Monday, January 7, 2019

House Rule: Melee Weapon Skills

When it comes to weapon skills, GURPS has them in spades - so much so that entire articles have been published in Pyramid Magazine (R.I.P.) about how to reduce their number. For the purposes of feaux-medieval old-school hack-and-slash gaming, we need primarily concern ourselves with the plethora of melee weapon-related skills.

For starters, all combat skills also have an Art version and a Sport version. The former refers to weapon demonstrations that look pretty (think martial arts demonstrations that aren't actual combat), and the latter are those used for sports rather than combat (think modern fencing). The inclusion of these two melee weapon skill categories triples the number of melee skills.

Thankfully, Art and Sport skills generally don't surface in old-school hack-and-slash, but should a player want access to them anywhere, there is an easy solution that doesn't burn too many character points and keeps the list of skills to a minimum. Upon purchase, the player must declare the type of melee weapon skill being bought. Each type defaults to the other two at -3. If a player wants more than one type, that penalty can be bought down with an Average technique.

Another source of skill bloat are the redundant sword and knife skills: Broadsword, Rapier, and Sabre; Knife and Main-Gauche; and Shortsword and Smallsword. If you look at the weapons in these categories, they are all the same weight, and in many cases, the same weapon. So what's the difference? Really, just the stance and how it is used. And what's more is that they have the same defaults to their corresponding skills.

So let's just give that divide the axe. A melee weapon skill can be purchased as either a Fencing or Non-Fencing skill. These default to each other at -4. This applies to all melee weapons (hello, options!) because why not? And for those who want to use both a fencing and non-fencing stance without penalty, let's add an Average technique that buys off the default penalty.

I won't try to combine the many sword skills because blade length and mass does make a substantial difference. Similarly, I won't merge Axe/Mace and Two-Handed Axe/Mace or Flail and Two-Handed Flail. None of the other melee weapon skills are even slightly redundant, so they're good.

Thus, a PC might take Fencing Broadsword Combat and buy Non-Fencing Broadsword Combat [4] to use both at the same level and then spend [3] to pick up Broadsword Art to be able to use these prettily.

In Summary

When a Melee Weapon skill is taken, it is bought as either a Combat, Art, or Sport skill. The other two default off of that skill at -3, and that penalty can be bought off as an Average technique for either remaining skill type. This can be extended to ranged weapon skills, too.

Furthermore, all Melee Weapon skills may be bought as either a Fencing skill or a Non-Fencing skill. These default to each other at -4, and that penalty can be bought off at as an Average technique. Furthermore, any weapon can be treated as a fencing weapon, but all of the rules for fencing weapons apply - including penalties to Parry flails and applying encumbrance penalties to weapon skill.

In all cases, switching between Melee Weapon skill types usually takes a Ready maneuver, which can be reduced to a free action with Form Mastery. This is just as for weapons that can be wielded with multiple different melee weapon skills like most polearms and spear and Staff skill.

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