Thoughts on decapitation in GURPS

To make execution and decapitation fit the rules better, there are a couple of worthy suggestions:

Kromm says:

If “triple damage” is possible on a lucky shot, then in a set-up situation where luck doesn’t come into it, it ought to be possible as well. So a strong man (but not a musclebound thug) with ST 11 starts at swing 1d+1, adds +1 for a sword, adds +1 for a fine blade, and adds +2 more for All-Out Attack (Strong). His damage roll is 1d+5, or 6-11. To the neck, that’s 12-22. Triple it for ideal circumstances with all the time in the world, nobody fighting back, and endless practice — let’s say that a Professional Skill (Executioner) roll allows this — for 36-66. Average is 51. That’s -4xHP for most people, -3xHP for some really big ones. Three or four HT rolls are needed to survive. If the guy doesn’t die (low damage, high HT), the rare second blow will mean an average of 102, which is automatically lethal even at 17 HP.

Those who want to postulate monstrous guys with 20 HP and HT 18 will be introduced to my bigger executioner with ST 13 and a very fine blade, who will do 2d+4 and average 66 points a chop.

PK says:

My suggestion: Steal from the Forced Entry skill as well.

Professional Skill (Execution): IQ/A

This is the knowledge of how to kill another person quickly and cleanly in a controlled situation. It is of no use if you do not have complete control of your target and access to appropriate equipment (i.e., an executioner’s sword as opposed to a normal combat-oriented sword, a chopping block, etc.) Add +1 per die to the damage done to the subject if you know this skill at IQ+1, or +2 per die if you know it at IQ+2 or better. Decapitation takes at least five minutes to set up (use standard rules for reducing or taking more time) and requires a roll against this skill as well as an attack roll against the subject’s neck (almost always an All-Out Attack after Evaluating, net modifier +2). If both rolls are successful, the damage is tripled (for a net x6)!

That’s fairly generous, but frankly, for executions that don’t involve supernatural targets, I’d usually just call it death by fiat anyways. Brings the range of damage from 36-66 up to 48-78 for a skilled executioner, the average of which is enough to easily auto-kill a HT 10 man. A poor damage roll or higher HT target allows for survival rolls, which might necessitate another chop.

Another suggestion is to add decapitation to the to the dismemberment rules. A limb requires HP injury, so it follows that the neck might require HP×4 injury (or HP×2 penetrating damage), which would require 20 damage for the average human. Then, I thought about the spine hit location in GURPS Martial Arts. Of course, this has been asked before, and Kromm said:

Cervical Vertebrae (-11): Crushing, cutting, impaling, piercing, and tight-beam burning attacks from behind can target the spine in the neck. The vertebrae provide an additional DR 3. Use the wounding modifiers for the neck, but any hit for enough injury to inflict a shock penalty requires a knockdown roll, at -5 if a major wound. Injury in excess of HP cripples the spine. This causes automatic knockdown and stunning, plus all the effects of Quadriplegic (p. B150). Roll after the fight to avoid gaining this disadvantage on a lasting or permanent basis! A miss by 1 hits the neck.

So, this is getting crazy! I’ll say that decapitation can only come from targeting the cervical vertebrae (which only makes me think of my fun time with cervical radiculopathy). That -11 penalty will be hard to soak along with that DR 3. I’d be willing to say then, at that point, HP×2 injury is enough to decapitate, which is going to require 13 damage.

A true longsword (i.e., the GURPS bastard sword—they’re essentially flipped in name) wielded in one hand by a ST 10 individual can do a maximum of 7 damage, or, wielded in two hands, can do a maximum of 8 damage. A greatsword wielded by a ST 12 individual can do a maximum of 11 damage or 12 damage if it’s a falchion (rule from GURPS Low-Tech Companion 2: Weapons and Warriors). An All-Out Attack (Strong) can gives +2 damage to each of these examples, which lets the greatsword do it regularly, and, honestly, that doesn’t feel right.

By the time I had finished writing that paragraph, I started considering HP×3 injury, which would require 18 damage, and that number is much closer to the original 20 damage. It’s -2 to damage but also -6 to skill. So, I think the 20 damage to the neck (-5) works cinematically and that 18 damage to the cervical vertebrae (-11) is probably a bit more realistic. One would need ST 16 and a falchion greatsword doing an All-Out Attack (Strong) to even have a change of doing this in combat—that’s 2d+6 damage for maximum of 18 damage. Maybe Hafþór can try. Of course, if the ST 16 individual has Weapon Master and the falchion greatsword is very fine, that raises it to 2d+10 damage for an average of 17 damage, which is just shy of the 18 damage required.

Where does Professional Skill (Execution) fit into all of this? Well, let’s say that the more realistic executioner is that ST 12 individual wielding a falchion greatsword for a minimum of 7 damage, an average of 9.5 damage, and a maximum of 12 damage. Being able to triple minimum damage to 21 ensures a clean cut every time. I’d probably base it off of Power Blow a bit more, so one can either get ×2 damage or ×3 damage, depending on skill and time, which may allow for some combat use.

Anyway, thinking about damage/wounding multipliers got me in a tizzy! Multipliers don’t make much sense for logarithmic damage (which might be important if I’m using Knowing Your Own Strength, though I’m still not sure if KYOS damage is “logarithmic” or not). But changing cutting to +2 injury and impaling to +3 injury doesn’t scale either—because HP are still quadratic. Well, scaling back HP actually makes it worse in some cases unless I used some kind of system for logarithmic injury—e.g., 7 injury plus 7 injury isn’t 14 injury, it’s 10 injury (because doubling the value is a +3 under logarithmic ST). But do you have to do 10 more injury to get to 13 injury or is another 7 injury wound enough? How far down does the rabbit hole go?

And I never figured it out for sure. Of course, this will work with standard damage. It gets messy with Knowing Your Own Strength. And throw Conditional Injury in there? Then, it’s back to the drawing board.

But, if you want it to work with CI or both KYOS and CI, then I’d say that decapitation requires a Severity 3 wound, which feels like a nice little bonus for a huge -11 to hit. Normally, it takes Severity 4 for an instantly fatal wound, but Severity 3 can do it if you’re cutting at the cervical vertebrae. Sounds fair enough to me! If you can do 6 more damage to the neck, though, you’re better off not trying to soak up an additional -6 to hit.

Greyfolk Font Update 3: Man, the Man Is Non-Stop!

Forget my previous post and even the one before it because here’s another update! I’ve been working on this font day and night like I’m running out of time. It happened after I woke up this morning after my update late last night. “There are just a couple of things I’d like to try,” I thought, then I’d go and finally play some Dishonored. Well, I haven’t played any Dishonored yet—I did this instead. What changed? The font isn’t as ugly as it was a day ago.

Yeah, that’s it. It only took me about 8 hours of trial and error. This program and that program and these settings and those settings and maybe I just gotta do this and maybe I just gotta do that and maybe it’s all because I made it monospace which introduced a non-breaking space that was messing up my syllable ligatures. Shh, it’s okay. I’m fine now.

Here’s the alphabet:

m n p t k f s h l w y a e i o u
m n p t k f s h l w y a e i o u

Here are some syllables:

pa  pla  pam  plam 
pa pla pam plam

Here’s a sentence:

pe  pom  te 
pe pom te
I love you

Here are some other (stand-in) characters:

c q _ ?
c q _ *

*stands in for any other character

Also, «c» and «q» don’t mean anything. «c» is my test vowel and «q» is my test consonant, and, together, they help me test syllable structures with «qc», «qqc», «qcq», and «qqcq».

qc  qqc  qcq  qqcq 
qc qqc qcq qqcq

My syllables are no longer utter trash. I rebuilt my font using BitFontMaker2 alongside FontForge because Glyphr Studio was being a butt. My biggest problem with Glyphr Studio is that it doesn’t respect the svg files that I import from Inkscape if I do so much as combine nodes and merge stuff (which I did to try to get rid of the problems I was having before like vertices disappearing and blurry glyphs).

I remade the basic font in BitFontMaker2, imported it into FontForge, created ligature glyphs in BitFontMaker2, imported those into FontForge, set up the ligatures through FontForge, and proceeded to pull my hair out until I realized that my syllable ligatures weren’t working (presumably) because I made it monospace in BitFontMaker2, introducing that pesky non-breaking space which didn’t want to be a part of the damn team and become a syllable ligature.

I’m gonna try to squeeze in an hour of Dishonored now and pray that I didn’t squeeze out the rest of my spine jelly. Really, though, I’m feeling much better, and I’m hoping to be powerlifting by the end of the week.

It’s a life update!

This is mostly for me, really, but you might learn some fun things too!

The weather was warm today! That was nice. I’m slowly recovering from my cervical radiculopathy, I think.

I’ve been listening to the My Brother, My Brother, and Me podcast as well as the audiobook for A Memory of Light from The Wheel of Time series.

What about video games? Grim Dawn just got its Forgotten Gods update. I love that game and I’ve been meaning to get back to it once the update came out! Deep Rock Galactic also just got a substantial update. It’s been a minute, but I’ve also been enjoying Stardew Valley a lot. Also, both Borderlands 3 and Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition were just announced, so that’s really exciting. It’s also Pokémon season—supposed leaks about Pokémon Sword and Shield have been everywhere. Super Mario Maker 2 and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled are both coming out in June. There are rumors about two new Nintendo Switch console versions being released. I’ve been meaning to play some more of Wargroove ever since the update for that came out. And I’m always on Metroid Prime 4 and Animal Crossing watch. I’ve got a bunch of other games in my backlog like Divinity: Original Sin 2, which I’ve been dying to give another shot. And they just announced Divinity: Fallen Heroes, which looks pretty cool. And there’s Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire which is getting a turn-based mode reminiscent of what I love so much about the Divinity series. And what about Dwarf Fortress and Halo: The Master Chief Collection coming to Steam? And what’s this about Risk of Rain 2? That looks really interesting, though I couldn’t much get into the first one. It’s a good time to be alive… and I’m starting to think that this post was just a subconsciously-created excuse to talk about all of the overwhelming feelings about video games I apparently have. I don’t even consider myself a gamer, but look at all of those great games!

I’ve been reading the manga of and watching the anime of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures, and, boy, has it been an incredible journey. オラオラオラオラ! Not only do I finally understand all of the memes, but it has been deeply inspirational.

There’s also The Great British Bake Off, which I’ve been watching with my girlfriend. And Daredevil, which I’ve been watching with her and my dad—it’s been a bit disappointing. I still need to watch Get Out and also The Cat Returns. My girlfriend also told me that Legally Blonde is on my list. Like, she told me that just now. Oh, and we just watched Incredibles 2! That was nice.

The GURPS-related DFRPG Kickstarters for Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 and The Citadel at Norðvorn were both big successes as far as I could tell. I’ve also been watching the development of Ooblets over on Patreon, which could also go under video games, but talking about Kickstarter is what made me think of it. Oh, and, likewise, I’m also watching out for Littlewood.

Using the schwa (ə) in the Greyfolk language

My body is so fatigued from my better posture (which I’ve had to have due to my cervical radiculopathy, which I talked about in my last post), but I’m gonna discuss what I can about the schwa in the Greyfolk language until I herniate another disc. This will be pretty short anyway.

I’ve had an idea for quite some time as to how words sound in the Greyfolk language. Every non-final vowel is /a/, and every final vowel has to be one of /e, i, o, u/. Nouns end in /e/, adjectives and adverbs end in /i/, verbs end in /o/, and other things (conjunctions, prepositions, particles, etc.) end in /u/. So, some example words—that I’m making up on the spot—could be «name», «pataki», «fasaho», or «lawayu».

But what about the schwa? Well, there isn’t any lexical stress in the Greyfolk language, which really just means that stress doesn’t matter a whole lot for individual words. However, while it is important to clearly indicate the final vowel of a word because they can differ, the pre-final vowels—which, as I indicated, are always /a/—would probably become schwa (ə) because of vowel reduction. Because pre-final vowels will always be /a/, it is not important to articulate them, and that lack of articulation (in contrast with the important final vowel articulation) may lead to /a/ being (optionally) reduced to /ə/.

This is actually different from the previous version of the Greyfolk language in which the stress was always on the final syllable. This is because it was important to articulate the final vowel to distinguish noun class. In this current version, articulating the final vowel is still important to distinguish words, but I decided that lexical stress is arbitrary/non-meaningful because I am much more inspired by international auxiliary languages (IALs) this time around, and I feel that a good IAL would leave out something like lexical stress because there are a lot of languages (spoken by many people—like Mandarin) that don’t use lexical stress. So, including it would mean a lot of extra work for a lot of speakers of natural languages here on Earth.

That’s also why my phonemic inventory is the way it is—to appeal to the largest number of natural language speakers on Earth while retaining an identity that is definitely Greyfolk. More on that another time.

Diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy on my left side

Well, this is fun. I’m sure some higher power is definitely smiting me for not posting in a while—I’m sure my one reader has felt sorely disappointed. But I’m the one feeling sore now! So, the joke’s on me, I guess…

Between enjoying my girlfriend’s spring break with her, her family being in town, her getting sick, and also (mostly) my own laziness, I haven’t been powerlifting in a few weeks. So, why the injury? Possibly because I haven’t been powerlifting. My doctor and I are pretty sure that I must have cranked my neck pretty hard while sleeping for this to happen because I woke up with this pain. One of my friends also posited that I may have had bad sleeping habits for a while now and that it was this moment of muscle weakness (since I haven’t been working out) that made it much worse. Makes sense to me! I have a (bad) habit of sleeping with my hands above or behind my head as if I’m lounging, which is also how I was sleeping when I woke up with this pain.

Anyway, what even is cervical radiculopathy? Luckily, my cervix is doing just fine. The cervical refers to cervical vertebrae. According to the diagnosis of my symptoms—due in particular to the fact that I feel shooting pain all the way into my middle finger—, it is likely that my C6 and C7 vertebrae did a squishy on the intervertebral disc between them, causing that yummy spinal jelly to herniate, and said herniation is putting pressure on one of the nerve roots in the brachial plexus. Isn’t that fun? Not really. This has left me with radiating pain in the left side of the neck into my left shoulder (which I initially thought was just muscle soreness) as well as occasional shooting pain down my arm, which often ends in my middle finger.

I’m on steroids for 18 days, working on my posture, sleeping with a soft cervical collar, and I’ll be working on strengthening my neck again soon (likely with the help of another friend’s dad). Also, sleeping with a soft cervical collar is a bitch. Actually, let me clarify. Falling asleep while wearing a soft cervical collar is a bitch. Once I was asleep, I slept rather well. The good news is that I’m rather functional and I’ve already worked on increasing my mobility with my neck as the steroids kick in to reduce my pain and herniation. The roid rage hasn’t kicked in yet, but this is only day two.

I’d love to post a linguistics-related update soon, which will likely focus on the schwa and how I plan to use it in the Greyfolk language.

(More like cervical ridiculouspathy, am I right?)