View Full Version : My hand to hand combat system for Shadowrun

Wounded Ronin
12/28/2004 1:37am,

For those of you who play Shadowrun, look at my semi-realistic hand to hand combat system.

12/28/2004 4:21am,
Great work. Never played Shadowrun, but I have played quite a few of the other RPG's out there, going back to 1st addition AD&D. (Actualy, back to Basic D&D boxed set)

12/28/2004 4:24am,
I played the SNES Shadowrun game over and over and over again, and I kept hoping for a sequel. In fact, a few months ago I downloaded the ROM and played through it like twice in one weekend; that was a truly great console RPG.

Too bad there probably won't be another Shadowrun game on console or PC..... FASA seems hardpressed enough to put out Battletech/Mechwarrior product: what a shame.

12/28/2004 4:31am,
Pple still play Shadowrun?

12/28/2004 4:47am,
Don't knock the shadowrun, matey! :)

Judah Maccabee
12/28/2004 4:54am,
Genesis version > SNES Version.

Sun Wukong
12/28/2004 4:58am,

For those of you who play Shadowrun, look at my semi-realistic hand to hand combat system.

Holy ****, WR! You're possibly even more of a geek than I am! I will honestly say that I run a game of Rifts every weekend... but god damn Shadowrun's rules are broke as ****. It's a cool enough genre but you can accomplish the very same atmosphere with games like Rifts and D20 Modern.

BTW, all you game fans out there will be pleased to hear that Jerry Bruckheimer has raised over 100 million bucks to film a Rifts movie. The deal is already concrete and will definitely happen, though there is no word as to when the movie will begin filming.

McDojo Artist
12/28/2004 1:51pm,
Genesis version > SNES Version.

Seconded,the SNES one was just runnin round and picking up weird **** that later were to be used in even weirder ways

Otaku Waffle
12/28/2004 2:12pm,
That looks relatively smooth (though the positioning does look a bit overly powerful) but now I need to hide this from my players or they'll expect me to do the same for Fading Suns.

12/28/2004 2:19pm,
As a DnDer, the D20 grappling system seems to be based around loose concepts of clinching and pinning. Submissions are almost impossible without a special prestige class like Reaping Mauler (from Complete Warrior), and even then, it's stupidly difficult to seriously injure anyone, let alone kill them. Digging through Wizards' DnD forums, the most common advice was to use grapplers to tie-up mages and stop any spells that require gesturing, then wait for someone with a real weapon to come and kill them. Other than that, you can just sorta hold people in place, and drag them around, and if you pass all sorts of grapple and escape checks, maybe do some minor damage.

Basically, it sucks.

So, Wounded Ronin, have you had a chance to playtest this system? And is it horribly unbalanced like everyone is saying?

12/28/2004 2:31pm,
daaaammn. . .someone had a lot of time on their hands over the fall and winter. . .


Jaguar Wong
12/28/2004 3:24pm,
Wow, they really don't like the positioning skill. I think it looks cool, but I've never played Shadowrun before. I have the 2nd edition book (I've read it a few times, but my group doesn't want to play a cyberpunk game), though.

I like the idea of the positioning skill, but I would "cut the power" like they were suggesting. Perhaps a -1 TN for the first success, and then the +1 TN to the opponent on the next success, and stack them in that order (3 successes would be a -2 TN for you and a +1 for them).

Also, I would agree that attempting to disengage from combat with a positioning penalty should just open the guy up for a free shot instead of not allowing them to pull back.

I've been working on a generic MA system for several other RPGs (I have a rough set of concepts that I'm trying to apply to several different games), but the grappling stuff is always a sticking point for me. If I played Shadowrun, I would use these rules, though.

Wounded Ronin
12/28/2004 6:48pm,
The system has not been playtested yet.

A lot of comments are addressing Positioning as being overpowered, so that is something that I have been in the process of rethinking.

I can't believe the Dumpshock Forums people didn't like "t3h gr4ppl3".

Wounded Ronin
12/30/2004 10:39pm,
I revised the system paying special attention to Positioning as suggested. Here is my version 2.1.
Sage's Hand To Hand Combat system ver. 2.1

This is a hand to hand combat system for SR3 that I have created in which I try to balance realism and manageable game mechanics with a system that also does not disrupt game balance by not changing the power level of hand to hand combat overall very much. Furthermore it is designed so that players and busy gamemasters may still take a hand to hand combat skill that acts exactly like the old SR3 "Unarmed Combat".

I am aware that there is already an advanced melee system available in the Cannon Companion. However, I feel that that system is very flawed because it presents a lot of manuvers that would work in point fighting but not in the street or full contact competition, because it messed up the damage code on throws, created artificial divisions between various martial arts based on what people decided to call the martial arts, and by not really implementing a good grappling engine.

The goal of this hand to hand combat system was not to be strictly realistic since that would have disrupted game balance pretty severely. After all, in real life, punches are almost never effective against someone with a shotgun. On the other hand, though, the blatant fantasyland bullshido nightmare that was the Canon Companion advanced hand to hand combat rules made me gnash my teeth in rage every time I read them. The goal of these rules, therefore, is to provide a SEMIREALISTIC hand to hand combat system that is relatively simple, which dosen't disturb game balance, and which is relatively easy to use in terms of game mechanics.

What you are reading here is a culmination of writing and thought since the summer of 2004. Between then and now I wrote up an entire hand to hand combat system, scrapped it, simplified it, streamlined it, and changed it into what you are reading here. It has not been playtested yet, so I'd be interested to hear any comments or thoughts that you might have.

Version 2.1 update - At the suggestion of people on DSF (forums.dumpshock.com) I revised Positioning in significant ways.

Table of Contents:

Section 1: Pugilism and t3h gr4ppl3

Section 2: Manuvers Overview

Section 3: Manuvers Described In Detail

Section 4: Melee Weapons

Section 5: Killing Hands

Section 1: Pugilism and t3h gr4ppl3

I have replaced Unarmed Combat with two new skills linked to STR. They are "Pugilism" and "t3h gr4ppl3" (or "grappling"; the l33t is a bullshido.net injoke since people there began sarcasting l33t speak to make fun of 13 year old Gracie fanatics.) Both of them function like Unarmed Combat in that when you would make an Unarmed Combat test you would instead roll either your Pugilism or t3h gr4ppl3. However, since the UFC has demonstrated the value of cross training pugilism and t3h gr4ppl3 are treated as complimentary skills. That way someone with Pugilism 6 and t3h gr4ppl3 6 will get more dice in an opposed test than his opponent with only t3h gr4ppl3 6. This introduces a nice element of realism since after a point it becomes less efficient to improve your fighter by focusing only on standup or only on grappling and more efficient to start crosstraining a little.

Section 2: Manuvers Overview

Both Pugilism and t3h gr4ppl3 allow their users to attack or defend using particular manuvers. Although there is some overlap between the manuvers and the Pugilism-t3h gr4ppl3 dichotomy splits apart some skills that in reality people are likely to learn together I feel what I have set up works pretty well in terms of smooth game mechanics. The manuvers listed below will be fully explained further below.

Pugilism has the manuvers: Pugilistic Physical Damage, Pugilistic Positioning, M Stun, Pugilistic Throw, Pugilistic Disarm.

When you get the Pugilism skill it comes with M Stun for free. Thereafter, for each level of skill beyond 1 you have you may add one of the 5 remaining manuvers to your repertoire until at skill level 5 you have them all.

t3h gr4ppl3 has the manuvers: Grappling Positioning, Groundwork, Grappling Physical Damage, Grappling Throw/Takedown, Grappling Disarm.

When you get t3h gr4pple it comes with Grappling Physical Damage for free. Thereafter you can add manuvers in exactly the same way as with Pugilism.

When attacking or defending with either Pugilism or t3h gr4ppl3 you must use one of the manuvers. All of the manuvers are rolled for just like for Unarmed Combat; an opposed test between the combatants to determine whether you or the opponent succeeded, and with the net succeses determining the degree of success.

Section 3: Manuvers Described In Detail

All of the manuvers are rolled for just like for Unarmed Combat; an opposed test between the combatants to determine whether you or the opponent succeeded, and with the net succeses determining the degree of success.

Pugilism Manuvers Described In Detail:

M Stun: This works exactly like regular Unarmed Combat from SR3 where the damage code is STR M Stun. It represents the skill of hitting fast, hard, and skillfully at targets like the groin, head, solar plexus, and ribs. This is what you are likely to see in a boxing match, a muay thai match, or a full contact karate match.

Pugilistic Positioning: This is similar to Take Aim in some ways. It's complicated but important so it gets a few paragraphs. Every net 2 successes on Pugilistic Positioning that you gain on your opponent gives you at your option either a -1 TN bonus or your opponent a +1 TN penalty the next time you use a Pugilism manuver against the opponent whom you have positioned on.

Like with Take Aim you may use Pugilistic Positioning consecutive times and the bonus and penalty accrued will stack if you are successful repeatedly. Like with Take Aim if you use combat pool for any reason other than attacking or defending against the opponent you were Positioning against all Positioning bonuses will be lost. Getting knocked to the ground or knocked away from your opponent will also cause you to lose your Positioning bonuses.

Just as Take Aim only gives a bonus to one attack, Positioning only will convey the accumulated bonus to one consecutive non-positioning Pugilism manuver.

An opponent who wishes to disengage or move away from melee combat if he is recieving a net TN penalty from Positioning tests cannot do so freely. If an opponent wishes to break free he must succeed in an opposed skill test against whoever has given him the Positioning penalty. If he does break free and move away this naturally nullifies all positioning bonuses or penalties for both fighters. Also, if the opponent wishes to make a Dodge Test outside of the context of Full Defense he must first break free.

This is an important rule because if through Positioning you accumulate a TN penalty for your opponent that is equal to or greater than the opponent's BOD score or the opponent's skill level, whichever is greater, you can cause him additional damage at the end of each turn. At the end of each applicable turn, your opponent must resist [1/2 (your STR)] + (amount by which the opponent's TN penalty exceeds his or her BOD or skill level) D damage. This damage cannot be dodged and is resisted with Body, combat pool, and 1/2 impact armor. The damage may be physical, to represent air choking, joint snapping, and spinal destruction. It may also be stun at your option to represent a blood choke. However, if you fail to inflict a D stun before your opponent escapes or is released he will recover 1 box of stun inflicted through the blood choke per combat turn; a D stun is treated normally. You will lose your Positioning bonus and will cease to inflict this damage at the end of each turn if you step away from your opponent, if you use combat pool for any reason other than attacking the opponent whom you have used Positioning against, or if you get knocked down or knocked away from the opponent.

Pugilistic Positioning represents things like boxing clenchwork, standup judo kuzushi setups, standing joint lock jockeying from classical jujutsu, or wing chun/jun fan trapping. The damage that may be caused through Positioning represents either a standing blood choke for the stun damage, or else systematic joint breaking, a hard trachea choke, or continuous wrenching on the spine for physical damage.

Pugilistic Physical Damage: This works exactly like Unarmed Combat from SR3 with two important differences. The first difference is that your damage code is equal to (1/2 STR) L physical. The second is that the Power of this code is raised by 1 for each +1 TN penalty that you have given your opponent through Positioning tests.

Pugilistic Throw: Roll your Pugilism dice in melee combat at a +1 TN penalty. If you win your damage code is (opponent's Body score) M stun and you make your opponent drop prone. The Power of this attack is raised by 1 for each -1 TN bonus that you have gained through prior successful Positioning tests.

This represents everything from wussy foot sweeps, kungfu head throws, and massive judo slams. The variable damage code represents whether the throw is more of a takedown or more of a devastating torqued head throw.

Pugilistic Disarm: Roll your Pugilism dice in melee combat against an armed opponent at a +2 TN penalty. If you succeed one of the opponent's weapons that he is holding (your choice) falls down to the ground. If you get at least 2 successes you can instead choose to hold his weapon.

t3h gr4ppl3

Grappling Positioning: This works exactly like Pugilistic Positioning but just as the bonuses from Pugilistic Positioning only apply to Pugilism Manuvers the bonuses from Grappling Positioning only apply to Grappling Manuvers. This skill can represent judo or chin na style standup positioning to set up for a takedown or lock but it also can represent things like brazilian jujutsu positioning on the ground. When Positioning starts to do damage it represents breaking joints, attacks against the spine, and blood chokes, just like Pugilistic Positioning.

Groundwork: Groundwork is a "passive" manuver that automatically gives you a bonus in certain situations; you cannot attack or defend with groundwork. If you are prone and your opponent is prone and you have Groundwork you will get an additional -1 TN bonus to t3h gr4ppl3 attacks or defenses you make for every 2 levels of t3h gr4ppl3 you have.

Grappling Physical Damage: This works in the same way as Pugilistic Physical Damage but being a Grappling skill it is compatible with Grappling Positioning. It represents limb breaking, eye gouging, and trachea crushing.

Grappling Throw/Takedown: This is like Pugilistic Throw but it has a different damage code and extra successes behave differently. The damage code is (opponent's Body + your Body)/2 M stun. Every 2 net successes instead of raising the damage code counts as 2 successes on a Grappling Positioning test against your opponent. Grappling Throw/Takedown can be followed up with further Grappling Positioning tests to stack bonuses further or to try and complete a submission hold. A character successfully executing Grappling Throw/Takedown against his opponent has the option of falling down on top of his opponent so that he can be prone along with his opponent if he likes. This represents things like a double leg takedown to a mount, a kneeling ippon seionage, or a koshi guruma where you fall on top of your opponent in kesa gatame. Basically, a takedown or throw with the objective of putting the thrower in an advantageous position to initiate grappling.

Grappling Disarm: Same as Pugilistic Disarm.

Section 4: Melee Weapons

Melee weapon skills (i.e. Edged Weapons, Clubs, etc) have manuvers that are the same as Pugilistic Positioning, Pugilistic Throw, and Pugilistic Disarm. You get to add one manuver per two levels of skill.

THIS IS IMPORANT: Emptyhanded combat (i.e. Pugilism, t3h gr4ppl3) is penalized with a +1 TN penalty when fighting against someone who is wielding an edged weapon and who is aware of and capable of responding to the unarmed attack or defense. An emptyhand surprise attack would not be subject to this penalty. This represents the difficulty in fighting emptyhanded against a blade.

Section 5: Killing Hands

Killing Hands may inflict its magical damage whenever damage would be inflicted through Pugilism or t3h gr4ppl3, in which case the adept may choose whether he wants to use the normal damage code for his manuver or instead substitute his killing hands damage code. He does not get to inflict damage every time he wins a Positioning test unless he has given his opponent enough of a TN penalty that the opponent is taking damage at the end of the turn; in this case the Killing Hands damage could be substituted at the end of the turn for the normal Positioning damage code.

Jaguar Wong
12/31/2004 2:44am,
It still says "t3h gr4ppl3" I hate it!!

Actually I'll have to read it through again. I only skimmed the positioning skill. If I can get my group to play Shadowrun (I'll still have to grab a copy of v3, though) I'll definitely use these rules.

Otaku Waffle
12/31/2004 3:59am,
Dammit Ronin, I want to +rep you every time I look at this thread.