Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Martial Arts Analysis: Way of the Galaxy

Way of the Galaxy

Han Solo with Blaster
The other GURPS martial art explicitly inspired by Star Wars is the Way of the Galaxy, from GURPS Gun Fu page 35. Why should swordsmen have all the fun? Why not gunslingers too? Way of the Galaxy was designed for your cool cowboy-types, like Han Solo.

I'm a bit leery of making explicit martial arts for gunslingers (they tend to lack the mythology of the force sword of hand-to-hand combat techniques), but they might serve as the basis for additional techniques and perks for our combat-oriented heroes.


Fast-Draw (Pistol) is, of course, a must-have for any gunslinger. It defines him. Beam Weapons (Pistol) is the absolute basis for the Way of the Galaxy, and its presence is self-explanatory. Beam Weapons (Rifle) represents both shotguns and rifles. The Way of the Galaxy is inspired by the Way of the West, but beam weapons don't differentiate between x-ray sniper rifles and plasma shotguns. A Galaxy Wayist is equally adept at both. That said, Beam Weapons default to one another at -4, and it's pretty reasonable that someone would want one higher than the other, so once again we run into the defaults problem.

For optional skills, we have Armoury (Small Arms), Fast-Draw (Long Arm) and Gunner. These seems sensible “Optionals.” Armoury lets us maintain our weapons, Fast-Draw lets us pull our shotgun out of its sling faster, and Gunner translates that skill to mastery with your ship-cannons. None of these are explicitly necessary for a Galaxy Wayist, but they all have obvious applications.

Zen Marksmanship allows the marksman to divide the penalties for range and speed/etc by 3 after taking a moment to focus. This isn't aim, it's a deep centering of self. Way of the Galaxy also includes Blind Fighting, but you need Zen Marksmanship to be able to shoot a target that you cannot see.


Dual Weapon Attack allows for Wayists who want to blast at their opponents double-fisted (Perfect for Kendra!). Interestingly, it has the option for Dual Weapon Attack with Rifles! How would that look? Fast-Firing allows the fighter to increase his RoF up to 6. Personally, 4 is good if you want to hit (you get +1 to hit, which is worth it if you've bought off all penalties) and 5 lets you engage in suppressive fire! Quick Shot lets you buy off the penalty for “rapid strikes” with a gun. Targetted Attack is a little unclear, but it seems to be Targetted Attack (Pistol/Hand) or (Pistol/Weapon) or (Rifle/Hand) or (Rifle/Weapon). Either way, a classic gunslinger move.

Cinematic Techniques are limited to Whirlwind Attack, which is a ridiculous technique, though more effective for a gunslinger than a melee fighter, as your opponents can be much farther away. In practice, I expect it's much harder than people realize: It's already -5, and then you have to apply the usual modifiers for rapid fire and range. Note that it includes the ability to fast-fire for free. So a character with a blaster pistol can go ahead and make six shots with a whirlwind attack. If your opponents are close enough to you, though, and you have no reason to expect instant reprisal, it might not be a bad idea.

Way of the Galaxy has optional techniques, which is an idea I quite like! Combat Piloting might be worth it, for shooting at people while flying in your speeder. Mounted Shooting is less likely to be pertinent, but you never know, perhaps you'll ride some alien beasty while shooting at raiders. Close-Hip Shooting allows you to negate some bulk penalty, which is great for melee with a plasma shotgun, and arguably what Han did when he shot Greedo (before Greedo shot at him, I mean).


Fastest Gun in the West (Pistol) and Quick Sheathe (Pistol) both connect with the idea of the shootist as iajutsu master: The gun comes out, faster than you can blink, shoots someones, and goes back into its holster, all in the same second. Off-Hand Weapon Training works with Dual Weapon attack to create a double-trouble shootist. Gun Schtick (Twirl), Gun Whisperer and Weapon Bond represent a deep connection with the weapon. Lightning Fingers will let you switch modes quickly, but unless you need to flip from stun to lethal and back quickly, I wouldn't bother with this. Don't take Infinite Ammunition; Action already includes that to a sufficient degree out of the box.

We also have optional perks! Bank Shots let you get at people from behind cover. Blaster bolts can definitely ricochet off of things (especially force screens) or “magnetically sealed doors.” Chewbacca definitely had Cinematic Knockback with his bowcaster in the Force Awakens. Additional Gun Schticks make the shootist even more impressive, often literally, as most allow some kind of Intimidation attempt to control or manipulate your targets. Motorized Training might be handy if you expect to get into a lot of chases (and who doesn't??), and it's always handy to have a Supplier, though that's likely more of a Smuggler trick than anything else.


Like Force Sword-and-Buckler, this style is fairly well designed. It lacks any options for gaining access to trick shooting, but that's really a campaign consideration, one that might be necessary if gunslingers are going to deal with what looks to be the astonishing parry capabilities of space knights. In fact, the biggest problems with the style aren't actually the style, but setting considerations that Hans couldn't know ahead of time.  That is, we'll need to adapt Way of the Galaxy to design considerations we've chosen for Psi-Wars.

Our Frontier Marshal definitely needs Way of the Galaxy, but it definitely fits the Bounty Hunter too (who needs to be able to draw and sheathe their weapon quickly, especially if they want to bring their target in alive, but need to deal with his potential allies), and the original wayist was a Smuggler. It suits anyone who needs to deploy a reasonable amount of firepower pretty quickly.

The larger question I have, though, is whether I should make this the gunstyle for Psi-Wars and break it up into techniques and perks that any gunslinger type can just buy, or rather I should leave it as a set style, complete with familiarity. If we're using Meditation, Zen Marksmanship and Blind Fighting, though, we need a reasonable amount of lore to justify that, which suggests a genuine style. And if we have a gunslinger style like this, should we include additional gunstyles? Or perhaps we should look for a middle ground.

A Sample Galaxy Wayist

Assuming DX 14, IQ 13, Will 15 and Combat Reflexes.

Advantages: Gunslinger [25],
Perks: Style Familiarity (Way of the Galaxy) [1], Fastest Gun in the West 4 [4], Off-Hand Weapon Training (Pistol) [1], Quick Sheath (Pistol) [1].
Skills: Fast-Draw (E) DX+2* [2]-16, Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX+4 [12]-18, Beam Weapons (Rifle) Pistol-3* [1]-15, Armoury (Small Arms) IQ+1 [4]-14
Techniques: Dual-Weapon Attack (Pistol) Pistol+0 [6], Fast-Firing (Pistol) Pistol+0* [3]

The above character is, in addition to his stats, 60 points. Given 50 points of disadvantages, this character is exactly 175 points, which leaves plenty of points for skills or other advantages. This highlights one of my fears, that one doesn't need to spend many points to be amazing with a blaster pistol, not compared to what one must spend to be amazing with a force sword.

This wayist is fairly simple. She will certainly fast-draw her weapon (both of them!) with ease, and rolls in fast-draw contests with a 20! So she'll outdraw someone, and she can sheath her weapons against instantly. She's an excellent shot, and able to fire two weapons very effectively, and she can raise her RoF to 4 “for free” with no appreciable loss of RoF, or to five for suppression fire, with a rcl of 3. She can also build and maintain her own weapons, but I mostly included that to eat up four points for a nice, pentaphilic total.

What this Wayist lacks that the other martial artists I have described have is flexibility. A force-swordsman or force sword-and-buckler combatant both excel at defense as well as offense and positively brim with neat Cinematic Skills. They also feature interesting psionic powers with applications outside of combat (for the most part). This Wayist can only do one thing well, and that is shoot people. But sometimes, that's all you need.
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