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Way of the Four Winds Style

Overview: The Way of the Four Winds is a powerful but unorthodox style meant for leaders and front-line generals. It consists of four relatively short trees that lead to a central tree where the abilities of each Wind culminate and blend. The greatest strength of the Way is it's ability to strengthen comrades and weaken enemies over a respectably large area. Many of the later abilities rely on Virtues for their effects, as befits a leadership style. The weakness is that truly mastering the Way takes great time and diligence. Much like the Sidereal designed Immaculate styles, once a martial artist has begun to study the Way he cannot learn another martial art until he learns the entire path. Moreso, once a martial artist has learned the Form Charm in one Wind he cannot learn another until he has completed that Wind.

Origin: A century ago the Sidereals foresaw the fall of House Tepet and the need for another strong military House. The obvious choice was Ledaal - they had already established powerful influences within the House, and Ledaal already actively worked towards Bronze Faction ends. And so one of the Sidereal masters developed a style specially for leading troops, and when he was done, seemlessly wove himself into the destiny of House Ledaal so that he could begin training the next generation of generals in this art.

Now: The Way has less than 12 active practicioners. The Sidereal master, going by the identity Sorent Ledaal, has very carefully chosen his students according to the astrological forecasts of the Bronze Faction. So far only one student has gained mastery over more than one Wind and none has come close to mastering the highest reaches of the Way. Sorent waits patiently though and performs his duty; he knows that even now, two of his most promising students are developing at a portentous rate.

Weapons Allowed: Being a martial style, Swords count as preferred weapons for any wind. In addition, each Wind has another preferred weapon more suitable to it's particular focus.

  * North Wind: Poleaxe
  * East Wind: Silk Ribbons
  * South Wind: Wind-Fire Wheel
  * West Wind: Chakram

Armor Allowed: Yes.

Banner Charms: A special variety of Charms that create an Essence Banner. Banners are very obvious displays of power handing directly over an Exalted's head; this tends to mark you as a leader very quickly. Each Banner has a powerful primary effect, as detailed in it's description. Having a banner active will also subtly improve the effects of many of the Charms within that Wind, often by increasing the number of people effected. This will be detailed later.

The Zephyr's Path of Inspiration

Song of the West Wind

Reviving Breath of Spring Kata

Cost: 1 mote
Duration: Instant
Type: Supplemental
Minimum Martial Arts: 2
Minimum Essence: 1
Pre-requisite Charms: None

The West Wind comes in the spring, bringing with it hope for renewed life. The attacker draws on the restoring power of the Zephyr and his own compassion to reinvigorate himself. He dances amongst his foes, laying blade to skin but never piercing it, striking out but never making impact. Each restrained attack serves as a warning to reckless opponents - and a source of strength for the martial artist. If an attack would do damage to a foe, roll post-soak damage dice as normal; each success gives back one mote of Essence instead of dealing a health level of damage. The martial artist cannot regain more Essence in turn than his Compassion+Essence.

Ever-Flourishing Tower of the West

Cost: 3 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Reflexive
Minimum Martial Arts: 3
Minimum Essence: 2
Pre-requisite Charms: Reviving Breath of Spring Kata

Storms come and and destruction is left behind, but the West Wind always returns. Like his namesake, the practicioner of the Zephyr's Path learns to turn his opponent's enmity into a boon. This charm allows the martial artist to reflexively dodge any attack he is aware of with his full Dexterity + Dodge pool; extra successes from this roll apply to all other dodge rolls this turn. Note that the Exalted must have a dodge roll, either from an action or Charm, in order to use these extra successes.

Gentle Zephyr's Inspirational Command

Cost: 5 motes
Duration: Scene
Type: Simple
Minimum Martial Arts: 4
Minimum Essence: 3
Pre-requisite Charms: Reviving Breath of Spring Kata

Thunder produces awe and rain draws out despair, but the power of the Western Wind lies in hope. The Exalted speaks with the clear, rising tones of the dawnwind, inspiring all who hear him to greater feats of heroism and loyalty. The Exalted is granted a Presence bonus equal to his Compassion for all rolls related to commanding others. Also, anyone who follows his commands gain a bonus to virtue checks equal to his Compassion rating.

Form of the Zephyr

Cost: 5 motes, 1 willpower
Duration: Scene
Type: Simple
Minimum Martial Arts: 4
Minimum Essence: 3
Pre-requisite Charms: Gentle Zephyr's Inspirational Command

Taking on a tall, inspiring stance the martial artist revels in the greatest power of the Zephyr - that it always returns. Blow up blow may strike him, but he will laugh and fight on as the power of the Zephyr sustains him. The martial artists gains extra health levels equal to his Compassion rating. These are of the level he is currently at (-0 if he is unhurt, -4 if he is near death, etc..). At the end of any turn in which the martial artist has taken no damage, he may roll a die for each bonus health level that he has lost; each success restores one of the bonus health levels. This can never increase the total beyond his compassion, and aggravated damage cannot be restored in this way. Also, bonus health levels cannot be restored if there are none left at the end of your turn. When the form ends the bonus levels are lost and all normal wounds remain. No more than one form charm can normally be used at a time.

Glorious Wings Guidance

Cost: 6 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Reflexive
Minimum Martial Arts: 5
Minimum Essence: 3
Pre-requisite Charms: Form of the Zephyr

The air glints around the Exalted, half-seen wings of light flitting and flowing on the breeze. The Exalted can command the wind to aid nearby allies; a number of targets up to his Compassion + Essence gain an artifact bonus equal to the martial artist's Compassion for this turn. The martial artist can use this to increase accuracy, rate, and/or range (10/point for thrown weapons, 25/point for bows) but not damage.

Gentle Wind's Embracing Touch

Cost: 3 motes, 1 willpower
Duration: Special
Type: Simple
Minimum Martial Arts: 5
Minimum Essence: 3
Pre-requisite Charms: Form of the Zephyr

Soft winds spiral around the target, salving his wounds and comforting his spirit. The warmth of the Life-wind rapidly speeds the body's healing process, encouraging the target back to health. While this Charm is in effect the target heals one point of bashing damage each minute. Lethal damage is much more difficult to heal, and while this Charm allows the martial artist to do so, the cost is prohibitive; for each level of lethal damage he wishes to heal he must commit one health level of his own. Committed health levels can only be healed naturally. While this charm is in effect the target may do nothing else but lie still and allow the winds to close his wounds or the Charm will break; if he attempts any strenuous activity within one scene of the use of this Charm he takes one automatic health level of bashing damage.

Banner of the West

Cost: 12 motes, 2 willpower
Duration: Scene
Type: Banner
Minimum Martial Arts: 5
Minimum Essence: 4
Pre-requisite Charms: Glorious Wings Guidance, Gentle Wind's Embracing Touch

The Exalted's anima flares into existence as motes of light flows on surging winds. By strength of will the Exalted binds his anima into a shimmering banner of pure Essence. This banner epitomizes the power of the Western Wind, aiding all those who fight beneath it. All Banner rules apply (This can effect other Charms). For the rest of the Scene the wind blows from the west. More importantly, the martial artist's Compassion rating is added to all soak rolls. This is a natural soak, and so ignores piercing weapons (But is affected by aggravated damage normally). The Banner effects all allies within a range of Compassion x 5 yards.

Yet To Come

The Boarwind's Path of Courage
The Tradewind's Path of Deception
The Sirocco's Path of Desolation


Comments appreciated!

Very good martial arts style, conceptually sound and wonderfully described. Just a handful of thoughts :

  1. I don't think having the freebie forms and banners are entirely necessary; the paths of the style each have their own form and pinnacle Charm, so four-path completion isn't so desperately needed (after all, most characters will only benefit from arts tied to their high Virtues anyway). Besides, there's no harm in making a martial art that takes a long while to finish - have a look at MartialArts/ArgentScorpionOfOppositionStyle for a sterling example of such.
  2. EFTOTW doesn't state the basic diepool for the dodge it gives; I'm assuming the full Dexterity + Dodge pool, but you may wish to clarify that.
  3. From the background, it would appear this is a Terrestrial style, but it seems balanced at a Celestial level - which is it? If a Terrestrial style, you may wish to rebalance; if a Celestial style, you may wish to state what DB initiation is necessary.
  4. Perhaps the Boarwind could have a more creative tag than Valor? Courage, perhaps, or Candour, or Strife. Silly nitpick (feel free to ignore), but a nitpick all the same.

Beyonds these, the art is immaculate (pun not intended), and I wholeheartedly look forward to reading the rest - original and strongly evocative takes on Martial Arts are always a welcome sight, and this represents to me a bold, well-conceived unconventional style. Perhaps you might wish to file it under the MartialArts category of the Wiki? More people are likely to notice it there...DeathBySurfeit

I'm gonna have to agree with DeathBySurfeit here, and say that the imagery is quite solid. I'm going to assume that this is a Celestial style, as you note that Dragon Blooded must devote significant energy to learning it, and that it's the only one you can learn once you start. The style description at the top is fabulous, but I'm a little leery of some of the healing effects you've listed. In particular, while they're mathematically great at keeping ping damage from brining you down (something important in large scale battles) I'm also worried that they break an unwritten (or actually, written) flavor-text rule of Exalted - no quick and simple healing. The best healing in the game is possessed by the Lunar DBT gifts, and other than those, the second best is in the Wood Immaculate path, really - and that's only one level per two turns. Picking up a Virtue worth of levels per turn is quite a lot, even if it is only in your 'bonus' levels. I'd recommend toning down the big auto-heals quite a bit, or tying the healing to something else, such as "In a round in which you do not take damage", implying that there would be an ebb and flow to the battle as you lash out, draw back and heal, et cetera. I just don't like the healing precedent it sets at such low essence levels, and a martial art (rather than a medicine charm) to boot. - GregLink

Good point - the 'round in which you do not take damage' is a wonderful rebalancer on this one...DeathBySurfeit

Thanks for the excellent feedback. I agree, the healing is too 'quick and simple'. I'll need to think of a way to make it much more limited, but still useful. I made changes to the form charm and the healing charm that I think bring them back into line - let me know what you think. As for the Terrestial vs. Celestial question, I had some mixed goals on that. My original intent was to create a style that started at Terrestial level and worked its way into Celestial level. But that leaves very little room for balancing, so I think I'll just go for Celestial level and rewrite the background information. Illuminaire