Realistic Martial Artists

Realistic martial artists are limited to normal human abilities. Attribute scores above 15 should be rare - and DX, IQ, and HT can't exceed 20 in any event. ST might go past 20, but the GM may restrict such scores to practitioners of styles that emphasize bulk (e.g., Sumo, pp. 198-199). The GM should strictly enforce secondary characteristic limits, too:

• HP and FP can't vary by more than 30% of ST and HT, respectively.

• Will and Per can't exceed 20 or be lowered by more than four levels.

• Basic Speed must stay within ±2.00 of its calculated value.

• Basic Move must remain within ±3 yards/second of its base value.

Only mundane advantages and disadvantages are allowed; those labeled exotic 1 or supernatural 5 are off-limits. Mundane traits described as "cinematic" - Enhanced Defenses, Gadgeteer, Gizmos, Gunslinger, Rapier Wit, Trained by a Master, Weapon Master, etc. - are also forbidden. The GM might even wish to rule out such borderline-supernatural advantages as Danger Sense, Daredevil, Empathy, Luck, and Serendipity.

The above restrictions weaken somewhat in TL8+ campaigns. Steroids, surgery, and so on can grant "superhuman" physical abilities even in realistic settings. GURPS Bio-Tech is indispensable for such games.

Realistic PCs can't learn skills that have prohibited advantages as prerequisites. This eliminates all cinematic martial-arts skills (for a list, see Trained by a Master, p. 48) and magic spells. It would be reasonable to forbid skills that produce supernatural effects, too, such as Alchemy, Enthrallment, Exorcism, Herb Lore, Musical Influence, and Ritual Magic.

Realistic martial artists can have any point total the GM likes ... but as suggested under Power Level (above), anything over 200 points verges on unrealistic. A fighter with 250 or more points in purely realistic abilities won't seem realistic in play! He'll be a "combat monster" whose extreme attribute and skill levels let him duplicate the effects of cinematic abilities through brute force.

Even at low power levels, believable martial artists should spend their points evenly on all of their style's skills, not just on those useful in a fight. Unless they're cops, street fighters, or soldiers, they're liable to have Combat Art or Sport skills rather than combat skills, and are highly unlikely to have Combat Reflexes. There's no special reason to let high-tech martial artists capitalize on their typically high DX to have awesome Guns skills, either - not unless they're police or military sharpshooters. If the players want to play lethal fighters above all, consider running a cinematic campaign!

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