Thursday, September 22, 2016

Armed Styled: Neurolash Techniques

Neuro-lash weaponry are found on UT 165. They inflict the neuro-lash effect (agony) on an HT-5(2) roll, and the effect in question (UT122) is Agony (B428). What does this look like? If a HT 10 character is hit and rolls a 10, he fails by 5, which means he’s unable to do anything for 5 minutes, and suffers Moderate Pain (-2) for another five minutes. For any ordinary characters, this is complete incapacitation. If you have a knife, you can finish the character off, should you be so inclined. DR is highly protective, though, as battleweave adds +10 to your roll.

Back in Iteration 3, I argued that the armor divisor should be raised to 5, to be consistent with the rest of the weapons of the setting, but what else can we do? Star Wars doesn’t really use neuro-lash technology, they use electro-stun technology. This stuns someone for only a few seconds, which is consistent with what we see on the screen.

I chose Neurolash technology because I’m running GURPS, not Star Wars, and Neurolash technology represents a superior technology to electro-stun weapons. Furthermore, it has superior DR and is a far more sinister form of control. But if we’re going to change the armor divisor, why not change more?
Star Wars is full of melee technology that can fight against a lightsaber without being a lightsaber (or as good as a lightsaber). The electro-stun weapons depicted in the series, both in Clone Wars and in the Force Awakens, regularly does so, hence the addition of the Nuerolash Field Parry perk. But given the absolute power of a neurolash weapon if it hits you, I’d like to make some further adjustments. First, side-effect rules give us a way to make it less all-or-nothing. Second, electro-shock weapons can give us some ideas on additional options we can use. Finally, we can attempt to emulate some of the elements we see in the movies, such as the dramatic knockback of these weapons.




New Neurolash Rules

Any character who fails his HT roll suffers Severe Pain (-4) for the next second. Any character who fails his HT roll by 5 or more loses one point of fatigue and suffers Agony for the next second and must roll HT-5 (each second) to recover. Characters wielding a neurolash weapons may make a concentrate maneuver to hold the weapon against the target. Each turn holding the weapon against a target forces another check at an additional -1 per turn, to a maximum of HT-10 (opponents may defend normally) and prevents a roll from recovery if suffering Agony, and drains an additional charge. Armor divisor is (5).

Characters may target the face, vitals (in this case, nerve clusters on the torso) or the groin for an additional -5 to this roll (That is, apply the stun modifiers to the neurolash field rules). Attacks to limbs cause searing pain in the limbs: If the character suffers Severe pain in a limb as a result of an attack, he must roll Will (at a penalty equal to the pain he’s feeling) not to drop what he was holding in that limb, or to sink to kneeling if his leg was struck. Characters suffering Agony automatically fall to the ground and drop what they’re holding.

New Neurolash Maneuvers

Neurolash fields are visually represented with dramatic, arcing electricity (usually colored red). In addition to being evocative, “magnetic fields” offer a hand-wave as to why such a weapon might be able to parry or attack a force sword without being instantly destroyed. Before, I offered a perk, but I think it’s better handled with a maneuver.

Neurolash Field Defense: Hard. Defaults to Melee Skill-1
The neurolash field presents sufficient resistance to actually touching the weapon that a skilled wielder can parry or attack without risking losing his weapon to a destructive parry or attack, like those of a force sword. This penalty applies to both attack and defense.

Neurolash Field Push: Hard. Defaults to non-flexible Melee skill-1
If a neurolash field can push weapons away, it can push the bodies of others away too, rather dramatically. This maneuver takes advantage of the field as the wielder momentarily super-charges the field at the point of impact and strikes in such a way that he unbalances the target. The crushing damage of the attack gains double knockback instead of its linked affliction.

Neurolash weapons

Ultra-Tech includes a neurolash glove, a neurolash baton, and a neurolash whip, and has rules on how to improve any weapon to include a neurolash field. This document will look at the neurolash baton and the “neurolash lance,” a staff with a neurolash field added to its ends. That doesn’t mean the other weapons aren’t worth discussing!

The neurolash glove is ideal for Shock Boxing, found in Pyramid #3-9 “Space Opera” on page 29 (“Fight the Future” by Kelly Pederson. This would be the second style included from that excellent article in Psi-Wars). I won’t go into signature moves, but I would favor All-Out Defenses with Aggressive Parries (which is nasty with a neurolash glove), followed by Counter Attacks, a Neck-Control based Grab-and-Smash to the face with an Upper-Cut (similar to Street Fighting), and rapid-fire double-punches.

The neurolash whip is a great weapon for slavers. There are few styles that really focus on the whip as a central element, and I doubt a player would take a neurolash whip with the intent of turning it into the style around which their character turns. If they did, I’d start with Kusarijutsu, using whip instead of kusari (thus focusing on things like return strikes and entanglements).

We can invent other weapons too. The Force Awakens features an electro-tonfa. A simple neurolash tonfa becomes 2 lbs and $600. Kobujutsu is the standard tonfa style and is a good place to start.

Neurolash Modifications

We can apply the same sort of modifications to neurolash weapons that we do to other weapons, including balanced, unbalanced, etc.  Add the following two modifications:
  • Advanced Neurolash Field: Increase the affliction penalty from -5 to -6. CF 1 (+$500)
  • Perfected Neurolash Field: Increase the affliction penalty from -5 to -7. CF 4 (+$2000)

Riot Control Tactics

The point of a neurolash weapon is to inflict pain, and thus to control others. This style exemplifies that niche for the neurolash baton. The following style is inspired by primarily by the image of a police man in full riot gear, with baton in one hand and a shield in the other. No such style exists, but Armatura, combining shield and shortsword, is close enough to work as a starting point.
Like with most military styles, this serves more as a repository for tactics, techniques and perks than as a real style, but characters who wanted to deepen their understanding of it with a Martial Artist power-up could certainly do so.

This style assumes little in the way of complex tactics from an opponent, and simply lays into an opponent while assuming the shield will protect the character. It is, thus, a relatively simple and straight-forward style

Skills: Shield, Shortsword, Throwing
Techniques: Retain Weapon (Baton), Targeted Attack (Baton swing/face), Targeted Attack (Baton thrust/vitals)
Cinematic Skills: Immovable Stance, Kiai
Perks: Shield Wall Training, Teamwork (Riot Control Tactics), Trademark Moves
Optional Skills: Intimidation, Judo, Law (Police), Savoir Faire (Police), Wrestling
Optional Perks: Armor Familiarity (Judo),

Signature Moves

Riot Assault: Make a Move (full run) and Attack (Slam) with riot shield. Roll Shield to hit. Your opponent defends normally. Inflict Slam (typically 1d-1 for most characters)+3 crushing damage. If you dealt more damage than your opponent, they must roll DX or fall (if you dealt twice their damage, they automatically fall). You may not retreat or block with your shield.

Crowd Containment: If within one yard of your opponent, step close and make a defensive shove with your shield. Opponent defends normally. Roll thr+1 double knockback damage. If you have an ally behind you, and you both have teamwork, add 1/5 of his ST to yours. If you knock your opponent back at least one yard (that is, roll at least his ST-2 damage), he needs to roll DX or be knocked down. You may defend at +1. Setup: You’re within one yard of an opponent and your shield faces him.

Counter Push: If the crowd gets unruly, put them back in their place! If you are attacked, accept a Riposte penalty (-2) to your Block. If you successfully defend, on your turn make a Shield Bash attack. Your opponent defends at -2. Deal thr crushing damage to your opponent. Defend normally. Setup: You were attacked last turn and you’re able to deploy your shield to defend.

Deploy Baton: Make a defensive shortsword attack with your baton at your opponent’s vitals (-3). Roll shortsword-3 to hit. Your opponent defends normally. If you hit, inflict thr-2 cr damage and HT-10(5) neurolash affliction. Any damage that inflicts shock requires a roll for stunning. You may defend at +1.

Discipline with Prejudice: If your opponent is down make a Telegraphic (+4) Committed (+1 damage) baton swing to the face (-5) of downed opponent. Roll Shortsword-1. Your opponent defends at -1 due to being down. If you hit, inflict sw+1 cr damage (any damage that inflicts shock requires a roll for stunning) and an HT-10(5) neurolash affliction. You may not parry with your baton, but you may dodge or block at -2 and you may not retreat. This is a Finishing Move. Setup: Your opponent is down.

Neuro-blade Dueling.

The neurolash’s non-lethality makes it an ideal tool for playing as well as fighting. The fact that it inflicts terrifying agony means that going up against one is a show of courage. Both come together to make an ideal dueling weapon. If a noble demands satisfaction, he has only to reach for a neurolash baton to be sure that he won’t kill his opponent (and bring down the wrath of his enemy’s house) but his willingness to face a neurolash suggest great bravery, which will impress all onlookers.

The weapon of choice here would be a neurolash short staff, which is identical in all ways to a neurolash baton except that it is wielded with smallsword (a fencing skill). For dramatic purposes, we’ll call it a neuro-blade, but it isn’t a sharpened weapon. Neurolash duelists typically fight unarmored, relying on speed and grace to defeat their opponents. Masters often savor dramatic displays and making use of the terrifying threat that a neurolash.

This style is inspired by escrima and french smallsword, but any stickfighting technique will do. The style is flashy, and primarily focused on defeating other opponents with a neuro-blade; it’s at a disavantage when fighting better armed opponents, but some schools may well teach how to defeat (for example) a force sword. Most duels have rules, whether formal or informal, but a good duelist knows how to skirt those rules or take advantage of them. Generally, those rules tend to limit someone from attacking vital nerve clusters, to cut down on the danger of a critical failure causing a heart attack.

Some exceedingly tough/daring schools of this style add Karate or Judo into the technique, favoring a one-handed approach. They learn to endure the pain of the neurolash, catch their opponents weapon, and then unleash a fury of agonizing blows upon their opponent.

Skills: Games (Dueling), Smallsword.
Techniques: Bind Weapon (Smallsword), Combat-Art (Smallsword), Disarming (Smallsword), Feint (Smallsword), Retain Weapon (Smallsword), Set-Up Attack (Smallsword), Targeted Attack (Smallsword swing/arm)
Cinematic Skills: Body Control, Flying Leap, Mental Strength
Cinematic Techniques: Dual Weapon Attack (Smallsword), Dual-Weapon Defense (Smallsword), Flying Lunge (Smallsword), Grand Disarm
Perks: Flourish, Next Time It’s Your Head, Off-hand Weapon Training (Smallsword), Quick-Swap (Smallsword), Unusual Training (Dual-Weapon Attack, both attacks must target the same foe), Weapon Adaption (Shortsword to Smallsword)

Optional Traits: Ambidexterity, Enhanced Parry (Smallsword), High Pain Threshold
Optional Skills: Acrobatics, Fast-Draw (Sword), Intimidation, Judo, Karate, Savoir-Faire (High Society or Dojo),
Optional Techniques: Aggressive Parry, Elbow Strike, Knee Strike, Neurolash Field Parry,
Optional Cinematic Techniques: Hand-Catch Parry

Signature Moves

Kissing Blades: Make a Defensive Set-up Attack(-6). Roll Shortsword-6 to hit. Your opponent defends normally. Deal thr-2 cr damage and HT-5(5) aff if you hit. If your attack succeeded (whether or not your opponent defended), your opponent defends at -2 against your next attack. You defend at +1.

Whispering Caress of the Blade: Make a Combat Art(-3) thrusting attack for your opponent’s face (-5). Your opponent defends normally. If you hit, instead of dealing damage, your blade makes a near miss, close enough that tendrils of neural energy caress your opponent’s face, giving him a hint of what would have happened if you had hit. Make a free Intimidation+4 roll (-5 for combat). Success will convince your opponent to quit the fight. If your attack succeeds, onlookers are impressed (+1 to reaction rolls). Setup: This attack requires the “Next time it’s your head” perk.

Sinister Threat: Make a dual-weapon (-4) attack, the first a set-up (-6) attack with your off-hand(-4) against your opponent’s main arm (-2). Roll Smallsword-16. Your opponent defends normally. If you hit, inflict sw cr damage to the arm and a HT-5(5) aff. If your opponent fails his HT roll, he drops his weapon. If you succeed but do not hit, make a second dual-weapon (-4) disarming(-0) attack against your opponent’s main weapon. Your opponent defends at -2. If you hit, roll a quick contest between Disarming and the better of your opponents ST- or DX-based Retain weapon. You may defend normally.

Foul Blade: Wait until your opponent next attacks. When he does, make an immediate Ruse using your IQ-based Games (Dueling) skill against your opponent’s DX- or IQ-based Smallsword skill or his Tactics. Success means he must either strike you in such a way that violates the rules of the duel, or accept your margin of success as a penalty on his next defense. This counts as a Dirty Trick. Setup: You’re in a proper duel. This is better trick if you have High Pain Threshold and don’t mind being hit as much.

Soaring Pain: While standing three yards from your opponent, make a step and All-Out Attack (Long) to increase reach to 2. Your opponent defends normally, unless he’s never seen this attack before, in which case the GM may rule it a surprise: He needs to roll Per-based Tactics or Expert Skill (Hoplology) or he is unable to defend (or defends at -2 if he has Danger Sense, Trained by a Master or Weapon Master). If you strike, inflict thr cr damage and HT-5(5) aff. You may not defend. End in a crouch. Setup: The fight has not yet begun and you stand three yards away from your opponent.

Way of the Pain-Lance

Star Wars sometimes features the “electro-staff,” and it’s an excellent idea! Applying a neurolash field to one end of a quarterstaff gives you a weapon with superior reach to a force sword, the ability to attack and defend against a force sword, superior parry against most weapons, and the ability to take your opponent alive. The Neurolash Lance becomes a masterful, and surprisingly cheap, weapon in the hands of a skilled warrior. Such a style would make an excellent addition for any would-be Psi-Hunter.

Alternate neurolash lances abound. A long staff adds additional reach, and a jo is easier to handle. A double-ended neurolash lance allows for attacks on both sides, at double the cost. Some characters might add a vibro-blade butt-spike to allow them to finish off an agonized opponent.
The following style is primarily based on quarterstaff fighting, but it draws from other staff traditions as well, as well as taking advantage of various neurolash features. For additional ideas, look at Shaolin kung fu.

Skills: Staff
Techniques: Armed Grapple (Staff), Back Strike (Staff), Choke Hold (Staff), Feint (Staff), Neurolash Field Defense, Neurolash Field Push, Sweep (Staff), Targeted Attack (Staff Swing/Face), Targeted Attack (Staff thrust/vitals)
Cinematic Skills: Blind Fighting, Mental Strength, Power Blow, Push
Cinematic Techniques: Dual Weapon Defense (Staff), Grand Disarm (Staff), Timed Defense (Staff), Whirlwind (Staff)
Perks: Grip Mastery (Staff)

Optional Traits: Enhanced Parry (Staff), High Pain Threshold
Optional Skills: Judo, Savoir-Faire (Dojo), Spear, Two-Handed Sword, Wrestling

Signature Moves

Lightning Strikes Twice: Make a Defensive, Deceptive (-2) Rapid Strike (-6 or -3) using the the neural-lash end of lance (Neurolash field defense: -1). Roll Staff-9 (or -6) twice. Your opponent defends at -1 and your attack is not vulnerable to a destructive parry. If you hit, inflict thr-2 cr damage and HT-5(5) aff. You may defend at +1 (and may use your staff parry bonus of +2).

Thunder Strikes Nought: Make a Defensive Feint that appears exactly like Lightning Strikes Twice, but is a series of rapid retractions instead. Roll Feint against your opponent’s best combat skill. Apply the margin of your victory as a penalty to your opponent’s defense against your next attack. Defend at +1 (and you may use your staff parry bonus of +2). Setup: You have made a Lightning Forks Twice attack against this opponent once before.

Fear No-Pain: Make a deceptive (-4) committed swinging attack with the butt-end of the staff against your opponent’s face (-5). At the GM’s discretion, if your opponent has not seen this attack before, it applies a -1 to his defense and counts as a Dirty Trick. Roll Staff-9. Your opponent defends at -2 (or -3 if he’s never seen this move before and you’re following up either Lightning Strikes Twice or Thunder Strikes Nought), but your weapon is vulnerable to a destructive parry. Deal sw+1 crushing damage to your opponent’s head. You may not defend with your staff and you may not retreat and your other defenses (dodge) are at -2. Setup: You have just performed Lightning Forks Twice or Thunder Strikes Nought.

Walk Among Clouds: After making a riposte defense (-3), make a Riposte Swinging Neurolash Defended Push (-2) and spend 1 fatigue. Roll Staff-2. Your opponent defends at -3. If you hit, inflict sw+2 cr double knockback damage. You may defend normally. Setup: You made an All-Out Defense maneuver or a Defensive Attack last turn.

Embrace Agony: Make a Committed (+2) Deceptive (-6) field-defended (-1) thrust for the vitals (-3). Roll Staff-8. Your opponent defends at -3. If you hit, inflict thr cr and HT-10(5) aff. Any crushing damage that inflicts shock requires a stun check. You may not defend with your staff, and you may not retreat, and your dodge is at -2. Setup: You have either stunned your opponent or successfully feinted him with Thunder Strikes Nought.
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