Fighting with Strength

Strength combats are a combination of raw power and mechanical advantage, small combatantas are at a distinct disadvantage. This is in contrast to Warfare, where being small may be helpful in avoiding ranged fire and even melee attacks. Other than the brutal, ‘enraged gorilla’ style described well in the Amber book, there are two main ways to approach a Strength combat. Holds and Grappling, or Strikes.

Holds and Grappling

Most useful against opponents that are armored, have nasty natural weapons, or that one simply wants to subdue, holds rely on leverage and the ability to get a good grip on one’s foe. Though holds are often referred to as a ‘soft’ option in hand to hand fighting, they can be just as brutally damaging as any attack. It’s a short step from twisting someone’s arm into a painful position to breaking the joint, and another short step from there to tearing the limb right off.

A fighter using holds needs to think tactically in the sense of their relative position to the opponent, and how they can tie the opponent up with their own body. Arms can be bent behind the back, legs lifted to put the foe off balance, and so forth. Joints can be pushed in the wrong direction, but sometimes it’s even better to pull the joint closed and twist it, thus locking up the bones. People and creatures usually have one direction in which the joint is much stronger, opening or closing, and keeping it in the weak position makes it very hard for the hold to be broken.

A wrestling fighter should move in close as quickly as possible to prevent weapon use and strikes by the other party, and pick some good handholds to begin the work of immobilizing the foe. One primary limb at a good leverage point, and one point on the main body is a good standard grip. Naturally, it is sometimes necessary to grab two limbs, or to go entirely for the body in order to perform a throw.

When to use Holds: A fighter will want to use holds when they have a significant mechanical advantage over their opponent in the form of longer limbs, or more total limbs. It’s also useful against opponents that have superior Strength, but are lacking in Endurance, as turning the fight into a wrestling match greatly increases the importance of Endurance, and reduces the importance of raw Strength. One thing one must be careful of when using holds against a stronger opponent is that they prevent the stronger combatant for going for the throat.


Fighting with strikes is most useful against opponents who are unarmored, or against those who have some advantage should the fight descend to a wrestling match. It’s also a good way to work against multiple opponents, especially if those opponents are closer in skill to the fighter than a normal Shadow person. Using strikes keeps the fighter mobile, and doesn’t force her to commit totally to one opponent.

A fighter using strikes will want to stay in the long range for Strength combats, while taking care not to get so far away that weapons can be brought into play. Wearing the opponent down is best done via attacks to vital points, solar plexus, throat, head, etc, or by attacks on the opponent’s muscles to make them tire more quickly. The latter strategy results in a much longer fight.


Amber: War of the Crossings Drascus