This should be easier! (image source)

2018-04-09 Update: After receiving some feedback from Douglas Cole, who wrote the original Technical Grappling rules, I’ve updated this article to better handle people with wildly varying SMs and ST scores. I believe the resulting rules can still be considered “Quick and Dirty” :).

As I mentioned in my previous post, I like the Technical Grappling rules on principle but find them way too detailed for most games in practice. Here’s my attempt to simplify them into something I can use.

My main goal here is to completely eliminate on-the-fly ST adjustments from the game. In my experience, nothing has ever reduced the pacing of my games to a screeching halt like having to look up someone’s new damage dice and recalculate all their attacks. This is not just a Technical Grappling issue, but since that is the topic of the day let’s stick to it.

Referred Control as written also has to go, because it involves a similar amount of “recalculate everything right now”.

Any references to “the book” below refer to GURPS Technical Grappling, and the “core rules” are the ones from GURPS Characters and Campaigns.

Trained ST

This is gone. It’s one more thing to track for each individual skill and it raises too slowly to make any difference for most games.

Use the Wrestling bonus from the core rules for that skill and ignore the concept for the others. Buy Lifting ST instead.

Grappling Attacks and Damage

Grappling still does Control Point damage, because that’s the core of the system! CP damage is annotated as “control” in attack stat lines.

All unarmed grappling attacks inflict CP damage equal to the “thrust” value for your ST. Lifting ST improves your ST for this purpose and so does the Wrestling bonus when using that skill. Add +1 damage for each limb used beyond the first two. If attacker’s SM is larger than that of the target, apply the difference as a control damage bonus as well.

Armed grappling works mostly like in the book, except you always use your full ST to calculate control damage. Entangling weapons use your base skill level instead (not the effective one for that specific attack). This allows you to write the control damage for your armed grapples once and not worry about it later on, similar to how normal attacks work.

Any monster whose attacks “automatically count as a successful grapple” in things like Dungeon Fantasy do linked control damage equal to the basic damage of their attack. So if that Giant Enemy Crab has claws that do 2d+2 cut, they now also do 2d+2 control!

Grapplers can still only maintain a maximum amount of CP equal to their ST.

Control Threshold

Every creature has a Control Threshold (CT) equal to their ST/5, rounded down to the nearest whole number. This determines how easy it is to impair that character’s movements via grappling. In relatively “realistic” games with human-scale characters, 99% of people will have a CT of 2, and the remaining slabs of pure muscle will have a CT of 3. Things can get quite a bit more varied in Dungeon Fantasy or other fantastical games.

Write this down once during character creation, and only worry about changing it if your permanent ST changes.

Effects of Control Points

Every (CT) Control Points applied to a target translate into a -1 penalty to DX1. If the target’s torso or head is being grappled this applies to all their actions. If a limb is being grappled, the full penalty applies to any actions involving that limb. Half the penalty applies to all other actions. Treat grapples to multiple locations as a single grapple to the torso with their combined CP.

In the example from page 6 of Technical grappling, that would give our pal And’Rezik a total of 13 CP on his target. It’s only 2 CP less and you didn’t need to halt your fight for 5 minutes to figure that out!

Control points can be spent in the same ways as in the book, and grappled targets can attempt to erode them with their own grapple attacks subject to the DX penalty, as usual.

That’s All, Folks!

That’s pretty much it. I haven’t actually tested this system in play, but it’s what I’m going to use in the next game I run where grappling is a thing. I’m sure I’ve missed some edge cases from the original book, but if those ever become a problem I’ll address them at that time.

  1. Creatures whose CT rounds down to 0 take -2 DX per CP applied to them.