Discussions/MartialArts

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Prevalence of MartialArts

Hey all! Woo hoo, i'm the first one to post! =) Anyhow, this Wiki thing sounds liek a good idea, so let's see what we can do.

As you've noticed in Exalted, MartialArts is an exceptionally prevelent and versatile skill. I was wondering, how prevelent and much used is it in your games?

In the game i run and play, there is always at least 1 MA user in the group, and usually many, if not all of the charcters have some MA charms, because they are so versatile and useful.

So? Discuss! =)

-- Sabis


Oh no. Well I guess beggar website founders can't be choosers :) Martial Arts, IMNSHO, are a kind of empty spot in everyone's skill slot for specific, universal fighting styles. It's basically a plug-in system. This gives flexibility to the exalted system that otherwise might hinder it, like D&D's class-system problem.

I think one reason we see lots of people take MA is because they have a problem DesigningAGoodCharacter. MartialArts is in general is worse at whatever it tries to do than an ability specifically designed to do it. However, it often tries to do many things. When I play Exalted, I always feel pulled in many directions with my characters. MartialArts lets you follow that instinct and spread out. Unless you really concentrate on the MA trees, though, you can never make the stunning combos these offer, so I think in that way MartialArts is kind of a trap. It's much better for someone who is not going to be a primary MartialArtist to focus on other abilities, like the MeleeAbility, PresenceAbilitiy, and whatnot. You may not be quite such a powerful StartingCharacter, but you'll grow into a better one within 25 experience.

-- DaveFayram


Let's see if I can do this. Ahem...

I tend to see about half of my players take MA. The other half take Brawl. Now, many times, this is a stylistic difference (ie, very few charms involved), thought I have seen quite a few dedicated martial artists. I can see your point, Dave, though I'm not convinced ALL Martial Artists are less creative. The Eclipse in my Solar game was also an extremely talented socializer as well as a martial artist.

However, I do see your point. In my current DB game, one of my Immaculates likes his art because he doesn't have to select from some 250 charms... just the next Fire Style charm. It makes it easy. Most fighters who want to be focused bareknuckled fighters, but in an overall sense, not in the specific, MA style, they take Brawl.

I think MA's alot of fun, and I'm glad they decided to include it :)

-- Mailanka


In a four-player game, I had one player take MA (Mantis style) and three that took weapon Charms - one had maybe two Melee charms just to round the character out, another was going up the Thrown tree, and the last planned to be a master spearman eventually.

- FourWillowsWeeping


My games have a fair mix of the five combat trees. There might be a slight favoring of MA, but only because several of the players and myself actually take one or more forms of Real World martial arts.

-- DODurden

MartialArts and Brawl, Specifically

Okay, my two cents on this. Beyond not knowing why it causes such an unroar (I'd read most all of the WW Forum posts on it, to no avail). I think it's a matter of how it's envisioned in the Player's eye, I can't discount anything that has been said here, nor would I since everyone has a vaild point(s). To me Brawl is a good ol' meat and potatoes punch and kicker, they do what they do, they do it well, but in the end they are simply throwing punches. In this way it is more focused, there isn't a style to worry about, there isn't any teachings behind it, if you want to pick up your opponent and throw him bodily into a wall and swing him like a club Brawl can let you do that. I've no problems personally thinking up stunts for either, but I tell you watching s-CRY-ed didn't hurt any, Kazuma whipping around in circles and then throwing a punch out of a small dust devil just looked cool.

Then there is Martial Arts, there is Jet Li and Bruce Lee, watching Enter the Dragon and thinking how you want to be that guy when you grow up. My first Solar was a Twilight that had MA (and Melee) because for the character as much as I could see him throwing a flurry of punches having him adopt a style at the beginning of a fight, remembering all he'd been taught fit better. To me Brawl is power and Martial Arts is grace, both can be just as effective but it's simply how you see the character acting. If you want fluid motions then I'd say go Martial Arts, if you want your character to walk up and punch someone's stomach into their throat go Brawl.

Honestly? I think either would look cool, but I'm still lost as to why it's such a big deal.

-- MidKnight


Not meaning to start up any more flame wars but if I run another game I'll definitely be replacing brawl and MA with an unarmed combat skill, and introducing a tactics skill to plug the gap. I fail to see how Karate, Kung-fu, Wing-Chun, et. al can all be considered the same skill but brawling is different. It would be like having seperate kicking and punching skills.

-- CorlanDashiva

Dashiva, have you seen the mass combat stuff I've been working on? Brawl gets replaced with Tactics (Brawl Charms are subsumed as a Formless Martial Art). I'd be interested in your thoughts on it. -DariusSolluman

Sorry, only just saw this today. Looks interesting, I'll try and have a proper read at work tomorrow, when I have some time :-) - CorlanDashiva


I view Martial Arts as a sort of 'infrastructure' skill, in that it has certain (imited) functions on its own, but its true purpose is to serve as an understructure that unifies other abilities; this is why trees of MartialArts Charms have (can have, should have) rolls of completely different abilities incorporated into them, and provide support for these abilities (but, ideally. never supercede them or improve upon them). So with Snake Style, you can have Essence Fangs and Scales, but this isn't as efficient at causing brutal death action as, say, advanced Solar Melee; you might have a reflexive MA Charm that gives you a dodge, but you shouldn't have a perfect MA dodge or a scenelong free MA dodge. In any case the MA dodge will make you roll Dodge and not MA. On the other hand, you could have a perfect unarmed strike, since that is in MA's purview.

Incidentally, since MA Charms often call for non-MA rolls, I would consider permitting Combos that are either of like Ability or tree-internal.

- FourWillowsWeeping


Let me point out that if you subsume Brawl into Martial Arts, you may as well put Melee, Archery, and Thrown in it as well. As these are all 'martial' artforms, involving grace and discipline. Sure, bandying definitions is easy, but if that's your style, why stop at only the obvious conclusions?

Or you can just reason that they simply lacked a better term for it, and "Martial Arts" was an old, professional sounding, company staple they could easily fall back on in place of "Kung Fu". - Balthasar

Except that Martial Arts and Brawl are both barehand combat techniques that differ primarily in style rather than mechanical use. Whereas all other forms of combat you mentioned have distinct trapping and mechanics of their own. Although they can be performed in a Martial Arts way, it's just flavor then. Put another way- would you have the same objection to subsuming Martial Arts into Brawl? It's the same thing, but again with the flavor differentation. -DariusSolluman


The thing is Melee is defined by the need to use a close combat weapon, Archery uses a bow and arrows, Thrown involving ranged attacks not using a bow, Brawl is unarmed fighting. Martial arts so far is just unarmed fighting with a twist, it is not a new thing at all. One way to model this if you are determined to keep MA would be to have MA represent special training in addition to the basic training represented by other skills. All combat rolls would use the relevant combat skill (Brawl, Archery, Thrown or Melee) and the MA skill would simply let you gain MA charms, as an add-on. If you further said that you cannot take your MA above your highest basic combat skill, then MA would really begin to be Martial Arts.

The way it is written at the moment it just reads too much like Brawl with knobs on, which isn't fair to Martial Artists and isn't fair to Brawlers.

Incidentally I had a rather fun idea in CorlanDashiva/MartialArts, which could use comments...

- CorlanDashiva (was writing this as Darius posted above, so if it makes little sense or repeats what he says, that's why - it's all his fault :p


I did a count of the number of Styles existant yesterday.

There's over a hundred.

Almost every single Solar Exalted could master their own, unique Style of Martial Arts.

I'm tempted to poke through and rank the styles of uniqueness and Worthyness-to-Exist. ;) - DariusSolluman

Do that! I'd be curious to see your responses. - willows
I've been wanting to instigate 'user's top-ten favorite Styles' page, or something, for a while, just because the number of Styles is to the point where it's not manageble, no matter how many actually good ones there are. I wholly support anyone who wants to take the initiative on that or some variant. _Jabberwocky
Sounds amusing. Should each of us put our reviews on our own page, or should they all go together? And should we be able to list our own styles among our favorites? - Quendalon
Good question. Perhaps a disambiguation page at MartialArts/UserReviews, with a master list of the number of times Styles appear in the listings, and particular personal pages at MartialArts/Reviews(user); alternatively, one could put lists and one-line reviews on MartialArts/UserReviews. I guess it depends how wordy people want to be. _Jabberwocky
Seems like if enough of us do this, it'd be nice to have one page from which we can reach all the reviews. I am also tempted to start a "weekly Style critique", where I go and talk about the construction of a Style, my opinion on its mechanics and imagery, etc. I would, of course, have to proofread and grammar-edit anything I do this to, and probably do individual Charm critique as well as holistic commentary. As for listing your own Styles, I suspect it is self-evident that we like our own work; the purpose is to point other users to stuff that we think they will find useful. That doesn't stop us from plugging our own stuff, but maybe we shouldn't include it in the top ten (or increase the "top-ten" list by one for each of our own styles in it)? - willows

Sure, logically, Brawl is just another Martial Art. But thematically? I don't think so.

Imagine John Wayne in a barfight in one of those old westerns. Is what he's doing a martial art?

Imagine a 6ft3 nightclub bouncer beating the snot out of someone in an alleyway. Is that a martial art?

- finbury

  • beats his head against a wall*
Sure, logically, Polearm is just another Melee attack. But thematically? I don't think so.
Imagine a Greek Pikeman on a battlefield in one of those old histories. Is what he's doing melee?
Imagine a huge knight bearing down on his opponent, lance leveled for devestating effect. Is that melee?

- DariusSolluman


Call me strange, but I have a pet peeve with the limiting of weapons. Brawl is fists and random junk, Melee is Melee Weapons, MA is MA weapons, Thrown is Thrown Weapons, and Archery is Guns and Bows. This seems to make sense until you look at a few real world examples.

  • The Tea Bench
If a character were to grab a bench, footstool, bar stool, etc. the rules would make that an improvised brawl weapon, yet the tea bench is an actual martial arts weapon, with its own forms and combat applications, and these same forms can actually be applied decently to a folding chair or other four-legged item. Brawl or MA? I say both.
  • Swords
I like swords. Most people like swords. Why, then, limit MA to Hook Swords? Straight swords, sabers, meat-cleaver-like Butterfly Knives, and all manner of sharp pointy things have their places in the Martial Arts family. Why do the game rules not allow for the assorted weapons to be used as MA weapons. Some Sidereal Styles do away with this restriction, true, but must it be unique?

-- DODurden

Then what's the point of any other combat ability besides Martial Arts? Why not make Martial Arts the only combat ability, which can be universally used for everything, and free up four Ability slots for more interesting skills?

That, and you jus train a helluva lot differently to use an axe, a straight sword, a fencing saber, a bow, a polearm, or the Tiger Crane stance. Fundamentally, these are as distinct a set of skills as the various Craft subskills. DS

There's one other balancing difference between Martial Arts and other abilities- Martial Arts cannot have a Exalt type's special stchicks, like 'You can always use (Virtue) with this charm', Perfect effects, or Synergistic Effects. -- Ratoslov

~In my opinion, being someone that has partaken of the Martial Arts in the real world, the difference between brawl and the martial arts in Exalted is similar to that in the real world. The differences are largely the way the spirit of the fighting style is shown. In Martial Arts, the focus is on chi and the way it flows through the body and the spiritualistic aspect of the forms. Now, in simple brawling- the main focus is on kicking ass. Now, that is not to say that boxing and so on are inferrior to Martial Arts- they are just as functional and just as dangerous. The true difference between Brawl/Melee and Martial Arts is in the way it lends itself to a character. A martial artist likely was trained by a monk or something and probably has a different spiritual outlook than someone who learned to fight on the streets with other street-rats. In essence, the two are the same, just one is more refined and more lending itself to one kind of character than another. At least that's my opinion. ~ Kesai

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