The warrior finds a good spot to jump over the dragon's head, releasing a melee attack (possibly an all-out attack) against the Dragon's head.

Supposing that the Dragon has size modifiers high enough for the head to be as large as the warrior.

  • Will the warrior get penalties by hit location (skull)?
  • Will the warrior gain any bonus from the Dragon's SM?

You would use both, but potentially a modified Size Modifier.

While Kromm does say that they had intended for SM to apply to melee combat but basically left it out of a number of places making it confusing, the best answer to this may be from this subsequent addendum in the GURPS 4e FAQ (similar to the GULLIVER approach): How do I apply Size Modifiers in melee combat?

Normally, the size modifier of your opponent is applied to your attack roll, whatever yours is. The problem is in some cases, it causes a big problem; for example, two ants (SM -10) have practically no chance of hitting each other unless they have Brawling-20+. To correct this, a new optional rule has been introduced:

When two opponents face each other in melee combat, apply the difference in size modifiers as a bonus to the smallest attacker and as a penalty to the biggest. However, the bonus to a small opponent is limited to +4; attacking a wall ten times as big as you is no easier than hitting a wall four times as big - your reach limits where you can hit.

Note: This is an addendum to the rule in the Basic Set, not an erratum.

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It sounds as though you might be interested in GULLIVER, a fan-made expansion for GURPS. The original was a hefty tome with a significant amount of material regarding creatures of any scale - from fleas and mice to giants and beyond.

The current edition, for 4e, is a lightweight 2 pages but still addresses issues of size. Specifically regarding your question, it states:

Use relative SM (difference in attacker and target SM) as a bonus on the smaller creature's melee TH and a penalty on the larger creature’s melee TH. Treat hit location TH mods as additional relative SM mods (e.g., a SM 3 Giant's leg [-2 TH] is a SM 1 target). The final net TH mod for SM may not exceed +4.

This is not canon. But the GULLIVER rules are usually well-regarded in the GURPS community.

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I emailed Kromm, here is his response.

It applies to both. See:


Size modifier does matter in melee.

"It is a modifier to rolls to hit you in combat and to Vision rolls." (B19, Size Modifier).

The warrior would get both a -7 to hit the skull and a plus for the size modifier. If the dragon's longest dimension is 30 yards, then the warrior would get a +7 to hit, thus equalizing the penalties.

Of course, if the warrior is jumping (and thus moving) over the dragon's head, you must apply all the penalties to his attack first (in this case +0 as it evens out) and then reduce his skill to 9 or adjusted skill-4 (whichever is worse) for doing a move and attack.

Here is the word of Kromm (the Line Editor and Rules Arbiter of GURPS, also know as Sean Punch (the name on the front of all the books.)


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If the warrior is using a melee weapon, size modifiers don't apply and you just use the Hit Location modifier. As line editor Sean Punch says:

[SM] was omitted [from Melee Attack Modifiers (p. B547)] for the same reason why speed isn't added to range in combat between fighters on foot (p. B550): as a simplification.

So for melee you could add the complication, but the baseline is that Size Modifiers aren't used in melee because it's unnecessary detail. If this seems really odd in a given situation then consider using it as a spot rule, saving this added complication only for when its lack feels distinctly out of place.

For ranged attacks it's a more relevant detail. Use the size modifier of the dragon (which will be a bonus) together with the penalty for targeting a specific body part. If the dragon is so huge that its head is the size of a person, the total modifier should still be a bonus.

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