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Dragon-Blooded Martial Arts Schooling

Okay, stick with me here, this isn't a Brawl v. Martial Arts thread again, far from it, more sharing my view on something and asking for input from the rest of you wonderful people to either change my mind or find others of like mind. /suckingup

Anyway, it comes down to a question a player asked me during character creation. It followed along the lines of his character had gone to the Cloister of Wisdom before exalting Solar and wanted to take one of the Dragon Paths as his Martial Art. Now, I'm the type of ST that'll let most anything go if the player is willing to work for it a bit and so long as it'd be cool, but it'd been my belief that if you are in the Cloister you don't necessarily learn one of the Dragon Paths even if Terrestrial because that was the territory of the IO. You could learn the art itself, stances and strikes, but the manipulation of Essence was beyond what they taught. At best you'd learn the Five-Dragon Style from the Cloister but for these higher-level Styles you'd have to be Immaculate or nothin'. Otherwise it just didn't seem to me they'd have any draw beyond your family pushing you to be a IO Monk, why ever bother to progress that far if you can learn the Air Dragon Style at the Cloister and avoid the harsher life as an Immaculate?

Hope to see some good responses. To me it's simply a progression, Cloister -> Immaculate Order -> Dragon Path, not a branched path where a Celestial Level Martial Art can be learned so easily when it's pretty clear it's supposed to be so difficult for Terrestrials to practice. -MidKnight


I was always under the impression that you didn't get to go to the Cloister until you exalted Terrestrial, and if you are Terrestrial then you cannot become Solar. Just out of interest, did the player also argue that he should get 35 dots of abilities as he was raised the same way DB characters are? - CorlanDashiva


Lyta went to the Cloister. She has Snake Style, and 25 abilities. It's POSSIBLE to be an unExalted in one of the Secondary Schools, but you have to be VERRRRY good (which, naturally, most Solars are) and even so you won't get the kind of attention that the Dragon-Blooded do. Also, on the question at hand. While DBs /can/ learn the Five Glorious Dragon Arts at the Cloister (it's stated in the book, and in the errta) without becoming Immaculates, I would say that non-Exalts cannot. It's simply beyond them. They learn Mortal Martial Arts, and thus if they Exalt as Solars they can't learn the greater MAs automatically any more than anyone else can.

As for the question of why bother to be a full on Immaculate, the same reason you'd join a real monastary. You're religious, and want to become an active part of your faith. It's not just a way to learn badass Martial Arts. I assure you, during the time that the Church was really tough, it wasn't uncommon for someone to want to be a Monk or a Nun, or a Priest, or what have you. -CrownedSun


There's also the matter that church politics are a very real force in the Realm, and at least a few DBs are willing to bite that bullet for their family, I wager. Domino


I often hear the complaint "Well, if he's not an immaculate, he shouldn't know an Immaculate art."

But I'm not convinced that's true. This isn't some gaurded secret that nobody must know! It's a path to enlightenment. Would christians really hide their sacred texts from people, jealously gaurding their way to heaven? Hell no. They spread it. Buddist priests will teach you the martial arts they know without you being buddist. They'll just inject their teachings with thier philosophy so that while you might not have started as an buddist, you might end up as one.

The Immaculates want all Dragon Blooded to reach enlightenment. The focused dedication that becoming an Immaculate offers is certainly a straight path to that. But they understand that other roads might be taken. Not all Dragon Blooded can afford to shave their head and simply pray in a monastery. The righteous and just Realm would fall without their leadership! No, they acknowledge that Dragon Blooded have lives they must lead.

But if one would struggle up the paths of the Immaculate without becoming a monk... why not? It is a hard path he has chosen to travel, but who would they be to denounce him? I get no impression from the book that the Immaculates somehow struggle to keep their arts secret. Many who study the arts become Immaculates, but not all.

The book clearly states that you must attend the cloister to learn an Imm MA. It also clearly states that FEW of those that attend the Cloister actually become Immaculates.

This strongly suggests to me that many practitioners of the glorious Dragon Paths are not, in fact, Immaculate priests.

And why not have an Anathema with Immaculate techniques. Sure, you can state that he learned it before he exalted. You could also have him meander in, pretend to be a pious student, and steal all their secrets. The idea of "evil" martial artists "defiling" the "sacred" arts of the monks is a mainstay of the Martial Arts genre. The most recent example I can think of is Iron Monkey (Fun movie :)

Anyway, those are just my thoughts :) ~Mailanka


Thanks guys, all the points were good. In the end I can't really deny him taking it, it's more my own perception of it that makes me want to say no. Then again, I'm also the type that says you can't use MA charms beyond the Form charm without it active, but I let that go, too. I just use it with my own characters instead. -MidKnight


I'm firmly of the opinion that Solars can learn any Celestial level Martial Art they've even so much as heard of. Why? Because there's no rules-technical difference between learning Endings Style, Snake Style and Water Dragon Style. If my Solar can pick up Snake Style just by purchasing the Charms at character creation, (whic, hopefully, you don't dispute?), and can learn Tiger Style or Mantis Style the same way, why shouldn't he be able to pick up Water Dragon Style? It's the same level of Martial Art, it's just a different style. Having trained under people who actually know it shouldn't make it harder.

- Medivh (Who now goes by "Nissen, Søren Rune" on rpg.net and the white wolf forums)


I believe that, canonically, Solars can only develop the animal styles without a mentor. They need a teacher for any other styles (like Water Dragon or VBoS). -- OhJames


Where is this stated? It's true for Sidereal Martial Art's, but not otherwise. If nothing else, all of these where known during the First Age. (VBoS is actually available to [i]Autobots[/i]. So I would let all Celestials access it. Heck, it might be taught in the Threshold even.) Personally, I feel it ruins the whole "Universality of MA thing", if each group can only access their own style. -FlowsLikeBits


I believe OhJames is making his assertion based on the sidebar on page 241 of Exalted: the Dragon-Blooded: "Characters who don't naturally practice a given art will probably either need to start the game knowing it due to backstory or else need to find a tutor during play." Just above that, the sidebar alludes to Solars "naturally" practicing the animal styles. - David.


Yes, that is the sidebar I am referring to and thanks for finding it. Re: Alchemicals learning VBoS. One. They don't actually learn VBoS, they learn an Autochthonian style that is functionally identical. Two. Alchemicals have access to a giant Primordial machine-god who stores MA Charms as datachips in his CPU. Three. Alchemicals don't need mentors for any Charms, since they have all their magic installed (even MA styles, although those don't take up their own slots). So yeah. Can't overlook fluffy reasons for things. And it's not like that really prevents Solars from learning non-"natural" Martial Arts; it just adds more story hooks because they have to seek out another mentor. Which could, of course, be anything from a ghost to another Solar... to a whole heck of a lot of things. -- OhJames


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