29 November 2019

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 06 - Grappling

This is the sixth Rules Variant, part of an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

This entry into the series addresses everyone's favorite topic: grappling. Truth be told, it's typically an agonizing topic and often fraught with opening up the mechanics to figure out when it comes up (D&D 3.X, I'm especially looking at you). 

The current grappling mechanics in Earthdawn are simple, but binary in nature (you either are or are not) and present few options for the grappling and grappled parties. This isn’t inherently a terrible situation, with the bad taste frequently left in the mouth by grappling mechanics and verisimilitude isn’t a goal unto itself; this doesn’t reflect the versatility of grappling, or the tension between two opponents struggling for control, or watching a Horror slowly pin an adept and drag them to the meat grinder it calls a mouth. Sometimes you might want more for various reasons.

These optional rules present a more complicated and nuanced place for grappling in your game. If grappling doesn’t come up much, isn’t a problem in any way, and no one has Unarmed Combat, these optional rules may not bring much to your table. However, even if any of those aren’t true, it can still create new tension in encounters with grapple-centric opponents, such as a Badlands antlion.

Instead of a binary state (not grappled or grappled), these optional rules present four new situations: Grappled, Clinched, Pinned, and Immobilized. There are also some new modifiers that apply to anyone involved in a grapple as either party:
  • Grappling using only one hand requires an additional success on Attack tests.
  • Once grappled, those involved can attack each other (unless their situation prevents this) with weapons, including unarmed attacks. Weapons over the attacker’s minimum weapon size require an additional success on Attack tests.
  • Using two-handed weapons while grappled requires an additional success for any related actions. This is cumulative with other applicable penalties. Unless the attacker has more than two hands, they cannot grapple while using two-handed weapons.
  • Once involved in a grapple, a does not receive Physical or Mystic Defense bonuses from a shield. They can still be used for actions such as Shield Bash.
  • Grappled targets cannot move except for teleportation-style effects.
  • A character can end a grapple (relinquishing all Control successes) as a Free action, allowing them to use talents such as Avoid Blow without penalty due to grappling. This has no effect on any Control successes against them.
The goal of grappling is to establish control over an opponent, represented by Control successes. Opponents can apply control successes to each other, representing their struggle to pin their opponent.

Initiating a grapple requires an Unarmed Combat Attack test against the target’s Physical Defense. This does not require an additional success, unlike the standard rules. If successful, the attacker makes a Control test against the target’s Strength Step, +2 for each additional success on the Attack test. A Control test is a Strength test by default. Each success on the Control test gives the attacker a Control success against their opponent.

Control successes cause worsening situation modifiers as they increase. When a target has at least one Control success against them, they are Grappled. When the control successes equal half of their Strength Step (rounded up), they are Clinched. At Control successes equal to their Strength Step, they are Pinned. If the Control successes exceed the target’s Strength Step, they are Immobilized.

A character only suffers the worst penalties from all grappling situation modifiers inflicted on them. For example, if a character is Grappled and Clinched by two different opponents, they only suffer the penalties from being Clinched. If a character has their opponent Pinned and their opponent has them Grappled, they suffer the penalties from being an attacker with a Pinned opponent, and a -2 penalty to Initiative and can only move with teleportation-style effects (which effectively end the grapple).
Both characters involved in the grapple can make grappling tests against each other with their actions as described above. Once in a grapple, the involved characters can spend Control successes to increase their Control successes on an opponent, reduce an opponent’s Control successes against them, or both, dividing their Control successes between each. If a character is grappled by or grappling multiple opponents and wants to affect both, the highest Physical Defense and highest Strength Step are used for the Attack test and Control test respectively. Control successes can be spent against the affected targets.

There are a variety of different new options available to grappling characters (see below). Creatures with grappling special powers, such as Grab and Bite, inflict the Grappled situation modifier when using the special maneuvers. Additional uses of the special maneuver against the same opponent increase the Control successes by one each time; the creature can still engage in grappling as normal. Characters and creatures with multiple attacks can use them for grappling, affecting Control successes, and using combat options and special maneuvers as they see fit.

New Combat Options and Special Maneuvers


Cause Pain

The attacker makes an Unarmed Attack test against the target’s Physical Defense. If successful, the target makes the higher of a Toughness or Willpower test against the result, with a +2 bonus per Resist Pain rank. If the target fails, they are Harried until the end of the round. The attacker must have the target Clinched.

Drag Opponent

Drag Opponent (Attacker, Unarmed Combat): The attacker can spend additional successes on their Unarmed Attack test to move the target 2 yards per success spent this way, up to the attacker’s Movement Rate. The attacker must have the target Grappled.

Escape

A Grappled character can attempt to escape by making an Escape test as a Simple action against the controlling character’s Strength Step. Escape tests are Strength tests by default. If the character gets an additional success, they immediately escape from the grapple. This can only be attempted if the character is Grappled, not Clinched or worse.

Pry Loose

Pry Loose (Opponent, Close Combat): The attacker may spend additional successes from an Attack test to allow a grappled ally to make an Escape test as a Free action with a +2 bonus per success on this special maneuver. The ally also gains +2 to their next Unarmed Combat Attack test and Control test for the sole purposes of reducing the Control successes against them per success on this special maneuver. This can be used against all situation modifiers.

Take an Item

The attacker attempts to take an item by making an Unarmed Attack test against the target’s Physical Defense. If successful, the attacker has the item now. The gamemaster can require additional successes for small or worn items, such as one additional success for a necklace or dagger, or two additional successes for a ring or gem. The attacker must have the target Pinned.

Takedown

The attacker can attempt to knockdown their opponent with an Unarmed Attack test against the target’s Physical Defense. The attacker gain give up Control successes against the target, gaining +5 to the test for each success given up. The target makes a Knockdown test against the result. If the Knockdown test fails, attacker is also knocked down if they did not give up any Control successes. The attacker must have the target Grappled.

Situation Modifiers

Grappled

A character who has one Control success against them is Grappled. They suffer a -2 penalty to Action tests (including Initiative), Physical Defense, and Mystic Defense. The attacker can only move if dragging their grappled opponent.

Clinched

A character who has Control successes over half their Strength Step against them is Clinched. They suffer a -5 penalty to Action tests (including Initiative), Physical Defense, and Mystic Defense. The attacker suffers a -2 penalty to Action tests that require movement unrelated to grappling, Physical Defense, and Mystic Defense, and can only move if dragging their grappled opponent.

Pinned

A character who has Control successes equal to their Strength Step against them is Pinned. They can only attempt to break free (spend Control successes to reduce their opponent’s Control) and have a -5 penalty to Physical and Mystic Defenses. The attacker suffers a -5 penalty to Action tests that require movement unrelated to grappling, Physical Defense, and Mystic Defense, and cannot move.

Immobilized

A character who has Control successes over their Strength Step against them is Immobilized. They can’t take actions unless their opponent allows them (including escape, talking, etc.), their Physical Defense is 2, and they have a -5 penalty to their Mystic Defense. The attacker suffers a -5 penalty to Action tests that require movement unrelated to grappling, Physical Defense, and Mystic Defense, and cannot move.

3 comments:

  1. Nice rule! Gauntlet is very useful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like the grappling rules being a bit detailed. I miss one thing however. Being good at this (I have done some wrestling in my life) means you can easily incapacitate someone who is not (the old rules reflected this). During your attack, you have to cross a dangerous zone against somone with a weapon, but once you are very close, a sword is of little use.

    while you maintain a hold of a struggling victim you a very vulnerable to attacks from a third.

    The two step malus for the successful attacker is not grave enough in my opinion. There is very little preventing a third cutting the throat of a successful wrestler if the grapple victim is not completely immobilized yet.

    Also the possible stun damage of the attacker maintaining the hold should go up steeply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To start, this presumes I haven't spent over a decade studying aikido, hapkido, and wrestling. Second, the pursuit of "realism" rarely results in something worth playing. If that was the goal, there would need to be mechanics for shock, trauma (physical and mental), bleeding, etc. The goal isn't to be more realistic, but to be more interesting (which is explicitly stated). Beyond that, I don't agree these suggestions are more realistic, nor are they more interesting.

      Delete