Melee Academy: Hostile Diplomatic Relations (or “How to Disarm With Words Instead of Swords”)

“Drop. Your. Sword.” If there is anything more iconographic of a threat resulting in the disarmament of an opponent it’s the near final scene of Princess Bride. In my mind, there’s not much more powerful than the moment where Wesley/The Man in Black has nothing left to fight with but his wit and it’s more than a enough. So how to do that in GURPS? Well, I’ve got a few ideas.

Disarming by Threat
Intimidation feels like a natural fit when forcing someone to self-disarm. The GM could rule that this might be a result for a particularly impressive margin of success or, alternatively, he might use the following, optional, rules for Intimidation. Use the normal results for Knocking a Weapon Away (p. B401), but instead make an Intimidation roll at -5 vs. the target’s Will with the following modifiers:

Add +2 if you have a weapon with a Reach of 2+ or a longarm (e.g., rifle, shotgun, etc.) and your target only has a Reach C weapon or pistol.
Add +1 if you have a Reach 1 weapon or mid-sized firearm (e.g., PDW or carbine) and your target only has a Reach C weapon or pistol.
If you and your target have weapons with comparable range, add +0, but add a further +2 if you have a firearm or similiar ranged weapon and they do not.
Specious Intimidation (p. B202) adds a +3, but failure also means your attempt to make your target drop his weaponry automatically fails in addition to other effects.
Subtract the reaction bonus for Reputations that involve bloodthirstiness or similiar themes, but add the reaction bonus as a bonus for Reputations involving mercy or honor. Similar traits may be substituted if the GM feels they are appropriate (e.g., Vow (Keeps Word Once Given) might add if you give the target your word they will come to no harm). Regardless, you can only ever gain a +4 from this or suffer a -4 penalty.

Success means the target throws his weapon away. Success by five or more means he prepares to be taken prisoner (GM determines how).

Picking Over the Bones
The rules for disarming by social skill may be avaialble to everyone or may require a perk (just like Feints based on Influence Skills or Acrobatics). As with all things, that’s the GMs call. Overall, I think the above works pretty well, but I’d be interested in hearing how others might want to do “disarm by social skill.” Of course, this does bring up an interesting thought: how to disarm someone by using Sleight of Hand? That’s exactly the sort of thing a PC would try in one of my games. “I’m a stage magician, I’m going to get close enough and then steal the slide of his pistol.” I suppose that would be a combination of Sleight of Hand and Holdout. Hmmm. Ideas….

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  1. Looks like something out of a western.
    Sheriff Mcgee flips open his jacket revealing his pistol.
    "you wanna drop your gun or ya want me to shoot ya?"

  2. I love the analogy to Knocking a Weapon Away but with Intimidation vs. Will.

    For the same sort of thing for Slight of Hand, I'd have the opposing skill be Perception-based Holdout.

  3. "Instant Arsenal Disarm," but there's a Krav Maga video out there showing how grabbing the front of a semi-auto pistol is actually a useful thing to do with one or two hands. It'll fire (once), but then won't go into battery afterwards. It's not a Disarm, but it's absolutely an Unready.

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