Thursday, April 4, 2013

Acrobatic Feats in GURPS

Just using Search-Fu to look carefully at Acrobatics. Basically I want to know how difficult each feat is, and what are the tactical advantages with some maneuvers. this are notes when considering acrobatics in GURPS, note there are acrobatics in MA.

TL:DR Learning more about acrobatics is a helpful visual aid. Most advantages from Mobility and obstacles.

Initial Thoughts

They are mostly great for Feint Maneuver or as Part of a Deceptive Attack than they are for dodging. Flips and Tumbles are dangerous because you momentarily obscure your own view of a target and it actually takes a whole second to resolve, unlike a quick step back or a dodge. I can't see it as a defense given how much energy it takes, it takes up so much energy that you can easily see the foot work shift in preparation. Defense should be an instantaneous, simple, reflexive and smooth action.  The advantage the acrobatic moves are mostly for attacks because even if the momentum can be predicted the angle of attack can be unconventional, also its harder to read for a Non-Acrobat how footing would work or how terrain would affect tactics.

In difficult terrain with bad footing but sparse solid foot-holds, I can see acrobatics giving an advantage.

My problem is that for a DX hard skill the most you can do are simple feats - Rolls, Cartwheels, Falls, Dives, Slides, Easy Forward Flip, and easy backwards flip.

Practical Uses of Acrobatics in the Game

Free Running aka Parkour has some practicality. Basically the chase scene in Casino Royale illustrates is best but I think the most important use is Strength, Balance and Reflex Training. Having the skill allows you to work out most of the major muscle groups with very little equipment, otherwise you will need to go to use your combat skill to exercise which limits the range of muscles and stats you can train. With acrobatics or gymnastic training you can train with a lot of muscles unlike some sports or one athletic skill that limits your stat range of training.
In games where you maintain stats Acrobatics and Gymnastics are awesome.


These are feats that an acrobat should be able to do at +5 even under stress or combat conditions or default DX. Under non-combat conditions +5 for stress free situation.

Another easy feat i performing an Acrobatic KATA or Route Collection of Maneuvers or Exercise. To the untrained this is a spectacular show that is easy to perform.


Rolls are used to transfer the energy of a fall, reducing the damage and quickly recovering in a safe-distance. Moving in a roll, is useful when moving quickly in a low profile is required (basic move 1/2). Rolls are supposedly taught in many combat fighting techniques, I learned it in Judo when I was a kid (and judo has a lot of throws), although comparing it to when I took up karate and kali it was not so much emphasized.

Slides and Dives

+5 on an Acrobatics roll. the purpose of a slide and a dive is to grab or reach something quickly. Typically a gun, a weapon, or the finishing line. Sports skills like Soccer and Baseball surprisingly both have Slides and Dives as a skill. For the Goalie, you can do both in soccer.

Cartwheels, Front handspring, and Back handspring. 

Basically these are Side Flips, Front Flips and Backflips aided with your hands. Instead of tumbling mid-air, you use you arms. They are a much easier versions of The Flips, and thus a +5 to do.  These are great for moving over terrain (where you handspring over the obstacle) or picking up fallen items while moving back in one smooth action.

Improved Defense Dodge with Cartweels, Front and Back handsprings.
Acrobatics would allow a person to imprpve Improved Defense Dodge with these minor acrobatic

Using Cartwheel to flank a target with a restricted Vision.

Front Handspring

Back Handspring

Cartwheel vs Aerial to illustrate 


Many of the Challenging Acrobatic feats have a lot of air-time 


A handspring-free cartweel. A flashy defense against attacks to your legs, and an ally rolling beneath you.

Jumping Note: The High Jump in track and field can default to Acrobatics-0 and is kind of a Back Flip as you push your chest skyward and throw your head and back backwards. This allows you to reach a spot that you cannot climb on the Quick. In a Pursuit, use this skill to reach a height you can hide in, what is so great about this feat is that it forward momentum you use is transfered to another direction making the sudden change of direction helpful in hiding.


A variation of a backflip. useful in changing position with an ally or moving over an obstacle for advantage IMO.  


Backflips allow you to do a wall stunt where you run up the wall and flip. 

Front Flip

Moving over obstacles can done with a Front Flip. 


5stonegames said...

Here is old article (for GURPS 3 I think) by an experienced acrobat on the topic.

It expands the skill with maneuvers and explains how some more complex group aspects of the skill work.

It shouldn't be crazy hard to update to 4e either. I hope this helps

justin aquino said...

Thanks, the article is carried over in gurps martial arts but it seems to group acrobatics as all of them are challenging difficulty given the cost of the skills. If you take a look at the feats and training in video there are big differences difficulty to some feats and you don't need to use a full flip to achieve a result a handspring can deliver.