A Couple of Lock Hacks

So, I adore the Fight! rules. For a long time, they seemed complicated and unwieldy, so my brother and I decided to make a couple random characters, and just run a few contextless Fights, just to get a feel for the system—we ended up playing just this little minigame for hours every night for a couple weeks, trying different strategies and builds, having a blast.

Now, we started with just the basic moves, adding more as we felt comfortable, and Lock was one of the last moves we experimented with; and I admit that it immediately changed the tenor of the Fights. I know Lock gets a lot of love from BW players because of its ability to bypass the wound-grind, but we were finding that Lock was maybe a little too good at this. Yes, you have to get in close, and you’re exposed for a turn when locking, but once a lock starts, it just feels like the Fight is -over-. The dice penalties are harsh, the locker has a tremendous advantage in maintaining it, and the combat becomes very one-note for a long while. And, maybe even more than this, Lock as written really strains the credibility of the Fight. I think Fight! is a profoundly realistic-feeling system, while still being a fun mind-game, but Lock doesn’t fit. I just cannot begin to visualize how a combatant could completely immobilize an armed and armored full-grown man with one hand, while standing up. Anyone who has play-wrestled for even a moment should know how crazy this sounds, yet it’s fully possible with the Lock rules.

I admit I’m extremely loathe to mess with BW’s rules, but my experience was that Fight! worked perfectly well without Lock, so nerfing it a smidge doesn’t seem like it will break the game. I submit two sub-rules to append to Lock; please tell me if you think they make Lock worthless, or will adversely affect the game:

No Half-Measures
If you are holding anything OR either combatant is standing, your lock maxes out at 2D. If either condition fails while in a lock, the lock immediately reverts to 2D.

Full-Time Job
Taking any action other than Lock while locking decreases the lock by 1D, on the following action.

My hope is that these rules would make lock a little more niche, but still usable, and encourage combinations with throw and tackle, which feels realistic and fun. You can still get a little temporary benefit by grabbing someone, but you lose your grip a little every time you take advantage of it to act.

Love to hear y’all’s thoughts.


This actually sounds great to me, but I think if knocking someone over is required for the lock, you need more ways to do it. Maybe you can spend successes over to get you both on the ground?

Thank you so much for posting this. I’m so glad you see the fun and strategy in the Fight system.

For me, watching Royce Gracie just smoother dudes in the 90s really left an impression.

In practice, I think you’re right that the system doesn’t fully address standing (or flying) locks. These tend to be much more severe and more instantly damaging than ground work, which is safer and more controlled: The butterfly choke and headlock seem the most gentle; chicken-wings, half nelsons are uncomfortable and potentially injurious; full nelsons and standing arm and wrist bars are just fucking brutal; a bear hug can do permanent or fatal injury. These types of maneuvers are banned in competition because people get permanently injured very quickly from them.

Watching latter day UFC also belies the notion that “taking another action” reduces your effectiveness. Fighters routinely get into mounts and deliver vicious, dangerous strikes to their disadvantaged opponent.

Holding a knife while you have someone immobilized opens them up to serious harm, and it’s very possible to hold someone down, draw a knife and end them, so I’m loathe to say that locks require two hands. But that seems like the safest place to start—limit 1-handed locks or make them harder to sink. But once you have a lock sunk, you should be able to take one-handed actions like striking or using your cell phone.


Thanks for the reply, Luke. All your examples are definitely relevant—but I will point out that one of the defining features of Lock in Fight! is that it requires no training, and simply tests power. The fighters in the UFC train for years be able to pull off these moves, and any one of them can attest to how difficult it is to crisply bind a struggling human.

As I said above, I’m not strictly speaking trying to end acting while Locking, or one-handed locks, just trying to set up a trade of effectiveness that seems reasonable to me considering that Locking is a universal action. I could imagine inventing a training skill that might mitigate these, or perhaps a die trait. But it helps my immersion a lot to stipulate that wrestling with two hands is easier than with one.


Hmm… Brawling can be used in place of Power for Lock and Push, I believe Martial Arts can be too. Meaning that the skilled combatant has the Double Ob penalty (and ForKs) on their side if both are playing the grapple game. So maybe that training advantage is already reflected?


Do you need more ways to do it? Push can knock someone to the ground. (Exceed Ob by 2+) So can Charge (Exceed Ob by 1+). Then, of course, there’s Throw Person which just works, but Tests its own, obscure Skill.

Here’s the thing, though, a 2D Lock is gonna drop your Ob for those a lot. Most of those test against 1/2 Stats most of the time. Someone with Exponent 4s down the line is gonna get floored on a 2 Success Charge or a 3 Success Lock. If you’re testing Martial Arts with Beginners Luck, that’s still just Ob 1x2. Easily attainable if you’ve got 4s down the line yourself.

It seems a little funky to allow Charge to be played when you’re locking a foe, but I don’t see any clause restricting it. I’d nix the Stride advantage, though. And maybe the general advantage; I rather see that about generating momentum, which I’m not sure is right for being In Your Face. (Though, you’d still suffer the penalties and restrictions, so maybe it’s right as an all-or-nothing type call.)

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Maybe there’s a cap for how many dice you can reduce and then successes over get rolled into the “Damaging Locks” rules from the Codex? Kinda like Throw Person?

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There are definitely methods, but none of them reflect the action of wrestling someone to the ground well. I absolutely love throw person, but in my mind that’s more specialized of a skill than just mobbing someone, which is also not the intent of push. Far as I’m concerned Lock doesn’t need to be changed, because the lock-ee has some benefits that counter the fight-ending nature of the move. But with the intention of this modification, I think it might help

Fair enough. Hmm… What do you think of letting successes over 2D Lock be used to ground the opponent a maximum of one level per Lock action? So if we’re standing and you Lock me for 2D amd have a success left over, maybe you can bring me to my knees. Next action you’ve scripted Lock and can bring me to the floor?

EDIT: Could even combine that with my reply to Luke above: With an extra success over, you can either bring me to my knees or inflict an Incidental hit?

I definitely like where your head is at, but honestly, I really like the knocked down rules, and I’m always in favor of more knocking people down, so I might make it more flexible than that

That’s fair, I suppose. I’m a little more wary of stepping on Throw Person’s toes.

Well the best thing about Throw Person is the really good damage and VA, it’s amazing

It’s so hard to pull off though.

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It sure is, and that’s why it’s my favorite. You can really punch above your weight if you’re smart (and lucky)

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And not in too grassy a field! :joy:

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Locks do cap at the locking character’s own Power, so there is a limit in the rules already.

I don’t see such a cap in the Lock description. Page number?

It actually occurs to me that maybe a lot of my issues would be solved by making Lock a specifically skilled action, Boxing or Martial Arts—everyone else just has to use Beginner’s Luck, which would automatically make it trickier to pull off…

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