I have a player that has pinned an opponent. What actions may third parties, other characters, take against this pinned individual? Do they still need to roll to hit? Do they get bonuses?

The "Pinned and Helpless" quote is from the tail end of the description of the Pin action in Campaigns book on page B370.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Campaigns book? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 17, 2012 at 0:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Second book of the Basic Set. Starts its page numbers to follow the Characters book. Characters and Campaigns are each volumes of the Basic Set. Perhaps at times they are published as a single volume as they share page numbers and indices. \$\endgroup\$
    – EFH
    Sep 17, 2012 at 11:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ EFH & @Brian: They have always been published as separate volumes. This sort of "continuous pagination" is a convention seen in multi-volume print works such as encyclopedias where the intention is that the multiple volumes form, together, a single work. It's rarely used today outside of scientific journals and the like, but pops up from time to time elsewhere. In this case, that single work is GURPS 4th Edition. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2012 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ At the risk of making a shameless plug, SJG has just released GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling which provides some new mechanics and expansions on how to manhandle monsters, folks, and monstrous folks. (Disclaimer: it's my book). \$\endgroup\$
    – user9271
    Sep 6, 2013 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


The phrase "pinned and helpless" is composed of two parts in the actual text:

If you win, your foe is pinned and helpless.

The italics in the original text indicate that pinned is a GURPS technical term, while "helpless" is merely explanatory prose for the benefit of the reader.

The definition of pinned appears in the boxed rules† Actions After Being Grappled on the facing page (371):

If you have been grappled, you cannot take a Move maneuver unless [you're much stronger]. [A list of specific maneuvers] – and ranged attacks – are completely impossible. If you are pinned, you can't take any maneuver that requires physical movement!

In context, the meaning is that the restrictions from being pinned are in addition to the restrictions from being grappled, so being pinned means that not only can't you move in the sense of locomoting, but you can't move any part of your body at all.

As explanatory text goes, "helpless" is a pretty good plain-English (non-game-term) description of the game-term effects of being pinned. At this point, the game hands over to the GM the responsibility to interpret and adjudicate (and apply other rules as necessary) the in-context ramifications of being helpless and unable to move.

† GURPS 4e has a habit of doing this: presenting something as a technical term without an obvious definition, and burying its definition in what feels like a throw-away sentence in some boxed text one or even several pages later. Always hunt for boxed text when the rules act like you should know what a term means but it's not immediately obvious.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the pointing out of the boxed text. This is more or less what I was thinking it could mean, but it makes for a pretty easily gamed system. I've a character in my group with a 14 ST. She was awoken so used her wrestling skill to grapple the opponent and in short order pinned him. As we the other characters were hindered by this all occurring in the dark, thus missing most of the time with weapons, it was asked how hard finishing off the opponent was. It seemed an easy way to dispatch foes if one were to risk the initial threat of damage to get close. Could readily be munchkinned. \$\endgroup\$
    – EFH
    Sep 19, 2012 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EFH Just like in real life! Really, most games make wrestling a terrible idea with no upsides. That it's risky but has great benefits in GURPS is a selling point. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2012 at 2:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. Looks like I need to clean up some defenses then. I'll hit the SJ Forum and do some more research on past discussions. \$\endgroup\$
    – EFH
    Sep 20, 2012 at 10:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Coming at this about a year later and rereading all I realize 2 things. First, I have not played in way too long. Second, I need to evaluate the harm that may befall a character that undertakes this strategy and just how often that harm is likely to occur. GURPS is generally a more fatal and less-forgiving system. I'll let it play out over the next several sessions if I can get my players back together. \$\endgroup\$
    – EFH
    Sep 6, 2013 at 18:51

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