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Balanced Brawling and Hand to Hand
This combat skill needs progressive weapons

I've noticed that brawlers and weapon users are simply in a different class. The UMC separates them, in general, a weapon-wielder has an edge against someone that fights with hand to hand and I completely understand why.

Weapons are an investment, just like drugs like endoprine and cybernetics like a muscle graft, consumers expect results. If I spend 3,500 chyen on a chain it wouldn't be fair for a person with better skill with his hands that he attained for free to best me. If it were that way everyone wouldn't even bother with weapons and that's unrealistic.

However, I think the pressure to use a weapon over hand to hand combat restricts gameplay. Brawling should have an assortment of weaponry that compliments them.

The options for Brawlers are too expensive, no one wants to buy Brass knuckles priced at damn near 30,000 chyen (comparable to the price of a vehichle) since it can easily be stripped from them upon death. Why can't (like the Bokken for long swords, or the chain for melee) Brawling have a 3,500 chyen weapon that newer Brawlers can buy to further their skills without feeling like they have to learn the combat skill of a weapon they can actually buy to defend themselves?

I'd settle for special kinds of gloves or something, anything besides what we have now where a dedicated Brawler has to either buy excessively expensive Brass knuckles or have the expensive Knux procedure to stick to their guns.

Hand to hand and Brawling have the trade off that they can never be disarmed, don't trip sensors and other important things. All things considered, brass knuckles and bo staffs can be utilized to the same amount of effect of any other weapon of their price variety, so I feel there no need to balance them more. You get your fists and feet right out the vat. It may feel unbalanced to a new player, but over time you will see people who show it is more than balanced.
I would rather not see a wide range of "unarmed weapons" out there and I really don't think that brawl or martial arts is completely unbalanced. That being said, I do think that hand to hand fighters are a tiny bit under powered when compared to melee/blade users. But if the only way to fix this is more "unarmed weapons" I'd rather not.

If I were to change anything it would be two things:

1. Allow hand to hand fighters a chance at parrying weapons without taking damage based on relative skill. I know from past martial arts classes that this is possible. It is trained for. Of course, blocking a weapon unarmed is harder than blocking a fist unarmed and the consequences for failing is damage.

2. A cheap item that can be bought and worn or held that allows the brawler/ma guy to parry as if armed but provides no other benefit.

As far as "You can never be disarmed and your hands are free" goes, I think this is true but the impact is less than suggested. There are easy, fairly cheap ways of mitigating the risk of being disarmed and disarming someone, even when skilled, is a risky move in combat. And entry level weapons are cheap enough that it's seriously not hard to replace them or have backups ready. I am not saying that never being without your weapon is not an advantage as it clearly is. I just don't think it is as huge of an advantage as some suggest.

Also this is all based on my limited experience with combat in SD and I have intentionally left explosives and guns out of it as they are their own beasts that involve their own complexities. In all, just my thoughts on the matter!

Brawlers/MA are never without weapons, since their weapons are their hands. This makes them dangerous even when disarmed or fresh out of the vats.

You can already parry weapon attacks with MA and Brawling. You just take damage from it.

It's realistic. Someone with MA versus someone comparable with a sword, is at a disadvantage. Just like someone with a sword in many situations is at a disadvantage to someone with a gun. You can't stab someone from a room away with a sword or knife. Pick your battles wisely.

Pricing is based on damage. It's been balanced by Jinx, the Quartermaster.

The downside is obviously you do less damage. The upside is that -you- are more dangerous.

Bare-handed brawling also absolutely makes up for the fact that you can't block weapons with it. It's as dangerous as someone with a sword in the right situation and it can never be confiscated or disarmed. There are rooms you'll pretty much never be able to bring a weapon into and the brawler is at a big advantage there.

Like Slither said, pick your battles wisely.

Also, to be clear, there is no restriction on learning both an unarmed fighting skill and an armed fighting skill. You just have to spend the time + ue to do it.