Berserk and the Martial Arts

Many cultures have a special name for a killing rage. The best-known of these is berserk. This comes from the Old Norse berserksgangr, a word for the fierce, single-minded battle lust exhibited by warriors in Icelandic myth (and perhaps in reality). In Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the term is amok. People who "run amok" go on a rampage of random killing until they're themselves slain. In modern U.S. lingo, this would be "going postal" . . . but that can also refer to a more coldly planned killing spree. GURPS reserves "berserk" - and the Berserk disadvantage (p. B124) - for those who experience genuine battle frenzy!

Berserk fighters don't "forget" their training - they simply forsake any defense for a furious attack. In game terms, those who suffer the effects of Berserk can only take the All-Out Attack maneuver. They can still use skills and techniques, learned or at default, subject to a few special rules.

Berserkers can employ techniques that require a turn or more of Ready to set up - they just have to use All-Out Attack instead of Ready for the setup. The options are Determined, for +4 to DX-based rolls required by the setup, or Strong, for +2 to ST-based rolls ... at the usual cost of no active defenses. The berserker must also use All-Out Attack for the technique itself on a later turn. He's free to select any option that suits his technique. This is most likely to be Determined or Strong, but could instead be Double, Long, or even Feint.

However, berserkers can't use techniques that are active defenses, including Aggressive Parry and Jam; techniques that rely on active defenses, such as Counterattack; or combat options that depend on taking an active defense, like Cross Parry (p. 121) and Riposte (pp. 124-125). This is true even if such a move would be the most effective tactic possible! Such is the cost of not defending.

Techniques: Arm Lock; Back Kick; Counterattack (Karate); Evade; Exotic Hand Strike; Hammer Fist; Head Lock; Spinning Kick.

Cinematic Skills: Blind Fighting; Body Control; Breaking Blow; Mental Strength; Power Blow; Pressure Points; Pressure Secrets; Throwing Art.

Cinematic Techniques: Dual-Weapon Attack (Shortsword); Pressure-Point Strike; Roll with Blow.

Perks: Off-Hand Weapon Training (Shortsword); Rapid Retraction (Punches).

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