RogerBW's Blog

How to Throw a Cat 06 August 2019

In a recent game using the World of Darkness system, a situation arose in which someone picked up a cat; then, later, they wished to clear their hands before engaging in combat, so they threw the cat at someone else. This needed a certain amount of improvisation from the GM because the rules had little to say about it. But surely GURPS can do better?

Of course it can. The basic procedure for picking up a resisting character is under Lifting and Moving Things During Combat on p. B353 (i.e. from the Basic Set). We start with page B456, which has the statistics for a domestic cat. Given the size disparity, the human may have to bend down to make the grab at all; a Change Posture manoeuvre would go from standing to kneeling, though per p. B364 going between standing and kneeling can be done as the step portion of a manoeuvre that allows it. Crouching would be a free action, so that's probably a better bet.

In order to grab the cat, we need to make an attack manoeuvre (taking up our first action) using DX or a Grappling skill such as Wrestling or Judo (p. B370), at -3 for the cat's size modifier and -2 for the grabber's crouching posture. If this is successful, the cat can attempt a dodge at 10 to avoid being grabbed (or 12 if it knows what's coming and goes for an All-Out Defence).

If that works, the cat has -4 to its DX, and on its next action can try to break free by pitting its strength (4) against its captor's. It is unlikely to succeed.

We next need to lift the cat, this being our second action. A standard cat weighs 10lb (p. B456 again), well under Basic Lift (20lb for an average-strength character), so it's no problem to perform a one-handed lift in a one-second Ready manoeuvre; this needs no skill roll. The cat gets another chance to escape, but that's still a strength-vs-strength roll.

Now, third action, to throw it. This is on p. B355, and again assuming an average-strength character, the ratio of the cat's weight to their Basic Lift is 0.5, giving a distance modifier of 0.8, and a one-handed throw is possible. Multiply by ST 10 and we can throw the cat 8 yards. If we hit (using DX-3 or Throwing skill), the defender can try to dodge, block or parry. (You can't parry something heavier than your Basic Lift, but that won't be a problem.) If he makes an unarmed parry by 5 or more, he may choose to catch the cat.

But let's assume it hits. A generic object does our thrust damage, 1d-2 crushing since we're ST 10, rolled separately for target and for projectile (the cat has 4 hit points, so it will probably be all right). (A heavier object would be moving more slowly, so this seems fair.) If the cat is sufficiently irked, one might reasonably change the damage it does to cutting (which is what it would do naturally with its Sharp Claws). It will then fall to the ground; with its Catfall and Combat Reflexes it will take no further damage, and will be free to act when its turn comes round again.

However, that's not the end of the story. GURPS Powers has optional rules on coordinated attacks, on pp. 165-166, and they can be used for the superheroic manoeuvre of throwing a teammate into a combat. If thrower and cat work together on this, they're each making an attack roll at -3 (in the cat's case that's Jumping-3 or 11). The distance is calculated using the knockback rules (the thrower rolls their thrust damage, and it's one yard per point), so it won't go as far, but the cat can add its broad-jump distance of 17 feet to the knockback suffered by the target. (That seems like rather a lot; this rule assumes the thrown teammate is of roughly human size.)

For those of you not in on the joke, I most certainly wouldn't pause in mid-game to do these calculations (and indeed, not doing so is explicitly recommended under the Throwing rules). I'd just make up something that sounded sensible ("DX-5 to grab, then Throwing"). But in case this ever comes up in a situation where the exact outcome really matters, the rules are there. And that is one of the reasons why I like GURPS.

No cats were harmed during the research for this article.

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 10:17am on 06 August 2019

    I have to protest.

    Most of what you are proposing is straightforward enough but you are not taking into account the Psychology (IQ Hard Skill Defaults: IQ-6 or Sociology-4) of the situation.

    One would never kneel or crouch in attempting to get hold of a cat. Bending from the waist gives the feline the least warning of your intent and the briefer chance to use its Body Language (Human) skill to figure out what you're up to.

    Indeed the human might need to make their Body Language (Cat) to give him a decent chance. A contest of Acting vs Body Language perhaps.

    And at that point you have a fist full of cat. You talk later of the cat becoming upset. It is at this point he or she starts to become upset, not when flying through the air.

    I would suggest that the most likely thing to happen would be that as the human pulls his arm back for the throw the cat will dig its claws into the human's arm. What happens here is a little obscure when it comes to GURPS rules but I would suggest that the cat's claws should (if the cat's attack is successful) do damage based on the human's ST not its own.

    Of course in the actual circumstances we faced on Sunday the cat thrower was a vampire and might not notice the pain or just shrug off the attack out of sheer undead toughness but the principle is the important thing.

    I may have some levels of specialisation in Psychology (Feline).

  2. Posted by Dr Bob at 02:26pm on 06 August 2019

    Of course, it is entirely possible that Vampire the Masquerade 5th ed has an entire page dedicated to cat hurling, but I just couldn't find it because the index is rubbish! :-)

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 02:41pm on 06 August 2019

    It's probably under Bastet - Fastball Special in the new Werewolf book.

  4. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 06:42pm on 06 August 2019

    Hurling, Cat - see hairballs.

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