MartialArts/TreadingOnDiamondsStyle

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Treading-on-Diamonds Style

A warrior stands beneath the night sky. In one hand he holds a torch, and instead of fire it is a fountain of stars. Light falls from his hands and planets wheel under his feet. He walks along the arcs of their orbits and moves as effortlessly as a meteor streaking across the sky.

As the Crimson Pentacle Blade Style exemplifies and beautifies the art of Dragon-Blooded combat, so the Treading-on-Diamonds Style fully expresses the Sidereal union with the stars, in the battlefield medium. While it has never gained widespread popularity, its has endured long through the rising and ebbing fashions of the Sidereal warriors. Designed by a Chosen of Venus in cooperation with his Solar lover, the two Exalted created a style unmatched in elegance, which combines the strengths of the Sun and Planets.

The teachings of the Style require its exponents to maintain astrological harmony in all aspects of their life, imposing strict restrictions on their diet, dress, and even movements. In practice, few of these are retained, but Treading-on-Diamonds adepts can often be recognized by their serene, unflappable attitudes and simple mode of dress. Many dress in simple black-and-white robes, with constellations tattooed on their faces and their hair pulled back in topknots.

The students of the Treading-on-Diamonds Style are proficient in the use of the flail and the weighted chain, including their artifact versions. The Style treats actions made with these weapons as unarmed. The Essence chakrams created by certain Charms of the Style are also treated as unarmed, but adepts cannot ordinarily use chakrams with this Style.

This Style is designed for use with Exalted Power Combat.

With thanks to Dissolvegirl, haren, Ikselam, Telgar, and many others!

Charms

Student Techniques

Celestial Cadence Mantra

Cost: 3 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Reflexive
Min. Martial Arts: 2
Min. Essence: 1
Prereq Charms: None

The Exalted repeats a verse that aligns the rhythm of his heart and body to the pulse of the heavens. Each time he activates it, he adds 2 to his initiative for the remainder of the scene. He can add no more than his Wits+Perception in this way. Regardless of the Charm's effective duration, it can be placed in Combos as though it were Instant. This Charm may be used as many times as the user's Essence in a turn.

Silver Conjunction Palm

Cost: 2 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Supplemental
Min. Martial Arts: 2
Min. Essence: 1
Prereq Charms: None

Just like the planets, people move in patterns. This Charm allows the warrior to observe his opponents and follow those patterns, striking slowly but precisely. The Exalted changes the penalty for holding an unarmed Martial Arts attack action into a bonus. However, he cannot hold his action by more than Dexterity + Martial Arts initiative tics.

Constraint of Celestial Plan

Cost: 5 motes
Duration: One scene
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 2
Min. Essence: 2
Prereq Charms: None

Several whirling rings of light describe themselves around the astrological warrior, calibrated with angular glyphs. The constellations of safety restrict the Exalt's motion with their orbits, but while he moves in this stately dance, he is guarded by the subtle forces of destiny. He subtracts his permanent Essence from the dice pool of all incoming attacks. Attacks reduced to 0 dice miss completely.

Auspicious Ember Movement

Cost: 7 motes
Duration: One Scene
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 3
Min. Essence: 2
Prereq Charms: None

An adept in the grips of this Charm moves as effortlessly as an ember streaking across the sky. He doubles his movement speed, but he cannot move in straight lines - he must always travel in arcs. He also adds his Essence in dice to all Dodge actions.

Starlight Fugue Fascination

Cost: 5 motes, 1 Willpower
Duration: Varies
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 3
Min. Essence: 2
Prereq Charms: None

The Exalted reaches into the sky and pulls out a handful of stars. They whirl about his hands in a mesmeric pattern, binding those around him with subtle chains of harmony and bemusement. Anyone who witnesses the invocation of the Starlight Fugue Fascination or looks upon it while it is in progress must make an Essence+Willpower roll at a difficulty of the adept's Performance in order to look away. The adept conducts those entranced by the Charm in a slow dance. In game terms, they must spend at least one dice action each turn dancing along with the adept, and take multiple actions in order to do anything else. The kata continues as long as the adept keeps performing it, and it may be intertwined with other actions, but the martial artist must devote a dice action that requires no roll to maintaining it. If he fails to do this, the kata ends.

To attack the adept without being caught in the kata requires a reflexive Wits + Awareness test at a difficulty of the performer's Martial Arts (it is with his martial skill that he ensnares victims, but his dancing ability holds their attention). For those entranced by it, taking an action that requires focused attention on another person also requires this roll; actions that would interrupt the kata have their dice pool halved.

Those who know the Starlight Fugue Fascination are immune to its effects.

The Form

Treading-on-Diamonds Form

Cost: 5 motes
Duration: One Scene
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 4
Min. Essence: 3
Prereq Charms: Celestial Cadence Mantra, Silver Conjunction Palm, Constraint of Celestial Plan, Auspicious Ember Movement, Starlight Fugue Fascination

While this Charm is active, the adept adds half his Martial Arts (rounding up) to his Essence for purposes of determining Charm effects, and he can walk on any reflective surface - shiny silk, water, even gold leaf - as though it were stable enough to support him. He also adds his Martial Arts to his lethal and bashing soak.

This is a Martial Arts Form-type Charm and is incompatible with other Forms. If another Form is activated, this Form will immediately cease. It is incompatible with armour.

Furthermore, by obeying certain astrological taboos determined by the sign under which he was born, the Treading-on-Diamonds adept trains his Essence to be more flexible, and learns to combine his Charms in unexpected ways. These taboos are elaborations of the Resplendent trappings of the sign. This ability is conferred by the knowledge of this Charm and the performance of ritual behavior; it is not part of the active Charm effect. However, one cannot take advantage of this expanded facility while enacting a different Martial Arts Form, unless that Form is somehow compatible with others, in the manner of the Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Form. Upon learning the Form, the adept chooses one taboo to associate with each "combination Charm"; no taboo may be associated with two combinations. A combination Charm can only be invoked after the user has invoked the two Charms that compose it earlier in the scene, and only if the adept is obeying its associated taboo at that time. While the taboos are somewhat variable, and adepts admire elegant interpretations of them, the combinations below are not.

Sample Taboos:

The Ewer
  • Carry one hundred flowers.
  • Never speak but in poetry.
  • Walk in joy.
  • Let nothing come before love, not even your beloved.
  • Wear nothing before wearing imperfection.
The Gauntlet
  • Always wear fresh blood. It must never become dry.
  • Never have mercy if brutality will do.
  • Wear the uniform of an undiscovered country.
  • Carry an uprooted tree.
  • When making requests, they must be impossible or useless. Punish those who disobey you.

Combination Charms

Celestial Cadence Mantra and Silver Conjunction Palm make:
Fist of One Thousand Days

Cost: 3 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Reflexive

The adept, with his understanding of time, automatically wins initiative against a single opponent. He must perform a Martial Arts attack against that opponent and no other this turn. Two characters using "automatically win initiative" effects against one another roll initiative normally to determine who wins.

Silver Conjunction Palm and Constraint of Celestial Plan make:
Enclosure of Iron Destiny

Cost: 2 motes per ring, 1 Willpower
Duration: Instant
Type: Extra Actions

The adept weaves several chakram-rings of Essence, calibrated with sigla just as those of the Constraint. He throws these at a single target as a series of normal Martial Arts attacks; they have a base damage of 0, but add Strength and extra attack successes normally. They have the same range increment as chakrams (20), but have no maximum range. The Exalt can throw them as far as he wishes, as long as he has dice remaining in his pool after range penalties are applied. Inflicting damage binds the rings into the target's destiny; they expand to encompass him, restricting his movement. Each ring reduces all the victim's Physical dice pools and initiative total by one for as many turns as the attacker's Lore plus the number of HLs it dealt. The adept can create no more rings in a single invocation of this Charm than his permanent Essence.

Constraint of Celestial Plan and Auspicious Ember Movement make:
World-Spanning Revolution

Cost: 7 motes
Duration: One Day
Type: Simple

While under the effects of this Charm, the character moves like the reflection of the moon over water; he is not slowed by even the roughest terrain, and does not suffer penalties for dangerous or unstable footing. Furthermore, he adds his Essence in yards to his movement speed per turn. This effect applies before multipliers like that of the Auspicioud Ember Movement.

Auspicious Ember Movement and Starlight Fugue Fascination make:
Incomparable Constellation Shield

Cost: 2 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Reflexive

Ducking behind stars, the Exalted weaves a shield to block an attack. He subtracts successes equal to his Martial Arts from the attack. Sidereal initiates of the constellation they invoke can spend 1 Resplendent effect point to roll their Essence in dice and subtract the successes of this roll as well, but only under the open night sky.

Starlight Fugue Fascination and Celestial Cadence Mantra make:
Brilliant Attention Evasion

Cost: 2 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Supplemental

In conjunction with an unarmed Martial Arts attack, the Exalted throws a distracting shower of stars. He rolls his Essence + Performance against the target's Wits + Awareness; if he succeeds, then the target is ambushed by the attack.

Mastery Techniques

Sowing the Flowers of Night

Cost: 10 motes, 1 Willpower
Duration: One Scene
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 5
Min. Essence: 3
Prereq Charms: Treading-on-Diamonds Form

With an imperious gesture, the adept casts a hundred thousand faceted crystals of Essence into the air. The ground becomes darkened as though it were night above, and the crystals gleam with sharp light. The cast crystals cover a circular area (permanent Essence x 10) yards in radius. These cut into even the best-protected feet if they are not carefully dodged. Anyone on foot (including mounts) travelling more than half their base movement in a turn suffer an attack with a base dice pool of the adept's Martial Arts, +1 die per yard moved beyond the half-movement cap. This attack has a base damage of the victim's Strength, and is Lethal and piercing. Adepts who know this Charm do not suffer from its antagonistic effects; the crystals fall in a subtle pattern which they are accustomed to detect and avoid.

Star-Kindler's Torch

Cost: 7 motes, 1 Willpower
Duration: One Scene
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 5
Min. Essence: 3
Prereq Charms: Treading-on-Diamonds Form

The Exalted forces sparks of Essence through the palms of his hands or his weapon, making white stars fall from their surfaces. He adds his Essence to the damage of unarmed Martial Arts attacks and, explicitly, those made with form weapons of the Treading-on-Diamonds Style, and deals aggravated damage to creatures outside of Fate. His attacks become preternaturally quick; for every two points his rolled initiative exceeded that of his target, reduce the target's first defensive dice pool by one.

Constellation-Encompassing Procedure

Cost: 3 motes
Duration: Instant
Type: Reflexive
Min. Martial Arts: 4
Min. Essence: 4
Prereq Charms: Treading-on-Diamonds Form

The martial artist absorbs the ordering principle of an attack, taking care to allow it to strike him in a non-vital point. He doubles his soak and hardness against a single attack. Against Essence weaponry, the adept's manipulation of the attack can destabilize the weapon; roll his Essence against the attacker's. If the martial artist wins, then the Essence weapon comes apart in the attacker's hands; if the adept is under the auspices of the Constraint of Celestial Plan, he adds 1 to his Essence for the purposes of that Charm only for as many turns as the attacker's Essence, as the weapon is drawn into the orbiting defence.

Astrometric Supplication Mantra

Cost: 7 motes
Duration: Varies
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 5
Min. Essence: 4
Prereq Charms: Treading-on-Diamonds Form

Whispering a prayer to the Maidens, the adept asks for the time to act. On the turn after he activates this Charm, he reflexively rolls his Essence, and if he succeeds, he has two independent actions. If he fails, then the Charm does not take effect and he can attempt the roll next turn. He may increase the difficulty of this Essence roll when he first activates the Charm; for each point of increased difficulty, he recieves an additional independent action. It is possible to make several successive invocations of this Charm, but they cannot produce their effect on the same turn. Once one Essence roll succeeds, the remainder automatically fail and cannot be checked again until the next turn.

The independent actions this Charm provides are incompatible with Mental or Social actions; the adept cannot spend any of his dice actions on these, though he may make reflexive actions of these kinds. Furthermore, he absolutely cannot communicate, either verbally or gesturally, while taking these actions; the moment of distorted time the adept dances in is fully self-involved. The Starlight Fugue Fascination and effects derived from it are explicitly not considered forms of communication for the purposes of this Charm's effect.

Morning-and-Evening Star Rite

Cost: 5 motes
Duration: Varies
Type: Reflexive
Min. Martial Arts: 5
Min. Essence: 4
Prereq Charms: Treading-on-Diamonds Form

Venus shines in the sky of morning and evening both. In the same way, the Treading-on-Diamonds adept completes an attack with its reflected counterpart in a shimmer of white Essence. Each time he suffers an attack, he may choose to make an unarmed counterattack, as per Solar Counterattack, with his full Martial Arts attack pool, but may not parry the attacks he counters in this way. If any of the counterattacks provided by this effect are successfully parried (to 0 successes), then the ceremonial symmetry is broken irreversibly, and the Charm ends. If not ended prematurely, this Charm continues for the adept's Essence in turns. Furthermore, the patterns of these attacks are fathomable by other Treading-on-Diamonds adepts; knowledge of this Charm permits the Exalt to unfailingly dodge the counterattacks it produces. This Charm can be placed in Combos regardless of its non-Instant duration.

The Ultimate Technique

Planet-Halting Essence Atemi

Cost: 5 motes (10 motes, 1 Willpower)
Duration: Instant
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 5
Min. Essence: 5
Prereq Charms: Sowing the Flowers of Night, Star-Kindler's Torch, Constellation-Encompassing Procedure, Astrometric Supplication Mantra, Morning-and-Evening Star Rite

The Treading-on-Diamonds master understands that stillness is a kind of motion. With this strike, he can impose stillness on he whom he attacks by merging his Essence with the pattern of a particular constellation. He performs a normal unarmed Martial Arts attack, but it deals no damage. Instead, roll Essence+extra successes, opposed by the defender's Essence. For each success the adept has on this roll, the victim is immobilized for a turn. His feet are rooted to the spot, and his motions are impeded; subtract the adept's Martial Arts from the dice pool of any Physical actions the victim attempts while he is under the auspices of this Charm.

Invoking this Charm at the higher cost, the master can bind the victim into forced motion. The target, rather than being immobilized, involuntarily performs the Starlight Fugue Fascination. This has all the effects of the adept's usage of that Charm, with the exception that the victim may not end the Charm voluntarily and it uses the victim's scores rather than those of the martial artist. As with that Charm, those who know the Starlight Fugue Fascination are immune to its effects.

Comments

This has the prettiest imagery of any MA I've seen yet. --dissolvegirl

Neat-o. Nice and powerful (well, it goes up to Essence •••••, so duh) and with fabulous effects - I particularly like the combination Charms. And Astrometric Supplication Mantra - I assume, since the Charm produces FIAs that on one of those actions you could re-invoke the Charm to keep getting extra actions, elbeit at a very steep cost? - Moxiane

Thanks! I think it's cheaper to use a Combo with some Extra Actions Charm to get extra uses of the Supplication. Or, well, not cheaper strictly speaking, but more efficient. - w

Very nice work with this style, willows. Muy pretty, and it just feels Siderealy. I would comment on the balance etc., but you seem to have that about perfect, too. Bravo. - SMK

Thank you. Personally, I have some issues with it still - I may do a second take on this, or revise it to include more chakram-throwing effects, as I am quite fond of those. But I'm glad that no one seems to think I'm totally off my nut with this Style, despite the massive size and mess of odd effects.

I do have one question which I have not succeeded in answering for myself - I would like to make the Morning-and-Evening Star Rite into a continuous effect of some type, but I don't want to step on the toes of the Unfolding Retribution or Ready in Eight Directions Stances. Further, I want to build some flavorful restrictions into here. Any ideas? - willows

Just a thought, but what if it simply followed a proscribed set of movements? I mean, the easiest way to show this is that people who know Morning-and-Evening Star Rite are immune to it's counterattacks. They know where the user will be standing and how they'll need to attack, and just aren't there when it hits. - haren

What about making Morning-and-Evening Star Rite into a charm whose duration varies? Perhaps it could remain up until one of the counterattacks is parried, thus breaking symmetry, since the character using it cannot parry the attacks being countered. - Szilard

This, I think, I can work with. Posted an option for a revision below. What do you think? - willows edit: decided to keep the new version.

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