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This page is dedicated to revisions of Martial Arts as an ability, and various Martial Arts. Descriptions and complete charm lists are included.

Martial Arts

Martial Arts differs from Brawl not simply in that it represents a more agile fighting style, but in numerous fundamental ways. Brawl is a person's natural learned ability to win a fight with whatever's on hand. Brawl means winning and surviving by the best method. The only deep philosophy is victory and natural growth -- sort of a Lunar kind of thing. Martial Arts, on the other hand, is not a natural discipline. It is not, so to speak, the most obvious route, or perhaps even the most effective one. However, every martial art has a discipline -- a philosophy that identifies it and lends it strength. It teaches specific lessons which are learned, learned well, and finally internalized. It is this internalization of philosophy which sets Martial Arts apart. Learning how to fight is Brawl. Internalizing a philosophy and shaping one's mind, body, and Essence in a particular way -- which can help in many ways -- is Martial Arts. Anyone can learn Martial Arts, and anyone with sufficient access to their Essence can eventually learn Supernatural Martial Arts. Therefore, Martial Arts is special. It deserves its own place on a character sheet.

Every martial art is different. They are as different as languages or people. Learning one does not mean learning another. This goes for style as well as charms. Therefore, the bonuses associated with one style can only be gained while using that style, so it is effectively its own ability. This is good. Skill in a style can now be calculated without counting the number of charms known. Do not be alarmed! One can learn to learn, and skill in one Martial Art equates to added ease in learning another.

Solars and Abyssals

Solars might be good at Martial Arts, or they might not. Therefore, they may favor it. However, it does not necessarily involve straightforward violence, combat, and victory, and the Dawn Caste already has Brawl, so Martial Arts does not need to be a Dawn Ability. Martial Arts are no longer a Caste Ability for Dawns or Dusks.


Lunars do not learn Martial Arts often, and when they do, the Charms do not react well with the nature of their Essence. Therefore, Martial Arts is never favored for Lunars.


Sidereals need Martial Arts. Without it, they won't be able to invent effects. Also, Martial Arts lends itself well to Sidereals, both in form and function. It should be innate for them. Therefore, Martial Arts is always favored for Sidereals. Don't want to screw a player who doesn't want it? I say give it to him free. I always thought Sidereals should have five favored abilities.


The Immaculate Order means that Martial Arts plays a large part in Dragon-Blooded culture. It is the way that their priests emulate their gods. It is more than a matter of combat. It is a matter of faith. The traditions of Martial Arts are not necessarily aspected toward any element, but Earth Aspects are the paragons of Dragon-Blooded culture and tradition, and so it is a Caste Ability for them. I'd say that the more military hand-fighting that Dragon-Blooded schools teach is usually Brawl, unless Immaculate instructors or private tutors are used, in which case a Martial Art should be selected as usual.


Martial Arts is just as difficult to learn as any Ability; however, understanding one can assist in the learning of another. As a matter of fact, some Martial Arts cannot be learned at all until another style has already been mastered. These are Sidereal Styles. Add all the ratings of all the Martial Arts that the character possesses to a level greater than the rating which she is raising a Martial Art to, and subtract that from the XP cost to raise the Martial Art.

If the character has 1 MA at 3, 1 at 4, and 1 at 5, and wishes to raise the 3 to a 4, she would subtract 5 XP from the cost. If she first raised the 4 to a 5, then raised the 3 to a 4, she would subtract 10 from the cost.

Sidereal styles are an exception to this rule, and only benefit from the knowledge of other Sidereal styles.

PS -- I hate this system. I'll fix it.

Types of Styles

Mortal Styles

Most people who learn Martial Arts in exalted (by most, I mean most mortals) learn it for self-defense. They don't use charms, and they don't particularly care to delve in the most esoteric secrets of the brown fighting beetle to find the inner essence of their fighting style. They want to learn to be mentally, physically, and spiritually strong, wield their body as a weapon, wield a weapon properly, and learn to better fight. They do this by learning a bit of philosophy and exercising it throught training and combat. It's not that difficult or complicated. Basically anyone can do it. Most Martial Arts learned by mortals work well to that effect. They are efficient, and not that complicated.

Mortal Styles have 6 Focuses.

Terrestrial Styles

Terrestrial Styles are not made for mortals. They are made for much stronger creatures -- creatures who can channel Essence and learn to understand things that mortals will necessarily remain mystified about. They are not so much about mundane defense and attack, and more about a sort of mystical philosophy. Emulating the five dragons and taking on the qualities of a mountain, for example, are things that normal men and women are just not capable of. And they usually wouldn't be that interested in doing it, since a man who acts like a mountain in battle is a lot like a dead man. They are appropriate for Essence-wielders, and so they can learn Charms related to them, eventually truly understanding and mastering their philosophies. Mortals will not be so impressed by learning their styles. They won't be that useful, but they will still hold meaning, and can still teach a mortal much. It's just not the appropriate path.

Terrestrial Styles have 5 Focuses.

Celestial Styles

Where Terrestrial Styles blend practicality and philosophy to create a strong fighting method for most Essence-wielders, Celestials and more powerful Essence-wielders are capable of much more. Their fighting styles seem insane to mortal eyes, but are undeniably massively effective in the hands of one who can practice them properly. Emulating a snake or a praying mantis is something that even a Dragon-Blood would admit is a ridiculous way to defend oneself. But, combined with the ephemeral understanding of powerful Exalts or gods, the more philosophical and strange Celestial Styles are significantly more powerful than anything a common Dragon-Blood can muster. For example, while a Terrestrial Style focuses on understanding the strength of the mountain, a Celestial Style focuses on the nature of the element of Earth itself. Dragon-Blooded styles might focus on emulating the speed of lightning or the perfect precision of a unit of loyal troops; a Celestial Style might emulate the ways of air itself, or an animal like a tiger, mantis, or snake.

Celestial Styles have 4 Focuses.

Sidereal Styles

Sidereal styles do not make much sense. These are paths to enlightenment through combat, relating to a philosophy relating to a theory which most are unable to even begin to comprehend. Mortals would be hard-pressed to even grasp how the martial artist could defend herself with knowledge of these styles, but the Sidereals who work them know that true strength comes from the soul, not the fist or sword. And, for Sidereals, this is shown to be true, for the power of these styles is sufficient to level cities.

Sidereal styels have 3 Focuses.


Practicioners of judo learn lots of throws and holds. Practicioners of ninjitsu learn a very different set of abilities. My goal is here is to relate that with mechanics, making Style a bigger deal. Also, I'm trying to make Martial Arts into a sort of over-Ability which illustrates just how broad a range of skills a martial artist can have. I do realize that this causes Martial Arts to tread on other abilities. I'm fine with that.

How this works is simple. In learning a martial art, one learns things particular to that martial art. These will be called focuses. These focuses may be used with the martial artist's full Attribute + Martial Art dice pool. If you don't have a focus for it, then you either have to use a different Ability, or just use your attribute. Having the same focus more than once only means that you can do the same thing two different ways, and can use Charms of all of those styles while exercising that focus.

Example: Darius (Dexterity 4) has 5 in the Endings Style. In order to be able to better maintain his cover in the Order, he learns 2 dots in the Water Dragon Style. As shown below, the Endings style is rather focused in weapon training, and so he uses his full 9 dice pool when punching, blocking, or attacking or parrying with the longsword, staff, or dagger. If he wants to grapple, then he'd have to use the Water Dragon Style, so he'd roll his Dexterity (4) + Water Dragon Style (2) = 6 dice. If he wants to use the evasion focus, on the other hand, he's stuck with just his Dexterity (4), since neither style uses that focus.

Below are some examples of things which are good focuses for various martial arts.

  • Sweeps, Disarms, punches, and othe upper body attacks - These are always considered a part of the Martial Arts. If you can't do these, then it falls under another ability.
  • Blocking -- Knocking aside blows with hands, feet, or weapons. Useful which something cannot be dodged, when there's no cover, or in close quarters.
  • Breaking -- Focusing to become momentarily capable of breaking things that would normally be to strong to break.
  • Evasion -- Getting out of the way of attacks. Useful when the opponent is using range, when there's good cover, and against undodgable attacks
  • Grappling -- Grabs, throws, holds, etc.
  • Kicks -- Legs are stronger than arms, and it can be useful to be able to wield them as weapons. This also covers very acrobatic attacks.
  • Resilience -- Taking a hit. Holding your ground. Useful when you get hit.
  • Silence -- Not making noise when moving - snatching bells without making a sound, etc.
  • Specialty -- Anything which could be considered a specialty of an ability could be theoretically balanced. Most will be inappropriate, though.
  • Specific Weapon -- Every weapon or combination of weapons is a focus.

Descriptions follow styles.


  • Mortal
    • Foot and Fist
      • Blocking, Breaking, Evasion, Kicks, Staff, Sais
  • Terrestrial
    • Five-Dragon
      • Blocking, Breaking, Kicks, Shortspears, Longswords
    • Jade Mountain
      • Blocking, Breaking, Grappling, Resiliance, Maces
  • Celestial
    • Snake
      • Blocking, Evasion, Dagger, 7-Section Staff
    • Mantis
      • Blocking, Grappling, Kicks, Hook Swords
    • Tiger
      • Blocking, Grappling, Silence, Tiger Claws
    • Ebon Shadow
      • Evasion, Silence, Short Sword, Shuriken
    • Hungry Ghost
      • Blocking, Grapple, Silence, Tiger Claws
    • Endings
      • Blocking, Longsword, Staff, Dagger
    • MoAirDragonStyle
      • Evasion, Kicks, Silence, Chakram
    • MoEarthDragonStyle
      • Blocking, Breaking, Resiliance, Tetsubo
    • MoFireDragonStyle
      • Blocking, Evasion, Kicks, Short Swords
    • MoWaterDragonStyle
      • Blocking, Evasion, Grappling, Tiger Claw
    • MoWoodDragonStyle
      • Blocking, Shortbow, Tracking, ?
  • Sidereal
    • Charcoal March of Spiders
      • Blocking, Dagger, Fateweaving
    • Citrine Poxes of Contagion
      • Resiliance, Staff, Essence Healing
    • Prismatic Arrangement of Creation
      • Blocking, Evasion, Essence Sense

Example Focuses

Blocking -- The character may use her Martial Art score to aid in any blocking or parrying attempts while unarmed (including while using weapons with which she is considered unarmed). These are mechanically identical to normal blocks or parries.

Breaking -- The character may add her Martial Art score to her strength for the purposes of determining damage done to an object by an attack if the object is immobile, and a simple action is taken to attack the object.

Evasion -- The character may use her Martial Art score to aid in dodge attempts. These dodges do not normally receive bonus dice equal to the character's Essence, like dodges taken using the Dodge ability would. Otherwise, these are mechanically identical to normal dodges.

Grappling -- The character may use her Martial Art score to aid in grappling attempts, which may result in throws, holds, clinches, escapes, or any other valid grappling maneuver.

Kicks - The character may use her Martial Art score to aid in kick maneuvers. Statistics for the kick maneuver follow:

Weapon Name             | Reach | Accuracy | Damage | Defense | Wait  | Str | Hands | Length | Resources |
Kick                    | Dex   | 0        | +3B    | -2      | 6D    | 3D  | 0     | M      | -         |

Resilience -- This is a common specialty focus which aids in attempts to hold one's ground and resist stun from an attack. It is mechanically equivalent to the Resistance specialty taking hits.

Silence -- This is a specialty focus which aids in attempts to move or act silently. It is mechanically equivalent to the Stealth specialty, Move Silently.

Specific Specialty -- These focuses allow the character to use her Martial Arts score to aid in a kind of action which is as mechanically broad as a specialty. Most specialties are inappropriate for Martial Arts, but Silence and Resiliance are two common examples of appropriate specialties. Others exist.

Specific Weapon -- The character is considered unarmed with a specific weapon. This may be taken more than once for different weapons.


Think this is ridiculous? You should say so :) - Morpheus

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