Now that I explained what a character is like now combat!
GURPS 3rd Edition has a pretty good setup where they explained basic combat and then had a chapter where they added movement, the hex grid, and other advanced combat rules. This made a lot of people happy as the roleplaying folks got a solid simple system to use and the grognards could drink deeply from the realism cup.
GURPS 4th edition doesn't present it in quite the same way. But it can still be played the same way as it was in 3rd edition.
The Basic combat system is fairly simple.
Combat Round are 1 second, you can do one thing a round. If you don't do a full move you can generally take a step and do your one thing.
You roll 3d6 less than or equal to your skill.
If you hit, the defender most of the time get to make a defense roll picking either a parry, a block, or a dodge.
If the defender succeeds that it for the attack.
If the defender fails you roll damage and subtract the Damage Resistance of the armor the defender is wearing. Any damage that get through may be multiplied if you do cutting (1.5x) or impaling damage (2x)
The defender has a number of hit points based on his Strength. If he take more than 1/2 HP in one shot he could wind up stunned. If he below 1/3 HP then his dodge and movement are cut. If he below zero then he must roll his Health or below or fall unconscious. If he is below -HP then a failed Health roll could mean death.
I will get into the other options in a later post. But this is the guts of GURPS Combat.
So what is like? What pitfalls are there?
The biggest thing people have trouble with is the one second combat round. In most other combat system you can two or more things in a round. Like move and attack, quaff a potion and attack, quaff a potion and run like hell. In GURPS you do one thing and one thing only.
Round 1: I move up to the orc (and dodges the Orc's blow)
Round 2: I step to the right and swing at the Orc (and fails to defend)
(Bob get knocked down by the Orc)
Round 3: I get up (Fails to defend and gets hit again)
Round 4: I pull out my potion and step away (Orc steps and attack, Bob Dodges)
Round 5: I drink my potion and step away (Orc steps and attack, Bod dodges again)
Round 5: I attack the Orc (The orc fails and falls to the ground stunned)
Round 6: I attack the Orc on the ground (Orc is stunned and utterly fails his parry)
(Orc dies before he could get up)
Unlike other systems every roll represent a single physical actions which makes visualization of combat easy. The 3d6 bell curve keeps the probabilities of defenses reasonable so that combat doesn't turn into a game of who misses their roll first. GURPS 4th edition redid the combat numbers a bit make it flow better. Too often in earlier edition characters could get super high defenses making combat bog down.
Still if you if you are facing a guy with a 15 parry he is not missing his defense often. Unsurprisingly the designer of GURPS handles this in several ways. In the next post I will explain maneuvers in more detail but there are a couple that can result in you disarming your opponent or fake him out so he has a minus on his next defense roll. Also you can apply real world tactics and take your opponent out that way. Most of the time just having multiple party members swinging at the high defense guy solves the problem as you only get so many defenses per round. Other solutions can work well with GURPS like throwing sand in your opponent's face.
I am not going to say that GURPS has the best all time RPG Combat system. As a referee and player you do have to remember more than D&D or other abstract combat systems. Not everybody likes the detail or gritty combat. But SJ Games is really good at game design and it shows in the GURPS Combat system.