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I know that an attack from behind can't be protected, but if the enemy starts in front, and comes to attack from behind, you "know" that you're being attacked, so you can defend at -2 (B391).

Are there any other rules I'm missing? Should I handle it this way in 1-on-1 combat too?

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May please the guy who downvoted tell us in a comment what can be improved in this answer? (I guess it's deemed unclear or too broad but I don't know GURPS that well so I have no real idea) Also, hello Josmar, welcome to stackexchange and since you have enough reputation if you want some help to refine your question feel free to drop to the Role-playing Games Chat at any time. – Zachiel Sep 19 '13 at 9:38
I didn't down vote but I do find this a touch unclear. I'm honestly unsure what the question is, besides perhaps "am I right"? Why would this be any different in 1v1? – C. Ross Sep 19 '13 at 12:35
This is generally "is there any other rule concerning this?" question. GURPS books are long and complicated, so I think this question is OK. But I didn't understand that 1v1 part either. – Pavel Sep 19 '13 at 12:41
A 1x1 combat could be very weird if one guy runaround the other to attack from behind (assuming normal humans). – Josmar Sep 20 '13 at 3:44
up vote 7 down vote accepted

There's no additional rule either in Basic set or in Martial Arts. As B391 suggests, you can defend against any attack from a known enemy at -2, except for situations when the defending character doesn't know from where (and when? This is not so clear) the attack is coming.

A character with the Peripheral Vision advantage can defend at -2 even if approached from behind. What such a person sees is just a shade somewhere in the extreme periphery of sight, leading to a rough idea that someone behind is attacking. It is similar when someone jumps behind me: if I can't turn, I can just do a "wild parry" (which means -2 to the roll).

There is another interresting problem: will the fighter with an enemy in his back (assuming he doesn't want to turn, perhaps due to another enemy in front of him) be able to defend in subsequent turns? The rules are not clear on this.

I would assume the answer is no: the defender knows that someone is behind him, but he can hardly expect when the strike is coming. Anyone who ever fought with a sword (including wooden/ plastic LARP swords) would agree that timing is crucial while parrying. So my quick and easy answer is that you can only defend against the first attack. The longer answer (how I solve it in my game) is as follows, but it is rather a house rule than an official rule:

The defender can try to dodge at -4 (-2 for not seeing the enemy and extra -2 for guessing when the attack is coming; Peripheral vision buys off the first penalty and Danger sense the second if the defender wins PER vs. higher of attackers Stealth and combat skill in the turn), moving either constantly or from time to time (all-out defence or defensive attack). Parrying or blocking is trickier. The defender can choose to swing his blade wildly behind his back, allowing him to defend at -2 - but this is for whole turn, which means this is possible only when the defender chooses all-out defence (Double Defense with one hand with a weapon/ shield committed to this enemy and useless against any other attack). Or he can defend at -4 (extra -2 for not knowing the timing). If attacker chooses "wait until there's no defence", no defence should be possible unless all-out defense was chosen by the defender (the wait maneuver would waste the attack in this situation).

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If an enemy runaround you (and you know/see), you could probably turn to defend, but it's too difficult to simulate in any rpg system that i know. I think Gurps try to solve this with this "turnaround" rule, like a "fast change face, defend, back to original face" during the round. – Josmar Sep 20 '13 at 3:52
@Josmar: it is possible, but I would never try it in real life (my qualification is a year with a historic swordsmanship group, so I have vague, but some idea about how real combat looks). What I would try is to retreat (the maneuver bryanjonker described) and turn to both enemies, or (if not possible) to turn cca 1/6 of the circle to have the rear foe in my "left/right". Turnaround is risky: both enemies can attack at once, or even at the moment I'm turning (in my campaign, most soldiers have Teamwork perk, so synchronization is normal; otherwise they could use wait maneuver). – Pavel Sep 20 '13 at 8:33
It's not clear to me that there is another opponent in this case, the OP's question could be interpreted as a cheesy "you walk up to your one opponent solo, then run around to their back and hit them to get bonuses." – mxyzplk Sep 20 '13 at 12:59
@mxyzplk: one hint was that remark about 1x1 combat in original question. Another one in Josmar's comment: there would be no need to return to original facing if there was no enemy in that direction. My example presumes some second enemy in front - otherwise, the fighter will turn as fast as possible (though if the attacker is fast enough and does "move nad attack", such a situation could occur even in 1x1). – Pavel Sep 20 '13 at 13:45

I agree with Pavel. Note that if you are somewhat aware of the attack (enough to actually get a defense, which happens in a runaround situation), you can do a Retreat. (which adds +3 to your Dodge). This allows you to turn one hex, which means the attacker is no longer behind you for subsequent attacks. If you are using the martial arts rules, you can do a Slip (move closer to your opponent at a -2 to defenses) or a Sideslip (step aside at a -1 to defenses).

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Would this be better as a comment to Pavel's answer rather than an answer in its own right? – Wibbs Sep 19 '13 at 15:12
Good question. I don't know. It was originally a comment, but I thought the detail on the Retreat rules warranted its own answer. – bryanjonker Sep 19 '13 at 16:44

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