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- Note: In these rules, the Ability named 'Martial Arts' has been renamed 'Brawl'. In these rules, 'Brawl' refers to an Ability focussing on unarmed hand-to-hand attacks and parries. 'Martial Art' refers to a cohesively designed and dedicated style of fighting, regardless of what Abilities that style utilizes.
Martial Arts: The Kata System
Sorcery and Necromancy are what is known as 'Formal Magics' - magics which rely on the formal manipulation of Essence into understood patterns, rather than the supernatural exploitation of Essence that any Spirit or Exalted shard can perform through Charms, or even the purely natural interactions of Essence that lead to the laws of Creation itself. Like the Arts of Sorcery and Necromancy, the Martial Arts are formal manipulations of Essence. Unlike the exotic forms of Spells, which manipulate the raw Essence of Creation to create an external effect, the esoteric forms of Martial Arts - called Katas - manipulate the Essence flows within the practitioner to affect his interaction with Creation.
Like Sorcery and Necromancy, performing supernatural Martial Arts requires an Initiation. Purely 'natural' Martial Arts are, of course, possible - and operate identically to the purely 'natural' Arts of Thaumaturgy, Warding, and such. But in order to truly command one's internal Essential Form, one must be Initiated into the Ways of Essence.
The Sidereals have long used the metaphor of the Lotus bloom to describe this initiation. The first, or root form, of initiation is the Terrestrial Style - this the easiest for most Exalted to learn, since on the surface it operates almost identically to their normal style of Charm usage. However, a Kata is no more a Charm than a Sorcery Spell is, and the pupil who forgets this will never transcend to the higher Styles.
The Celestial Style Initiation is a much more profound realization - one which the Celestial Exalted are well-equipped for, but which the lesser Essences of the Dragon-Blooded have great difficulty wrapping their natures around. While a Terrestrial practitioner can perform a Kata because he commands Essence, the Celestial practitioner performs the Kata with the perfected understanding that she is Essence - and that the Essence that she is can be commanded as easily as the Essence that she uses. While the Terrestrial forms are usually based around techniques and weapons, The Celestial forms most often take on an animal or phenomenal motif. This is not coincidence: The key to Celestial Initiation is learning to mold one's internal Essence into a perfect image of the Form, commanding the Essential powers of an Exalted Tiger or Tiger-God because in that moment she is an Exalted Tiger or Tiger-God.
The Sidereal Style Initiation is the final pinnacle of understanding. These Katas require a profound intuition of the inner workings of Fate, Destiny and Essence, and how Creation itself manifests from the Essence poured through the Loom of Fate. Thus, Sidereals have a natural advantage over the other Exalted, working as closely as they do with Fate and Destiny on a daily basis. Moreso, their very Essences are naturally designed to walk along the strands of Fate, a practice that only Solars can emulate with great difficulty, and only in very specific and well-defined circumstances.
While Katas and Spells are both Formal Magics, the internal nature of Katas means that simple memorization of Essence patterns is insufficient. Thus, Katas must be taught piece-by-piece, with each lesser Kata building the foundation of understanding for the greater Katas. Only once all Katas in a given Form are understood, is the Form understood in its entirety, and the practitioner may rightly be called a Master of that Martial Arts Style.
While the specifics of Initiation vary from Exalted to Exalted, the following guidelines can be used to build the Initiation charms for each Exalted or Spirit type:
- Terrestrial - Brawl 1, Resistance 1, Lore 1, or Athletics 1, Essence 1 -or- Bureaucracy 2, Essence 2
- Celestial - Brawl 1, Resistance 2, Lore 3 or Athletics 1, Essence 1 -or- Bureaucracy 3, Essence 3
- Sidereal - Brawl 5 and Essence 4, Resistance 5 and Essence 4, Lore 5 and Essence 3, Athletics 5 and Essence 4, or Bureaucracy 5 and Essence 4
- Terrestrial - Dexteriy 1, Essence 1
- Celestial - Dexterity 2, Essence 1
- Terrestial - Brawl, War, Dodge, Resistance or Lore 1, Essence 1
- Celestial - Brawl, War, Dodge, Resistance or Lore 1, Essence 1
- Sidereal - Brawl, War, Dodge, Resistance or Lore 2, Essence 2
Dragon Blooded (seeMartialArtsKatas/DBInitiation):
- Terrestrial - (Varies depending on Initiation style) 1 to 3, Essence 1 or 2
- Celestial - (Varies depending on Initiation style) 3 to 5, Essence 3
Gods, Elementals, and Demons (seeMartialArtsKatas/SpiritInitiation):
- Terrestrial - Essence 1
- Celestial - Essence 2
- Terrestrial - Brawl 5, Athletics 5, Resistance 5 and Lore 5, Essence 3
Styles, Forms and Katas
Once a level of Initiation is met, a character may begin to learn the specific Katas that lead to mastery of a Style. Katas are purchased exactly as spells for Sorcery or Necromancy; they are considered Favored or Caste if the prerequisite Initiation charm is considered Favored or Caste. The Form Charm of a Style is the ultimate distillation of its Essence: when a Form Charm is invoked, the character's Essence is actively committed to the pattern of the Style. This conveys many bonuses. First and foremost, the Form conveys its own bonuses, often augmenting the character's combat abilities considerably. Secondly, for as long as the Form is active, any Katas within the same Style as the Form may be activated naturally, without the need of a Combo. They do not count as the character's Charm use for the turn, and do not interfere with other non-Martial Arts Katas. However, using this natural attunement prevents the character from using Martial Arts Katas from other Styles for the remainder of the action, and this cannot be done if any other Martial Arts Katas from other Styles have already been used in this character's action.
Each specific Martial Arts Kata itself has prerequisites, based on what the Kata does and how complicated it is to execute. Unless specified, the system for executing the Kata is not changed from the standard Charm, except that the listed required Ability replaces the Martial Arts ability in any dice pool rolled. Many Martial Arts styles focus on a particular Ability (often Brawl, occasionally Melee or Athletics, more rarely Thrown or Archery), while others jaunt merrily throughout the full range of Abilities available to denizens of Creation. A Martial Artist must draw on a wide array of knowledge to sufficiently master his Art.
Kata Conversion Guidelines
Converting a book or player-created MA Charm into a Kata is generally a straightforward process. The Essence requirement should remain the same as the Charm requirement from the book. The Martial Arts Ability requirement should also stay at the same level, but Martial Arts should be replaced with the Ability most suited to the power being displayed. I.e., ask yourself - "if this was a Charm of the appropriate splat (Dragon-Blooded for Terrestrial, Solar for Celestial, Sidereal for Sidereal), what Ability would this Charm require?". That's the Ability to use, even if (as a Charm) the actual dots required would be much lower or much higher. Any specific bonuses or bonus caps that rely on the Martial Arts Ability should instead rely on the Martial Artist's Essence - for example, a Martial Arts Extra-Action Charm that allows the fighter to perform a flury with a number of actions equal to their Martial Arts Ability should instead produce a number of actions equal to their Essence.
There is one important note to make regarding 'form weapons'. Any close-combat weapon which operates as an inherent extension of the wearer's body (such as katars, punch-daggers, and tiger claws) is a Brawl weapon, while any close-combat weapon which operates by being swung, thrust or otherwise forcefully directed at the enemy (such as seven-section staves, hook-swords, or sai) is a Melee weapon; any ranged weapon which operates by being thrown or otherwise propelled by the user's force is a Thrown weapon, and any ranged weapon which operates primarily by being aimed and fired is an Archery weapon. There are therefore no "Martial Arts" weapons, and any Martial Art which is designed to operate with a specific type of weapon should use that weapon's Ability as the Kata's base Ability.
MartialArtsKatas/FiveDragonStyle (E:DB, pg. 198 - 199)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Resistance 3, Brawl 3, Athletics 4
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Resistance 5, Athletics 4
MartialArtsKatas/CrimsonPentacleBladeStyle (PG, pg. 198 - 199)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Resistance 3, Melee 3, Awareness 3
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: War 5, Melee 4, Resistance 4, Lore 3, Awareness 3, Presence 3
MartialArtsKatas/FallingBlossomStyle (E:CoI, pg. 102 - 104)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Brawl 4, Melee 3, Resistance 3, Athletics 2
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Melee 5, Lore 5, Linguistics 4, Performance 3, Resistance 3, Athletics 2
MartialArtsKatas/SolarHeroStyle (E2, pg. 242 - 244)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Brawl 4
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5
MartialArtsKatas/HungryGhostStyle (E:Ab, pg. 162 - 165)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Brawl 4, Occult 3
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Occult 5, Athletics 4
MartialArtsKatas/SnakeStyle (E, pg. 160 - 162)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Athletics 3, Dodge 3, Awareness 3
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Athletics 5, Dodge 3, Thrown 3
MartialArtsKatas/TigerStyle (CB:D, pg. 73 - 74)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Brawl 4, Athletics 2
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Athletics 3, Resistance 3, Setalth 3
MartialArtsKatas/MantisStyle (CB:E, pg. 74 - 75)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Brawl 4, Resistance 3, Athletics 2
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Resistance 3, Athletisc 2
MartialArtsKatas/EbonShadowStyle (CB:N, pg. 67 - 70)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Stealth 4, Performance 3, Athletics 3, Brawl 2, Melee 2, Medicine 1
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Stealth 5, Athletics 5, Occult 5, Brawl 5, Dodge 4, Medicine 3, Performance 3
MartialArtsKatas/AirDragonStyle (E:DB, pg. 243-247)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Thrown 4, Stealth 3, Medicine 2, Occult 2, Brawl 2, Athletics 2, Awareness 2
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Thrown 5, Athletics 5, Dodge 4, Occult 4, Brawl 3, Stealth 3, Awareness 2, Medicine 2
MartialArtsKatas/EarthDragonStyle (E:DB, pg. 247-252)
- Abilities to reach Form: Resistance 4, Brawl 3
- Abilities to reach Mastery: Resistance 5, Brawl 5, Awareness 5, Craft 3
MartialArtsKatas/FireDragonStyle (E:DB, pg. 252-255)
- Abilities to reach Form: Dodge 4, Melee 3, Brawl 1
- Abilities to reach Mastery: Dodge 5, Presence 5, Melee 5, Brawl 1, Occult 1
MartialArtsKatas/WaterDragonStyle (E:DB, pg. 255-259)
- Abilities to reach Form: Brawl 4, Dodge 2, Larceny 1, Athletics 1, Medicine 1
- Abilities to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Larceny 5, Resistance 5, Occult 4, Dodge 2, Athletics 1, Medicine 1
MartialArtsKatas/WoodDragonStyle (E:DB, pg. 259-263)
- Abilities to reach Form: Medicine 4, Lore 4
- Abilities to reach Mastery: Medicine 5, Performance 5, Lore 5, Dodge 5, Brawl 3
MartialArtsKatas/CelestialMonkeyStyle (PG, pg. 246 - 249)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Integrity 4, Athletics 3, Brawl 3
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Awareness 4, Lore 4, Brawl 3, Melee 3, Athletics 3,
MartialArtsKatas/DreamingPearlCourtesanStyle (PG, pg. 250 - 253)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Brawl 4, Dodge 2, Melee 2, Resistance 2
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl 5, Dodge 5, Lore 5, Awareness 5, Presence 5, Thrown 3, Melee 2, Resistance 2
MartialArtsKatas/RighteousDevilStyle (PG, pg. 253 - 258)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Archery 3, Presence 3
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Archery 5, Presence 3, Awareness 3
MartialArtsKatas/VioletBierofSorrowsStyle (E:Sid, pg. 179-181)
- Abilities required to reach Form: Integrity 4, Brawl or Melee 3, Athletics 2, Dodge 2, Awareness 1
- Abilities required to reach Mastery: Brawl or Melee 5, Athletics 5, Integrity 4, Dodge 2, Awareness 1
MartialArtsKatas/CharcoalMarchofSpidersStyle (E:Sid, pg. 184 - 189)
- Abilities to reach Form: Athletics 5, Thrown 5, Occult 5
- Abilities to reach Mastery: Athletics 6, Occult 6, Thrown 5, Resistance 5
MartialArtsKatas/PrismaticArrangementofCreationStyle (E:Sid, pg. 189 - 195)
- Abilities to reach Form: Athletics 5, Resistance 5, Melee 5, Brawl 5, Lore 5
- Abilities to reach Mastery: Athletics 5, Resistance 5, Occult 5, Melee 5, Brawl 5, Lore 5, War 5
MartialArtsKatas/CitrinePoxesofContagionStyle (E:Sid, pg. 195 - 201)
- Abilities to reach Form: Medicine 5, Lore 5, Occult 5, Presence 3
- Abilities to reach Mastery: Medicine 7, Lore 7, Occult 7, Presence 3
If anyone would like to continue in this vein to map out all the Martial Arts Katas' Requirements, it would be appreciated. I'll continue to try to add one or two a week.
A pretty solid system, and well thought out. The only issue I don't like is the reliance on 'war' as the initiation. I can easily imagine master martial artists that cannot command armies, nor master the intracacies of seige warfare. In fact, I'm inclined to say that most martial artists won't be such master war-mongers, and thus, I'm against the idea of 'war' being one's initiation. Perhaps something a bit more fundamental, such as Athletics, Endurance, and Brawl, representing the fundamental training most martial artists endure at the beginning of their career? Something along the lines of "To become initiated in the Terrestrial Martial Arts, a Solar Exalt must first train in the fundamentals of his body for hours on end, and thus must have a minimum Athletics, Endurance, and Brawl of 1 each. Upon mastering these basics, he may continue to train yet further, becoming able to learn the initiating charm in the Celestial Martial Arts when at least one of those abilities is 3 or higher, and the remaining two are at least two or higher. Finally, to master the Sidereal Martial Arts, one must truly understand their own body and how to control it - thus, at least one of the three abilities must be at 4 or higher, while the other two must be at 3 or higher." Something like that gives some freedom in your martial artist, and yet fits the mold of most martial artist types fairly well. In addition, even without using your supernatural martial arts, you'll be pretty cool and useful (as one would expect from someone who's trained that much), whereas the current system merely means that you're good at Chess and playing wargames. -- GreenLantern
- Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'll use Brawl, Athletics and Lore - while Resitance makes sense, I think I'll reserve that for Mortals - Exalts are already naturally "tough enough" to deal with the rigors of Martial Arts. Thanks for the input; I'll work up the actual Charms soonish. -- Ialdabaoth
Update: I've pretty much decided ANY Ability can act as the Initiation into MA, so I've created several 'default paths' for each splat. Thanks again for the recommendation. -- Ialdabaoth
And, there we go! Every book Style is now converted. Any comments/suggestions on any of them would be very, very appreciated. -- Ialdabaoth
My big concern, as I mentioned previously, is the 'unlimited combo' function. Even if it _does_ close out non-Style MA Charms/Katas, it grants an _ugly_ level of tactical control. I also don't like the restrictions leading up to the katas either; it looks to produce only a very tight-genre series of games, focused on Martial Arts Masters of a very narrow type, rather than many different approaches, including non-Martial Arts. Remember, while Martial Arts are special, the game as a _whole_ is supposed to be about many, many genre-possibilities of Epic. If you're going for the tight-model, it'll work, but... My personal suggestion, as you remember, is to simply give a discount (1 XP per charm) to combo Martial Arts Charms that _only_ combo within one style (and maybe with non-MA charms, leaving room for reflexives from Dodge or Awareness, or the Athletics damage-boosters). -- IsawaBrian
- So, it seems like we could have a continuum, with "Martial Arts beats everything else" on one end, and "Martial Artists will always lose to natural Charm users" on the other. Perhaps several variations of this system could be proposed, so that each individual game could be seasoned to flavor. -Ialdabaoth
- I'm not sure where they'd always lose to natural Charm users. They would certainly lose out in terms of XP if there were ONLY the requirements, but head-to-head they'd probably be as effective as they'd always been-- more, if they have free comboing.
I wonder how this system is affected by Second Edition. Also, what modifications are needed to bring an official style into this system. When I ask that I am speaking directly to those styles that ocme in Scroll fo the Monk. Still, this is a great system and I plan on using it in my game that I am running. -Heru
It's pretty simple, really: For each Kata, ask yourself, "what Ability (or Abilities) would this fall under, if it were a Charm?", and then set the Ability requirement to that Ability, instead of MA. If it's clearly a "beat people up bare-handed" sort of effect, it goes under Brawl. Keep the required Ability level the same, unless you notice the MA bouncing around a lot between different Abilities - in which case, it's valid to lower some of them a few points, to whatever the requirement would be reasonable for as a stand-alone Charm. Other than that, you're done! Adapting MA Charms into Katas is really pretty simple and straight-forward, since most of the changes involve the Essence of what you're doing, rather than the mechanics. -Ialdabaoth
Ialdaboath, thanks for the information. I know that I said this above but I feel it needs to be said again, I love this alternative to the current martial arts system. I think it is so much better and so much more realistic in terms of setting. I also clearly like the difference between the straight up ability of Brawl (the current Martial Arts Ability) and the magical styles of the Supernatural Martial Arts. I really wish that this was the official rules rather that what it currently is. I am glad that you posted it and I plan on using it in any Exalted game that I run.-Heru