, stronger opponent without much problem, even if such opponent has training in other martial arts.

Just my 2 bolgs!

"It seems I'm destined not to move ahead in time faster than my usual rate of one second per second"

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This where GMing comes into play. Remember BRP is not DnD where a rule is written. And since timing is also, was also , different. Things happen faster in combat, lol. And as Icebrand states depending on situation, a "low level" grappler can deal a significant blow to a better trained fighter. Remember a "martial artist" is more effective usually, and the skill is bought, in my campaigns separately. So a wresteler that takes grapple as an art, can grapple normally, unless his roll is under hos MA skill, just an idea.

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You're right, the rules are indicative and cannot cover all the situations. I find the martial art skill in BRPS is very limited and unfinished and even sometimes irrelevant : the authours wanted probably to stay as general as possible for a generic system.

Doubling damage is ok for skills like melee weapons or brawl (kick, punch…), but quite irrelevant for grapple, where the goal is mostly to neutralize a foe. Martial art could be used for increasing speed, fighting in the dark, dodging, ignoring some circumstances or allowing some special effects or deeds, like the Japanese blind archery. It is not always about doing more damage. You could simply state that the grapple effects (p. 61) succeed automatically, or increase their effectiveness, or allow to combine two of them. Or invent some new effects: have a look at the China-settings like The Celestial Empire or Dragon Lines.

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...I find the martial art skill in BRPS is very limited and unfinished and even sometimes irrelevant : the authours wanted probably to stay as general as possible for a generic system...

I think that statement is key and I think it's generic simply because there are a lot of different interpretations of 'martial arts', even in 'real-world' discussions. As I see it, the basic skill simply represents someone who is skilled at inflicting fight-stopping damage, quickly and decisively. Whether that skill is because they've spent years going to a kick-boxing class or been through enough actual fights to keep their head and know what they're doing, it can be applied to almost all settings without causing problems.

For, let's say, a campaign set in Fuedal China, you may want to emphasise this ability and write up different abilities and bonuses for certain schools (bonuses to particular strikes or special combat actions, for instance). Then again, for a campaign set in actual Fuedal China and not the Hong-Kong/Hollywood version of it, you may well want to stick with the basic rules.

This brings up a second problem with writing martial arts rules. People often have widely differing ideas of what that actually means. I, to my own mind at least, think I have a fairly realistic view on it. Training in a dojo/gym/whatever is all well and good but proper fights are far better preparation for being in a fight. I also tend to avoid ascribing quasi-supernatural traits to Eastern martial arts because, well frankly, it's ludicrous.

I'm not saying that studying a martial art is pointless but when considering martial arts you have to accept that boxing and having fights are both martial arts in their own right. They may not be as elegant as Hapkido or Wing-Chun but trust me, simply punching someone in the face is often every bit as effective as delivery an axe-kick or grabbing their pyjamas and flipping them over. It honestly doesn't come down to which art is better (which is something you see a lot of and which is neatly curtailed by the standard BRP system) but things like how good the fighter is, the combat situation itself, who wants the fight more and what they're prepared to do to win.

Now, grappling is slightly different to a standard combat in that you're not aiming to do enough sheer damage to either force a retreat or take someone down but rather trying to force them to submit due to raw pain (as in Aikido/Sytema style joint-locks) or by making it their only option (say, a choke-hold or a full-nelson). I haven't really played about with them but an option to lock someone up and then force a submission (i.e. they stop fighting when you release them) or force them to make CON-related Resistance Rolls or surrender wold make a lot of sense. I can't say I've read the grappling rules in any great detail so this may well already be covered.

Zit: I think we're broadly thinking along the same lines but for the sort of abilities you specifically mentioned (if I was running a game for which that sort of thing was appropriate) I wouldn't use Brawling and Martial Arts as is. Instead you'd have one skill for your pure combat ability (say, Karate) and another for your school (e.g. Shotokan), your school skill would cover all the abilities you listed (perhaps giving Stat bonuses/special abilities at particular thresholds) while the Karate skill would be the equivalent of the standard Martial Arts score and would give you the enhanced damage effects. If I was doing it I'd also probably double the points cost compared to standard skills simply because of the utility you'd get out of it.

Also, thinking about writing up schools like that, you could limit all the 'goofy' abilities to skill thresholds above 100 so you could use the same system to represent both realistic and Wuxia-style abilities.

Hmmm, I may have to give this some thought...

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This brings up a second problem with writing martial arts rules. People often have widely differing ideas of what that actually means. I, to my own mind at least, think I have a fairly realistic view on it. Training in a dojo/gym/whatever is all well and good but proper fights are far better preparation for being in a fight. I also tend to avoid ascribing quasi-supernatural traits to Eastern martial arts because, well frankly, it's ludicrous.

I find the separation between "brawling" and "martial arts" unnecessary/superfluous rules-wise. Really, i can't see why its even there, and any rationalization should be applicable to weapons as well.

I'm not saying that studying a martial art is pointless but when considering martial arts you have to accept that boxing and having fights are both martial arts in their own right. They may not be as elegant as Hapkido or Wing-Chun but trust me, simply punching someone in the face is often every bit as effective as delivery an axe-kick or grabbing their pyjamas and flipping them over. It honestly doesn't come down to which art is better (which is something you see a lot of and which is neatly curtailed by the standard BRP system) but things like how good the fighter is, the combat situation itself, who wants the fight more and what they're prepared to do to win.

Striking-Wise, martial arts are as effective as their training is. It all comes down to how much contact there is. If you pit a boxer with 3 yrs training vs. someone who did 20 yrs of katas or sport (point-based) karate, im sory but im putting my money on the boxer every day. If the martial arts training itself has no contact, i.e. they dont actually HIT each other, its way less effective.

Thats why serious self-defense courses do not teach you how to fight, but how to predict dangerous situations and avoid putting yourself there to start with.

"It seems I'm destined not to move ahead in time faster than my usual rate of one second per second"

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Then again, for a campaign set in actual Fuedal China and not the Hong-Kong/Hollywood version of it,

Its not just decadent, imperialist pig dogs though is it? Chairman Mao was responsible for the Wuxia cinema movement was he not?

My favourite d100 Martial Arts rules are the ones from Elric! No seperate MA skill but when Brawl exceeds 100% then add nother 1d3 damage. Very simple to expand this to weapons, when weapon skill exceeds 100% add one more damage die (Staff becomes 2d8+db for example).

For Grappling: allow (Grapple/5) or (Wrestle/5) to be substituted for Str in resistance rolls. I guess one could limit this to characters whose Wrestle or Grapple skill exceeds 100%

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My question is how Brawl/Grapple and Martial Arts relate to the Unarmed Combat power. If you've got 20-60 power points invested in Unarmed Combat (which does have well-defined in-game results), does it make sense to spend 25-50 more skill points on Martial Arts, too? Theoretically this makes sense, since Batman, et. al., supposedly have intensive training in various combat styles to justify their pugilistic abilities. But from a game mechanics standpoint, is it a waste of points?

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Yes, if it is part of the game world. Let me illustrate from a near similiar situation, in our BRP/SW game. Flitter mouse was up against the evil brick conar. Now flittermouse has MA, and Conar doesnt, also FM is a wee bit quicker. He gets the drop oon Conar, grapples and rolls under his MA for grapple. He now can inflict more damage, if he wants, and few other things besides to the evil villian than a regular character. He holds on to when Conar can respond. His MA allows more "resistance" (not quotes) to Conar break the grapple. Atleast in our world. For instance Conar tries to break the hold, and FM is not putting the screws yet to Conar. He may break the regular grapple BUT, he has to also break against the MA. Again in our world.

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My version of Martial Arts gives an extra attack, not extra damage. That works for Grapple as well as any other 'weapon' type.

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Most rules have these characteristics for any subject:

1. Experts in the field say they don't work and need to be far more complex.

2. Most players find that very complex rules are a turn-off and want simple, easy to use rules.

3. Good rules sit somewhere in between the first two.

BRP works OK for me, but my experience of martial arts was 3 years of Kung Fu, 20 years ago, so I am not an expert.

If you want bells and whistles, use fancy martial arts abilities, as seen in Celestial Empire and Dragon Lines.

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Most rules have these characteristics for any subject:

1. Experts in the field say they don't work and need to be far more complex.

2. Most players find that very complex rules are a turn-off and want simple, easy to use rules.

3. Good rules sit somewhere in between the first two.

BRP works OK for me, but my experience of martial arts was 3 years of Kung Fu, 20 years ago, so I am not an expert.

If you want bells and whistles, use fancy martial arts abilities, as seen in Celestial Empire and Dragon Lines.

Martial arts rules are fine for striking, though they don't have a correspondence on how stuff works irl.

Grappling rules are ok for untrained grapplers, but they need to work with martial arts!

"It seems I'm destined not to move ahead in time faster than my usual rate of one second per second"

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Glad you like the idea! I use it very like straight BRP Martial Arts - roll weapon attack, and if also under that weapon's MA%, they get the bonus. Just, in my version, the bonus is not damage but an extra attack roll (which can also gain further attacks, within limits, naturally). But whatever works for you. :)

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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After reflexion, "martial art" is simpy another way to say "fighting skill". As such, grapple is a martial art, and the rules state that this skill is used for example for judo - a "martial art" if any- or for any other grappling technics. And Brawl is the skill to hit with punches, kicks, head... this is all what Karate, Wushu, kick boxing or Savate are about. Therefore, in a "realistic" setting, WE DON'T NEED THE "MARTIAL ART SKILL" at all. Just use Brawl and Grapple and change the name. Over.

Unless...

Unless you want to play with an imaginary or fantasized conception of martial arts like in Wuxia or Bruce Lee films. Then you have to make your own rules according to what YOU expect from it, like special effects, special powers, special skills or combination. A generic rule about martial arts is therefore not feasible: martial arts belong to a genre.

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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Therefore, in a "realistic" setting, WE DON'T NEED THE "MARTIAL ART SKILL" at all. Just use Brawl and Grapple and change the name. Over.

I have seen several of these comments about fighting techniques. After clarifying that it is your game and you are free to adopt any rule that you desire, I have yet to see such a statement come from a person who actually knows the fighting techniques we are talking about. It is perfectly possible that a Karate Black Belt ends up on the losing side of a street brawl (it happens rather frequently) but this does not mean that "Karate" and "Brawl" are the same skill. In fact, it would suggest the opposite!

I would really like to read an opinion about "imaginary and Wuxia" coming from someone who has trained for a long time in "real life" martial arts. Are you a Black Belt of something, Zit?

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I would like to go out on a radical limb here.

Knowing Maritial Arts allows you to actually inflict damage in bare hand combat, including grapple. Someone who DOES NOT know Martial Arts only inflicts real damage on a critical. Otherwise an opposed roll (rolled "damage" vs. ...) is made against the HP in the location (if using Hit Locations) or against Major Wound (if no locations are used) and a Stun result occurs. I would also consider 1/2 Major Wound, as this value is normally notably higher than location HP.

SDLeary

Edited by SDLeary
refining thoughts
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I have seen several of these comments about fighting techniques. After clarifying that it is your game and you are free to adopt any rule that you desire, I have yet to see such a statement come from a person who actually knows the fighting techniques we are talking about. It is perfectly possible that a Karate Black Belt ends up on the losing side of a street brawl (it happens rather frequently) but this does not mean that "Karate" and "Brawl" are the same skill. In fact, it would suggest the opposite!

I would really like to read an opinion about "imaginary and Wuxia" coming from someone who has trained for a long time in "real life" martial arts. Are you a Black Belt of something, Zit?

I do =)

It is perfectly possible that a karate black belt (or anyone really) loses a "street brawl", but a REAL karate black belt (aka: full contact styles, like kyokushin or uechi ryu) losing vs. an untrained opponent would be a really weird thing. A "mc dojo" black belt? sure, probably anyone can take him since he doesnt actually learn to fight =)

"It seems I'm destined not to move ahead in time faster than my usual rate of one second per second"

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I would just like to mention that untrained does not necessarily mean inexperienced. You can't typically sign up for classes in Brawling at the local gym so a lot of formally trained Martial Artists tend to look down their noses at it as an inferior form of fighting. IMO, that is a mistake.

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I would just like to mention that untrained does not necessarily mean inexperienced. You can't typically sign up for classes in Brawling at the local gym so a lot of formally trained Martial Artists tend to look down their noses at it as an inferior form of fighting. IMO, that is a mistake.

True, in the basic sense. However, most of the Martial Arts do focus on informational items other than the skill itself. Knowing where to hit is as important as the hit itself. Hitting someone in the temple or the throat is generally going to be more effective in taking them out of the fight than a simple punch. I will admit thats probably an oversimplification, but you get the gist.

SDLeary

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I would just like to mention that untrained does not necessarily mean inexperienced. You can't typically sign up for classes in Brawling at the local gym so a lot of formally trained Martial Artists tend to look down their noses at it as an inferior form of fighting. IMO, that is a mistake.

I never, ever, saw an "experienced but untrained" person that fought well. Sure, that person will win vs. an untrained and inexperienced one, and can also kick a poorly trained people, but against a serious martial artist, i doubt it.

And pretty much thats why you don't see hobos winning many boxing / mma contests.

"It seems I'm destined not to move ahead in time faster than my usual rate of one second per second"

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True, in the basic sense. However, most of the Martial Arts do focus on informational items other than the skill itself. Knowing where to hit is as important as the hit itself. Hitting someone in the temple or the throat is generally going to be more effective in taking them out of the fight than a simple punch. I will admit thats probably an oversimplification, but you get the gist.

SDLeary

Sure, hitting soeone in the temple or throat is generally more effective than a simple punch. But why wouldn't an experienced Brawler be able to or know to strike those locations? They would know how effective striking those locations are if they had ever been on the receiving end and I can't think of anything that would make them physically incapable of striking those locations.

I can't think of any reason an experienced Brawler would be incapable of performing any technique that a Martial Artist could. The only real differences I see between the two is where/how they learned their techniques. Its definitely possible for a Martial Artist to know techniques that a Brawler doesn't, but I can't think of any reason a Martial Artist would know any techniques that a Brawler couldn't also know.

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Oh, the brawler could, as they become more experienced, find out that striking certain locations have better results than others; the Martial Artist is generally taught this almost from the beginning. This is why I suggested that someone brawling only do real damage on a critical, while a successful Martial Arts strike could do damage directly.

As far as technique is concerned, the brawler forms their own based on their experience; each probably different in their application. The Martial Artist is taught that of their school. Teaching (or at least guidance) is generally faster and the results cleaner; Martial Artists from the same school having the same or very similar technique, learned sooner.

What I'm trying to say is that the Martial Artist will probably come by the critical information on advantageous locations to strike sooner. This doesn't mean they will apply that information properly. This is represented by Martial Arts being a dual skill, having to succeed in both a brawling AND the Marital Arts skill in the single roll.

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