Thursday, February 6, 2014

Melee Academy: Outgunned, Outmanned, and Outmaneuvered – Now What?




Never tell me the odds! No, wait, ignore that – tell me the odds. GURPS combat is slanted towards realism and even in cinematic games this can be felt. Since most player character groups (or parties depending on your GMing style) tend to work together at least someone, most of the time they can accomplish together what they could not alone. But sometimes, that’s not enough. Sometimes you need to work as a team. When you’ve got thirty angry cultists howling for your blood what do you do or say? Well, you say “Not Today,” but that is beside the point. No, you get together with your fellow players and you work out a plan. If the big guy is too-well armored you should probably be targeting the chinks in his armor. If he’s too fast you should probably be doing a Deceptive Attack. And so on. As a GM, I encourage my players to work together and I encourage them to take traits that enable them to do it better. A small list might look like this:


  • High Tactics skill (p. B224; especially using the optional rules from GURPS Martial Arts, p. 60)
  • High Leadership skill (p. B204)
  • High First Aid skill (p. B195)
  • The Teamwork perk (GURPS Power-Ups 3, p. 00 and GURPS Martial Arts, p. 52)
  • The Battle Drills perk (GURPS Tactical Shooting, p. 37)
  • The optional Coordinated Attack rules (GURPS Powers, p. 165)
  • The Rallying Cry Power-Up (Pyramid #3/61 Way of the Warrior, p. 9)
  • The Tactician Power-Up (Pyramid #3/61 Way of the Warrior, p. 9)

Of course, unless there is sufficient reason in their back-stories, I do have them purchase most of those traits during game play (which they almost always do as fast as they can). But back to the question at hand: How do you beat a difficult foe with limited resources? The answer is the same it would be in real life: You cheat. There is no honor in fighting a battle or even an honorable way to fight it. There is no “fair.” There are those who win and those who lose. If the stakes are your life, the only way to win is to stop the other guy before he stops you. To do that, you sometimes have to fight dirty (see Dirty Tricks GURPS Martial Arts, p. 76 and B405). Owing to the fact that I have zero traditional fighting expertise (I don’t know any slick style of martial arts or the like – maybe a little boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling from long ago) and the fact that I learned how to fight by being a bouncer at night clubs as young as 14…you might see why I feel this way. Regardless, it’s something I’ve found to be true pretty much across the board. If you’re outmatched you can make up for it by being sneaky and mean. This translates well to GURPS and in my experience most players will opt for dirty tricks, deceptive attacks, or whatever it takes when they are faced with an opponent that they just cannot be in matches of pure skill, strength, etc. When the chips are down you might even try more desperate option like…

  • … performing an All-Out Attack (Determined) on a high-value target (Vitals, Eyes, or Skull)
  • … performing an All-Out Attack (Strong) to try and inflict enough damage to inflict a major wound, knockdown, or stunning.
  • …performing a Deceptive Attack to bring skill to 10 (always a risky move in my experience).

Of course, all of this assumes you’re being aggressive – and you should be unless you are specifically trying to tire your target out (which actually doesn’t translate too well in GURPS). You might want to check out
the following blogs for this month’s Melee Academy:

Melee Academy: Dealing With Superior Foes (Dungeon Fantastic)

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