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Thread: Athletics as a combat skill

  1. #1

    Athletics as a combat skill

    The DS9 book shows both Sisko and Dax as having wrestling as a specialization under Athletics. That would lead me to believe you could use Athletics to simulate a grappling skill in combat. Does anyone see a problem with that? I realize that you should probably use Unarmed combat for any hand-to-hand fighting but this got me thinking - particularly for all the characters who don't end up with Unarmed Combat from a Template, Overlay, etc.

    thoughts?

  2. #2
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    I would view anything that could be thought of as a 'game' or 'sport' under the athletics (wrestling, fencing, kendo, Anbo-jyutsu) mantle and any skill that is used in real combat situations under the relevant combat skill. Answering the OP though, yes you could do that I suppose but it would not be as good as someone with the relevant 'real' skill.

    A skilled person in, say fencing would not fare well against an equivalently skilled Historical European martial arts (HEMA) specializing in the rapier. One is used to/training to scoring 'hits' for points the other is used to/trained to disable/kill his opponent. The same could be said about a wrestler verses a Judo practitioner (maybe to a lesser degree but the logic is sound). One is a sport the other is a combat skill. Sports tend to introduce too many rules into a thing to render it useless in a real world application. With that being said though, it would be better to be (using the fencing example) to be a trained fencer and go up against a trained rapier user than be untrained and having to face a trained individual.
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  3. #3
    I know this is going to sound like unnecessary clutter, but I would make separate skills for the "sport" version and "fighting" version of Fencing, Wrestling, Martial Arts, etc. They really are very different skills:

    "Sport" or "competition" versions are taught to the standards of the ring/arena/piste/etc. The emphasis is on form and skill within the proscribed bounds of the formal rules.

    "Street" forms teach how to survive and prevail in an actual life-and-death struggle against an aggressor who means you harm. The forms and rulebook are useless to you.

    People trained in one form tend not to be good at the other form, due to "muscle memory" and the "train like you fight, fight like you train" effect.

    Technically speaking you could say there is a third mode that is wildly different than the first two: call it "display" or "theatrical" form. This form is designed to be visually impressive to an observer, but also be very safe for the "combatants".

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Donovan View Post
    Technically speaking you could say there is a third mode that is wildly different than the first two: call it "display" or "theatrical" form. This form is designed to be visually impressive to an observer, but also be very safe for the "combatants".
    Artistic Expression; Kung fu... That sort of thing? (or even Intimidation?)

    OK. I get what you are saying, and broadly agree with the interpretation but think that this is indeed unnecessary clutter (as you said). For me all 3 elements could easily be grouped under the Martial Arts banner, and IMO it is the original rulebook in error here. If you are playing a system a lot more generous on points then go away with your skills and have a ball, but most ICON games are a bit light on skill points, I would stress streamlining them as much as possible.

    Perhaps one way around this might be to allow the Martial Arts specialisation be used against the appropriate skill. So in a Sports context, you would use the MA (Wrestling) Specialisation score with the base Athletics skill, if you wanted to be showy but non contact in an entertainment setting, better have Artistic Expression (perform)...
    Last edited by Dan Gurden; 01-16-2017 at 03:02 PM.
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  5. #5
    As Wrestling is literally called out as a specialization of Unarmed Combat, not Athletics, in the skill section, I agree that the write-ups should be altered to place those specializations under Unarmed Combat.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTK
    The DS9 book shows both Sisko and Dax as having wrestling as a specialization under Athletics.
    while you are right TTK it does in fact have wrestling as a specialization of unarmed combat (page 72), Trr is also right page 146 clearly has Sisko with wrestling as a specialization of athletics and only StarFleet martial arts as his specialization in unarmed combat and page 148 Jadzia Dax has, again Galeo-Manada style wrestling as a specialization of athletics and only StarFleet martial arts as her specialization in unarmed combat.

    I believe it is I said, being the difference between a game/sport and practical or 'street' application. The description in athletics does say (under 'other specializations') 'specific sport/game'.

    If you think about, the catch all StarFleet martial arts probably has wrestling aspects and skill integrated into it (I see it as the StarFleet version of MMA) anyway.
    Last edited by WaveMan; 01-16-2017 at 06:20 PM.
    AKA-Dean
    "I will never make excuses for who I am. It is the way I was born. I am a HUNTER. a BONE COLLECTOR."
    Wave Man, the term "wave man" is the English translation of 'Ronin' (Japanese word) and literately translates to "wandering person" and in a modern context a WaveMan is one who is socially adrift or a SalaryMan who is between employers.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gurden View Post
    Artistic Expression; Kung fu... That sort of thing? (or even Intimidation?)
    Whatever you might want to call it. I'm thinking specifically of "stage" swordsmanship, and stunt-fighting/professional wrestling type fighting as the third type.

    OK. I get what you are saying, and broadly agree with the interpretation but think that this is indeed unnecessary clutter (as you said). For me all 3 elements could easily be grouped under the Martial Arts banner, and IMO it is the original rulebook in error here. If you are playing a system a lot more generous on points then go away with your skills and have a ball, but most ICON games are a bit light on skill points, I would stress streamlining them as much as possible.
    That is a fair point.

    Perhaps one way around this might be to allow the Martial Arts specialisation be used against the appropriate skill. So in a Sports context, you would use the MA (Wrestling) Specialisation score with the base Athletics skill, if you wanted to be showy but non contact in an entertainment setting, better have Artistic Expression (perform)...
    That would work well enough, probably.

  8. #8
    Unless you can describe a situation where a Galeo-Manada-style Wrestling test is dramatically important, and also wouldn't make sense as an Unarmed Combat test because you're not actually trying to wrestle, that seems like splitting hairs to track those points separately. Even if you could name a situation like that, a more parsimonious solution would be to make it a Fitness or Presence-based roll to differentiate it.

    EDIT: This is the exact reason 90s-style unbounded skill lists fell out of favour!
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  9. #9
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    Again I was only relaying what was writen (word for word) in the DS-9 Core book. I can see why Trr was asking the question, as it does seem to create ambiguity.
    AKA-Dean
    "I will never make excuses for who I am. It is the way I was born. I am a HUNTER. a BONE COLLECTOR."
    Wave Man, the term "wave man" is the English translation of 'Ronin' (Japanese word) and literately translates to "wandering person" and in a modern context a WaveMan is one who is socially adrift or a SalaryMan who is between employers.

  10. #10
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    I just confirmed as well that page 148 The Price of Freedom has Riker written up with Anbo-jyutsu listed under athletics as a specialization. Plus point of fact, his write up (Riker) doesn't include unarmed combat. I reiterate, I think it is a distinction between a game/sport and a practical or 'street' application of a skill. Then there is Picard (page 147 The Price of Freedom) with fencing as a specialization of athletics and again, his write up doesn't include unarmed combat. Other characters (Worf and O'brien both have unarmed skills listed so it wasn't an oversight from what I can tell) do have unarmed combat skills listed.

    The one thing I think they did miss in Sisko's write up was his unarmed (boxing) skill, as shown when he was physically fighting Q in one episode he seemed to know how to box effectively.
    Last edited by WaveMan; 01-17-2017 at 01:12 AM.
    AKA-Dean
    "I will never make excuses for who I am. It is the way I was born. I am a HUNTER. a BONE COLLECTOR."
    Wave Man, the term "wave man" is the English translation of 'Ronin' (Japanese word) and literately translates to "wandering person" and in a modern context a WaveMan is one who is socially adrift or a SalaryMan who is between employers.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by WaveMan View Post
    I reiterate, I think it is a distinction between a game/sport and a practical or 'street' application of a skill.
    Here's the hermeneutic as I see it—if you hand a character this pregen to play, and they see a 'Wrestling' specialization on their sheet but not under Unarmed Combat, and they ask whether they can use Wrestling in combat, do you say yes or no? And if you say no, what in-game situation where you're actually rolling dice for would you say yes for, and how often does it come up? And if it comes up less than once every 3 sessions, would you let the player move those points into something that is helpful?

    Then there is Picard (page 147 The Price of Freedom) with fencing as a specialization of athletics and again, his write up doesn't include unarmed combat.
    Unlike Galeo-Manada Style Wrestling, we clearly see Picard fence in combat, so his lack of Primitive Weaponry (Foil) is either a glaring oversight or at least some of the game's writers intended Athletics to cover combat uses of the skill. I'm beginning to think this is something the game designers didn't fully agree on themselves.
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  12. #12
    I'm not a tough guy or anything, but I've done jiu-jitsu and judo for several years and even though there are competition rules the skills are more than useful in a real combat situation. I was thinking that maybe athletics could be used for grappling or subduing an opponent but unarmed combat would actually be needed to strike and do damage?

  13. #13
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    I would use athletics for the tumbling, parkour (IMO parkour should be a specialization of athletics) type moves etc and unarmed combat for anything that does damage. With that being said, joint locks (without 'tapping out') end up breaking bones or dislocated joints, chock holds (Marine tests show that it takes 10 seconds and they are unconscious) so wrestling can be used to 'damage' an opponent. It really is a muddy area, and you will have to make some house rules to clear it up.
    Last edited by WaveMan; 01-18-2017 at 08:59 PM.
    AKA-Dean
    "I will never make excuses for who I am. It is the way I was born. I am a HUNTER. a BONE COLLECTOR."
    Wave Man, the term "wave man" is the English translation of 'Ronin' (Japanese word) and literately translates to "wandering person" and in a modern context a WaveMan is one who is socially adrift or a SalaryMan who is between employers.

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