Solar Brawl HOWTO
This is a focus on how to use the Solar Brawl Charms effectively. It assumes you are using the Charm changes found in Power Combat.
The Basic Ability
Brawl is no different from Martial Arts in its non-magical applications. The two abilities are essentially equivalent - you can clinch, throw, attack, and defend in Brawl in exactly the same ways you can in Martial Arts. It's important to note that no other ability can do some things that Brawl and Martial Arts can, however - for example, resisting clinches really is a function of these two abilities, and a Melee specialist is in trouble if a master grappler gets a hold of him.
The Charm Set
Discussions about specific Charms.
- Crashing Wave Throw can easily toss an enemy 25-50 yards, depending on direction. This is well beyond the movement rate of most enemies, and against someone who can't really clinch back it can be an instant kill if you throw someone into, over, or through the right environmental hazard.
- Dragon Coil Technique is one of the deadliest weapons in a Brawler's arsenal, with a friend's help. He can be meting out lethal damage every turn, AND keep an opponent effectively useless while an ally hammers on him.
- Power Combat's Fists of Iron Technique effectively means you get to fight as though you were wielding a knife for one turn, without the knife's Defense penalty.
- Hammer on Iron Technique is probably one of the weakest Charms in the set. By itself it's similar to Iron Whirlwind Attack (4m 1W for Essence extra attacks vs. 5m 1W for a total of Dex attacks), and its additional Combo-restriction rules tend to force Brawlers into the "soak as defense" strategy. However, it's compatible with a persistent Dodge.
- Heaven Thunder Hammer can lay out a great deal of knockback with Strength-enhancing effects or a good roll.
- In conjunction with high Strength, or in a Combo with something like Ferocious Jab, Sledgehammer Fist Punch is ideal for bringing down large structures, an often useful tactic when fighting indoors.
- Shockwave Technique is an unblockable attack against one foe and a bad-idea-to-block attack against another, all in one. By one reading of the Charm text, any Supplemental Charms that apply to Brawl can be used against both attacks.
Charms outside of Brawl that can be useful.
- The Dodge tree provides a number of useful defenses. Flow Like Blood is the best persistent option for a Brawler in Power Combat - he'll want Hearthstone Bracers anyway, which add a Dodge bonus, and with his Power Combat Essence bonus he can easily beat Fivefold Bulwark Stance's maximums.
- Increasing Strength Exercise is a simple, effective damage adder, with minimal requirements. The cost is high (3 motes per +1 to Strength), but on the other hand you aren't paying anything to attune an orichalcum weapon.
- The Resistance Charms allow you to buff up your soak, but don't make the mistake of relying entirely on Resistance Charms - this can be too costly in Essence and will take a long time to power up.
- Terrifying Apparition of Glory provides a useful shield against attacks, at Essence 3 and higher. It becomes most efficient at Essence 4, but the Valor roll requirement adds an extra chance to avoid being hit.
- With the use of brawling aids, the Melee Charms such as Fivefold Bulwark Stance can provide Melee-based benefits. It is legal to use the same weapon with multiple abilities or Charms in the same turn. Most Brawlers need learn only five Melee Charms to have both a perfect and a persistent defense to rely on. Most of these are Comboable, and the second one in (Dipping Swallow Defense) provides brawlers with an instant Charm-driven parry.
Although it may seem thematically odd, there are spells which Brawlers can find useful.
- Invulnerable Skin of Bronze is an all-day defense; provided you have a strong Hearthstone or a nearby Manse, you can regain the 20 motes you spend on it easily.
- Incomparable Bodily Arsenal is a slightly stronger, more powerful version of the same idea, and it can augment your Brawling damage considerably.
- Wood Dragon's Claws provide a powerful, relatively inexpensive Brawling aid. The Essence used to call the Claws is spent immediately, freeing you from the need to keep motes committed to an artifact weapon.
Discussions about effectively Comboing Brawl Charms.
- Everyone knows that Hungry Tiger Technique is the workhorse of Melee Combos. So it's nice to see that Brawl gets its own HTT-equivalent (Ferocious Jab) at the very start of one tree. This Charm is cheap enough to roll into almost any Brawl attack, and treating clinches as an unarmed attack makes it legal to affect them as well.
- Ox-Stunning Blow, while of comparatively short duration, bypasses armor that can block Crippling Pressure-Point Strike or Joint-Wounding Technique, the other dice penalty attacks in the core book. A Combo of Ox-Stunning Blow, Ferocious Jab, Fists of Iron Technique and Thunderclap Rush Attack can leave even the mightiest opponent senseless for three or four combat turns - more than enough time to disable or kill them. Lunars are the only opponents (thanks to DBT) that aren't as likely to be vulnerable to this tactic.
- By itself, Thunderclap Rush Attack isn't terrifically impressive. Comboed with the right Charms (even outside of Brawl), it can force certain types of characters into undesirable defensive postures. Lunars in particular have Charms that are dependent on their position in initiative order.
- Thunderbolt Attack Prana and Leaping Tiger Attack work just as well here as with anything else.
The Freedom Stone (Exalted, p. 339) is invaluable for people who don't trust their clinch dice pools.
Nobody said you can't wear armor. An armored Brawler can dominate a lot of fights where the lightly-protected martial artist would be left in shreds on the ground. So load up on whatever you can get! Just remember Armored Scout's Invigoration, as your main Charm defense will probably be Dodge.
The Obsidian Sheath from the Player's Guide is a good armor - it boosts Strength, compensating for the generally low base damage Brawlers have compared to weapon-users, and it provides enough soak to compete with heavy mundane or light magical armor.
Hearthstone Bracers, especially with the PG Dodge bonus, are also useful here no matter what brawling aid (if any) you decide to use.
Tips and Tricks
The beginning of wisdom in using Brawl is to look at the falling rules and the rules on knockback, and look at all the indirect ways that your attacks can hurt a target. For example, imagine clinching someone, then throwing them - straight up, into a high enough ceiling. Now they've taken the knockback, AND they're about to plummet 25 yards. See about stunting a kick for when they start to come down...
Knock people off high places. Knock them into things that will fall on them. Knock things over on them. Send them flying into a hard-to-escape area, then fire arrows at them a lot. Use their allies as weapons against them.
Brawl's strongest weapon is not anything listed in the books - it is the character's environment. Use your Brawling aids as you need, but remember that the entire world is your weapon. This most definitely includes your allies, because pinning someone in a clinch drastically limits what they can do defensively.
Brawl is a fantastic ability against someone who relies on a few parries per turn (at most) and heavy soak as their defense - the armored-knight type. Ox-Stunning Blow (alone or in a Combo) and then a few rounds of Dragon Coil can make even the strongest warrior suffer. No need for Snake style's Essence Fangs & Scales - clinches are automatically piercing.
I'd add that brawling aids can be used with the Melee Ability as well, meaning that a Brawl-oriented character can supplement his primary techniques with Melee Charms, particularly the defensive ones. - David.
- Absolutely. There's nothing that prevents a khatar- or cestus-using brawler from putting up the same stacked persistants as an ISP - even if you want to use Hammer on Iron Technique. - Hapushet
- Added. Thanks! -- BillGarrett