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  • Help Me Build a Grappler

    I am playing in a short-term game with accelerated XP gains. The game is Nightbane, but using the CofD system. I know almost nothing about the game, but that's beside the point. The point is that we didn't know what splat we would become, and I have discovered my character now gets a +2 to grappling rolls, and has the Natural Weapons 1 Dread Power. When she goes into her Morphus (i.e. combat form), she has 5 Strength (and "Close Combat" 1, which we are using as a combined Brawl/Weaponry Skill).

    I'm awful at game mechanics, so I could use some advice.

    Since she's gifted with a natural talent for hurting people up close and personal, I figured going into the grappling tree would be a good idea, though I'm not sure which branches are best, so I could use advice there. Also, what Merits would you guys suggest? Any other special things I should keep in mind about fighting? I'm already aware of All-out attack, the fact successful grappling "steals" your opponent's action for the first turn, and that the Damage Move uses all your rolled successes, not the difference between you vs your opponent.

    For this game, we have access to the core rulebook and Hurt Locker.

    The ST is also allowing us to purchase Talents, the unique gifts of the Nightbane, for 4 XP each. Here is the most relevant one I am considering purchasing. What do you think?

    Darkwhip
    This Talent creates tendrils of darkness that deal 1 Lethal Damage at Close and Short Range (15/30/60). The Darkwhip also has the Grapple Tag and can attempt a Disarm maneuver using Willpower+Morphus vs Strength+Athletics. This Talent lasts for the Scene, after which they must be recreated. The tendrils can have any shape, not limited to whips and tentacles, although those are the most common. The Nightbane can spend 1 Point of Essence/Additional Damage Level, and upgrade damage to Aggravated for an additional Point of Essence.

  • #2
    Two one dots merits will give you a huge boost. Clinch Strike (Hurt Locker pg 53) allows you to deal damage while initiating a grapple. Defensive Combat allows you to use brawl or weaponry (so Close Combat for you) as your defense stat instead of athletics. You want to max that skill, since it will be your offense and defense.

    I'm not a big fan of the grappling styles themselves. They're not bad, persay, but I think you can get more milage out of other styles.

    Consider Close Quarters Combat 1-3. 1 allows you to run for cover if somebody pulls out a gun. 2 is a reverse clinch strike, you damage the opponent and break free from the grapple. 3 gives you bonus dice against armored targets and allows you to ignore their armor if you use a standard damage move.

    Strength Performance doesn't directly benefit grappling until the 4th dot, but it allows you to do some impressive stuff with 5 strength. And the fourth dot is a huge boost because it gives +1 successes on any successful strength roll. Remember, getting an exceptional success on a grapple check allows you to do two moves, and that bonus success makes exceptionals much more common.

    How much EXP do you have to start with, and are you using 7 or 10 starting merits?

    Comment


    • #3
      Something to consider outside the standard combat Merits: Professional Training. Unarmed combat without specific supernatural powers, generally doesn't get 9-again nearly as easily as armed combat does. 9-again isn't the most important thing, but since combat cares about number of successes, it's a good thing to have (and PT is mechanically one of the best Merits as it is even if you get more out of not maxing your traits out at start).

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      • #4
        We have ten Merits. Four points are already committed elsewhere. Add I write this, we are part-way into the adventure. I have six Merit points I can reassign (I expect Professional Training to be a no-go for this college athlete on the run from the government), and seven Experiences.

        Comment


        • #5
          So potentially as many as 13 points to work with, 9 if you take the Talent. What are your attributes and skills, and can they be shifted?

          Even without knowing specifics I can say prioritize boosting close combat as high as you can and getting the one dot merits.

          Speaking of one dot merits, taking a grappling specialty and Area of Expertise is a cheap way to add another +2 to that dicepool.

          Comment


          • #6
            For Professional Training it's the Rote Action for a WP at the fifth dot that's worth it.
            We've actually decided that benefits from Professional Training doesn't apply to attack rolls (though still other rolls using those Skills) since it becomes too good once the dice pool is decent sized.


            Bloodline: The Stygians
            Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
            Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

            Comment


            • #7
              Attributes (when in her supernatural form)
              Str 5, Dex 5, Sta 6
              Int 1, Wits 4, Res 2
              Pre 3, Man 3, Com 4

              Skills
              Aca 1, Med 1 (body issues), Pol 2
              Ath 3, Close Combat 1, Stealth 3
              Emp 2, Pers 3 (exceptions), Soc 2 (college parties), Street 2, Subt 2

              We are half way through the adventure (completed session 2 of 4), so moving dots around needs a compelling reason.

              Her form also grants her...
              Armor 2/2
              +2 grappling
              Natural Weaponry 1
              A power stat/pool (Morphus/Essence) (with the standard spending/max limits) at rank 3
              The ability to spend a point of Essence for 9 again, two points for 8-again
              Rapid regeneration (1L per turn)
              And some other, less relevant benefits

              Comment


              • #8
                Since there's a certain amount of custom material here, how are Merit prerequisites being handled? Close Combat 1 is going to lock a lot of Fighting Merits off if you still have to have high enough stats to qualify for the Merits.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Merit prereqs are handled as normal. I'm fine buying up a dot or two of Close Combat

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ok, so this is a short term bang for buck question. Buy two dots of Close Combat. You already have Athletics at 3 so defensive combat would be wasted. Absolutely get Clinch Strike, its only prereq is Brawl 2. That leaves you with 3 exp and 5 merit dots. A specialty in Grappling and Area of Expertise brings you down to 2 and 4. Now your base pool will be 12. (5 str + 3CC + 2AoE grappling +2 Morphus bonus)

                    From there you have enough merits left to get either the Close Quarters style or the Strength Performance style, and you can buy the Talent the next time you get 2 exp.

                    Either style would be helpful for a grapple build, so it mostly comes down to whether you prefer to show off with massive feats of strengths or whether you really like throwing people into environmental hazards.

                    (The end goal here is to be able to somewhat regularly score an exceptional success, damage someone with clinch strike as you grab them, and then damage them *again* as you break free with CQC 2, leaving you free to grab another person the next turn)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Spent 4XP to bring Close Combat up from 1 to 3. Spent 1 XP to buy a Grappling specialty. I have 2XP remaining.

                      Had more points to spend than I expected. Eight of my ten Merit points had become useless. So, here's what I've done...

                      Merits
                      Area of Expertise (1)
                      Clinch Strike (1)
                      Close Quarters Combat (3)
                      Sympathetic (2)

                      By the way, would I use CQC 2? Hard Surfaces triggers off a successful Damage move. It appears to be a normal Damage move, except it inflicts Lethal damage (which Karen already does with her natural weaponry) and ends the grapple.

                      I have three more Merit points I can spend.

                      Spending the remaining 2 XP and 3 Merits
                      I was thinking of getting some of the following Merits
                      Body as Weapon (2): Karen will inflict an additional point of Lethal damage when she hits.
                      Choke Hold (2): If Karen gets a fantastic number of successes, she can knock an enemy out of the fight.
                      Ground and Pound (3): It ends a grapple, but I add the Rote action to an attack. Great finisher. I'm just not clear on how it works (since you need to already be grappling, and your opponent needs to be prone, and suggests you start in the standing position, but if your opponent is prone, you should be prone)
                      Headbutt (1): I can inflict the Stunned tilt, which means my allies have an easier time hurting my enemy, and the opponent cannot oppose my next grappling roll, and it's only a cumulative -2 penalty (which, again, they can't roll against while stunned), so I can keep enemies stunlocked while - if I get an exception success - continuing to inflict damage.
                      Iron Stamina (1-3): I will be getting up close and personal, and if I take a lot of damage (as I have in the first couple fights), avoiding wound penalties is nice.
                      Street Fighting (1-5): This set of Merits gives Karen a bunch of options she can throw into the mix.

                      Thoughts? As always, open to other ideas.

                      Comment


                      • #12

                        Body as Weapon isn't a merit I usually go for only because Martial Arts 5 gives you +2 Lethal. It's more expensive but you get other bonuses with the first three dots. BaW is a decent damage buff in your case but not my first pick.

                        Choke Hold I would advise against, and here's why. Against opponents with 3+ Stamina you could use those 6+ successes and your damage bonus from natural weapons to pretty well incapacitate them with straight damage anyway. Unless your ST has banned it there's a rule for pulling blows when you don't want to kill somebody, and that's assuming they won't surrender by the time you put them in wound penalties.

                        Ground and Pound is not as clearly written as it could be. "When using Brawl to strike or inflict the Damage grappling [etc]" means that don't have to be grappling to use it, but you can use it in a grapple if you want. Except that you can't because Drop Prone makes both characters prone, and Standing Throw/Takedown prone the opponent but break the grapple. It's a decently powerful finisher but you need a reliable way to prone the opponent. If you want to make it effective you should get Takedown and Ippon. If you're able to prone and stun and then elbow drop, that's pretty cool. You'll want to build it as a style, here's how I would do that: 1; Clinch Strike 2; Takedown 3; Ground and Pound (also 3, but 4 in progression); Ippon.

                        Headbutt I remember not liking this in the drafts, but they seem to have simplified it. Personally I would get Takedown instead, since it prones and deals bashing damage and with the addition of Ippon has a pretty good chance to stun as well. At least with all of these having the grappling tag you can buy them as one dot 'branches' if you want more options.

                        You have 2/2 Armor and heal 1L per turn and you're still getting into wound penalties? That's some high intensity combat! I generally don't take Iron Stamina but if you find yourself frequently in wound penalties you can. I would advise only doing one or two dots. If your last health box is full you have much bigger problems than a -1 penalty to worry about.

                        Street Fighting isn't that great in my estimation. Duck and Weave can be phenomenal but in your case it's only a 1 point difference. Getting at least two dots does give you access to Iron Skin though, which might help with incoming damage.

                        I cannot stress how good Strength Performance 4 is for a grappler enough though. It's not +1 damage, it's +1 success. Which does add damage, but getting an exceptional success on a grapple roll basically gives you an extra turn. 5 successes isn't just 1 more damage than 4, it's the chance to deal 5 damage (+modifier) and then throw them on the ground for *another* 5 bashing damage, instantly knocking out all but the most durable opponents.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
                          Headbutt I remember not liking this in the drafts, but they seem to have simplified it. Personally I would get Takedown instead, since it prones and deals bashing damage and with the addition of Ippon has a pretty good chance to stun as well.
                          I am unclear on how to inflict the Stunned Tilt. Ippon makes it sound like I can inflict it just by doing enough damage. But when I look at the actual Stunned Tilt, it seems I have to make an attack targeted at the head. Could you clear this up for me?

                          I'm not sure why the Takedown/Ippon combination is better than Headbutt.

                          If I do a normal grapple, my Clinch Hold lets me inflict Lethal damage on the initial turn, and possibly inflict Stunned. Either way, I deny them their action on this turn (if they haven't already taken it), prevent them from contesting my rolls going forward (as long as I keep them stunlocked), and may keep inflicting Lethal.

                          The phrasing on Ippon and Takedown are weird and contradictory. Takedown is done instead of establishing a grapple. However, Ippon acts like Takedown is a maneuver you can do at the same time as the Drop Prone maneuver. I'm guessing it's meant to work like this: I succeed at establishing a grapple, but instead of grappling, I force them to suffer the Knocked Down Tilt (though they may be able to avoid with Dex + Athletics), take Bashing damage, and possibly the Stunned Tilt. There is a chance they just take the Bashing and get their turn. Getting Ground and Pound may make this more powerful than just going Headbutt, but I seem to be piling on a lot of risks.

                          Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
                          At least with all of these having the grappling tag you can buy them as one dot 'branches' if you want more options.
                          I take it you are referring to Style Tags from pg. 45 of Hurt Locker. I've read that section a couple times, but I don't understand the concept. Could you explain it? And give me an example?

                          Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
                          You have 2/2 Armor and heal 1L per turn and you're still getting into wound penalties? That's some high intensity combat!
                          Now that you mention it, it's not as big a concern as it was. In our first session, my character had six dice to attack, if she grappled, and we were outnumbered by enemies. I spent Willpower on every attack roll and I used all-out attack. Since enemies (who had Natural Weapons 1) were hitting my character (tending to focus fire on her), she took a hellacious amount of damage.

                          Since she is now at Power Stat 3 (which increases her regen, among other things), and her attack pool is now 12 base, she should be in a better position. I won't all-out attack unless I am either desperate or in a perfect position.

                          Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
                          I cannot stress how good Strength Performance 4 is for a grappler enough though. It's not +1 damage, it's +1 success. Which does add damage, but getting an exceptional success on a grapple roll basically gives you an extra turn. 5 successes isn't just 1 more damage than 4, it's the chance to deal 5 damage (+modifier) and then throw them on the ground for *another* 5 bashing damage, instantly knocking out all but the most durable opponents.
                          How do you figure this last part, about it giving me the chance to throw them on the ground same turn?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oh lord ok, I just looked at stunned again, here's what happened: When God Machine Chronicles introduced the tilt it was inflicted any time you dealt at least as much damage as the opponent's size. Targeting the head reduced the necessary damage by one. You can still see that text in the second half of the current tilt description even though it now makes no sense. Another Fun Fact! The stun tag "doubles a weapon's modifier" and the only weapon with a Stun tag in the GMC has a modifier of 0.

                            Ippon was written assuming the original version, and within that context it's good: rolling at least 3 successes allows you to stun as well as prone. Going by the new version it's a complete waste of points. You could talk to your ST about having it work as the original tilt, or you could just go with Headbutt.

                            I take it you are referring to Style Tags from pg. 45 of Hurt Locker. I've read that section a couple times, but I don't understand the concept. Could you explain it? And give me an example?
                            I will certainly try! I love style tags as a concept but as written they are kind of confusing (and I personally use a slightly simplified version for my games). The basic idea is that you can custom build a style from different maneuvers with matching tags. The dot values on fighting merits don't represent how much those merits cost (they are all treated as one dot merits). Instead they represent how far advanced in the style you have to be to learn them.

                            Starting from scratch: The first step is you have to meet the prerequisites for any maneuvers you want to learn. Pretty straight forward. Step 2, the merits all have to have the same tag. Step three is where it gets complicated. You have to have at least as many dots in maneuvers with the style tag as the dot value you want to learn.

                            That last part is tricky, right? I'll try to break it down. You want to build a custom grappling style, so the first two steps are pretty obvious. You have to have the attributes and skill requirements, and every move you want to learn has to have the grappling tag.

                            Clinch Strike you buy as normal. It's a one dot merit with a grappling tag. You've spent one EXP.

                            Headbutt you buy as normal. It's a one dot merit with a grappling tag. You've spent two EXP total (1+1) You now know two dots worth of grappling merits.

                            Because you know two dots worth of grappling merits you can now buy any two dot grappling maneuver (that you meet the prereqs for) and it costs one exp instead of two.

                            So now you can get Takedown or Small Joint Manipulation. Let's say you get Takedown. You've spent 3 EXP total and you now know 4 dots of maneuvers. At this point you can select any two, three, or four dot grappling maneuver (as long as you meet prereqs) as a one dot merit. So now you can get Ippon, Dynamic Guard, or Ground and Pound for one EXP (you don't have joint lock and thus can't get the other options).


                            It's a complicated system but it can save a lot of EXP if you're investing heavily in combat merits as long as you choose your tags well.

                            How do you figure this last part, about it giving me the chance to throw them on the ground same turn?
                            The winner of a grapple picks two moves from the list if they score an exceptional success. You also get to pick a move the same turn you initiate a grapple if you roll an exceptional success.

                            If you can score an exceptional success on the turn you initiate a grapple you deal that damage with clinch strike, and then you get to pick a move to enact. The reason I like CQC 2 so much is that on those times where you roll high on the initial grab attempt you can grab, punch, and then throw them into a wall for massive, fight ending damage.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
                              The basic idea is that you can custom build a style from different maneuvers with matching tags. The dot values on fighting merits don't represent how much those merits cost (they are all treated as one dot merits). Instead they represent how far advanced in the style you have to be to learn them. ... It's a complicated system but it can save a lot of EXP if you're investing heavily in combat merits as long as you choose your tags well.
                              Wow, yeah, that is complicated, but your explanation is fantastic. I get it now, and it's amazing. This opens up possibilities! Makes me wish they didn't organize Fighting Merits (especially grappling) into trees.

                              Originally posted by HelmsDerp View Post
                              The winner of a grapple picks two moves from the list if they score an exceptional success. You also get to pick a move the same turn you initiate a grapple if you roll an exceptional success.

                              If you can score an exceptional success on the turn you initiate a grapple you deal that damage with clinch strike, and then you get to pick a move to enact. The reason I like CQC 2 so much is that on those times where you roll high on the initial grab attempt you can grab, punch, and then throw them into a wall for massive, fight ending damage.
                              That would be useful to me only if my character was an ordinary mortal, right? While in Morphus Form, Karen already inflicts Lethal damage.

                              Merit Planning
                              Sympathetic (2)
                              Area of Expertise: Grappling (1)
                              CQC (3)
                              Grappling (Custom) 2: Clinch Hold, Headbutt

                              Two Merit dots remaining. I also have 2 XP. I could go all-in and get Strength Performance 4. After that, I could save up 4XP to buy Dark Whip, and start doing Aggravated damage from one range band away.

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